The Anti-Poinsettias

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Every year about this time I post about these pretty red and green plants, calling them “anti-poinsettias.”

These are aglaonemas, otherwise known as Chinese Evergreens. You often see them sold in pretty green and white varieties. I almost brought one of those home the other day, but it was so cold that I wasn’t sure that I could safely transport it from the store to my car so I will wait until warmer temperatures–in other words, July, in my part of the world!

Poinsettias don’t do well in my house. Like many New Englanders, we keep our house too cold for the heat loving plant from Mexico. So I have learned to stop killing them, and I grow these, which will tolerate my chilly low 60s.

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Here’s another variety, a pinker version, that’s about to bloom as well.

And the best part about these plants? Once the holidays are over, they’re still lovely to look at!

Welcome to Meteorological Winter

December 1 began meteorological winter, which is different from astronomical winter.

Meteorological winter is based on the three coldest months–December, January and February. Astronomical winter is based on the solstice, which this year happens on December 21.

So, since we’re in meteorological winter now, I thought I would see what my squirrels were thinking. For newer readers, what I am relying on is the time tested (sort of) tradition that squirrels build their nests based on their foreknowledge of winter cold. The higher up in a tree a squirrel builds its nest, the colder the winter will be.

I ask you, does this make any sense? No. But it has seemed to hold true for almost every winter that I have consulted the nests. So let’s look up at some nests.

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This is the squirrel’s nest on my property. It’s a little hard to see because it’s almost at the top of this oak. Clearly, my squirrels are thinking “cold winter.”

And I wouldn’t disagree with them. November ran well below average, except in snowfall and rainfall.

But that’s not the whole story.

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There are two nests in this tree (again, if you can’t see them, my apologies. This time of year, we’re all still cleaning up leaves, and I couldn’t get near anything because of leaf piles–which is still better than snowdrifts!)

These trees are on my neighbor’s property, directly across from my house and my oak. In the tree on the left–the one nearest their house–there are 2 nests. One is on the lowest branch and another just slightly higher. So their squirrels are thinking different things than mine.

So perhaps the “split decision” this winter means exactly that: periods of very cold weather followed by not so cold. I’ll take that!

Juxtaposition

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Last Wednesday you may remember this zygo cactus from my “Happy Thanksgiving” Wordless Wednesday. It was hovering over a plush turkey that I am ridiculously fond of, for some reason.

The reason I am calling this post “juxtaposition” is because the cultivar name on the zygo cactus is ‘Christmas Fantasy.’ And yet, this year, it’s the earliest of my collection to bloom. Maybe that’s the fantasy.

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Then there’s this: an orchid whose name is bigger than it is. It goes by the ridiculous moniker of Elizabeth Ann Bucklebery FCC/AOS.

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It looks as if it should have bloomed at Halloween, with its somewhat creepy flowers.

I guess if I insist on forcing bulbs, I shouldn’t object when plants do their own thing on their own schedules!

Nature Got a Little Confused

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This was the scene just a week ago–roses in about 7 inches of snow.

Now, yes, Connecticut has gotten snow earlier than this, and it’s even gotten more snow earlier than this, with catastrophic results. But this still isn’t common, as these blooming roses indicate!

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This is a very wintery scene from my backyard. Much of this is gone now because we’ve had a couple of very cold rains (36 degrees and rain–ugh–but at least it wasn’t more snow–or ice!)

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Here you can see how many leaves were still on the trees when the snow fell.

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And finally, this is my raised bed. I didn’t grow much that was edible in here this year because of last year’s poisoning. Still, I put some parsley in it, hoping for some swallowtail larva. I got a few near the end of the season, meaning, I hope, that our washout of a summer has finally cleansed this bed and I might at least be able to grow edibles again next year.

But notice the spikes standing up right at the front of the photo–that’s evidence that something was eating the parsley right before the snow fell–so again, at least the parsley’s edible!

At this point, summer seems a long way off–but as Mark Twain once said, if you don’t like the weather here, wait 5 minutes!