Blooming Trees in Our Yard

About a week after our trek to the National Arboretum – I walked around our yard to take pictures of our trees in bloom. The maple is not quite as bright red as it was earlier…about done with its blooming for the year. The forsythia our neighbor planted at the edge of the woods is blooming behind the maple. The misty yellow of the spice bush is still weeks away.

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The cherry tree in our front yard is blooming profusely. There were several kinds of bees (I presume bees….some of them were too small for me to see for sure).  In previous years our cherry tree lagged the peak bloom at the tidal basin and the arboretum in Washington DC by at least a week…and that seems about right this year as well.

We also have a plum tree and, even though the flowers are smaller, they keep their pink color all the way through the cycle rather than becoming white like the cherries.

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The spring blooming trees are a clear indicator of the season change…warmer days to come. The colors are a welcome break from the browns of winter. Next comes the delicate spring greens as leaves begin to unfurl.

US National Arboretum in Early Spring

Last weekend we went to the US National Arboretum to see cherry blossoms. We entered the New York Avenue Gate and parked in the big lot just inside….with cherry trees in sight. We walked over to the trees. I got side tracked by some golden moss with spore capsules…had to take pictures from overhead and then from ground level. It was growing under the cherry trees.

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The days before we went had been windy and I found some blooms on the ground – little jewels in the dried leaves and moss.

I zoomed to get some close-up pictures of flowers on the trees – all shades of pink to white.

As I took some pictures of the high branches of one tree, I noticed a lot of bees. I was photographing hand held so had to be content with just knowing the dots in the pictures were insects!

We got back in the car and continued further into the arboretum. There were a lot of cars parking along the side of the road and we could see trees that were blooming ahead. We thought maybe it was more cherry trees. But no – it was deciduous magnolias! They were probably at their peak and gorgeous. People where photographing young children under the trees and held up next to the flowers. There were several different kinds of deciduous magnolias in bloom. My favorites were the deepest pink ones that I saw at the very beginning.

I zoomed in on two buds. Note that the outer covering is very fuzzy. Then there is a covering that looks like brown paper….and then the petals.

Evergreen (southern) magnolias are in the grove as well. They will be beautiful this summer. Right now, the empty pods from last summer are dried (on the tree or the ground under it) – and a study of complexity. I didn’t see a single red seed that had survived the winter in a pod!

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Gleanings of the Week Ending April 6, 2019

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

BBC - Future - What happens when we run out of food? – Even in the US, nearly 12% of households re classed as being food insecure; more than 6.5 million children go without adequate food. And the whole food system can be disrupted very easily by war and very bad government all around the world.

Refugee women have healthier pregnancies than US women -- why? An unhealthy US culture: For African refugee women, acculturation may negatively impact health -- ScienceDaily – I was surprised that the researchers did not explore the idea that maybe the value of early pre-natal care is overrated for people that are generally healthy when they get pregnant since the refugee women tended to not start pre-natal care until their 2nd trimester.

Top 25 Wild Bird Photographs of the Week: Migration – National Geographic Society  - Birds are migrating through our area…we’re seeing more robins…and the juncos will leave soon to go further north. These pictures feature birds from around the world…that are migrating.

Hospital disinfectants should be regulated like antibiotics new study suggests – It’s not just antibiotics that drive antimicrobial resistance…it’s disinfectants (particularly in hospitals) too.

BBC - Future - The unexpected magic of mushrooms – New items made from fungus...replacing some kinds of plastics. It’s good that fungi are so plentiful on the planet – exceeding the biomass of all animals.

An Island Apart – Acadia National Park’s Isle ad Haut. A very different experience from Mount Desert Island

Beautiful cherry blossoms photos – Our cherry tree is in bloom right now. I guess cherry trees are enjoyed around the world very year about this time. There is a picture of the cherry trees around the tidal basin in Washington DC included in the pictures.

Green tea cuts obesity, health risks in mice: Follow-up study in people underway -- ScienceDaily – More research needed…. but I am enjoying green tea already (my favorite is a blend with mint).

Make A Home for Wildlife – Cool Green Science – Some ideas for creating an oasis for wildlife --- it doesn’t take much to help pollinators or birds!

Why did Flamingos flock to Mumbai in record numbers this winter? – 120,000 flamingoes…that’s a lot of birds!

Tree Bud Project – Week 3

It’s Friday – I’m updating the status of the branches I brought inside 2 weeks ago (previous posts: week 1, week2). This will be the last post. The flowers and leaves are wilting because the small branches can’t get enough water to the new growth.

The cherry blossoms opened but stayed small – then started to show stress – the delicate white petals wilting.

The tulip poplar branch lasted longer with more and more small leaves emerging from the bud.

Four leaves emerged from one bud and one of the leaves unfolded before they all began to wilt.

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The only branch that didn’t seem to develop at all was the black walnut. Maybe it was just way too early for those buds to develop even in the warmer temperature indoors.

Ten Little Celebrations – March 2019

March had increased activity from February – a nice ramp up to the busy months of the spring field trip season of April, May and June. It was easy to find little celebrations all during the month.

A Creative Live course on bird photography – I always celebrate courses that hone what I already know…and show me something new that I want to try.

Getting new glasses – I had skipped getting new glasses last year – thinking that my prescription had not changed enough. It’s worth celebrating to see better again.

Snow on the ground but no on the streets – I celebrated a beautiful snowy day when the streets kept enough warmth to remain clear. It’s one of those instances where you can enjoy the scenery and not worry about hazardous driving conditions.

Cleaning out stuff – We donated two carloads of stuff (a bicycle was a big part of one load. I celebrated making progress on cleaning out accumulated things that we no longer need.

Then there are signs of spring – appearing throughout the month – and celebrated for the breaking of winter’s hold on the landscape:

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Miniature daffodils blooming in the front flower bed that bring back memories of my mother-in-law that bought and planted the bulbs in another garden 30 years ago.

Tulip poplar and cherry buds brought inside and opening a few weeks before the buds outside open.

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Doves mating on the deck railing.

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Frogs eggs in the little pool at Mt. Pleasant.

A spring-like afternoon – full of sunlight and a warmer temperature.

The biggest celebration of the month was the news that both my daughter and son-in-law have faculty positions beginning next fall in the same place! It’s quite an accomplishment for them to both get their PhD and then do a couple years as post docs…then this milestone.  

Tree Bud Project – Week 2

It’s Friday – so I am doing an update on the tree branches I brought inside a week ago. See the previous post here. All of them seem to be surviving in the vase of water. I’ve freshened the water every few days. All the pictures are with the 15x macro clip-on lens and my smartphone.

The cherry buds have opened into small white flowers! At first the buds just looked bigger.

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Two days later, the white tips showed beyond the green of the outer covering.

And the next morning the flowers were open! I took a picture of the back and front of the flowers.

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The plum is slower. Some of the buds have not changed at all and I am wondering if they were damaged by cold temperatures. Some look like they are larger. I hope they eventually will open.

The red maple has bloomed and is now drooping. They are wind fertilized…so won’t make seeds in the ‘windless’ house. At first, they looked very red – like little streamers from the bud.

Then the bigger structure grew.

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And now they seem to be drying out.

The tulip poplar has been changing a lot too. At first more buds opened.

Two days later all the buds were larger, and a tiny leaf had emerged from one of them.

Over the next few days other tiny leaves emerged and began to get larger. I noticed the tiny leaves while they were still folded inside the bud too. The bark of the twig seems to be a deeper color too.

I haven’t noticed any changes in the black walnut branch. If the buds do open it should be spectacular with so many buds on the tip of the branch.

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The sycamore buds haven’t changed much either although they seem to be a little larger and their color has shifted to green with some red overtones.

Stay tuned to next Friday for the next tree bud report!

Tree Bud Project – Week 1

I started a project to photograph tree buds this week by cutting small branches from trees in our yard: cherry, plum, red maple, tulip poplar, black walnut, and sycamore. Unfortunately, there were no branches low enough for me to reach on our oak.

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The plan is to bring the branches indoors (where it is warm) and monitor the buds – see how many of them would open indoors over the next few weeks. Once they do, I’ll check to see what is happening with the buds on the tree outdoors.

I took pictures of the buds with the 15x macro lens clipped to my smart phone…starting with the cherry. The buds are enlarging but still firmly closed. Our tree lags the blossoms down in DC around the tidal basin.

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The plum buds are still very small. They already show the pink color of the flowers. The tree usually blooms after the cherry.

The red maple twig is easy to identify - opposite twigs, red buds. I was surprised that there were so few branches with buds on the lower branches; the deer must be the culprits. It took a lot of looking to find a branch I could reach with buds.

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The tulip poplar already had a popped bud! The others on the branch were still closed. The leaf scars are interesting to notice too.

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The black walnut has a lot of buds at the tip of the branch. This tree was also heavily browsed by deer. The branch leaked sap as I was taking pictures. Hope is it OK with the water from the vase.

Finally – the sycamore buds are still tight. In a previous year, a sycamore bud on my indoor branch opened and a tiny leaf unfurled.

I’ll be posting about the leaf buds about once a week if there is action to report.

Yard Work - August 2018

I did some weeding in the front flower bed (pulling up weeds and cutting vines that were opportunistically growing into the bushes or climbing the brick façade of the house) earlier this week.

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I filled a trash can full of ‘greens’ to take to the compost pile; I also had some paper shreds and veggie scraps from the kitchen to add. I took the pitchfork to punch the material down and turn it over. The compost in the bottom is already looking ‘done.’

The next job was to cut some horizontal branches in the cherry tree – trying to reduce the risk of the tree splitting if we get an ice storm this winter. I noticed a spider in a web between the house and the cherry trees…some long silk lines that I tried to avoid. It was an interesting spider although I haven’t been able to identify it yet. I’ll have to take better pictures next time.

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As I walked around the house dragging the branches to the brush pile – I noticed that the sycamore had several collections of fall webworms. At least they were the native webworms and not the exotic ailanthus webworms (I saw the moth a few weeks ago at Mt. Pleasant).

Most of the branches with web worms were low enough for me to cut with the long-handled pruners. There was one higher branch that my husband cut using a ladder and saw…with me pulling the branch downward to stabilize it.

On the way back from the brush pile with the sycamore branches – I noticed a blue jay feather…a little the worse for wear but worth photographing. I left it on the stairs to the deck so I could photography it late. I picked up handfuls of sycamore leaves to put in the compost bin.

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I carried my tools up to the covered deck after I was finished and awakened the cat that was enjoying a morning nap there. He seemed more curious than grumpy!

Cherry and Plum Blossoms

We have a cherry and plum tree in our front yard…and they are both blooming at the same time this year. In past year the plum has been almost finished before the cherry tree peaks. The up and down temperatures this year has acted to synchronize their blooming.

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The cherry tree still has some buds. It always surprises me that the buds look so pink but the petal are almost white.

The cherry tree is an older tree and has more lichen growing on it.

The plum has pink buds and the color is retained in the open flowers.

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The leaves of the tree are red too so there is no greenery around the plum blossoms.

These trees are the best part of our spring front yard!

Gleanings of the Week Ending April 7, 2018

The items below were ‘the cream’ of the articles and websites I found this past week. Click on the light green text to look at the article.

How Do We Carry Our Shopping Home Now? | CleanTechnica – I’ve been using my collection of reusable bags for years. Some of them are over 10 years old and still in great shape. Occasionally, I still get a Lightweight Plastic Bag (or a newspaper in plastic, or other plastic bag packaging) which I take back to the bag recycling bin at my grocery store. I’m always sad when I set a grocery cart full of stuff in the plastic bags…hope none of them escape into the environment.

A Harlequin Duck’s Long Cross-Country Migration – Cool Green Science – A bird banded in Glacier National Park migrated to Long Island! Zoom lenses on cameras and binoculars make it possible to record banding info from a distance.

BBC - Future - The small Scottish isle leading the world in electricity – Eigg has an off-grid electric system powered by wind, water, and solar…they average 90-95% renewable energy. The time of year they tend to need back up generators is in the spring.

Implications of access to high-quality fruits and vegetables: Quality has potential to impact consumer selection and consumption in rural areas -- ScienceDaily – There has been a lot of discussion about food deserts in big cities – places that lack affordable, high-quality food. It appears that food deserts occur in rural areas as well.

Top 25 Endemic Wild Birds – National Geographic – The weekly bird photography fix! The chickadee we see frequently in our areas of the Mid-Atlantic of the US is endemic to our part of the world (and is one of the 25 pictured).

New Beginnings: Cherry Blossoms and Helen Taft's Landscape Diplomacy – Some years we manage to see the peak of the cherry blossoms around the tidal basin in Washington DC….but every year we enjoy the cherry tree in our front year. It is always at least a week later than the ones in DC.

US electricity use drops, renewables push fossil fuels out of the mix | Ars Technica – Total electrical generation was down 1.5 percent in 2017. Coal and natural gas declines were more than that with renewable energy projects coming online. Energy efficiency has made a difference! Another article reported that some utilities are planning for the uptick in electric vehicles to cause the trend in electricity generation to turn upward again. Right now – it seems like people that buy electric cars are often the same people that install solar panels; that could result in no uptick to the draw from the electric utility.

The Life Issue | WIRED – A collection of thought provoking articles about ‘what it means to live in an age of improvisation.’ I started with the articles about the 55-infinity age group.

Microscopic Images of Seeds • Insteading – hmm…maybe I’ll take a magnified look at seeds before I plant them in my flower beds.

Meditate regularly for an improved attention span in old age – Nice to know that something enjoyable immediately is also good for the long term too!

Tree status – Mid- March

I took some close-up pictures of three trees in our yard this week. The black walnut has obvious buds but they aren’t opening yet. The scars from last year’s growth are shallow craters below the buds for spring 2018 growth.

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The plum tree has bright pink buds. The blooms will be pink and probably coming soon. This is the first tree that blooms in our yard.

The cherry is the second tree to bloom. The buds have begun to spit open. Our tree lags the ones in downtown Washington DC which are predicted to reach peak bloom this year around the end of March. Our weather has kept having cold nights with some warm days so the bloom is proceeding slowly after appearing to be starting early.

Finally - Some Rain

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The last 4 weeks have been very dry in our area with the only moisture being dew coating everything in the mornings. It’s unusual to go this long without rain although it has made the fall field trips easier for the students (into the streams/rivers or BioBlitz). It finally rained yesterday and I’m sure all the vegetation is soaking up the moisture.

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It might be too late for the fall foliage to recover enough to show vivid colors. Some trees have already lost their leaves…a very brief and muted color change then leaves swirling. I’m still hopeful that the trees behind our house will show their typical colors since the leaves are still on the trees and green. The color in our backyard usually peaks just before Halloween.

The status of our trees before the rain: cherry (leaves already on the ground), plum and oak (about half the leaves already on the ground), tulip poplar (about 1/3 leaves yellow and the rest are still green), maple (leaves green), sycamore (some curling brown leaves on the tree and ground, still about half the leaves are green and still on the tree).

After a few days of rain – we’ll see what happens.

Tree Cookies

I was in a class recently that included looking at some labelled tree cookies – for trees that are relatively common in our area. Each one is about a foot across. I photographed them to study on my large computer monitor.

Some of them have split as they dried and the saw marks are still visible…but the rings show through reasonably well. They would probably show up better if the cookies were sanded a little. There is something unique about each one: the sugar maple looks light colored throughout; the dogwood has wider dark marks (reddish in color) and they don’t appear to be concentric further away from the center); the cherry has a dark center; the white pine shows come places where branches come off and this cookie has the most clearly visible rings all the way out. It is possible to count the rings out from the center to determine the age of the tree when it was cut done.