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Nature & You: Garden creatures require special nurturing

The textured splotches you see on tree trunks and garden stones are lichens. [Jupiterimages]
The textured splotches you see on tree trunks and garden stones are lichens. [Jupiterimages]

We all are as healthy as the air we breathe.

Air pollution is a sinister thing that we all try our best to keep at a minimum.

We share our beautiful planet with many fascinating organisms. In this week's article, I'd like to focus on the living things called lichens (pronounced: "lye-kens").

Lichens are the splotches of color that you see growing on tree trunks, cemetery tombstones and other sorts of places.

Lichens are our "canary-in-the-coal-mine" sort of organism. Lichens are very sensitive to elevated levels of air pollution, and their complete absence does not bode well for us.

Many of us decorate our homes' lawns and garden pathways with decorative boulders that sport colorful assemblages of wonderful lichens.

Now that milder temperatures are starting to hold sway in many a week's long-range weather forecasts, I'd encourage you to lavish some tender loving care on the lichens in your little corner of the neighborhood.

Lichens benefit from a good feeding. To accomplish this, all that you need to do is splash them with a dollop of whole milk. That's it, pure and simple.

A lichen-rich environment is a healthy place for us humans to share. It's the kind of world in which all of us desire to live.

Neil Garrison

Neil Garrison is an outdoor nature enthusiast. He is a graduate of Oklahoma State University/Stillwater; he earned a B.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology. Prior to his 2009 retirement, he was the Naturalist at a central Oklahoma nature center for 30... Read more ›