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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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.

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.

August 13th and 14th

This weekend my grandma told me she has a hard time picturing me working on the farm. Here’s a picture of my filthy hands after a day of doing nothing but picking tomatoes and tying up tomato vines. I would not have believed tomatoes alone could gunk a person up so bad, but there we are.

Believe it, Grandma.

This is what I harvested from the garden yesterday. I don’t know what to do with all the tomatoes. My dad eats some of them like apples. I make pico de gallo with a lot of it. Might make a few jars of spaghetti sauce or something. Was happy about the radishes. I don’t even like radishes that much. I just wanted them for the color. But the first few bolted and didn’t actually produce much of a root. These ones made their way into a salad.

I was weeding today at the farm and was about to pull up this milkweed when I saw this on it. I believe it is a milkweed tussock moth. Had to leave the milkweed where it was.

Pretty caterpillar.

The caster oil flower peaks out from between the plant’s big leaves.

Exotic.

Aphids on sweet corn in my backyard. The corn by the pool is taller than me now and tasseling a-plenty.

All of these late pictures are from odd-numbered days because I hate them

I owe pictures from other days, all of which tend to blend together when you take pictures of the same kind of thing every day. I seem to remember setting a goal for myself to photograph something memorable each day. Were the zinnias that memorable on seventeen separate occasions? No. No, they were not. On the other hand, the idea of having a post devoted just to zinnias on a given day made more sense in light of another original goal: taking roughly 1 (one) picture each day. Ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha haaaaaaa. One. The upshot is, you have been and will continue to be bombarded with a ramshackle documentation of the same plants from bud to bloom to long, slow senescence.

Funnily enough, on July 15th, I only took one picture. And what a picture it was, too. That’s later in this entry.

July 13th pictures:

These are all from the shade garden and the regular garden next to it. (Oops, sorry to imply that you’re irregular, shade garden.)

An uncharacteristically pink echinacea

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July 8th pictures: What to do with a three-pound zucchini, and scenes from the garden

The other day at the farm, they discovered a monstrously large zucchini (3.75 lbs if I remember) that had gotten looked over during previous harvests. They weren’t going to sell it, so I — given that I had just made some zucchini bread the other day, and had been relieved to get rid of that batch of zucchini, and was already kind of sick of zucchini bread — decided the wisest thing to do would be to take the nearly four pounds of zucchini. So this morning I made zucchini muffins. (I thought I’d really take a walk on the wild side after zucchini bread.) I also made this zucchini and corn recipe which is meant to serve as a low-sodium alternative to salsa or a low-fat one to guac. It’s not that I’m genuinely worried about finding replacements for those things (I’m probably more likely to actively search for delicious fatty and sodium-laden recipes than to actively avoid them); I just thought the recipe might be good. I’m eating it right now, as a matter of fact. The verdict is…I like it! I would just be more generous with the lime and cilantro.

After the photographic evidence of these dishes, I have a few pictures of the gardens as a whole. Not the isolated chunks I’m more inclined to parcel out to you as close-ups and macros. No, the gardens are looking quite spiffy these days, in my opinion, and I thought they warranted more context right now.

1. The muffins

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July 2nd pictures

I probably don’t need to mention that it’s hot here. It’s hot everywhere. We broke a heat record today, but I remember I heard something about Atlanta breaking a record the other day (106 degrees), and you know, some states are on fire, or battered by thunderstorms and without power. Soooo. I guess we have it pretty good here.

I couldn’t really hack the heat, though. I fell asleep in the pool for a while and that was a trip. But then I woke up and took these pictures and all the plants were starting to get sad and thirsty but I tried to fix that and I saw some cool things.

1. This swallowtail (I think that’s what it is, I know pretty much nothing about butterflies) was on a total nectar bender. Also very skittish. I was happy to at least get a few semi-clear shots of it.

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June 22nd pictures: some summer color for your viewing pleasure (we can only hope)

It’s getting late, and I’m up blogging and using the royal we. Confound you, photo blog, how could you let me get behind again?

Friday evening’s picture jaunt revealed a glimpse of a really summery landscape. For me what really makes it are the day lilies. Do you remember that smack I was talking about echinacea the other day, about how they’re okay but not making any personal top 10 lists, scarcely of any consequence to me until they’re blooming? That’s also how I feel but amplified about a thousand about the day lilies. They’re just so ubiquitous in our landscape. Well, us and — by my casual estimation — everyone else ever in the temperate world since the beginning of time. They’re basically tautological at this point: they’re in everyone’s garden because they’re in everyone’s garden.

I know they come in 26 thousand colors and they’re widely adaptable and they spread everywhere, so it’s a pretty flower of many varieties that’s hard to fail with. That’s cool. I see why people want that. But it’s just hard to get excited about a plant you see almost literally everywhere. Of course, now that it’s blooming, I’m forced to say, well gee, they are nice-looking.

They are!

So they can stay. The first ones blooming for us were some little yellow ones. Might be Stella D’oros. But my favorite are the maroon and gold ones in the backyard: U of M colors, dontcha know.

1. I saw three bees buried deep in different flowers in this plant. They were so still, hardly moving in fact — concentrating hard, I guess — that I thought they’d died for a second. As in maybe he was going on one last bender, go out in a blaze of glory and his body weight in nectar. I admit that I shook the flower a little to rouse them. They were fine.

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