Friday, March 6, 2009

Salix chaenomeloides....huge catkins follow beautiful large glossy buds

When I first saw this plant in the winter of 1992, I assumed that someday it would be a standard commodity in the florists business for winter holidays. The terminal shoots are loaded with huge glossy red buds that are ornamental enough in their own right before opening into these silky little mice. And all you need to produce it in quantity is a wet area. I don't know what happened! I guess it just didn't affect other people the way it did me. It's still nice though, and it has entered the trade as a woody ornamental. This plant grows along the Anacostia River below China Valley.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Windrows and snow define the topography of the ellipse

While sections around the Herb Garden and near the Capitol Columns are mowed regularly, the bulk of the ellipse is treated as a "managed meadow". Woody weeds are controlled by the twofold approach of once yearly mowing and spot treatment with herbicides as required. Directly following its yearly mowing (late February) we got that March 1 snowfall (~9"). Differential melting produced this interesting pattern. I caught it this morning (Thursday) just before 7:00; by 4:30 the snow was completely gone.

Solanum mammosum...I went to the Philadelphia Flower Show and all I got was this a T-t Plant!

I'm trying to keep in tune with the spirit of the economy so I didn't buy as much this year as I usually do from the vendors at the show. I swear it wasn't the label that attracted me to this plant; it was just a plant I had never seen before. A quick internet search revealed a number of other names equally off-putting: ti--y plant and nipple fruit linger in my memory. I do admit the fact that it is a shrubby gourd that produces fruits resembling goat udders....well that was intriguing. The owner of the booth recommended sneaking it into my neighbor's garden and waiting, but that's not going to happen. The only other plant I did buy was yet another narrow-leafed Agave...geminiflora. I have a number of this type of Agaves in the Florida garden; Yucca Do says this one is their favorite.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Flying Dragon (Poncirus) is poised to eat the flamingos, but they're so miserable they don't even care

Well, we waited until March to have a snowstorm, actually since it didn't snow last year I don't even remember how long we've waited. Big flakes are falling thickly at 7:30 AM. The forecast suggests that accumulation is over, but, judging from the radar it looks like we'll get a few more inches.

The snow has come just in time to protect the newly emergent foliage of bulbs and early perennials. And the pansies that I see going in all around town. Tonight's temperatures are forecast to fall almost to single digits, so this snow will prevent a good bit of burning. The ever optimistic evergreen daylilies are particularly susceptible to these late cold snaps. There would have been no permanent injury in any event, since we haven't had an extended warm period to push things ahead of schedule....still, it's nice to avoid cosmetic damage! Apparently we'll be back in the high fifties or even the low sixties by the weekend. March is a roller coaster.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Corylus heterophylla var. sutchuenensis....yes, it's just a dried leaf

But did you ever notice how nicely the leaves of Carpinus in general, and this Corylus dry into geometrical spirals? They are almost as interesting as dehiscent capsules.

Spring ought to be coming; the days are longer, the sun is higher in the sky, but there is a winter storm warning in effect for tonight through tomorrow (Monday) morning and it's supposed to drop below 15F one night early this week. Still, between spring and winter, spring is stronger right now and her triumph is inevitable.

I have to reemphasize how impressed I am by NOAA's accurate prediction of this winter. I remember well when the functional range of weather forecasting was about 2, occasionally 3 wasn't that long ago. My sons remember it and they have bad memories and they're not that old. Yes the National Weather Service hit the nail on the head. (so did the Farmer's Almanac, though I am a bit more sceptical about the ultimate value of their predictions). I expect the raw computational power available today combined with sophisticated data gathering and processing has facilitated this remarkable improvement. Hey, the Babylonians had tremendous predictive abilities in astronomy thousands of years ago without any real understanding of celestial mechanics. They just had a lot of data and some computational abilities. We have ridiculous amounts of data and computers so fast and powerful....well, it's about time!