Friday, May 29, 2009

Friday Finds

A round-up of interesting, more-or-less garden and ecology related stuff I've run across this week:

  • Deputy Dog blog shows that without a doubt solid waste pollution is a problem. Holy Shamoley, is it a problem!
  • Frances Moore LappĂ©, whose career as an environmental activist started with the classic cookbook, Diet for a Small Planet, says that we're going to have to make a few simple but fundamental changes in our thinking if we're going to even have a planet to hand on to future generations.
  • Susan Harris at Garden Rant shows a terrific Stickwork Summer Palace built entirely of natural materials. Looks like a soft-serve ice cream made of sticks and straw. I want one!
  • Every now and then the New York Times gets it right with a gardening article. This time it's one on making a salsa garden. (Yes, that's me, the country kid, snarking at them city slickers.)
  • Needled, a needlework blog, shows beautiful photos of the gardens at Arfin, in Scotland. Drool. Now where am I going to get the money to go to Scotland, because now I must go!
  • Another excuse to go to your locally-owned garden center or nursery: The 3-50 Project to stimulate your local economy.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

To Dad (Air Force, Korean War), Grandpa (Army, WWI), and great-great-Grandpa (Union Army, American Civil War) who served this country, and to Uncle Richard (Army, WWII) who died for it:

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)
Canadian Army

Friday, May 15, 2009

Going Vertical

The satisfyingly messy project is done -- though if I repaint the trellises, I'll use a brush next time. Even with tarps down, the spray paint went everywhere. I also ended up spraying more paint on the dropcloth than on the narrow slats of the trellises -- not terribly cost-effective. But they are done, dry, and up, adding a splash of gaudy color and a vertical element to an otherwise altogether too horizontal front garden:

The melons I grew in the greenhouse and moved to the cold frame are now planted below and tethered to their trellises, with some flat rocks spray-painted black sitting at their feet to soak up a little extra solar heat. The Charentais melons still look a little bedraggled from their move. Too soon an exposure to full sun, perhaps? Though the new leaves look better:

Sugar Baby watermelons look a little more sturdy. We'll see how they do. Melons are always a chancy proposition in this climate:

The tomatoes and peppers are all snug in their Kozy Koats until night temperatures warm up again. I'm trying the technique of clipping the leaves from the bottom half of the stem and burying the stem horizontally, with the remaining leaves sticking up. The plants grow adventitious roots from the leaf nodes (terms which my students should recognize -- right? Right?), making the whole plant sturdier and giving them more roots to draw up more nutrients and water.

The weather for the next couple of weeks is supposed to be in the 70s and 80s, great for these neotropical crops, but couldn't it have started a few days ago, instead of the day after the field trips are over? But then again, we got only light sprinkles and no torrential downpours while we were out, so there's that to be thankful for.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Students in the Mist. With Orchids.

Field trip week!

This week I took three groups of biology students into the field to do some basic ecological data gathering to come up with some descriptive statistics of the forest. The Cronemiller Lake area in McDonald-Dunn forest (owned by Oregon State University) has extensive stands of Douglas-fir regrowth, some of it fairly old, with a nice selection of native shrubs and not too many invasives.

There was a great deal of this native to contend with -- good ol' Poison-oak:

Leaflets three, let them be, right? Only, it's also a really, really good idea to be familiar with Poison-oak's many growth forms, including vigorous and rampant vines, which made taking the circumference of the large trees a bit of an adventure:

I was trying to get some shots of students at work, which, when taken from the relative safety of the trail, were coming out with a whole Gorillas in the Mist effect.

There... look closely at the base of the large Douglas-fir... you can just see them:

Ah, there's one member of the troop, moving apart from the others:

Oh, and look at this! Isn't this exciting?
Several more emerge from the shelter of the thick shrubs:
And now the sun comes out and we break into a clearing where several groups were hard at work here:

And here:
And that was another thrilling episode of Students in the Mist!

While supervising students and wielding the camera, there are, of course, ample opportunities to get pictures of the forest flora. A vine maple here, its leaves shiny with the morning rain that (hooray!) ceased before we set out:

Hazelnut leaves and catkins catching the afternoon sun:
The plumy white flower and triple triangular leaves of Vanilla Leaf, with the foliage of Fairy Bells in the foreground:

Baneberry, a sensitive species, was in full bloom. It seems to be doing well despite last year's trampling herds of students:
Lots of lovely yellow Wood Violets:

And the wild Bleeding Hearts were in full bloom:

Wild Iris turned up in the clearing:
As did Waterleaf, just coming into flower:

But the prize for the flower-spotter is tiny little Calypso, a native orchid which stands only a couple of inches high:

Monday, May 04, 2009

The garden in May

My current project -- satisfyingly messy, and gaudily colored. I wanted some kind of trellis or something for my melons to climb over, and had plans to build such an item, but on shopping for the materials at the local hardware store, I found some inexpensive wooden trellises and heavy hardwood stakes that would suit. I sprayed them all with a coat of primer, then with some gaudy outdoor enamel. The trellises are brilliant blue, while the stakes that will support the tomatoes are deep purple. That ought to wake up the neighbors.

I had extra time this weekend to work on the project. There was a case of H1N1 flu confirmed at my university, and we shut down for a couple of days while the diagnosing was going on and to prevent any spreading of the virus. For once, I'm all caught up with my grading. We'll be back in business tomorrow, since there don't appear to be any more cases.

Elsewhere in the garden, I came across this ladybug amongst the Aubretia while I was weeding, and the bright little beastie contrasted with the purple and green made such a pleasing picture that I had to dash indoors for my camera:

My teeny pond needs pulling apart and cleaning, and I should probably get a real pond liner instead of black plastic, but it still looks all wild and woodsy with the ferns, cyclamen, and hellebore popping up around it.

Isn't this a fabulous arum? I can't recall the name of it, but I bought it at a plant sale that benefits one of the local historical gardens. I like the long antennae thingie emerging from the mysterious hood.

After the disappearance of my blue glass gazing ball, I moved my little elfin figure to a more secluded spot. A fan of sword fern makes a nice backdrop, with blue geranium and fuzzy caterpillar fern coming up in front.

A little kitten figure, a monument to a 9-week-old kitten who died of coccidia a few years ago, sleeps under the ferns, too.

Lettuce and peas are doing well. We're getting drenching rains today, so they're all getting watered in.

My plants from the greenhouse came home last weekend and are acclimating in the cold frame. They and the trellises will be installed next weekend.

While my lilac bush is still small, its blooms are mighty. These clusters of sweet-smelling blossoms are heavenly!

Now if only this rain would slow down long enough for me to get ahead of the weeds that are romping unchecked all over my yard.