Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Yellow Phalaenopsis orchid

We were very lucky that this yellow Phalaenopis turned up in the bunch of afterbloom sale orchids from Lowes. We bought a lot of them as they were about 1/4 of the original price. Since they were afterbloom plants we had no idea what the colors would turn out to be. Most are blooming now and it's fun trying to guess what the final color will be by just looking at the buds. So far this is about the nicest one and unusual too because you don't see many yellow ones (I may be mistaken about the rarity of the yellow) but as I will post more photos later you may find one that appeals to you more.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

"Smtulbnig on Hpaenisps"

I akwoe to a pgoarm on NPR - an ievterniw wtih Daniel Gilbert a Harvard pghcyoolocsit and the atouhr of "Subltimunug on Hinpespas" a book aobut crenrut rcaseeh on cginvoite noureccsenie and pcoylgshoy. He was sniyag taht hspapnies is an epemharl tihng ... you cna't hnag on to it and it ulausly ceoms as a sprusire. You hvae to keep rwenenig or fdnniig new tihgns to mkae you hpapy. Now, I hraed it in a the daermlkie satte bweeten selep and bineg flluy akawe so I dno't konw if I got it qitue rghit but I wlil see if I cna't get the book to get a mroe atcucare ssnee of waht he wotre.

I had an aha! mmneot ... tihs msut be why grdeernas are a hpapy bcnuh and why terhe are so mnay of us. Gdanrenig and lnadspngicag are csantolnty rnewieng eeixpernecs, ptsienrneg the gerdeanr wtih mnay otupesnopietirs for rwread. I ulsulay do tignhs wotuiht too mcuh itsptoeirncn. So tihs was a rlaevotian for me but for msot of you plboraby cmomon klwogdne.

The rdawers are imittenretnt but when a mnloagia bosmols or the fsirt gireneg of a brae root tere the juyoos satte can lsat for a good lnog srtecth of tmie.

Tehn we sratt aagin in Sirpng.

Hpapy gdearnnig.

I frist saw a sbmarceld ltteer alcitre a cploue of yares ago. Denis Pelli a NYU polyshcgoy pssofrer set to wrok fgiuirng how tihs amalnoy wkors wehn he riveecd the wdeliy clauictrecd e-mial unisg the glearbd mgessae. Alaprpnety the barin rziegneocs the wrod as a uint, uinsg the fsirt and lsat lteter of the wrod and not fsncoiug on the ltteers in the mldide of the wrod. The frist and lsat leettr in a wrod msut be in the cecrrot pcale. So you etesnailsly mnii-seped raed eevn if you ddni't tkae a csorue in it. The way I tpye, gblraed msngesaig is nntohig new.

Monday, January 29, 2007

White columbines

columbines cont'd.

Here are several different white columbines scattered in the planting beds. I'm partial to the elegance of the white blooms and it's ability to harmonize with almost any thing.

After all these years of blogging, I finally figured out that if I re-sized the photos to a manageable screen filling 800x600 pixels, the photos would load faster and would not be so large as to see only a partial portion of the picture when you clicked the blog photo, obviating the need to use the scroll bars which is a PITA when viewing pictures.

Not the sharpest knife in the drawer.

First payday coming up!

Hooray, after years (starting almost at the inception of the blog) of having those ads pasted all over the blog, enough of you have clicked on them so I will get my first check either this month or next if I get $1.86 more in clicks (blatant begging, could be deemed as soliciting by Google?). As I mentioned before, this works out to about 5 cents an hour spent in writing the blogs but I think it's actually even less. Is it worth having those ads? Are they annoying?

The Google search bar seems like a convenience if you want to look up something more specific about the post and sometimes I'm even tempted myself to click on the ad links especially the ones listing plants for sale but is strictly verboten.

I did notice that different ads seem to be displayed by different browsers which is puzzling. Strange, as you would think the html content would be the same. I used someone else's computer with the Microsoft Explorer browser (I use Firefox) and all the ads that came up were for joining or setting up your own blogging sites, something which I never see on my computer.

So thanks to all of you who have clicked on the ads these many years.

Friday, January 26, 2007

The garden in winter

I did a quick survey of the yard. The Nandina and Ilex winterberries, red and coral are at their showy best now when there's not much color otherwise.

I was amazed to learn that yerba mate the drink that the Argentinian gauchos are addicted to, is a tea made from a holly, Ilex paraguariensis. I thought it was made from a grass or herb. I would have never thought that any holly would be consumable. I saw some in a health food store several years ago and tried it. I rather liked the taste and it didn't bother my stomach like coffee. It's supposed to be high in caffeine but it didn't affect me much. I think tea has more caffeine. Part of a Christmas present from my brother-in-law was a pound of the stuff. It came in a bag about the size of a large 3 pound bag of coffee - should last me a life time.

The witch hazels are in their prime now but don't seem to be as fragrant as in previous years. I wonder why the difference? We have several different types -two red Hamamelis x intemedia, I think a yellow H. Japonica and the common H. virginiana which seems to be the most fragrant of all but I don't like its habit of retaining its leaves thus hiding the flowers. I just stuck my nose close to the H. virginiana and it has the sweet frangrance that I find very pleasing but last year you could smell it standing 10 feet or more away from the shrub.

Not much other than that of interest now as the hellebores are slow to develop.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Faded glory

Burnt by the frost and cold but unbowed, the Camellia japonica, Springs Promise still looks great! Actually I sort of prefer the flower in this state as the actual bloom is a bit gaudy.

Sorry for the previous blurry photos. I was shaking from the cold and the wind was shaking the flowers. Despite the camera having IS image stabilization the handheld photos came out blurry. So I used a tripod and self timer to take another set of photos.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Getting it right ...Aquilegia Alpina

"Blue columbine"

"Columbine with Kalmia"

Columbines cont'd.
This columbine is probably Aquilegia Alpina the Alpine Columbine.

Let's see if I can't get it right this time. This is as close a blue in a columbine as we have to the Delphinium Butterfly Blue. I guess the previously posted A. caerula Blue or Rocky Mountain columbine comes close too but not the beautiful sky blue of the D. Butterfly Blue.

I haven't been successful in captioning my photos using Blogger. I looked up how to add captions and the html examples given were: "Here's an example of two photos with captions (in quotes for easy recognition):

SRC=' http://localhost:3083/image2408.jpg?size=400' border=0 alt=''
style='display:block;margin 0px auto 10px; cursor:hand; text-align:center'>

"Beautiful Waterfall

SRC=' http://localhost:3083/image2407.jpg?size=400' border=0 alt=''
style='display:block;margin 0px auto 10px; cursor:hand; text-align:center'>

"Mystery Lake"

But I found that just typing in the caption just above the html of the photo puts it at the top of the picture. I wanted to put the caption below the picture but if I do it in html the caption appears at the top of the next photo instead. Oh well, no big deal, I'll stumble on the solution one of these days.

Rats! After I published the blog I noticed the captions were not where I put them as shown in the preview.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Bluets, Houstonia serpyllifolia, Hedyotis michauxii

Aka hedyotis caerulea. Zones 6-10 Click on photo to enlarge.

We came across this tiny sweet wildflower at one of our favorite nurseries last summer. The flowers are no more than 1/4 inch across. All three we bought seem to have survived the transplant and are still managing to survive in the cold although they haven't grown to any extent. One was again transplanted as it was close to a small tree I dug up and seemed to have increased its rootball so I'm encouraged that all will live and bloom again in late Spring. I am concerned that one of the botanical books describes it as being short lived. Hopefully it will reseed itself.

Here are two links with better photos from wiseacre-gardens and one from the Connecticut Botanical Society.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Columbines continued & froggy sees the first snow

It was brought to my attention by several readers that the photo is not of a columbine. After looking at it more carefully it is indeed not a columbine but a Delphinium. How embarrassing. No wonder I didn't know the name of it! That should have been a clue. I did a google image search and it's a Delphinium grandiflora Butterfly blue. A beautiful blue, one to rival the Meconopsis betoniciflolia poppy.
Here are several photos of it on the Naturehills website.
That will teach me to look at the photo more closely before posting. I sorted pictures in the photo album using thumbnails and didn't view it full screen before posting thus the erroneous plant was featured.
Senility is setting in earlier than anticipated.
Thanks to those who caught the error.

columbines contd.

I don't know the name of this columbine but it's one of my favorites. The blue is very blue and is not exaggerated in the photo. And froggy saw it's first snow this weekend. We're finally seeing some winter weather but some of the plants persist in putting out buds.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Cryptogam, lichens and moss

These are pictures of lichens growing on one of the maple trees along the street. I believe even the fuzzy one that looks like moss is not actually moss but a lichen. We have a lot of rocks strewn around the yard mainly as borders but also as focus of interest which I wish would be covered with lichen by now but despite my painting it with yogurt a supposed treatment to attract lichen spores(?) and to hasten the growth of any microscopic ones already on the rocks, none have shown any sign of lichens.

Why would they grow readily on the bark of the maple and not on the rocks? I guess I'll have to do some research on how lichens grow.

I've noticed that in the past few years, mosses seem to be growing very well if not vigorously. A well trodden path around a cache basin and water tower are covered with moss and even the cracks in the sidewalk are filled with lush velvet moss. I wonder if this is due to climate change?

I'm experimenting with re-sizing the photos to see if they would upload faster and it does but not by much. These are originally about 5mp photos 2560 x 1920 pixels reduced to 1024 x 768 pixels. I'll be interested to see how they are displayed on the blog and when the photo is clicked. The preview function on Blogger doesn't always display the juxtaposition of the text to the photos accurately but it looks ok.

Found this great website on lichens and this is a quote on how lichens form:

'Lichens are composite, symbiotic organisms made up from members of as many as three kingdoms.

The dominant partner is a fungus. Fungi are incapable of making their own food. They usually provide for themselves as parasites or decomposers.

"Lichens are fungi that have discovered agriculture"-- lichenologist Trevor Goward.

The lichen fungi (kingdom Fungi) cultivate partners that manufacture food by photosynthesis. Sometimes the partners are algae (kingdom Protista), other times cyanobacteria (kingdom Monera), formerly called blue-green algae. Some enterprising fungi exploit both at once.'

So not easy to actually grow some unless you have many conditions simultaneously conducive for growth of fungus, algae and bacteria!

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Weeping trees, sap running?

I was out by the birdfeeder when I noticed two trees with wet streaks on their bark. One was a Japanese maple Bloodgood which I transplanted last fall and the other some kind of elm or zelkova we bought at a plant sale. The Japanese maple seems to be oozing watery liquid from a wound on the bark but not from the ends of the cut branches. The elm seems to be weeping from a few branch collars but not from any wound. None of the other trees we have exhibit this condition so I'm wondering what's causing this? I hope it's not the sap running already?

Planting the Japanese maple was an afterthought. I cut off all the branches and dug out the fairly large tree cutting many of the roots. We didn't want the tree, especially in the front yard because it was badly shaped the result of never being pruned. I was about to throw it out in the street for the township mulching truck but felt badly about discarding a tree so cavalierly, so I decided to plant it in an inconspicuous corner of the yard. We had moved a large weeping Japanese maple before with nary a droop or transplant shock so I knew the trees were very tough. We did try to retain many of the roots with that tree and the Bloodgood was almost shorn of the fine roots but I thought I'd give it a try especially since the tree was pretty much in dormancy when I dug it up. If you scratch the bark, it still looks green so hopefully it will survive the horrific barerooting I subjected it to. If the weeping is a sign that the sap is running it's a good and bad thing. Good that it has set new roots that are able to take up water but bad that it's far too early in the season. At least there are no buds yet - if any will appear.

The elm is a puzzle but again if it is the sap running then it's a bad thing because it's definitely too early in the season but the buds have not opened so hopefully it will be ok. Temps are supposed to drop today into the 20's from the pleasant 50's we experienced this weekend so winter is finally upon us as it is supposed to stay cold for a protracted period of time though some of the neighborhood Japanese quinces have started to bloom.

If you look closely there are ants drinking the sap in the closeup Japanese maple photo.

Friday, January 12, 2007

More columbines in the landscape

I swear I have a photo of Columbine 'Nora Barlow', my least favorite of all but I can't seem to find it. It's sort of greenish mauvish with petals stuck together forming points. Arrggh, my photo album is a mess so this is a good time to sort it out but what a drag. Instead I've posted a more pleasant photo of 'bines, bleeding heart, camellia and a rhodie hiding the ugly air conditioning unit.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Invasive Plants - who knew?

To be filed in the: As if I don't have enough to be guilty of already category, I borrowed a book from the library entitled "Plant" by Janet Marinelli, she of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Director of publishing which lists several endangered and invasive plants.

It is common knowledge that plants like Purple Loosestrife Lythrum salicaria, Kudzu, Oriental Bittersweet Celastrus orbiculatus, Russian Olive Elaeagnus angustifolia, etc. are foreign invasives and should be eradicated or at least not planted but there are many plants that I did not know and have even planted that are purported to be invasives.

Here's a partial list of commonly seen invasives: Bishop Weed Aegopodium podagraria, Japanese Barberry Berberis thunbergii, Butterfly Bush Buddleja (Buddleia) davidii, Crocosmia, Common Foxglove Digitalis purpurea, California Poppy Eschscholzia californica, Japanese Bloodgrass Imperata cylindrica, Butter and Eggs Linaria vulgaris etc.

I just planted some Bishop weed and have planted Barberry (actually we inherited this plant so it doesn't count?) Butterfly bush, Crocosmia, Foxglove, California poppy and Japanese Bloodgrass. So I'm guilty as charged. Apparently these plants out-compete natives by spreading and establishing quickly and are easily dispersed by the wind or birds and animals. All of these plants are readily available in nurseries so what's going on here? I guess we can't be ignorant to think that nurseries only sell plants that don't threaten the native species.

What I though was a buttercup Ranunculus repens, prettily blooming in a waste construction area may actually be a Sulfur cinquefoil Potentilla recta. Of course I had to rescue the plant but it's already created many babies around the mother plant so it may have to come out.

Was blissful in ingnorance.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Perennial of the Year! taa daa - Catmint, huh?

Yuck, apparently the Perennial Plant Association named the Walker's Low Nepeta as plant of the year Nepeta x faassenii. Catmint is in the same family as catnip (Nepeta cataria) but cats don't seem to be affected by it in the same way. I'm leery of planting any kind of mint as I'm still pulling out runners of spearmint after 3 years. I know, I know, mints are Mentha and catmints are Nepeta but they seem to have the same unruly habit. One of the descriptions of catmint mentioned that "...has a tendency to overpower less robust plants...", an understatement if ever I saw one. "...vigorous herbaceous species make good single species ground covers..." should be enough of a warning.

Aren't we in a surly mood this morning.

Here's what some of the good people on the GardenWeb forums are saying about Walker's low Nepeta. There's a photo of it on the White Flower Farm website.

One easy way of identifying mint - feel the stem, if it is square it's a mint.

Laboring the point or is it belaboring what's the diff?

Not to (be)labor the point that many things are budding or blooming due to the unusually warm Winter but here are some observations and photos of plants around the house that are doing just that. The photos are of viburnum, I'm not sure what kind it is but the shrub is not as big as most with dainty leaves and small pom poms of flowers covering the bush in Spring. Several primroses of various colors are blooming but I thought the white looked especially nice so included it. The other photo is of a wood peony trying to break the bonds of Winter.

Walked around the neighborhood and saw two plums blooming. The trees were covered with blossoms. Forsythia were blooming and the trident? maple trees planted along our street are breaking bud. Ok that's enough me too observations.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Brown Marmorated Stinkbug Halyomorpha halys new pest for NJ, PA & NY

In 2003 the Rutgers Cooperative Research & Extension service posted an article about the Yellow Brown stinkbug actually known as the Brown Marmorated Stinkbug, Halyomorpha halys . The stinkbug was apparently inadvertently brought over from Asia.

I noticed a brown stinkbug on our bedroom window screen in the fall and thought nothing of it. Later the bug appeared in the bedroom and could be seen flying around like the Asian ladybugs. I finally caught, photographed the bug and was curious to find out what kind of bug it was because it has unusual markings around the edge of the wings, like the short stripes on the pharaoh's headdress or a tortoise's shell. Googled it and found the Rutgers website which listed it as a imported pest and had a good description with photos. They want the public in the tri-state area, NJ, PA, and NY to report any sightings to see how far the bug has spread and you can do that on the site.

Here's an excerpt from the site: "The Brown Marmorated Stink Bug,
Halyomorpha halys (Ståhl), is an exotic insect
belonging to the order Hemiptera or true
bugs. Halyomorpha halys, sometimes also called the
yellow-brown stink bug or East Asian stink bug, is native
to Asia and is considered an important agricultural pest in
Japan where it attacks soybeans and various tree crops.
It was first collected in the United States just across the
Delaware River in Allentown, PA during the fall of 1996.
Since then its presence has been confirmed in Lehigh,
Northampton, Monroe and Pike Counties in Pennsylvania.
In 1999 the brown marmorated stink bug was first
recovered in New Jersey from a black light trap run by the
Rutgers Cooperative Extension (RCE) Vegetable IPM
program in Milford, NJ. In 2002, it was again collected
from blacklight traps located in Phillipsburg and Little
York, NJ and found on plant material in Stewartsville, NJ.
A specimen was also brought into the Morris County
Cooperative Extension office in 2002 by a homeowner
who lives in southeastern Morris County."


The brown marmorated stink bug is a sucking insect
that uses its proboscis to pierce the host plant in order
to feed. This feeding results, in part, in the formation
of small, necrotic areas on the outer surface of fruits
and leaves of its hosts causing characteristic cat-facing
injury in fruits such as apples and peaches. In its native
range, H. halys feeds on a variety of fruits and other
host plants including apples, cherry, citrus, figs, mulberry,
peach, pear, persimmon, and soybeans.
In Pennsylvania, H. halys has been observed feeding
on many ornamental plants and trees including crab
apple, Norway maple, pyracantha, American holly,
and butterfly bush in 2003. The stink bug has also
been observed feeding on peaches, Asian pears,
string beans, asparagus, and raspberries. It is uncertain
if H. halys will become a widespread pest in
the eastern United States.
Adults also exhibit behavior similar to Asian ladybird
beetles and boxelder bugs and can congregate on
houses in late fall and eventually move indoors. Once
inside they can become a nuisance and emit an offensive
odor if crushed. Chemical control recommendations
are not currently available. Your best option is to
vacuum up the insects and release them outdoors or
dispose of the vacuum bag. Caulking windows and
doors, etc., in areas where the insect congregates on the
outside of the house or structure, should help prevent
them from entering."

More information and photos from the Northeast Intergrated Pest Managment site.

What's marmorated? From Webster's revised unabridged dictionary: "Variegated like marble; covered or overlaid with marble" now you know.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Aquilegia McKenna (McKana) hybrid?

Columbines cont'd.

This is probably a McKenna (McKana) hybrid columbine or one of the songbird series although they may be one and the same using different nomeclature. The flowers are pretty and fairly upward facing with white inner parts contrasting with the colorful petals. Almost a little too pretty for my taste but useful in a drab corner. It goes especially well with rocks or boulders showing off it's alpine heritage.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Darkest Dendrobium orchid?

We bought this orchid several years ago because of its very dark red purple color. It was so dark it almost looked black. It's very difficult to capture the true color of the flower so the photos are only a pale approximation of what it really looks like. It didn't bloom for a couple of years after we bought it. So last summer I placed it outdoors in dappled sunlight and voila it sent out two flower stalks with many blooms on each. The only problem with Dendrobiums is that it grows so tall it's difficult to keep in our portable greenhouse when the plant is indoors. Also unfortunate that the label is so illegible I can make out only Red Bull? Red Bul.?
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Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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