Wednesday, March 30, 2011

In Bloom: Cornus mas

The Cornus mas (Cornelian cherry, a member of the dogwood family) are beginning to bloom, ...very psyched.

for cultural info visit this post from late March, 2009.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

= not fun

Down the block from our new place we have been marveling at a little babbling brook. Water was bubbling up through a break in the pavement at the edge of the street curb, down the sloped block, and into a gutter at the nearby intersection. For about a week we noticed this and wondered in complete bafflement. It would turn out to be a water main break and after long arduous days at work we arrived home to this notice, and in fact, no water. ...not a drop. Quickly you realize how spoiled we are and how we take water so for granted. Clean water is very much a finite resource on this planet but not until you have no access to it do you see the value in every ounce, or milliliter, or however you measure it. We have to take better care of our planet and it's resources. This is not a political statement, it's a human statement, and no one is exempt and no one is above it. ...did you know March 27th was World Water Day?

In the end the DEP would work through the night to restore water to the block by our 5:45 wake-up time the next morning, so props to those guys and their hard work.

Friday, March 25, 2011

today's funny

I don't know about you, but next time I need an apartment, I'm going with T & A!

(insert plethora of tasteless dirty jokes here!)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Staycation Day 6 of 9: play date with Jodie and Ava!

Today I didn't have any plans so I got to travel over the bridge to Brooklyn to see my dear friend Jodie and her adorable little Ava. This is the full series for those of you that know this precious bundle of cuteness. The wind was howling but the sunshine felt pretty good!

As you can probably tell she is a full-on babbling riggle of a thing, and we couldn't have been having any more fun.

The word of the day: "cozy"
We were sorry that Dave and Krissy weren't with us, but we will organize another session soon, promise.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Staycation Day 5 of 9: Museum of Natural History

This week I am off from work and very much enjoying a "staycation". After a delicious lunch today at a fabulous apartment belonging to one of my volunteers on the Upper West Side, complete with a few lovely lunchtime beverages, I decided to hop off the downtown train at 81st Street and revisit one of my most favorite places from my youth, the American Museum of Natural History. Without question the Museum of Natural History with it's timeless exhibitions and halls of knowledge would be a major influence in my choosing to study anthropology and art, installation and curation. Part of the reason for this spontaneous vacation was to find, or refind perhaps, inspiration. I've been feeling really burned out on life and work and the routine. I needed to remember fun and purpose and creativity. I needed to see something new, or at least in a different light. So, I figured why not go to the source...
These are just crappy pics I shot on my iPhone, but if you have ever been then hopefully they will spark some memories.
The dioramas...

The statuary of early Central America...

Still love the totem poles...

A perfect way to spend a rainy Wednesday. Eventually the mobs of people would get to me and I'd run away, but invigorated and with a smile, no doubt.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Snake's America (afterstudy, 1999)

Snake's America (afterstudy, 1999)
watercolor and photocopy on paper
6.5" x 10"

once upon a time when living in Colorado I created a series of prints, a woodcut and photo lithography combo of sorts called "Snake's America". this is a remnant scrap from those days I've been carrying around ever since, now finally affixed in the latest collage book

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Plant ID: Iris reticulata (cultivars)

Some of the earliest Iris that I know of here in the New York metropolitan area have just come up in the last couple weeks. These are different cultivars of Iris reticulata, a sensational early spring bloomer.
Weighing in at only 4-6" tall I see people miss these all the time but if you get down to their level you quickly realize they really pack quite a punch. Of course they still have that quintessential Iris flower with their upright standard and down-turned falls. And look at this guy with his deep purple and yellow-orange throat. Oh, fuggeddaboudit!

Iris like a whole variety of conditions based on the species and type of Iris, but these guys love a sunny spot with a decent amount of organics and drainage.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Saturday morning on the turntable

Waking up, realizing I have the next nine days off. Planning adventures to inspire, things to create, and waiting for FedEx to deliver my new 4/3 O'neill wetsuit and booties for spring. All good things to come.

Bright sunny morning, windows open, breeze billows, you don't get much better than this.

"...this ain't no party,
this ain't no disco,
this ain't no fooling around..."

Talking Heads with "Life During Wartime"
off the album Fear of Music
(Eno/Talking Heads, Sire Records, 1979)

Friday, March 18, 2011

my kind of Friday open for the first time, great breeze through the new place, home with tons of sun still in the sky, and realizing this is the start of nine days off, yup, my kind of Friday...

Petasites flower revisited

I recently posted pictures of the Petasites japonicus in flower. Well, this is the same guy about 10 days later. The shot is a little washed out because I took it after a long sunny day but still you can see the fully developed flower in all it's whacky botanical glory.
Like the old shots you can see the many clusters of stamens, the male reproductive organs of the flower, complete with their anthers full of pollen. But now you can also see what I am guessing to be the top of the pistil, the female reproductive part of the flower. See the white hole in the center? I would bet that if we dissected this flower we would see that the opening there is what botanists call the stigma, the uppermost portion of the pistil. Basically what happens is pollen enters at the stigma and travels down the style to the flower's ovary, where pollination leads to reproduction and creation of seed.
A flower that has both male and female reproductive organs is considered a perfect flower in botany terms. Pretty amazing sexual creatures if you ask me. ooh wee!

Here's your botany refresher for the day. Now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

favorite new album

I highly recommend checking out "Civilian" by Wye Oak (Merge Records, 2011). killer vocals and distortiony guitar and heavy tones and so much more....

Of course a major thanks to Other Music for their awesome emails keeping me up to date on all these clever kids!

Monday, March 14, 2011

In Bloom: Petasites!

The fabulous, huge-leafed perennial above to the left side of the ferns and Caladium 'Aaron' is a creature called Petasites japonicus, commonly known as the Japanese butterbur. This shot I took last June when the leaves, considered giant compared to our temperate northeastern perennial palette, are looking their best, growing 2-3 feet in diameter atop straight, textured stems 3-4 feet in height. However, the leaves of this sun-to-shade tolerant, wet ground lover won't be out for months still so it was furthest from my mind when recently I came across this little find and wondered what it was.

For me the amazing thing about horticulture is that you are always learning and discovering new things about the natural world. Even in the same garden every year you are going to discover new aspects to plants you didn't realize before. So I was looking at these crazy cabbagey looking things for a while before a coworker pointed out the obvious, that they were the flowers of the Petasites.

For years I would include the butterbur on garden tours because people would always be so happily surprised that such a large flowered beast was truly perennial for us here in lower New York. I would show people the raised enclosed bed in which this stand is planted, showing them the natural wet seep that feeds the area it's constant moisture and the benefit to keeping the plant enclosed since it can easily run amok if not hemmed in by a formidable barrier. Inevitably a few would ask the one question I didn't completely know the answer to and I'd try and hide the cringe. "Does it flower?"
Being an angiosperm, I knew the plant by definition did flower but I had to admit I had never seen it, and only knew the plant for it's stunning foliage display. Luckily now I can say that I have, and though not what you might expect, they are a real sight to behold. Here's the gratuitous macro "hort porn" close up. What a cool looking thing indeed - click to enlarge!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Plant of the Week: black pussy willow

I've worked in close proximity to this plant for years but not until this spring did I realize the subtle fabulousness of the black pussy willow. These photographs were taken late February, and you can see above the black catkins just emerging from their protective winter shells.
Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys', or Salix melanostachys as some refer to it, is a sunny, water-loving shrub that doesn't get to much more than 6-10'. In the landscape I have found it to have a low, spreading habit that looks attractive incorporated into a slope or woodland setting. The species is introduced from Asia and is a healthy grower, but I think it is pretty easy to keep in bounds with regular pruning. As you can see above it doesn't instantly draw your eye to it this time of year but once you get a bit closer you realize what you are looking at.
A sturdy filler in the landscape for sure, the real draw of course is it's unusual late winter gift of these fuzzy black pussy willows. What we call pussy willows are the catkins of shrubs in the Salix or willow family, Salicaceae. A catkin is an inflorescence of flowers, meaning many many flowers grouped together to appear like a single entity. Yet it is pretty fair to say that catkins don't look much like flowers at all since they are much more utilitarian and lack showy petals which most people associate with flowers. Instead what you have are a bunch of "apetalous" flowers that bunched together look like this.
In the case of Salix gracilistyla 'Melanostachys', these male catkins emerge and remain as these fun black pussy willows for a period of a few weeks. Then as all pussy willows do, they change form. If you have ever brought pussy willows into your home to put in a vase or arrangement you were probably originally surprised that they didn't remain those cute little fuzzy treats. That's because most pussy willows are cut and sold before the flowers fully develop.
Here you see what the black pussy willow looks like once the male flowers have opened exposing their yellow pollen-tipped stamens. This was forced inside my office for the purposes of the blog and supposedly the ones still outside opening up will have a little more of a red hint to go along with the yellow. Either way I think they are great looking and quite unique.
Thanks to Dirr's "Manual of Woody Landscape Plants" (Fifth Edition) and "Flora: A Gardener's Encyclopedia" for factoid confirmation

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Crocus begin

Waiting for the sunlight and warmth to open for business...

Now we're talking!
The genus Crocus:
-80 or so species of small, herbaceous perennials
-members of the iris family, Iridaceae
-native in habitats from sea level to subalpine throughout regions of Europe, Africa, and Asia
-all grow via subterranean corms
-majority of species only grow 4-6" tall
-hardiness varies by species, but very generally hardy in Zones 5-9

(Flora: A gardener's Encyclopedia, Timber Press, 2004)

Friday, March 4, 2011

No drug trafficing

I love "no drug trafficing". Because, you know, the junkies in the 'hood are very respectful of the local misspelled signage. Love NYC.

subway daydreaming

"Someone else's day,
Someone else's door,
There's a girl with cherry chapstick on and nothing more..."
-Yo La Tengo

The song is Cherry Chapstick off the album "And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out", and if you don't own it you probably ought to. Also check out the song Let's Save Tony Orlando's House. ...genius.

The image: Montauk, NY, where I'd rather be this morning.