Clearing Up Plant Names

Six years ago, I posted an article about scientific names for plants. As I pointed out, scientific names are essential because there are often a multitude of common names for a single species, or the same common name for a multitude of species. Using the genus species clarifies exactly which plant you’re discussing.

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A Vagabond Varied Thrush

After last week’s post about “Lost Birds,” I shouldn’t be surprised this week when a bird typically found in the old growth forests along the coast from northern California to Alaska was spotted in a playground at a county park out on the eastern plains of Colorado. Talk about lost!

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Lost Birds

Eurasian Wigeon, Cañon City, Colorado

The chatter on Facebook caught my attention—a Magnificent Frigatebird had been seen and photographed at Cherry Creek State Park, and a Bohemian Waxwing was hanging out across town at Hudson Gardens. While I ponder the wisdom of driving over an hour each way to chase these out-of-place birds, especially with snow in the forecast, I have to wonder—how did they end up here in the first place? The frigatebird is a tropical species—I’ve seen them in Central America and the Caribbean—while Bohemian Waxwings typically hang out in the boreal forests of the northern hemisphere, and are considered to be rare for the Denver area.

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Horticultural Horrors

In honor of Halloween being this week, I thought I’d scare you with some photos of horticultural horrors—gardening mistakes that make the staunchest plant person cringe. Please, spare a plant, and don’t make these ghastly blunders.

These poor crabapples are attempting to survive in the parking lot of our local YMCA. Every time I walk past, I shudder. They’re doomed to a short life, as their roots have no place to go. Did the landscapers think that air and water permeate concrete and asphalt?

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Choose Chokeberries

We have an often-damp low spot at one end of our lawn. This summer the xeric fernbush that I planted there five years ago finally showed its displeasure by up and dying. Now I’m looking to fill the gap with a medium-sized shrub that thrives in Colorado’s climate and soils, offers three (if not four) season interest, and attracts birds. After a bit of research I’ve settled on the perfect candidate—the chokeberry.

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It’s Not Over Yet

By the time October arrives, I’m tempted to “throw in the trowel,” especially after a summer as hot, dry,  and smoky as this one has been. I’m tired of hauling the hose to water the containers on my deck. I’m tired of pulling weeds that manage to stab my hands even inside of gloves. I’m even tired of eating chard, chard, and more chard. (Note to self: five or six plants is plenty!) I’m ready for fall, with its orange leaves,  warm days, and brisk nights, but I’m not at all ready for winter’s drab colors and bare branches.

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They Leave…

Violet-green Swallow, a summer visitor to my yard.

“To all of you who, like me, have become bird watchers during these months of sheltering in place, I’ve got some bad news: They leave.”

The article in the Democrat & Chronicle, a Rochester NY newspaper, continued with author and new birder Jim Memmott complaining that he has “fed them, adored them, and photographed them endlessly” only to have his backyard birds migrate. As he explains, he’s dealing with abandonment issues.

I highly recommend the article—it made me smile as I identified with his disappointment over the disappearance of so many birds, at least for the winter.

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The Worrywart & The Rearranger

Last week I talked about The Collector—the passionate gardener who has to have one of everything, to the detriment of their landscape design. Today I want to address two more kinds of crazy plant people and the mistakes they make: The Worrywart and The Rearranger. Do either of these sound familiar?

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