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

IMAG5673Day lilies

IMAG5587Trout lilies

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.

More woodland adventures

Here are some more pictures I took this weekend in the woods and around my parents’ yard.

The first three pictures are the seed pods of false indigo (Baptisia), which is a great plant with year-round interest. Why, you can even rattle the branches and the seeds shaking in their pods could double as a fine maraca! That’s fun, right? Sure!

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I wonder about the black, scaly patches on this tree. I don’t know if it’s lichen, a fungus, or something else.

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IMG_7733aIT’S ALIVE

IMG_7746A fertile fern frond!

IMG_7748Ferny fern!

March 14th

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My parents’ house is a mess of drifts but I bet a lot of it has vanished just in the last couple of days. Some of the snow might be returning overnight, though.

This picture is the back garden, near the path leading down to the ravine, which starts at the arch. Up around the shed is where we grow our vegetables. Recently uncovered: the green chair on the patio. The snow I wrestled through to take any pictures in the backyard was that kind of crusty snow, and for a few steps I’d be able to walk to top of it, but a few seconds later, I’d sink in about four feet.

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.

Meet some MVPs from my balcony container garden

My rickety balcony just got a little more rickety with the arrival of some new plants from the garden center and the farm. Getting it all tweaked now, and will post pictures of the shambling mess at some point, but for now, here are some of my favorites. Or…you know…the stuff that’s actually blooming right now.

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Pansy in a Minnesota mug my mom gave me.

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Dahlberg daisy.

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Osteospermum ‘Margarita White Spoon.’ Can’t wait til this one starts to open more.

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Fivespot. SO. FUN.

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Strawflower

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Dianthus