Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Don't forget... the "Walk on the Wild Side" this Thursday. This will be another Landscape Design focused talk, with an emphasis on forms, color, texture and combinations. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we will NOT be talking about flowers. Since the green parts of a plant are around a lot more than their flashy flowers, I thought we'd talk about them for a change. Hope to see you at the Blomquist gatehouse at 11:00 this Thursday (7/1).
Tuesday..... well, it's not Monday. OK, so I wanted to fill you in on a new resource from the Blomquist Garden. Katherine Wright, my assistant in the Blomquist, is embarking on a plant ID effort to add to her native plant nomenclature knowledge. I thought it might be interesting for our readers to follow along each week and get the same plant lists to commit to memory that she does. We're doing this in the form of another blog called "Name That Native". There, you'll find a list of ten to fifteen new species each week. The entire list, no matter how long it gets, will be cataloged on this blog by week. Check it out when you get a chance.

Monday, June 28, 2010

check it out...

The humongous Lilium superbum (Turks' Cap Lily) I mentioned a short while ago in another post is now in bloom! It's over eight feet tall with twelve flowers. You won't see many, if any like it of this size in this part of the state. If you go the the "What's Blooming" page of the website, find the grid map and print it. Make a mark in J5- that's where the Lily is. I've got some updating to do of that page. It's swim season for the kids, so I've been busier than usual outside of my two jobs. I'll get on it soon.

As an aside, another Lily ,Lilium pyrophilum, is about to bloom in the carnivorous plant bog (F5 on the grid map). I've linked its name to a journal article about the species. Commonly called the "Sandhills Lily", populations of this species were thought to be simply Lilium superbum who had taken a bit of a wrong turn at Albequerque and moved too far east. It's now recognized as a distinct species, although very similar in many ways to the Turk's Cap lily. Ours are getting ready to bloom as we speak, so a bit behind the Turk's Cap.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

One more thing...

I wanted to add a photo from the latest "Walk on the Wild Side". We discussed "weeds", what that term really means, how plants become known as weeds, etc. In the photo, we're examining what for all the world looks like a clear case of bio-mimicry, or an organism trying really hard to look like another organism. The plant in my left hand is Duchesnea indica, or Indian Strawberry. The plant in my right is Fragaria virginiana, or Virginia Strawberry. The Fragaria is a native species we would hunt for in the fields and wood edges to make wild strawberry jam. The Duchesnea is a non-native species that looks like Fragaria in almost every respect, but has a fruit you wouldn't want to eat. My guess is that part of Duchesnea's success at establishing itself in our gardens and becoming "weedy" has to do with effectively fooling animal foragers as to it's true identity and duping them into eating it and spreading Duchesnea seeds about. Very tricky, you sneaky little plant, you!

As an aside, look at the name after the italicized Latin at the top of each of the linked pages for the plants. Duchesne is the person credited with first describing the Virginia Strawberry, and as a result you'll notice his/her last name after Fragaria virginiana. The individual who first described Duchesnea indica, a Mr. or Mrs. or Ms. Focke, obviously paid homage to Duchesne, the person who named the plant the Duchesnea tries so hard to resemble, by naming the plant after them.

If you're a fan of the good old U S of A, and you enjoy soccer, yesterday was a great day. I had to put that in there. The plant world obviously has a very special place in my heart, but the first thing I really enjoyed doing as a child was chasing a little round ball up and down a field. I still love it. Here's a link to a short video about the US win over Algeria in the World Cup yesterday.

The "Walk on the Wild Side" next week (7/1) will focus on design. We'll discuss texture and shape and how to combine a diverse group of native plants to create a garden where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. I'm purposefully going to eschew flowers in this talk. Too often, folks cease to see and appreciate plants when they aren't in bloom. Plants are far more than their reproductive parts. In this talk, we'll try to get beyond this blatant sexual objectification and view the plants for all their other great, and often overlooked qualities. See you there!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Schools out, schools out, teacher let the mules out! Today is the last day of the school year for Ethan and Samuel. Once they stop crying and moaning about not having to get up early, bathe regularly, and go to bed, I'm sure they'll find something to do with their time. We'll see. Lot's blooming in the Church Endangered Species Garden these days. The photo included is a Dissected Beardtongue, or Penstemon dissectus. It's one of a number of species showing off as we speak. Check them out if you have time. If I don't sit down to type again before the weekend, have a good one, and try not to toss your children out the window after they've only been out of school for a day or so. September will be here before you know it!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

wow- time flies! It's almost time for another "walk on the wild side" (tomorrow at 11:00) and I still haven't decided what to talk about. Since I'm doing a lot of weeding these days, perhaps we'll discuss what makes a plant a "weed", my general philosophy about weeds, and some of the "usual suspects" in the Blomquist Garden. Hope to see you there!