Some thoughts abouts plants in Pennsylvania and anywhere else we travel

PA Plantings Blog Home

Including the new home for news and reports of the
Muhlenberg Botanic Club of Lancaster, PA

Pa Plantings Web Web Site Home
including other information about plants

All photographs copyright by Mike Slater unless otherwise noted.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

The last post of 2007

The ice storms and dreary weather have gotten me down so I just want to do one more post this year to keep my spirits up and try to think about spring.

I do like cacti with ice on them. but I prefer them with flowers!

Eventually spring will come, I can hardly wait!

Happy New Year

The new flower of the week in the greenhouse is
Lachenalia viridiflora

Erythronium americanum
red anthered form in the wild in Lancaster Co. PA

Narcissus rupicola in our garden last spring. It is good to know it is near the cacti just waiting for a little bit of warm waether.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Entertainment: Jigsaw puzzles at Jigzone

Jigzone does nice digital jigsaw puzzles. You can even have your own pictures "jig sawn". Here is one of mine. Click and drag on the pieces to move them. They will "snap into place" when you let go of them if the are close enough to the correct position. Pieces are in the correct orientation.

Castilleja sp. (C. integrifolia?) taken in Wasatch Mountains of Utah, July 2006 at the NARGS Annual Meeting.

The gallery of my puzzles on Jigzone is here:
My Puzzles Jigsaw Puzzle Gallery -

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Listening to Birds

I just came across a web site that I would like to share with people. It is the Listening to Birds
an anthropological approach to bird sounds web site. As soon as I found it I just had to tell my sister about it and put in my contribution about R-b nuts!

I love hearing many bird songs and call but the one that always brings a smile to my face is the little anh-anh-anh sound that Red-breasted Nuthatches make as they chat among themselves as they energetically search for food along the branches and trunks of trees.

I like this call so much because this subtle yet cheerful sound inspires me during the cold months that they spend in our area and also the fact that they don't come here every year so they are an irregular delightful surprise when the do come and spend the winter.

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Dianthus is Dead, Long live the Dianthus

We had a wonderful large Dianthus erinaceus in our dry sand bed for about 15 years that was one of the first things that visiting rock gardeners noticed. As it grew over the years it expanded out on the top of the wall and it smothered other plants like Gypsophila aretioides but we loved it anyway. This big spiny cushion bloomed well every year but never set seed (The anthers did not appear to produce viable pollen) and I could never get cuttings to root so we knew it was only a matter of time before we would lose it. Most years it would get some dead brown patches that I would pluck out and it would heal up easily over the summer, but this year the dead patches grew steadily larger and the plant was dead within tw0 to three weeks. So our favorite Dianthus was gone, but this year a plant given to us by a friend came into bloom and replace our dianthus void. Growing nearby his spectacular young Dianthus myrtinervis ssp. caespitosus was spectacular.
I can only hoped it will live as long as our old D. erinaceus did.

Update :
I think we got our D. erinaceus from Siskiyou Rare Plant Nursery but they don't list it now but they do list Dianthus myrtinervis ssp. caespitosus.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Invasive Species Weblog

I just learned about The Invasive Species Weblog at the 2007 Weblog Awards (Voting going on through Nov. 8th.) in the Best Science Blog category It is full of great information and links about invasive plants and animals.

Monday, November 5, 2007

My Winter Enertainment Begins!

Now that we have had our first frosts, the outdoor blooming season is seriously slowing down, but, in our little greenhouse where our winter blooming Mediterranean climate bulbs live, things are just getting started. Some South African bulbs flower first for us. With Mediterranean and Californians coming later.

The first "Winter rainstorm" came on September 21st when I began watering for the growing season and now the first flowers are starting. We keep it set so the temperature stays just above freezing at night in the winter and we let everything go dry and dormant so we don't have to do any watering in the summer when we are busy outside!

Oxalis purpurea 'Ken Aslet' (S. Africa) -A gift from our friend Lee Raden. An early Octbober picture first followed bb one February picture so you can see how it just goes on blooming for months.

Polyxena sp. 'Silver Hill 11157' (S. Africa) -From Silverhill seeds.

Massonia depressa (S. Africa) -According to the The Color Encyclopedia of Cape Bulbs (a very dangerous book for anyon who lies unusual plants) this is pollinated by Gerbils! It is in bud right now, with fowers in January and February. I find the large leaves which lie flat on the ground to be very exotic and intriguing.

Lachenalia pusilla -Last year is the first time it bloomed. In bud now this should be open in a few weeks. The inflorescence will be bigger this year.
This was also grown from Silverhill Seed.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Muhlenberg Botanic Society - November Meeting

November 15: Fred Habegger: "Meadow Wanderings."

A longtime Muhlenberg member, Fred will talk about his meanderings through the meadows of Lancaster Co. and show slides of the plants and animals found there (including butterflies!).

As John Wolf says: "Don't miss it, Fred is a fabulous photographer".

These pictures are two that Fred Shared with us at the September meeting. I especially like the "Crocodile".

Board members please note there will be a short Board Meeting at 6:45 pm.
(Everyone is welcome, we will be discussing next years programs and field

Monday, October 8, 2007

Amerian Bells - Clematis section Viornae

Our Friend Carol Lim has published a great web site about the North Amercan Species of Clematis in Section Viornae. Often called "Leather Flowers" or "Americal Bells" many species are of very restricted range so few people see these beautiful flowers in the wild although hybrids using the red genes from C.texensis are common in cultivation.

We have several plants of, what I am pretty sure is, C. addisonii in our garden. I took these pictures in our graden the last week of May and the first week of June 2007.

I think everyone should try to grow these plants when seed is available or nurseries sell plants. Carol has links to some nurseries on her web site.

Update: Link to Larger version of my Pictures of Clematis addisonii.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Neversink Mountain Walk - part 1

Reading, PA from Neversink Mountain

For several years when Jan an I went looking for native plants we either went to places we are familiar with in our area like Nolde Forest Env. Ed. Center, Shenk's Ferry and Pennsylvania State Game Lands #52 on the Berks/Lancaster County line south of Maple Grove or we went to the NJ Pine barrens. In recent years we have been going on field trips with the Muhlenberg Botanic Society to learn more about native plants in our area and we have had a great time. iin the last fw months we have learned that he Mengel Natural History Society of Berks County where we live has field trips to some very interesting locations which we have wanted to see for a long time but didn't know exactly where to go for the "good" plants or where the public access is to the areas.

After meeting Karl Gardener last year when he volunteered to help collect and wildflower seed at the Union Twp. meadow, I arranged a trip with Karl to the Berks County Conservancy property on Neversink Mountain in Reading. This mainly quartzite hill is on the southern side of Reading, PA.

we went on a Sunday in mid-September and had a great time. We found many interesting and uncommon plants and butterflies and enjoyed the wonderful views.

A view of the Pagoda on Mt. Penn above Reading, PA.

A trail lined with Schizachyrium scoparium (Little blue-stem grass).

Solidgo biclor
, Silverrod

Silene stellata
, (Starry campion) was still blooming in a clearing in the woods.

We found this large patch of Polypodium virginianum, (Common Polypody fern, Rock-cap fern) growing on soil at the of a tree.

hickeyi W.H. Wagner, Beitel & Moran
(Pennsylvania clubmoss
or Hickey's Clubmoss) with strobili (sporophytes) present.
(This species has been called Lycopodium obscurum L. var. isophyllum Hickey and in the recent Peterson Field Guide to the Ferns this is called Dendrolycopodium hickey.)

Diphasiastrum tristachyum
(Blue ground cedar) was nearby. This was formerly called Lycopodium tristachyum. This species is most common in the Poconos and in the central mountains of PA.

American Copper
butterfly on a black-berry leaf.

A Gray hairstreak on Solidago nemoralis
(Gray-stemmed goldenrod)

A female Red-spotted purple butterfly landing on a black cherry leaf,

backing down the leaf until the tip of her abdomen reaches the end of the leaf.

If there is no egg there already she will lay an egg and she did!

A nice composition of blueberry (Vaccinium sp.), Hay-scented fern (Dennstaedtia punctiloba) and quartzite talus along the trail.

A view to the south of Neversink Mountain over the valley of the Schyylkill River after it has turned east as it flows to Delaware Bay.

end part 1