Floral notes: early January 2012.

Happy New Year from Flowery Prose!  Yesterday, I read a great quote from Marie Huston:

The gardening season officially begins on January 1st and ends on December 31.

Isn’t that so true?  While some of us can’t get out into our flowerbeds or veggie gardens right now due to the machinations of Old Man Winter, we can still grow herbs and greens on our sunny windowsills (or even entire Windowfarms™ – see link here), tend to our houseplants, and read gardening books and excitedly pore through the stacks of seed catalogues that are filling our mailboxes on an almost-daily basis.  Contrary to popular belief, there are truly no “seasons” with gardening!

This photo collection is very, very tiny

Okay, so the collection itself is actually quite massive – it’s the subjects that are extremely petite:   plants, bacterium, insects, fungi, and so on, all photographed and submitted to Nikon for their annual Small World photo competition.  Even if microscopy isn’t up your alley, you have to admire the beauty of these miniscule life-forms – and reflect upon the different ways we humans are able to view our world, if we choose to do so.  Sure, we can admire the habit and structure of a plant as a whole, but what if we just looked at the patterns of veins or stomates in a particular leaf?   Take a look at the gallery of amazing images at Nikon’s Small World Gallery 2011.

A very potato-y history lesson

We eat them nearly every day, in some form or another – next to corn, potatoes are North America’s most-consumed food crop.  While you’re delighting in that next plate of buttery garlic mash or crispy golden fries, think about this article from Charles C. Mann, found in Smithsonian magazine – it’s a fascinating account of the humble potato’s  HUGE impact on world agriculture (and culture, politics, and trade and economics).  And, then, when you’re buying your seed potatoes this spring, make sure you try out a few new varieties suitable for your growing region – don’t just get your usual types.  You may just find some new tastes that you absolutely adore!

And you think your pantry is full?

This massive squirrel midden consisting exclusively of pine cones from Picea glauca (white spruce) was showcased on UBC’s Botany Photo of the Day in November.  What I thought was interesting – besides the sheer size of this midden – was the mention that paleoecologists often use rodent middens to determine the types of plants that once lived in a given area (and maybe as an indicator as to just how industrious their creators were!).  Have you ever seen a squirrel midden when you were out on a hike?  How about one this large?


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