Spring ... with a Cherry on Top March 12, 2012
Washington, D.C. is already a gorgeous place with striking architecture like the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial, as well as the museums and surrounding landscapes. But in spring when the cherry blossoms are in bloom around the Tidal Basin, brilliant mounds of white and soft pink completely surround the space like scented clouds. And, like magic, they are instantly multiplied as they are reflected in the pool. Some describe it as "breathtaking" or "a feast for the eyes." Others call it "one of nature's best shows." And, this year, a mild winter means the show might go on a bit early, according to the National Park Service.
If you want to see the cherry blossoms during peak bloom, the Park Service suggests planning your visit between March 24th and March 28th this year. National Park Service horticulturists monitor five distinct stages of bud development to determine peak bloom, which they define as the point when 70 percent of the blossoms are open. Flowers will still be on the trees for several days on either side of peak bloom. If you prefer to see the puffy white blossoms, arrive four to six days before peak bloom, the National Park Service suggests. The floral fireworks will continue after the peak dates as well. But within one to two weeks of peak bloom, the trees will have shed their blossoms and transition to a fresh green color as the leaves come through.
Typically, average peak bloom for D.C.'s cherry trees is April 4, but the mild winter means an earlier bloom this year. Last year's peak bloom happened March 29. Peak bloom in 2010 was March 30. Usually, cherry blossom trees survive for approximately 50 years. But the city still has just more than 100 of the original 3,000 trees given to the city by Japan in 1912. Those original trees are near the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial. Thousands of other trees have been replaced or grown from the original trees' genetic line.Read More
Not Quaking In Their Roots March 5, 2012
It takes many years to form a forest. But over a longer period of time - 80,000 years, in fact - one special tree, and its several hundred quaking aspen clones, have formed a colony.
And very little has shook it ever since.
The Pando (in Latin: "I spread") is a "clonal colony" of single male quaking aspen, located in the Fishlake National Forest in south central Utah. This 6,615-ton giant is a legend; in fact, its root system is one of the oldest living organisms on Earth. And, as you may imagine, the Pando is the heaviest species in existence.Read More
Seeking A Winter Color Fix January 26, 2012
Now that Mother Nature's typical winter persona has dumped inches (and feet) of snow onto my home, car and landscape, I find myself wishing there was something more to look at besides the blinding, stark blankets of white that now cover just about anything in sight.
How many more weeks are there until spring?
As others might look forward to Valentine's Day this time of the year, I spend my January counting down the days until Feb. 2, or Groundhog Day. It's funny how serious I take Punxsutawney Phil's reaction to the sunlight, or lack thereof. But who among us hasn't hoped the groundhog wouldn't see his shadow so we could quickly cross winter off of the list and start planning for warming days and blooming plants?Read More
City Trees Can Get By With a Little Help From Their Friends January 18, 2012
My dad kept a ficus tree for 27 years before it grew too tall and too wide to keep indoors during the winter months.
I was convinced that tree was his first child. My dad kept up on watering, cleaned out the sparse dead leaves when necessary and, in the summer, staked the tree container in our backyard to avoid damage from strong winds. Among the vegetables in his garden and the perennials we planted together each spring, it was quite obvious that ficus meant a lot to my dad.
When he decided to give his tree away for indoor space limitations, my dad posted ads in the classifieds for an appropriate and trusting new owner. Although he was giving away the tree at no cost, my dad screened the callers with questions to be sure his ficus tree ended up in the right hands.Read More