Saturday, May 21, 2016

A time to plant... a time to... so? #phenology

The failed germination of butterfly-weed seeds has been redeemed by a dozen purchased seedlings and augmented by a couple of whorled milkweed plant clusters. I can't bring myself to spray deer repellent on seedlings so we'll take our chances for at least a few weeks.

Butterfly-weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Photo by J. Harrington

The vendors at Chisago City Farmers Market didn't have any butterfly-weed plants, nor did Alternative Landscapes. Prairie Restoration in Scandia had a few flats of seedlings that are maybe a couple of weeks old. Now that a double handful or so have been planted, we can consider the forecast for rain next week a promise rather than a threat. I'm really looking forward to seeing splashes of bright orange later this year or next.

Hoary Puccoon (Lithospermum canescens)
Photo by J. Harrington

While transplanting the last few butterfly-weed seedlings, I noticed that the native hoary puccoon is starting to show streaks of yellow. There are also some other interesting looking plants on the sidehill where we installed the "monarch garden" but I'll have to wait to see what, if any, flowers emerge before I try to identify them. I struggle to name most wildflowers while they are flowering, let alone when I'm looking at only stalks and leaves. Beardtongue, yes, because I've seen it in all seasons for several years now. Dandelions too, because I've see them just about all my life. There are a few on the list, and each year I get to add one or two, just like most years we find one or two more "hot spots" for seeing Spring ephemerals. Learning about and planting wildflowers helps temper my long-standing goal orientation with unaccustomed patience. I can't learn it all at once from books and I can't make plants flower where and when I want them too. I can read more of Kay Ryan's poetry.


Kay Ryan, 1945

Patience is
wider than one
once envisioned,
with ribbons
of rivers
and distant 
ranges and 
tasks undertaken
and finished
with modest 
relish by
natives in their 
native dress.
Who would 
have guessed
it possible 
that waiting
is sustainable—
a place with 
its own harvests.
Or that in 
time’s fullness
the diamonds 
of patience
couldn’t be 
from the genuine 
in brilliance
or hardness.

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