≡ Menu

Also  known as moccasin flower and stemless lady’s slipper, this herbaceous perennial is a member of the orchid family, Orchidaceae.  It is native to the Great Lakes Region, Northeast and the Appalachians where it grow  mixed hardwood coniferous forest in acidic, moist, well-drained soil.  Plant grow up to 15″ tall from a tuberous root system and have a pair of oval pleated basal leaves up to 8″ long. A solitary flower appears in late spring to summer on a leafless softly hairy scape 1′ or more long.  The  flower is up to 5″ across and has a magenta to pink pouch that is prominently veined and is split in the front rather than a round opening.  Pink lady’s slipper requires soil with a pH of 4-4.5 and is difficult to grow.  The genus name ,Cypripedium, comes from the Greek words Kypris referring to the island where Venus was worshiped, and pedilon, meaning slipper referring to the shape of the flower.  The specific epithet, acaule, comes from the Greek word ákaulos meaning stemless. [click to continue…]

Book Review: 100 Bugs

Kate Narita’s book, 100 Bugs, is a virtual smorgasbord of fun for kids.  Written for children ages 5-7, the book uses 10 different bugs to get to 10 by combinations (9+1, 8+2 etc) and then combinations of 10 to get to 100.  In addition to bugs, young readers are introduced to 10 different flowers as they go on their counting adventure enhanced with colorful, whimsical illustrations. [click to continue…]

Native to Eastern Europe and parts of Asia, tamarisk is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing 6-15’ tall with smooth  reddish brown bark and small light gray-green  leaves that are sessile and scale-like.  The pink flowers have five petals and are carried in plume-like racemes ½-2 ¾” long in summer, giving way to dry capsules filled with an abundance of seeds.   Tamarisk has invaded  wetlands and waste areas from Virginia south to Georgia, west to California and the Pacific Northwest forming impenetrable thickets that destroy native plant communities.  The high sexual and asexual reproduction rates including efficient seed dispersal, account for the success of the plant. Plants grow well with full sun in a variety of soils, and are drought and  salt tolerant.   USDA Hardiness Zones 3-8 [click to continue…]

Also called mouse-ear tickseed, this bushy herbaceous perennial is a member of the aster family, Asteraceae, that also includes sunflower, daisy, and lettuce.  It is native to southeastern and east-central US where it grows along roadsides and in open woods.  Plants grow 4-2 inches tall and form dense colonies by means of stolons.  The dark green evergreen leaves are rounded, hairy, and often have one or two ear-like leaflets  at the base of the blade that resemble mouse ears.   The  flowerheads are 1-2″ across and are held singly well above the foliage in spring to early summer.  Each flowerhead has a center of yellow disc flowers surrounded by eight ray flowers with toothed tip.  The fruit are one-seeded.  Bloom time can be extended by deadheading but summer heat usually inhibits flowering.  Lobed tickseed is a good choice for borders, rock gardens, or as an edger.  The genus name, Coreopsis, comes from the Greek words koris meaning bug, and opsis meaning like and refers to the appearance of the seeds.  The specific epithet, auriculata, is from the Latin word auris meaning ear and refers to the appearance of the leaflets at the base of the leaves.  [click to continue…]

Ramaria aureaThe Golden Coral Fungus (Ramaria aurea)The glden coral fungus is found in North America growing in leaf litter and undergrowth of deciduous and coniferous trees from summer through fall especially in wet weather. It grows four to eight inches high by about six inches across and consists of numerous vertical, cylindrical branches that are divided at the top. The color of the fruiting body is golden yellow but darkens to ochre with age. The thick fleshy stem is white to very pale yellow, the flesh is white, and the spores are ocher-yellow. [click to continue…]

Solitary clematis is a sprawling perennial with a woody base and a member of the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, that also includes anemone, delphinium, and columbine.  Native to central and southern Europe and Asia, it has wiry stems bearing medium green 2-5.5″ long leaves that are ovate to oblong, sessile, entire, and conspicuously veined. The nodding flowers are 1/2-1″ wide and are carried singly on slender pedicels up to 8″ long from summer into fall.  They are urn shaped and have  cream colored anthers and  four recurved indigo-violet sepals that are slightly twisted.  Attractive plumose seed heads follow.  Plants should be slightly staked and the roots should be kept  cool , shaded and moist.  Stems die back after frost and reappear in the spring, so flowers are on new growth.  The genus name, Clematis, comes from the Greek word klemetis meaning climbing plant.  The specific epithet, integrifolia, comes from Latin words integer meaning undivided, and folia, meaning leaf. [click to continue…]

Book Review: Nature’s Mutiny

Climate change is a hot topic now and Phillipp Blom weights in with his book Nature’s Mutiny, that explores the consequences of the Little Ice Age.  Blom sets the time frame of the Little Ice Age from the late 1570 to the late 1680s when the change in temperature was a mere 2 Celsius.   He confines his analysis to Europe and shows how the continent was changed from a feudal society dominated by the Catholic Church to a world of cities with a growing economy  based on early capitalism and an intellectual flowering based on reason and pragmatism .  Climate change has consequences and can bring about changes both good and bad; could Blom have a message for all of us in this book? [click to continue…]

Raison wine dates back to pre-Roman times when grapes were dried to concentrate their juices.  Such wines are still being made in northern Italy, Greece and the French Alps with wineries in other areas beginning to take up production too.  Raison wines are sweet to very sweet, have a long life, and are expensive because of the labor involved in producing them.  My maternal grandmother, Helen S. Wright, included several recipes for raisin wine in her book, Old Time Recipes for Home Made Wine, and presented this one first. [click to continue…]

Mallow bindweed is a herbaceous perennial climbing vine and a member of the morning glory family, Convolvulaceae, that also includes sweet potato, water spinach, and dodder.  Native to southern Europe along the Mediterranean, it grows from a rhizomatous rootstock and has trialing stems with silvery  gray green foliage.  The lower leaves are deeply lobed while the upper leaves are finely divided.  The solitary funnel shaped flowers are pink, 1-2″ across, and appear on long leafless stems in late spring and summer.  Plants are suitable for groundcovers, borders, and containers.  The genus name ,Convolvulus, comes from the Latin word convolvere meaning to twine around.  The specific epithet, althaeoides, comes from the Greek word althaia meaning a cure, and is the botanical name for hollyhock, so refers to the appearance of mallow bindweed flowers to those of hollyhock. [click to continue…]

Common locust is a medium sized deciduous tree  growing forty to one hundred feet tall with attractive blue-green pinnately compound leaves and beautiful loose pendent clusters of  very fragrant creamy white flowers in spring.  It is a member of the pea family,  Fabaceae ,that also includes lupine, mimos aand alfalfa.  Although  native to eastern US it occurs in all of the lower forty eight states and is considered invasive in some. [click to continue…]