29 May 2007

Rhododendrons

Rhododendrons are among my favorite plants. My love for them can be traced to days spent fishing in Rhododendron-lined creeks in the southern Appalachian Mountains.

There are two Rhododendrons on either side of the front door to our house. One is pink and the other fuschia. Unfortunately, that's all I know about them. ...Well, that's not entirely true. I know that they're both growing in full sun. I know that the pink one is about 6.5 feet (2 meters) tall and 6.5 feet wide. I know that the fuschia one is about 4.0 feet (1.2 meters) tall and 4.0 feet wide. I know that, according to my in-laws, they were both planted "10 or 15 years ago" (translation: 15 to 20 years ago) and that they were both "standard" varieties.

At this point, my best guesses are that the pink one is Rhododendron 'Roseum Elegans' and the fuschia one is Rhododendron 'The General'. Let me emphasize that these are guesses.

If you have any thoughts about what cultivars they could be, I'd love to hear from you.

Rhododendron 'the pink one':






Rhododendron 'the fuschia one':




Still dry as a bone, but...

Another weekend is past, and it was another weekend without significant rainfall. Since 29 April, we've received about .40 inches (10 millimeters) of rainfall. We've been unlucky, because some farms in our area have recieved more than 1.5 inches (38 millimeters) in that time period. I'm hopeful that our "mini drought" is near its end; rain is forecast for 8 of the next 10 days.

Despite the extremely dry conditions (for our area), most plants have shown little sign of stress. Instead, they've simply slowed down. It has been nice for those of us with large lawns; the grass has grown much slower that it normally would.

25 May 2007

Congratulations A.C. Milan



Congratulations to A.C. Milan for winning the European Cup. They defeated Liverpool 2-1 Wednesday night in Athens. Filippo 'Pippo' Inzaghi scored twice for the victors, while Dirk Kuyt scored the lone goal for Liverpool.

For a video clip of the highlights, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN5iQPw29wM

23 May 2007

Football today



The second-biggest competition in football (soccer) is happening today: the Champions League final. Liverpool is taking on A.C. Milan in a rematch of the 2005 final (which Liverpool won in dramatic fashion). I'm going to try to watch the game via the web.

While I love watching Kak√°, Seedorf, Ronaldo, and company, I'm going to have to cheer for Liverpool. Internazionale Milano is my favorite Italian team, and to cheer for their rivals would be heresy.

So go Gerrard, go Kewell, go Crouch; take home the cup for a second time.

Chick-fil-A



Quite simply, Chick-fil-A is the best fast food restaurant in the history of the world. I live there when I go down south.

Digital Camera

My wife and I bought a new digital camera before our trip to Georgia. It is a 7.1 megapixel Canon something-or-other. I'll post the exact specifications later.

In any case, it is awesome having a digital camera. No more purchasing expensive film, paying an arm and a leg to develop it, and then only getting 5 or 6 pictures that are any good!
So far, I've only taken a few pictures. When I had time on Monday, I got some photographs of plants growing in my gardens. I was experimenting with focusing, so please bear with me!

Here's an Alcea alcea (Hollyhock) that I transplanted so I wouldn't have to mow around it in the yard! After the initial shock, it seems to be doing well.

This Dicentra formosa 'Luxuriant' (Western Bleeding Heart) surprised me by showing signs of life in early spring. It was in a pot all winter, and I hadn't watered it once. Still, it poked through the soil in early March and I quickly dumped a bunch of snow on top of it. It looks great now, and I hope it continues to thrive.


I just got this Dicentra spectabilis (Bleeding Heart) from my Mother-in-law. Much to my delight, her gargantuan plant produced this little offset. I dug it up, brought it down to our house, and it seems to be doing great.

This is an image of an Ilex cultivar (Holly) that's growing in my "shade garden." I was experimenting with taking close ups, and was pleased with the result.

This, along with the Irises I got in Georgia, is my favorite plant. It's a lone Paeonia (Peony) that comes from stock originally grown by my great-grandmother. My aunt mailed the bulb to me last year, and I was thrilled to see it come up this Spring. It has had to make quite the adjustment having come from South Carolina, but it seems to have gotten over the hump. I hope that it multiplies so I can share the plants with the rest of my family!
Oh, and regarding those Irises, they were grown by my great-grandfather. Assuming they survive, I'll have plants from both husband and wife! ...I thought it was interesting that he liked to grow Irises and she liked to grow Peonies.

Here's a Quercus prinus (Chestnut Oak) that I grew from an acorn in 2005. Last winter was its first outside (well, in a garage). I had 7 of these year-old seedlings in pots, and four have leafed out. Mice ate the buds off of the other three, and I'm afraid the stress was more than they could bear.


Here are some pictures of a Syringa vulgaris (Lilac). We have a couple of "groves" that both look and smell wonderful right now. In the above pictures, I was trying to focus on different flower clumps. As you can see, I failed miserably... I thought that the lower one was still a nice picture.

Here is a picture of a Tulipa 'Angelique' (Peony Tulip) flower that is in bloom. It started out white, and has turned dark pink.

Here is the form.


Here is an image showing the form of Tulipa bakeri 'Lilac Wonder' (Species Tulip). They flowers were gorgeous; they're in the running for my favorite Tulip.

Tulipa clusiana 'Lady Tulip' (Species Tulip). These were also beautiful, and very different from your traditional tulip. The foliage is more grassy than "bulby," but it's flowers sure are brilliant!

The Flags of Georgia

While in Georgia, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the 2001 state flag had been replaced. The flag had been adopted by the state legislature in 2000, and signed in to law by Governor Roy Barnes on 31 January 2001. It came about when the state government gave in to pressure groups who felt the old flag (the flag I was born under) was offensive. (It contained the Confederate States of America battle flag)

Apparently, I'm not the only Georgian who did not like the 2001 flag. In 2002, Sonny Perdue was elected governor of Georgia, partially on the platform of allowing Georgians to choose their own flag. In 2003, Perdue authorized the design of a new flag, and placed it against the 2001 flag in a referendum. The 2003 flag received 74.3% of the vote*, and was signed in to law on 08 May 2003.

*Note that the most widely preferred flag, the 1956-2001 flag, was not included in the referendum.

Here are Georgia's official state flags from 1920 to present:


A.D. 1920 to 1956
Simple and tasteful. Intentionally reminiscient of the first national flag of the Confederate States of America.


A.D. 1956 to 2001
The flag that I was born under. In 1956, the Georgia state legislature adopted this flag as a reaction to the Brown versus Board of Education U.S. Supreme Court decision. The flag abandoned the previous design and incorporated the Confederate battle flag. In effect, the legislature was saying that it was "ready for a fight."



A.D. 2001 to 2003
If you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one. This is a prime example of political correctness politics. Most Georgians did not want to change the state flag, but pressure groups (most notably the N.A.A.C.P.) declared the previous flag offensive. To be honest, it was offensive. ...but I say again, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one.

Regarding its aesthetics, what kind of flag incorporates five flags within a flag?!?


A.D. 2003 to present
This, like the 1920 to 1956 flag, is simple and tasteful. It is still offensive (because it's even more similar to the first national flag of the Confederate States of America), but not as offensive as the 1956 to 2001 flag.


To be honest with you, I liked the 1956 to 2001 flag because it was the one that I was born under. I think the 1920 to 1956 flag is the classiest, and that the newest flag is a nice compromise.

Concering Georgia...

I was born in Georgia, I lived in Georgia until the age of 13, and much of my family lives in Georgia. I have always thought of myself as a Georgian, and I was saddened and appalled to see what has happened to my home state (and the South, in general).

As you descend the Appalachian Mountains on Interstate 77 (onto the Piedmont of North Carolina) you begin seeing widespread development. By development, I mean huge swaths of land cleared of trees, scraped of topsoil, and leveled for building. A small amount of this development is no big deal. However, you can scarcely find a section of road where such development is not visible.

The South's economy is booming (thanks in part to the cheap labor of illegal immigrants). The place is being developed extensively, with little or no regard for the environment. ...and the environment is the only thing that the South has going for it. When you take away the oaks, hickories, and tulip trees, that shady, hot, and sticky place becomes a blisteringly sunny, hotter, and stickier place. Not to mention the devastating effect on biological diversity.

It pains me to see what's happening in the South. The worst part is that the development is unsustainable. In 20 years, today's trendiest areas will be rapidly deteriorating. It's already happened to the areas that I once called home.

My sister's wedding


Magnolia Terrace, the site of my sister's wedding.

As indicated in the previous post, I attended my sister's wedding last weekend. It took place on Saturday (19 May A.D. 2007) outside of Helen, Georgia, United States of America. My wife and I drove to Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania on Wednesday night, and made it to my mother's place in John's Creek, Georgia before 22:00 on Thursday.

On Friday I visited with my mother's side of my long-lost family. It was great to see cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents that I hadn't seen in years. In fact, I hadn't even seen my mother since last June.

On Saturday we attended the wedding, which was very tasteful. It was there that I saw my father's side of my long-lost family.

My wife and I drove back to the Finger Lakes on Sunday. Incredibly, we were never stopped in traffic. It was the first time that had happened in half a dozen trips. Consequently, we were able to make it home in one 15-hour day!

My cousin's blog

Before I forget, I've added my cousin's blog to the list of those that I read. Incredibly, my sister's wedding was the first time that I had seen her in about 10 years. She encouraged me to look at her blog, so I did. It's a little different from what I'm used to, but interesting reading nonetheless.

You can find Kel's blog at http://theglobalnomads.blogspot.com.

22 May 2007

Another unexpected surprise!

"I think that we've seen the last sub-freezing temperatures of the season."

For the second time this Spring, these words have been proven wrong. Incredibly, we awoke to more frost this morning, the twenty-second of May. ...and guess what...I was thrilled!

Through 22 May A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 100
Days with complete snow cover: 67
Total snowfall: 59 inches (150 centimeters)
Greatest snowfall: 20 inches (51 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)
Latest date with complete snow cover: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snow cover: 19 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snowfall: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest hard frost: 14 May A.D. 2007
Latest light frost: 22 May A.D. 2007

14 May 2007

An unexpected surprise!

"I think that we've seen the last sub-freezing temperatures of the season. "

That was my statement last Monday, after we received what I thought would be our last frost of the year. Ah, but Mother Nature is a sneaky old gal, and she played a trick on all of the early bird gardeners last night. When I checked the thermometer at 06:00 this morning, it was 31° Fahrenheit! I looked outside, and, sure enough, there were patches of frost dotting the landscape. It wasn't a "freeze," but it was frosty enough that the tender annuals were zapped! (Thank god that I'm a procrastinator, our tomatoes were nestled snugly on the sun porch!)

...and now (once again) I can safely say that "we've seen the last sub-freezing temperatures of the season"...I think.

Through 14 May A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 100
Days with complete snow cover: 67
Total snowfall: 59 inches (150 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)
Latest date with complete snow cover: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snow cover: 19 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snowfall: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest hard frost: 14 May A.D. 2007
Latest light frost: 14 May A.D. 2007

07 May 2007

Saving my thoughts!

At this moment, I'm looking at information on native North American flowering trees. I'm looking at edge and understory trees, and I don't want to forget about Halesia tetraptera var. monticola (Mountain Silverbell), Philadelphus lewisii (Lewis' Mock Orange), Cornus florida 'Appalachian Spring' (Flowering Dogwood), or Franklinia alatamaha. I'm also curious about Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud). I have not yet researched Malus ioensis (Prairie Crabapple), Malus coronaria (Sweet Crabapple), or any hawthorn varieties.

I want to remember to look up information on azaleas, Rhododendrons, poppies, columbines, and hollyhocks.

Weather Update

Through 07 May A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 100
Days with complete snow cover: 67
Total snowfall: 59 inches (150 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)
Latest date with complete snow cover: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snow cover: 19 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snowfall: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest hard frost: 04 May A.D. 2007
Latest light frost: 07 May A.D. 2007

I think that we've seen the last sub-freezing temperatures of the season. I haven't decided whether I'll make weather updates during the summer. I've toyed with the idea of recording the number of days above 30° Celsius (86° Fahrenheit)...

Since 29 April A.D. 2007, The Weather Channel reports that we have received 0.22 inches (5.59 millimeters) of precipitation. While we've had dews or frosts every night, it has still become bone dry outside. Such weather is bizarre for this time of year, because May is supposed to be one of our wetter months. Normally I wouldn't worry about the dryness, but, aside from three days with precipition chances from 30 to 50%, we are forecast to have (at least) another 10 days without rain.

In the three summers that I have lived here, two have been marked by significantly wetter than normal conditions. These were separated by one of the driest summers in the area's recorded history. That year started like this one, but I hope it ends differently.

04 May 2007

Weather Update

Through 4 May A.D. 2007:

Days with snow cover: 100
Days with complete snow cover: 67
Total snowfall: 59 inches (150 centimeters)
Maximum snow depth: 24 inches (60 centimeters)
Lowest temperature: -2° Fahrenheit (-19° Celsius)
Latest date with complete snow cover: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snow cover: 19 April A.D. 2007
Latest date with any snowfall: 17 April A.D. 2007
Latest hard frost: 4 May A.D. 2007
Latest light frost: 4 May A.D. 2007

Global Warming

I received this article via e-mail. It was a kick in the pants for me, and I hope that it spurs you to do something:

Feeling Warmth, Subtropical Plants Move North

This link will take you to an updated hardiness zones map. It was created by the National Arbor Day Foundation. What will it look like in another 30 years?

Differences between 1990 USDA hardiness zones and 2006 arborday.org hardiness zones reflect warmer climate

02 May 2007

Restoring the Caledonian Forest

While looking for information on Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff), I came across this very informative website...

http://www.treesforlife.org.uk/

Cornell Plantations

Is this beautiful, or what!