Feb 7, 2014

A Good Neighbor

Just like a Good Neighbor, the Flicker is here

This little bugger [Northern or Western Flicker - Colaptes auratus], has been pecking away at the outside moulding around our windows for days now, searching for insects that have crawled into the cracks between the moulding and the siding to escape winter's arctic blast. The only trouble is, with that pointed three inch beak, wood chips are flying like it had a chain saw in its mouth. Efforts, like making scary faces through the window or holding up photos of our dead cat, to drive him or her away have been fruitless. Guess we'll just have to watch the slow disintegration of our home as rain and snow water dribble down into the studs and joists. As compensation, I suppose, it is a beautiful bird and a good neighbor.

Feb 6, 2014

Waiting for Spring

Waiting for warmer weather

Temperature -11C and still the Rhododendron dauricum on the left shows a definite 'less negative' response to present climatic conditions. At least we now have a few inches of snow dust to offer a modicum of protection from even harsher temperatures.

Feb 1, 2014

Genetic Variance

Genetic Variance

I couldn't help noticing as I toured part of the garden a few days ago how two young Rhododendron dauricum plants had reacted so differently to the cold. Curling of rhododendron leaves, as a response to frigid temperatures, is a natural reaction, though the mechanism that triggers the curling is poorly understood. (see http://www.arnoldia.arboretum.harvard.edu/pdf/articles/1990-50-1-why-do-rhododendron-leaves-curl.pdf). These two seedlings were raised from the same seed source (Hokkaido, Japan) in 2012. Both have been growing side by side in the garden bed for over a year and have been treated in an identical manner. The one on the left is obviously not as concerned about adverse weather as the other. Rhododendron dauricum is very hardy to begin with but apparently some individuals are more tolerant than others, and when it blooms, that is the plant from which I will collect seed.