Thursday, May 15, 2014

Trying something new! Garden List 2014

Would you look at that, it's already the middle of May. Where has all the time gone?! This is insane. For halfway through May, we've been experiencing some pretty terrible weather here, too. We had that "irrationally warm day in March that makes you think Spring is actually coming", and then 5 more weeks of Winter. Then we had about a week of BEAUTIFUL Summer-like weather, and then it snowed. Now we've been having truly Spring weather (the weather we usually get in April), and thunder storms every day (got our first tornado watch a couple of days ago! First recorded tornado in Southwestern Ontario was on Tuesday. Nothing like the damage in the southern US; only a low category EF1). All of the wildflowers (and bulbs, for that matter) are WAY behind where they usually are by this time. We have tulips in our garden that haven't even flowered yet. Some of our daffodils have just bloomed. It's a really, really weird Spring. I'm not sure I like this...

This year I've been inspired by some of my British twitter friends to start a Garden List. What's a Garden List, you ask? Well, it serves double duty. First, it's a great way to catalogue everything you have in your garden. This could stop at "green things", or you could do it for every living thing (bugs, birds, mammals, plants, lichens, fungi...). It's a great snapshot of all of the living things for one whole year that exist in the small parcel of land that you call home. The second reason why Garden Lists are awesome is that it teaches you how to identify living things. You find a weed in your garden with little white flowers. How do you know what it is? Where do you go to find out? Is there someone you can ask that's an encyclopedia of plant IDs? What about bugs? Which caterpillars will grow up into lovely butterflies that you want in your garden (like monarchs or swallowtails), and which ones are pests (like the spruce budworm)? If you can't identify the species, then you'd never know! So this year, I'm doing a Garden List and you should, too.

I've also decided that while I'm still at Western, I'm going to take my Garden List a step further. I've restricted my list to everything that's a plant or a fungus, and I'm going to make a herbarium collection of each species (with a few exceptions; I'm not going to dig up bulbs). I'm going to press and dry the plants, or dry the mushrooms in paper bags. Once dry, they'll be mounted on herbarium-quality mounting paper, a label will be made, and they'll be accessioned in a database. At the end of this year, I'll have a record on the computer of every single species in the garden, as well as a voucher collection for each one. I'm excited! And what better way to get back into the blogging swing of things than by bragging about my collection?! :)

Every week I'll post an ever-expanding list of the plants and fungi I've identified in the garden. The plants in bold text will be new from the week before, the plants or fungi with names in green will be species native to Southwestern Ontario (don't expect many of these...it is a garden, after all!). An asterisk will denote invasive species, and I'll provide a link to another blog post if it's a plant I've blogged about before. I decided to do it in reverse-order so that the newest species would be at the top of the list every week. No scrolling required! This is exciting! Here we go! :)

Jen's Garden List 2014:
16. Tulips, at least 2 different unknown varieties (Tulipa sp.): read all about tulips HERE.
15. Hyacinths, at least 3 different unknown varieties (Hyacinthus orientalis): read all about hyacinths HERE.
14. Daffodils, 2 different unknown varieties (Narcissus sp.): read all about daffodils HERE in my blog post about plants of the Chinese New Year.
13. Judas ear (Auricula americana; a fungus)
12. Common violet (Viola papiliomacea or Viola sororia)*
11. English violet (Viola odorata)*
10. Coltsfoot (Tussilago farfara)*
9. Eastern white-cedar (Thuja occidentalis): read all about the Eastern white-cedar HERE.
8. Corn speedwell (Veronica arvensis)*
7. Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)
6. Eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis): read all about the Eastern hemlock HERE.
5. Siberian or wood squill (Scilla siberica)*
4. Variegated lesser or dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Agenteovariegata')*
3. Purple lesser or dwarf periwinkle (Vinca minor 'Atropurpurea')*
2. Bigleaf periwinkle, greater periwinkle (Vinca major)*
1. Hoary/hairy bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)* 

Siberian squill (Scilla siberica) flower close-up

The entire squill plant. Too bad it's invasive...it's so pretty! Spreads by seeds and bulbs disturbed in the soil by tilling

Daffodils. There's nothing for size scale here, but they are TINY. From the soil surface to the top of the plant is maybe 15 cm (6 inches)!

Some of our hyacinths in the front yard. We've got bright pink ones in the back yard, too.

Coltsfoot, a highly invasive species that looks similar to a dandelion but the basal rosette of leaves only appears after the flower has spread seed and died.