No show-snow (Photo credit - Rob Normandeau)
Last night, I had what should have been a lovely dream: I went outside into my flowerbeds and all of my spring-flowering bulbs were up and growing like crazy. That would be super – in April or May. But it’s the first week of February, and I’m actually very fearful that it’s going to happen – high winds and unseasonably warm temperatures have completely eliminated what little snowcover we had, and the beds have been exposed for most of the winter. I swear when I walked outside yesterday afternoon I could smell the earthy scent of spring thaw – even though our local version of a “groundhog,” a Richardson’s ground squirrel named Balzac Billy, declared that we were up for another 6 weeks of winter. (You can see Balzac Billy in all of his…um…ground squirrelly splendour here). Oh well, I shouldn’t complain, really. We’ll get our “winter” in March, guaranteed, with a ton of snow and cold, and then everyone can laugh at me and say “I told you so.”
In the meantime, while I fret about my plants, you can peruse some Flowery Blurbs:
This is gonna be one popular poplar
Watch for a new poplar to be the “it” tree in a nursery near you (well, if you live in Canada, that is): the hybrid AC Sundancer is the recent creation of the Agroforestry Development Centre (part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada), and it comes with big promises! AC Sundancer is everything traditional poplars aren’t: relatively slow-growing (so it doesn’t shoot up and then die in a few decades), compact in size, disease resistant, lacking seeds, and – this is the best part – possessing a controlled root system. No more cracked foundations and split sewer lines, no more poplar stigma! Check out the bulletin here.
And the winner is….
For the past few years, the Calgary Horticultural Society has taken to declaring its own “Perennial Plant of the Year.” I like the idea of selecting a zone 3 hardy plant because quite often the Perennial Plant of the Year chosen by the Perennial Plant Association isn’t appropriate for our particular climate. (See my previous post, Flowery Blurbs, Volume One, for information about the 2012 PPA PPOTY. It’s actually a zone 3 plant this year!). The CHS has announced that this year’s chosen one is Helenium autumnale ‘Mardi Gras’ (sneezeweed or Helen’s flower), a cheerful and hardy member of the Asteraceae family. See a photo of the summer beauty here.
Vertical farming viewpoint
Although this article was written in 2010, I just happened across it the other day, and I thought it offered another interesting perspective on the viability of vertical farms. See the write-up in The Economist here.
Streaming plant ID
Finally, if you want to spend an hour and a half on a basic botany lesson, you may want to check out Olds College instructor Annelise Doolaege’s talk on UStream. She also discusses plant keys and how to use them in the field, and gives a brief photo tour of wildflowers found in central and southern Alberta, including the Rocky Mountains. Doolaege’s talk is the first in a series to be offered over the next few months, as a teaser for the college’s annual Hort Week festivities. Find the link to the lecture here.