Sunday, March 26, 2023

Plant Story - Lettuce, Lactuca sativa

Let us talk about lettuce.

garden lettuce, Lactuca sativa
garden lettuce, Lactuca sativa, in a garden

Lettuce is easily overlooked and yet it is one of the top ten vegetables, traded, grown, or eaten. Americans ate an average of 12.7 pounds of lettuce each in 2021 and 25.8 pounds per person in 2015. It is the world's most important salad crop. 

Sunday, March 19, 2023

Plant Confusions: Hellebores, Helleborus and Veratrum species

The common name hellebore is confusing because three quite different plants are called hellebore or false hellebore. They're in the genera Helleborus, Veratrum and Adonis. Helleborus is just hellebore, Veratrum and Adonis are false hellebores, but of course sometimes the "false" is dropped. 

hellebore, Helleborus
hellebore, Helleborus

All three are poisonous plants that have been used medicinally as purges, to cause vomiting and diarrhea. All three are sufficiently toxic as to be dangerous. 

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Gardens and Natives: Colorado is Distinct from the East

I attended Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants conference in February. I came away very conscious of all the differences in gardening between our region and other places, especially the eastern U.S. If you want to grow Colorado natives, they recommended planting in a thick layer of crushed gravel (stone!), adding no fertilizer, washing off the potting soil to plant plants bare-rooted, and within a year, reducing water to once per week or once per month or not at all (that is, depending on rain and snow for water).  

natural vegetation, Colorado grassland
 natural vegetation, Colorado grasslands

We imported our idea of landscape and garden mainly from settlers who came from Kansas or Iowa or Kentucky or Pennsylvania.

Sunday, March 5, 2023

Plant Story: Christmas Rose, Lenten Rose, Helleborus

Hellebores, also called the Lenten roses and Christmas roses, Helleborus species, are early spring garden flowers. 

Lenten rose, Helleborus
Lenten rose, Helleborus

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Plant Story: the Gorgeous Scarlet Globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea

Scarlet globemallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea, is a small native mallow of disturbed sites of the western half of the United States and Canada. It has bright orange flowers--nearly red in some areas--and rather gray-green, deeply divided (easily recognized) leaves.

scarlet globe mallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea
Scarlet globe mallow, Sphaeralcea coccinea

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Tenth Anniversary!

I started this blog in February 2013. I have uploaded a post every week since then, 521 posts. The actual total is 532, because once in a while I added a mid-week post. In that decade I wrote books about conspicuous plants (listed below), gave talks about plants and travel, and, last month, published an historical novel about travel, featuring plants (see below). I learned a lot about writing, publishing, and projectors. I aspired to being an expert on a tour and just before covid, got to try it. Then, of course, I experienced staying in during the pandemic and, lately, reestablishing pre-pandemic activities. My thinking about plants went from considering all plants cool to believing we should make a real effort to grow plants native to our local area to preserve them and the animals that feed on them, which discourages growing nonnative plants. 

 In 2013 I saw the Caribbean for the first time. 

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Travel Story: Walking the Beach on Coronado Island, San Diego

We took a winter escape. To San Diego, California, in January. I knew it could be warm there, but it wasn't. Heavy rain had just swept inland and behind the front the highs barely reached 60 oF. In the sun, it was pleasant, but not very warm.

beach, Coronado Island, San Diego, California
Beach, Coronado Island, San Diego, California