Friday, February 17, 2017

Snowdrop Season

 
My snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) have been up since January. And climate change is a myth? I think not. We've had an extraordinarily temperate winter in 2016-2017. Temperatures are due to hit around 60 this weekend. Yikes! We've had very little cumulative snow, so I fear that soils are pretty dry right now. We'll see what happens to evergreens as things progress.

Snowdrops. These little magical flowers give me such pleasure. They are stubborn little things for a plant that seems so delicate. The patch pictured seeded itself from the original grouping and every year is a little bit bigger. The original planting had died out to only one plant. I'm happy to report that this year, it has pulled itself together and is up to three little bunches. This is why I let them go to seed. They are among the plants dispersed by ants.

Guess what? Ants are pretty important for seed dispersal for some plants. Snowdrops, wild ginger, and violets among others produce seed with a special appendage called an elaiosome that is rich in fats, sugars, and other goodies that are particularly attractive to ants. Propagators will often call it 'ant candy'. Ants will carry off the seed, consume their treat and the plant is neatly dispersed away from its parent. Cool, eh? This is why I don't get fussed over anthills or ants in the yard. Go, little pollinators, go!

It is fascinating to me to see where these ant candy plants pop up in the yard. My wild ginger is spreading slowly by rhizomes, but it has also appeared in places 20 feet from a patch in full sun. Will it survive? We shall see. I am awash in violets in the lawn and the beds. The back 40 (feet, not acres) resembles an alpine meadow in spring. I love them. As a child, I'd pick violets for tiny bouquets for my dolls.

What plants suddenly appear in your gardens?


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Janustory Wrap Up 2017


Well, we've come to the end of the long road that has been this short story. I've really enjoyed the challenge and it has been a good reminder to create art every day. To carve out time for creativity is so important and give me balance. I will attempt to keep this blog up weekly, but as you can tell from past history, life does tend to get in the way. So does gardening, but that is a good thing. I decided to include the whole journey below. Enjoy!

  1. Falling.
  2. Sliding down.
  3. Pillow catches me.
  4. Weird room all yellow.
  5. What is this sticky stuff?
  6. I catch a glimpse of sky.
  7. The walls are too slick to climb.
  8. The sticky liquid is sweet and quite delicious.
  9. My prison trembles and shakes – what is happening now?
  10. Bumblebees are terrifyingly gigantic from a tiny brown ant’s perspective.
  11. The miniaturization process worked, but I am trapped and very afraid.
  12. Although I have sufficient sustenance, I have been separated from the team.
  13. The sticky yellow petal walls of my prison are closing in on me.
  14. I have been startled awake by the inquiring probe of a long bee tongue.
  15. The petal slit, I can now escape, if only I could find a way down.
  16. After crafting a braided rope from the calyx fibers, I’ve freed myself from my narrow prison.
  17. How am I ever going to find the other members of the team with my radio broken?
  18. As I inch down the stem’s thick buoyant hairs, a deluge of water nearly knocks me into space.
  19. I cling aching and helpless as a summer shower tries to drown me, each heavy raindrop a merciless waterfall.
  20. At last I have reached the leaf litter below and I pause to take in this strange huge new landscape.
  21. Each crooked stem, green leaf, and grain of gritty soil has become an entirely new country and I am a foreigner.
  22. I wonder where my other intrepid team members landed after our laboratory shrinking and if they are entirely lost or also exploring.
  23. I have achieved an open patch and looking up to a brilliant sky swept with clouds, suddenly feel that all is not lost.
  24. A warm breeze ruffles my hair as the sun begins to set and I’m going to need to build a shelter for the night.
  25. The last golden orange rays of the summer sunset are fading beneath a clear sky studded with stars while my new fire burns and crackles.
  26. Luckily, I have managed to snare a dinner meal of some kind of white grub, if only I can find the intestinal fortitude to swallow it.
  27. Until this daring misadventure, I have never realized just how loud the song of crickets can be when you have been shrunk down to their size.
  28. Under the rosy blush of a new dawn, I am slowly awoken by the distant call of different song birds and wonder if now I am considered prey.
  29. Stretching each and every muscle so I can be ready for immediate flight into the foliage, I sip fresh drops of dew from the stem of my yellow flower.
  30. Suddenly I feel an electric tingling all over my body, and as I rise to my feet, my world swirls into a myriad of colors before dissolving into dazzling confetti.
  31. I step from the remains of a broken terracotta container brushing bits of plants and soil from my clothes and find my four colleagues hale and hearty, if a bit rattled.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Janustory Day 30

Janustory Day 30: Suddenly I feel an electric tingling all over my body, and as I rise to my feet, my world swirls into a myriad of colors before dissolving into dazzling confetti.

#janustory #wordcount30

There was SUN today! Countless numbers of us took a long moment to soak in some vitamin D and remember what color blue the sky looks like. In celebration, here's a witchhazel in bloom. I think they look like brilliant yellow fireworks




Sunday, January 29, 2017

Janustory Day 28 and 29

Janustory Day 28: Under the rosy blush of a new dawn, I am slowly awoken by the distant call of different song birds and wonder if now I am considered prey.

Janustory Day 29: Stretching each and every muscle so I can be ready for immediate flight into the foliage, I sip fresh drops of dew from the stem of my yellow flower.

#janustory #wordcount29

This little writing exercise is drawing to a close as February is upon our doorstep. I've enjoyed the challenge! Now, the hard part is a wordy sentence that flows and isn't too run-on. I am reminded of the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest where the goal is to create bad opening sentences to imaginary novels in keeping with the style of the Victorian author. Go check it out. They tend to be hilarious. In the meantime, since we STILL have not seen the sun, here's a prickly pear flower to bring light to our grey January.

Prickly pear (Opuntia humifusa) flowers are stunning - and native!

Friday, January 27, 2017

Janustory Day 26 and 27

Janustory Day 26: Luckily, I have managed to snare a dinner meal of some kind of white grub, if only I can find the intestinal fortitude to swallow it.

Janustory Day 27: Until this daring misadventure, I have never realized just how loud the song of crickets can be when you have been shrunk down to their size.

#janustory #wordcount27

I think we may miss one of the most important elements of a garden, the yard, the great outdoors - sound. I have a weekly hike with friends, although I try to go more often. Earbuds or headphones are the norm when I run into fellow humans on the trails. Call me snobbish, but I never listen to music when out hiking or working in the yard. I'm too busy listening to the sounds of nature. I want to be able to hear the rough cry of the bluejay nesting in the spruce trees and the susurration of dried leaves clinging to the oak. The percussion of crackling ice or the shuffle through dried leaves are hallmarks of the seasons. I'm happy to sit and doze accompanied by the drones of bees busy in the flowers and cicadas singing to the ladies. What are you hearing when out and about?

Hey baby, hey baby, hey baby - cicada looking for love