Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Assorted random plant events

When I quit smoking, some years ago, one of the things I missed about it was having an excuse to go stand outside for a few minutes at a time, several times a day. I'm not otherwise that motivated to go out. Also the nicotine. I still, sometimes, miss the nicotine. The down side of smoking was that it was giving me asthma. (Possibly lung cancer, also, but that wasn't motivation to stop. I bet very few people ever see their lives saved by asthma.) And it was increasingly expensive (I noticed about a week ago that a pack of Marlboros is up over $6.50/pack, around here; it was $1.40 or so when I started, which wasn't even that long ago.), too. But it wasn't without its benefits: there's something to be said for any activity that gets you outside looking at the weeds, bees, phases of the moon, etc.

So now, I take the dog out a couple times a day (first thing in the morning just to the yard, in case she has to go, and then for a 30-60 minute walk a couple hours after that), which leaves me in a really excellent position to notice not only the things that are happening in my very own yard, like the flowers on our maple tree (I suspect silver maple, Acer saccharinum) --

-- but also things happening in other people's yards. Like for example, I have no idea what tree this is (anybody know?), but the flowers are kind of neat:

I saw a bunch of Pulmonaria in full bloom in someone else's yard, so I checked the ones I planted here at the house. No flowers yet, but I have buds.

Being out and about with Sheba also means I saw my first dandelions a bit earlier than I probably would have otherwise, on April 1:

Nothing particularly showy and gorgeous in this post, but it's interesting anyway, I think. In particular, I don't very often get to look closely at tree flowers, and would almost certainly not have checked out the Pulmonaria at home, if not for the walks. So there's some horticultural benefit to having a dog. Unintended consequences.


Don said...

I'm generally disinclined to offer recommendations based on as little information as you've given. But silver maple, Acer saccharinum, is a pest tree, and one of the worst.

You've mentioned your interest in making a garden, if not this year then sometime in the next few years. A silver maple has shallow thirsty roots that make it nearly impossible to grow anything in the dry shade beneath it.

Perhaps worse, it's both large-growing and weak-wooded, and given to dropping large branches or even its crown in strong winds. If it's at all close to your house, that's a threat to your investment.

It also will make a pest of itself through its prolific self-seeding, not only in your yard but in those of your neighbors. But that's a consideration that pales in comparison with the two I've already mentioned.

You may have a sapling, and you may be tempted to put off any decision on its removal till a later date, thinking you have a long time before it becomes a problem. But it's also one of the fastest growing of trees. That means it can grow from something you can easily cut down yourself by hand to something large enough to require the services of an arborist in only a few years. And in a couple of decades it can grow from a seedling into something that towers over your house and threatens the integrity of your roof.

I urge you to consider removing it, and soon.

Don said...

PS The flowers in your second photo look like those of red maple, Acer rubrum, though they're usually more deeply colored than your photo indicates.

Anonymous said...

Hooray for dandelions! I know they're pests, but they're so enthusiastically pretty I can't bring myself to dislike them. That's a great picture, too.

mr_subjunctive said...


I'm far from certain that's what it is; I was guessing A. saccharinum mainly because I've seen a lot of them around here and it was the closest match for the information in my Audubon Society Field Guide (slightly drooping branches, yellow autumn foliage, reddish petioles). I'll know when the leaves mature. (They're coming out now: would new growth be slightly reddish, especially at the tips of the lobes? 'Cause if so, A. saccharinum's your guy.)

Even if it is a silver maple, it's not close to the house (maybe 40 feet away?), it indicates a property line, and it's way too big to be able to get rid of easily, as it was here when we bought the house. (There's a picture -- if not a particularly good one -- here.) I'm not necessarily nuts about it, as it blocks most of the late-afternoon light to the plant room, but it's probably here unless/until it really misbehaves.

Kimberly said...

I'm really terrible at identifying plants. However, I like the closeup of the blooms. The first is so sweet with it's soft fuzzy tufts.

RedQ said...

I've just found your blog and due to bad weather and a mostly 'outdoors' garden, I'm steadily making my way through it.

Learning loads, laughing out loud, all the alliterating activities.

Must say I had an uncontrollable urge for a smoke and some fresh air after reading the first part - been a 'smoke-free' person for a day shy of 12 weeks now - and I totally understand the unknown 'benefit' of being a smoker. Seeing the growy world change, sometimes on an hourly basis, without really trying is an awesome thing.

If it wasn't dark and rainy, I'd head out for a smokeless nostalgic wander.