Native Plants, Habitat Restoration, and Other Science Snippets from Athens, Georgia

Monday: 29 November 2004

Rain and more rain  -  @ 09:24:15
After a very dry October (1.55"), November is ending with 10.1" rain, compared to the 3.71" average for the month. In 84 years, amounting to 1,007 months, there have been only 23 months with more rain. In fact, one of those, indeed THE highest amount of rain for any month since 1920 at least, was September this year, with 16.2".

To top it off there were apparently snow showers in the area this morning.

Friday: 26 November 2004

Friday cat-blogging  -  @ 08:45:34
Might as well join the ranks of ailurophiles who peddle their cats. Here's two of our crew of ten. Harry Pewter and Urchin help out with goldenrod identifications. Pewter is astonished at the Solidago erecta, and Urchin is el pesto'd.

All of our cats come to us. Urchin arrived at the beginning of summer. He resembles one of our other cats, Bart, who is extremely shy, and yet he walked right in the door and straight to the food closet. We were astonished, and I said, Bart's never done that before. We put some food in the bowl, and I said, Glenn, that's not Bart. Glenn said, of course it's Bart, and it took several minutes before we could determine that indeed it was not Bart.

Harry, and his likely relation Leona, pictured here, came together from a broken home. Originally named Harry and (only little people pay taxes) Leona, Harry acquired his secondary name when our friend Franklin lifted him up and pronounced "pewter!".

The first item on the agenda for all our cats is an appointment with our fabulous veterinarians at South Athens Animal Clinic for neutering.

Helianthus angustifolius  -  @ 06:51:12
Swamp sunflower. Here's a sunflower we acquired last year, growing along the road just outside of Athens. Probably one of the nicest sunflowers I've seen - has luminous yellow flowers in profusion. The plant itself is nicely shaped, with narrow leaves (hence the name) and a vaselike profile. It produces tons of seeds so undoubtedly a great source of food for birds.

Thursday: 25 November 2004

Thanksgiving Physiology Part 1: When the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems are operated simultaneously.  -  @ 07:33:16
The Ritz crackers on the counter this morning put me back more than 40 years ago on a rusty old tricycle racing madly around the car in the carport, back in Hot Springs Arkansas. Each circuit I'd stop, grab a Ritz cracker, and stuff it in my mouth. Next circuit I'd gulp a glass of water. Ritz cracker, peddle madly. Glass of water repeat. Ritz cracker, pedal, water, pedal.

Then I threw up.

No pics.

Next: Part 2. Confusing the inner ear on Eddie's tire swing.

Weather and Seeds  -  @ 04:34:19
So what do you do when the weather is inclement and you're a gardener? Talk about the weather, stay indoors, and clean seeds of course.

A look at the jet stream from California Regional Weather Server (see image below) shows what is happening. El Nino has pulled the jet stream south creating snowy conditions in the midwest and wet and stormy conditions all along the southern states. This is what El Nino does, and this is why we have stormy weather during El Ninos. Go El Nino! Apologies to the myriads of thanksgiving travelers, but I'm staying home this year.

Indoors, I cleaned seeds and updated store inventory. The big news, and this is geeky, I know, is that I discovered the understory grass in the Goulding Creek floodplain was not Chasmanthium laxum after all (although I'm sure we do have some). The widespread grass is the extremely desirable native perennial Brachyelytrum erectum, Bearded Shorthusk. This is exciting.

Have a good thanksgiving day!

Monday: 22 November 2004

Finally fall colors  -  @ 10:14:50
I had pretty much given up on the autumn colors, expecting them to be muted and falling anonymously from the trees. But this week, three weeks overdue, they put in an appearance. The walnuts had already fallen weeks ago, the first to lose their leaves and the last to regain them in the summer. But on the heels of a cold snap earlier in the week the maples, hickories, elms, sweetgums, and dogwoods all changed simultaneously. Really one of the nicest presentations I can recall in this area.

Of course there remains the question of winter. I've read both predictions - a warm winter and an especially cold one. We are in an El Nino event, which usually suggests wetter winters, and the North Atlantic Oscillation is in a negative phase at the moment, which also suggests colder weather along the US East coast. Who knows what the Pacific Decadal Oscillation is up to - after months of trending downward it's been climbing back up into warm phase. And the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation has been warmer for the past several years than it any time in the last 80, or longer.

In any event, a couple of maple pictures:

Thursday: 4 November 2004

Spring is here!  -  @ 05:45:09
It's been nearly a month since the last post, and I apologize for that. I'll have some Helianthus angustifolia and some other pics of recent flowering species posted over the next few days.

Just for now though, we have the bizarre appearance of flowers on our sparkleberries (Vaccinium arboreum); the plant normally flowers in April. Spring peepers are calling, and I haven't recalled this occurring before. At least the leaves are falling from the trees. After a month of oddly warm temperatures it does appear that tonight it will be getting considerably cooler as a front moves through.

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