Field of Science

Christmas eve

 Happy holidays everyone!  Having just celebrated the winter solstice, and recognizing that most of the images and trappings of Christmas are of pagan origin, TPP has no particular religious connections with Christmas, but most of my childhood memories were born of the American Christmas traditions, so all the decorating done by Mrs. Phactor make me quite happy.  The weather here in the upper Midwest has turned quite cold for a couple of days after highs in the upper 30s and 40s.  Late season garden work included picking up lots of small limbs from several windy days and fencing several garden areas where otherwise the bunnies would damage many smaller trees and lots of shrubs.  Later in the season and the stakes for the fencing wouldn't push into the frozen ground.  

The interesting transition taking place is the invasion of chipmunks (now in hibernation) and gray squirrels, where formerly it was only fox squirrels, a bigger, but slower species.  In an area near us and often including our garden, a melanistic black form of the gray squirrel has also appeared.  No idea why these darker coats might be of some advantage, if they are; the black coats seem quite obvious to our eyes.  But the grays are becoming more numerous.

The longer nights help promote flowering in house plants that have been in the garden until well into October.  First the "Christmas cacti" and an Aeschynanthus flowered.  Then the Queen's tears flowered (see the last FFF blog) and the Christmas azalea, which looks much better having been cut back to promote some denser growth.  Now a large Hatiora salicornoides cactus.  All the orchids are putting up new flowering stalks.  So it seems a bit silly to sprout paper-white narcissuses, but the bulbs were a gift, and they do smell great. And all of these plants are in the same room with the Christmas tree, a Frasier fir.  We are taking a number of precautions in order to have the F1 over for Christmas, along with a refugee from Australia who remained rather than travel back to down under.


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