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Posts Tagged ‘Tree’


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

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  Well, for some strange reason, I had just about finished my blog and suddenly, I magically deleted absolutely everything that I’d written from this afternoon.  It happened so quickly ..one moment I was tidying up the sentences and the next, somehow I hit the crazy combination of key strokes that blocked and deleted absolutely everything that I’d written.

And no matter what action I followed thereafter, those words were gone.

Sigh.

To recap what I’d written:  Yesterday started out overcast .. then the rains came.

Followed by the sun.  I was going to go for a walk .. and then the winds came.

So I stayed inside.

Went outside later, with newly awakened eyes (recent outdoor pruning session) I noticed the mis-shaped tree pruning that had been done years ago.  A co-worker’s father loved pruning, so I hired him. Turns out that he had the killer instinct.  And actually caused our lovely peach tree, carefully trimmed and wired at the side of the house .. to die .. a slow death .. how sad.

And as I walked around the trees in the yard, I saw the results of the destruction that he’d caused so many years ago.  Some very bad branch butchering.  sigh.

Costly lesson that was.

Anyway, on to better subjects.  In our gardening course, class participants mixed up our first ever EM (effective microorganisms) a few weeks ago.  We all waited patiently for the mixture to mature, carefully nurturing our bottles, burping them when necessary.

And yesterday was the time for me to start using my bottle.  Carefully added the EM with water and applied to the household plants.  And added some to kitty kats water bowls.

How exciting is this.

I’ll be mixing up another batch, this time adding glacial rock powder, kelp liquid, along with some of the mother EM and some organic molasses.  I plan to treat our trees, bushes, plants, lawn .. with the EM.  I’ll take some before and after pictures to show the results and will post them.

Oh, yes.

Anyway .. .short and sweet and nighty night to all!

🙂

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Monday, March 5, 2012

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My, how this month is moving right along .. .seems like we were just dealing with a mid-January snow.  And then I started my organic master gardening course and now there are only a few sessions left .. sob!

It’s been a terrific experience to be learning again, especially about my most favourite subject, gardening!  And to do so in the presence of other like-minded people.

We had our outdoor pruning session on the weekend and were very fortunate to have been able to walk around the teaching grounds of Royal Roads.  We learned the proper method of sharpening pruners and shears.  How to maintain them, what to look out for when choosing quality tools.  Safety was emphasized.  Quite an intensive learning period at the beginning or our outdoor session.

Next we followed our instructor, a Certified Arborist, as he led us to a variety of trees, bushes and plants.   Explaining and discussing proper pruning methods.  Espalier.  Fruits.  How to determine how and why to prune branches, especially fruit trees.  And roses.  Climbing and bush. 

We saw pollarded willows .. here’s a link with some information on pollarded willows:  http://www.bluestem.ca/willows-pruning.htm

There was a hollow tree, part of it’s trunk filled with concrete, a dangerous practise from the past, when the trunk heals over, it’s not evident that the cement is there and is a dangerous situation when the trees are later  cut down .. here’s a site on that:http://www.ces.ncsu.edu/depts/hort/consumer/factsheets/trees-new/text/hollow_trees.html

White Mulberry tree .. used extensively in China, by the silkwork industry .. and here is a link to the tree, and this shows that this tree is causing problems in Southern Ontario, where it is blending with the native Red Mulberry trees: http://www.treecanada.ca/tree-killers/white-mulberry.htm  see the section: “impact on trees”.

So I took copious notes and was able to translate 99% of them.  So very much information given to us during this session.  And of course, I had to take photos .. who knows when I’ll have the opportunity to walk those grounds again!

Here’s a happy little thing that happened to me last week!  A reminder of the serendipity of everyday life and a reminder that strangers can be kind.

I was shopping at a local supermarket and had cut my hand on a cardboard box.  No bandaids on me so I wrapped a tissue around my hand.  When I reached the cashier, I asked if she would happen to have a band-aid.  No .. sorry … she replied .. when, quick as a flash, the young man standing next to me in line swiftly brought out a bandaid that he had stored in his wallet!

Well, I was taken aback by the sheer surprise of that happening!  I thanked him very much and decided that immediately after I took my groceries to the car, the next thing I’d do would be to buy a box of bandaids, which I did!  And put some right away in my wallet.

And on the weekend, while chatting with friends, someone cut their hand .. and guess what!  I swiftly brought out my wallet and handed him a bandaid!  And, yes, he is going to get some bandaids for his wallet! 

This is how kindness spreads.  Starts small.  And continues.

Well .. it was a great weekend.  Not much gardening done.  But that’s ok.   once the rains clear up I can go outside and dig and plant and all kinds of fun gardening type activities.

First of all, I am going to empty my 3 composter bins and then I will start the process of properly layering them in, as I have learned from our mulching class.  Using hay, or goat manure/hay mix, kelp, seaweed, vegetable waste, cardboard, glacial rock dust, on and on.  So the lovely microbes can grow and prosper and properly break down the compost.

Then … well, there are a myriad other projects for outside .. part of the joy of gardening.

🙂

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Friday, February 24, 2012

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Thursday was a mixed bag of weather .. .sunshine .. clouds.

After morning chores completed, decided to go for a brief walk … which lasted about two hours!  Started out towards Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary .. .it’s been awhile since my feet walked along those trails.

Pure bliss to be there …. seeing the new spring growth of leaves on trees and bushes as all plant life prepares for a new season.  Listening to the breeze rustling the dry marsh grasses .. music to my ears.  Stopped to look at the slim thread of water trickling through the mix of dried and emerging stems of grasses.

Not many birds out when I was there.  Thought back to my lucky encounters a few weeks ago .. when I saw my first Cedar Waxwings and then the Northern Shovellers … such beautiful winged beings.

Saw .. and heard .. some Marsh wrens calling out.  And some Red Winged Blackbirds singing away.  At the smaller observatory I chanced upon some Mallards .. they were very cautious though .. and I understood why later on.

I pulled out a bag of flatted oats and scattered them onto the surface of the lake … one little Mallard swam over.   Followed by a female .. then more and more and finally there were about 10.   Scattered more oats on the surface boards and them some on the side marsh ..

Continued on my walk.  Noticed new signage showing the latest improvements to the Sanctuary .. growing specific plants/trees to attract a wider variety of birds and animals.

Looked way up and sure enough .. at the top of the flat-topped tree . .there was one of the resident eagles.  They’ve been favouring this tree since for years now .. I used to spend so much time watching them over the years . .even lucky enough to see part of their mating ritual.  I was in the backyard and just happened to look up to see them, talons intertwined as they tumbled through the sky .. remember to look up .. .there is so much going on.

Well, this year they have attained the mark of maturity, with their white heads and tail feathers .. wonder if they will nest in that tree?

Anyway, their presence explains the absence of bird activity.

Time to visit Orr’s Butchers for more of Farmer Ben’s eggs … and then some grocery shopping.   And then .. the long walk homewards with a heavy Thrifty’s shopping bag.  I decided to ignore the hefty weight .. I’d soon be home!

Returned via the Sanctuary .. one more opportunity to walk in nature … all birds, ducks are well hidden away.

As I made my way home .. enjoying the beauty of the day .. kept looking up to the sky .. but no aerial activity.  And .. soon I was home .. groceries put away.  Kitties fed.  Ole Toshiba turned on … spent a few hours lost in the worlds of gardening and re-trying the online quizzes of Gaia.

Then I allowed myself to enjoy the wonderful world of gardening outside .. sheer bliss.  And a bit sad, also.  My gardening world has turned all topsy-turvy with the new learning.  As I stood and looked at my leaf mulch pile .. I thought of how my focus has changed.

Where once I truly believed that oak leaves were the be-all and end-all of gardening .. now I realize that, although they do serve well as mulch to retain water for landscaping purposes .. they are not the cure-all that I thought they were.  That because the centre of a pile gets to be “smoking hot” .. that feature isn’t conducive to supporting healthy microbes in the soil.

I quickly fill containers with the mulch and sidedress the trees and plants along the fence .. this does dress up the areas.  Just a few months ago I was saddened at the thought of not having enough .. now I just want to disperse it all around the yard.

It’s not that it’s a bad thing .. just not quite the thing for my veggie garden.

Worked away, not conscious of time .. till DH arrives home .. and surprises me with a mug of Yorkshire Tea!  Yea, time for a Sudoku break and a quick look through some stone landscaping books (treasures from the “Friends of the Library” book sale.

Enjoy the brief break and then .. ta da .. back to the garden.  More shovelling, moving, planning, dreaming.

Another lovely day ….

🙂

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Tuesday, January 23, 2011

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So .. yesterday I finished putting away my latest book acquisitions and found another bag that I’d missed!  Here were some treasures!  A few books on glass painting (how timely);  one on stonework and another on brickwork .. in the garden!   And I actually took the time to open them up and look through them.  Excited about the  many ideas now for this spring and summer!

And then today, I was taking little Youbou for his acupuncture treatment, and what did I find tucked away behind the front seat!   Another crafty one “How to Build with Bamboo” .. 19 projects.  Some easy crafts in that one.

The weather has been rather a mixed assortment today.  Already there has been rain, overcast skies!  Sunny skies, followed by overcast.  With a dash of wind thrown in.

Nevertheless .. I’ve gathered an assortment of wood and will shortly go outside to attempt some temporary repairs to our little fence .. the section with the loose and fallen boards.   Really looking forward to new panels replacing the older sections.

I’ve planted rather a large assortment of plants along all of the fence, trying to create a nice deep garden in some areas.   And there are a lot of bulbs intermixed with the perennials, so I’ll have to make some colourful markings so that they won’t be stepped on.

There are some cedars that I planted a few years ago .. .after hand digging a nice deep trench for them .. and placing them a few feet apart, so they will eventually grow into a solid green “fencing”.   When I look at these, I remember my travels, many many years ago .. I was invited to stay at a lady’s home for several days.   And I remember looking out the kitchen window, they had a beautiful tall, solid wall of green cedars totally encircling their yard.  They loved it and so did I.

Such privacy and greenness!  It took quite a few years for the trees to have grown so high and I know that ours will eventually grow and fill out.  I think that they will make a strong growth spurt this year.  And it will be time to trip a few inches off the top so that they will fill out more .. the growth will expand to the side branches.

The joy of gardening lies in the adventures of growing, propagating, and the energizing aspects of all plant life.  Even weeds have their place.  Which reminds me of a CityLine show from last week.  Three Greek sisters were cooking greens (which they highly recommend every day) .. and saying (true) that we don’t eat enough greens.  They even cooked dandelion greens .. ok, that I’ve heard of, but have not tried.  The greens that they cook were huge, they resembled lettuce heads, I swear!   And, no pesticides were used (Ontario) so they were safe to eat.

I must say the few times I’ve prepared greens – chopped & garlic, chopped, quickly cooked in a bit of oil, they were delicious.  Guess it’s time to start doing that again. Easy, quick and nutritious.

I found a good site on trees .. here is a most interesting site:  http://www.stumbleupon.com/su/2fZ9bg/listverse.com/2011/07/30/10-magnificent-living-trees/

Lately I’ve been paying more attention to trees, looking through my books, becoming more interested in the types available.   Reading about the incredible job they do in their growth cycle.   When I found the above extremely well written site and read the section 7 about the phenomenal root system from which grew 47,000 Quaking Aspen trees … this added fuel to my desire to learn more.

And .. learn more I shall … because tonight the Organic Master Gardening Course begins!  The snow had cancelled the first two .. so they are scheduled to start tonight.

Yippeeeeeeeeeeee ….more hours of gardening talk and learning, learning, learning.

Lovely, lovely .. lovely!

🙂

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Friday, January 13, 2011

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 Another sunny day is promised today!  With the possibility of a tiny little sprinkle of snow on the weekend.  I can handle that.

Yesterday was sunny at times .. chilly for sure.   Went outside to place the newly scrubbed bird feeder outside … and refilled all the containers.  Plus, fresh block of seed filled suet.

Glad to see that the birds are still nibbling away at the fat in the suet holders.  Not sure if I mentioned a little trick for squirrels .. something I learned in a conversation with a Thrifty’s employee, a few months back.

This lady’s grandfather used to feed the birds and the squirrels also.   For the squirrels, he would spread peanut butter between pieces of cardboard.  Then, the  clever squirrels would separate the cardboard, holding the sections in their little paws and it would look as if they were reading a book.  Sounded like a lot of fun.  And he would take photos of the little guys.

There was a fluffy grey squirrel outside, yesterday, gobbling up seeds that had fallen from the feeders.  I went outside to chase him away and he tried to camouflage himself in the tree .. hey, that didn’t work.  So then he spent time leaping from tree to tree .. seeing if I would go away, thinking he was gone.  Uh uh, mister .. so finally he gave up and ran away.

I did buy a large planter saucer that would hang beneath the bird feeder, to catch any wayward seeds.   Time to figure out how to attach that to one of the feeders.  Seems like a good project to tackle today.

Posted some pics of my lovely walks at Royal Roads and the Esquimalt Lagoon … and again I was pleased that I’d taken a wrong turn, thus discovering (for myself) those venerable old trees.  Moss laden branches .. so beautiful.

Tempting to travel out there again today .. but .. time would be better spent working on continuing to catalogue my gardening books.    I still have about three more shelves.

Still enjoying the entering of details, though, and this project allows me the opportunity to just leaf through the books.  Finding out amazing treasures .. lots of good ideas.

And I am so looking forward to starting my gardening course.  A wonderful series of time spent learning and talking about gardening.  Sheer bliss.  Plus, meeting other like-minded persons.

It feels absolutely fabulous to finally have the time to spend on my passion for working with the soil.  For so many years, I’ve taken a large quantity of my vacation credits to spend time in the  garden.  Seemed normal to me.  Now, I’ve progressed to the point where I have started my wee little gardening business.  And am adding to my gardening knowledge with classes.   It just keeps on getting better.

I must admit, when I was visiting Royal Roads, walking along a pathway alongside the Camosun Horticulture centre, seeing students digging away in a walled garden .. I felt a pang of longing to be in that course.   For many years I would have wanted that, however, it is true .. it is never too late to become the person you want to be .. or to do the things that you want.

I’m not interested in travelling the world … I like where I am.   But I am able to delve into the many layered worlds of gardening and the joys that unfold through that portal.  So for that I am eternally grateful.   And the adventures that happen along the way are treasured.

Anytime, time to get up and get going .. on this most beautiful day!  I have keyboards to tap, tickets to buy, places to go!

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

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 The weather has slowly been changing, morphing into a sort of rain.  Yesterday I was outside …watching the birds .. doing a bit of yard work .. playing around .. when the raindrops started.  Slowly at first then gradually the drops started thicker and so, time to go inside.

But not before I had time to play.  Raked up some leaves, added to my mulch pile.  Emptied one last treasured container of Miracle Mulch onto the leaves and mixed them in.

I have some artistic work to do in the upcoming months.  Some of this involves re-purposing some poor little cedar trees.  I was helping a friend with some garden cleaning up and saw these sad little trees,  Once upon a time they had been  vibrant green living plants and now, through carelessness on someone else’s part .. they became lifeless sticks.

As we were busily clipping away the brittle brown branches, I had an idea!  I could “rescue” the trunks of the trees and make garden art out of them!  So I removed the trees from their pots and transported them home, to our back yard. For now, they can stay outside .. and I tried using one as a glove rack .. just for fun.

In the upcoming months, I’ll cut them, sand the rough areas and then play around with ideas .. for picture frames, or whatever.

Enjoyed walking around the yard . .this never gets tired, ideas are always popping up.  And, now that the branches are bare .. I can see bits of “garden art” that I’ve placed on branches here and there.

Time to go in and I looked at .. and really noticed .. the two baskets of apples that I’d picked from our Macintosh tree in the back yard.   Methinks it was high time to transform these into another format before they all became ready for the compost.  It would be a shame to let these go to waste.

So up the stairs, to the kitchen and over to the counter .. was where I spent the next few hours.

Peeling, slicing and putting the apples into a bowl of lemon juice and water (to prevent them turning brown).  Soon I’d finished one basket, removed the excess water and placed them on a large cookie sheet and off to the freezer they went.

After about another hour, spent repeating the actions above, on the second basket … soon had more apples to be placed in the freezer.  Later, I placed the frozen sections in Ziploc bags, and back in the freezer for future baked desserts.

And I remembered the Dr. Oetker pie crust mix that I’d recently purchased .. so went searching in the pantry, found it!  Following the instructions .. just add water, I love it!

I rolled out the pastry into two circles.  Mixed up brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins and sliced almonds .. put a generous supply onto each circle and folded the edges towards the centre.  This is my favourite kind of pie, one crust and looks .. oh, so elegant .. for just minimal work.  Besides, two layers of pie crust is just way too much.

Cleaned up my messy work area and soon all was tidy again.

DH was very pleased and surprised with the unexpected pies!  I love surprises like this!

Anyway .. on with the garden talk:

Botany for Gardeners:  “Some of us look at plants as a source of livelihood, while others find them intriguing subjects for scientific study.  But most enjoy plants for the sheer delight of having them in their every-day surroundings, to savour the varied colours, textures, tastes and aromas that they alone can offer.  Plants stimulate the senses, give peace to the weary mind, and satisfy (wo)man’s spiritual being in search for answers to the mysteries of life.

Few gardeners share the botanist’s knowledge of plant biochemistry, anatomy, physiology and intricate reproductive systems, yet all have experienced the extraordinary satisfaction derived from growing flowers, fruits, vegetables and trees.

When we work with plants, questions about them inevitably come to mind.  what takes place inside a seed after we have set it in the ground?  How does water travel from soil to treetops? what makes a plant become bushy with repeated pruning? What controls seasonal flowering patterns?  How do plants grow, and why is light necessary to make growth happen? Over the centuries, botanists have worked to find answers to these and other problems. Slowly, plants have revealed some of their secrets.”

More later …. on with this most lovely day.

🙂

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

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Looking out the window yesterday morning .. I saw the most beautiful sky .. the final rays of an early morning sunrise .. so I just had to go outside to have a look (and take a picture)!

And so then I just had to wander around the yard.  At the front I picked up the frozen  sheet of ice that had formed on the surface of  a plant saucer.  The ice formed a perfect decorative transparent plate, enclosing a natural array of cedar & laurel leaves.  Quite beautiful.

Then I stopped to listen to one of the Anna youngsters, quite content in his little world, parents flying close by.  He’s a little chubby still and his feathers are still fairly dark.  This led me to look at their feeder, to see how much nectar was still remaining.  I’d just filled it last week, so expected it to be half empty.  Oh, no …. the container was totally empty .. those poor little birdies …

So I raced into the house, filled up the feeder (I always keep full containers in the fridge) and retraced my steps to the front cedar tree and carefully replaced  the feeder amongst the branches.

It only took a few minutes for the Anna’s to visit the feeder and start sipping away.  Whew.

Wandered around the yard, admiring our “first ever” Christmas tree .. now it’s about 30 years old.  In the summertime I’d thinned away dead branches and shovelled on two yards of Miracle Mulch around the base and surrounding area.  Now I can see lots of renewed growth in the branches and can feel the revitalization of the tree.  Yea!

I can see flowers still blooming .. happy in the milder climate of the enclosed back yard.

There are still plants to be thinned out, but this is a chore for the upcoming springtime.

Of course, I have to spend some time watching the aerial activity in the back yard.   The white-crowned sparrow is happily digging away at the mulch covered garlic bed.

The patch of seeded grass by the garlic bed  is growing quite happily.  I was slowly encroaching my garden area onto the grassy section of the yard and didn’t think that DH would notice.   However, he did and so I had to move back my garden brick border a few feet and sow grass seed.  Darn.   I’m already planning a much larger garlic bed for our next property.  And trees and mulch .. and on and on and on.  Lovely dreams.

On into the house and la dee dah .. household chores.  Then finally, time to escape outside and work away.  Yesterday I finally finished layering the mulch leaf with the Miracle Mulch.   And so now my mulch pile covers an area roughly 20 ‘ x 20’.   I stomped around on the surface of the pile, in order to compact the layers, to speed up the composting effect.

I know that after a few good rains, the heat will work up again.    Then in a month or so I’ll dig the pile up and mix up the contents again.  This worked well for me last year.

Gardening in a natural way is so very satisfying.  It’s so fulfilling to transform an area in the yard, changing the structure, creating little pockets of beauty and tranquility.  I’ve worked hard in this yard over the past number of years.   Sifting soil, turning hard clay packed areas into fertile growing spaces.  Discovering little treasures of glass (from an old glass factory that once was here), little toys and trinkets.  The odd coin.

Revelling in the beauty of sweet peas trailing up the green garden mesh.  Feeling the satisfaction of growing food in our back yard.  Excitedly attending the growth of my second crop of garlic.  Enjoying the creation of temporary garden outlines using bricks.  Changeable shapes .. the garden is not constricted by rigid borders, but can breathe and shift effortlessly.

I don’t know which area of the yard I am most proud of.   I love every transformed area.   And I’m glad that I took daily pictures so I can look back, during the chilly days of winter and relive again those hot sunny days.  When I dug and sifted and sorted.  Some garden chores that I started, gave me a bit of concern .. would I be able to change these areas into the desired results that I could see so clearly in my mind?  Well, I exceeded each and every chore.

From the former blackberry infested side yard, a place we’d never used .. I now see a most beautiful woodsy area, with circular stepping-stones creating a gentle pathway.   A generous layer of Miracle Mulch creates a soft walking surface.  Ferns and groundcovers are settling in.  Vines have been planted.  A grapevine is growing against the back gate.

The cedar tree that I’d planted many years ago is still growing, providing habitat for the birds.

And there are other areas .. by the base of the sundeck.  Where I’d tried various scenarios of plants and gravel.   This past summer saw me digging up everything that I’d planted, layering landscape fabric quite heavily and then replacing the surface gravel.  I moved these plants to the side of the house.

Next summer I’ll put potted tomatoes here, by the pathway .. the full sun will ensure a bumper crop!  And other stretches of yard in this area .. days of digging, sifting and then a thick layer of cardboard and landscape fabric was spread over the ground and gravel covers the area.  Nice and tidy.

Then I reshaped the veggie garden, using soft rounded shapes.  Planted tons of garlic!  And then my most latest garden project .. the mulch pile.  The piece de resistance … ooh, la la.

Today’s garden lore .. more from “Botany for Gardeners“:

“Since the first cells came into being millions of years ago, plants have been the connecting links in an unbroken chain of life.  It is they that have made the biosphere, the part of earth’s crust where both plants and animals exist, a vibrant and constantly changing place offering limitless opportunities for the inquiring mind to explore. ” (oh, wow, this is why I love gardening!)

“The range of uses we make of plants is as broad as our ingenuity permits.  We have exploited them for fibers to make cloth, drugs to cure a multitude of ailments, wood to construct houses, furniture and ships.  From them we have extracted raw materials to manufacture innumerable goods, including paper.

Without that latter commodity, the detailed history of our race would not have been recorded and so remembered, nor could knowledge have been so easily disseminated.  And culture, the possession of which makes humans out of animals, would never have developed beyond the basic skills and habits of primitive peoples had we not had paper on which to write music, poetry and prose.”  (more tomorrow)

from the “A – Z” .. there are rules, and, as always is the  case, there are exceptions to the rules.  There are families of names and there is listed whether the name is derived from latin (L) or Greek (Gk) or other sources. After this there is a short statement of the main use in gardens and a general guide to hardiness.  A common name is given if it is applied to the whole genus (plural genera).

If a country of origin is listed, it’s given here.  Species are listed under each genus.  Each name is followed by the suggested pronunciation, the meaning of the name, the common name (if any) and the country of origin.  If, instead of a country of origin, the abbreviation cult (cultivated) is given, this indicates this plant is known only in gardens.

And on and on.   Reading these first few pages of the book, I realize that, for me, I will need to reread this a few more times, to sort out the rules.  Then I’ll list, in point form, the rules (of which there seem to be a lot!).

Here are some terms from the Glossary:

acuminate: tapered to a long point

anther: the portion of the stamen which bears the pollen.

areole: In cacti, a cluster of sines

Auricle: an ear-like lobe

bi-pinnate: Twice pinnate, ie pinnate with the divisions pinnate.

pinna (plural pinnae): the primary division of a pinnate leaf (???? .. so, what is the description of pinnate?

Oh, why did I study French in lieu of Latin???  Well, time to get going on this one.

I went searching and found a great botanical web site which clearly shows the shape and names of various leaves:  http://www.botanical-online.com/hojastiposangles.htm

Hmmm .. think I’ll spend more time reading today!  Dreaming and planning will be part of this activity.

🙂

 

 

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