The birds and the bees revisited

June 24, 2014

Most of us think flowers are pretty just in order to decorate the world. Wrong! Flowers are pretty so that they can procreate, so they can have babies and make more flowers.

Beauty creates sexual attraction in flowers as well as in human beings. We think we are alone in the ability to appreciate beauty. Wrong again! The birds and even the lowly insects, the targets of fly swatters, have an eye for color, pattern, shapes, movement, smells and all things that we attribute to the term “beautiful.”

Plants reproduce in two ways: by wind and by pollinators. Wind-pollinated flowers are plain, like grains of grass. They start out pale green and turn to a very bland hay color when ripe. We don’t pick them and put them in vases, and bugs don’t like them either. What these flowers like is wind, wind that blows their pollen around and doesn’t care what they look or smell like. These plain flowers don’t waste any effort trying to be beautiful.

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Oh, to be an English gardener

May 27, 2014

MasterGardenLogo 2013 copyEnglish gardeners are really something. They know intricate little secrets that we wouldn’t even dream of.

Years and years of trial and error have taught them what works, and it seems to work on all levels, not just aesthetics. English gardens seem to make plants, animals, good insects and Mother Nature all smile in appreciation.

For example, they might plant early daffodils under a Corylopsis bush. Why? There are many reasons, and these are a few: First, the Corylopsis will keep frost off the ground when the daffodils are trying to bloom. Second, the shrub allows plenty of sun on the daffodils with its sparse branching and bare limbs in winter. And finally, the shrub leafs out and spares us the indignity of looking at the old, dead and dying leaves of the daffodils.

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We are the best

February 18, 2014

Not only do we Western Washingtonians have the best football team in the country, but we have many great Olympians as well.

It bowls me over to hear about our Northwest contribution to the rest of the country, not just in sports but also in health care, technology and aeronautics. Our unemployment isn’t too high, and our economy seems to be bubbling along. On top of that, to the chagrin of everybody else, we just happen to have the best climate in the continental United States. Shh! It’s a secret. Everybody else thinks it rains all the time, so let’s keep it that way.

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What happened to the rain?

July 16, 2013

For the first time in many years, we had nice, dry weather in June when the sun was at its highest and the days were the longest of the year. That means we had more early heat, and crops west of the Cascades got a big boost. We can all celebrate by consuming tons of strawberries.

Early, dry weather may be good for crops and farmers, but it could mean stress for some of your garden plants. If your plants look bad, and you wonder if water is the problem, check out the following symptoms:

  • Fruits are different sizes
  • Stunted plants

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