The Saga of the White Amaryllis Continues

Amaryllis White Nymph

Okay, I shouldn’t be complaining–and really, I am not. I bought a white amaryllis and it’s blooming white. So already I am so far ahead of last year when my white amaryllis was some funky red bicolor.

Further, it appears that this bulb will have 3 blooms–2 of the usual sort and then this creative thing coming out of its base. So I am way ahead of the game.

If I actually look at it artistically, it appears as if someone–not me, because I never could have come up with this idea–creatively draped this bloom in the pot. But no! It’s actually attached to the bulb, and blooming sideways out of the base. Very strange.

This is what makes gardening great. Plants just never lose the ability to surprise and delight. This is way better than I ever planned!

More About Snow

Path to the mailbox

Particularly for those of you who don’t see snow, you may wonder why the weather people go on and on about it. Well, this is why. Even for a very average snow, the amount of cleanup can be amazing–and I live in a neighborhood without sidewalks.

Spots for trash cans

Not only do driveways and mailboxes have to be cleared, but spots have to be dug out–or snow blowed–for the trash barrels and recycling bins.

Notice the orange snow stakes. Those have to be set in the ground before it freezes. Again, because we have no curbs or sidewalk, those guide the town plows. Otherwise, you might wind up with 5 feet of your lawn plowed up as they come barreling down the street!

Most of us use stakes that are 5′ tall. That usually gets us through an average winter of snow.

Garden with snow

You can see how even this average snow has almost buried my “thank you ” sign.

Plowed snow

And you can see how quickly plowed snow piles up. To the right of the photo is our split rail fence. It quickly disappears to the left under the snow. This becomes very dangerous at intersections and in parking lots if it is at the entrances because no one can see to pull out. As winter goes on and these piles get higher, body shops start reaping rewards.

Melting from these piles freezes into sheets of ice as well. It’s quite dangerous.

So you can see why the meteorologists make a big deal about snow. It really does affect our lives in a lot of ways.

First Big Snow

So most people have heard about the big snow storm that hit the northeast. As snow goes, it was actually fairly average for Connecticut–in my town we had just about a foot–but of course it’s been a few years since we have had this much snow. And none of us is getting any younger.

Front steps snowed in

This doesn’t look like much–there’s no perspective. Consider that 3 steps are buried under there.

Steps–one half dug

This is better. The steps on the left have been dug out. The ones on the right–obviously not. Again, I am not getting any younger. But the real reason is that I prefer deliveries to go to the door on the left. This is a surefire way to direct them there.

Basement walkout

If anyone can answer how this stairwell always drifts completely in–full of snow–with every storm. It’s on the south side of our house and the storms come from the northeast. Clearly the winds eddy around and the snow drifts in. But this is the shoveling job that kills me every time!

Nature in Winter

It’s been a lovely, mild early winter so far. There have been cold days, but for the most part, like most months, the temperature has been above average and the precipitation that has fallen has all been rain. This is great because our severe drought of the summer is just about erased. It will really help the plants once the cold weather does settle in.

One of the advantages of the mild days is that I can actually enjoy walking–and observing–nature. I have several field guides to nature in winter and I even have one specifically for birds nests–because once the deciduous trees shed their leaves, lots of birds nests become visible.

I am quite sure that this nest never would have been visible, no matter how closely I looked, when everything had leaves.

This nest is in a gingko tree, which has much lacier leaves. It’s possible that it might have been seen with some sharp eyes. I can’t say that I ever noticed it, however, until the tree lost its leaves.

And while I was out nest spotting, I saw this.

Maple tree

While this looks really cool, this is not a good sign. This is a sign of trouble for this tree. You can already see that it has lost two major limbs–perhaps three. The lost limbs have been cut and now the mushrooms are sprouting from the trunk in those places.

Those shelf mushrooms are a sign of interior decay within that lovely maple. It needs to come down–before a storm brings it down on the house or the neighbor’s house.

We are expecting a lot of snow this week. Let’s hope that this tree holds up.

The Perfect Apartment Christmas Tree?

Norfolk Island Pine

This time of year you will see a lot of small evergreens being sold as small indoor Christmas trees. With limited exceptions, however, live evergreens are not really suitable for indoor growing.

If you have ever tried to grow one of those juniper bonsai that seem to be very popular this time of year, you know the problem. They will grow fine for awhile in our heated, dry homes, but eventually they succumb to something-usually it’s mites, although they are often too small to see. The plant just looks like it dried out and died.

Other small evergreens, often sold with lights and ornaments already attached, are Alberta spruce. They make adorable little live trees–but they are then very difficult to transition back outdoors into a cold climate and plant in the spring.

Then there are the non-hardy cypress and pines that we get up here in the frozen north. They are lovely and beautiful but what, exactly are we supposed to do with them? They can’t be grown in containers forever?

So if you would like to have a small, live evergreen indoors, the Norfolk Island Pine is probably your best choice. It’s easy to care for, it doesn’t mind being grown as a tropical indoor plant, and it supports ornaments.

A caution or two: it will put on a new layer of branches every year. So eventually, they get large.

Also as you can see, they are often sold with multiple trees per pot. For best growth habit, separate them out now. I may have waited a little too long already. I think I actually have 3 in that pot!

And while I have read that they can be susceptible to mites, I have never really had any trouble with any that I have grown. I grow them in an east or west window–wherever there’s room.

These little trees are generally readily available this time of year. If you want a small, live tabletop tree, this is definitely the one to choose.