Tag Archives: Snow

My boss should have been a writer….

Springtime  – Mark Gilson

      I read somewhere that Spring travels north at 16 miles a day.  It’s not here yet, but there are signs that it’s getting close…maybe Cincinnati or Columbus.  I was in a greenhouse the other day and heard a flock of geese making a commotion as they traveled up from the south.  They were more musical than the Canada Geese who overwinter here and I knew immediately that spring was approaching.  Snow geese!  Stepping outside, I watched as their ragged formation passed over a nearby farm, turned briefly to check out our back pond and then resumed their northward progress towards Lake Erie, a short ways away, probably just coming into their leader’s view.  They spend the cold months at the Gulf of Mexico, awaiting some signal, unknown to us, that it’s time to begin their three thousand mile journey to the tundra above the Arctic Circle.  I waved as they passed. 

     The ice on Lake Erie is broken now, drifting in giant flows with open water in between.  One day it’s gone, pushed off by a southern breeze.  And the next day it’s back, acting like a giant ice cube to keep things from getting too far ahead.  I’m reminded of the number sixteen again, for that’s the distance to the horizon on large lakes and open seas. 

     Nursery trucks are all over the local roads, another sign that Spring is approaching!…loaded with balled and burlapped trees and shrubs from Loselys, Klyns, Yoes and others.  Some of the white poly is coming off the hoop-houses at Cottage Gardens and Roemers as crews load containers onto farm wagons. 

     It’s getting close. 

     We’ve enjoyed a few sunny days in a row and I can feel my ‘seasonal mood disorder’ beginning to lift.  I feel like a bear or a wood chuck peering outside the cave, eager to begin another year.  (This metaphor only works until I reflect that they emerge from hibernation substantially thinner….) 

     Another season… 

     Another year…

     My fifty-eighth.  

     What if I could apply the magic of the number sixteen to my own life…subtracting that many years and reliving my forty-second!  Thinking back…I was just entering the most productive and one of the happiest periods of my life!  That Spring our nursery was thriving.  Our boys were thriving.  I was jogging four times a week and feeling better than ever.  I totalled our Ford Aerostar Minivan so we bought a used Buick Park Avenue and drove around pretending we were wealthy.  Perennials flourished and so did everything we touched.  It was a time and an age of renaissance.  Even our favorite artists were doing their best, most creative, most reflective work!  Sting had just won album-of-the-year for Summoners Tale, at age 43.  Annie Lennox had recently come out with Diva (at age 39).  Life remained a mystery, but clues abounded and we felt we were on a golden path to somewhere.   

     Don’t get me wrong.  

     I’m not complaining about fifty-eight.  

     But the world has been roughed up in recent years and so have we.  Business is tough.  We drive utilitarian company vehicles now.  We seem to keep acquiring more debt, more weight and more doctors with medical specialties.  Life is murky, filled with shadows.  Everything is relative. (I think I just paraphrased a line from William Golding  Freefall)  Elusive questions outnumber the hard-won answers. That optimistic and confident forty-two-year-old is a stranger now, a character in some former lifetime.  

     And yet…life is good.  There’s plenty to build upon.  We’re more engaged in our communities these days than ever before.  We’ve got great friends going through the same things we are.  We laugh every day.  Bitterness, cynicism and remorse remain beyond our doors.  Spring is almost here…a time of new beginnings.  I think of Tennyson’s Ulysses, in which the tired warrior and adventurer, late in life, longs again for the sea, for battle, for the unknown:  tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though we are not now that strength which in old days moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are; one equal temper of heroic hearts, made weak by time and fate, but stong in will to strive, to seek to find, and not to yield.  (Despite a reference by the embarrassed Illinois Governor Blagojevich in one of his absurd news conferences, this remains my favorite poem, followed closely by Ferlinghetti’s Dog.)

     Spring is almost here. 

     Life is what we make of it.   

     I’m going jogging! 

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Mother Nature’s Mistakes Today

Small trees after heavy snowing.

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday the temperatures were in the high 30’s with torrential rains. Seemed like spring to me. Visions of colorful bulbs danced in my head….

Today…there is over a foot of heavy, white, beautiful snow on the ground and it’s still coming down. There is not one piece of the landscape that isn’t covered. The snow is so heavy even the ornamental grasses have given up and allowed themselves to be covered to the ground.  Every one is tired of it! It’s March and I find myself stuck in my driveway! Really?

Japan gets hit with a record earthquake, Hawaii is in danger of tsunamis  and the west coast is on alert (although that may have passed by now) Really….is Mother Nature pissed off today or just grumpy? Could someone give her some flowers to cheer her up already? Enough!

 I hope everyone is safe and warm and my prayers go out to those that are not.

Dreams of the Early Risers on a Winter’s Day

My office is on the back porch of a very old home.  I love it  most of the year. I remember when I was applying for the job and my boss said that my office would be right here, surrounded by windows and I was thrilled! 15+ years later, I still love my office and I can’t imagine being anywhere else day in and day out. (I truly do mean this!) I can look out and see the birds and the trees and flowers in the summer and watch the rain in the spring and admire the leaves changing colors during the fall.  You’ll notice….I said nothing about the winter. On days like this….I am literally the somebody in a snow globe! The snow is whirling around me and let’s just say…I’m not a fan of the white stuff! My boss, ever the optimist says it’s beautiful, I say it’s beautiful up until December 26th….then it can go!

Ok, I live in a snowbelt in Ohio so I guess it’s going to hang around for a while but as my friend just texted me…she thinks the snow is snowing and she has a point! So after all this complaining and rambling…what I really wanted to share today is my favorite early rising plants in the garden. I can dream of them now, waiting patiently for those first sunny warming days and breath a sigh of relief that they have FINALLY arrived and I can really start concentrating on what to do in the garden this year!

PULSATILLA vulgaris Pasque Flower –  The dainty fern-like foliage that is covered in fuzz emerge first and very soon after…these incredible flowers that seem to last and last! Flowers are deep to pale purple, depending upon maturity and stand proudly above the foliage and I can just hear them saying “Hey Looky here…I’m back!  Sometimes these beauties will be blooming in February in our greenhouses if the weather breaks early!  It’s so exciting!  These do well for me in the shade garden where the soil is evenly moist.  They can tolerate more sun but will tend to cook a bit in the heat.  Alkaline soils are best.   Plants only reach a height of 10″ tall but a very worthy addition to your garden if you don’t have it.  

Pulsatilla vulgaris, Botanical Garden of the G...

Image via Wikipedia

 

 HELLEBORUS – Lenton Rose –  These are VERY early risers and many times will stay evergreen in the garden year-round. The flowers come in many many shades from white to burgundy and everything in between depending on the cultivar! Some are single, some are double, some are speckled, some nod, some don’t….there are way too many varieties to mention but very often, these are blooming when the snow has yet to melt. Hellebores require full sun to part shade and reach a height of 2-15″ often with the flowers reaching taller than the foliage.

Bloodroot

I love the bloodroot! My aunt gave me a piece of hers years ago and now I have a healthy batch that I simply adore!  You have to be quick to see this bloom though! I keep watch out my window every day as soon as the weather turns because if I don’t…I miss the blooms! The large leaves spring from the soil in early spring (most times before any of us have even had a chance to venture out to the garden!) and are literally wrapped tightly around the flowers.  Then one day….there are the flowers and you know we really have reached spring! It makes me smile!  I’ll have to dig up the photo that she took of a few that she had where she literally watched the flowers open!  They last about a day, especially if it’s warm but what I sight for sore eyes! If planted in the shade in a woody area, the foliage will stay nice all season long and makes a nice ground cover. I have it interplanted with galium, asarum, hostas and Tiarella and it’s very happy! 

 Of course these are just a few of my favorites that keep me waiting for the seasons to change and I’m sure you have many more that are your favorites. Tell me what yours are! Are you a fan of the bulbs like crocus and daffodills?  Share with me!  Till next time!

Annette 

 

Are Non-Native Plants Taking over Ohio Roadways?

Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer had this published…I find it fascinating!  None of us want the salt in our streams and wildlife habitats….but I find it incredible that plants are adjusting and “traveling” this way!  See below!

CLEVELAND, Ohio — More than a half century of liberally salting Ohio’s icy winter highways is turning our grassy roadsides into saltwater seasides.

Botanists like Jim Bissell of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Rick Gardner of the Ohio Division of Wildlife say not only are native plants dying off from a gradual buildup of salt and salt water, but that plants now thriving are species arriving from ocean estuaries or coastal salt marshes.

In fact, the harsh roadside environment has probably been gradually changing for as long as snow plow crews have been salting roads in winter — and accelerating over the last four decades or so.

And the tide is turning — in favor of species collectively known as halophytes, or plants that tolerate or demand salinity.

“We’re not talking about a slight difference, either,” Bissell said. “The salt creates a habitat more like the salt flats in the extreme southwest and only certain plants can live there. You see the leftover salt in the summer when the berms are all white.”

So instead of finding the fescues and perennial rye grasses that grew roadside since before the paving of asphalt highways, Bissell, Gardner and others find seaside goldenrod, various salt grasses from the East Coast — or even European salt-tolerant species Juncus compressus, commonly known as round-fruited rush.

“It’s already an interesting and harsh ecosystem, if you think about it,” said Gardner, a wildlife management assistant for the state for the last dozen years, but a botanist for more than two decades.

“It’s a dry, open area with gravel and all of the compaction of soil for construction. You find a lot of interesting plants along roadsides already — throw in all that salt and it gets even tougher for most plants to survive.”

Tough for some, but not hardy species like black grass (Juncus gerardii).

The species, actually a member of the rush family, forms “dark green meadows along the tidal flats and salt marshes” along the East Coast from Maine to Georgia, but is not native to Ohio, Bissell said.

“But we’ve just recently found it in downtown Cleveland for the first time,” Bissell said. “There’s no reason it would be here other than it can live in the saline conditions along the side of the road.”

There’s no question where the salt comes from — between 15 million and 18 million tons of sodium chloride is spread over the nation’s highways each winter. But how do seeds from salt marshes in Florida or estuaries in Maryland make it to a ditch off Interstate 71?

They hitch a ride — either in the belly of a bird or the tires of a car or truck — although some might simply be windblown, as well, Gardner said.

“Travel by car and truck tire is the most likely explanation, though I don’t think anyone has actually tracked it,” Gardner said. “But we do know that if you map out the distribution of any of these plants, it’s totally linear — all along the highways, but not scattered inland at all.”

With a few exceptions. A number of halophytes have colonized the area near the Morton Salt Plant near Mentor Headlands State Park because of the high saline content of the water and soil there.

Many of the saltwater tolerant plants began to show up in the 1970s, Gardner said, following the increase of road salt in the 1950s and 1960s. Prior to that, road crews used mostly cinders or sand to provide grip on winter roadways.

“So you only see this kind of thing in states where there is snow and where a lot of salt is put down — all along Interstate 90 and the turnpike system from Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana,” he said. “What we call freeway sedge here, for example, was actually a sedge found only in the mountains out west, but it has made its way east for years because of the saline conditions along the roadway.”

Generally, the introduction of saltwater-tolerant plants along the side of the road isn’t a major environmental concern, but the saltwater runoff into nearby streams is a growing problem, officials have said.

More than 40 percent of urban streams tested in Ohio and 18 other northern states by federal researchers showed dangerously elevated chloride levels likely related to salt runoff from road de-icing.

Elevated chloride can slow plant growth, damage the reproduction cycle for fish and smaller organisms and generally reduce diversity in streams, said John Mullaney, a hydrologist with the U.S. Geological Survey who authored the September 2009 study.

“Adding a high concentration of chloride from increasing uses of road salt, along with salt from other sources like wastewater treatment plants and farms, is particularly bad for the streams,” he said when the study was released. “Eventually, it could affect drinking water for some areas.”

That future fear — salt contaminating the groundwater supply now used for drinking water by four out of 10 Americans — is tempered by how much safer salting makes the roadways in winter.

“That’s the greater concern, not whether salt-water tolerant plants are living on the berm,” admitted Gardner. “Still, it’s fascinating to see how we’ve created a new ecosystem by our use of roadside over the last 50 to 70 years.”

Putting the season to bed

Forsythie, aus dem Winter geholt (am 9. Tag be...

Image via Wikipedia

Today is December 1st. and with December came our first snowfall. Although it hasn’t amounted to much (yet!) it is the first snow and the hope of seeing anything blooming out of doors is gone. I’m not a fan of winter…don’t think I have been since I was a child but I am a BIG fan of spring. The first crocus, the first snowdrop or helleborus breaking bud even when it’s still freezing outside! Now that is something to get excited about! I knew this winter day was coming when we took our last fall drive through the hills and valleys of NE Ohio not too long ago and I was sorry to see the leaves fall to the ground but then I smiled to myself (and only to myself because my husband absolutly loves fall!) because I knew then that before I know it, the buds will start to swell on the trees and the earth will awaken with life again! Look for plants like Pulsatilla, Spring Heath,  Helleborus and Forsythia to help you celebrate the end of winter with early blossoms, a sign of the beginning of all that’s growing!

Crocus

To stay sane during the winter months I force bulbs to bloom in pots in the house and somehow (I have no idea!) keep my Hibiscus blooming all winter long by a sunny window! How do you keep your winter bright on the dark days? Share with me and we’ll get through it together!