Monday, March 30, 2009

sunrise headphones

"I can't seem to face up to the facts.
I'm tense and nervous and I can't relax.
I can't sleep 'cause my bed's on fire.
Don't touch me I'm a real live wire...
Psycho killer, qu'est-ce que c'est?"
-Talking Heads, 1977

The good news is that my computer is up and running again. The bad news is that I apparently fried my USB ports so no uploading of images for me. Guess that means bloom blogs are still on hold. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I am sorry to inform you that the arborboy mothership has crashed is a majorly terrible way. We're guessing it is hardware failure, to be diagnosed Monday I hope. For now pics from the other days amazing sunrise, bloom pics and ID, weed ID, and the rest are on hold. What a drag!

Friday, March 27, 2009

in bloom this week

Rhododendron mucronulatum is commonly known as Korean azalea. It's a deciduous shrub that can grow to about 8' tall and wide, but at a slow rate of growth. Hardy in USDA Zones 4-7 it is one of the more hardy azaleas for us here in the northeast, and as you can see it is one of the earliest to bloom. These pictures were taken early before the sun was really up so I am not sure how well they show off the bright rosy purple of the blossoms. In the afternoon sun they really provide some pop from afar. And the overall habit of the shrub is quite nice, upright with nice clean branching and a decent rounded to oval shape.
So rhododendrons and azaleas are both in the genus Rhododendron, but do you know the easy way of telling them apart? It's easy, just look at the stamens. The stamens are the male reproductive organs of a flower, in this case the long filaments with the little swollen anthers of pollen at the end of them. Examining the flower more closely, you will find that azalea flowers typically have a total of 10 stamens per flower where a rhododendron will typically only have five stamens per flower.

Pieris japonica is commonly known as andromeda or Japanese pieris. This is without a doubt a favorite broadleaf evergreen of mine. A slow grower of stiff branches and lustrous dark green leaves this upright shrub can get to 12' tall and 6-8' wide, but don't necessarily hold your breath. Plant in the protection of a little part shade so as not to invite lacebugs and Pieris will add nice medium texture to your garden through all the seasons. The long panicles of buds set in fall or winter will open to these long white blossoms in spring that have a great subtle fragrance. A member of the Ericaceae family these guys are comfortably hardy in zones 5-7.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Robert Fripp

Listen to this. This is Robert Fripp. The clip is supposedly from the show The Midnight Special, October 5th, 1979. According to youtube commentary he thanks Rick James because he was the host for that episode. Anyway, just listen

(clip passed on by brother Tim, thanks Timbo!)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

in bloom this week

Remember that late winter shot of Cornus mas that I took at the beginning of this month? Well, check it out this week.
Cornus mas, a fabulous and easy flowering shrub, is commonly called a Corneliancherry dogwood, or just Cornelian cherry. I say shrub because that is usually how you find it throughout public parks and gardens, but able to get to 25' tall and easily 15' wide many arborists and hoticulturists might consider it more a small tree. Either way it is a relatively trouble-free woody plant that really adds to the spring landscape. With opposite branching and a medium rate of growth Cornus mas will require some pruning throughout it's lifetime, but otherwise I find it to be pretty self sufficient. Yet funny enough you do not see it in the trade very often and I am not sure why that is. A friend the other day found one at Home Depot in a 3 gallon container for $150 which we quickly concluded was a little excessive, but it is a great plant. The rest of the year people might not necessarily be instantly drawn to this small tree because the foliage and exfoliating bark, though nice, are not the most exceptional. The fact that it is one of the earlier shrubs/trees to bloom in spring however always turns a lot of heads and peaks peoples curiosity.
The flower clusters are still a little tight, but they are certainly on their way.

When in full bloom you can imagine how wow a mature and well pruned Cornus mas can be, urban or rural.
I had to shoot a few more pics of the little Iris around. I am pretty positive you are looking at a cultivars of Iris reticulata. A hardy little bulb in zones 5-9 these guys come up very early but only to about 6" or so. Some web users claim that with ample mulch these miniature iris, like the danfordiae below, can survive as cold as zone 3, but I honestly wouldn't know.

The yellow guy here is Iris danfordiae. Also not much taller than 4-6", you can understand why it is commonly called dwarf yellow iris. The bright canary yellow is really sensational to come across in the garden. Supposedly the bulblets form slowly, but they do establish themselves well in the landscape over time.
Other minor bulbs have popped up here and there in warm and sunny tucked away little places. Microclimates we call them. I already mentioned the Scilla that have begun to appear under the protected magnolias coming into flower. Here with its blue petals and bright white eye is a kind of Chionodoxa species, perhaps Chionodoxa forbesii. These small bulbs in the hyacinth family (Hyacinthaceae) are called "glory of the snow" because in their native mountainous habitats throughout Crete, Cyprus and western Turkey they emerge after the last of the snow has melted. Here in the States we consider them more of an early spring bulb. Chionodoxa is another that we classify as a minor bulb because it's ultimate height rarely exceeds 8".
And yes, the first daffodil of the season, of course botanically known as Narcissus. With 16 different divisions describing a slew of morphological variation and who knows how many bizillion cultivars in each division I am not even going to get into these guys. All you really need to know is that they are in fact an introduced species even though they naturalize well in the North American landscape, and they are poisonous so therefore well suited for gardens bothered by squirrels or deer. Some might say daffodils are boring, but those narrow-minded people have probably never really spilled over catalogs to see exactly how many options you can find among these true bulbs in the Amaryllis family (Amayllidaceae). Not to mention that once they arrive in spring you know that the rest of our spring flower fest is soon, soon behind.

enjoy. I'm dashing to dinner. Happy Spring, -a

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

in bloom this week

Things are starting to emerge like crazy out there in our gardens and green space. So much is coming into bloom quickly with the warm weather these days. Leaving work I saw Spirea starting to pop, and Scilla beneath a magnolia. The iris and the hellebores have been up for close to a week now. Enjoy, or better yet, treat yourself to a walk and see what you find. Iris reticulata cultivars

Helleborus x hybridus, hybrids of Helleborus orientalis and other species, are most commonly known as winter rose or lenten rose because this is the time of year they bloom. Not in the rose family at all, hellebores are actually in the Buttercup family (Ranunculaceae) and native to Turkey and Greece. Hellebores are considered a semi-evergreen. Their leaves with 7-9 coarsely serrated leaflets get to look pretty ratty by the late winter when they get ready to bloom so once in bloom I usually remove most of the beaten up foliage. But definitely do not cut back the foliage too early, as it provides major protection to the fragile emerging buds during the last few frosts. The flowers stand about 12-16" tall and nod so you often have to get on your knees to truly appreciate them. They can be pricey little rhizomes but I don't know that I've ever met a hellebore I didn't like.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday digitizing (5 old collages)

collage on paper
8" x 10"
The scan came out a little blurry on the upper corner - sorry!

collage on paper
7" x 12"

Duck Dive (detail)
collage on paper
10.5" x 11.5"

collage on paper
9" x 10"

Pacific (detail)
collage on paper
10.5" x 5.5"

a note to collagers

I opened an old collage book this morning and made an unfortunate discovery. For many old collages I had used Scotch brand double-sided tape. You can find it inexpensively at your local city drugstore and it is a great product. But apparently it is not safe to use on old magazine and paper clippings as it bleeds through pretty badly. I was bummed to find a few pieces I liked all marred up, with nothing I can do about it. So, you collage artists out there, a note, be sure to use a good quality spray adhesive and don't risk ruining your creations with a cheap alternative. Happy creating.

collage on paper
5" x 6"

Social (detail)
collage on paper
9" x 11"

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Saturday, March 7, 2009

five new collages

Does she...or doesn't she?
collage on paper
6.5" x 10"

collage on paper
6.5" x 10"

Cardigan (1470 Coupons)
collage on paper
6.5" x 10"

Thinking Ahead
collage on paper
6.5" x 10"

collage on paper
6.5" x 10"

Where are they now? (found pic edition)

These were salvaged from a junk shop in Oakland, California, 2004ish.

Don't old photos just make you want to know who these people are and where they might be now? I don't know, they do to me.

Monday, March 2, 2009

late snow in the garden

photos take today (3/2/09) in Central Park. Click images to enlarge, but you know that.

I had great luck shooting the pergola in the past, figured I'd try again.


Malus (crabapple)

Teucreum (germander)

Three Dancing Maidens

Cornus Mas (Cornelian cherry)

Syringa (lilac)


Syringa (tree lilac)