Token token token

For the sake of it, I did a few pictures today, and if you know anything about my writing style, you’ll notice that I did not say, “images” – this says something on its own. While signs of spring have been popping up here and there, indicating that the plants, at least, think it’s about time, we’re about to undergo a drastic drop in temperature tonight (like, down to about -7°c, and yes that’s a negative symbol) and they’re about to learn their lessons. That’s what you get for not having a brain stem.

About a week ago, I found several green treefrogs (Hyla cinerea) out in the evening, because it was warm enough, and I was trusting them to figure out that it wasn’t going to remain that way. However, today I found one submerged in a watering can which had to be around 5°c, and I knew the small amount of water would likely freeze solid tonight. I fished the frog out and popped it into the greenhouse, which has a heater to keep it above 12°.

green treefrog Hyla cinerea relocated to greenhouse
I know it has at least two companions in there, and plenty of hidey-holes, so it should be fine – much better than outside, anyway, and way better than a watering can. Meanwhile, another that I found in one of the downspouts is going to have to figure things out on its own.

The various plants in the greenhouse have been expressing their approval in the usual manner, and it’s closing in on summer to them I think. Most of the Japanese maples have already leafed out thoroughly, while the trumpet flowers are ready to take over. One of those did not get cut back at all last year because it never quite thrived, so we simply moved it into the greenhouse before the temperatures dropped too far, but the other two were completely cut back, as you’re supposed to, and are already becoming small trees.

greenhouse stuffed and thriving
So you know, it’s only a two-meter-square greenhouse, and I can walk upright down the center under the roof peak but not anywhere else. The big leaves to the left are from the uncut trumpet, which has now produced a flower bud, while the big leaves in lower center are from the cut ones – you can see two new ones sprouted from cuttings on the shelves in the back. The other things taking over from the left are two Japanese maples, with smaller ones down low to the right. While it might seem that my organizing skills need work, south is to the right, so the sunlight all comes in on that side during the winter, and the taller trees are positioned not to block it from the smaller plants, so there.

Let’s have a closer look at something down there.

Japanese maple leafing out like a bastard
Flanked by some of the sprouting flowers (violets?) that had started outdoors but got moved in just now due to the freeze warning, the centerpiece of the frame is some variety of Japanese maple that The Girlfriend got last year, something almost like a bonsai maple. It had the thickest canopy that I’ve seen any plant produce, literally impenetrable to the eye, while not being a meter high or wide. It’s been busting out this year.

Japanese maple in new leaf detail
I know that as they mature, these leaves are going to become a uniform, rich kelly green, so I wanted to record them now in this color variation. Unlike some of the other varieties, these did not turn a cool color in the fall, just becoming brown after hanging on for a long time, but their spring display (which we’re seeing for the first time) makes up for it.

[You may well be asking what varieties these all are, and I don’t know that off the top of my head – someplace around here we have the records, and I’ll have to dig them out sometime.]

In the chive planter outdoors, some moss has started invading, and I noticed in passing today that it appeared to be ‘seeding out,’ or whatever it is that moss does, so I did a few shots while the camera was in hand.

moss in 'seed' mode perhaps
Honestly, I don’t know how moss propagates, and I can’t be arsed to look it up, but I figure I’ll let you see it for yourself anyway. It was curious enough that I got out the reversed Sigma 28-105 for a detailed look.

'seed' pods of moss, maybe, I don't know
It had rained much earlier, but I don’t think that’s water on top, but the splitting outer ‘sheath.’ Whatever – just look. There are other places for the educational aspect.

I also noticed, in passing, that a squirrel (probably) had found one of the Chinese mantis egg cases that I’d placed.

squirrel damage
If you’re not seeing the egg cases, well, yeah, that’s the point: the little bastard had eaten it, or carried it away, leaving behind the string that I tied it to my support branch with. I probably should have put this up higher, but this prompted me to go around to all the others and treat the branches, above and below, with deer repellent. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it’s worth a try.

[This was a homebrewed recipe, by the way, found online, and it worked wonders for the deer last year. They were very fond of the ornamental sweet potato vines that we’d plant out front alongside the porch, considering it like candy, but an application of the repellent was enough to break them entirely of that habit. It washes away of course, and needs to be reapplied after a rain, but even when I was a bit slow in doing so, the deer were avoiding the plants after their first encounter, so it’s apparently rank enough to be memorable. I don’t know if it’s a bad thing for the mantis eggs, though, so I’m taking care not to apply it directly to them, just close enough to hopefully disgust the squirrels. It’s got garlic and hot sauce and oil soap in it, nothing too caustic I don’t think, but who knows what the oil soap would do?]

Several plants around the yard are showing their spring blooms, with one tree out back already past blooming and into seeding – these look like samaras so I’m pegging this as likely a maple of some kind but it was here when we got here and I never tried to identify it.

likely samaras seeds of some local variety of maple tree
Many of the former blossoms already litter the yard in places, and the rose bushes out front are kicking it too. My almond tree is leafing out enthusiastically, which is good to see after a couple of years of slow response.

almond tree leafing out
I just checked: it’s actually ten years old this year, so not too bad for something that started in a compost pile, though I kind of expected it to be a bit bigger by now – it still only stands a meter or so tall, though it’s branched out well enough. The big question, of course, is what is tonight’s freeze going to do to all of these early bloomers, which is why I spent a little time to go around and get a few pics. We’ll see. We’ll also see if I get motivated to do some more cold weather experiments tonight.