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Posts Tagged ‘Spring Activities’

For a couple of years now, at least, there’s been this mural on the wall of a pizza shop out in Gloucester, MA that I’ve wanted to photograph and post to this blog. But, every time that I’ve passed by the place, the parking lot has been full of cars (apparently, they serve great pizza) and there has been no clear view of the mural. Until today, that is!

Today, a Sunday morning, with comfortable temperatures but still not real warm, the parking lot was empty and I got my chance. Just check it out!

Beginning farthest to the left, that's not a real window! Look at the shadows, the depth created by the patrons farthest inside, the seagull peering in the window at the man eating a slice of pizza.

Beginning farthest to the left, that's not a real window! Look at the shadows, the depth created by the patrons farthest inside, the seagull peering in the window at the man eating a slice of pizza.

Moving to the right, here's an artist (maybe "the" artist) painting "plein air." Notice, again, the shadows cast by the strong sunlight.

Moving to the right, here's an artist (maybe "the" artist) painting "plein air." Notice, again, the shadows cast by the strong sunlight.

And, moving farthest to the right, the end of the building! Look how the artist has created the feeling that you are peering around the corner of the building, standing on the pier looking at Gloucester in the distance!

And, moving farthest to the right, the end of the building! Look how the artist has created the feeling that you are peering around the corner of the building, standing on the pier looking at Gloucester in the distance!

An overall view of the wall.

An overall view of the wall.

Finally, I am and have always been a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due! Here's the artist's signature and phone number.

Finally, I am and have always been a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due! Here's the artist's signature and phone number.

What a great sense of perspective! What a great use of shadow and light!

I just LOVE this mural! Don’t you?!

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And Spring I got!

I've already begun thinning the seedlings, but, I must admit that this is the hardest step for me. It just breaks my heart to do it even though I know that if I don't, there won't be room for the root (radish) bulb to swell.

I've already begun thinning the seedlings, but, I must admit that this is the hardest step for me. It just breaks my heart to do it even though I know that if I don't, there won't be room for the root (radish) bulb to swell.

Not too shabby for seed that’s nearly four years old, eh?

And, while Mother Nature and Old Man Winter have still not worked out their differences, fortunately, there are still plenty of other signs of Spring. Snowdrops are peaking through piles of dirty snow, the maple sugar sap has been flowing for a few weeks now and the daytime temperatures are hovering around the 45° to 50°F (sometimes even 55° and 60°F) range a bit more often than not. It won’t be long now before I can start working on my deck garden again. … Hmm! I think I’ll have to visit a local garden center pretty soon. … Then again, my houseplants, especially my maternal grandfather’s Christmas Cactus, could use some TLC too!

My grandfather passed away in September of 1984 and I became custodian of his Christmas Cactus. But, believe it or not, I've already repotted this plant several times, just not lately! As you can see, it is desperate need of repotting again.

My grandfather passed away in September of 1984 and I became custodian of his Christmas Cactus. But, believe it or not, I've already repotted this plant several times, just not lately! As you can see, it is in desperate need of repotting again.

The need to repot is especially noticeable here. See how small the "leaves" are? Notice another difference? In the shape of the "leaves" ... the one on the left is a November or Thanksgiving Cactus and the one on the right is a December or Christmas Cactus.

The need to repot is especially noticeable here. See how small the "leaves" are? Notice another difference? In the shape of the "leaves" ... the one on the left is a November or Thanksgiving Cactus and the one on the right is a December or Christmas Cactus.

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It never fails, starting in late February and early March, when Mother Nature begins to flirt with springtime temperatures and the ground starts to show through the dirty snow cover, that I begin to crave my garden, to begin planting vegetable seed and to plant flowers in soil warmed by the sun. It doesn’t help my cravings either to find an old packet of radish seed long buried under papers pinned to my bulletin board.

Are they viable? Will they sprout and give me the feeling, at least, that spring is just around the corner?

Are they viable? Will they sprout and give me the feeling, at least, that spring is just around the corner?

Now, was it last summer? Or, maybe, it was the summer before then that I tried planting those radish seed in a deck rail pot but gave up after finding the little seedlings dug up time after time. At first, I blamed mischievous squirrels for the destruction but, then one morning, I caught the real culprit! It was an Eastern Chipmunk; the little devil was hiding among my alpine strawberry plants, waiting for me to leave so that it could continue wreaking havoc on my deck garden seedlings!

It really doesn’t matter though, my cravings are just too intense to ignore … I’ve planted a small pot of the radish seed even though I doubt very much that the seed are viable. I’ll put it in my bay window and hope that my little corner of spring will soon sprout anyway.

It doesn't look like much yet but, keeping fingers crossed, I hope that in a week or two, this pot will be filled with seedlings!

It doesn't look like much yet but, keeping fingers crossed, I hope that in a week or two, this pot will be filled with seedlings!

Especially since, it never fails … on the 1st of March, Old Man Winter chose to make another appearance. But then, it seems that Mother Nature just may have the last laugh yet! Temperatures in the 50’s are predicted for the weekend … can springtime gardens be far behind after all?! 😀

***

A Few Notes …

  • Do you know how to test seed for viability? To plant a pot of old seed and hope for the best is one thing but I wouldn’t want to plant a whole garden that way. To test old seed is really simple, just place a few seed on a moistened paper towel then wait for the number of days till germination (which can be found on the back of the packet of seed). If then you seed little roots forming, you’re good to go!
  • Normally, I would sprinkle some milled sphagnum moss on top of the soil to prevent damping-off disease (a disease or mildew that forms on the surface of the soil when starting seed indoors. It is caused by the moist soil that meets warm indoor air, it then makes it look as if someone has pinched-off the seedlings at the soil level). But, I simply did not have any milled sphagnum moss on hand and I will have to replenish some of my gardening supplies soon!

One Final Note …

Sadly, this year’s New England Spring Flower Show has been canceled. In its place, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society has initiated a new show called Blooms! that will be held at two venues. One is in Downtown Boston from March 13th through the 15th and the other is at Simon Malls from March 12th through the 22nd, 2009. “BLOOMS! is not intended to replace the historic New England Flower Show. BLOOMS! is intended to continue the Mass Hort tradition of celebrating Spring in Boston! …”

In addition, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is asking for donations to bring back the New England Flower Show in 2010. For more information, visit New England Spring Flower Show!

For a few images from last year’s show posted to my blog, visit “Two Tickets to Springtime, Please!”

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My apologies if I sound a bit defensive here, but, whenever I mention to friends, relatives and neighbors that I prefer to trap (in Havahart® traps) and relocate mice (to places like a local park, NOT to another neighbors yard) as opposed to killing them with poisons, more often than not, what I get in return is a little smirk and, sometimes, even a little chuckle. Well, just yesterday, I read an article in Tufts Journal titled “Rescuing the Raptors by Jacqueline Mitchell” that, in my view at least, has finally validated my methods.

In part, the article was about the way in which hawks that dine on rodents that have consumed a commonly available over-the-counter poison (brodifacoum) can eventually die of that same poison! Apparently, this poison, an anticoagulant, “metabolizes slowly and accumulates in the liver, a raptor feeding on poisoned rodents can build up toxic levels over time.” Thus, while the rodent takes several days to die, the hawks can die an even slower death simply because they have not consumed the poison directly.

Okay, I admit, I knew nothing of this before reading the article! I also admit that I used to use those poisons but, after seeing a mouse convulsing on my cellar floor shortly after setting out trays of the poison, … well, that just “turned me off” from that method of ridding my home of the little critters. It was then that I turned to the Havahart® traps instead.

So, go ahead and smirk, go ahead an chuckle! I have been a bird lover for several decades and, I especially love raptors. And that I turned to “trapping and relocating” rodents just may have saved even one red-tailed hawk?! Well, I say that’s all the better.

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Here in New England, early summer already promised to be an exceptional year for flowers and fruit. Case in point, elderberry.

You see, one morning, while I was out back beside the big bird feeder (aka, squirrel and deer feeder), tossing out some stale bread for the birds, I noticed these tall shrubs with large bunches of tiny white flowers.

Now, I knew that elderberry was “present” in New England but, I’d never really seen it before. Well, maybe I had seen it but I didn’t really know what it looked like. So, naturally, after photographing the flowers, I looked them up in one of my field guides.

Well, I’ve always known that you could make elderberry wine or jelly from the berries but, I didn’t know that you can eat the flowers in pancakes and fritters too. I chose to wait until the berries formed and, maybe, just maybe I’d try my hand at making elderberry wine!

Right, … not so fast! This morning, I decided to check out the berries’ progress and, while I did find a few bunches of berries …

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The droplets of water are courtesy of hurricane Hannah.

The vast majority of the “bunches” looked more like this!

Oh well! Truth be told, I’ve never made any wine before nor have I ever tasted elderberry wine. (I am somewhat partial to the sweet or semi-sweet dessert wines, though. Could someone tell me if elderberry wine is a sweet or semi-sweet wine? Maybe it’s neither?) On the other hand, it says in my field guide, that “bark, root, leaves, and unripe berries toxic; said to cause cyanide poisoning, severe diarrhea.” 😯

I think I’ll pass on the elderberry wine making for now!!! 😉

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I love things that are “old,” they just have so much character, wouldn’t you agree? Take, for example, this front door and wisteria from a home in Essex, MA.

The wood is splitting and the paint is peeling, that front door has seen a lot of use! But then, what would you expect? After all, the home was built in 1832! 😯

By the way, Essex, MA was, in its heyday, a shipbuilding community. Can you tell?

But, while the home and door may be 176 years old, I doubt that the wisteria is anywhere near that age. Still, wisterias take at least seven years before they begin to bloom and, judging from the number of blooms and the main trunk of this plant, I’d say it has seen quite a number of seven year cycles!

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Too early! Just a day or two more and this pink Moccasin Flower or Lady Slipper will be in all its glory!

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