Saturday, February 4, 2012

Week 11 February 5,2012- Flowers in real time

Welcome to week 11 of the Sixth Annual Mears Garden Picture contest.

My goodness. It is barely February.
And there are real time flowers. There are snowdrops all around. On the other hand I have had snowdrops bloom in January before. I should add that when that happened before, it was remarkable then.

On Monday and Tuesday of this last week, the last two days of January, we again had record or close to record high temperatures. It was sunny with highs of 61 and 59. So the winter aconite, also called eranthis, actually bloomed.

I went back and looked through my spring pictures on my computer. I have pictures back to 2002. The earliest in the year picture of any aconite was on March 1, 2006. Think about it. This year this aconite was blooming at the end of January. So it was a month earlier than the earliest it has ever been. Wow.

What was almost as amazing was the fact that on Tuesday there were bees. I had my camera out and was taking pictures. One flew up and buzzed around the camera. It was early in the season. The flowers were out so I guess it was time to wake up.
I have said this before. When I see that first bee I am reminded of the story of the dove on Noah’s ark. When the flood was nearing an end Noah sent out a dove. The first time the dove came back with nothing. A while later it was sent out again. This time it came back with an olive leaf. This showed there was life somewhere. Well I imagine that each late winter some bee is made to go out and look around. Its mission is to see if there is any reason for everyone else to get up. If the bee reports in that there are flowers everyone else goes out.

Bees are not the only critters out. My personal aerator, called Mr. Mole (actually it could be Ms. Mole) has been awake. I need to remind myself that moles look like they are doing bad things but mostly do not.

Dare I mention rabbits? We have some tough neighborhood cats that generally keep down the rabbit population. On the other hand rabbits can be a fact of life. I looked to see the place where some of the first crocuses bloom. After all, crocuses are not far behind aconite on the spring schedule. Sure enough, I found the one early crocus clump. It was eaten to the ground. So it goes.

So what happens next? Will we have daffodils by Valentine’s Day? Probably not. The weather is settling down to being just a little bit above normal. That means 35-40 as the highs and 20 as the low. I certainly can live with that for the start of February. Perhaps we will have the longest lasting aconite season in history.

So on to the contest.

In last week’s contest the winner was the Iris. There were also strong showings by the Coneflower and the Fritillaria.
The full voting was:
Iris 22
Coneflower 15
Fritillaria 14
Daffodil 8

Here are this week’s contestants.

First up is this dramatic daylily, called Tiger Kitten. The picture was taken on July 19. I wonder when this flower will bloom this year. Will it bloom in June?
Daylilies really are great. They are pest free. They come in all kinds of colors and shapes. There are big ones and little ones. They also will do well with limited sun. This plant, on the northeast corner of the house, gets maybe 5 hours of sun each day.

Your second picture this week is a great lily, called Triumphator. The picture was taken July 6. This of course is not a daylily. Sometimes I refer to this group of flowers as lilium. Actually wikipedia tells me that this is the name of the genus.

(Pay attention or skip this part- because this is the educational part. On the other hand there will not be a test.) The family name is Liliaceae. The genus includes Asiatic and Oriental lilies. And Trumpet and Martagon lilies and more. And then the hybridizers get busy, as some of these types of lilies cross with each other. There are Orientpets, one of my favorite names. They are also referred to as OT lilies. Those are crosses between Oriental lilies and…guess what…. Trumpet lilies.
So Triumphator is an LO lily. That’s a cross between an Oriental lily and a Lilium longiflorum, which is the Easter Lily.
The daylily is not in the same genus as these lilies. It is in the genus hemerocallis. Here is what wikipedia says about daylilies.
Hemerocallis is now placed in family Xanthorrhoeaceae, subfamily Hemerocallidoideae, and formerly was part of Liliaceae (which includes Lilium, True Lilies).

The third picture is a daisy. The picture was taken June 26. I have decided that this week I like the picture. I went back and forth. It is certainly not red and yellow. I have several clumps of daisies. Some have names. Some originally came from a plant from a fast food restaurant. Daisies like other white flowers have their places, amidst the color. When I like this picture I really like it. I like the absence of color. The deep green background so sets off the flower. If you look at the center closely you can see those same patterns that were in the center of the coneflower.

The last picture is the sentimental pansy. This picture was taken on October 21. What a wonderful face. I should add that the pansies lived through the winter, such as it was, and are starting to grow. The old flowers from December are still there, looking a little tattered. I really am looking forward to them putting on a nice show in March.

So vote away.

Amusement of the week- Other title.
Sign of the times-

Here is this little feature which is off to a slow start. It started last week. Come on folks. Help me with this. Send me your ideas.

This week I want to talk about invasive life forms. In the garden we are familiar with garlic mustard, and maybe even kudzu vine. On a smaller scale there is creeping Charlie and crab grass. Do you remember rabbits in Australia? There were no predators. Well this last week there was the story about an invasive critter in…the Everglades. Did you see this story? The critter is the Burmese Python. On my.
Here were some of the observations.

They may grow up to 22 feet long but average about 16 feet. The snakes can swallow whole animals four or five times the size of their head. In the Everglades, the pythons have been found to eat deer and even alligators.

The snakes reach breeding age in four to five years and a female lays an average of 35 eggs during the spring breeding season, though one snake may lay up to 100. Burmese pythons can live as long as 30 years.

The bad news is that there are probably tens of thousands of the pythons at large in a remote wilderness area covering thousands of square kilometers, and despite their size they are extremely difficult to find and kill.

For your bonus viewing I give you the spectrum of daylilies 2011 from my garden. They really do come in an amazing array of colors and shapes. I do want to remind you that if you click on a picture you should get a slideshow to look at. It is kind of neat particularly with these bonus pictures.

I close with the follow-up picture of the snowdrop that has appeared in the blog over the last month. I took and posted this picture on New Year’s Day.

Here is that same little clump on January 31. It had seen quite a garden month. It has endured subzero temperatures. It has been covered with snow. It had not missed a beat. We shall see how long it lasts.

Have a quiet week.


Catherine Woods said...

On the topic of invasive life forms, I just learned today, on Nova, about how the Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) has been destroying the beech trees in the Forest of Dean, Chestershire, United Kingdon. Apparently, there are not enough predators, particularly natural enemies, living in the forest to keep their population in check. I looked up more about the Gray Squirrel, and see that, like the introduction of kudzu, the downside of doing so (which took place between the years of 1876 & 1920) was not anticipated. Apparently, the Gray has been overtaking the native Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris) throughout the UK and forests throughout the country have suffered accordingly. The European Squirrel Initiative was "formally constituted in 2003" and they're in the early days of taking action. You can read more in the article, A Tale of Two Squirrels at the Royal Forestry Society website:

Catherine Woods said...

Much as I love snowdrops and aconite, especially as harbingers of spring, I do find it ominous to have had such a mild winter this year in so many parts of the USA . . .

I regularly ponder this question: If we really are in the midst of climate change, how will this unfold and what can or must I do? My own contribution is to garden, which includes caring for and harvesting fruit from our trees and bushes, growing annual and perennial flowers, and lastly, growing organic - and where possible, heirloom - vegetables. Plus, I do what I can to reduce my carbon footprint in as many ways as I can. I'm pleased to see, as a sign of the times, that others are also beginning to act on and share my values!

philip Mears said...

When I think about carbon footprints I think back on the changes in gardening over the years. When we first moved into our house in the early 80's we regularly burned our many leaves in the fall. Sometime later, and while I still had space in the garden, I built enclosures each fall for the leaves, which decomposed over time and formed garden burms. I then planted on top of the burms the next year.One of my raised beds today is an old leaf made burm.
Today I no longer have space for that. So I give my yard waste and leaves in the fall to the city each week. They have a large professional composting system. This last year I got almost a ton of that finished compost from the city.
Some things do evolve in a good direction.