Sunday, March 31, 2013

Belated Blog Birthday!

So this should have been posted yesterday, but, being my crazy self, I was never actually at home with access to a computer. I opted instead for an adventure across the city to see a movie and girls night with friends. But, it was indeed the one year anniversary of my blog's beginnings yesterday. In the year that followed March 30th, 2012, I've managed to go from thinking I'd take my life in the direction of English or politics, to discovering I can actually make a major/career out of plants, and then go from "potential horticulture major" to "declared horticulture major". I've also accumulated a good number of plants in that time period. Slightly crazy right?
I really want to thank all of you who've at least given my little blog a read or two in your weekly blog perusing. I'm not the most consistent of bloggers, but I always try to make time for it even when school is insane. So thank you to all of you who've kept up with me and left my a comment or two every so often. It's so nice to connect with other people who share a love for growing things.
On top of all this, I would like to wish you all a Happy Easter. I hope your holiday was joyful and sunny. :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Conservatory Trip: Year Two

It's that time of year again! Today I bring you a massive pile of pictures from my trip to the Como Conservatory where they're putting on their spring flower show just in time for Easter. If there's one thing that never fails to make me overwhelmingly excited, it's a trip here.

Of course, the first thing you see when you walk in is the soaring glass ceilings of the palm dome. I love just standing and staring up at it until my neck gets sore. The place also has a fragrance that makes me wish you could bottle up air and keep it for a gloomy day. It just smells like plants and earth and life.

Underneath the dome.

We walked into the sunken garden and found that this year the color scheme was a gorgeous dark red and purple with dark pinks as well. The place was absolutely packed, even though it was almost time for the conservatory to close. There were lots of little kids too, probably off on spring break now. 

The spring flower show in the Sunken Garden.

I loved the dark pink of these tulips.

These lilies were slightly fuzzy!

Adorable crocuses.

The Calla Lily was probably my favorite flower of the whole show.


They never fail in having gorgeous ranunculus blooms.

Gorgeous double-petaled oriental lilies.

I loved the small magnolia trees. They had them in pots surrounded by ranunculus flowers.


Vibrant pink hydrangeas, some of which had light green centers.

I had fun messing around with editing techniques on my foxglove photos.

These orchids had roots that take nutrients from the air, as opposed to soil. So all the spiky things you see above the orchid are it's roots.
Colorful bromeliads.
I'll probably upload all of my pictures on my Google+ account sometime this week, so be on the lookout for that! Otherwise, I hope you all have a wonderful Easter weekend!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

"Spring" Break in the UP

Even though it's mid-March, it's still winter here in the north, and the UP of Michigan is no exception. In fact, it's probably more winter-y here than it is back in Minneapolis. I'm back here for "Spring" Break...which is more like Winter Break: Take Two. And even though I'm anxious for spring, there's still some beautiful things the season has to offer. Today I took my family's DSLR camera outside and got a few good snapshots of it.

Just another winter day.

My dog Molly running down one of the trails by my house.

Our mailbox that has probably seen more winters than I have.

Running away from the scary snow-blower and my dad.

Our side porch.

One of the chickadees in the vines around the bird feeders.

The goldfinches still have their dull winter feathers.

The berries on the bittersweet vine.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! As a plant lover, this holiday has to be one of my favorites just because I get to wear green (my favorite color). After doing something similar around Christmas for poinsettias, I decided to do a little digging the plant related traditions that go along with St. Patrick's Day, especially the symbol of the holiday: the shamrock.

File:Irish clover.jpg

The name shamrock is derived from Irish word "seamr√≥g", which is the diminutive version of the Irish word for clover (seamair) which means "little clover" or "young clover". Because shamrock is a common name, it's often used to refer to a few different species, usually Trifolium dubium (lesser clover) or Trifolium repens (white clover). There are also other three-leaved plants that are often called shamrocks or clovers. There is no consensus on which is the "true" shamrock and many botanists hold different opinions on the matter. A survey showed that Lesser Clover was the most favored by botanists by a small percentage. White clover, however, is most similar to the form that is seen on most St. Patrick's Day decorations. 

File:Trifolium repens Leaf April 2, 2010.jpg
White Clover
File:Trifolium dubium kz1.jpg
Lesser Clover
The first mention of clovers in Irish literature dates back centuries, but it is only in English translations that the separate word "shamrock" appears. The very first mention of shamrock in the English language was in a writing that stated that the Irish ate shamrocks and clover when in fact there is no evidence in any Irish literature that this was a true. There was evidence, however, that the Irish ate wood sorrel, and further English writings seemed to confuse the two. For example, a writing might call what they ate shamrocks, but then describe things like "bitter taste" which is a trait of wood sorrel. 

The most commonly known legend about shamrocks in relation to St. Patrick's Day is that St. Patrick used its three leaved structure to teach the Holy Trinity to Irish pagans. It's unknown if this actually occurred, but is probably the most popular shamrock myth.

File:Kilbennan St. Benin's Church Window St. Patrick Detail 2010 09 16.jpg
St. Patrick depicted holding a shamrock.
One early St. Patrick's Day tradition involving a shamrock was "The Drowning of the Shamrock", which, on the 17th of March, was were the men would lift their usual fasting restrictions of Lent and go to the nearest tavern to mark the day with a few drinks. One account explains:

"At the end of the day the shamrock which has been worn in the coat or the hat is removed and put into the final glass of grog or tumbler of punch; and when the health has been drunk or the toast honoured, the shamrock should be picked out from the bottom of the glass and thrown over the left shoulder."

It's not terribly difficult to see where our current St. Patrick's Day traditions come from, given this information. 

The shamrock is also the national symbol of Ireland and is depicted in many emblems of state, has been worn by many revolutionaries and militias over the course of Irish history as a symbol of national pride. You'll also see it on postage stamps, the planes of Aer Lingus (the Irish airline), the symbol of the Irish Farmers Association and many Irish sports teams. 

A four-leaf clover is a rare form of the three-leaved clover and is thought to be caused by a recessive gene and possibly errors caused by environmental effects. Research has now made it possible for breeders to work with the four-leaf forms and breed them at a higher pace. 

File:Four-leaf clover.jpg
A four-leaf form of White Clover.
So now you have a few shamrock plant facts to pull out around your plant-loving friends (and your family who, if they're like mine, will nod and smile as you spout off more plant information). I wish I could've gotten this up sooner, but I was stuck in a car on the way home to Michigan for spring break today. I hope you all had a lovely weekend and a fun St. Patrick's Day! 

Source: Wikipedia
Picture Sources:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Brothers and Sisters in the Garden

Me in my letters!
Something about me that many of you might not know is that I'm a brother of the National Honorary Band Fraternity, Kappa Kappa Psi. At many universities, this organization is coed, as is our sister sorority, Tau Beta Sigma. KKPsi and TBS have been brother and sister organizations since 1947 and many schools have both that work together on various projects. TBS was founded to promote equality and diversity in university bands, including empowering women in the band profession, develop leadership, etc. KKPsi, similarly, is a service fraternity and our main purpose is to promote university bands through many different kinds of service projects, rewarding outstanding musicianship of students involved in bands and providing other services for the bands of their college. Unlike many other Greek organizations, we're a dry fraternity, we don't have houses, and we don't even use the term "pledge" or "rush" due to the strictness of   our no-hazing policy. 
So why am I talking about band fraternities and sororities on my blog?
Last year on October 16th, our sister sorority Tau Beta Sigma lost their founder, Wava Bates Turner Henry, fondly known as simply "Wava". On March 8th, the national headquarters of TBS announced that, in memory of Wava, a memorial rose garden would be built and dedicated to her. I found this quite fitting as the Oklahoma Rose is the OK state flower. This garden would be located at our national headquarters facilities in Stillwater, Oklahoma. In an email from TBS Board of Trustees they said, "The plans will include a black granite pedestal dedicated to Wava, reflection benches, a rose garden and other garden flowers and shrubs..." They intend for the garden to be put in place next year and unveiled officially in July of 2014.

The Oklahoma Rose is a hybrid tea rose developed at Oklahoma State University. 
(Funnily enough, KKPsi was founded at this school as well!)

Maybe it's just my inner plant lover, but I feel that memorial gardens are some of the most special spaces. Although there's sadness in knowing that the memorial is there for a person or people who've passed, there's beauty in seeing how life thrives despite that. A garden reminds us that life is always growing, whether it's people, organizations like TBS and KKPsi, or plants. I'm so glad Tau Beta Sigma chose this idea as a way to remember a very special lady.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Not Quite Spring Break

My hibiscus is wondering if it's summer yet. I was graced with two lovely blooms over the weekend when Minnesota decided to be gray and dreary outside. I think my hibiscus thought the weather was just too gloomy and the inhabitants of my apartment needed some color to brighten things up.
Speaking of flowers, I'm getting impatient for spring so I can find lots of spring flowers to photograph and share with you all like I did last year. I don't have a garden of my own, so I like to think campus is my garden. I don't get to plant anything or take care of the plants, but I definitely get to enjoy the blooms.

I won't be get much of anything besides winter for spring break next week however. I could be headed somewhere warm...but instead, I'll be headed back to the tundra of my hometown in Michigan for the week. We've had lots of snowfall in my absence, I'm told, and it'll be more like winter break than spring break while I'm home. I'm hoping to get some seeds to start indoors while I'm home. Probably just tomato seed and pepper seeds, as I don't ha e much space for anything else. I'll probably have to pick up a fluorescent bulb for my desk lamp to help seeds along too. I don't get any sun in my apartment windows during the day so I'll need the extra boost if I want the seeds to grow well. My future roommate and fellow horticulture major and I are thinking about gardening in her backyard here in the cities this summer. So the tomatoes and peppers will go there if that's the case. Otherwise, I'll grow them in my grandma's backyard and she'll get some fresh veggies out of it. :)

If any of you have suggestions on what varieties of tomatoes and peppers are good to start from seed, I'd love to hear them!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Being a Plant Wizard

Plant propagation always makes me feel like a wizard. Yesterday I was giving my plants a thorough watering and realized an African Violet I had in one pot was actually three smaller African Violet plants. I'd forgotten I propagated three of them in the same pot in my plant propagation class last year and had let them crowd each other in a tangle of leaves. I took them out, divided them easily, finding their root systems much shallower than I thought, and gave them their own pots. So it really did feel like I'd turned one plant into three and I'm excited to see how their growth takes off now that they have their own space to spread out.
They're happily sitting in their own pots , two on the windowsill (pictured) and one on a bookshelf off to the right (not pictured).