Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring has sprung (maybe)

Well, after nearly forty years of living in Champaign-Urbana, this has been the warmest winter I can ever remember! Is it over now? Who knows? It's been warm but also very unpredictable. Only meterologists can be wrong time and again and still get paid for their work, I guess. But it does seem that by the middle of March (temps in the seventies forecast for all next week at this point) we probably won't get snow that lasts or below zero days. So I'm thinking that spring has indeed sprung, and the garden flowers seem to agree. To make the deal even sweeter, daylight savings begins this weekend!
 So here's the first and always earliest perennial in my raised beds on the east side of the garden--the Adonis. This plant is pretty old now, having been moved seventeen years ago from our prior garden (where it was growing for about twelve years). It's so bright and cheerful this early, isn't it?
Here's a close up. You can see how nice the ferny foliage is and how bright the yellow blooms are. The Adonis amurensis is in the buttercup family and hails from the forests of Europe and Asia. The whole plant goes dormant in the summer, so we have to keep track of it (between the lip fern and the rocks) so it isn't disturbed when weeding in that bed.
The earliest bulb in our garden is the sweet little snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis. These little bulbs are so early that they usually show the sprouting green foliage through the drifts of snow (which we didn't have this year). Over time, the clumps get a bit bigger and are very charming. When this happens, the clusters are called "drifts" in fact.
Here's a really nice large cluster. There are about seven bunches in the bed under the ash tree on the west side of the driveway, one in the fern bed on the other side, and one in the bed under the pin oak in the north yard.
Another early bulb in the ash bed is the winter aconite or Eranthis. I had originally planted quite a few of these, but over the years they have been dying out. This year there seems to be three or four small ones like this.
Early spring crocus are always a delight. The snow crocus that we've had in the south yard for many years seem to have disappeared. The spot was wet and shady a lot last year and the bulbs may have rotted. Fortunately, we had been in this charming little species crocus, Crocus tommasinianus, in the north yard. The Brits like to call these cuties "Tommies."
The species tulips planted in the raised beds on the east side aren't showing yet, but they will pretty soon. In the meantime, the earliest bulbs in those beds are the tiny Iris reticulata in shades of purple and blue. They are early and reliable and quite adorable IMHO. The foliage is spikey and green, followed by the flowers with their spots of yellow inside.
Here's a blue one with a purple right next to it. There are some other varieties now, I think, but these are the two most common and we've had them a long time.
Like the snowdrops, over time the clumps of reticulata iris can get a bit bigger. There are half a dozen bunches in the the four beds right now, all in bloom.
That's it for flowers in the garden right now, but the beauty of our five feline boys is always in full bloom. Here's Toffee, our blond, enjoying the tray on David's walker.
And a close-up of this very handsome but somewhat meek and sweet fellow. We think he has some Maine Coon blood in him because of the tufts of fur on his paws and the "tweety" voice. His underside of all white, very fly-away, delicate fur and his toffee-colored top hair divides naturally into a middle part down his back. He has a lovely plume of a tail.
This picture has a bit too much light/dark contrast. Maybe it could qualify as an "arty" chiaroscuo photograpy :) Angus MacDuff sitting on the table, looking content with himself as always.
He's not shown much better in this one. He is a beauty, however, huge and sweet and thinking he's still just a tiny kitten.
Speaking of beauty, here's Yang the noble Balinese Siamese, resting regally on the back of the sofa.
Yang's eyes really are a beautiful sky blue and his face is chocolate brown, like his paws and tail.
I usually get that "red eye" photo defect when I try to take his pic, but this time it seems to be working a bit better.
 He is sooo handsome. Of course, I may be prejudiced about this.
I mentioned Toffee's plumey tail earlier, and here it is alongside Sylvan's immense Maine Coon plume.
And here's the fabulous Sylvan himself. He's usually a big shy with pics and dips his head down, but this time we get to see his lovely face full on.
It's nearly impossible to take a picture of Panther. He grabs the cord hanging down from the camera and you end up with a picture of the floor. Also, he's always in motion, so we'll settle this time for a side shot.
Black cats have black faces, so that's a photo challenge. He does has gorgeous eyes and I will try again sometime. Cats at their most adorable are never in the same room as the camera. Cats asked to pose are not always accomodating. It's a basic law of physics.
One more try on Angus, but he remains in the sun/shadow zone on the table, no doubt waiting for food to magically appear.

Hope you enjoyed the flowers and felines. If the weather predictions are right, there should be more flowers to come soon!

1 comment:

  1. really enjoyed it susan!!!!!!!!!waiting for some more.....