Sunday, February 18, 2018

Week 13- February 18. 2018

Welcome to Week 13.

With this week's pictures you will have seen a total of 65 picture-contestants.
That is the most that have ever been in the contest. This year for the first time, there have been 5 pictures each week. I hope you have enjoyed that extra picture.
Next week the playoffs begin. 16 pictures will compete over four weeks for the  finals in one month. There will be no second chances. It will be one and done.

We have come a long way in the contest this winter. There have been 13 weeks.  As I think about it that is one quarter of the year.
Winter is not over. There will still be cold days.
But this last week the warmer weather did come back, even for a few days. It was 50 degrees on Thursday, the day I put Julia on a plane for Maine.

Julia is off for the long weekend to visit Katie and Elisabeth, and of course Christopher Philip. He is 13 months old today.
And of course they all live in Maine. And it is February.
I have been promised many pictures.

So I stay home and take care of the office and the houseplants.

With the warmer temperatures there are strangely familiar sounds and smells. Early in the morning when I went outside I heard cardinals.  It seems like it had been forever since I heard them. That is surprising because I read on the Internet, which must make it true, that they do not migrate. Maybe I am just out more in the early morning now, rather than a month ago. Nevertheless when it is 35 and the sun is coming up, the sound of a cardinal is rather magical.

Then there is the sight and the sound and even the smell of melting. There is suppose to be a couple days maybe starting today when it gets to 50 degrees. The snow cover had been fading away. Well it was fading away until we had another 2 inches of snow in several hours yesterday.
Maybe by next weekend we can see some of those snowdrops that were emerging 4 weeks ago. (See Week 9 post from January 21)

The days are much longer these days as we are only one month until the equinox. Just two days ago sunrise went right by the 7 am point here is Iowa City. Today there will be 10 hours and 46 minutes of daylight. We will pick up an additional 17 minutes this next week.
More light and warmer temperatures. One could almost feel good,... so long as one does not read or watch any news.

In last week's voting, the winner by a nose, was the Lily with the butterflies.

Here was the full vote, showing the results after the first day and then at the end of the week.

Lily with butterflies  12-16
Reddish orchid cactus   8-14
Fall Crocus group 8-9
Gingerland caladium 7-8
Little yellow iris  2-3

total   37-50

The playoffs for this contest begin in one week.
At this point we have had 12 weeks to look at the second place finishers.  3 "wild cards" will make it through to the next round.
So far here are the top three:

Week 10 Ruby Spider/Dogwood 33%*
Week 1 Double Bloodroot 31%
Week 3 Iceland Poppy/Cattleya  30%*

Runner ups that are out of the running at this point:
Week 12  reddish Orchid Cactus 28%
Week 6  Yellow Orchid Cactus 26.1%
Week 9 Red Zinnia  26.0%
Week 11 Coneflower 25%
Week 4- tie for second between Anemone Blanda and Allium 25%
week 7- Hardy Orchid and Pink Poppy 23%
week 5- Tulip trio and Zinnia  23%
week 8- Yellow Hellebore  22%
Week 2  multi-colored Zinnia 20%

* In Weeks 3 and 10  there was a tie for first. Both of those contestants will advance automatically.
How about that Mitch? The bloodroot look good to make the playoffs.

Week 13- the last group of contestants

#1 Prairie lily/ Michigan lily
July 1, 2017

I really love this picture with the orange flower and the spots with the blue sky background.

This is actually a prairie wildflower that has been in the garden for a long time. It is sometimes known as the Michigan lily. If you look it up its species name would be Lilium michiganense.
One guess as to where it is primarily found. You were right. It is found in the upper Mississippi Valley and Great Lakes region. That means near Michigan.
It is not a "tiger" lily. That would be Lilium lancifolium. I could certainly understand the confusion.

The Michigan lily is  a tall plant, which can grow to maybe 4-5 feet. That makes it a little easier to take its picture with the blue sky in the background.
What started as a single plant in the garden has become 4-5 plants over the years.

Its leaves are arranged in "whorls". That means the leaves repeat up the stem, all around the stem, in the same place. There is a whorl every so often on this plant all up the stem.
This is in contrast to alternating or opposite leaves.

Here can be your new word for the week.
That is the botany term for leaf arrangement. Who knew? I will put this down to one of those facts that I doubt will stick in my mind for more than about 45 seconds.
"Phyllo" of course is that thin pastry dough used to make baklava. What?
Apparently "Phyllo" comes from or is the Greek word  meaning leaf.
As in phyllopod. Really?
A phyllopod is any crustacean animal that has limbs that resemble...wait for it...leaves.
I will look for one of them on my way to work this week.
Many things can amuse a person before 6 am.

#2 Cactus pair
July 28, 2017

I received a cactus about ten years ago from a neighbor. The actual plant is in the bonus section. I love plants with a connection to a particular person.
The cactus grew, produced offshoots, and then finally bloomed. There are now many plants. They range from young little ones, to the old taller plants. Some of them really look like they have been around for a while. Maybe about ten are big enough to bloom.
They bloom later in the year. This picture was from late July. They will bloom into September.
If is no surprise that they like full sun. This will put some limit on how many I can have.

I like them for many reasons.  The flowers are amazing. The buds are also amazing. The plants increase in number rather quickly. They do have to come inside for the winter. Once inside they need little care. I take a bunch to the office where they winter in the south facing windows.

See the bonus section for more cactus pictures and information.

#3 Little blue orchid
August 19, 2017

The full name of this little beauty is rhynchostulis coelestis. You can see why I call it the little blue orchid. Maybe if you said the name it 4 or 5 times a day for a week you could get it to stick in your brain. I have had it 3-4 years at this point. It has reliably bloomed outside several times over the summer.
Please see the bonus section for pictures of both the full plant and the single flower.

It is also known as the foxtail orchid.
It is fragrant.
The genus is rhynchostulis.
That is pronounced rink-oh-STY-lis.
Coelestis is the species.
The orchid is listed as coming from southeast Asia.
It comes in other colors, including pink.

#4 Blue aconite/Monkshood
October 14, 2017

What a great flower. I do not know the species.
It really does look like someone in a big cowl.  I find this plant is a keeper for the fall garden. I have a nice size clump in the backyard, in semi shade. It does fine.
Disclaimer as I am, after all, a lawyer: Maybe this plant should only be grown with caution in a garden where there would be children around a lot.

Aconitum is the genus. When I look for information about this plant I think about last week's list of animal plants. Other names for this plant include wolf's bane, leopard's bane and mouse bane. What is it with the suffix "bane"?
The name aconitum comes from the Greek, and has to do with the fact that the plant is poisonous.
As I read more I see that "bane" has to do with causing death. That makes sense when I think about it. I read that the Greeks would use some form of the flower on tips of arrows to kill...wolves. (It is amusing to think about shooting mice with poisoned arrows.)

There are a number of plants in the garden that are poisonous.  I immediately think about castor beans. Sometimes foxglove shows up in murder mysteries.
When you look up "aconite" it sure seems like "poison" features in many of the searches. It also seems like it has been a poison used for long time. But the plant is sold in garden catalogues,  but sometimes with a warning. One place I read  suggested wearing gloves when working with monkshood. Since I wear gloves most of the time while working in the garden this is not an issue.

Digression: I once tried to buy castor bean seed in southern Missouri. This particular greenhouse did not sell the seed because of that poison thing.

When reading about aconite I found an interesting connection to something I wrote last week.
Information on propagating monkshood suggests doing it from seed, rather than division. It mentioned that the seed needs to be collected when "barely ripe" to avoid a long dormancy. This is what I mentioned last week about peony seed. Somehow there is a point in seed development when it will grow right away. The seed then hardens or something so it will not germinate for a long time.  I know. I know. I should have given an "education" alert.

#5 Very late fall crocus
November 8, 2017

I do believe this picture, taken in November is the latest blooming flower in the contest this year.
I think the name is savitus Artabir. It could be something else. I am about 75% certain. I try to have labels in the garden. I do not use them for bulbs, which are only there for a few months at most.
For all of you who are keeping track of this, the genus is...crocus.
The species is savitus.
Artabir is the cultivar.
I know I purchased a bulb by that namein 2008. I still have the invoice.

There you have it. The last five contestants for the winter. Pick just one. Voting was strong last week. We are however a little stuck on 50. Find a friend or two and have them vote.

Bonus Pictures
Cactus pictures
The more I look at these cactus pictures, the more I think that they might be my favorite plant, using that term loosely for all the cactus plants.

This is a picture from 2007, which may have been the summer I got the first plant.

Those round things on the side of the plant are actually little cactus plants, not buds.

August 15-17, 2011. You can look back in the archives for this blog and find this time. It was the time that the cactus bloomed for the first time.
There are even posts for the days right before the actual bloom which was when "anticipation" was the big word.

The cactus lets you know when it will bloom.
It then becomes a focal point.

Here was the biggest cactus bloom of all time.
The buds always get enormous in the last days before bloom.
This was mid September, 2016.

The flowers actually open about 9 o'clock in the evening. That is about when this picture was taken.

The Night Blooming Cereus opens about that time of the evening and is done before morning.  These cactus flowers will last into the daytime.

Here was the full bloom.
There were 9 flowers on that one plant.

In the fall of 2016 I divided several of the cactus plants. Those plants are all getting bigger.

Here is a single flower from the little blue orchid.

Here is the full plant. It blooms in columns, that mostly stand up straight.

Here is the Michigan lily, in a picture taken a few years ago.

Here is a nice side shot.

I just found this picture. This is what I can do with the side shoots of the bigger cactus plants. I can make a nursery pot.
That is preferable to using 15 little pots.

Here is a big group of the monkshood.

Julia's recipe
Curried Rice

Please note that all of Julia's recipes from the blog are located at

Curried rice is a long-time favorite at our house, often served with chicken (seasoned (but not floured) and baked in the oven) and broccoli. The recipe is adapted from a trusty Betty Crocker cookbook recipe, which is surprising because we mostly know B.C. for the basic baked goods - brownies, pumpkin bread, pie of all kinds. This recipe is easily converted for vegetarians or even vegans. Gluten-free, no dairy. Of course, if you have issues with rice, we have a problem.  Everybody else can be accommodated.

Here are most of the players: onion, basmati rice, butter, salt, allspice, curry powder, turmeric, black pepper. Not seen but important: chicken stock.

I cut up some onion in small pieces, ending up with 3/4 cup. I measured out the spices into a little bowl: 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/8 (or a bit more) black pepper, 1 teaspoon store-bought curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon of ground allspice and 1/2 teaspoon turmeric.

Next, I melted about 2 tablespoons of butter into a enamelware pot on medium-high heat. When it was melted, I added the onions and 1-1/2 cups of basmati rice. I cooked and stirred the onions and rice for about 5 minutes, turning the heat down a little. At the end of the 5 minutes, the onions were beginning to soften and some of the rice had turned bright white, as happens when you cook raw rice in butter (or other fat).

Next, I stirred in the spices and when they were mixed in, I added 2 cups of chicken stock. I let the mixture come to a boil, and then turned it down to a little less than medium and put a lid on the pot. After about 15 minutes, I took the lid off, gave the rice a stir and tasted it to see if the rice was done. Not quite, so I turned the heat down to low and put the lid on for a few more minutes, at which point the rice was done.

Here it is, in the bowl, on the table, with the above-mentioned baked chicken.

Variations: Use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock. Use plain vegetable oil (not olive oil) instead of butter. Use long-grain white rice instead of basmati. All of these  substitutions can be straight up.

You can use medium grain rice (what we call regular rice at our house), but if so, you will need to increase the stock from 2 cups to 3 cups. Basmati (and long grain) rice cooks in a 1-1/2 cups rice to 2 cups liquid ratio. Medium grain rice cooks in a 1-1/2 cups rice to 3 cups liquid ratio.

You can also use long grain brown rice or brown basmati rice, which will have the same proportions as white long grain or basmati. However, brown rice takes twice as long to cook. So I would suggest a change in method: bring the rice and liquid to a boil on the stove in an enamelware (i.e. oven-ready) pot. When the rice and liquid are boiling, put the lid on the pot and put it into a pre-heated 350 degree oven. It will take 45 minutes or so to cook in the oven. You will not need to worry about regulation of heat on the stove during the substantially longer cooking period if you use the oven.

Cold basmati or long grain rice is hard (literally) so leftovers need to be heated. Cold medium grain rice is soft, so it can be eaten cold, standing next to the kitchen sink if you like. With a piece of cold chicken, if possible.

Odds and ends

Thinking about the picture of the butterflies I am reminded of this picture that was in the 2007-8 contest. It was taken on June 24, 2007.

Here is something odd.
I do see some of the news. I read about the Russian Internet activity.
In light of that news  I think the Russian bots are visiting this blog.
I am not just being paranoid.
Blogger keeps track of certain visitor information. You can see "Page views" for the week on the right side of the blog.
I can look up "traffic sources" for those views. Last week there were about 500 views. That is about average.
Of that number  about 100 are almost always from some place in Europe. (I do not know many people in Europe.) Sometimes they are from France. Sometimes Italy. Sometimes,  even Russia. Those foreign "views" maybe come to 15% of all the views.
I can get "all time" statistics from Blogger. The blog has been around for 11 years. During all that time France is the foreign country with the most views. There were 5200 such views compared to 1900 from Russia, which was in second place. 1900 over 11 years is 173/year or 3/week.
Guess what!
This last month's numbers, were 409 from Italy and 105 from Russia.
This last week however it was 99 from Russia and 60 from Italy. In other words, there was hardly any activity from Russia for the month, until this very week.
Then there were 33 times the average number.
I am just saying.... it is kind of odd.

As we finish with the 65 contestants here are a few good pictures that were not chosen for the contest.

There are so many gorgeous little iris.

Orange is always a good color.

As with so many of their kind, this succulent spreads.

Daffodils do not get the attention in the contest they deserve. I will try to take better pictures this year.

A little rue anemone brightens up the bed along the front sidewalk.

Bleedinghearts are nice.

 Japanese iris can be quite magnificent.

Do you know what this is?
It is the seed head for the jack in the pulpit. Each one of those red things will be a seed to form the corm which is what the bulb of the jack in the pulpit is called.

That is it for this week. Enjoy the longer days.
Do not get discouraged.
Winter will soon be behind us.
At some point the Iowa legislature will adjourn.
Stay warm.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

February 11, 2018

Welcome to week 12 of the Winter Picture Contest

Weather patterns. They happen all the time. Some are nice; some not.
In Iowa, we are now in a pattern of snow and cold. I guess that is winter.
As of a week ago we had missed out on the snow for most of the winter. I remember winters when snow cover just lasted from December to March. That was normal.
This winter the only snow had been that one weekend we drove to Chicago. That figures.
Well, this past week it snowed Monday. It snowed a little on Wednesday. It snowed on Thursday. Now it is snowing on Saturday morning as I work on this blog.
It is not snowing a lot. Mostly it has been 1-3 inches. But that is enough to make driving difficult. It is enough to make you think it is going on forever.

And it has been cold. Bundling-up cold. Heavy-gloves cold. Friday it reached 22 degrees at one point. Julia and I both commented on how warm it seemed.

Julia has her mittens-for-the-schools finished just in time to deliver them in the next few days.

It think the hardest part of this time of year is how it is always the same. It looks the same. Each day is cold. Each day it either snows or there is snow in the forecast. Each day you have to worry about driving conditions. And then you look at the forecast. It mostly is below freezing. What happened to the 50 degrees from two weekends ago?
Weather patterns.

Here is the winner for Week 11.
It was the toad lily.
In so many ways this plant is a nice addition to the garden.

Here is the full vote, showing the first day's totals and then the weekly totals. The toad lily garnered 4 of the first 5 votes on Sunday morning and never looked back. It was one of the most dominating wins of the season.

Toad lily   14-20
Coneflower   5-11
Amaryllis   5-6
Triumphator 2-4
Dogtooth violet  2-3

total   28-44

The playoffs begin in two weeks. Will it still be snowing then?
At this point we have had 11 weeks to look at the second place finishers.  3 "wild cards" will make it through to the next round.
So far here are the top three:

Week 10 Ruby Spider/Dogwood 33%*
Week 1 Double Bloodroot 31%
Week 3 Iceland Poppy/Cattleya  30%*

Runner ups that are out of the running at this point:
Week 6  Yellow Orchid Cactus 26.1%
Week 9 Red Zinnia  26.0%
Week 11 Coneflower 25%
Week 4- tie for second between Anemone Blanda and Allium 25%
week 7- Hardy Orchid and Pink Poppy 23%
week 5- Tulip trio and Zinnia  23%
week 8- Yellow Hellebore  22%
Week 2  multi-colored Zinnia 20%

* In Weeks 3 and 10  there was a tie for first. Both of those contestants will advance automatically.

Week 12 Contestants

#1 Reddish Orchid Cactus
July 7, 2017

This is another orchid cactus. Their other name is epiphyllum. There have been four in the contest this winter. They really are special. I have put all four right together in the bonus section so you can see them all in one place.
In addition to the plants that are now rather large, I have several epiphyllum that I bought 2 years ago. I hope they might be big enough this coming year to bloom. I tried to get colors that were different from the ones I already had. One of the young plants has leaves in a zigzag pattern. It is to bloom with a white flower. It is something to anticipate.

I also have several plants that I have grown from seed. Harvesting the seed is kind of fun. The oldest were 2 years old this winter. The post that shows the seed gathering is January 3, 2016. It is in the archives. The plants are getting bigger. I think they might have another year to go before they bloom.

#2 Gingerland Caladium
August 5, 2017

I have bought caladium bulbs each year for many years. They grow from bulbs that will die if left in the ground over our winter. In that way, they are similar to many other bulbs such as dahlias, cannas, and elephant ears. While I will store elephant years and do not grow the other bulbs listed, I just get new caladium each spring.

Caladium are really a must for the shade garden. Here is the point. They grow in the shade. (Some varieties will grow in the sun.) They are colorful. Red caladium in between the hosta make a great combination.

This particular variety is Gingerland. 10 bulbs were given to me as a promotion in 2016. I liked them, and they have now become a staple. The bulbs arrive about April 1. I pot them up and grow them inside until maybe mid May. By then they have sprouted. They want the ground to be 70 degrees. Hint- the ground does not get to 70 degrees until the temperature has been quite a bit above 70, for a while. Sometimes that can be as late as June 1.

More caladium pictures are in the bonus section.

#3 Fall Blooming Crocus
September 9, 2017

Fall crocuses are another requirement for the fall garden.
They are a splash of color at a time when the color of high summer is fading.
This clump is a mature clump that might be 10 years old at this point. It might need dividing.
The time for that would be after the bloom in the fall- well, too late for that now. Maybe they can be divided in late spring, after their spring foliage had died back.
Many of the fall crocuses have spring leaves, which produce no flowers. I am reminded of naked ladies, or surprise lilies as they are also called, which do the same.

If you order fall crocuses from bulb companies they will send them to you in the summer. It really can be instant gratification. You plant them in August and they bloom a month or two later.

Spring bulbs have little or no competition from other plants.
These fall crocuses are getting crowded by hosta that just get bigger all the time.
Planning where to put fall crocuses is not as easy as thinking about where to put spring flowers.
But there are some fall crocuses that bloom very late. That can affect the calculation.

#4 Little Yellow Iris
May 2, 2017

Yellow-what a great color. I really must have that color competition one week. All the yellow flowers would compete with all the blue flowers. How about red?

But this is a little bearded iris. The smallest are called "dwarf miniature" iris.
I love them because they come early in the year and you do not have to stake them. The tall beard iris are nice but can fall over if not staked.

This picture makes me think about all the spring flowers. Some years in the garden by mid- February the aconite and snowdrops had started to bloom. Not this year. I think I can say with some assurance at this point, we will not have an early spring.

#5 Late Lily with Butterflies
August 12, 2017

I believe this is Lilium speciosum rubrum. It is an old lily, having been introduced to England from Japan in 1830. It has been in our garden since 2002. I was younger then. I added lots of lilium from 2001-2006. I compulsively wrote down the names and source and location where I planted them.(The last piece of information is particularly helpful for later identification.)  I then got plant labels which have mostly stuck around. I still have one of those lists of lilies acquired during that time, which allows for this identification. This is about the latest lilium to bloom. The butterflies are a wildlife bonus, and symmetrical too. 

There you have the contestants for week 12.

Vote early. Vote often. Send me you comments in one form or another. Hearing from you makes it easier to get through this time.

Bonus Section

Here are the four epiphyllum from the contest this winter.

Here are more late lilium.

These are on the east side of the house. They get morning sun, with filtered sun the rest of the day. Many of these lilium are fine with half sun. Others, such as the Oriental lilies do not last a long time.

This is the picture from which the contestant with the butterflies was cropped.

This is a single Gingerland clump. I buy the biggest bulbs I can get in the spring. That would be the jumbo bulbs, if they are available.

I keep the caladium in pots for a while, some time moving several to a single big pot. This allows me to move them around, or to decide to splash them into some new bed in August.

The red dots do look photoshopped. But no, they are real.

Here was one of those new beds this past summer. 

I do realize that almost every bed can do better with a reset every 10-15 years. I have actually been doing that these last few years, particularly since I have had some part time help in the garden.

The white variety I get is called Candidum. Several each year get a little pink tint. It is one of those plant mysteries that are so appreciated.

A caladium with the sun behind it is one of the many garden marvels, particularly in the early morning.

Julia's Recipe

Brussel Sprouts: Who Knew?

I did not have brussel sprouts until about 15 years ago around Thanksgiving. I was looking for a green vegetable, not green beans, not broccoli, certainly not peas. I think I came across a recipe for roasting brussel sprouts. Actually it may not have so much a recipe as the suggestion that roasting brussel sprouts would be a good idea. And it was. We eat them from time to time during the fall and winter. Roasted, of course. 

I started out with about 35, maybe 36, brussel sprouts mostly about the size of golf balls or ping pong balls. I rinsed them well as they appeared to have had some kind of hard journey on their way to my local Hy-Vee.

I trimmed the ends off and peeled off the leaves that looked damaged or had any blackish spots. After cleaning the sprouts up, I sliced each one in half lengthwise and dropped the halves in a smallish deep bowl. I ended up with 4 cups of halved brussel sprouts.

I added 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the little deep bowl and tossed the sprouts around. Then I dumped them onto a rimmed baking sheet with a non-stick silicone baking mat (you could use parchment or aluminum foil if you are mat-less). I turned all the sprouts cut side down and sprinkled them with kosher salt. I used 6 big pinches.

I baked the sprouts in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, no turning or shaking or moving them around needed. After 20 minutes they had some nice browning, both on the top side and on the bottom side.

While the sprouts were baking, I mixed up a sauce, suggested by Alton Brown: 1/2 teaspoon each red pepper flakes, toasted sesame oil and fish sauce. The little bit of sauce is barely visible in the stainless steel bowl. A. Brown suggested chopping up a few peanuts as well, shown in the little bowl. I put the roasted sprouts in the sauce bowl, tossed them around, poured them into a serving dish and sprinkled on the peanuts. Done and delicious. Although there is not much sauce, it makes an impact. Too much sauce would make the sprouts soggy.

Here are the sauced and peanut-y sprouts. You could leave out the peanuts with no real impact. I think you could use tiny amount of chili-garlic paste or Thai curry paste instead of fish sauce. I would use toasted sesame oil which is flavorful, although I don't have experience with exotic oils; maybe avocado oil or walnut oil would also pack a flavor punch.

Or you could forego the sauce altogether. We usually eat our roasted brussel sprouts plain; that is, roasted with olive oil and salt. If you go the oil-and-salt-only route, you could add other vegetables for color and difference in flavor. We have added a few small carrots at the first step - peeled and cut into pieces roughly the same size as the sprouts. I suppose one could add beets or parsnips instead of carrots. Eat your vegetables and enjoy them while you're at it.

Odds and Ends

Animal plants!
We had a toad lily and a dog tooth violet last week. I wondered what other plants had animal names.
Here is a list of other such "animal" plants thought up in the last week, with help from some of you. There are a lot.
I have placed an asterisk for plants in our garden.

cardinal flower
dogtooth violet *
elephant ears*foxglove
hens and chicks *
lambsquarter (actually a weed. We have it and then we pull it up.)
monkey flower
monkey grass
pussy toes
rattlesnake  master
Wake robin*
sheep sorrel (yet another weed.)
skunk cabbage
Ruby Spider and an entire community of spider lilies*
tiger lily
toad lily*
Plants with names of mythical animals
green dragon

fungi with animal names
oyster mushroom
hen in the woods
lion's mane mushroom

Plants with names of insects
begger tick

Thanks for all the input in putting this list together.

I have written about growing tree peony plants from seed. I have four plants grown from seed out there under the snow at the moment. It took forever for them to germinate. In fact I finally just threw them in the garden and forgot about them.

Well I read something interesting about tree peony seed in a garden magazine this week.
Apparently if you harvest the seed very early, before they have dried out, you can plant them right away and they will germinate the next spring. If you wait until they are all dried out, they will take two years to germinate.
That is the strange garden tale of the week (assuming it is true.)

Days until

March 20  the first day of Spring  37 days
March 29  Opening day of baseball season  46 days
April 15- many plants might go outside  63 days
November 6 Election day  268

I close with this nice view of one of the garden glass balls. With the snow it and all its friends have hats.

Drive carefully.

Warmer times will come.
Philip and Julia