What’s a Weed?

Taraxacum officinale Dandilion @DBG LAH 001

A weed is…

I subscribe to a variety of online gardening groups, mostly on Facebook. Lately there has been a lot of ranting discussion about whether or not dandelions are weeds. On the one hand, various gardeners are asking for help controlling dandelions in their lawns and gardens, often to please a landlord. On the other hand, various opinionated persons climb onto their soapboxes and extol the virtues of dandelion leaves, wine, and bee-friendly flowers, chastising anyone who would dare to disagree. Continue reading “What’s a Weed?”

Limpkin

Limpkin_HernandoCo-FL_LAH_7709The answer to last week’s quiz is… Limpkin. Did you recognize it? I almost didn’t!

Here in the US, Limpkins are only found in Florida, although their range extends well into South America. It’s quite a plain bird, dressed mostly in brown with a few white spots, with a long, orange beak. Limpkins are so unlike other birds, this one species has its own family, Aramidae. It’s in the order Gruiformes, where you’ll also find rails and cranes.

In the Caribbean, Limpkins hang out in dry brushy areas. You can find them in the mountains of Mexico and Central America. Those in Florida, however, are normally found in freshwater wetlands. That’s because the Florida birds dine almost exclusively on apple snails, a very large species that lives in fresh water.

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Annuals for Bouquets

Narcissus_Daffodils_Seattle-WA_LAH_9750.nef

Every year in early  March, Pete and I discover a FedEx package on our front porch. It typically arrives on a cold and blustery, perhaps snowy, day. It may be winter outside, but I know that spring will be found inside that box. I run downstairs, grab a large vase, and rush back to the kitchen, where I fill the vase with warm water. I eagerly tear open the package. Then, carefully extracting the bundles of flowers from the box, and sliding the rubber bands off to separate them, I snip off the ends of each stem with a pair of kitchen scissors  and arrange the as yet unopened daffodils in the vase. Thanks to some wonderful friends, over the next week or so, cheerful yellow flowers will provide the perfect antidote for Colorado’s late springs.

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Cool Beans

When we think of legumes, we think of peas and beans, but those common foods are just the beginning. The pea family (Fabaceae or Leguminosae) is the third largest family of plants, with somewhere between 13,000 and 19,000 species (botanists disagree) that range from large trees to sprawling vines to shrubs and small forbs. They may look quite different from one another, but a careful examination will reveal a number of similarities, making the members of this fascinating family fairly easy to identify.

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