Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Now with fewer corrections

Oxalis
54. Oxalis
Already knew: Oxalis is frequently sold as Shamrock for St Patricks Day in this country. I certainly thought it was what Shamrocks really looked like. It is a beautiful ground cover though, with big fat incredibly green leaf clusters and tiny white flowers. It shows up in early March. It is related to the Field Daisy.
Recently learned: It is also called Wood Sorrel. Many plants in the Oxalis family cantain Oxalic acid (hence the name) which in small amounts aids digestion and kidney function and can be toxic in large amounts.
Bluebells
60. Common Bluebells
Already knew: Shortly after I wrote up about Hyacinths I was complaining to pearl about all the Hyacinths that were popping up in my garden. It's great that they are happy and doing so well, despite being ignored, but it's a little ridiculous. "Oh no!" says she, "I'm allergic to Hyacinths!" I start worrying about her not being able to visit me, there is some furious link sending from Wikipedia, and I discover that what I have is in fact, Bluebells, which I always thought were just wild Hyacinths, but are in fact Hyacinthoides. Pearl is not allergic to them, and I like them slightly better for that. Bluebells are a bulb that self propagates really well in this area, and will take over if you aren't careful. They grown in a cluster of long skinny leaves and then there is a cluster of bell shaped flowers at the end of the stem. They actually come in white, blue and lavender, although the white and lavender don't seem to be quite as happy as the blue ones are. The Common Bluebell is native to the British Isles. I thought I had misidentified a picture of Bluebells as the Hyacinth earlier, but I looked at it just now, and it was in fact, the right plant (Oriental Hyacinth to be precise.
Recently learned: It goes by a variety of different names; Auld Man's Bell, Bluebell, Calverkeys, Culverkeys, English Bluebell, Jacinth, Ring-o'-Bells, Wilde Hyacint, and Wood Bells. They spread with seeds, which take 2 years to grow when planted. The seed have a long period of viability, so they can come back even if there has been a couple of years of bad weather. It's also why they take over so easily. An estimated 70% of all common bluebells grow in England.
Lilac
61. Lilac
Already knew: Lilac is a shrub with green spade shaped leaves and large clusters of tiny purple or white, four petaled flowers. They are extremely fragrant, and flower from the end of April through June. They spread through runners, and if you want to transplant one, it's best to do it in late winter/early spring before the flowers start to appear.
Recently learned: This is Common Lilac (Syringa Vulgaris, how much do I love that Vulgaris is Latin for Common? SO MUCH!). Lilacs were introduced to Europe by the Ottomans in the 16th century, but it actually originated in the Balkans. Lilacs have a tendancy to flower only every other year, but if you deadhead them before the seeds show up, you up your chances of it flowering every year. It is the state flower of New Hampshire.
Icelandic Poppies
62. Icelandic Poppies
Already knew: These are bright yellow, and have a reasonably long flowering period, but each flower only lasts for a short time. The flowers are slightly bigger then that of the California Poppy, and I'm guessing, originated in a colder climate. They begin flowering in late April. The petals are papery and the stems are furry.
Recently learned: According to Wikipedia, all parts of this plant are poisonous, which I assume means that it contains Opiates. Yay! The wild blooming version of this, which I assume is what I have, only comes in white and yellow, but there are cultivars in many different colors. Poppies have long taproots and do not like to be moved. They like full sun and well drained soil. The white color is dominant.
Moneyplant in bloom
63. Money Plant
Already knew: Until this year, I had only noticed this plant in it's skeleton form (picture below). It grows it's seeds in thin, round pods that dry out on the plant and open in fall to spread the seeds. Apparently when it is in bloom it has big triangular leaves, white or purple (there are both in my garden) flowers, and a hairy stem. The seed pods grow separately from the flowers and are just now beginning to form (beginning of May). We use to use the seed
Money plant
pods as fake money when I was a child, and I never thought they really looked that much like coins, but then the other day I was outside hanging up the laundry and I looked down and thought, "Oh! Someone dropped a quarter!"
Recently learned: It's common name is Annual Honesty, but it is a biennial plant. It grows in North America, Europe and parts of Asia.
Japanese Maple
64. Japanese Maple
Already knew: This is a small deciduous tree, with a wide canopy. The leaves have five points and are an orangey brown color in spring. They turn a darker burgundy color before they drop off in the fall. This one is huge for it's kind, this was taken before it was pruned last winter. You cannot see the Rhododendron on the other side of it because it's so huge.
Recently learned: Japanese Maples grown in temperate areas around the world. Different varieties have a wide selection of leaf colors. It is a good plant to grow under larger trees. It is typically spread through cuttings or budding, and many varieties that did not become popular in the western world have become extinct.

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