Spring Snow

By on Apr 16, 2018 in Spring |

Weather forecast from a Forsythia?

By on Mar 31, 2018 in Spring |

Many people use the yellow blooms of the forsythia to indicate spring has finally arrived and the soil temperatures have warmed. When the forsythia blooms they use it as an indicator to apply the first lawn fertilizer application of the year along with pre-emergence crabgrass control. A more scientific and accurate approach would be to measure the soil temperature and gauge if it has reached somewhere between 55 and 60 degrees at the 2 inch depth. Regardless, the ubiquitous presence of forsythia in bloom visually opens the floodgates of lawn activity every year. But what about the forsythia’s ability to forecast remaining winter weather like Punxsutawney Phil back in February? Do you believe the old weather tale which states that Forsythia can forecast late spring snowfall? The theory, tale or belief is that once the forsythia blooms there will be 3 more snows. They could be...

What is that flower with the funny name?

By on Mar 31, 2018 in Spring |

I went for a run the other evening. In West Michigan a run in late March can be a chilly experience. I spotted out of the corner of my eye something blooming along the trail. In April I will often stop to enjoy the trillium, trout lily and marsh marigolds while out running, but in late March while winter resists letting go the blossoms are far and few between. These flowers however are a reliable treat every year as one of the first bloomers in spring. I took out my phone and snapped this picture. The flower with a funny name. Puschkinia scilloides also known as striped squill. A trouble free easy to grow minor bulb perennial that is impressive when planted in clumps even though it only stands 8 inches tall. Plant them in fall for early spring blooming. The genus name honors a Russian botanist Count Mussim Puschkin who was an enthusiastic collector of the plant.

We’re making progress together

By on Mar 24, 2018 in Spring |

It is amazing to watch the natural miracle of plant life on earth moving from dormancy to emergence to maturity. Much of life is about momentum. Accumulation of growing degree days is about momentum. Accumulating warmth and energy available for plant growth. GDD, or growing degree days, is a weather-based indicator for assessing crop development and pest development rates. In physics I vaguely remember that momentum is multiplied by velocity and usually ends in collisions. With plant life momentum usually ends in revisions. Accumulations of warmer ambient temperatures builds the momentum giving the season the perfect name… Spring. Crocus emerging through the leaf litter Trout Lily emergence Peonies emerging from the soil Hellebores…an early...

Emergence

By on Mar 5, 2018 in Spring |

The dictionary describes the word “emergence” as the process of coming into being, or of becoming important or prominent. It is important to note….Spring is right around the corner. Hamamelis in bloom March 5, 2018. Picture taken by Rick Vuyst            

I can see clearly now the snow is gone

By on Feb 23, 2018 in Early Spring |

My apologies to Johnny Nash for the variation on his song lyrics but it’s exciting to see the snow go away. Everything goes nuts when the soil temperatures climb to 60 degrees plus in spring. When will that happen? Every year is different. Here in southwest Michigan usually sometime in mid April. I have had people write me, call me, ask me in response to GDD comments I have made on the air. That would be “growing degree days” and their fascination with the process. They are living it but not realizing it. Anyone who in spring has not carried a soil thermometer around with them has not truly lived life to the fullest. Probe the soil in anticipation of 60 degree ground temperatures and you my friend are alive. We all live with the air temperature forecasts projected by meteorologists to plan our week’s activities with their 7 day forecasts. But if you want an earthy experience...

A Garden You will Love

By on Feb 10, 2018 in Houseplants |

A GARDEN YOU WILL LOVE Time spent in a garden is a metaphor on life. The objective is not to “prove” yourself. Your intent should be to “improve” yourself and the quality of your environment. A garden by definition is a space, a plot, a pot, a place where plants are cultivated. This can be just about anywhere and size does not matter. It’s the cultivation part that matters. It is projected that in the coming years the percentage of city dwellers will increase from 54% to 66% of the world’s population. A move from the rural to the accessibility of city life. Older generations like the convenience of walking distance and younger generations like the opportunities for experience and lifestyle. This move will change how we love our gardens and we will use plant material in tighter or smaller spaces. It has also produced a resurgence in indoor foliage plants for “breathing” rooms. Cultivate...

Two Plants with a lot of character

By on Jan 27, 2018 in Houseplants |

As always some stress will reveal character and in the case of plants show how well grounded they are. Plants with fibrous and shallow roots tend to be less adaptable or easy to grow than those with tuberous, thick or rhizomatous roots. When people complain of their vines not blooming or their houseplant’s demise the root of the problem is exactly that, the roots. Take as an example a couple of houseplants that are the closest living thing to plastic known to man. The Zamioculcas zamifolia and the Sanseveria plant. Often seen in office environments or airport terminals these two seem to thrive on neglect. Both have thick waxy leaves and low rates of transpiration. You have to however look at the business end of these plants to see thick roots, in the case of a ZZ plant tubers allowing it to go long lengths without water. Adaptable to harsh environments the ZZ plant is native to Africa...