Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Species Tulips and Things that Fly

The Tulipa tarda (Daystemon tulip) are coming up in thick bunches now, with seedlings spread all around them. These hardy little tulips come up early and flower before the large colorful hybrid tulips. I would love to have a carpet of them in spring. I love the fact that I can sprinkle their large bell-pepper-like seeds around to get even more of them.

While outside today, a water bomber passed overhead several times. They are extremely loud, so you always know when they're flying by, even from inside the house. We are under the flight path, so we are quite familiar with the comings and goings at the airport. I haven't heard of any fires, so I imagine they are just doing exercises at the moment.

I tried to identify the exact type of aircraft on the transport Canada website based on that number under the wing, but I couldn't find it. Maybe a Canadair? Besides this plane in the air, I spotted a bald eagle circling far above our house. Perhaps I will get some good photos of the birds when I get a new camera soon! It's time for a DSLR. My brother has convinced me about Nikon cameras, so I may be shooting the plants with a new shiny one this summer.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Can't see the view for the Snowplow...

Like many other places in northern Canada today, we got dumped on. One foot of snow! Yes, can you believe it? I even passed the RCMP (Canadian police) truck pulling the official RCMP snowmobile on a trailer back to the station. I wonder if they were doing some business out on the snow machines today?

It seems our squirrel inhabitant of the bird house had to clear the walk this morning:

There is no playing with the kids' playset today:

Thursday, April 22, 2010

First Bloom

I was surprised to see my first bloom of the year in the alpine garden. It wasn't a spring bulb either, which usually brings me the first color of the year. This tiny little Draba polytricha is about the size of a walnut, with tiny little yellow flowers on its bun-shaped mound of hairy blue-grey foliage.

I finished cleaning up the dead growth out of the raised beds today, a project that takes about 6 to 8 hours altogether. As I was working, I heard some squawks and honks and rhythmic beating of wings, as a large V of Canada geese flew north above me. Welcome back, geese.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Squirrel Home

We've been having a household debate regarding the new inhabitant in the backyard birdhouse. In the three years we've had that birdhouse, no bird has ever shown any interest in taking up residence. I imagine the birds don't appreciate that the birdhouse sits on the dog fence (and our dog eats birds).

Today, we noticed a squirrel in the birdhouse, with its head half-way poking out the door. It has been like this all day. I am concerned that it might be stuck in there, especially since it doesn't move when you walk near the birdhouse to look at it. Resident-lawnmower-man maintains that since it got in there, it can get back out. Then he admits, "but if there's a bad smell coming from it in a few days, then it wasn't able to get out". Besides, he says he wouldn't rescue the squirrel anyways, because "those things bite".

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Late for a Very Important Date...

It seems that most of the plants in our yard have missed their alarm clocks and slept in a bit. In most of the previous five years, the crocuses were blooming at this date. Today, I searched around and found only one tiny green tip of a crocus emerging from the soil. There are a few tips of Scilla emerging in sunny spots, and the reticulated irises, narcissus, and chionodoxa are nowhere to be found. Tulipa tarda is growing well, but a bit late. That bulb seems to thrive in harsh conditions.
Lonely crocus:

Tulipa humulis (a botanical/species tulip) is the earliest-growing bulb in the yard this year:

I am suspecting that I will have lost more perennials this winter than any year in the past five years, as many of the evergreen perennials look entirely dead this spring. The bergenias look beaten-up, but not yet defeated. My beloved Lewisias appear to have rotted into mushy puddles, and even some of the sedums look like blackened heaps of washed-up seaweed.
This Saxifraga "Purple Robe" looks great, however:

The junipers suffered terrible winter damage, with their tops all browned. I didn't cover these shrubs, though in retrospect, that would have been a good idea. It's just that they never needed extra protection for the previous four years. Who would have known we would have such a cold fall with so little snow? I hope that the bulbs made it, as there are lots of daffodils and tulips buried out there.
Brown junipers and a slightly damaged nest spruce:

You have to admire Primula auricula, which is admirably winter hardy:

I wish I had a carpet of those primulas. What a great spring show that would be!