Monday, March 23, 2009

The flowers that bloom in the spring. TRA LA!

We took a walk today so that Moira could practice her outside voice outside, and I took pictures of people's plants.
We start off with two bushes whose real names I never remember because of strong childhood associations.
Banana peel tree
31. Banana peel tree
Already knew: This is a tree that blooms in the early spring and the little flowers look exactly like banana peels, so if your Barbie likes bananas, you have the perfect food source. I'm pretty sure these are flowers and not the leaves, since they fall off, making a cool yellow peel carpet for Barbie to slip on.
Recently learned: Did you know how hard it is to search for this? Apparently if you plant a banana peel (in the right climate) you will get a banana tree eventually. Because there are seeds in the peel. Weird. Also, you can shine your shoes and remove warts with banana peels. However, I can't find anything about the tree I'm actually looking for. And randomly flipping through my garden books isn't working. If you know what this is called, please tell me. UPDATE: It's called Forsythia. Thank you random picture on someone else's blog.
Barbie's bridal boquet
32. Barbie's Bridal Bouquet
Already knew: This is a bush whose flowers grow into clusters perfectly sized to give to Barbie to use as a bouquet for when she gets married to Han Solo on the lawn. With a banana buffet afterwords. The flowers are white, easy to pull off their stems and bloom in early spring.
Recently learned: This is called Pieris japonica, or Lily of the valley bush. That should be easy for me to remember. The first website I looked at had a picture of the bush in it's non flowered state. That was unhelpful. It is in the dame family as the Azalea, Rhododendron, Cranberry and Blueberry. This particular one is a Pieris floribunda, which is the variety native to the Western US. It needs sun, and you should trim it back after it flowers so that the dead flowers don't consume energy from the growing plant.
33. Pussy Willow
Already knew: It's been a long time since I've seen a Pussywillow in plant form, so I was happy and surprised when I saw this one. It is easy to identify by the fluffy catkins. You can cut the stems at this stage of growth and they will keep without water for a long time. They are popular in floral arrangements for that reason and are sold in bunches at craft stores. My Mom had a bunch in a vase when I was a teenager for years.
Recently learned: The catkin is the male part of the plant. Branches of Pussy Willow are used as replacements for the palms on Palm Sunday in England and Northern America in places where palms don't grow. You can grow your own from a fresh cutting from someone else's tree. They have invasive roots and should be planted far from your foundation.
Bell Hyacinth
I'm counting these as two entries because I can actually differentiate between the two, but they are basically the same thing, so they get one entry of what I know.
34. Hyacinth
35. Grape Hyacinth

Already knew: These are bulbs, that blah blah, do the same thing as every other bulb plant in existence. They come in many colors, mostly blues, pinks and white. They grow well on hills.

Grape Hyacinth
Recently learned (Hyacinth): The Hyacinth is part of the Lily family. They are sometimes associated with rebirth (as is most everything that blooms around Easter. The size of the Hyacinth bulb you plant directly correlates to the size of the flower you end up with. You should leave the leaves after the flower dies to give nutrition to the next generation.
Recently learned (Grape Hyacinth): Wikipedia says Grape Hyacinth is pickled and eaten in Greece and certain regions of Italy and that they are toxic, so I don't know what the story there is. Deer will not eat them. You plant the bulbs in the fall. They tolerate temperatures up to zero. They like to be planted in rocky soil.
36. Daffodils
Already knew: They are basically the same thing as Jonquils, although they come in different colors.
Recently learned: There is an entire society dedicated to Dafodils in the US. Scary.

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