Field of Science

New Year GReetings

 Wow! 2023!  Who would have thunk it?  TTP's family is not known for their longevity, so it is quite a surprise to find myself still around and still fairly healthy.  Wealthy and wise were out for quite a while now.  Very cold weather came early (-11F) and it will be interesting to see what plants found that too cold, maybe the Ashe magnolia or the plum yews.  But we will always hope for the best.  Indoor plants are doing well, an azalea, a mistletoe cactus (Hatoria), and the queen's tears (Billbergia nutans), have been the subject of blogs before.  

TPP is a hopeless liberal, and he was very glad to see that our bastion of blueness (Illinois) remained so. I do not think TPP can stand another round MAGAness, so much stupidity in just one grifter.  Somehow things just don't seem to be falling into place the way they did last time.  But I don't like the guy running FL very much either. People do not seem to mind that the phoney covid cures and failure to encourage masks and vaccination have killed a lot of people.

Lots of new neighbors in our little'hood.  Covid has prevented many possible social events, so have to wait for better weather to get to know them. 

Hopefully the blogging will come along and TPP gets back in the swing of things.

Friday Fabulous Fruits - a native holly

 Sorry  for TTP's absence; stuff happens and my attention has been elsewhere.   Now that the considerable leaf fall is done a couple of patchess of small shrubs catch your eye. Fruits are flowers at the stage of seed dispersal.  The bright red berries are not only pretty, but they are adored by fruit eating birds.  Often the berries end up heading south with flock of cedar waxwings.  These are called winter berry, a native holly, Ilex decidua, deciduous holly, which means they shed their leaves.  The species is also dioecious meaning you have to have a few naked male bushes to pollinate the female bushes or no berries.  If you have room these are nice plants for winter color and wildlife. 

Friday Fabulous Flower - a fall lily of sorts

 October is not a great month for flowering, but a few plants flower in the fall.  This little perennial is generally hard to raise, at least for us (it keeps dying) but the right combination of shade and water seem to be keeping it happy.  It's commonly called a toad lily (a species of Tricyrtis).  The perianth is decorated with pinky-purplly spots as is the three branched style. It stands about 12" tall with about 1" diam flowers.  It is not a native, but also is not invasive.  It started flowering on the 5th of October.  

Friday Fabulous Flower - a "rare" orchid?

 Orchids are funny, and a number of even botanists are obsessed by them.  It is one of the largest families of flowering plants.  Among the species of orchids found in here in Lincolnland they are described as "rare", "very rare", "uncommon", and one such plant has shown up in our gardens.  

The upper image shows the whole plant, all seven inches or it from a small whorl of slender basal leaves its terminal spike of white flowers.  The lower image show the flowers a bit bigger, all of 2-3 mm long.  This a Ladie' tresses orchid, the genus Spiranthes probably S. ovalis.  This orchid is "not common" and it found our gardens' on its own.  However such plants flowering here in september are easily over-looked, so quite inconspicuous, if not actually rare.  It woes make TPP happy just to know it's there; 4 or 5 plants in a patch some foot in diameter.  Oh did TPP mention that most orchids have quite small flowers of rather small plants.  Enjoy.

Salt potatoes

 TPP has been occupied, so sorry.  Having technical problems with images.  Here's part of the back log that doesn't need illustration.  While looking for items for a together the Phactors hit on the idea of salt potatoes, a common item from our youth, so many decades ago.  So how many if you have ever had salt potatoes?  They used to come as a bag of New potatoes, which is to say small whole potatoes in a bag with a decent sized package of salt.  Basically you boil them in a brine until tender then let them dry forming a crust of salt on the skin, then you serve them hot with melted butter.  In those days we didn't use fancy stuff like parsley or chives.  The recipe isa about 1 1/2 cups of salt for 4 lbs. of potatoes.  When looking this up TPP was very surprised to find them referred to as Syracuse salt potatoes.  Apparently, this is an upstate New York thing, and we all knew Syracuse (Mrs. Phactor's home town near enough) was famous for salt.  Important that you understand the potatoes must be whole with the skin intact.  So  the Phactors had quite a laugh of this blast from the post.  

Other up coming items: new cat, fall flowers, and more.

Last day for loyal lap cat

 The Phactors have two pet cats who own this house.  The older one, a rescue cat, just turned 17 and it was like the meter had run out.  She just gradually slid into a gradual decline and she just has given up living, so we will have her put wo sleep later today so as not to force her to continue a weakened existence.  Her name was Magpie, Miss Maggie, she was a chocolate black with a little white, and a medium length thickish coat; she was my lap cat, and I miss her alreadys.  From 7 pm to 10 om each night she would be in TPP's lap or crunched in beside my leg, until it was time to go to bed.  Maggie was a housecat who did enjoy playing with the occasional house mouse.  She remained playful at times her whole life. This picutre shows her plumpish physique in a favorite place, between two kitchen windows on a window high bench.  Maggie had a big head and big forepaws, a broad chest, and slender hind quarters with small feet, as if put together out of spare parts, but she was quite agile, quite athletic.  But she lived a long, healthy life and enjoyed being a housecat; she was quite a lover of petting and people who did not necessarily love cats.

Polio in New York

 This news item caught my eye because New York state is my childhood home and polio is a distinct memory.  TPP had just started school in the mid-50s when it was announced that they had a vaccine for polio.  My parents couldn't get us to the doctor soon enough to get the vaccination because polio scared people.  Evey year there would be an outbreak somewhere and we all had classmates who wore leg or arm braces, and everyone knew someone who had died of polio.   But it seems that people have forgotten or even with a million deaths, and covid just isn't scary enough.  Science was a little too eager to pronounce polio's demise.  It's back! And aided and abetted by anti-vaxxers polio will surely make a come back.  TPP has yet to hear an anti-vax position that was convincing.  Herd immunity makes sense biologically, but if the anti-vaxxers screw it up TPP hopes they get their much-deserved infection.  Take away their passports and don't let these fools travel to places that still harbor diseases like polio (No idea if this case came from overseas or not).

Friday Fabulous Flower - Bottle brush

 This ia an aptly named plant, it does look like a bottle brush and even better is grows in the shade and flowers in midsummer.   Actually this shrub looks good enough that the flowering is almost a bonus.

 This is the bottle brush buckeye, Aesculus parviflora.  It just now is flowering, and some of ours is growing in pretty deep shade.  The only problem is that in bad Japanese beetle years the flowers can be totally eaten.   

Rules of gardening & FFF

 OK TPP was the victim of a very busy week.  What a relief to get that overwith.  And it rained after two long weeks of hot dry weather.  My rain gauge recorded 3.5"  and every bit of it was needed.

Here is a  Friday Fabulous Flower, but it is a violation of a TPP gardening rule.  This is a very pretty plant, but one of our gardening rules, based on sad experience, is never plant a loosestrife.  Every violation of this rule has ended badly.  This is Lysimachia clethroides, the gooseneck loosestrife.

It flowers in July a plus, and it does OK in shade,  but you can never control it. So says TPP.

Friday Fabulous Flower - Big leaf Magnolia

 Hello readers,

TPP is back!  A combination of too many things to do, mild depression, and a lost password kept TPP off the intertudubes.  A really sweet flower has helped with the depression, but really our country seems to be broken, and too many of the ignorant types seem to be winning.  Of course getting the password fixed has helped.  Near the front corner of the Pfactor's dwelling is a 4 foot tall big leaf Magnolia macrophylla var. ashei, and today it flowered!  A very uplifting event, especially since it is a from Florida.  It is much hardier than everyone thinks.  Although the next polar vortex will probably do it in.  Isn't it wonderful?