Nature Blog Network
Showing posts with label shootingstar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label shootingstar. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Jumping In...

Having stopped writing for so long, it's hard to start again. I feel like I have to have something spectacular to say, something more than just that the columbines are in full bloom, and the lilies of the valley. The prairie alumroot. The phlox. The golden Alexander, Jacob's ladder. Shooting star and may apples. Although this is what I need to write, I suppose... Right now, there is plenty to report, though we are sort of in the lull between spring flowers and summer ones. Plenty happens in that lull, though, it's still spring, after all.

In the past four weeks, I started and finished the spring camping trips that I take with students. I traveled to Devil's Lake in Wisconsin and then to Warren Dunes, MI, for two rainy and chilly weeks in a row. (Both were beautiful...) Our front yard has been transformed from turf grass into a native garden and all the vegetables and herbs are in the ground. And finally, on Memorial Day, it got hot. Sweat-while-you're-doing-nothing hot... this, following a 48 degree high on May 26, which tied the record for coldest May 26 here ever! Spring in the Midwest...

School winds down this week for the summer, but we're busy busy all through the month of June. I shall try to be better about keeping data and blogging...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


"There are some who can live without wild things, and some who cannot. These essays are the delights and dilemmas of one who cannot.

"Like winds and sunsets, wild things were taken for granted until progress began to do away with them. Now we face the question of whether a still higher 'standard of living' is worth its cost in things natural, wild and free. For us of the minority, the opportunity to see geese is more important than television, and the chance to find a pasque-flower is a right as inalienable as free speech..."

Pasqueflowers always make me think of Aldo Leopold. They secured an honored place in the second paragraph of the forward to ASCA... probably the most important and influential phenological document ever, not to mention one of the 2 most "impactful" environmental works ever written (and written over 60 years ago, so it's amazing how current its themes still seem. The other impactful book, by the way, is Silent Spring, this according to the American Nature Study Society). And so to me they have special significance. With their early bloom, they remind me that spring really will win over winter. Their rarity drives home the message of Leopold's book. Their diminutive size, almost hidden among last year's litter, tells us that beauty and wonder can come in small packages.
So, yea!! My pasqueflowers are blooming. I have no idea why they are so terribly pale, but I am thrilled that they came back. I've had a terrible time with them, never getting one to come back more than once. That includes this one, as we just put it in last year. Perhaps they only live for two years, though that doesn't seem right... And they're so hard to find, this is my last effort!

Other good news: my ephemerals did, indeed, come back. At least most of them. Shown below are bloodroot, mayapple, and a trillium, all behind last year's pace but there nonetheless. Shooting stars are also well along, and wild geraniums, and spring beauties, and wild ginger, and marsh marigold (one) and bluebells. The only things that didn't return to my yard are my red baneberry and my Dutchman's breeches.
These hepatica are in my mom's yard. They are a lot happier than mine. (Actually, my one that bloomed the other day isn't looking good at all. I suspect that was it's final attempt at productivity before expiring. I have two others that look like they'll be more like this, but they haven't bloomed yet at all.) My mom also has a Dutchman's breeches about 1.5 inches tall.

Oh, and we are having a major creeping charlie problem, which we may have to fight using drastic measures or we risk losing most of the aforementioned wildflowers.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

...Is Not a Star at All...

Shooting stars have started blooming, their aptly named flowers arcing toward the ground and trailing their white petals like a comet.

For the past week or so, red admirals have been all over -- often in pairs, they seem to be everywhere I go!
And, the pale green flowers of the maple-leaf vibernum have also opened.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

You'll pardon my absence at this phenologically exciting time of year. I was exercising a protest of the cold weather. I don't think the protest worked, but it made me feel good. Today seems finally a bit warmer... although it's still one of those days -- the sun is bright and the grass is greening and the days are lengthening and it seems like it should be warm outside and as soon as you open the door, you realize you've been hoodwinked. It is quite chilly out there.

Unfortunately, it seems, as is always the case, that the undesirables are the ones taking greatest advantage of the sunshine and scant warmth in the air. Dandelions and creeping Charlie are showing up in the yard, while the places where my spring ephemerals should be remain barren and brown. (I mean, unless there's a dandelion there.) I remember last year thinking plants wouldn't grow back and then they did... so I'm trying not to be too worried about them. But I guess that's just part of spring break.

And don't even get me started on the grass. The yard is starting to green up in many places, and already I am struggling with the grass problems I always have... where I want it (like the front yard) it's patchy, ratty and weak. Where I don't want it, like the vegetable garden, it's growing like gangbusters. (You'd grow there, too, if you could... it's the best soil, mostly sunny, the only place that gets watered... but the grass also grows unbidden in paver cracks, which wouldn't seem to be the best spot, and perennial beds...) I wish I didn't have grass at all, but it would simply be too expensive to replace it all with gardens in one year. Of course, I complain, but I have to say... most of my back yard has thick, green and mostly weed-free grass. It's just a few areas where it won't grow, and a few more where it won't stop, that seem to take over my brain and stop me from seeing the fine parts.

Anyhow, enough whining about turf grass. Here's some progress reports on some good guys:
Celandine poppies are popping up everywhere. I'm hoping, now that mine are very well established, for a beautiful display of many yellow flowers.
Shooting star starting to shoot.
Last year we put in 5 native black currants, thinking that edible landscaping plants was a genius idea (although last year being their first year, we didn't really get to eat any). Now I realize that there is another very real benefit... early leaf-out! In my yard, these are the first trees of shrubs to actually show their whole leaves, tiny though they may be. YEA!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Garden Phenology: Strawberry Wars

As a mostly-locavore, I have been eating preserved or frozen fruit since apple season ended in the fall. Sure, there have been some exceptions, at other people's homes, but winter fruit, imported from California or even the southern hemisphere, isn't the same. It's not the same at all. Those of you who know, don't need me to describe it. And those of you who don't, wouldn't get it from my description anyhow.

And so the first strawberries of June are an incomparable treat. When the hard white berries began adorning the bushes in May, I was excited. When they started to turn pink, I could almost taste them. When I ate a bunch from my Mom's CSA box earlier this week, I was so happy... but not at all sated. This is why the birds, with their plot to destroy my strawberry crop entirely, are driving me nutters. You see, a few days ago, the first strawberry in the garden started to look red; it got to the point where we knew that tomorrow it would be ready. One strawberry. But tomorrow we looked, and found only the green cap. Berry all gone. And another strawberry, looking like it would be ready tomorrow.

But the next day? Same thing. No berry. The birds, seemingly excited as we, were taking our
i crop one little berry at a time. Now, I really am willing to share with the birds. But they don't
want to share. They want them all. I mean, they couldn't leave one red one as a good faith gesture? Plus, there's a whole patch of wild strawberries in the yard... And so, we dug in the shed for a net that had served this purpose in the past, and covered the berries with a net meant to keep the birds out. Well. This morning, I went to look and see if any were close (the closest is pictured at the top of this entry.) What I noticed right away was the severed strawberry on the
path (pictured right). It lay there, decapitated, as though a message: "Your silly net won't stop us! We can still get your strawberries!" And they left this non-ripe one just to prove the point. Like a Godfather horse head.

To steal from a very cute children's book, THOSE DARN BIRDS!!!!! (Old Man Fookwire raised his fist...)

In other news:
Nasturtium almost ready to flower.
Seeds of shooting star.
Berries on the red baneberry.
These beetles seem to like my butterfly weed. I don't know if they're bad or good but they're pretty and haven't done much damage in several days, so I"m thinking they're OK. (But if anyone knows different, let me know!!!)

PS -- It looks like we might finally have some good weather today! After days and days of blah. Not sunny, not warm... Sometimes downright cold. Last night we went to hear the free in Millenium Park live taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me, and I think I was colder than I've ever been at Wrigley in April. (Course, I wear snow pants at Wrigley in April...) When will summer come?!?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Spring seems here to stay.

Linden Leafs Out

New, translucent leaves line the linden branches.  Below is a sketch of a linden seedling.  Who would ever imagine that the seed leaves of a linden would look like that!

We have reached the point where it would be easier to list the trees that haven't leafed out than those that have.  Even locusts and sumac have leafed out.  (Well, some sumacs have emerging leaves; others don't yet.)

The first wild geranium blooming.
A cinnamon fern fiddlehead.

Shooting stars bloom.  For years I have had these in my garden; this is the first year they are finally happy enough to flower!

Also flowering: lilacs are beginning to open flowers -- yesterday each cluster had 1-2 open flowers; today they have 5-6.  Redbuds are in peak flowering mode.  Serviceberries are shedding petals.