Sunday, April 4, 2021

Easter Garden Tour 2021

No ants this time. Just a quick garden tour. This was recorded the day before Easter. Additional Daffodils and Easter Lilies and Tulips were set out in the garden afterward. Several plants featured in the garden had to be replanted because squirrels had removed them, mostly hyacinths and pansies, over night. Not in the video was an Easter Egg hunt I arranged with my niece who had a great time finding them all among the flowers.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

First Day of Spring!

Witch Hazel 'Amethyst' uncurling it's flower petals. This is actually a photo from two or three weeks ago. It's one of those plants that blooms in the winter and takes it's time to finish doing blooming. If it was a warm winter these flowers would likely have finished up by now, but because they're hardy and built for cold temperatures individual flowers hang around for several weeks.

Here they are today and their internal timers are still ticking. Their blooms are waiting for warm days when flies and winter moths to become active. A slightly sweet fragrance is released into the air to entice them into pollinating the flowers. This particular cultivar isn't all that fragrant sadly so it's unlikely I'll see much of anything on it. Last year there was an early Beefly though. 

Trilliums are starting to spring up too. This one in particular is much farther along all the others in my garden. In the past I've called this one a Trillium hybrid because nothing ever seemed to match up, and Trilliums do indeed hybridize a good deal when different species are planted near one another. I've recently learned about Trillium cuneatum though which is pretty variable and I read has a very strong or intense fragrance that I've associated with this individual. You can seriously smell it 15' away!

So I've ordered a bunch of T. cuneatum to see if they measure up. Actually they're a named Trillium cultivar called Trillium cuneatum 'Sessile of Hort' which should all have a white strip going down the middle of each leaf. Hopefully the fragrance part is still somewhat true to the species though so I can compare. 

Also emerging now are Twinleaf, Jeffersonia diphylla, which all have their first sets of twin leaves and flower buds emerging.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Ant Chat with Alex Wild

Back in 2016 when I attended Bugshot, Texas where I met Alex Wild for the first time. He gave a basic class on ants without talking down to the audience or over generalizing things the way lots of documentaries do. I recorded it with his permission and hopefully it's still okay for me to publish it four years later. If not I'm more than happy to take it down. For now though, enjoy!  

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Jewelweed Setting Seed

Impatiens capensis, Jewelweed or Spotted Touch-me-not has exploding seed pods that cast the next generation far and wide. Though an annual, they can aggressively take over damp sites usually along forest edges. It can be weeded out or thinned easily, however; seeds will sometimes take up to three years to germinate, leading to small patches of plants returning. While flowering though it is treasured by bees and hummingbirds. 
The nectar is kept all the way in the back of the flower, right in the back of the tube there so that only long tongued bees and hummingbirds have access to it. This one however has been chewed open by a carpenter bee. 
Jewelweed is a prolific flowering plant though and seems to bloom well after the life cycle of most carpenter bees, thus pollination still occurs.   

Seedpods, when ready, explode on a hair pin trigger. Just the slightest disturbance to the tip and they pop open, flinging seeds several feet away. 
They produce air roots too which pull nutrients from the air. 
 One plant in the patch I have suffered something that caused it to become variegated above a certain point.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

White House Rose Garden

This is such a non-issue, I'm sorry to even be writing about it. I'm only doing so because I feel like no one reporting on it is a gardener.

I've been seeing articles saying things like "Melania Trump RIPS OUT historic trees," and now the White House Rose Garden looks like a graveyard symbolizing how her husband had killed America. 

I don't mean for this to be a political post so I'm focusing on what was done to the garden aspect here. 

First off I will say, given her choice of shoes, Melania probably doesn't garden regularly. (Added: There are images of her wearing sneakers while gardening but she does not look natural in them. So I'm still thinking she doesn't do a whole lot of gardening.) I question how much of the changes can really be attributed to her and not the White House Landscapers and members of the Historical Society who would be taking care of anything worth protecting. 

The main cause of the controversy is how 10 Crab Apple trees were moved. These trees were originally planted by Jackie Kennedy so there is some historic value to be had. But lots of news outlets are saying they were "Ripped Out" or "Cut Down," and sometimes both; ripped out first and cut down later just to spite them. They have, in fact, been taken to an off site location and will be replanted elsewhere on the White House grounds. 

Lots of people are reporting with pictures of the trees in Spring, when they're flowering and looking pretty. There are also lots of colorful varieties of tulips adding to their glamour. So it's not fair to compare that to how the garden looks in Summer.  

Crab Apples, when not in flower don't always look pretty, especially when they're 50 years old and have been pruned to hell over the years. Part of the reason they were removed was to allow additional space for cameras to be for member of the press to do their job. Holding press meetings outside, where there's better air flow, and sunshine, reduces the risk of Covid transferring from person to person.

Along with the red/pink, white, and blue, flowers the only addition was a much needed side walk to make the gardens more handicap accessible and enjoyable from both sides. The Trump administration is far from being environmentally friendly but the reduction in the lawn is at least beneficial, as is the addition of Anise Hyssop, a native plant acting as the blue in the gardens here. (Though it could be one of the Asian hybrid cultivars.) In a C-SPAN video of the gardens some of the White Roses actually look like they're more of a light cream or faint yellow color. 

People are now saying the garden looks like a cemetery... Personally I blame that mausoleum-like white house in the background. That's just my opinion.