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Friday, March 27, 2015

Is Winter Losing Its Icy Grip?

The weather report says 9 degrees tonight. That's F for you international readers. Below zero for you guys! So... who cares? Well, hey, it's almost April. I wouldn't mind a little bit warmer.

Here is Lake Michigan in a satellite photo from March 5, 2015, with almost 95% ice cover. That's a lot. The big lake doesn't usually freeze that much, but the past two winters have been cold. Excuse me. One of those two winters doesn't feel as if it's past yet.

Lake Michigan satellite photo with ice

Nevertheless, today's views of Lake Michigan prove that the ice no longer has such control. Still a big band of it along the shore, but not stretching to the horizon.

Lake Michigan

Soon this will be a warm and inviting beach with green leaves on the trees.

Lake Michigan

"Soon" being at least a month yet, and maybe two!

See Caribbean Great Lake (March 2014)
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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show 2015- Table Settings

One of the regular features of the Standard Flower Show is table settings. In keeping with this year's theme at the Philadelphia Flower Show of "Celebrate the Movies," each setting had to be inspired by a movie.

There were four entries- Honorable mention went to Breakfast at Tiffany's. The entry was done by two women from a Garden Club. They stated the intent: "For Holly, Tiffany's was the ultimate. As she stood so many times gazing into the window, she could only dream about what it would be like to sit at an elegant table, set with fine china and beautiful flowers, and sip champagne while being served 'Breakfastat Tiffany's.'"

The judges said: "Overall design a real gem. Downward placement of orchids disturbs balance."

Philadelphia Flower Show 2105- Tables: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Third place (yellow) went to the Swarthmore Garden Club for Enchanted April. They said: "Bright flowers evoke the delight, peace and love four women find in a sunlit Italian garden with the sea below after escaping oppressive personal obligations and dark wet winter in post-World War I England. It is their 'Enchanted April.'"

The judges said: "Placement of components creates a visual path through the overall design. Bulls-eye of yellow lilies interrupts color rhythm and container too large in proportion to other table components."

Philadelphia Flower Show 2105- Tables: Enchanted April

Second place (red) was taken by Twin Valleys Garden Club with Out of Africa. They said: "On our coffee plantation porch, vibrant flowers survive in tough savannah grasses and arid red earth. What clever adaptation and lion-hearted courage! Here, cast members will reunite for our 30th anniversary celebration of 'Out of Africa.'"

The judges said: "Color coordination between table setting and background evocative of 'Out of Africa.' Visual weight of plant material and container overwhelms."

Philadelphia Flower Show 2105- Tables: Out of Africa

First place went to the Huntingdon Valley Garden Club with National Velvet. They said: "The Daily Mirror called the young girl that won the Grand National, 'National Velvet.' Now it is time to celebrate the pink and orange silks that crossed the finish line first. What a perfect place to gather- the barn- so Pie, the hero, can join the celebration."

The judges said: "Stunning, rhythmic, colorful design brings you to the finish line!"

Philadelphia Flower Show 2105- Tables: National Velvet

See Canine Castles
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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Alive and Well

Just in case you were wondering, Riley is alive and well and flourishing in her warm hidey-hole under the roof edge, eating expensive seeds from the bird feeder.

red squirrel

Over the winter, I learned that she likes to visit the white pine stand (well-used track). It was a great year for cones, so I'm thinking pine seeds are a diet staple too.

The other day I spread some sunflower seeds on the deck rail, and she thought those were great. Not that there is any big surprise there.

I do hope she doesn't go find a boyfriend this spring and teach a litter of pups about the wonderful free digs. That could be an issue!

Meanwhile, I enjoy her antics. Although when she gallops across the roof you'd swear it was an elephant rather than a 2-pound squirrel.

red squirrel

We added a second feeder, thinking that would reduce the arguments, but they all prefer whichever one is fuller and continue to argue over it rather than someone choosing the other feeder. So much for human ideas.

See Napoleanne Riley
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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show 2015- Upcycling Tires

Long day today. Have an interesting idea from the Subaru display at the Philadelphia Flower Show. They are one of the major sponsors.

recycled tires planter

If I did this it would never look classy. It would just look like a bunch of old tires with green stuff in them.

See Cryptocereus Anthonyanus
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Monday, March 23, 2015

Philadelphia Flower Show 2015- Cryptocereus anthonyanus

Here's another plant that was new to me. I guess it is used as a hanging basket houseplant by those who like rare plants, but I'd never seen it.

Botanically, it's something of an oddity, being both a cactus and an epiphyte. Common names are ric-rac cactus, fishbone cactus, and St. Anthony's cactus. Cryptocereus anthonyanus grows naturally at high elevations in southern Mexico, although most cultivated ones are descendents of a few plants collected about 65 years ago.

Cryptocereus anthonyanus

The leaves are bold and unusual and also covered with nearly invisible spines! I'm glad I didn't try touching that one.

Cryptocereus anthonyanus

And, if that isn't enough, when it gets rootbound, it has an amazing flower. I didn't see any of those at the flower show, but here is a picture of one from Wikipedia, taken by Floriano Calcagnile (Creative Commons attribution)

Cryptocereus anthonyanus

I'm beginning to see interesting things outside again. The Flower Show pictures may become sporadic. We'll see what the weather tosses our way.

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