Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Warning: Disease Striking Northern Gardnerers

Many gardeners in northern America have begun displaying symptoms of DSS - Delayed Spring Syndrome.

Symptoms include:  obsessing over seed and plant catalogs, parking at the local garden center and staring at the emptiness, writing snarky comments on blogs that talk about the blooms, growth and work being done in warmer gardens, and inappropriate use of dirty words like hoe, compost and bulb.

Treatment options are few and they will only temporarily alleviate symptoms.  These treatment options include repotting all of the houseplants of everyone in the neighborhood, ordering more plants and traveling to warmer climate to visit public gardens. 

All of these treatments are short lived and symptoms will return after treatment.

The only known cure is spring.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Never go shopping when...

Last week was Spring Break at the college where I teach.  I had hoped to get out in the garden, do a good spring cleaning, and start preparing the area where I'm going to put the new plants I ordered (that will arrive in April).

So what happened?  Snow and high temperatures in the 30s.  Brrr...  Not exactly my kind of gardening weather.

After a week of gardening frustration I went back to work today.  And found that someone has placed air "fresheners" in the bathrooms that release a burst of perfume (ie air "freshener") when someone walks in.  I find that the best freshener for air is open windows.  Perfumes just make the air smell.  And these air "fresheners" trigger a nice allergic reaction in me.  My nose closes, my eyes itch and I get a pounding headache.  Great.  So I can go further away from my office and use a different bathroom or I can get an allergic reaction.  I posted a polite note asking people to not use this stuff.  If the automatic things don't disappear in a day or so I will make them disappear.  I have no shame.

[What does all this have to do with gardening?  Well, here it comes.]

I stop by the grocery store on my way home and right there, at the front door...  temptation...  teasing promises of spring....  

TULIPS!  [no, the dog didn't come with them]

I couldn't resist.  I love tulips.  Mine have pushed up some leaves but the cold weather caused all that new growth to stop.  I'm anxious that they'll survive this extended cold snap and bloom for me.  I really want warmer weather.  I want spring!

Could.  not.  resist.  tulips.

To make maters worse I walked by the "florist" area and spotted this.

An "orange star."  

I don't have a clue what it really is - I have some internet surfing to do.  I hope it'll last as a houseplant.  I can always use more blooming houseplants.  If not, well, I can enjoy it longer than I will the tulips.

After I finish the work I brought home because I got such a nasty headache from the perfume at work...

If only it was warm enough to open the windows or work in the garden.

Then I really wouldn't get my day's work done.

Oh, and here's a bonus cute picture of The Husband asleep on the couch.  With Cats.

Monday, March 21, 2011

First Full Day of Spring

You can imagine my comments.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Garden Bloggers (ALMOST) Bloom Day

I had really hoped that March would be the month I transition from posting houseplant blooms to posting outside blooms.  But not quite.  Instead it is the Almost Bloom Day.

Like this pansy who survived the winter under the snow that got plowed off the driveway.  Maybe next week.

The Pieris always seems to take forever.  It produces the buds in the fall, holds them all winter and then teases for several weeks before fully opening.

I thought Hellebores were supposed to bloom when there was still snow on the ground.  
This one sure didn't.  

Crocus are one of the first blooms but cloudy days means they won't open quite yet.

So we're back to inside plants.  My cyclamen have all faded so no good blooms there. 

My Meyer Lemon is in bud again.

Good thing I have my Anthurium.  But even that is getting ready to go into a pause, with the old blooms starting to fade and the new buds not yet ready to open.

We can have flowers every month of the year as long as it's not that week between winter and spring when everything is in bud.  Then we just have to go through March Madness.

Monday, March 14, 2011

March Madness

It's March and in my family that means the season of March Madness!

No, I'm not talking Basketball.  The OTHER March Madness.

It's AAALLLMMMOOOOSSSTTT gardening season!
But not quite.

March Madness rears it's ugly head when the weather report says chance of snow and THIS is the only snow you have left on your property after a long, snowy winter.

March Madness can result from a survey of damage done to shrubs by the heavy snowfall (poor Pieris)

March Madness occurs when things start popping up - is that a weed or is it a plant I want?  That will drive you mad!

And what happened to my metal signs?  This didn't happen last year.  I guess the road salt got on them.  Good thing I kept a map of what I put where, right?  Right?  Oh, I didn't?  Shit.

I think I will go Mad with anticipation that Garden Season will begin really, really soon.

Just not soon enough.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Garden Work Day of 2011!!!!

I was able to get out in the garden today for the first work day of the year.

The snow is mostly gone.

Bulbs are starting to pop up.

I always leave my perennials and grasses over the winter.  Today is one of the reasons why I do this.  After a long, snowy winter I want to get in the garden and work but here in New England we start Spring with Mud Season.  The ground is saturated from the melting snow.  So I can scratch that gardening itch by cutting back the dead plant matter.

Like grasses

And Aster October Skies

See the new Aster October Skies peeking up?  
Good thing I removed last year's growth before this got too big!

But I still have a ways to go. 

Three days till Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.  Will I have any outside blooms?

These overwintered pansies don't look ready to go yet.

Maybe this Hellebore

Most likely these crocus.
Hurray for crocus!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Bad Biology

There was a lot of bad biology reported in the news over the past week.  Today let's look at the reports of a   Panther in Louisiana, complete with still photos and video.

THIS is NOT a panther.  It's a house cat.

How can I tell?  First off - size, Second off - proportions, Third - probability.

Look at the mowed grass in front of Kitty.  Compare the size to the cat.  A Black Panther is going to be either a Leopard or a Jaguar.  I've worked with both.  They run nearly 3 foot tall at the shoulder and 5 feet long (not counting the tail).  Yeah.  Don't think so.

Proportions are a trickier topic but the head is too large for the body, the legs and tail are too short.  Without anything near for scale the shape still says House Cat to me.  Let me repeat.  I've worked with both leopards and jaguars (and quite a lot of other types of exotic cats).

Probability.  The reports all state the Kitty (and there may be more than one) is not aggressive nor particularly afraid of humans.  One guy watched three "panthers" play on his front lawn.  That behavior is all wrong.  Add that to the fact that neither Leopards nor Jaguars occur in Louisiana and that no one has reported any missing lately and the odds are long indeed.

I wasn't able to figure out how to capture images from the videos that I've seen but let me include these facts.  The footprints they show are of a dog.  I can tell by the shape (and it's EASY to distinguish between dog and cat tracks if you know the shape differences.  You don't look for presence or absence of claws, that's unreliable).  I've worked with both leopards and jaguars before AND I've taken classes in tracking.  The second bit of video from the area is from a security camera and shows a raccoon.  It doesn't even look close to right for a cat of any kind (it's an overhead shot and the animals is short and wide, not long and lean like a cat).

And now for the RANT.  The local police are using lots of time and resources to look for this panther.  The state's wildlife officials are refusing to join in since there is absolutely NO evidence of a big cat.  The police won't take the biologist word for it, though.  (Good on the biologists for not wasting the tax payers money!)

[warning:  serious snark ahead]
Really?  You have a degree in what, criminal justice, but you can better tell if a picture shows a panther than a professional biologist who may very well have dealt with panthers before? Is that arrogance, ignorance, or stupidity?  It's the tax payers' dollars paying for the cops to patrol the area looking for a house cat!

Grump, grouse, bad language.

Really, people.  That isn't a leopard.  It's not a jaguar.  It's a house cat.  I promise.

And I've worked with both before so I know what I'm talking about, dammit!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Spring Thaw 2011

We finally got down to less than a foot of snow on the ground this past week and with a warm weekend (it's nearly 60 today!)  and a seasonal week with highs above freezing I'm expecting the remaining snow pack to disappear soon.  Yipee!

You can see ground where I've been walking

With the snow in retreat I have a few important questions.
Will I have outside blooms for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day?

Daffodils under the Mexican Feather Grass

Crocus in the Hell Strip

Iris reticulata (I think) near the house

How much damage did my shrubs get from the heavy snowfall?

Pieris japonica got weighed down by the heavy snow

I don't usually prune my Buddleia back quite so harshly but I'm pretty sure this will come back strong

When will I start to see green?
Perovskia (Russian sage) showing swelling buds

Heuchera kept its leaves under the snow all winter

Stay tuned!