Our oldest Lenten rose, with its deep maroon colored flowers, has been in bloom for a while. We had such warm weather that a lot of things have been coming up early. We had a cold spell. Not terribly cold but with nighttime temperatures in the 20s. That damaged some of the tender leaves that were just coming up and also some of the buds that were starting to open. This Lenten rose, a variety called ‘Mango Magic’, was not quite as far along so was less damaged, although even here the petals of a few flowers were burned by the frost. Hopefully we’ll have more flowers to come, as it’s warmed up again.
Monthly Archives: March 2020
Cathy bought some tulips at the grocery store over the weekend and we have them in a vase on our dining room table. The stems were a bit long and the flowers drooped a bit. She was looking for deep red flowers but they didn’t have any that were just right so she settled for these very pale pinks. I think they’re quite beautiful and a flower here or there and now and then is worth the cost. Daffodils are starting to bloom around my office building and one or two are about to be blooming in the yard but the tulips are a litter further behind. Spring it on its way, however, and we’re looking forward to working in the yard.
Cathy and I came to work together this morning, dropping my car off at the shop for a bit of work. The air-bag warning light is on and we need to know what that’s about. The Honda dealer said they needed to replace the sensor. They also said the rear brakes were in desperate need of work. This was when I had it at the dealer for work based on a recall notice. Since dealerships are generally more expensive than your average, independent repair shop, I figured I’d get a second opinion. Anyway, after work I met Cathy where she had parked and had a couple minutes to photograph the sky. The clouds were collecting like there would be a nice sunset but it never really materialized. The sun went down, the clouds turned from white to grey with only a hint of color. You can’t win them all.
Yesterday we dropped my car off at the shop. It was there overnight so Cathy and I went to work together again this morning. She had a physical therapy appointment first thing, so I got an hour of time to spend reading that I would not normally have had. I finished Tristram Shandy today, which I enjoyed more as I got further into it. It won’t be on my “best books of all time” list but it was fine. Our mechanics looked the car over and instead of having to replace the sensor for the airbags, they only had to replace some wires, which had worn through. They had to take out the driver seat, so there was a fair amount of labor involved, but it was about half what the Honda dealer said it would. And, they said my breaks were fine and didn’t need the $700 of work the Honda dealer said I needed done. We picked the car up after work and got home just in time for this pretty, if less than spectacular sunset.
I went outside today in the early afternoon and walked to the empty lot next to my building. It still looks mostly brown but there are little bits of color if you look hard enough. The seedling pears are just about to start blooming and there is a small amount of pink in their otherwise white buds. The hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta) is starting to bloom everywhere. Those flowers are white and not terribly conspicuous. Even less conspicuous because they are so small are the beautiful, tiny blue flowers of Persian speedwell (Veronica persica, also known as bird’s-Eye speedwell). You really have to look for them, but once you start to see them, you’ll notice them everywhere.
I stopped at Meadowside Nature Center on the way home today and walked down to the pond on the Pioneer Trail. There were a pair of geese on the pond and they paddled away from me as I approached. I got some pictures of these seed pods and wasn’t sure what they were. I’m pretty sure they belong to a hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos sometimes called swamp rose mallow). They are lovely, I think. They look a lot like the seed pods on crape myrtle except they are on non-woody stems and are much larger. I walked up to another small catchment pond and startled a pair of mallards who flew off to the larger pond as I approached. It’s supposed to get cold tonight and tomorrow night but spring is pretty much around the corner, with forecasts of temperatures greater than 70°F for Monday.
I went over to my mom’s this morning to see her and to do a few things around her apartment. After the minor chores, we took a walk around the loop she walks most days, about a third of a mile. We started by taking a slight detour to see the two Camellia japonica bushes that are in bloom outside the enclosed walkway just past the dining hall. They are absolutely covered with pink and white flowers, both varying somewhat from almost all pink to mostly white with pink lines. I have three plants in my yard, all small (and one is very small). One of them has buds but none are blooming yet. Looking forward to that.
It was such a beautiful day that after church we decided to stop at Meadowside Nature Center and take a walk. Shortly after we parked we heard a hawk call out and saw it land in a tree overhead. I was able to get a few photos of it—either a Cooper’s or sharp-shinned—but they were from such a low angle they aren’t really all that good. We continued down past the pond to the Pioneer Homestead, where this photo was taken. There are two log cabins, a smoke house, and a corn crib. From there we walked down to Lake Frank and saw one of the eagles on their nest, which was cool. All in all, a very nice outing.
This is Ficaria verna, formerly known as Ranunculus ficaria, commonly called the fig buttercup or lesser celandine. It is a weed and is listed as a noxious weed by a bunch of states and banned in at least two. It’s growing wild in the area around the pond next to my building. I’ve had enough experience with invasive weeds that I understand the desire to keep them out so I wouldn’t ever plant this. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the beautiful, bright yellow flowers. It is a tuberous rooted, herbaceous perennial native to western and central Asia and Europe. After flowering, the leaves die back by early summer and the plant goes dormant until the next spring.
Spring really feels like it’s here. The first half of March is too early to be too sure we’re completely done with winter and we’ve had big snow storms later than this, but it’s really feeling like spring this week and I think a lot of folks are hoping it’s for real. The pears are starting to bloom and I’ve seen cherries and magnolias in bloom. I went out early this afternoon and wandered around a bit looking for things to photograph and came across this feather, probably a Canada goose feather, down by a drainage pond near my building.
Daffodils are starting to bloom all over. The early varieties, particularly in warm locations, have been in bloom for a week or so. These are our first to get fully out. They are called ‘Tete-A-Tete’ and they are a nice, little, clump-forming variety that I really like. We have them in a few places and they are very happy, blooming as the others are still forming buds. They are only about 8 to 10 inches tall, so not suited for growing in with too much ground cover. So, in the pachysandra we have taller varieties, like ‘Arkle’ which is big and bold but blooms a little later.
We have two amaryllis bulbs from last year that we pretty much neglected after they finished blooming. They had leaves for a while but we stopped watering them and they just sat on shelves in the kitchen after that. They normally bloom around Christmas time, which is lovely, of course, but we weren’t paying them any attention. A week ago I notice this one had sent up a shoot with a bud on top so it got a little water. It has rewarded our neglect with two lovely blooms. It now has a spot on the kitchen counter. I had to add two stakes to hold it up because the flowers are pretty heavy and the pot it’s in is not.
The star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is a really nice flowering tree, relatively slow growing but eventually getting up to about 20 feet tall and nearly as wide. It flowers rather early in the spring and it’s not uncommon, at least here, for the blooms to be killed by a late frost. We’ve been spared that this year and they are blooming all over right now. The generally later saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is starting to bloom around the neighborhood, also. There are some cherries blooming and the daffodils are coming out in great numbers. It’s a pretty time of year.
As mentioned yesterday, the daffodils are really starting to come out in great numbers. This is one called ‘Arkle’ and it’s a big, bold, beautiful yellow flowered variety. I planted these back in 2014 and they are very well established. Daffodils are long lived and form nice clumps. Where you put one bulb, you will eventually have a group of them, each putting up flowers, so the longer they are in the ground, the better. Others that were planted more recently, a variety called ‘Marieke’ that has similar but slightly larger flowers is still putting up only 3 or 4 blooms per clump. But they should continue to get better each year.
I currently have three camellia plants in the yard. This one it the largest and has the most flowers. It’s called ‘Dad’s Pink’ and though it isn’t a variety that my dad grew, it reminds me of him. I also have ‘Pink Perfection’, which he did have. That one ws quite small when I got it and has taken a little while to get established but it looks like it’s doing pretty well finally (and after I lowered the pH around it a bit). The third is called ‘Mrs. Lyman Clarke’ and dad had that one, as well, out back beside the chimney. It’s barely alive and only time will tell if it’s going to survive. It has six leaves and one flower bud.
The hyacinths are in bloom. These were planted pretty soon after we moved in and they didn’t really thrive but every year they come up. There are three little clumps of them, one purple, one white, and this pink one. They are growing in a bed of Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle, and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). You can see a little of the periwinkle color in the background. It’s nice to see them out our kitchen door. I’m not a fan of their fragrance, so I like they more at a distance than close up.
We have some antlers, collected over the years. A few of them Dorothy had hanging in her room for a while. Other have been out back on the side of the patio, along with some sea shells. We also have a beaver skull that showed up in our yard a while back. We have no idea where it came from, as it was very clean and dry, although relatively full and intact otherwise. This morning Cathy looked out the kitchen door and saw this squirrel chewing on the antlers. They’re a good source of calcium and that’s where they generally go in the wild as part of the cycle of life. It’s not the sharpest photo you’ll ever see, having been taken at a sharp angle through the regular glass of the kitchen door.
This is one of my unknown daffodils. The fall when we moved into our house I took some family pictures for some friends and they gave me a bunch of bulbs as a thank you present. They either were not marked or, more likely, I didn’t write down the names, but they bloom every year. This is one of them. There is another, very double daffodil as well and the hyacinths that I posted a picture of a couple days ago. The daffodils are between our front walk and the house and put on a really good show.
There were a few mid-sized box shrubs along our front walk when we bought the house in 2006. Between a few heavy snowfalls breaking some of their stems and a particularly dry summer one year, they have died back to one main stem. It’s doing fine although it looks a little sad, with the rest of the bush gone. There is another, much larger box at the corner of the garage and it made it through the same years with little or no apparent damage. They are in bloom right now, although as you can see, no one is likely to grow box for their flowers.
The wild violets (Viola sororia) are up in the lawn. They’re pretty difficult to get rid of but our lawn is not particularly weed free in general, so they are among the least of our worries. The flowers range in color from nearly all white to nearly all bluish purple. This one is about half way in between. We actually have a few yellow violets and I’m assuming those are a different species, possibly Viola pubescens, but I don’t actually know that. They look very similar to these, except for the flower color.
Our spiraea is in bloom and it’s really pretty as a background plant. It’s flowers are small but borne in a profusion of white. There are little bits of green in the flowers, but that can really only be seen close up. Spiraea prunifolia, bridal wreath spiraea, is a native of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan and has been introduced in much of eastern North America. Interestingly, this double-flowered plant has the species name while the single-flowered variety, discovered later, is classified as a variety or form of the species. The name of the genus Spiraea comes from the Greek word speira meaning wreath.
I think this is my absolute favorite of the spring ephemerals. It’s called glory of the snow in honor of it’s generally very early blooming time, sometimes when there is still snow on the ground. The genus Chionodoxa comes from the Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory. I think it’s the color that I like best about it, along with its dainty habit and it’s remarkably easy care. It is hardy as far north as USDA zone 3. In a few short weeks it will be done and gone for the year, sleeping away both the heat of summer and the cold of next winter.
This is the same amaryllis flower that I posted a photo of a week an a half ago (see Thursday, March 12, 2020). As you can see, it’s dried out but interestingly has retained some of it’s color. Since taking this photo, I’ve cut the stem so we won’t get any seeds. They are so easily available in bulb form late in the year that we buy one most years. This one came back into bloom, a little later than expected but without much of any attention having been paid to it in the meantime.
It’s been really nice weather lately, which is great. Since we’re staying around the house, it’s been good to get outdoors, even if only into the yard. We say hello to all the neighborhood walkers, of which there are quite a lot. Today was a bit dreary by comparison so we spent most of the day indoors. I did get out a bit and took a few pictures of things in front of the house, including this columbine leaf with two large water droplets.
It rained again today and I spent most of the day indoors, working. We’re into our second week of the great coronavirus hunker of 2020 and it’s been a mixed bag. On the one hand, when the weather has been nice, which has been most days, it’s been great to get out into the yard. That’s nicer than just going out into the parking lot at work. But when it’s cool and dreary, and I’ve stayed indoors, it’s gotten a bit old, sitting at my computer. It’s nice to be able to do that in an armchair with the computer on my lap, but it’s still work and I much prefer to be able to go outside.
One nice thing about being home as we all are is that it means I can get out into the yard during the day. That’s offset by the fact that we can’t go a lot of other places, of course, but we are fortunate to have a pretty nice yard. There’s a huge amount that needs to be done but right now, with the daffodils blooming, it’s quite nice. This little daffodil, one of the Tazetta types, has multiple fragrant flowers on each stem. They were planted in 2014 and are on the edge of the bed that used to surround the spruce tree, which is gone, so they will get a lot more sun now.
Blooming shortly after the beautiful, blue Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow), the Scilla siberica (Siberian squill) are starting to come out. They are a darker blue with down-turned flowers but quite similar. In fact, “some experts have merged Chionodoxa into the genus Scilla under the belief that the differences are not significant enough to warrant separate genus status.” (Missouri Botanical Garden, Plant Finder). I don’t really care one way or the other and just enjoy them both as spring ephemerals. I look forward to their bloom every year and don’t think I could have too many of either.
After a week of mostly beautiful weather, today was grey and rainy. It was nice to be home from the office, meaning I didn’t go into the basement much, but mostly I just read and dozed and did this and that all day. I did go out in the evening to take a few pictures but there wasn’t much to see and I didn’t feel like walking around in the wet to find something more interesting. This is the view to the southeast from the front of our house, looking past a few large oaks to more trees at the end of the block. The maples are mostly in bloom, which accounts for the rusty red shades. The oaks will be out soon, adding a bit of yellow and then everything will be dusted heavily with pollen.
This is a daffodil called ‘Actaea’, which is in the poeticus division (division 9), which are distinguished by their large white petals and small, dainty cups in contrasting colors. I think they are fairly posh, compared to their more boisterous cousins but they are similar in their hardiness. They are a bit slower to produce large clumps, though, so if you want a lot of them in a hurry, you’ll want to plant more of them up front. The stems on these are a little less rigid than the others, as well, and they have a tendency to droop even more when it rains but in the sun, they are hard to beat.
We had another rainy day today, to end March. It’s been so warm and sunny lately that it was a bit of a shock to stay indoors all day. I did get outside long enough to take a handful of pictures, but really not much more than that. These are daylily (Hemerocallis) leaves with rain on them, and the rain continued to fall while I was taking it. I probably should have spent the time to get a tripod and really focus carefully, but I just needed to get a picture. Maybe next time. Sorry.