We welcome signed letters of less than 250 words.

June 2021

Bill Sherrod, Editor

DIVISIVE PUNTOONS

I just received my May issue of Cooperative Living magazine. I did not appreciate your Puntoons cartoon in this issue. It was obvious you were making digs at Mr. Trump, and that was uncalled for. I know that since you are in the Richmond area, your politics are different from ours in this end of the state, but this only highlights the divisions and serves no useful purpose.

– Alvin Clouse, Jonesville, Va.

DOGWOOD OR DOG DON’T?

In your May 2021 issue, Paula Steers Brown makes a good case for kousa dogwoods. Yes, they are beautiful, but their beauty stops with their good looks. According to an article by Barry Yeoman in the April-May 2017 edition of National Wildlife, the kousa dogwood is most likely the source for dogwood anthracnose that has weakened our native dogwoods and killed many.

Kousa dogwoods are not a food source for our songbirds nor our native insects. In their native Asia, their berries are considered “monkey food” and nothing eats them in the U.S. because they are not a part of the food web, according to Dr. Doug Tallamy, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. Native dogwoods, on the other hand, feed dozens of fruitloving bird species, along with foxes, skunks, beavers and black bears. Its berries are high in calcium and the calcium in its leaves nourishes land snails that songbirds, such as wood thrush, eat. It is also a host for the spring azure butterfly.

If you already have kousa dogwoods on your property, keep them, but help restore the balance of nature by working for a 70% native vs. 30% introduced plant species biomass.

If you have questions about this information, please contact your local Virginia Agriculture Extension Service and ask for contact information for your local volunteer master gardener group.

Sharon Rodriguez, Mt. Jackson, Va.