Monday, April 29, 2013

Overwhelming green...

A wet winter and spring has (finally) blasted "drought" conditions throughout South Carolina (for the first time in quite awhile). 

Drought and prospective drought has been on the radar for most of the last decade and a half, so this is definitely a welcome change.  Exceptionally wet spring conditions seemed to have tipped the balance (plenty of rain in March and April) -- the 2 1/2 inches over the last weekend were the 'icing' on the cake.

The explosion of green leaves expanding is notable; there are wonderful greens of all shades in the newly expanding leaves.  And growth, as cells plump up with water, is palpable.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

A wildflower chat

My gardening companion and I had fun talking wildflowers recently on Your Day, a daily radio show (Monday-Thursday) produced as a public service of Clemson University Radio Productions. It airs throughout the state on the SC ETV Radio Network at lunchtime, running for an hour.

Normally, when I'm on, my SC Botanical Garden colleagues and I answer gardening and general plant questions, but this show was pre-recorded, so Tim (Spira) and I were able to focus on wildflowers, their ecology, where to see them, and share our enthusiasm for them with listeners.  Quite fun!

Tim's been out doing a lot of field work for his second book (the first was Wildflowers and Plant Communities of the Southern Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont: a Naturalist's Guide to the Carolinas, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia), so he's been following flowering of wildflowers since late in February.

There was lots to talk about as well as mentioning what we're looking forward to seeing, too, out in the natural world.

Listen to the April 18 conversation here (from Your Day's archives for that week.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

A return visit to "The Pocket"

Pocket Falls
The Pocket is a magical botanical wonderland on Pigeon Mountain, GA.  It's a rich cove forest with limestone underpinnings, so is rich with species diversity because of the neutral soils.

A return visit (my third this spring) found all sorts of great wildflowers, including this one.
And interesting critters, too.

A foraging land snail


Coral honeysuckle (revisited)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Coral honeysuckle

Our coral honeysuckles are in full bloom now -- they've been amazing as the plants have become larger (and gathered resources).  It's a wonderful marker of mid-spring, arriving along with the continuing ruby-throated hummingbird migration.

My past blog posts (about coral honeysuckle were more numerous than I'd expected), but reflect how lovely and significant the peak flowering of Lonicera sempervirens is for me.

Here's a photo of the kitchen door Lonicera a couple of years ago.

Lonicera sempervirens
 Hopefully, I'll be able to add a photo of our front gate plant tomorrow, if weather permits.  It's thriving.

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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Trees with shadows

view of trees from Biltmore

Yesterday, the sun's angle in the late afternoon created crisp shadows -- in dark contrast to the green of newly-mown pasture. This view from the terrace at Biltmore is spectacular at any time of year, now with the soft greens of emerging leaves on the Blue Ridge mountains beyond.

We'd gone to the Biltmore gardens to see how the tulips were coming along in the Walled Garden. This week's warmth turned out to have been excellent encouragement!

I always love seeing the tulips, one of my first horticultural loves (even if they don't exactly "work for a living" -- my primary screen for plant selection -- meaning wildlife-supporting or edible, but they certainly have a good story (special dispensation for that!)

These trees and the view were even more spectacular.


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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bird songs and spring migrants

All of our "regular" garden and backyard residents (at least the males) are singing up a storm, establishing territories for their nesting sites and to attract mates.  Northern Cardinals and Northern Mockingbirds are some of the most frequent songs that I'm hearing now - along with Carolina Chickadees and Carolina Wrens. They're favorite familiar birds in our Carolina gardens and natural areas -- learning their calls is just like recognizing the voices of your friends is what I tell students on field trips (visiting the Garden where I work)!

I haven't had time to get out on birding excursions so far this year, but reports from our local birding group are reporting all sorts of good sightings.

And this report on Weather and Songbird Migration, at Journey North, my favorite real-time observation/citizen science site, predicts an exciting couple of weeks ahead for seeing the return of many of our spring migrants, either as they're passing through, or staying through the warm season here.

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Monday, April 8, 2013

A second hummingbird

last year's view in late March
This morning, a second hummingbird of the season! 

I think it was a female, but the light wasn't good enough to tell.  S/he was visiting the Carolina Jessamine flowers outside my study window.  So nice to see.

This year's view is quite similar to last year's!

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