11/29/2005

Botanical Therapy and the Blue Fern


It's the time of year you might be suffering from gardening withdrawal. The solution? Treat yourself to a tropical plant. While an orchid or palm might not seem so exotic sitting in the warm glow of Home Depot, most indoor plants are native to the tropical rainforest. Take one home and indulge in botanical therapy:

1. Select your tropical plant, like the blue fern (Selaginella Uncinata) pictured here.
2. Stare at your houseplant for a moment and imagine yourself in its native habitat.
3. Take a breath of that refreshing dirt scent.
4. Cough as needed.

Do you feel relaxed and renewed?

You can also see pictures of a blogger visiting the rainforest at http://bengarland.com/

11/23/2005

Thanksgiving is about Gardening

As you sit down to your traditional Thanksgiving meal this holiday, remember to thank the Native Americans for sharing their gardening techniques. When the Pilgrims were starving and their crops continued to fail, the Wampanoag tribe taught the settlers some important gardening tips.

According to legend, Squanto taught the pilgrims to bury fish with the corn to serve as fertilizer. Today, you can still buy fish fertilizer to give your plants a boost.

The Pilgrams learned about other plants besides corn, too. Beans and squash were other important crops grown by the tribe. Native Americans also taught the Pilgrims about the power of other native plants, like poisonous and medical plants. If it wasn't for the Native Americans, the Pilgrams might have tossed some poison ivy in the first Thanksgiving salad. Ouch.

And the Native Americans also helped the first settlers get their sugar fix. Before candy corn was invented, maple syrup canday was the ultimate fall treat. Native Americans invented the process to get sap from maple trees.

Thank goodness for all those amazing plants native to the Americas! Today is a good day to thank your plants by treating them to a feast of MiracleGrow. So go be like Squanto and fertilize your garden.

11/20/2005

Carnivorous Plant Clean-up

Now that the outdoor gardening season is wrapping up, it's time for focusing on my indoor plants. I'm ashamed to admit that my indoor carnivorous plants were living in the slums over the summer. But they are native to bogs and swamps, so a little bit of dirt and slime can't bother them, right?

You can all about carnivorous plants in the Carnivorous Plants FAQ.
The on-line store Saccenia Northwest also has good tips for growing outdoor carnivorous plants.
And check out The Bog Blog for the adventures of a "Carnivorous Plantling".

11/19/2005

Forcing bulbs

Well you know it's love when your hubby cleans out the fridge completely and doesn't even mention the six pots of dirt and bulbs in the bottom drawer.

Now's the time to start thinking ahead for an indoor display of flowers in February. I've potted up some pink Hyancinths and little daffodils (Narcissi), since I've seen them work well before.

There are step-by-step instructions at the Clemson University Extension Service

More South Carolina butterflies




See the butterfly? See the flower? See the butterfly eat at the flower? Eat butterfly eat.

I'd planned to identify these guys by species, but since next week we're starting the taxonomy unit, this no longer seems fun at the moment. After Thanksgiving break, I will begin discussing such exhilarating topics as the classification of earthworms (Phylum annelid, in case you were curious). Well I have a great picture of two earthworms mating, so that should spice things up. Worm Porn! While discussing earthworms, I also get to use the word hermaphrodite, which always seems to fascinate students.

Another fabulous and kinky botanical fact-- "gymnosperm" (the group that includes pine trees) means "naked seed" since they don't have fruits to protect their seeds . The word "Gymnasium" also comes from the same root word- "A place to be naked". Remember how the Greeks used to do the Olympics in the nude?

These are the fun things you end up thinking about after you've earned a double masters in English and Botany.

11/18/2005

RIP impatiens


It finally went below freezing last night, so these guys aren't looking so perky anymore.