Saturday, May 31, 2008

Amorphophallus dunnii

One of my Amorphophallus dunnii is in bloom now. What's not to love? I need to find a better backdrop for potted plant photos, though. I never realize how busy the garden looks in some spots.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Wine, Wine, Wine!

Here it is. Paphiopedilum callosum 'Perfection x Ninth.' Supposedly this is a species and not a hybrid, as indicated by its name. I'm not so sure, but it has impressed even my jaded eye. The image here doesn't do justice to the color and I'm sure if you're familiar with vinicolor Paphs you know what I mean. The real thing is quite amazing. Unfortunately to "real" orchidophiles the dorsal sepal has continued to torque as the bloom matures. Still, with this image it should be easier to get rid of when the flower drops. Did I just say that?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

I Blame the Internet

Sometimes I think obsessive types shouldn't be allowed a DSL connection. Last winter a librarian friend of mine (I have several!) turned me on to a web site where you can list and tag the books in your personal library. "Cool!" I thought and dutifully entered the books I own as well as a good number of ones I hope to read before too long. Following that, some random conversation with some random person led to me wondering if there were similar sites where one could post their "life list" of birdwatching sightings. I've enjoyed watching for and identifying birds casually over the last several years and would never consider myself a Birder with a capital B.

So, I found a couple of sites where one could record their bird observations. I chose one where the data was private since my sightings weren't of any scientific value as they lack date and location information. One bored December afternoon I went through the checklist in the back of my field guide and transcribed my list to the site. I had 179 sightings on my life list! Do you know what that meant? 179 is almost 200! Suddenly for no good reason whatsoever it became a goal to have 200 birds on my life list by the end of 2008.

(Insert rolling eyes and pitying look here.)

Next thing I know I'm looking at maps, taking walks over my lunch hour and looking at the posts from a list-serve for birders. The sobering, revelatory post was from one guy who reported what he'd seen that day and how at two-hundred-thirty-some birds he was almost to his halfway point for the year. For the year! I'm assuming he's expecting 500 species this year.

Frankly, I'm encouraged and a little relieved. The encouragement is that if there are that many species in my area, I should be hitting 200 easily! Right? (I'm at 188 as of this moment.) The relief is that however I try this year, I won't be "the best" with "the most."

Still, I keep looking at everything that moves in the trees. During my last yoga class I foolishly positioned myself near the window. While lying on my back, gently stretching a troublesome hamstring, a flash of feathers in the birches caught my eye. The twinge down my neck as I turned my head a bit too quickly reminded me: Balance. Don't hurry. Enjoy.

Here's one of the crows that was in the oak above while I was reading in the fading light last evening. Crows are remarkably soft-spoken near sunset.

We're Not Imagining This

I've been so busy with work and other things that when I take the time to think about the recent weather I second-guess myself as to whether I really remember what it's supposed to be like this time of year. After what seemed like an interminable winter with a record total snowfall I was more than ready for spring. Now that it's here it didn't seem like it was here enough!

It turns out I'm right.

There is a tool used by horticulturists called a growing degree day. A formula is used to arrive at a number that can be used to predict when plants and crops will bloom and set fruit and when insects will emerge, feed, etc. For the area where I live, the normal GDD from March 1-May 22 is 428. This year it stood at 283. Last year it was at 453 on that date. Also, compared to last year which was more normal, the GDD metric is a full two weeks behind what it was then. I'm starting to think this won't be a big year for growing my own tomatoes.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

A Home for Sophia

Every spring, for the past several years a house wren has nested in a gourd birdhouse I made and hung near the back fence. I've christened her Sophia Lo-Wren. Cute, no? In hope of luring another wren to the front garden I decided to make another birdhouse. This time I found a classy cigar box that happened to be just the right size for the main body of the house. It is sealed with water seal and the dovetail joints are reinforced with brass escutcheon pins. Nobody has moved in yet, but it's a unique addition to the garden.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Turn Up The Heat!

Almost a month ago, on April 28 to be exact, I actually thought spring had come. Eager to get started growing things I dug my boxes of tubers out of the basement and started potting them up. I have a small collection of plants in the Family Araceae, mostly Arisaema and Amorphophallus. What I like most about these plants, apart from their fascinating flowers, is the fact that when autumn comes I can box up the tubers and store them over winter. Then in spring I can grow them into exotic-looking, leafy gems that decorate my deck, patio and entry walk.

But getting back to this spring--it's been slow coming. After the potting session which included the Arisaema fargesii shown above, the weather stayed too cool and was rather dry. Consequently not much got off to a start. With the exception of my new, little Arisaema ringens (right) and a hefty Amorphophallus dunnii, most plants are far from flowering. Now that warmer weather may finally be here I expect that to change quickly.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Let's Give This Another Try

Ask anyone who knows me: I just can't keep my mouth shut. A while back I archived and deleted my orchid conservation blogs that I intermittently maintained for over six years. Since then I've pondered the possibility of keeping a blog again. So, here I go.

This blog will be less narrow in focus and, perhaps more interesting to a wider audience. I'm grateful for the people all over the world who stopped in to read my orchid posts. There will be orchid content in this new blog, but I look forward to writing about all of my horticultural and botanical interests. I'll also be delving into my other interests including nature, birds, food and whatever else gets my attention the days I have the time and feel inspired to write.

Comments are always appreciated.