Plantitudes – plants with attitude, i.e., a new feature series with plants that I find interesting in some way.
This amaryllis was a gift from one of my sisters for Christmas way back in 2007. The variety is ‘Apple Blossom’ and, although it is a fairly well-known variety, it is definitely a winner!
The botanical name of amaryllis is Hippeastrum and it is a a flowering bulb originating in South America. My method of bringing it to bloom every year is to cut off the flower stalk after the blooms are done, give it a little bit of liquid fertilizer, and summer it outdoors. In late September-early October, I cut off any of the remaining leaves and bring it indoors. At this point, I stop watering the bulb and wait until it decides it is ready to start again with a little green leaf shoot poking up before watering it again, generally about 10 weeks or so.
Soon it will send up a flower stalk about 24″ tall. Sometimes the stalk will have up to 5 flowers on it. This year it has only three, but I noticed that there are a couple of new leaf shoots off to the sides so the bulb (s?) probably need a slightly bigger pot. The flower color is mainly pure white with a beautiful streaking and edging of pink.
It has a yellow-green throat
and the huge flowers soon explode with a beautiful sweet fragrance.
This is a beautiful easy-care flowering bulb that blooms for me indoors in the deepest of the winter when its beauty is so needed, and it keeps on blooming year after year with just a minimal amount of attention. Definitely a plant with attitude! Thank you, dear sister, for giving it to me!
Today was a great day for birdwatching and I was watching this little guy. Can you see him up there near the top of the tree?
Today was also the second day of the GBBC, otherwise known as the Great Backyard Bird Count, a joint venture between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society, with their Canadian partner Bird Studies Canada. This is a four day event where folks of all ages and experience all over the world count birds in their backyards, in the parks, where ever they are and submit their lists online. This is citizen science at its best and the information obtained gives researchers great insight into where the birds are in real-time. If you want to know more, go here and check it out. You can even find out what birds are being found in your area right as the checklists are being submitted!
The Downy Woodpecker is one of those sort of tricky birds to identify in that it looks so much like its larger cousin, the Hairy Woodpecker. Both have that black and white checkered appearance with a wide white stripe down the back. The males of both species have red splotches on the backs of their heads. Besides other smaller differences, the key distinguishing features are the smaller overall size of the Downy (about 6″ long versus about 9-11″ for the Hairy) and the smaller and daintier bill. The long, chisel-like bill for the Hairy is about the same size as the distance from the base of the bill to the back of the head. The Downy’s bill is only about one-third to one-half of that distance.
This one was definitely a Downy woodpecker judging from his size (compare it to the size of the branches around him) and the size of his bill. Downys are often found in suburban areas, are bolder and more curious, even coming down to eat seed from one’s hand in some cases, than the Hairy, which stays deeper in the forested areas. They are also fairly noisy little birds and quite acrobatic – cute!
Both Downy and Hairy woodpeckers make their nests in tree cavities, but the Downy woodpeckers excavate smaller, round cavities while Hairy woodpeckers have larger, more oval-shaped cavities. I believe this little guy is prepping a future home for his little ones. I will have to keep an eye out to see if the mama comes around.
If you want to know more about the Downy woodpecker, how to distinguish it from the Hairy, and to hear its chatter, go to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website here.
The promise of blue sky late Saturday was right on the money! On Sunday the sun was shining and the sparkles were zooming around everywhere. The roads were clear, people were out and about, and enjoying the beauty of the day. Take a look at these shots:
The little crabapple looks like a little fountain! And look at all those deer tracks – guess they are enjoying the snow too . . . unfortunately!
This is the view I see looking out my kitchen door onto the deck. So pretty!
White paperbark birch, long needled pine, and snow – the epitome of a perfect winter scene!
Birch catkins sparkling with their ice jewels.
This beautiful snow, the bright blue sky, and the sparkle of the sun on the snow remind me so much of the great times I had skiing with my family in the Glades at Killington in Vermont when we were young. With my brothers here, waiting for the rest of the family in long ago times.
Now, doesn’t that snow and sun and sky look the same? How would you spend your day if you had a day like this? Skiing, sledding, skating, sitting by the fireplace?
Winter storm Nemo has come and gone now. (sidenote: is it necessary to name winter storms? and silly names at that?) We ended up with about 15 inches on the ground on Saturday and it was so pretty! Very few people were out and about and it was very calm and quiet. Those that were out probably had urgent business because for sure no one would be driving unless it was absolutely necessary. Here are some pictures to give you a sense of the snow we got. Not as much as in the NYC to Boston corridor, but enough to make it a “good” snowstorm.
The little crabapple is almost completely covered!
Look! No footprints . . . and no driveway clearing either!
The Heritage birch is heavily weighted to the ground. Thank heavens it is such a flexible tree!
And late in the afternoon, glimpses of blue sky bring promises of the return of the sun.
I understand some folks lost power in this storm. We did not, but kept warm and cozy inside. How did you fare?