Sunday, April 18, 2021

Plant Story--A Small Weedy Alyssum, Alyssum simplex

Wanting to get out as the weather warms, I frequently walk Colorado foothills trails in April and May. Conspicuous there is wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex

wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex
All the little yellow flowers are wild alyssum, Alyssum simplex

Monday, April 12, 2021

Plant Story--The Spring Native Wildflower Called Salt and Pepper

 Easily over-looked in the foothills grasslands is salt and pepper, Lomatium orientale. A member of the carrot family, Apiaceae, it has the characteristic flat head of flowers, with each coming off a multiply dividing stem (an umbel (see)). Salt and pepper is named because the white flowers have red anthers, which look dark, like pepper, on the white flower. Or so I'm told. I don't exactly see it, but I know of no other white, early spring umbels with dark dots, and the name salt and pepper is easily remembered, so it works for me. 

salt and pepper Lomatium orientale
salt and pepper, Lomatium orientale

Sunday, April 4, 2021

Sculpture in Gardens


Art is one of the finest things humans produce. It gives happiness to the maker and to the viewer. Gardens may have begun for growing food or medicine, but today they are places of joy and relaxation. When you put art into gardens, there is the potential for amazing things. 

Horses --Kevin Box, Santa Fe Botanic Garden
Horses --steel, in the form of origami folded paper - by Kevin Box, Santa Fe Botanic Garden

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Plant Story--Spotted Jewelweed, Impatiens capensis

Spring brings memories of childhood. We lived in upstate New York (Scotia, near Schenectady) and behind the house was a forested hill, belonging to an owner who lived somewhere on the far side of it. At our edge, a stream wove through the lowest areas, making marshy ground under the willows. Jewelweed grew abundantly in that area.

jewel weed Impatiens
A wet area with many jewel weed plants

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Plant Story-- Wonderfully Fragrant Basil, Ocimum basilcum

basil, Ocimum basilicum
basil, Ocimum basilicum

If I ranked vegetable garden plants on their beauty as plants, basil would rank high. It has shiny green leaves opposite each other on a square stem. When you crush a leaf, you smell the lovely fragrance, the reason that basil is an important herb.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Lessons from Travel -- Wooden Shoes

windmill in the Netherlands

Like the windmill, the wooden shoe is symbolic of the Netherlands. But wooden shoes have always seemed pretty awkward to me. I’ve tried them on. I didn’t like the stiffness and was jarred when the hard, unbending shoe hit the pavement. So I relegated wooden shoes to “quaint, old fashioned European customs,” thinking that they were the cheap shoes of 200 years ago or a dated tradition, like local costume. So my visit to the Netherlands taught me an ecological lesson.

Sunday, March 7, 2021

Plant Story--Crocuses, Signs of Spring

spring crocus
My yard's first crocus--and flower--of 2021

Crocuses are one of the very first plants to flower in the spring. I saw one in my neighborhood on February 23, 2021, but then we had 3" of snow. Those plants rebounded with new flowers within a few days but remained the only flowers in my neighborhood. My own yard's first crocus was on March 2 (see above). Spring!