SIGN OF SPRING   Daffodils and sunshine!!! But the sucker run almost over.
Frogs are peeping and croaking in Hauser Pond, suckers are running in Big Creek, and any day now, we will have wildflower blooming at Crossroads at Big Creek.
Woodland wildflowers seem to magically materialize overnight once spring arrives. But  actually, wildflowers,— their buds, their leaves, their abbreviated stems—were formed during the previous growing season.
The rapid growth of woodland wildflowers is a survival necessity. These plants have the narrowest time window in which to bloom, be pollinated and set seed. Furthermore, their leaves must gather enough solar energy for next year’s growth before the tree leaves open to form a dense canopy and significant shade.
A staggering amount of America’s woodlands have been cleared since European settlement. Even in Door County, most forests have been cut, but some wildflower habitats have been preserved in parks, natural areas, preserves and sanctuaries by The Nature Conservancy, The Door County Land Trust,  The Ridges Sanctuary,  and the State of Wisconsin,  frequently with financial help from Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund.  And many private citizens scrupulously protect their land.
Last  December, Crossroads was able to add the 9- acre Big Creek Cove property to our preserve and we are most grateful to the foundations and individuals who made the purchase possible. This will be our first growing season. We can hardly wait to see what pops up.
On Earth Day, and throughout the year it is good to remember the words of Virginia Eifert: “It is for us to guard the wild places. to hold on to them as something eminently precious, never to be truly regained, once they are lost…State parks, small back-country preserves, the clean brook though the meadow, the big woods in the river bottoms, the ancient plants of old dunes along the lakes….they are all a part of our heirtage.”
The Crossroads theme this year is “Taking Care of What We Have”, apt for Earth Day and everyday. This year, you will see and are invited to help in our efforts to improve our varied habitats for wildflowers and wildlife. Success will be anything but instant, but rather, will be a work in progress.
Botanist tell that in this climate, woodland wildflowers may grow for seven or eight years before they have stored enough energy to bloom. So when spring comes to the forests, understand that wildflowers have been works in progress of a very long time.
At Crossroads this spring, we will be involved in several major construction projects and while it may look like our upgrades are happening quickly, like trillium and trout lilies,  our projects have been years and years in the making. To create the Lower Level Learning Space, we first had to raise the funds, make the plans, and construct  our Maintenance Building.
That accomplished, we held focus groups and planning sessions, have gone through four (or was it  five?) plan revisions,  vigorous fund raising (thank you Donors!), the “Big Ski Move-out,”  permit reviews,  and now this spring—-it’s happening! Not quite as silently or quickly as spring wildflowers growing, But it really does seem like a miracle.
The purpose of wildflowers is to make seeds so there will be future generations. The purpose our learning center and our new space will be to plant the seeds of inspiration and knowledge in our focus areas of science, history and the environment.  This is growing season at Crossroads …for this year and for future generations.
Growing season makes many yearn to plant garden which is great if folks have a lot property… and if they don’t. Master Gardeners of Door County will host  horticulturalist Ray Rogers, who will  present the lecture “Spectacular Container Plantings” . Containers can add color, variety, and excitement to gardens of any size from a small patio garden to an extensive landscape.  Knowing how to choose the best plants, arrange them, and care for them is a great skill to possess.
Ray Rogers has won numerous awards including over 80 top prizes at the Philadelphia International Flower Show for his work with containers.   He currently writes for the American Horticultural Society’s magazine, American Gardener and for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.  His first two books, Coleus and Pots in the Garden are well known.  Timber Press recently published his newest book, The Encyclopedia of Container Plants. (www.timberpress.com)
Crossroads is a donor supported preserve welcoming learners of all ages experience based learning in science, history and the environment. The Collins Learning Center, located at 2041 Michigan in Sturgeon Bay, is open 2:00-4:30 daily and during special events. Trails on all three properties are open to the public free or charge.

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