April 18th: marigold polka dots

IMG_8172Been a quiet week at work, as cold as it is. I took a little stroll around the greenhouse before I left to see how things were going and found this little flat. You hate to see the marigolds come down with marigold pox. But seriously, I have no idea what’s up with them. My Essential Plant Pathology textbook is glaring at me from across the room, by the way.

April 14th: two steps forwardish, indeterminate number of steps backwards

Soooo…you might remember a picture from last week. Little picture of a strawberry plant. Real sweet thing. I was real proud of myself for planting a gajillion of those in one big go.

It got pretty cold this week, and my farm overlords got worried about the strawberries, so they told me to unplant the strawberries and we’ll plant them again next week. 2000+ strawberries fit in three totes, by the way. Snapped this picture with my phone before I put the poor suckers back in the freezer.

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Oh well.

It’s beginning to look a lot like a winter that is at last painfully yielding to spring

Well, I missed a few days again, but because there are no real rules, I’m not going to recover them with dedicated single pictures for those dates. Instead, I offer up this lengthier post of some of the sights I saw this weekend. I slipped on some wildly impractical, basically cloth shoes and headed out into the woods to track down those harbingers of spring I’ve come to look for every year now. They’re mostly wildflowers, and despite having blogged about them for a third year now, and despite in theory having a “degree” in “horticulture” from an “accredited university” and working “in the industry,”  I somehow am still looking these things up at Minnesota Wildflowers (which is a wonderful resource) to help me identify them. HOW HAVE I NOT MEMORIZED EVERY LAST THING THERE IS TO KNOW YET?!?!??!

Anyway, let’s check in on spring and see how it’s progressing in the backyard, eh?

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This isn’t in the literal backyard; this is on the side of the fairly steep ravine behind my parents’ house. But I figured I better open with the single plant I managed to find in bloom during the whole walk. It is a bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). Yeah, we’re getting proper with our scientific names again. Save us, binomial nomenclature, save us from the tide of overlapping, confusing, regional-specific, chaotic seas that are common names! Let us moor in your ever so slightly calmer waters, binomial nomenclature!

While I’m on the topic, allow me to share a pet peeve I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before. It’s the improper formatting of a plant’s scientific name in contemporary botanical prints. Sure, sure, who DOESN’T have that gripe, right? If you’re not familiar, the first name in a scientific name (that’s the generic name, or genus) should be capitalized, while the second name (the specific epithet, or the name of the species) should just be in lowercase. Both names are supposed to be italicized, or underlined, if you’re printing. But too often in the world of contemporary botanical prints, you’ll see the specific epithet capitalized. You know the kind of decor I’m talking about. That print of four culinary herbs in a tastefully muted palette with some illegible cursive writing in the background. It’s on sale at Kohl’s for $19.99. Most of my peevishness about grammar, spelling, and mechanics has faded but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna peeve hard on this one until the day I die. I don’t care if your average person gets it wrong in informal settings, but if you’re going to dedicate a print to some lovely plant, you should take care in its depiction, including how it’s identified. They’d take points off us in our plant ID classes when we spelled a name wrong, or messed up the capitalization.

Have standards at least as high as an undergraduate horticulture class, print peddlers.

Anyway, this is a photo blog.

Which family does S. canadensis belong to? The poppy family, Papaveraceae. What does that mean to me right now? Not a lot. But I’m trying to introduce families back into my plant ID so’s to have a bigger framework on which to hang my understanding. Will it work? Maybe. Am I going to try for a while? Sure!

I’m going to backtrack now, though. Here’s what I saw in the vegetable gardens:

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 An old tomato.

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The rhubarb is coming up.

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And there was a sweet little bird’s nest by the ole wheel.

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And I kept taking pictures of rapidly-greening little sedums framed through the deep sinuses of pin oak leaves. I wasn’t totally pleased with any of them, but here’s one of those.

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 And here’s some daffodil leaves served up fresh under the layer of leaf mulch, which was making them start to turn yellow from want of light, I guess, but not as bad as last year. And now I’m hoping that they haven’t gotten too cold uncovered in the last few days. Man, I feel like this is something a former hort student should be more confident about….

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 Virginia waterleaf, you crazy showgirl. (Hydrophyllum virginianum, in the borage family, Boraginaceae)

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Columbine!

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More Virginia waterleaf.

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 The gateway to a brave new world… Now we head back to the woods.

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Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria, Fumariaceae, fumary family, whatever that is. This guy is bleeding heart’s cousin. Isn’t that super, super sweet?)

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The forest floor is just carpeted with trout lilies. There are three species of those in Minnesota; this one is Erythronium albidum. They’re in the…wait for it…lily family (Liliaceae).

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 See, look at ‘em all.

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You can see them in the foreground here to get a better idea of their size.

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I am terribly ashamed to admit I don’t know what this is, don’t really have an idea, but I will figure it out within, say, a month’s time.

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Dutchman’s breeches and trout lily sharing a bed of moss.

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I think this is a wild leek (Allium tricoccum, it’s in the onion family, Alliaceae). I always find a small smattering of these.
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Oak leaf just chilling

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Gooseberry (Ribes spp.)

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Gooseberry, year-round deadliness.

April 9th: the greenhouse

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I wish I could say I’m responsible for these transplants, but I have done exactly none of them. In fact I haven’t been asked to do ANY transplanting this year! I am taking it as an extreme diss on my intermediary transplanting skills. I will, however, more than likely be planting most of these and more in their final resting place* in the ground at some point starting in probably a little over a month from now, so that’ll be exciting. I’ll get my moment to shine.

*A strange choice of words but still accurate

March 27th: I think it’s turning into spring

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It looks like a bummer, but I’m stoked it’s not snow.

If I say “stoked” AND “bummer” in the same sentence, have I exposed myself as painfully unhip?

If I had to ask, and furthermore posited “unhip”ness as the crime I may have just committed, haven’t I just answered my question?

If I layer hypothetical question upon hypothetical question, can I eventually reach the MOON?*

(*Yes!!! But only hypothetically. Alternatively, I can use the hypothetical questions to tunnel to China.)

March 10th: SOMETHING COOL HAPPENED

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I had an experience today I’m sure we can all relate to. Back in September, I bought a pumpkin. I didn’t carve it, it didn’t rot, and so I kept it out until past Christmas, during which season I had slapped a bow on it and wrapped garland around its base to keep it appropriate. As one does.

For the last three months, then, it’s lived its life on the the floor in the porch next to the composting bin I have in my apartment like a dirty hippie. Today I decided it might finally be time to compost the pumpkin as it was beginning to shrink on itself a little. So I plopped the pumpkin on top of the food scraps and everything, grabbed a spade, and began stabbing it violently into smaller pieces, the better for it to compost.

As the dismemberment progressed, I started noticing light green tubular things and leaves which I ignored because I unthinkingly thought (THAT’S A FEAT) they were bits of vegetable matter that were already in the compost box, and that were getting mixed up in the disintegrating pumpkin. Finally I realized that I was being a fool and they were in fact dozens of little pumpkin plants that had germinated inside the pumpkin.

HOW ABOUT THAT? Whatever, I thought it was cool. Plants are wonderfully persistent.