Thursday, March 15, 2018

A welcome spring azure sighting

After a program talking about gardening for pollinators this morning, and mentioning Spring Azures and Cornus florida, as their host plant (probably among other Cornus spp.), and their early emergence, I was delighted to see two fluttering around below the deck, in our woodland landscape.

It's been cold, but warmed up this afternoon (~ 60° F) -- enough for them to fly, obviously.  What a delight.

Not my photo, but a nice one -- these are very small butterflies, about an inch wide.

Truly, spring IS coming, in spite of the unexpected snow on Wednesday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Spring is coming...

The sassafras buds outside my bathroom window continue to swell:  they're on time, according to past posts.

Many of our native plants are reliable barometers of spring;  others are responding to different cues, and non-native ornamentals -- well, they're all over the map in terms of timing.

Sassafras buds last year -- they're about the same stage right now
We were reminded in our local paper today of a Storm of the Century 25 years ago -- it was truly a storm and blizzard here in the mountains. 

I was down in the Coastal Plain of Georgia, and snowflakes were falling there, most unusually, so I didn't drive up to Clemson that weekend, where my hubbie already was.

Things change, but the seasons do still come, although perhaps with different rhythms.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Greens, herbs, pollinator plantings, and other conundrums

It’s a good problem to have, of course, traveling off to distant places, but not good for the gardener.

My raised beds in front have chives, collards, some thyme, French tarragon and a remaining oregano (?) plant, along with garlic and lots of perennial leeks.  I’m planning to add parsley, some rosemary if I can find it, and some more thyme and marjoram before we leave in early April.  Our HomeExchange partners will hopefully find it interesting enough... There's not much point in planting more greens and lettuces, with no definite harvester!

The tulips are coming along fine and the perennials in the pocket meadow are slowly emerging (on schedule).  They'll be coming along by May, with Penstemon digitalis, Phlox carolina, and Zizia the first to flower.

Doing a Gardening for Pollinators program on Thursday (at the NC Arboretum) has me reviewing our plantings and the ebb and flow of them over the years.  Interesting.

I was reminded of last year’s display and added these images to my presentation.

Pocket meadow, July 2017
It was nice to drive in!

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Traveling, more traveling, and gardening possibilities

There are benefits to staying at home.  Gardening is one of them.

I've been mopey a couple of times over the last few months thinking about vegetable planting times in spring and late summer that I'll miss this year (in my garden in Asheville, and at the Southside Community Garden, where I volunteer) -- not to mention harvesting times.

But the lure of traveling, and feeling now IS the time, seems more compelling.

There's a garden to "clean up" in Italy in April (a HomeExchange house) and a place in Quebec (on the Gaspe Peninsula), perhaps to garden in -- in June and July,  so there are possibilities there.  And then we're back home in mid-September, with hopefully a long fall season to come.

In the meantime, bloodroot is in flower now below the house, just as I'm prepping for a couple of talks about creating a native woodland garden in the next couple of weeks.

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) is such a great early woodland wildflower and robust, too, in the garden.

This search on bloodroot (in previous blog posts) brought up a lot of posts.  (Many of them toward the end were only tangentially involved with bloodroot).

There are so many wonderful plants to appreciate in the wild, as well as in the garden.

These are first-world thoughts, as I'm fortunate to be posting, with resources and good health.  I'm always mindful of that.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Waimangu Volcanic Valley, New Zealand

Another amazing place near Rotorua, a thermal hot spot on the North Island. 

Here are a few photos; I’ll put up more on Facebook on a wireless connection, when I have it.

Click through for the full-size photos!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Karangahake Gorge, New Zealand

Towards the Coromandel Peninsula, Route 2 passes through the Karangahake Gorge. It’s a region of both historic gold extraction and modern, too, both in massive terms.

But the gorge that hosted early 1900’s industrial scale extraction is now largely cloaked with native bush, with a wonderful rail trail connecting the old gold towns and their ruins.

(These are the usual oversized images — click through for full-size.)

It made for a great hike today!

Monday, February 12, 2018

Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

We’re staying in a lovely “holiday” home in Tanner’s Point, on the Bay of Plenty, named by Captain Cook. This is a HomeExchange for us- our NZ hosts will be in our Asheville house in July. They live nearby, so we were able to meet them; and if the weather is decent, we may be able to go on a favorite hike with them. (Unfortunately, the weather’s been rainy and warm, the rain unusual apparently this time of year.)

A view from the house and from a beach along the same estuary. (These are both panorama iPhone shots, so click through to see the entire image!)

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Ohope Beach

We’ve been in some great places lately, but it’s been showery and rainy, so not conducive for photos.

A interesting pass through a gorge in between Gisborne and Ohope was lush with native vegetation (not that common in New Zealand).

Ohope Beach is impressive, and the views from our small studio airbnb-fantastic.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Napier and Hawkes Bay

What drew us here was the Art Deco downtown, constructed after a devasting 1931 earthquake, mirroring the Art Deco roots of many of our downtown buildings in Asheville, North Carolina.
Hawkes Bay is also well-known for its extensive fruit-growing (apples, peaches, nectarines, plums, and apricots) and for numerous award-winning vineyards (30+).

Walking around on a rainy day, what struck us is how lush and abundant the gardens are, at least in the hilltop sector around our Airbnb. New Zealand’s climate is hospitable to plants from around the world, and Napier, being a milder climate than some places on the North Island, certainly reflects that.

Here’s the view from our room.
Perched on the edge of the Bluff Point lookout was what looked like a century plant in full bloom.
And even though I don’t ordinarily like unusual colors of Echinacea,this planting was striking.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Learning about WWI in Wellington, New Zealand

The capital of New Zealand is a pleasant city, hilly and windy, but full of cafes, restaurants, and museums. It’s a vibrant place.

The 100th anniversary of the Great War (the First World War to Americans) has brought two remarkable exhibits, one in Te Papa (the National Museum) about Gallipoli, the other in the War Museum about New Zealand in the Great War (developed by Sir Peter Jackson, better known as a film producer, but clearly hugely interested in history).

The First World War had only really been part of my experience in a honors high school class (history and english) where we somehow only learned songs of the troops (along with some context). Added to a bit of knowledge about Rasputin and the Czarina in Russia, how the war started, and knowing Gallipolli was an awful battle — well, I learned a whole lot more from these two exhibitions.

I had no idea how long the trench lines were on the Western Front, nor did I realize how many men (and civilians) died over the course of the war, even though I did know it was a lot, under awful conditions in the trenches, thanks to a visit to the Imperial War Museum in London decades ago.

It’s sobering to be in other countries (Stockholm’s museums were eye-opening about Northern Europe and Scandavian conflicts over the centuries, and why they were pacifist in WW II), not to mention South America and the liberation movements there, and to be in a small country, New Zealand, that lost so many men in the relatively small contingent that they sent in WW I — most at Gallipoli, but many others on the Western Front.
Related Posts with Thumbnails