Friday, May 8, 2015

shagbark hickory buds are not for the faint of heart.

iPhone photos – not ideal, but not half bad, by some of my criteria (subject, composition, and what not). Sucky by others (crispness, clarity). It is what it is – I was doing a quick after-dinner walk down to the end of the road and back and I just couldn’t resist...I even deliberately left the cameras behind, but as you can see, I’m a junkie. A junkie for spring.

This is a shagbark hickory bud what’s gotten all explody.


BOOM. Those bud scales – wow. They’re huge.

And now for the tiny, a Canada Mayflower. Can’t get enough of these jaunty little guys.



It’s Friday, it’s 10 pm, I am not breaking out the guide at this point. Maple leaf viburnum, I’m guessing.



Another shagbark – this one’s the terminal bud of a sapling less than a foot tall.


Don’t underestimate me. I’m an old grandpa at heart.

The blurriness drives me nuts, until I remove the expectation of crispness, and then it just looks kinda cool.



Too lazy to confirm the ID on this one – the significant thing being, I NEVER see these guys flowering. So: special day!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015


And the Lord sayeth...”TROUT LILY!!!!!”


And lo, the angels did smile.

The back of our house is insane.


In the foreground, way down low, we have purple...the vinca, aka myrtle.


Just next to them and bit taller, an insane quantity of this frivolity:


Next to that, a hilarity of azalea:


TODAY is THE day for this almost-open look, where the color is the most saturated. Tomorrow this will all be different.


And behind it all looms the rhody, aswarm with bumble bees.


In the meantime, let us not forget the tulips.




And the downward-facing ... lily? dunno. These shots are not upside-down.



What the hell. Can I get an amen?

And just across the gravel path? More of this:


AND I saw ruby-throated hummingbirds at the feeder today. AND I talked to a woman at a local ‘wellness center’ – massage, facials, etc. – and will be their first Reiki practitioner. AND we sold two out of three of our ancient cars – the Golden Buick went off to Michele on the back of some tractor trailer so large, it had to be parked out on the main road cause it couldn’t get up our hill; and the Escape went to this nice guy who handed over a wad of cash. He’ll be back shortly to pick it up.

What a day, what a day. We are blessed.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

elderberry preparations, maple leaf buds opening, leaves unfurling

The elderberry flowers, once just a tight mass of eensies, are differentiating themselves into little sibling clusters. They’re going to need the room those little stalks permit because the berries we’ll be getting eventually take up quite a bit of real estate.


Out on the road, a sugar maple sapling is going hell-bent for leather. Here’s one bud just starting to open.


Here’s something I’d never noticed before: the pairs of leaves take turns on which way they face – each new year’s pair(s) line up 90 degrees off the last.


You can see it by the alternating direction of curve in the bud scars. Clever – more efficient use of light, I suppose, if you aren’t shading your own last year’s leaves with this year’s leaves.

The next closest stage I found...


At first I thought that would be a single leaf, but what do I know. I think there FOUR leaves tucked in there. This is a side bud, though – it might only be two. Hm.


This enterprising twig’s terminal bud had TWO pairs of buds just behind it. Go team maple!

And now, for how those leaves unfurl:



So those four leaves? They’re all coming out of one bud.


See what I was saying? One bud. Four leaves. Awesomeness.


I practically feel my maternal urges kicking in to action.


Once they open up, they’re all tender and droopy at first. They have to be pumped full of love first. By love, I suppose I mean some combination of light and sap. They look like butterfly wings about to inflate. I wonder if the presence of light itself triggers the chlorophyll to get going? Because these are still kinda red to me.


Be still, my heart.



And now to drift in the in-between places, the world between the worlds...


Aaaahhhhh...spring. It’s good for the soul, no?

Friday, May 1, 2015

catkins, cones, confusion...thank you, internet.

IT'S SPRING! THINGS ARE POPPING! We're in Pine Barrens, New Jersey country for a couple of days, and I don't have a field guide with me, so I'm being a little lazy with the species ID part, but hey. We'll get over it. We have the internet, and thank god for that, because I'm having to relearn some basic tree sex stuff. 

Oak Kind #1: maybe black oak, no promises. Itty bitty baby leaves. Be still my heart.

Catkins were dancing in the breeze - catkins are the male flowers.

Think of all the urge toward life involved here: each of those catkins was, until very recently, a dream of growth squashed inside a tiny little bud. And look at them now.

Before I started assembling this post, I'd forgotten about how all this works - how there are, in some species, separate male and female flowers, sometimes on the same tree ("monoecious"), sometimes on different trees ("diecious") - meaning, when I was out there taking pictures, I didn't think to look for the female flowers...oops. I did, however, think to look for buds that were just opening up into catkins. Victory!

Sproing-oing-oing-oing-oing! You know me: if I lived here? You'd get a picture-a-day of this thing as it unfurls.

And now, for a red maple: what I wouldn't give, to be this elegant...

Onwards to... I'm guessing choke cherry. Shiny little leaves.

...and flowers. In this case, the flowers are "perfect", meaning, each flower has both male and female parts within it. Stamens, pistils, all that jazz.

Next up, Oak Kind #2 - I'm guessing Black Jack. Based on the shape of the leaf. 

Next up: pitch pine, which has, incidentally, the best scientific name of all: Pinus rigida.

These are male cones. I will confess: as I took these shots, I thought these were "tiny little pine cones". Well, they are. But not in the "conventional" sense. So I became obsessed with wondering why it was that I was seeing all these fat bunches of "baby pine cones"... but when I looked at mature, ripe pine cones, they came in ones and twos. It took the internet to set me straight.

Apparently the male cones darken up as they get ready to open up and disperse pollen...

And check out the twig-and-needle packages, seemingly wrapped in silk threads...those, too, started off as hope compressed in a bud.

I'm guessing all the female cones are up higher out of reach, as The Internet informs me they are. Had I seen any, I would have photographed them, even though I would not have known at the time what they were...

Here is a female cone from a while back - more than one year, I'm thinking - that was fertilized, and is thus developing into what we think of as "a pine cone". It was the only one I saw.

Here's what twigs look like when they're so new, they're still bright green:

I feel fresh and invigorated just looking at stuff like this...don't you? 

Sadness time: this is a hemlock, and I'm pretty sure the white crap is the evil wooly adelgid, or more specifically, their egg sacs. 

Below - and thank you, for otherwise I would have told you lies about what's going on: at left, a male cone. And at right...a female cone! Hooray! Here is where I insert a tasteless joke about incest. "It's not incest if you're a monoecious gymnosperm!" or something to that effect...thanks for coming, I'll be here all week...

Elsewhere, another kind of tree entirely was exploding thusly:

No idea who that is. 

And last but not least, a confection of pink frothy goodness.

It's been a most excellent day.