tulip-tree in early May 2009
I completed my Project Budburst observations for 2009
when my tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) bloomed in my wooded piece of Connecticut. This, along with my other observations – first bloom of the common dandelion (mid-April), as well as Eastern Red Columbine and Jack-in-the-pulpit (early May) – are now listed with thousands of others at the Project Budburst website
. Phenologists use these data to build nationwide information about plant habits and climate change.
I have one, treasured tulip tree in the woods behind my house that first bloomed about May 31. Unless you have a tulip tree in a prominent area or frequently walk under one in the woods, you may not see their waxy, tropical-looking blossoms until they drop from the tips of the often 60 feet high branches. This year other commitments kept me so busy that I nearly missed catching the yellow-orange hand-sized blossoms swaying in the treetop. If you look closely in the photo above, you can pick out the orange at the base, yellow at the rim, cupped flowers facing upward as if waiting for dew to collect in their base. It’s not easy to capture these flowers on film – as my amateur photo shows – but one watchful photographer luckily caught a perfect tulip tree bloom after it fell to the ground.
But back to Project Budburst, which is a great project for getting kids and budding gardeners involved in nature watching. The website provides printable Identification Guides of native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, herbs, and grasses – with photos – making identification easy for everyone, no matter their age.
My participation renewed my interest in watching for native vegetation … what have your Project Budburst observations taught you?
May certainly brings changeable weather to my part of the planet – last night, temperatures dropped to about 38 degrees, and I suspect many areas in north-western Connecticut had frost.
May 21, 2006 hail
A recent look back through photos reminded me of May 21, 2006. We had some pretty severe thunderstorms in south central Connecticut. The result was a coating of small hail that – albeit briefly – covered everything.
Fortunately, I had no permanent damage … just gardens beaten down a little, from which they quickly recovered. But, looking back helps me appreciate the sunny, warm weather that finally – hopefully – seems to be taking hold, and also reminds me to appreciate the gifts we receive every day – from nature, our family, our friends, and our country. A nice thought leading up to Memorial Day, a time for us to remember and reflect on those who gave their lives so we, as Americans, can enjoy our many gifts.
And, with this in mind … no one says it better than Ray.
Any Connecticut gardener looking for down and dirty, hands-on advice on composting should consider heading to Ballek’s Garden Center in East Haddam this Saturday, May 2 by 10 am … directions here. Ballek’s is a family owned nursery and landscaping business with owners and staff who offer a wealth of information to anyone who asks. I rarely leave Ballek’s without learning something, getting an idea on how to use a plant, or feeling invigorated. Any seminar they offer is likely to be entertaining and informative.
The recent milder CT weather presents the perfect chance to clean up the leaves and debris remaining in garden beds. At this point in the growing season, most bulbs and early emerging perennials are still relatively small and less at risk for damage from a lightly handled rake. Cleaning out beds now allows for close inspection for creature burrows and ground level damage to shrubs, uncovers annuals left in place last fall that should now be removed, and helps locate any early sprouting weeds. I tend not to compost this debris, however, to avoid the introduction of any plant pests/diseases into my compost.
However, since hungry deer are still foraging close to houses, I’m not ready to remove winter fencing protection from rhododendron, azalea, or other bushes deer love. Deer would find these a welcome late-winter snack, especially since so little green food exists right now in the forests. I generally keep such fencing in place a little longer, then once these physical barriers are removed, I diligently spray or spread deer repellant in hopes of keeping the four-legged vegetarians at bay.
This brings another good point … deer will eat crocus and any early blooming mini-iris. I’ve kept mine intact (see photos in previous post) by covering them with baskets each night. In the morning I simply uncover these tiny blooms, and stack the baskets aside for the next night’s use.
Any newly exposed perennials (daylily, mums) are equally at risk and should be likewise protected from nighttime foraging or sprayed with deer repellant.