Friday, March 28, 2008

Get 'em while they're hot! "Everything Must Change"

I Love David "Fathead" Newman's version of "Everything Must Change" more than David Sanborn's soulful rendition. There's a quality of the tone that's more than just straight powerful playing - an added dimension of depth that goes beyond good playing.

Indeed everything must change so I thought I better add these photos before the flowers are just memories. I screwed up the sequence of the photos using the multiple photo upload I only discovered recently. Sheesh, talk about clueless!

The Magnolia stellata flowers are just starting to open. We are still having strong winds so I hope the flowers won't be badly damaged.

A very large white crocus.

Very large violet colored crocus.

One of two early tulips just starting to flower.

The Leucojum has grown taller and looks better than the stunted version photographed earlier.

A dry picture of the Chionodoxa.

A bud of the Magnolia Dr. Merrill. There were open flowers at the very top of the tree but none where I could reach to take a picture of them.

The other tulip.

Weirdly striped crocus.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Looky, looky, Leucojum! Leucojum vernum, Spring Snowflake

Leucojum vernum var. carpathicum

We planted some Leucojum bulbs 2 years ago and haven't seen any evidence of them until I spotted this plant yesterday. What a nice surprise. The plant is rather stubby not like the pictures I've seen in catalogs. Maybe it will grow taller as it matures.

There are two types of Leucojum, L. vernum the Spring Snowflake and L. aestivum the Summer Snowflake. L. vernum has yellow spots on the petals and L. aestivum has green spots. Now I hope the other Leucojum bulbs survived so we'll have a nice display of them. This is turning out to be a surprising spring.

According to a Wikipedia article on Leucojum some of the autumn blooming varieties are now classified as Acis instead of Leucojum. So that leaves only L. vernum and L. aestivum varieties to represent the Leucojum genus. Pretty amazing how these taxonomists think nothing of changing long held classifications of plants. Also, "Two varieties of Leucojum vernum are known: L. vernum var. carpathicum originates from the eastern part of its natural range and is a larger plant with yellowish spots on its petals rather than green; L. vernum var. vagneri from Hungary is a robust plant, often with two flowers per stem."

I just noticed, Blogger allows you to upload several photos at once instead of one at a time. It's about time. Most of the photo sites have had this feature for years.

My heart sank when I saw three more gray squirrels this morning. I hope these are not returnees - just more squirrels at the fringe of the neighborhood coming in to fill the void. Caught one of them so that leaves two plus the black squirrel. I can see this may be an endless task. Perhaps I should open a business as a wild game meat provisioner.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant'

This bunch of plants had only one flower and several buds showing this past Sunday. Three fairly mild days later there's a bouquet.

The Chionodoxa, "Glory of Snow", is related to Scilla and Hyacinths. I think they compare favorably with Scilla. The name Chinodoxa is a scientific name which translates to "glory of snow". They are early bloomers and often appear through the snow. We had a very mild winter with very little snow so these have come up in rain and dew. They are plants of Asia Minor, from the mountains of Cyprus, Crete and southern Turkey. C. forbesii comes from southwest Turkey.

Squirrel update. I know, I know, you're all tired of hearing about the trapping but it's almost at its conclusion. Caught two more gray squirrels today #10 and #11. So that leaves only one black colored one. Unfortunately I saw another gray squirrel today so my count must have not been accurate or one caught previously made its way home or this is a new squirrel from the fringes of the neighborhood. So I have two more to catch. Jenn of the Garden Djinn mentioned that if I didn't take the squirrels more than a mile away they could find their way home. I measured the distance and it's about 1/2 mile away. I really hope I don't have to keep doing this all summer.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A search tool specifically for plants and seeds and squirrel update

Perhaps many of you received an email from Mother Earth News about their new search tool for seeds and plants but in case you didn't here's some information.

"With all the time and care a garden takes, I wanted to invite you to try a time-saving – and free! – tool from Mother Earth News magazine. Our custom Seed and Plant Finder ( is a quick and easy way to find mail-order sources for pretty much any vegetable, flower or herb variety, old standards as well as new and hard-to-find varieties."

"The free Finder searches more than 150 garden catalogs – from the big names to small, specialized companies. Our initial emphasis is on sources for vegetables, but we plan to add fruit and nut tree and ornamental catalogs in the near future."

Here's the link so you won't have to cut and paste.

I tried it on unusual plants like Silene cucubalus, Euonymus americanus and Euonymous atropurpurea and did not get usable returns. But in all fairness they are still working on adding the ornamentals. I did get returns on Callibrachoa, million bells which surprised me. This should be a great source for finding things instead of looking through page after page of searches.

Squirrel update:

The good. Caught another one, a black colored squirrel. We saw two, so only one remains. The bad. There are 3 gray colored squirrels instead of the 2 I thought remained. So there are still 4 to be caught.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Spring slowly gives up some flowers and Squirrel battle update

Rather than propping up the downfacing hellebore flowers I decide to shoot upward with the camera held close to the ground. I shot blind since I couldn't use the lcd monitor to frame the flower but I could center the flower fairly well. All of the hellebores were shot this way except for the first photo.

This is the second primrose to bloom this spring.

The primrose I showed earlier is now in full bloom. The color is really not this blue but more of a purplish blue. I tried to correct the color using a photo editor and this is the closest I could get but it still doesn't come close to the actual color.

The Scilla was very early this year. Even faster than our earliest daffodil by several days.

This is our earliest blooming daffodil.

...and the Camellia japonica 'Springs Promise' is still blooming or I should say is resuming its bloom cycle with the onset of warmer temperatures.

Squirrel Update:

The Havahart trap is doing its job. I had some trouble adjusting the trigger mechanism earlier but I solved the problem by greasing the parts so it would slide easier. The trap I bought was made for larger animals so the trigger is not as sensitive as I would have liked but I have it working pretty well now.

The tally is 7 squirrels now. We caught 4 today! A banner day. I used organic natural peanut butter as bait for the first time and the squirrels seem to love it. I still saw two gray squirrels and two black ones running around the bird feeders so we'll attempt to catch those in the next few days and any others I missed seeing. The upside of getting rid of the squirrels is that we use so much less sunflower seeds so the trap should pay for itself rather quickly.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Look what they've done to our crocus! Scourge of the Gray Squirrels

Squirrel #2. This was a very nasty squirrel. Big, strong and vocal. Grunting, growling and really determined to break out of the trap. Even pooped in the car trunk in a show of contempt?

Squirrel #3. This was a big one. It was heavy and was very strong like #2 but did not vocalize at all. Note the Godzilla like stance.

Ok this is the last straw! Those dangnabit squirrels got on my last nerve by devastating a huge bed newly planted with hundreds of crocus bulbs and even digging and destroying well established beds everywhere in our yard. I didn't mind them eating almost 2/3 or more of the sunflower seeds we put out for the birds or burying acorns everywhere so I had to spend a lot of time clearing beds of newly sprouted oak trees but this wholesale destruction was too much.

We relished the idea of shooting them with an air gun or poisoning the tree rats but came to our senses and sought help on the web. Salvation came in the form of a trap. We immediately went out and purchased a Havahart squirrel trap at the local Ace Hardware store.

I set the trap under two sunflower feeders with peanut butter as bait. The squirrels totally ignored the trap and played on and around it. I even saw one run through the trap. I thought we might have bought too large a trap and the squirrels were too light to spring the trigger. And they stole the peanut butter cup to boot!

Despondent I was going to return the trap the next morning and exchange it for a smaller one. As I was going to pick up the trap I heard a scuttling sound and voila there was a squirrel caught in the trap! The trap wasn't baited because they had stolen the peanut butter cup the previous day but this squirrel must have run through the trap and somehow tripped the triggering mechanism. So this is squirrel number 1!

After taking the squirrel to the neighborhood park I set it again, this time taping the bait cup securely to the trigger plate. In about 15 minutes after I set the trap I was on my way back to the park with another squirrel. This time a much bigger one who was not happy being caught. It was hissing, growling, and flying around the cage. Even pooped in the car trunk to show its displeasure. But no other squirrels were caught the rest of the day. So we are now 2 down out of perhaps a dozen squirrels?'s our first catch. Eastern Gray Squirrel, Sciurus carolinensis, Squirrel #1

Note the picture of a squirrel prominently displayed on the label.

Here's the evidence of the destruction.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, March

Despite the warm weather and a relatively mild winter, the plants are slow to burst forth. The birds are claiming their territory and I can hear a cardinal whatcheering away. Also heard some red-wing blackbirds but the mocker is late ... not a peep from him.

This is quite an amazing primrose. It tried to bloom all winter and now that the warmer weather has arrived its already blooming when all the others have yet to even set buds.

This was the freebie hellebore someone threw out on the curb for the recyclers to take to the composting center. I rescued it and it's rewarded me with these flowers.

My favorite crocus battered by the wind and rain and soon to be a memory.

Two Pieris japonica, Japanese Pieris, Andromeda, Lily of the Valley shrub.
My Photo
Location: Zone 6, New Jersey, United States

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