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Just Our Nature - news, updates and insights

Nature Up North Christmas Tree Guide

By Jacob Malcomb on November 30, 2015
With the holidays upon us, ‘tis the season to revisit the great Christmas tree debate: real vs. artificial? According to the American Christmas Tree Association, 80% of American Christmas tree buyers chose artificial trees in 2013. But did they make the greenest choice? Turns out it’s complicated.  Artificial trees last longer, but most are made from unrecyclable, petroleum-based plastics that do…
Blog category: Farmed and Foraged

Spotted Lanternflies: A New Forest Pest

By Paul J. Hetzler on November 17, 2015
Chinese lanterns, bright and cheery, can lend a festive air to an evening out on the patio. As far as I know they are harmless. Chinese spotted lanternflies are also bold and colorful, but they do cause harm, and a lot of it. Spotted lanternflies were unknown in North America until 2014 when they showed up in Pennsylvania on a shipment of stone from China. Who knew the Keystone State was that…
Blog category: Just Our Nature


By Paul J. Hetzler on November 13, 2015
Like the political process, cranberries can leave a sour taste in your mouth. But unlike politics, whose bitter aftertaste cuts through any amount of sweetener, the flavor of cranberries is readily improved with a little sugar. To say a fresh cranberry is sour is like saying Paris is a nice town. In fact it (the berry, not Paris) can have a lower pH value than stomach acid. It’s almost a wonder…
Blog category:

Multi-Purpose Milkweed

By Paul J. Hetzler on October 27, 2015
After the cloud-like flocks of blackbirds have departed, swarming like giant amoebas toward points south, and the broad chevrons of geese have mostly disappeared over the horizon, another momentous fall event begins. Yes, it’s time for one more native species to take to the air—the great milkweed migration is on. By late summer, milkweed pods are bursting with mature seeds affixed to bundles of…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Pumpkin Patch Pollinators

By Samantha Haab on October 21, 2015
With the colder weather, the changing colors of the soon-to-be-orphaned tree leaves, and the emergence of Halloween decorations throughout the North Country, it is safe to say that fall has officially arrived. As we turn up our thermostats and begrudgingly get out our winter clothes (did we really ever stash them away?), we can look forward to indulging in such autumnal delicacies as pumpkin…
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Fall Migrants

By Paul J. Hetzler on October 11, 2015
What can cruise at an altitude of 29,000 feet, is a beloved icon of the great outdoors, and yet can be the bane of lawn lovers? It’s the honking harbinger of advancing autumn and coming cold (and sometimes, bad alliteration), the Canada goose. The familiar autumn voices of Canada geese overhead can at once evoke the melancholy of a passing summer and the anticipation of a bracing new season of…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Maple Monitoring at Colton-Pierrepont

By Jennifer Morrill on October 5, 2015
During the month of September, students from Colton-Pierrepont Central School participated in the Monitor My Maple Project through Nature Up North.  Through this citizen science project, students at different grade levels are asked to monitor the phenology of the maple trees around campus over the course of several weeks.  Students in the sixth grade participated in the Monitor My Maple project…
Blog category: In the Schools

Holey Maple Leaves

By Paul J. Hetzler on October 5, 2015
Only a joker would argue that plant breeders have secretly crossed our beloved sugar maples with Swiss cheese, but given the way this year’s maple leaves are riddled with mysterious holes, it almost seems a plausible explanation. Beginning in August, near-perfect circles of leaf tissue have gone missing from sugar maples, and from other trees to a lesser extent, as if swarms of Hole-Punch Fairies…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

Early Fall Color Changes

By Justin Dalaba on September 30, 2015
  Some of my most vivid childhood memories involve plopping into that pile of red, yellow and brown fallen leaves neatly gathered into a mound by my dad.  I remember running off the school bus in the golden afternoon sun to roll around in the yard amidst the unforgettable sound of crunching leaves and smell of fall decay.  As carefree kids, we thought little of the hard work the trees were doing…
Blog category: Just Our Nature

A Bounty of Bees in our North Country Gardens

By Samantha Haab on September 18, 2015
The buzzing of bees is as much a sound of summer in the North Country as is the drone of cicadas or the nighttime call of frogs. It is, hopefully, a common sound we hear outside during the summer and fall months, but just what kinds of bees are in our gardens and why should we care? We’re all familiar with honey bees and the larger, more conspicuous bumble bees, but what many people fail to…
European honeybee. Photo:  Jennifer Berbich. Pollinator pan traps in a vegetable garden. Photo: Samantha Haab Colorful pan traps mimic flowers to attract pollinators. Photo: Samantha Haab
Blog category: Just Our Nature