Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring at Berry-Go-Round (#4)

Easter Daisy, TownsendiaWelcome to Edition #4 of the celebrated plant carnival, Berry-Go-Round. Those of us in the northern hemisphere are seeking and celebrating signs of spring, but we invite you to explore many other topics—and places—with us this month as well. Read on, plant friends!

(By the way, if you're featured here—or even if you're not—please help promote Berry-Go-Round by linking to this post from your site.)

Spring arrives in the south first, and our Texas Travelers captured it in photos of coastal wildflowers. If you’ve ever wondered about the namesake of fiction’s famous Scarlet Pimpernel (I know I have), Troy and Martha have got that covered too!

Laurent reports that some flowers get cleaned up and ready for spring with a flower bath. Amazing! While you're visiting Seeds Aside, take a look at the genetics of apples and explore the crossroad between biodiversity and health. Lastly, Laurent offers a seed guessing game that will challenge you.

GrannyJ revisits her reliable wildflowers, which have returned to Arizona at Walking Prescott.

Hedgewitch awakens our senses with the scent and lore of Lemon Balm, posted at Earth and Tree.

In Floyd, Virginia, Fred brings us someone in a pulpit and considers renaming a favorite spring flowering tree.

In Non-seasonal Works...

Nomenclaturally speaking, if you thought "Cypress" always meant "Cupressus," get an update from the wonderful folks at Botany Photo-of-the-Day, who explore the elegant and iconic Monterrey Cypress. You'll have many other daily plant fixes to choose from there as well, but hurry back, please!

While we're talking gymnosperms, Julia Heathcote feeds her Gondwanan gymnosperm fetish while reporting exciting but mysteriously overlooked news, "the botanical equivalent of finding a non-avian dinosaur on an island somewhere," at The Ethical Palaeontologist. Yes, Julia, it would be nice if people got as excited about plant discoveries... She also brings us an important announcement I think you'll enjoy. Congratulations, Julia!

Nunatak presents Darwin's Garden, An Evolutionary Adventure, a new exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden. Also at The Beagle Project Blog, she blogs on her own peer-reviewed research on genomics and plant evolution.

Luigi at the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog asks that we mention the results of the first competition for agricultural biodiversity—a very interesting surprise winner announced on Earth Day. His other submission, on agriculture at a crossroads, is important reading on critical developments for any of us who like to eat and hope to continue doing so. It explores how modern agriculture has failed many poor farmers and discusses inequities in evolving agricultural systems, among other complex issues.

More Spring Gleanings

Spring is coming late here in the Colorado foothills, and I have no decent flower photos or posts to offer you yet. So just to widen our circle of plant enthusiasts, I've been out prowling for spring wildflowers in the blog world, and am happy to bring you a few more:

Claytonia lanceolataAlthough my photos of western spring beauties were a bit of a disappointment, Nina caught some great shots of eastern ones at Nature Remains. She later takes time out from her fascinating toad and salamander observations to comment on the trouble with flowers. I should be so troubled!

Kerri in Virginia shares excellent spring wildflowers, while Matt at Sitka Nature gets the early bryophyte with signs of spring in Alaska.

Janet brings us two tickets to springtime at the New England Flower Show; and John shows us we can even find color in pussy willows way up in Maine.

I turned up this beauty at the Reluctant Botanist. It's from Down Under, where February must mean late summer or fall, I guess.

Marvin at Three Steps Forward takes us on a walk in the woods, featuring his excellent photos of some of my favorite wildflowers of the eastern U.S. woodlands.

Kathie offers a colorful sunrise stroll in Sycamore Canyon, near Tucson, Arizona.

Lots more colorful Arizona flowers are provided by Leslie in this spring bouquet. That's quite a backyard! Also check out resurrection plant, a great recent post by next month's host, Miconia at A Neotropical Savanna.

Addendum: Just ran across these not-to-miss spring photos by Cate at Beyond the Fields We Know. Start here and scroll down through many favorites from the forests of eastern North America.

Thanks for stopping by! We hope this issue of Berry-Go-Round brightened your day a bit. Look for the next installment at A Neotropical Savanna by the end of May.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Exciting Morning

But, alas, no photo. Dog #2 was the first to somehow sense a unique visitor, and dashed out to greet a Wild Turkey strolling along the north fence (fortunately OUTside). The Husband and Dog #1 picked up on the message, and we were all in time to watch the turkey fly east into the much quieter neighboring yard.

Although turkeys are certainly known to be in the area, this is the first time in our 27 years here that we have had the pleasure of seeing one so close. Hope we don't have to wait that long for another visit!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Yesterday... and Today

What a difference a day makes, as we say! The snow started yesterday afternoon, and here we are. I was talking to a naturalist yesterday who told me she had heard a Broad-tailed Hummingbird, so they may wishing they hadn't come back quite so early.

Certainly the finches enjoyed the thistle seed while the snow was coming down late yesterday. They've even figured out the new feeder, which requires them to hang upside down, a technique the other species apparently can't master.

Just for comparison, here again are the spring flowers I photographed yesterday. That makes this what I call a daffodil snow—typical spring weather here!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring, Distractions, Other Goings On...

Although I've been scarce here lately, I'm getting back in gear, what with Berry-Go-Round coming up in a week or so. Please send contributions by April 25th! Any post on plants is welcome, but especially those on spring wildflowers to help celebrate the seasons. Those who have been working on taxes are out of excuses! See previous post for details.

My focus these last few weeks has been history, with our open house coming up. It happened Saturday (Apr 12th), and I put a report up at Local History Explorer.

It has been decidedly spring-like since Sunday—warm, sunny, and magnetic outdoors. An irresistible pull to go for walks, check out wildflowers, pull some Dalmatian toadflax... I let the black widow loose in the woodpile, optimistically thinking we won't be disturbing her til fall. Yesterday, temperatures reached the mid-80s (high 20s C). Today, "they" tell us, it's back to snow and rain. At least it should bring a little (temporary) relief from the pollen!

Next up is a hike for a Green Mtn. homeowners group this Saturday a.m. I expect more weeds than wildflowers, but hey, it's all educational. As Herb Quarterly reminds me, we could consider them medicinal aids instead of invasive plants; it's all a matter of changing perspective. Isn't everything? Would it be too fatalistic to conclude we will have to get used to this homogenization of ecosystems? I'd like to drop in to Earth Day festivities at Evergreen, too; the new nature center there will be launched.

The Husband has decided we need to have a garden. Oh my. The prospect is appealing, certainly, and an excellent response to his indoctrination by Michael Pollan on the importance of eating well (he's been reading In Defense of Food). The fact that we're on well water, and not much of it, will make the garden of his vision a real challenge. Regardless, among yesterday's errands, I bought seeds. Hope springs eternal.

The snakes have been restless. Must be spring. The smaller one has been eating fairly regularly for a couple of months; the larger has yet to break her seasonal fast. I was hopeful; brought home food yesterday. She curled up in the dish with a few baby mice, but declined to nibble. So it goes. She'll have to decide to eat soon, but her weight is holding so I guess we're okay for the moment.

I spent a couple afternoons helping the Artist take down her bread exhibit at the Conifer Library and set up a new one on fly-fishing. She sent me home with a large shopping bag of dried-out artisan breads in assorted styles, so the chickens have been having a major carb fix. The croissants were greatly favored. The flock is also enjoying occasional forays into the front yard, where there is green grass coming up. I'm testing a theory that they might be good for controlling cheatgrass. The Husband has agreed that we can get new chicks this year, so that means more fresh eggs come fall! (Our 14 aging hens produce only a few eggs a day now...)

That's enough!—just a few of the slices of life around here recently.