2006 ~ Alaska blog archives ~ Nature & Literature Blog
Today's Blooms (5/3/05) (2005-05-03 22:10:41)
Pasque Flower (Pulsatilla)
May 3rd is pretty early for blooms in our garden.
Even though the elevation is only about 450 feet, we're close to the south
slopes of the Talkeetna Mountains, some might say the start of the 'foothills.'
Flowers bloom here later than just a few miles south of Palmer, where
the elevation is lower and the micro-climate is moderated by a number
and Cook Inlet...
Mountain Buttercup (Ranunculus Eschscholtzii)
Fast Emerging Perennials (2005-05-02 23:47:09)
It's only been about a week since the lawn greened up and now the first
flowers in the perennial garden
Our early bloomers here (southcentral Alaska) are pasque
flower (Pulsatilla) and mountain buttercup (Ranunculus
Eschscholtzii). Two years ago I rescued a small clump of pasque flower
because the wind had eroded a lot of soil away from the top of its roots.
I divided it into several plants and this year about 5 of these are blooming
beneath the honeysuckle on the more protected west side of the house.
This honeysuckle was probably planted in the 1960s or earlier and last
winter a heavy icy snowfall broke off the biggest trunk, although it looks
like the rest of it survived. I had divided one clump of mountain buttercups
about three years ago and now have four pretty good clumps blooming. There
are scatterings of tulips and some daffodils but, since none are near
a south facing wall they bloom late, and so none are in bloom yet. The
other disturbing perennial plants making themselves known are some of
the gardener's nemeses: clover, dandelions and quack grass, all of which
quickly invade a perennial garden... I only just finished post-winter
garden cleanup last weekend and now the weeding begins in earnest. Luckily
we have lots and lots of daylight...
Hedge Pruning (2005-05-06 00:03:33)
ARTHUR: Well, what is it you want?
HEAD KNIGHT: We want... a shrubbery!
From: Monty Python and the Holy Grail, when they meet Knights Who Say...
Clearly the Knights Who Say ... Ni! didn't have a Caragana hedge! One
of the garden
battles is controlling the Caragana hedge that we planted in 1984 with
the intention of creating a clear separation between the driveway and
the lawn. (This hedge usually is visible at the left side of the web
Started from seed and transplanted as nothing more than small twigs into
the hard-packed, gravel at the edge of the driveway, this dense packed,
spine covered hedge has thrived. It takes whatever the weather and conditions
dish out--extreme winter cold and wind and no snow cover -- no problem
-- dry summer conditions -- no problem -- ravenous, foraging moose --
no problem. The hedge provides cover for birds and the thick spines discourage
moose, which ravage ornamental shrubs, especially nice expensive ones.
One winter day I watched a momma moose showing her calf which woody plants
to eat. They nibbled the cotoneaster and the mountain ash. They tasted
the crab apples and then she led her calf over to the Caragana and broke
off twigs and began to chew. Her expression was like someone who had just
bit into a bunch of slivers, she spit the twigs out, wiggled her lips
around and stalked off, her calf following. Not only is the Caragana hardy
in most conditions and distasteful to moose, but it also has small yellow
flowers in the spring and thin seed pods in late summer. The seed pods
add to the garden's soundscape. As they reach a critical level of desiccation
they audibly pop open, flinging the seeds away from the hedge, imagine
little tiny drumsópop pop, pop pop pop. This is no particular problem
as long as the hedge is surrounded by driveway and lawn, however, if it
is near cultivated soil then there will be a battle to remove young (and
spiny) Caragana sprouts before they become a randomly arranged, next generation.
Garden - May 9, 2005 (2005-05-10 23:11:06)
These flowers are currently blooming in our garden.
Forget-me-not (Myosotis) is the Alaska state flower. This year it started
blooming about May 8th. It reseeds readily and the seedlings can be transplanted
to better locations, if necessary.
Buds are coming out o≠n the False Solomon's Seal. These spread by
underground roots and grow well in the shade. False Solomon's Seal
is sometimes confused with Lily
of the Valley.
Arabis is a low growing rock garden type plant. It spreads easily, seems
to be short lived, and needs trimming to keep it looking neat after it's
finished blooming. However, being an early bloomer in this cold climate
makes up for any other negatives. (In 2001 the Arabis
bloomed on May 19.)
Bergenia and Bumblebee (2005-05-11 23:19:34)
Very slow moving bumblebee, probably a queen, feeding on bright pink Bergenia
flowers. [The wikipedia bumblebee
page is very informative.]
Chinese Golden apple blooming (5/14/05) (2005-05-14
Few apple trees are hardy in this microclimate,
but the Chinese Golden is one of them. This tree, at the far left edge
of the usual web cam image (I moved the camera a little to get this picture),
grows against a south facing wall....
Every year this tree is the first of the various apple trees we have that
blooms. Every year, except this year, we've been able to clip a 'bouquet'
of crabapple blooms from a location about 8 miles south of here with lower
elevation and a milder microclimate to use for pollination. This year,
possibly due to a mild winter combined with some very warm days towards
the end of April, the Chinese Golden is blooming before our usual source
of crabapple pollination blossoms--so it's unlikely many apples will set.
Afternoon May 15, 2005 (2005-05-15 22:36:36)
Today is cool and overcast with intermittent mist, temperature in the
low 50ís. The mosquitoes are still big and slow...
So it actually is possible to walk through the woods without bug spray,
just swatting a mosquito every once in a while. This wonít last though.
The first big hatching will probably happen within the next week or two.
Today the woods were calm, some birds, a junco and one I couldnít identify,
singing and the ubiquitous road noises.
The fern is still slowly
unfolding, its overall structure beginning to appear although there is
still a less developed mass near the center. I started observing this
fern on May 8, so this is day 8 of the fern watch. How many days does
it take a fern to reach its full growth?
The watermelonberry has an unusual, almost pipe like structure with the
stem seemingly attached onto the leaves.
Photo shows leaf and stem structure, also first blossom of this watermelonberry
Watermelonberry leaf tips with a combination of spider silk and rain drops.
Primrose (2005-05-16 23:32:17)
The primrose is hardy
and durable. This one spent three years in a pot, one year it wintered
in the garage and the rest outdoors, before I transplanted it into the
ground. Itís a small plant but blooms early, in fact itís blooming at
the same time as the tulips and daffodils.
New perennials blooming (5/21/05) (2005-05-21
Trollius (began blooming May 19th in 2005). Photo
of Trollius with Cranesbill taken in 2001.
Shooting Star (began blooming May 20th in 2005). In
2001 the shooting star began blooming June 1st.
Light garden map.
Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (6/15/05) (2005-06-15
Butterflies, Swallowtails. I don't know whether this has anything to do
with Polar Warming, but for the last few days we have been inundated by
these large, palm sized, yellow and black butterflies. The timing corresponds
precisely with the blooming of the Lilac.
The lilacs are more like small trees than refined little bushes and they
are full of aromatic blossoms. As the day warms the Swallowtails appear,
fluttering between lilac blossoms, cantankerously fending off interloping
Swallowtails. Each lilac bush seems alive and moving, as the Swallowtails,
not much more than a pair of fluttering yellow and black wings, rise off
a blossom only to descend onto another or flutter off in the direction
of the woods, but another tarries to take its place. Is this the result
of another warm winter and an excessively early Spring? According to the
Wikipedia entry, predominant food plants of the Wester
Tiger Swallowtail include Cottonwood, Willow and Quaking Aspen, all
of which occur here. I wonder whether this enormous hatch is the result
of eggs laid last fall that successfully over wintered with a lower than
normal mortality rate or whether these butterflies have completed an entire
and successful life cycle just since the end of April Ė the Wikipedia
entry says that the caterpillars emerge (in the spring) four days after
the eggs are laid, they feed and molt five times, then pupate and the
butterfly emerges 15 days after the caterpillar pupates. Since we had
record warm temperatures the last few days of April and not much in the
way of cold since then it seems that the Swallowtail has had sufficient
time to complete one life cycle. So, unless there is a migrating flock
of butterflies, this is the likely scenario which has also happened elsewhere
in the Valley. We noticed on Memorial Day weekend, eight miles south of
here, that the lilacs were blooming there (but not yet here) and that
the Tiger Swallowtail was abundantly present and feeding on those lilac
October Flowers (10/3/2005) (2005-10-03 22:35:22)
Remember, this is Alaska. We have flowers blooming on October 3, 2005.
We had one light frost in early September that only hit the lowest garden
and a very very light frost last night. The forecast low for tonight is
30 degrees F. This is very unusual. These photos are from this
Dill flowers and seed pods. Dill turns black after even a light frost.
Sunflower seeds that actually ripened. Pretty unusual.
garden 2006 ~
Alaska blog archives
~ Nature & Literature Blog