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an aptly named bush

It’s the time of year when the stalks of butterfly bushes attract certain identified flying objects. Hummingbirds for one, and of course, butterflies. Here is a beautiful Eastern Tiger Swallowtail.

swallowtail1 at Jay'sswallowtail at Jay's

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I planted lots of new bulbs last fall and what I love about the time lapse between then and now is how much I forget what I planted! Every day now I see another surprise poking out of the ground. I have had single snowdrops for years but now I have a first crop of double galanthus flore pleno and you have to turn them over to get the full effect. Above you only see a hint of the double layer….

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underneath is where the real action is!

 

the groundhog was wrong

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It’s still February and this year (give or take a possible few inches of snow on occasion over the next month) it really feels like spring is mostly on its way. Warmer temperatures on a somewhat regular basis, no snow on the ground and, as my husband says, “Mother Nature making up for last year” all lead to crocuses, honeybees, hellebore flowers and witch hazels bringing spring cheer.

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A Burst of Bittercress

My cousin and I were talking on the phone recently about a weed that is a real nuisance in her yard and surrounding yards – in the grass and in the gardens, and that even though she spends hours taking care of her share, it’s not something all the neighbors are even aware of. And that is a problem because……

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the seeds spread by bursting in summer – and they don’t care where they land or who’s yard it is! If you’ve ever tried pulling out a bittercress that has gone to seed, you hear a popping noise and the seedheads explode immediately. As soon as my cousin mentioned this weed, I told her I knew of a weed that sounded like the same one I have dealt with so we looked online and discovered the name for our wild weed – hairy bittercress.

A few early springs ago one of my neighbors pointed this weed out to me in her lawn and she was pulling it out by hand. I noticed a few in my yard and found that they were very easy to pull out, thank goodness. The weed shows up in early spring but I read that it is a winter and spring annual and on a walk yesterday I came across a large patch of it (detail above) in someone else’s garden several blocks away. I knew that a nice seed burst had happened in this mulched area last summer because plenty of babies showed up during our mild winter weather. And not only that, these rosettes were already sprouting the little white flowers that eventually rise on stalks in summer and turn into the dangerous seedpods (photo below.)

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The rosettes are actually sort of pretty – the leaves look like watercress and if you know to pull these weeds out early enough in the spring, or before the flowers turn to seed, you can somewhat keep on top of it. Mowing the flower stalks (as long as they are still flowering) works too if they are in the lawn.

Hairy bittercress – your days of popping and exploding are numbered – at least in my yard.

winter apples

This past fall was a record year for acorns and apples. While our neighbors’ acorns finished falling by Thanksgiving, many apples on our tree are enjoying being very ornamental.  A few do fall off every day or so but it will be fun to see how long some diehards hang on.  Hopefully through the winter – or at least a first snow so I can take photos of snow-capped apples.

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Applesauce anyone?

witch hazels in autumn

My 3 witch hazels are really showing off right now.

Each of my winter-blooming ones has its own fall leaf color, as seen below:

aurora

aurora

blue moon

blue moon

while my fall-blooming one has a flowering kind of entertainment:

mohonk red

mohonk red

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No tickets required.

colorful “candy”

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I’m a little surprised enough of these delicious, sweet Sun Gold tomatoes made it to the strainer for a salad….usually several are eaten right off the vine!