WELCOME SPRING

5000+ bloggers and spambots are now following Sarah Takes Pictures, this monument to garden minutiae, cats, and general photo sprees in fits and starts! That’s pretty crazy to me, so thank you all very much. Also, this is my 500th post!

These pictures are from a recent jaunt out to my folks’ on a day of much gardening.

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DREAMY FERN FOLIAGE

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TRICOLOR SEDUM

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BERGENIA FLOWERS AS SEEN BLURRILY LOOKING UP THROUGH BERGENIA LEAVES

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SOME LEFTOVER ONION PEEL FROM LAST YEAR GLOWING LIKE A GEM !!!

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I BOUGHT SOME THRIFT (ARMERIA) AND PLANTED IT NEAR WHERE THE ONIONS WERE LAST YEAR

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THE CRABAPPLE TREE WAS IN FULL BLOOM THIS WEEK

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FLOWERS LOST THEIR PETALS

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A CARPET O’ MOSS, FALLEN PETALS, AND WOOD CHIPS

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CHIVES ABOUT TO BLOOM

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FERN

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MOSS IN A GARDEN LOG AND A BIRD BATH

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BLURRED GRAPE HYACINTH THROUGH DAFFODIL LEAVES

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FALSE SOLOMON’S SEAL AT SUNSET

May is kicking my ass.

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The week that was. It was weak.

There’s just been too much going on between the jobs, and that’s why I’m doing this roundup many days after my last update. All of these pictures are phone pictures snapped somewhat on the fly around my folks’ or occasionally at work.

IMAG5602Fallen pine needles in the lane along my parents’ house

IMAG5590Trout lily
IMAG5674Sedum growing between pavers

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IMAG5666This was the last of about 30,000 onions I helped plant this week

IMAG5581Pretty succulent arrangement that my parents picked up at a local garden center (though not the one where I work, FOR SHAME)

IMAG5618Hens and chicks

IMAG5615Lady’s mantle

IMAG5589Trout lilies

IMAG5645Hot peppers I transplanted the other day

It’s beginning to look a lot like a winter that is at last painfully yielding to spring

Well, I missed a few days again, but because there are no real rules, I’m not going to recover them with dedicated single pictures for those dates. Instead, I offer up this lengthier post of some of the sights I saw this weekend. I slipped on some wildly impractical, basically cloth shoes and headed out into the woods to track down those harbingers of spring I’ve come to look for every year now. They’re mostly wildflowers, and despite having blogged about them for a third year now, and despite in theory having a “degree” in “horticulture” from an “accredited university” and working “in the industry,”  I somehow am still looking these things up at Minnesota Wildflowers (which is a wonderful resource) to help me identify them. HOW HAVE I NOT MEMORIZED EVERY LAST THING THERE IS TO KNOW YET?!?!??!

Anyway, let’s check in on spring and see how it’s progressing in the backyard, eh?

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This isn’t in the literal backyard; this is on the side of the fairly steep ravine behind my parents’ house. But I figured I better open with the single plant I managed to find in bloom during the whole walk. It is a bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). Yeah, we’re getting proper with our scientific names again. Save us, binomial nomenclature, save us from the tide of overlapping, confusing, regional-specific, chaotic seas that are common names! Let us moor in your ever so slightly calmer waters, binomial nomenclature!

While I’m on the topic, allow me to share a pet peeve I’m sure I’ve mentioned here before. It’s the improper formatting of a plant’s scientific name in contemporary botanical prints. Sure, sure, who DOESN’T have that gripe, right? If you’re not familiar, the first name in a scientific name (that’s the generic name, or genus) should be capitalized, while the second name (the specific epithet, or the name of the species) should just be in lowercase. Both names are supposed to be italicized, or underlined, if you’re printing. But too often in the world of contemporary botanical prints, you’ll see the specific epithet capitalized. You know the kind of decor I’m talking about. That print of four culinary herbs in a tastefully muted palette with some illegible cursive writing in the background. It’s on sale at Kohl’s for $19.99. Most of my peevishness about grammar, spelling, and mechanics has faded but I’m pretty sure I’m gonna peeve hard on this one until the day I die. I don’t care if your average person gets it wrong in informal settings, but if you’re going to dedicate a print to some lovely plant, you should take care in its depiction, including how it’s identified. They’d take points off us in our plant ID classes when we spelled a name wrong, or messed up the capitalization.

Have standards at least as high as an undergraduate horticulture class, print peddlers.

Anyway, this is a photo blog.

Which family does S. canadensis belong to? The poppy family, Papaveraceae. What does that mean to me right now? Not a lot. But I’m trying to introduce families back into my plant ID so’s to have a bigger framework on which to hang my understanding. Will it work? Maybe. Am I going to try for a while? Sure!

I’m going to backtrack now, though. Here’s what I saw in the vegetable gardens:

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 An old tomato.

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The rhubarb is coming up.

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And there was a sweet little bird’s nest by the ole wheel.

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And I kept taking pictures of rapidly-greening little sedums framed through the deep sinuses of pin oak leaves. I wasn’t totally pleased with any of them, but here’s one of those.

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 And here’s some daffodil leaves served up fresh under the layer of leaf mulch, which was making them start to turn yellow from want of light, I guess, but not as bad as last year. And now I’m hoping that they haven’t gotten too cold uncovered in the last few days. Man, I feel like this is something a former hort student should be more confident about….

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 Virginia waterleaf, you crazy showgirl. (Hydrophyllum virginianum, in the borage family, Boraginaceae)

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Columbine!

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More Virginia waterleaf.

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 The gateway to a brave new world… Now we head back to the woods.

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Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria, Fumariaceae, fumary family, whatever that is. This guy is bleeding heart’s cousin. Isn’t that super, super sweet?)

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The forest floor is just carpeted with trout lilies. There are three species of those in Minnesota; this one is Erythronium albidum. They’re in the…wait for it…lily family (Liliaceae).

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 See, look at ’em all.

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You can see them in the foreground here to get a better idea of their size.

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I am terribly ashamed to admit I don’t know what this is, don’t really have an idea, but I will figure it out within, say, a month’s time.

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Dutchman’s breeches and trout lily sharing a bed of moss.

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I think this is a wild leek (Allium tricoccum, it’s in the onion family, Alliaceae). I always find a small smattering of these.
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Oak leaf just chilling

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Gooseberry (Ribes spp.)

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Gooseberry, year-round deadliness.

A heaping pile o’ winter

I took these pictures back on one of those rare days where the temperature (actual and with wind chill considered) was above 0°F or there was no blizzard or the highways weren’t a frozen roller derby of pain or everything would have been fine but the hellaceous winds were causing whiteout conditions and high drifts here and there or there was a semi spilled over on the highway blocking traffic. I think all of those boxes were ticked the last week. I haven’t been out but in short jaunts for a while. Cabin fever setting in. Oh well.

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Phone Pic Picture Dump Extravaganza

“Extravaganza? There’s only 20 pictures here!”

“And they’re all cats! And plants!”

Wrong! There’s also chicken and sky.

So I basically had this post ready over a week ago. I had the images uploaded, the code dumped in here. All I needed to do was go back and do the admittedly difficult work of centering the pictures and adding captions. Everything on WordPress is wildly, crazily different since I was here last. You know what else happened? It became summer. It stopped raining, and it got hot out.

And it seems like I’m still getting new followers. Hi! Look at me! I’m actually updating since you followed me! There are over 2000 of you now, and I am confident that a good many of you are not spambots. (Wink?) Welcome aboard. I’m so happy to have you here. Please enjoy these pictures from my phone.

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After one of many rains, droplets bespeckle the strawberry netting.

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One of my benevolent employer’s many irises.

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Little Bad Cat (now named Blue by my benevolent employers, because of the grayish cast of some of his fur due to having fallen into a chimney) cuddles with Blackie in a box.

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A portentous-looking sky one afternoon while we were laying down the plastic rows.

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A delphinium that I now own.

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Tomatoes flowering in the greenhouse, where they are partly supported by this orange twine.

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The second greenhouse for tomatoes and cucumbers. Looks kinda Shinto, those supports, no? …No?

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This image just sums up quite aptly the whole planting season for me. Especially this one. Being sucked down into a vortex of mud.

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Tom chills.

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One of the first really nice days we had. Planting peppers.

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You just know they named this hot pepper that so they could advertise it as the variety that takes a bite out of you.

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Wild flax and a syrphid fly.

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NEW. KITTENS.

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Mom (Spot) with her two kittens, the first ones she’s had that have survived this long.

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This is a little picture of my plant addiction. (The ones in the box are at least perennials or veggies, so, you know, slightly more practical than just, hey, pretty flowers.)

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A new astilbe my mom brought home.

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Milkweed and creeping phlox.

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My peonies! They still aren’t open, but soon.

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We have really gutted this front garden. I ran out of room in the vegetable garden so I planted the onions up here where the barberries used to be.

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Some of the best chicken I’ve ever had. Dad is testing out the new grill.

A rainy stretch

We are pretty much wading through the rain these days. Well — that’s overstating it. It’s been more persistent than heavy. Despite the fact that we’ve only had brief cameos of sunshine, or perhaps even a full, blazing hot, glorious, summer-like day plopped in the middle of so much cloudiness and precipitation, we’re actually still, unfortunately, experiencing moderate drought over most of this corner of the state. So part of me wants the rain to continue, and part of me wants to see the damn sun every now and then. I don’t know. Maybe twice a week?

Yesterday was kind of fun, though. I took a few walks around my parents’ property yesterday evening and everything sure is looking lush.

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Ostrich fern.

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The water always pools so nicely on day lily leaves.

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More day lily.

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STILL MORE DAY LILY.

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The path down to what we call the Point. Trout lilies are beginning to die back along the edges, fading to a pretty yellow.

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Water droplets hanging off one of the Ponderosa pines.

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Little leaf.

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Slug on a dandelion stalk.

Here is another mini springtime collection.

Last week, the crab apple at my parents’ was in full bloom.

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CRAB APPLE, CRABBY, CRABBY APPLE

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THE CRABBIEST OF ALL

And here were the dandelions on the slope behind it.

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I like dandelions.

This is a picture I’ve had on my phone for a while. I liked it. This was a few weeks ago when things were finally starting to green up.

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Trout lilies!

This is a bonus picture that doesn’t belong anywhere else. I found a turtle.

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Some springtime goodness

Spring has been slow to take hold here. And then when it did, it really wrapped its tentacles tight and squeezed until the result was pretty much summer. A week ago yesterday, we had frost, but then three days later, on Tuesday, we hit 100 degrees. Today we’re looking at severe thunderstorms and possible hail all day, so all the beautiful things I brought home yesterday from the garden center to set out on my balcony are probably going back inside for now, I think. (And into a closet, because if hail doesn’t get them, the cats will.)

I’ve been sitting on a few pictures I snapped a while back, maybe two weeks ago, when we had one of our first really nice spring days. (Two weeks ago, we were fresh on the heels of some snow, by the way.) It had been a while since I took pictures with my camera-camera and not my phone, so that was a nice change. Funny how it’s not until I started taking pictures again that I realized how much I missed it. True, the Instagramming is still going strong, but that only kind of counts. Well, I just didn’t have much time until this humid Sunday morning to tweak them to my liking and upload them. So here’s these, for now.

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I hear tell that the windows of the shop overlooking the vegetable garden are going to be painted, so enjoy the rusty charm while it lasts.

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