Tuesday, April 30, 2019

38 degrees - Thirty-eight Degrees!!!!

Honestly it feels much more like the beginning of March than the end of April; the plants feel that way too. What is happening (or not happening) in the garden and yard is really more like March also. Even the trees seem late. Sunrise yesterday. (Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

Recently litter-sisters Totty and Pila had their color genes tested by Paw Print Genetics and surprised me with their results.  I was expecting that they would both be tricolor chocolate-brown Icelandic Sheepdogs. Instead of having two at-genes (atat) for black & tan, Pila had two aw-genes for wolf gray sable/agouti (awaw) and Totty had one aw-gene and one at-gene (awat). Of course they are both chocolate-brown.

Kit, Totty, Pila

Pila, Totty, Kit

So going back to the drawing board, I had my other dogs tested and will post the results as soon as they are available. People sometimes wrongly assume that I prefer chocolate-brown Icelandic Sheepdogs. I have said, and it bears repeating, that I strongly believe that one of the really nice things about Icelandics is that they come in a wide variety of colors and patterns and fur lengths and fur textures and temperaments. They are virtually all very intelligent which makes training them almost too easy - - - as long as new owners start with training them when they are puppies.

It's always a thrill when the perennials start showing growth early in the spring - even though they ARE late this year. Peonies are great when they're flowering but I find them just as interesting, though not fragrant, when they first push up above the ground.

This one is a plant that I started from seed a few years ago and therefore is a favorite. If you've never started a garden plant from seed, you should try. It's gratifying to know that it's possible to produce something unique, one of a kind!

Winter Aconite (after flowering)

Winter Aconite (after flowering)

Soooo - plant information: - Winter aconite easily self seeds and spreads. Look closely at the above two photos. A few have some upright stalks in the middle of each leaf which eventually release seeds (like peas coming from a pod).  Each individual plant has only one umbrella-spoke like leaf. So there are quite a few plants in that photo. Once the seeds leave the pods, they remain in the soil until the next spring when they sprout and show two little "seed leaves" or cotyledons. Look for those "baby plants" above.Those leaves work hard and make food which will be stored in a small bulb. The leaves remain green for only a very few weeks before withering. Its second year it grows a small umbrella-spoke type leaf which makes even more food and stores it in the developing bulb. It then also withers in the early summer. The third year, in most cases, it makes a larger single spoked-leaf to store more food. A few three year old plants bulbs may have made enough food to make their solitary first flower. By the fourth year virtually all the tiny bulbs will flower. It's possible to gather the seeds before they are released and spread them to other areas of the garden. Just sprinkle them on the soil and forget about them. (Be careful to avoid raking them up when they germinate next year - I know that's a long time to remember where they were released.) All the winter aconites in my yard were started from seeds I brought up from Royal Oak before I moved and they are doing great here.


Daphne also will self seed. I have close to a dozen plants here in my garden now and they all came from the reddish seeds I harvested from one plant I had back in Royal Oak. They are a small spring blooming bush-like plant; the flowers actually have a pleasant smell if you can get down close to the ground!



Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)

Cornelian Cherry (Cornus mas)

Tree Swallow

Friday, April 26, 2019

Still making mistakes -

Am I too trusting for my own good? I have the hardest time living up to my favorite Maya Angelou quote: - “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” – Maya Angelou. I give people too many chances and I'm often sorry that I do.

I'm a morning person, a first light person, a sunrise person. However. A sunset recently.

Two species of dogwoods. The ubiquitous red-twigged dogwood on the left; in the center the one with yellow spring flowers is Cornus mas - maybe not as easily identifiable as Forsythia but earlier and perhaps, thus more appreciated at least by me. Yes, spring comes late in Michigan's Thumb. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

Two years ago I bought a several very early spring blooming Hellebores of different kinds and planted them around the yard. I think they all have survived. I selected many different colors and bloom patterns, However, it looks like they all turned out the same. Not that that's bad.

I have been doing loads of chores around here and am often amazed at how much I do. For me, winter is a down time, obviously; a time to make lists of things to do when it turns nicer. Spring and fall are my favorite times because the weather is cool enough to work outside; the sun isn't as strong as it is in the summer so I don't have to be as concerned about skin cancer; and it's not as hot. It seems hard for me to just sit. If I do find myself between outdoor tasks because of the weather like when it rains, it seems that I cannot just sit still. I have to be doing something - reading, I love to read, but I can't stay at it. My mind wanders and then I have to be up and doing something. Regardless of whether it was the way I was raised or something genetic, it's OK. As Popeye said, "I am what I am."

The fish must be running. David would know which kind(s). Me? I just like to watch.

Carol just called and we had a nice chat. She lives in Tennessee now and is almost always upbeat. In that respect she is very much her father's daughter. Uncle Roy was an up and happy guy. In fact so was Aunt Margaret, Aunt Liz, and my own Dad. Was it genetic - or perhaps the influence of Grandma. Regardless, a happy family.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

April Showers - - - (And, Red at Night - - - )

 - - bring May flowers - or so they say.

We've already had quite a few flowers of the early spring variety and relatively few actual showers. The other day it was snowing and raining. A few feet/yards/meters makes a big difference here. The yard closer to Lake Huron retains heat and so snow, if it falls now, melts -

And the soil a few yards/meters back behind the house isn't quite as warm so light snowfalls linger.

I've been doing a lot, A LOT, of work outside this spring and I actually welcome the few days when it's too cold and/or too wet to work outside because then I can rest and catch up on neglected indoor stuff like bill paying, cleaning, laundry, and review old episodes of Game of Thrones. I also just got the complete Inspector Morse detective series - the old one, not the current Endeavour.

Red at Night, Sailors' Delight, Red in Morning, Sailors Take Warning.

Because of air pollution, that old adage cannot be relied on as effectively as in the past. It is frequently red in the morning and that doesn't necessarily presage a rainy or stormy day. Today it just drizzled - most of the day. So indoor work. And, BUT, I love it when there's a gentle and long rain immediately after I transplant a lot, A LOT, of old plants and recently planted NEW arrivals. (Clicking on photos will enlarge them.)

Each late winter or early spring when the ground water thaws, Sans Souci (aka the pole barn) floods a bit. This year's thaw was worse than previous years and once things had dried out, I had to do some major cleaning which required some furniture moving. Over the years Kathy has brought up some books. Before I moved, I donated 80% or more of my life's accumulated jetsam and flotsam from the shipwreck that had become my life. Being lighter was a godsend. I don't want now to start all over again collecting stuff but books (and magazines) are another matter and their numbers have begun to increase. So this morning I called the Harbor Beach library in beautiful downtown Harbor Beach and asked if they wanted donations for their periodic book sales to raise money. They did so I trekked north with bags full of perfectly good and barely used books.

I like Harbor Beach. There are many attractive homes and well kept yards there; there's a long history and it shows in the care people take of their homes. There are a couple of buildings for sale and it's very tempting.

On the way back from the library I saw several turkey vultures perched in a small tree waiting their turn at some carrion. Their V-shaped winged flying silhouette is welcomed by me at least and I'm glad they're back after their winter in warmer climes. We have a healthy supply of road killed animals waiting for them to raise their young on.

For a brief time the tree swallows had returned too and were making swooping passes at newly cleaned out bird houses but a temporary return of cold weather made them disappear for a few more days.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

April 3, 2019

I finally have had the right weather and some time to do some gardening and woods-work. Working in the west-woods is an amazingly calming experience. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

I started with several of these spring flowering iris bulbs. Each has divided several times over the years; I think they like it here.

Snowdrops usually arrive earlier. This year the early flowering bulbs and the later flowering ones seemed to open at the same time. Climate change.

The intense shocking pink color of these Bulbocodium vernum doesn't show up in photos. Well, in my photos anyway. Still, and even so, I love the bright splash they make in the garden. They are also doing well and multiplying.

Iris reticulata

I had a hard time identifying the bird in the foreground. Now I think it's either a juvenile red-wing blackbird or a female. Regardless, it's gorgeous.

Behind it is a male cowbird: note the brown head. Cowbirds are parasites on the nests of other birds which means that the adult female cowbird tosses out the existing eggs and lays one of her own or simply just lays her egg into an existing nest for the foster parents to raise. Often the baby cowbirds will push the other nestlings out of the nest.

I can't get enough of winter aconites. All these flowers came from seeds I brought up here when I first bought the property. I cast the seeds randomly around the yard. I did the same thing with Daphne seeds which also did very well. Daphne are small bushy plants with late spring flowers.