Apr. 19, 2013
The picture above is of Helleborus niger, the Christmas Rose. Here in Delaware County, it might better be called the Easter Rose. It blooms later here because we have more severe winters. The Hellebore is in the Ranunculus family, or Ranunculaceae (... Read more
Mar. 13, 2013
The first flower of spring, the Snowdrop,  Galanthus nivalis (pictured above), is a welcome sight at this time of year. But it more than just a pretty plant with great timing! It also has a history of medicinal use, and someone you know might be... Read more
Feb. 11, 2013
Last week, I began forcing some twigs. In the few days since my last post, they have continued to develop. The cherry twigs have young leaves (pictured below, first) and their flower buds are starting to lengthen (pictured above and below, middle). The... Read more
Feb. 8, 2013
Last week, I was suffering from a bad case of the winter blahs, so I decided to force the issue and bring a little bit of early spring into my house. I walked into my garden and snipped twigs from all sorts of trees and shrubs; I stuck them in jars of... Read more
Jan. 28, 2013
In last week’s post I discussed plant defenses against Delaware County winters such as wilting. Plant cells are little chemical factories and produce many complex substances, some of which are used here in Delaware County by plants for protection from... Read more
Jan. 19, 2013
With last week’s January thaw, I have come out of my winter dormancy. I’ve been walking about my garden, thinking about how our garden plants survive Delaware County winters. Actively growing plant tissues, such as leaves, need water to carry on their... Read more
Jul. 29, 2012
In a previous post Anatomy of a Flower, I explained what the basic structure of a flower is. In this post, I introduce a variation on this basic plan, the daisy. The typical shape of a daisy is that of a wheel, where the spokes are represented by the... Read more
Jul. 16, 2012
June is the traditional month for weddings, but in Delaware County, a wedding in July can be fabulous! From Root To Shoot had been tending the gardens of the family farm for a few years; when the reception was slated to take place on the farm, Root was... Read more
Jul. 6, 2012
Summer is now in full gear here in Delaware County. Most trees and shrubs such as crabapples, lilacs, cherries and mock-oranges are done with flowering. Many roses have finished their first flush. A notable exception are the hydrangeas, which are now... Read more
Jun. 12, 2012
I was walking through a garden this week and noticed that the meadow-rue (Thalictrum) was stripped of leaves, pictured below. The culprits were still at the scene, very striking caterpillars, pictured above. These are caterpillars of  the Canadian Owlet... Read more
Jun. 2, 2012
I was walking through my garden and saw this poppy flower. The petals had fallen off and the underlying structure of the flower was quite visible. Flowers are the sex organs of plants, and the variations in their form are myriad and wonderful. Some... Read more
May. 19, 2012
The Red-Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens) is a salamander which is very common in Delaware County. It hatches from eggs laid in the water in the spring and lives its first life stage as a tadpole-like aquatic form breathing through gills. In late... Read more
May. 6, 2012
Temperatures have risen in Delaware County, and, now that the nights are warmer, many more insects are active. Two newcomers came to my back porch light this week. The first newcomer is a large fly, Tipula caloptera, pictured above. This one was almost... Read more
Apr. 24, 2012
In my fourth post, I asked the question why there are no magnolias in Europe. Magnolias are found here in eastern North America and fossils tell us that they were once part of the forests of Europe, but now they are found only in North America; the... Read more
Apr. 17, 2012
With the recent warm weather, the insects of Delaware County are beginning to fly about. Among the many bugs attracted to my back porch light last night, one of the most common and conspicuous was the orange-brown wasp pictured above. This critter may... Read more
Apr. 11, 2012
Magnolias are very ancient plants. You can tell from the structure of their flowers. They evolved before modern flowers. Modern flowers have two distinct rings of modified leaves around the flower sex parts, the petals and the sepals (often serving as... Read more
Apr. 2, 2012
The recent freezes have done damage to some plants, but many survive with no more than cosmetic damage! Why? How? During the winter, many plant tissues dry out to the bare minimum; if their cells retained the water, the cells would explode when the water... Read more
Mar. 21, 2012
Crocus tommasinianus Crocus Sex Fact: The crocus egg is hanging out safe underground. To get to her the sperm has to travel first in a grain of pollen to the pistil of the flower (the dark orange part in the photo), then it has to travel down a tube... Read more
Mar. 16, 2012
Last week I found this cool half-inch long beetle on the move here across my doorstep. It’s one of the good guys, an immature predatory beetle, which specializes on hunting one of the most troublesome garden pests, snails! The business end of this beetle... Read more