Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The Month Spring

The Weather
The last spring snow melted in the gardener's lot the night of May 10th. It will now be in the nineties.

The Farm(s)

On the ninth, I had a moment to look on the garlic, strike the weeds with a hoe. Never before have I seen the garlic so small so late.

The effervescence of lambsquarter and thistle is contained with mats of semi-wet straw remaining from last fall.

The Greenhouse

Three rows by five of ear leaved brome, Bromus latiglumis, out front of 4 rows of bottle brush grass, Elymus hystrix, and three rows of silky wild rye, Elymus villosus. An ability or want to grow in the shade is a commonality among these monocotyledonous Poaceae. These will likely be established on the culvert embankment, partially collapsed last fall, once restored.

It takes an especially observant person, and some years of experience, to decipher one seedling's visual cues from another. Identification -what is that? Dicotyledonous plants, with pubescent stems and leaf edges, slightly wavy heart-spade shaped leaves, pale green, growing thickly (indicating small seeds to the planter of seeds). This blindness to leaves and stems, the miniature, and impatience allows many undesirable plants to survive the hoe.  Refining possibility by my seed order leaves only Campanula americana, or Tall Bellflower. When I return from Cedar Creek, the tag will tell how experienced I am.

Blue lobelia, Lobelia siphilitica, whose seeds are only a fraction of a millimeter, have a stellar germination rate. Competition must be the thinning mechanism.  These seedlings are for the northern edge of the great swamp, that two acre depression of drowned trees, duckweed, and fluctuating water levels toward the back of our woods. On that partly shady slope -weedy garlic mustard, thistle, canary reed grass and me. I've got black plastic on part of the water's edge covering canary reed grass, and been hoeing then planting Iris versicolor, spotted joe pye weed, blue vervain, big blue stem grass, and others. The seed bank of garlic mustard and root network of thistle is deep, while canary reed grass forms dense, fibrous mats that are bears to pull, but there is also a surprising amount of diversity in this highly disturbed site at the edge of a former commercial gravel pit.


Hepatica, Anemone americana, trailside, Cedar Bog Lake trail, May seventh Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve.

Large flowered bellwort, Uvularia grandiflora, like many ephemerals growing in our woods, had a prolific season. Is this is due to winter weather resembling winters these plants have evolved by? Last year, after yet another overly warm winter, I stumbled upon one, maybe two bellwort. This spring there are possibly dozens of clumps scattered in previously barren understory sites. Our only known patch of trillium, nibbled by the hungry deer this spring, now has peers. A display of randomness that throws off any rational sense of seed distribution and opens us to the potential of seeds storing in ground until conditions are right, to a migration of seeds via ants and mice, and, as is the case with trillium, to the slow process from fruit to flowering plant. A warming climate, should it create a warming winter here, won't be hospitable to these spring ephemerals, more likely favoring the weedy plants that take advantage of disruption and do not have such particular requirements for germination.

Nodding trillium, Trillium cernuum.


Monday, April 30, 2018

A Beginning

Betsy noticed the sound of rushing water where I had only heard the burbling of the wee water making an island of the bottom land beneath the slope. Four hundred feet from that snowy slope is a long valley cutting upward toward the gravel road. There, a series of two or three small wetlands, small depressions that are the beginnings of the creek you see here, flowing mightily, as it drained eighteen inches of snow melted in sixty degree days over still frozen ground. The source of the rushing sound, a series of little falls cutting into the easily eroded black earth, lies about 450 feet from our north slope. The sound traveled just as easily over the cool air of the still snow filled wetland amphitheater. This melt will find its way into the ground, absorbed by the wetland, but also to the chain of lakes and then Minnehaha Creek, and finally to the Mississippi just 25 miles to our east.

Finally, a day of rest, snow still residing just outside the double wall polycarbonate panels, and the intense focus and resolve to place hundreds of tiny seeds of sedges, forbs, and graminoids into six hundred cells bedded with compost, perlite, peat, and rice hulls.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Three Day April Blizzards Bring May...

What can I say about the three day blizzard that has been occupying our senses for 36 hours now? Not much, other than it is April 14th today. The robins have arrived twice, sandhill cranes arriving for weeks, other birds looking for nesting sites, squirrels stripping the buds off treetops, silver maples have flowered weeks ago. Up at Cedar Creek, I even heard a few chirps of the spring frogs four days ago, despite the snow that still resides there.

My garlic, always up by now, here or in New York, is buried under frozen -really, solidly frozen soil. This was Friday morning, just before the coming snow.

The Home Depot has littered the store with racks of perennials and annuals in every aisle.

As of 2pm, the blizzard rages on.

As of 4pm, the blizzard rages on.

As of 6pm, on and on.

 At six thirty, the greenhouse, should have thousands of native sedges and forbs seeded in trays.

Six thirty, the backyard and studio. There's is a lot of blowing snow, but we've hit about 10 inches with 18 more hours to go. The temperature hasn't made it over 25° F today, and is descending to about 18° F by Monday morning. People might say, hey -its Minnesota, but this is unusual, even for here.