Sunday, April 13, 2008

Bursting all over the place

Some of the perennials are waking up and a few flowers are blooming. Garden season has begun again. I spent some time pulling grass from around the flowers today, in the cold. The temperature here did not venture far above 40F today, and snow was falling this morning when we left for church.

Try as I might, I have not been able to remove the violets from my plantings. I admit, I have not tried very hard.

Wild blue lupines are more fickle than I had thought. I planted many, from plugs, in fall 2006. Few survived the winter, and fewer still are sprouting now. However, I have seen lupines thirve through drought, fire, and being nibbled by deer. One thing it appears that they cannot abide is loamy, rich soil. They are only persisting in a sandy barren corner of the yard that barely supported grass when we bought the place.

This native relative of the yucca wins the contest for best name: rattlesnake master. I adopted this fellow at a native plant swap in Kalamazoo last year.

Lest you think we grow only pretty flowers, here is my May/June salad. I bought several packets of different greens in fall 2006 for $0.10 each. I did not get around to planting them in 2007, and so I dumped them all this year.

This is the parent to a plant that I am propogating from seed, I like to so much. Almost all the hawkweeds in Michigan are invasive exotics, a major weed of lawns and a minor (usually minor) weed of natural areas. However, there is one native: hairy hawkweed. The flowers are nondescript and yellow, but the foliage is a basal rosette of very fuzzy leaves.

Here you can get a little perspective on the small size of these young shoots. The small plants are one of our native Silphiums: cup plant. The taller plant is a daffodil that has not yet bloomed. In a few weeks, the cup-plant will tower over the daffodil, and by August the cup-plant will tower over me.

And lastly, I have a picture of another non-native, and one of my wife's favorite flowers: bleeding heart. (The flower of liberals?) And in the background you can see something else in the yard.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Signs of Spring


Signs of spring.

While walking through a remnant prairie is Branch County on Tuesday I was buffeted by cold winds and pelted with sleet. But the sound in a nearby wetland was unmistakable. Frogs. Amidst the western chorus frogs, Pseudacris triseriata, which sound like many fingers run along many combs, I heard my namesake - the spring peeper, Pseudacris crucifer (or "Pcrucifer" for short).

The second sign of spring came yesterday, Thursday, in the cackle and roar of a grass fire. This particular fire was set by me and several of my colleagues to stimulate native grasses that had been planted and to set back the non-native grasses and weeds.

In the garden the tulips and daffodils are up but not blooming. We have a few crocuses in bloom, but fewer than last year. They do not seem to find our garden amenable to naturalizing.

One new sign this spring: a "For Sale" sign in the front yard. Now all we need is a spring buyer.