Field of Science

Friday Fabulous Flower

Our weather for the first week in April has been fairly warm, so now flowering shrubs and spring ephemerals are at the earlier end of their flowering range.  Unfortunately this means some woodland spring flowers don't last very long.  According to TPP's data base, there are seven species of Trillium that flower in our gardens.  The earliest flowering if the aptly names snow trillium; it's also the smallest and hardest to find locally.  This is another fairly early flowering trillium, T. cuneatum, often called Sweet Betsy. Don't know why.  The leaves are the mottled type and the flower is termed sessile. in that there is no stalk, pedicel, below the flower. The dark maroon flowers stand several cm above the whorl of three leaves.  There is a Trillium sessile that is similar but smaller all the way around.  Not sure why we don't have one.  

Friday Fabulous Flowers - Peak Blue


Once you get  a bed of Scilla siberica  established you will basically have it forever.  Someone planted some of these little bulbs sometime during the last eon and then ignored them, allowing them to continue to seed themselves until the entire lawn is blue with their flowers.  The first bulbs to bloom were back in early April  but then it took another 3 and a half weeks for them to reach peak flowering, peak blue.  This is a true harbinger of spring.  Unfortunately it will takes several more weeks for the leaves to die back, before what passes for a lawn can be mowed.  The leaves contain a sort of mucilage and if mowed while still fresh the result is a green slime. To rid a garden bed of the bulbs just about requires than the soil be sifted though a screen to remove all the little bulbs because the blue can overwhelm other small plants like some of Mrs. Phactor's species tulips which are all a bit on the small side.

Friday Fabulous Flower - dwarf Forsythia


OK this is not Forsythia, although it is in the olive family (Forsythia, Fraxinus, Syringa, etc.).  This is Abeliophyllum distichum var. roseum (pink flowers).  It is often called dwarf forsythia and it flowers just a bit earlier than Forsythia adding a bit to the confusion.  The plant is a rounded 4-6 foot shrub and in full flower it has quite a lacy appearance.  The flowers are quite fragrant, sort of honey scented.  U. of Minnesota says it will grow well enough in zone 4.  No cold damage over the winter of 2021, and it handles shade fairly well too.  TPP tries these plants so that you don't have to.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - Bloodroot

 When the bloodroot flowers, a true native wildflower, they are quite the display; the bright white perianth contrasts nicely with the surrounding leaf litter.  Our local species is the only one, Sanguinaria canadensis, The rhizome oozes a bright red-orange latex, colored latexes are a common feature of the poppy family, and in olden times people thought that looking like blood indicated it was good for treating blood ailments.  Curiously TPP's favorite plants the nutmeg family also produce red latex, and is used in preparing  a hallucinogenic snuff.  At any rate this is a most cheerful little flower.  For many years our garden only had one clump of bloodroot but then if began showing up all over the place.  A leaf wraps around each flower bud.  

Gardening for health, gardening for life

Gardening gets you outside and moving and its... one of the smartest (and easiest!) things you can do to maintain or improve your health as you age. TPP has long known this.  The Phactors tell people gardening is both our hobby and our exercise program.  A study has found that more people (women actually) will maintain their mobility if they garden.  And gardening is good for your mental health as well.  It helps you keep a positive frame of mind even when the president (recent past) tries their best to depress you with his stupidity. At this time of year, it takes a lot of effort to clean up leaves, twigs (ice storms), and other debris from last season. But the thing is that TPP gardens because he likes to watch things grow. Wonder what it costs to get a time lapse camera.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - little Iris

 Early spring is starting out to be rather warm and dry, and predictable. First the snowdrops flower, then the witchhazels.  TPP mentioned this and the woman asked yellow or red flowers.  Both.  She answers, Of course.  Then Crocus of various sorts, and colors, but a lot more gold than TPP remembers.  One of the most striking spring flowers is Iris reticulata.  It's a bulb not a rhizome.  Here they are all of 4 inches tall pushing up through the leaf litter.

Green eggs and PC, a bad breakfast sandwich

 No idea how many books Dr. Suess published; thought that I had read them all at least everyone the public library owned.  And now someone says these books had racist imagery and supposedly that wasn't noticed except what it was subliminally doing to my young brain, and it's why TPP is such a bigot today.  Well, it took long enough for someone to notice, which means If I ran the Zoo wasn't exactly little black sambo.  Hard to take some people seriously, but would you could you read them if you understood the culture into which these books were published,  and clearly they were works of fiction.  Sounds like a teachable moment was discarded along with some out rageously funny ( to a kid learning to read) illustrations and ideas.  The one remembered best was the 500 hats of Bartholomew Cubbins.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - Snow Drops


In the what's first-to-flower-sweepstakes the clear winner is snowdrops.  When the last of the snow cover melted away the flower buds were already showing a bit of white, and a week of above freezing high temperatures did the trick and this clump opened on the 28th of February.  Clumps of this little bulb will last for years and slowly increase in number of bulbs flowering.  This species, probably Galanthus nivalis, only grows 3 to 6" tall.  They pop up in several places in our gardens.  They are ever so cheerful in the easly spring, and prompted TPP to finish transcribing dates from his flowering log into the database and then adding a 2021 column and printing out a new pad for this season.  Clearly a harbinger of spring.  Enjoy. 

Second dose addendum

 About 24 hrs after the 2nd vaccine dose was administered, TPP felt rather achy all over, and my body temperature was a bit elevated to 98.8 F.  After a tylenol and a margarita left over from national margarita day (in February?) and some cat in my lap while trying to read therapy, overall the patient felt much better.  With a bit more of a fever, you could feel much worse.  The next morning, with the exception of a still sore upper arm, and everything felt normal again. Still not as bad as the yellow fever inoculation was remembered. The clinic was essentially empty, no where's near the capacity of the area.  Don't know why this was the case, except everybody was getting the 2nd dose. Hopefully a larger vaccine supply will begin to make it less difficult to get inoculated. Things are changing as the discussion for our TGIF seminar group is turning to when and where the group can begin to reconvene face to face.  Sounds like our senior friends have all gotten or started their inoculations.  Don't know the answer myself.

Second round inoculation

Well, that's done.  Got the second round shot of Moderna covid vaccine this morning.  So far, the inoculation site is a bit sore, but that's about it.  No other adverse reaction. And the best news is that Mrs. Phactor got her 1st round shot this afternoon, a different brand of vaccine, so in three weeks she'll be done  just after tax season ends, and our big trip (50th anniversaries) of marriage, and graduating from college may get celebrated by a trip long in the planning stage that may actually take place.  TPP admits not to understand the thinking or lack thereof staunch anti-vaxers.  Saw several of my biological colleagues lined up to get their covid vaccine without any hesitancy and these people are quite skeptical of most new things.  TPP has been inoculated for plague, typhus, cholera, yellow fever, just to mention the ones he remembers.  Studying tropical organisms has a bit of a downside and TPP has a bit of blood enshrined at the CDC for being one of the 1st 200 cases of some tick bite fever recorded in North America.  Such an honor!