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.

May Day

Since we last spoke, I’d say we’ve come as close to spring as we’ve ever been. No. I’m going to be bold. We’re not merely close to spring. It is spring. Right now. Gone, we hope, are the nights where we constantly fret as the overnight low hovers in the upper 30s and we wonder if we’ve made foolish landscaping decisions. Just today, I walked across town because I was delighted to discover that, in the couple of hours since I’d been outside, the blustery, cloudy day had actually become BALMY.

In celebration of this, I’m going to share some pictures I took on a day that is, officially or not, the King o’ Spring, May Day. As it happened, May Day 2014, in my neck of the world anyway, couldn’t have been much farther from spring if it tried. But I took these pictures at the greenhouse with my phone (where else, and on what other device?) and I’ve been sitting on them like a slow, lazy hen on so many cracked eggs. And wouldn’t you know, I found that even though it was gloomy out, these lovely flowers made it anything but, so it was actually quite a cheery May Day.

Also I’ve been busy blah blah whatever still not giving up picture project whatever blah but BY THE WAY, in a few weeks I’m going somewhere TERRIBLY INTERESTING AND WONDERFUL and I hope to share possibly THE MOST EXCITING PICTURES THIS BLOG HAS EVER, EVER SEEN. Crap, I just oversold it. Also, I might try to be “in the moment” or whatever and not take 12,000 pictures so maybe just disregard all that. But maybe don’t.

I haven’t looked at these pictures since I edited them and now I’m chuckling at how much I messed with the color. Oh, Me of a Week Ago! To be fair, though, this is totally how I see the world.

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African daisies!!! (Osteospermum spp.)

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My favorite osteo we carry, the one with the little spoon-petals. I think this cultivar is ‘Purple Spoon.’ (That would make sense, wouldn’t it?)

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I don’t remember what this is, because I’m a complete and utter monster.

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Some Gerbera daisies, three of which I later bought, and am just now remembering have been sitting in my porch for a couple days because I had to hide them from my cat the other night when I brought them in from the balcony (STILL TOO COLD, UGH, NOT HARDY ENOUGH YET, BUT MAYBE NOW)

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Geraniums. I don’t like geraniums that much. They’re fine. I guess. I get pretty offended when I touch one and there’s just a deluge of petals. I really enjoy how they smell, though. I’m not sure why.

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The biggest greenhouse at our greenhouse is not a very big greenhouse but it is pretty precious.

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Florist’s Cineraria (Pericallis x hybrida). These really are true-blue, although it’s always interesting just how ZINGY a blue it renders on camera.

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Here’s a petunia that everyone is losing their minds over right now: ‘Cha Ching Cherry.’ Petunias are definitely at the bottom of my list of favorite annuals, but even I love this damn cultivar.

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Water beads so prettily on some leaves. Like day lilies. And lupines, as in the above picture!

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Some more lupine leaves for ya.

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This is kind of what things look like. This is back in the bulbs section with the irises and day lilies and Asiatic lilies and such.

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The herbs are also back in the corner where the above picture was taken, too, but you wouldn’t know it.

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One of our baby stonecrops, I think, held over from last year.

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A few of our coral bells taken from Tickseedville, population: me. (Actually, I don’t have any tickseed. I had one once, and it died.)

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Beautiful deep-colored foliage of the perennial geranium. Why don’t I have any?

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Coral bell flowers, unsure of the cultivar.

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Coral bell next to hosta.

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Holding raindrops hostage

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What a mighty gob o’ water.

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So many beautiful hens and chicks!

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I keep forgetting what this is but it’s hardy and I want it and I need it yesterday. The purple is so bright, the flowers seem to last a while, and I love the maroon foliage.

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Viola and Pansy Lane

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The fine foliage of astilbe

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A forlorn, torn hosta leaf

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Closing up shop for the night. Either forlorn or cozy, depending on how you look at it. This is what we have to do the first few weeks the greenhouse is open. I was very happy to learn when I worked last night that we would only be covering two tables that night. Note in the background some faint color in the sky. This was the only non-gray sky we experienced for days and days, and it was right at the end of May Day. HOW SPECIAL.

April 18th: marigold polka dots

IMG_8172Been a quiet week at work, as cold as it is. I took a little stroll around the greenhouse before I left to see how things were going and found this little flat. You hate to see the marigolds come down with marigold pox. But seriously, I have no idea what’s up with them. My Essential Plant Pathology textbook is glaring at me from across the room, by the way.

April 14th: two steps forwardish, indeterminate number of steps backwards

Soooo…you might remember a picture from last week. Little picture of a strawberry plant. Real sweet thing. I was real proud of myself for planting a gajillion of those in one big go.

It got pretty cold this week, and my farm overlords got worried about the strawberries, so they told me to unplant the strawberries and we’ll plant them again next week. 2000+ strawberries fit in three totes, by the way. Snapped this picture with my phone before I put the poor suckers back in the freezer.

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Oh well.

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.

April 9th: the greenhouse

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I wish I could say I’m responsible for these transplants, but I have done exactly none of them. In fact I haven’t been asked to do ANY transplanting this year! I am taking it as an extreme diss on my intermediary transplanting skills. I will, however, more than likely be planting most of these and more in their final resting place* in the ground at some point starting in probably a little over a month from now, so that’ll be exciting. I’ll get my moment to shine.

*A strange choice of words but still accurate

March 27th: I think it’s turning into spring

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It looks like a bummer, but I’m stoked it’s not snow.

If I say “stoked” AND “bummer” in the same sentence, have I exposed myself as painfully unhip?

If I had to ask, and furthermore posited “unhip”ness as the crime I may have just committed, haven’t I just answered my question?

If I layer hypothetical question upon hypothetical question, can I eventually reach the MOON?*

(*Yes!!! But only hypothetically. Alternatively, I can use the hypothetical questions to tunnel to China.)