Posts made in April, 2013

Yew: Life and Death at the Mall

Posted by on Apr 8, 2013 in leaves, plant parts, seeds, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog | 4 comments

Sears department store is better known for tractors and washing machines than for floral arrangements. The landscaping around the Sears in Colonie Center Mall, Colonie, NY, is pretty sparse. Actually, once you get up close to these plump round balls of bushes, the foliage is quite nice–soft and green. This is Yew. Planted in almost every American shopping mall and housing development. It’s also planted on zillion-dollar estates and world-famous historic sites, like Windsor Castle and Versailles. Because yew is an obedient plant. You can shape it into almost any shape you...

Read More

Red Osier Dogwood: Winter Fire

Posted by on Apr 6, 2013 in edible, native American, plant parts, spring, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog, wildlife, winter | 2 comments

This time of year, all the color seems to have drained from the world. No flowers yet, no  butterflies. Even the birds are hiding till the warm weather comes. In the early spring drabness, this shrub stands out like flame against the dried brown grasses. Red Osier Dogwood–one of many species of dogwoods, with juicy berries much beloved by fall birds. The berries are long gone, but the twigs still glow like embers. It’s a native plant, a cold-weather-lover. It grows all over the US, but can even tough it out way up north in Alaska and the Yukon, where it does its best to warm the...

Read More

A Little Street Art

Posted by on Apr 5, 2013 in environment, Unmowed Blog | 5 comments

A while ago I was driving down a street in Albany, NY and happened to see this flash of red in the distance. I’m always a sucker for street art, so I had to do a U-turn and take a closer look. Mind you, I’m not sure what it is, but it certainly brightens up a chilly, gray day.

Read More

Crocus or Croak

Posted by on Apr 3, 2013 in flowers, insects, spring, Uncategorized, Unmowed Blog, wildlife | 0 comments

An early April snowstorm, to make fools of us all. But see that little yellow dot in the snowbank? That’s a crocus. Last spring, I had one lonely crocus in my long-neglected garden. Just one. And on the first warm spring day, the tiny yellow flower all but disappeared under a mob of hungry bees. Startled at their ferocity, I looked around and realized that nothing else was blooming. Nothing. Not even my beloved dandelions dared show a petal yet. And the bees were desperate for food. They had to find nectar or starve. And one crocus won’t feed a whole hive. So last fall, I went to...

Read More

Flocks: Guest Photographer Diane Hale Smith

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013 in adaptations, birds, photos, spring, Unmowed Blog, wildlife | 1 comment

Thanks to Diane Hale Smith for these beautiful photographs! It’s spring. Really it is, in spite of the weather. The birds know. They can tell because there’s more light in the world. The days are longer, the nights are shrinking, and they know it’s time to move. Huge groups of starlings, red-winged blackbirds, and grackles are swooping around, back from their winter spent in warmer climates. They’re complaining loudly about the frigid weather up here. They’re waiting impatiently, like the rest of us, for the weather to warm up. And my favorites, the crows, are still hanging out in their...

Read More