Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Glory be to the universe…

…the Siberian irises are opening. For that which we are about to receive, may we be made truly thankful.
I’ve been puzzling over the phenomenon of fern tips seemingly entangled with one another.
Observe the cluster**** above. But, I have seen the error of my ways. Maybe.
Some of them had no trouble opening up. But others are neatly tied up in a knot, several leaves from the tip. The tips are fine, but a handful of leaves down are just…all wrapped up in a ball. It’s not that they are entangled with each other – they are entangled with themselves.
A close-up. That veiny-thing, shaped like a “Y”, those are a small handful of leaves that have been twisted around into an impenetrable mess. I was unwilling to dissect it. There were several of these, in the same circular family of ferns.  I think an insect or other being has hijacked this real estate and has constructed a safehouse of sorts. I have no idea. This is amateur naturalism, folks. If you were looking to Learn a Fact, you have come to the wrong place. This is the place you come to if you want to watch me muddle through life and puzzle it out. SCIENCE!  Love it!
But I digress. Another new flower:
Dame’s Violet or Dame’s Rocket (Hesperis matronalis). It’s in the mustard family.
I believe…this is milkweed (Asclepius something-something). Which would be awesome. We have a bunch more this year than last year. Anything to help our buddies, the monarchs.
Attempting to catch the spider…

That’s more like it.
The alleged red baneberry has gone from ants in the pants to incipient whatever (presumably, if I’m correct about the baneberry part, bright red berries).
White baneberry and Canada mayflower have similar issues: they throw up stalks that will later need to support a cluster of berries, so lately their flowers stalks have lengthened to make way for babies.
Here’s the Canada mayflower. This one is, regrettably a little blurry; on my recent runs, I’ve gone past whole huge stands of these in the woods. But I never have my camera with me then.
The crowfoot has lost its petals and is starting to fire up the oven.
May 19th.
Today (sorry for blurriness. I thought it was worth it anyway.)
The Solomon’s Seal flowers look like hell. But they also look like something good is happening in there – berries – so I won’t worry about it…
I really need to learn my ferns.
Best blue cohosh berry shot I’ve had in a while. They usually tremble just enough to be consistently blurry. Are the two green ones the only viable ones, or just the first? Stay tuned.
The False Solomon Seal is ridiculous. The stem of the plant is actually defying gravity and pointing up. So much for my worry that their flowers were just weird green bumpies!
A new flower to report
Tall buttercup (Ranunculus acris).
The white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) has dropped all the petals and the berry production line is in full swing.
Although it actually looks more like a spider condo.
Golden Alexander still going strong. The petals are starting to curve over the innards.
A BIRD! Maybe a song sparrow? (I’m just going by the pattern of face stripes). I was just thrilled to be allowed to get his picture before he took off.
Finally, if you will recall my epic fantasy series starring the dandelion, I have a few great examples of successful puffball formation, where you can see the remnant falling off. (The remnant is my name for the crap of leftover petal and sepal tips, which needs to completely fall off for a successful puffball to form.)
A remnant that needs to be falling off…
…and one that has fallen off. I honestly don’t know how it’s still attached. Should have looked.
C’mon, one more buttercup…
What’s up with all that hairy stuff?!

And, another new flower!
This one’s the anemone (Anemone canadensis). This spot is where the wood turtle was hanging out for an afternoon / overnight last week.

There, that should hold us all for another day or so.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

happy memorial day weekend!

How are you celebrating it? We’re going with our usual strategy of embracing the beauty of the every day around here. Our next two weekends are going to be jam-packed, so we’re laying as low as we can today. Today started as our Saturdays generally do: “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” on NPR, pancakes, and bacon. This week, Local Hero Tom Bodett (he lives not far from here) won the contest. Hometown proud, that’s us.
Kevin’s been busy the last couple of days setting up garden beds. This year, we’ll have three 4’x12’ beds. He’s in charge, given that I don’t garden. (I know: you’d think I would, being all nature girly Princess Groundy Pants, but I’m not there yet.) I believe the plan is, watermelon, cantaloupe, white onions, bell peppers, and green beans. Plus – still in the realm of imagination, as I have not lifted a finger to make this happen – cherry tomatoes. (Those will be on the deck in containers.)
VoilĂ !
In today’s flower report, the wild strawberries are going to seed, bit by bit. If you stare at the center of the one on the right and squint, you can see little green bits that look like they’ll be the surface of a strawberry. Don’t strawberries have lots of little seeds like, on their surfaces? Yeah, that sounds right. So will the berry grow outward and end up encompassing each of these little stamens? The more I look at the world, the more I realize I don’t know nuthin’.
P1080562 P1080559
and after
Iris flowers are getting bolder. Go, go, go!
Most of the big ferns are just about completely opened up – they’re as tall as my ribcage. Sometimes the tips of the ferns get tangled up in one another and it takes them a while to sort it out.
P1080586Round-leaved dogwood (Cornus rugosa) suddenly appeared out of nowhere, complete with ants and other buggies crawling all over the flowers. This is a shrub; I’m not sure how big it can get.
Apparently I don’t get tired taking pictures of bluets. They have a magical floaty look to them that I can’t resist…
The honeysuckle opened up today! Yee haw!
In the mystery woodland today, as I was being eaten alive by mosquitos, I saw a couple of starflower plants that had actually produced flowers. I’d seen a lot of these over the course of the spring, but no flowers until today. These guys were HUGE – easily twice the size of any of the plants I’d seen all along.
They’re dusty with someone else’s pollen.
I love how the flowers themselves look just like the plant. The flower stalk is the most delicate thing you’ve ever seen.
Not all the flowers around here are white…the second azalea out back has popped open in the last two days.
The first azalea’s still kicking butt, too.
Plus, nestled under the azalea, we have what I think are your basic chives…
Hi sweetie!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dandelion saga, Part 4; plus bonus footage of other random goodness.

First up, dandelions:
And now, with pride, I bring you, Part 4: the Elusive Missing Link. In the interest of full disclosure, I’d taken these pictures last week, BUT, I didn’t appreciate their Profound Significance until today.
The individual seed filaments have separated from one another, but their starburst parachutes have not yet opened up. Plus, remember the remnant phenomenon of the botched puffballs? That’s that cluster of drying-up yellow flower petals and green sepals, at lower right in the picture above. Well, this picture seems to show what it looks like when that bit is falling off the way it’s supposed to. BRILLIANT! just brilliant.
The one in the foreground: opened up. The one at the top right: partially opened.
VICTORY. I have now more-or-less documented the whole phenomenon of the dandelion going to seed.
I’m ready for my Pulitzer now.
In other news, I’ve been wondering if the False Solomon’s Seal flowers would ever get more…interesting. So far, they’ve just looked…unripe:
Not very brilliant, huh?
Well today, I found the one that’s the furthest along:
Now that’s more like it!
In the meantime… onto a very similar looking flower…the white baneberry I’m so in love with…See at the center of the circles of stigmas, there are oval-looking berries forming? Hallelujah!
Plus, the whole…apparatus…has gotten bigger, and you can really see the stubby little stems at the base of each flower are getting longer. All the better to make way for those newly-forming berries.
The Siberian Irises are just starting to show where their flowers will be. They were just shoots three and a half weeks ago:
Siberian Irises, May 2

And today. Deep purply goodness will soon be upon us.
The report from the fern naughty bits is that life is good. 
Just a couple of days ago, here – May 25.
A different kind, today. Getting scrunched up. Probably a different species, but still. I wonder why this is happening.
I think I know who’s involved with pollinating the red baneberry. [Editor's Note: this is probably actually wild sarsaparilla - Aralia nudicaulis)

This dude crash landed into me today. I managed to avoid shrieking and actually was reaching for the camera when he fell to the ground – I swear I didn’t touch him. He seemed stunned and let me zoom in on him. I’m going with “bug” as a general ID.