Belmont – March 2019

Howard County Conservancy hosted a training session at Belmont for upcoming elementary school BioBlitzes last week. I hadn’t been to the location since January, so I looked around before going into the Carriage House for class. The plane trees (they are like sycamores but are a little different – have some seed balls in pairs rather than single) seemed full of seed balls. We’ve had quite a lot of wind and the fibers holding the balls to the tree look worn at this point. I wondered how long they would stay attached after I saw the zoomed image through my camera.

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It was sad to see the stump of the red maple they had to cut down recently. Evidently it lost a lot of big branches during some of the recent winds. The colors in the stump drew my attention. The tree was not extensively rotten but there were some insect holes. The stump would have to be sanded to count the rings. The tree had been struggling in recent years, but I always pointed it out because it had small branches low enough on its trunk for children to see the flowers and leaves.

It also had a root that was above the surface and been injured by mowers…but still survived.

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I almost always pointed out the red maple to contrast with the nearby sugar maple – which is still standing with some ivy growing on it. It was a good concept for student to think through – how the trees were alike and how they were different…both maples.

The class had an outdoor portion to try out the app and tablets the students would be using. I used the time to take a few more pictures. There were crocuses blooming in the grassy area near the mailboxes.

The wind had blown pine cones and sweet gum balls into the same area.

The pond still looked like it has all winter. The clouds had rolled in while we had been indoors. And this landscape shows the dimness of the day.

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I turned back to the view the manor house and notice a maple that no longer had its upper branches. One of the them was very rotten. But the tree is still blooming!

We headed up to the cemetery and I checked the hemlock. The tree looks like the treatment for wooly adelgid has worked. I tried an experimental shot with a cone highlighted…and blurry branches above and below.

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By the time I am at Belmont again – there will be even more signs of spring.

Daffodils and Crocus

Our miniature daffodils are blooming. My mother-in-law bought the bulbs about 30 years ago and planted them in the garden of our previous house. I dug them up and planted them in the front flowerbed of our current house about 25 years ago. I’ve divided them several times. I like them because they are small and hardy – no falling over from the weight of snow or heavy rain for these flowers. They’re also a nice way to remember my mother-in-law every spring.

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Crocus bulbs don’t last as long in our area. Perhaps the squirrels eat them, or they get too wet and rot in the soil. I only have one this spring….growing in a mulch of tulip poplar seeds.

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As I was walking around the yard and making a list of yard work that needs to be done, I noticed a holly that has come up near a bush that has been slowly rotting over the past few years. Maybe I’ll trim the bush down to half its current size in the early part of the summer and provide more light to the young holly so that it can replace the old bush sometime soon.

I am using the weather as an excuse to procrastinate on the yard work….just enjoying the daffodils and crocus for the next week or so.

Brookside Outdoors – March 2018

I walked (quickly) around Brookside Gardens earlier this week; it was sunny but cold! I saw some tiny daffodils blooming in a bed near the conservatories; the larger varieties are weeks away and the tulips are barely out of the ground. The witch hazels were what I wanted to see…and they did not disappoint. They provide a lot of color in the wooded sections of the gardens with the red centers and yellow streamers of the flowers.

There were early spring bulbs to see too. The snowdrops were probably the most numerous.

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There were crocuses blooming as well.

The dwarf irises were a pleasant surprise.  There were at least two colors. They are only a little larger than snowdrops.