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Did You Know? Fun Facts in the Garden

By Toni Leland (tonilelandJuly 20, 2014
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Fall is here and quickly on its way out in many parts of the country. Gardens are slipping gently into winter slumber. What's a gardening nut to do? Enjoy the brief respite with some fun facts.

Gardening picture
DID YOU KNOW?

dragonflyDragonflies can fly up to 20 miles per hour!   
They also hover and fly backwards. These insect-devouring hunters should be a welcome sight in any garden, consuming gnats, midges, beetles, moths, and mosquitoes. More than 400 dragonfly and damselfly species inhabit North America.

 
 caterpillar 
The average caterpillar has 4,000 muscles, and 248 in its head alone!
Caterpillars are the larval stage of moths and butterflies in the order Lepidoptera. Over 180,000 species fall into this classification.
 shade trees 
Planting just 3 shade trees around your home can save between $100 and $250 per year in energy costs! 1  
Best choices for aiding inside temperature are deciduous trees, which shade the house from the sun in summer, but allow the sun to penetrate during winter. Evergreens are a good choice for blocking cold northern winds.
 onions Ancient Egyptian laborers ate onions to give them strength while building the pyramids!
The Allium genus is one of the largest plant genera in the world, with over 1,250 species. Onions are also one of the oldest vegetables used as a food source. Historical citations list onions as a leading ingredient for infertility, impotence, headache, hair loss, and in muscle liniments.
 onions You can tell the temperature outside by listening to a cricket!
Count the number of chirps in 15 seconds, then add 37. The sum will be the approximation of
temperature in degrees Fahrenheit. The male cricket does most of the singing by rubbing his wings together, usually to attract a female, but often to sound an alert when danger is near. 2
 figsFigs were the first domesticated crop in the Near East about 11,400 years ago!
Archaeologists found carbonized figs in a village north of ancient Jericho, and compared the fruits to modern specimens. Through this comparison, they determined that the fruits had been intentionally propagated. 3
 
Rafflesia
 The world's largest flower measures up to 3 feet across and weighs close to 15 pounds!
Rafflesia arnoldii grows in the rainforests of Indonesia. It is a parasitic plant which uses a host plant to gather water and nutrients. Though beautiful to behold, the bloom has an odor similar to that of rotting meat.
 
lady beetle
The annoying Asian Lady Beetle is a beneficial insect!
Though not welcome inside the house, these predators consume large quantities of aphids and scale insects, and are responsible for benefiting the pecan industry by controlling the pecan aphid.
 
dove
 A pair of doves can produce up to 5 or 6 broods a year!
Generally, the female lays a clutch of 2 eggs. The nest is never left unattended; the male sits on the nest from mid-morning until late afternoon, then the female takes over for the night.
variegation
Variegated Dogwood
Most variegated plants are actually mutations!
Chlorophyll is the green pigment needed for photosynthesis. In variegated leaves, the cells that are genetically unable to produce this pigment appear white; some pigments in the mutated cells can produce pink or yellow. These interesting and attractive plants are prized by most gardeners, and highly cultivated by nurseries. A variegated plant will grow more slowly because of its reduced ability to produce food energy.
 
august hosta
August Hosta in bloom
 Some plants bloom at night to attract night-flying pollinators!
Ever sit out at dusk and suddenly notice a heavenly scent on the air? Chances are, you or your neighbors have one or more of the common night-blooming species such as Flowering Tobacco (Nicotiana alata), Moonflower (Ipomoea alba), or Angel's Trumpet (Datura inoxia). Petunias bloom during the day, but release their scent at night. August Hosta (Hosta plantaginea) fills the evening air with heavy perfume, and the Lemon lily (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) and Citron Lily (Hemerocallis citrina) release a crisp, refreshing scent. Shrubs that are known for night scent are the Ear-leaved Umbrella Tree (Magnolia fraseri) and Sweet Bay (Magnolia virginiana).

1 U.S. Department of Energy
2  Library of Congress, "Everyday Mysteries," 2008
3  Harvard Science, Harvard.edu 2008
 
Image of Rafflesia arnoldii courtesy ma_suska, Wikimedia Creative Commons license
Image of figs from Wikimedia Creative Commons license

(Editor's Note: This article was originally published on October 30, 2008. Your comments are welcome, but please be aware that authors of previously published articles may not be able to promptly respond to new questions or comments.)


  About Toni Leland  
Toni LelandToni Leland has been writing for over 20 years. As a spokesman for the Ohio State University Master Gardener program, she has written a biweekly newspaper column and is the editor of the Muskingum County MG newsletter, Connections; she currently writes for GRIT, Over the Back Fence, and Country Living magazines. She has been a gardener all her life, working soil all over the world. In her day job, she scripts and produces educational DVDs about caring for Miniature Horses, writes and edits books about them, and has published five novels.

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Discussion about this article:
SubjectTopic StarterRepliesViewsLast Post
Fun facts Hemophobic 7 68 Aug 8, 2014 11:15 AM
Awesom ilovejesus99 0 2 Jul 20, 2014 7:15 AM
Counting Crikets Robubba 0 5 Dec 31, 2008 3:41 PM
Off the dragonfly track.. Allwild 0 17 Nov 3, 2008 3:23 PM
That's why they Bloom at Night!! jomoncon 0 31 Oct 30, 2008 7:55 PM
Nice phicks 0 13 Oct 30, 2008 5:59 PM
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