Field of Science

Ents are real!

TPP has sort of always known this.  But Ents can't stand still for too long or they root into place. Here's the article where the image is from. If you don't know Ents, well you aren't well enough read.

Easy Gardening Advice - Say What?

TPP fell for some click bait the other day, i.e., 25 tips to make Gardening Easier.  No question about it gardening can be real work, digging holes for planting trees.  So you know it was some of the same-old, same-old: use mulch, don't mow your lawn (grass) so often, etc.  But then probably to get to 25, the "easy gardening tip" was get rid of lawn and install Astroturf!  Now in what sense of the word is installing astroturf "gardening"?  Hey, come and see my lovely Astroturf, it's doing so well this year.  It must be the Astro-fert that was applied this spring. And you know you can color coordinate if you use Astro-turf.  And the image is even from "Good as Grass".  Bottom left is "called Boise Blue" for some goofy reason.  
Now least you think TPP is close-minded about innovation, a garden trial was done using rubber mulch made from old tires and dyed brown.  It actually looks like wood mulch, and it doesn't decompose producing a weed growing medium, and it lasts for years.  Rubber mulch would actually work well in a play ground area, or for a fairly high traffic path.  Astroturf was the deal-breaker, and the clicking stopped.  As good as grass, tell that to an Astro-cow. And where are the Astro-chickweeds and the Astro-dandelions?  It may be as good as grass, but as good as lawn, never.

St. Patrick's Day Style - Celebrating the Green

Lots of places have St. Patrick's Day (Yes, it was yesterday, but TPP was busy.) celebrations, but this one almost has to be seen to be believed.  No photoshopping here.  This is a view along the Chicago river in the center of downtown Chicago just  a bit upstream from where the river enters Lake Michigan.  Yes, the river is actually that green.  Do they grind up Irishmen, who have been drinking green beer, and then slosh them around to get the color?  TPP actually watched them dye the river one year and met the short-straw fireman who was standing ready in his yellow wet suit should they have to rescue anyone from the green depths, anyone who might have had to much to drink.  Also saw a toy poodle who had fallen in, and then been pulled back out, no worse for wear, but definitely a tad greenish, and more than a little bit cold.  So if you think you celebrate the Irish, top this.

Student protests - You go guys!

TPP is actually rather impressed by these Millenial high school students protesting gun violence in schools.  This is the best student protest effort since the Kent State killings by National Guardsmen (armed but not protectors) resulted in anti-war protests that closed down most of the nation's colleges and universities (TPP's senior year).  At that time students got called a lot of nasty names (dirty hippy was the funniest) for protesting the Vietnam War, and TPP remembers getting tear gased, and crossing picket lines to finish some needed classes to graduate.  So none of the negative reactions to today's students surprises TPP.  Pundits who don't think students who were shot at should have an opinion about guns, or are even citizens (the moronic Tucker Carlson); or people who think they need semi-automatic weapons to protect themselves.  Really?  Some student protestors will be subjected to punishment including in one remarkably primitive area corporal punishment (seriously getting paddled for protesting killings?).  Protest anyways and take their punishments knowing how wrong they are. History will be on your side. And you will have learned how not to act.  

Friday Fabulous Flower

It was a bit warmer yesterday, back to brisk today, but enough to give a few more of these terribly cute Iris (I. reticulata) a chance to flower.  Their flower is pretty large in comparison to the size of the plants, although the leaves will get longer and taller.  This is a species that would like being in a sunny rock garden, which TPP does not have, but in one bed this bulb-forming Iris has been happy. This is a very cheerful spring flower if you can make it happy.  In 3 or 4 other places in our gardens it has just faded away.  This species has been a FFF before, but not too many other choices right now, and if enjoyable each spring, then no problem featuring it again.

Depressing in general

The general color outside remains brown.  After a Feb. thaw, early March has been cool so everything is just stalled.  Hellebores look the same as they did 2 weeks ago.  Bulbs are also on hold, and it's probably a good thing to keep flowering shrubs on hold for awhile, but in general it's sort of depressing.  And the campus and campus town are nearly deserted because of spring break, and that is sort of depressing as well.  And everything about how the country and our state is being run is sort of depressing too. The death of Steven Hawking is also depressing, not that his work could be understood by botanists, but he was such an exceptional person, such an exceptional intellect.  So TPP thinks reading a gardening column might be cheery, and among their advice for making gardening easier is to install Astroturf!  In what way is Astroturf gardening?  Way too depressing of an idea.  Neighbor who took out all of the shrubbery in their yard and planted grass has moved on, and that is sort of cheery news; new neighbors might be better.  So if you decide to comment on this, do be upbeat.  And forgot Pi Day, which is more sad than depressing.  But NCAA basketball playoffs have begun, and that is so depressing.  What is it people like about that game?  

Friday Fabulous Flower - Crocus

Crocus just sort of appear in our gardens.  Two types, the very early little snow crocus, and it has invaded our lawns and garden beds in many locations.  Cute.  A larger variety of crocus lives in a couple of different garden beds and flowers a bit later.  No idea how they get around. But they are very cheerful.  Here you can see the three anthers spaced around the three-lobed stigma (a bit oranger), and the two whorls of perianth.  By the time the lawn needs cutting, they will have died back for the year, so they can easily naturalize should you desire it.  

Sudden spike in blog traffic

Every so often TPP notices a sudden spike in blog activity, usually several hours when the tracking software records a week's worth of traffic, yet no particular blogs are showing unusually elevated traffic.  What's going on?  Does anyone understand this?  Can anyone explain?  TPP is basically a dummy about such things, so do clue him in.

Friday Fabulous Flower - snow drops

And second place goes to snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) just two days later than the witch hazels.  The fairly long snow cover of this winter always gets snow drops off to a fairly early start.  These little bulbs are not very flashy, but they sure are cheerful after a long winter.  If you have a garden you should stick in clumps of these bulbs just every where.  Clumps sometimes surprise us arising in places where they planted themselves.  This clump only started as one or two stalks, and now it consists of a couple of dozen bulbs.  

February Gardening - limbs and leaves

While our ongoing late winter thaw is allowing the Phactors to do a bit a gardening, it may push some stoopid plants to break dormancy too early.  This is always a worry in this part of the world.
Some of the very earliest plants are flowering, but this is not unusual for them. The weather leading up to this thaw has been windy, so it took a good hour of bending over to pick up all the downed limbs; nearly 3 wheelbarrow loads of limbs and twigs were transported to the front curb for pickup later in the week.  A fence along the lily pond had accumulated quite a load of leaves and kept them out of the pond.  Mrs. Phactor raked them up and transported them to a woodland area where they can decompose in peace.  Put a fence around a bed filled with species tulips hopefully depriving the bun-buns of an exotic meal. Usually they get missed until nibbled down.  Made note of the shrubs that have been bun-bun nibbled over the winter.  Basically anything not caged.  This was our day's exercise.  Gardening as exercise is not  such a crazy idea, but in  general the exercise nuts are not the type who garden, wonder why not?  Not enough of an an adrenaline rush watching grass grow?  Good to note that the blue lawn is sprouting under foot everywhere.  Stay posted.