Jun 22, 2013

Tiger Lilies - 2013

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Today marks the day in which I personally reckon the arrival of summer: the first tiger lily to bloom. This year the first flowers of Hemerocallis fulva (also known as "ditch lily" to more scornful gardeners, for whom the tiger lily is considered invasive) opened on June 22. This is the latest date I have recorded for the annual event, with the earliest opening being June 9 in my backyard. I suspect that the lengthy winter is entirely to blame for the late blossoming, which seems to have put many of my perennial flowers a week or so behind schedule in 2013.

May 3, 2013

Tulip Time in Toledo

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I noticed that it has been almost a year since I last blogged, so I figured I had best update the site. 

Pictured on the left are some of the tulips I planted last fall. The longer-than-normal winter made me somewhat impatient for the new flowers to arrive, but perhaps the wait made the sudden bursts of color more enjoyable.

I hope that your own gardening efforts have been as fruitful.

May 16, 2012

Red Poppy

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I have forgotten when I first started planting these Oriental poppies, but each spring they return, bringing with them vivid colors in their flowers. I was not paying much attention to their progress, and when I stepped outside this morning to get the paper for my wife I was surprised to see one of the poppies bloomed overnight.

In the middle of the night the flower opened, as if the plant was unwilling to let anyone see the unveiling of the blossom.

Perhaps seeing the flower in the morning light made for a greater spectacle.

Apr 9, 2012

When Planning Goes Well

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Often my attempts to plan my gardens do not quite wind up the way that I envision. Sometimes plants die, sometimes animals dig up bulbs and seeds, and there are a host of additional variables that can affect horticultural results.

Now, I have been the recipient of many happy accidents over the years, so I am not really complaining here. At best we can sort of nudge nature in a given direction, but if a soil is too acidic or there is not enough light for a given plant, all bets are off.

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised to see the double-petaled tulips on your left line up almost exactly as I visualized, with a long row of reddish-orange blossoms contrasting with the bright green leaves of the hostas starting to emerge. The addition of the red cypress mulch also helps highlight this color contrast.

Now: off to rescue some lilies that seem on the verge of an untimely death.

Apr 6, 2012

Tulips in Bloom

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I have been impatiently waiting to see the horticultural results of the 250 or so bulbs I planted last fall. Despite the diligent efforts of local squirrels to dig up and eat my bulbs, enough managed to survive to produce some color this spring.

I did augment a few areas by transplanting some sprouted tulips this spring, as there were a few bare spots. Still, with another 100 bulbs or so this fall I think this area will be very impressive next spring.

Provided, of course, that the zombie apocalypse does not occur between now and next spring. Thnking further, this will still be an impressive display even if zombies take over, since they have no use for tulips, but there will be few if any humans to see the floral display.

Mar 7, 2012

Arrival of the Crocus

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The warm weather the last two days sent my crocus plants into high gear, and even though I intuitively knew that plants had to be emerging, I was still taken somewhat aback by the bursts of color on this early March afternoon.

The arrival of spring colors is like the return of long-lost friends. I took a few minutes out of my busy schedule to wander around the yard for the first time since early December, and though I did not accomplish much, it was time well spent.

Feb 4, 2012

Super Bowl XVLI Prediction

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In keeping with my past traditions, I am posting my annual Super Bowl prediction. Now, though I would not recommend taking anything I say straight to your bookie, I can say that last year's prediction of a victory by the Green Bay Packers raised my Super Bowl prognostication record to 6-0 since joining the blogosphere half a decade ago.

This year I see the Patriots coming from behind with a couple of second half TDs to overcome an early Giants lead. I also see the Patriots defense continuing to surprise, limiting Eli Manning and the G-Men to seven second half points.


Other recent successful Historymike predictions:

2011 Prediction: Packers 27, Steelers 21 (Actual Packers 31, Steelers 25).
2010 Prediction: Saints 37, Colts 34 (Actual Saints 31, Colts 17).
2009 Prediction: Steelers 27, Cardinals 21 (Actual 27-23 Steelers win)
2008 Prediction: Giants 27, Patriots 24 (Actual 17-14 Giants win)
2007 Prediction: Colts 27, Bears 21 (Actual 29-17 Colts win)
2006 Prediction: Steelers 24, Seahawks 17 (Actual 21-10 Steelers win)

Feel free to leave your own predictions and/or homer hate mail in the Comments section.

Nov 27, 2011

On Artificial Christmas Trees

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For many years we had an annual pilgrimage to a local tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree. This was a ritual that even I - someone jaded at Christmas hoopla and commercialism - actually looked forward to enjoying, and our large family would brave even the worst elements to select and cut our own tree.

This year, however, my wife talked me into buying an artificial tree. Actually, it was more like "my wife went out and purchased an artificial tree," and I did not need to be convinced. I am pleasantly surprised at the quality and user-friendliness of this tree.

All told it took me seven minutes to assemble this tree, which was complete with a lighting system. With a natural tree I cannot think of a single facet of procurement and installation that did not take hours to complete, and I have many memories of hacking oversized trees to make them fit our house and itchy arms from pine needle pokes.

It seems to me that we paid $40-$50 the last few years for natural Christmas trees, so the $230 we paid for this tree will pay for itself in just a few years. Add to this the fact that there is no maintenance, and that the tree does not seem to interest our dogs, who in the past have shown great interest in the various smells associated with a natural tree. I recall the year one of our dogs went berserk and destroyed a tree and a bunch of ornaments, and I suspect that the neutral odors of an artificial tree will not provide scents that fire up the canines.

So goodbye, natural trees: we had many good memories, but I am getting too old to be tramping through mud and snow to chop one of you down.

Nov 24, 2011

November Rose

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Strangely, one of my rose bushes decided to wait until the second half of November to offer up its last blossom of the year. The weather had been in the high 40s (Fahrenheit, for any non-US readers) and almost every leave has fallen from the nearby oak, maple, and hickory trees, yet this rose bush responded to some stimuli that prompted this out-of-season flower.

I did trim the rose bushes a few weeks ago, which might have spurred some growth, but the odd appearance of a red rose so late in the year was a surprise. Beautiful, but still a surprise.

Oct 22, 2011

Target Practice

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Left: AR-15-wielding historian

I took some time out of my schedule this weekend to join some colleagues on an outing to test some military weapons with historical significance. In the image on your left, I am lining up to shoot an AR-15, which is the semi-automatic version of the M-16 rifle.

We fired quite a variety of weapons today, ranging from a Mauser Gewehr 98 to an early twentieth century variant of the M1 Garand. We also fired quite a few different military handguns, and after today's demonstrations I have a much greater knowledge and awareness of military technology.

And no fun, whatsoever, was enjoyed by the participants in blasting away at targets for three hours.

Ahem.

Left: firing range target

I am far from a regular at the range, and I have fired rifles or muskets only a few times in my life. I was surprised that with some training (two of the participants are ex-military personnel) I could hit with some accuracy targets 100 yards away.

This has less to do with any skill on my part, and a bit more to do with the coaching. A larger part of the equation, though, is that military weapons are designed to be as user-friendly and easy-to-learn as possible. The AR-15, in particular, was relatively simple to operate, and on my first ten-round practice I hit in the black on the target five out of ten times.

I was much less successful with the Garrand and the Mauser, both of which I landed in the black three of ten times. The Mauser is also a physically punishing weapon, with a strong kick and an especially loud report. If I were an infantry soldier, I would prefer the AR-15 to the other weapons.

Sep 17, 2011

Fall Colors

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Not only have I been away from the blogosphere the past few weeks, but I have spent little time tending my gardens. Thus, it was with some amazement that I paused to take in the beauty of a section of my yard that quietly emerged as an impressive patch of fall colors while I was too busy to notice.

I wish I could tell you every flower variety that I planted, but I tend to be somewhat impulsive in my seed selections and placement. Sure, I spend a minute making sure I plant full sun flowers in full sun, but I often forget after a few weeks what it was I planted. I know that there are about six marigold varieties, some nasturtiums, and three or four different types of zinnia in this garden, but I am clueless as to the names of at least six other flowers.

I suspect that the pink and purple flowers are some plant in the Aster family, but I cannot remember what the tall spiky red flowers are.

Anyway, the plot turned out well in spite of the almost total lack of weeding and watering I provided since late August.

Jul 27, 2011

Blog Hiatus

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I will not be active on this blog for an undetermined amount of time. I have a heavy workload at the moment, and I am also gearing up for an extremely busy fall semester.

I should also add that my blogging Muse seems to have taken flight, and I will also use this time to figure out what this site is supposed to be about. When I was active as a freelance journalist the site complemented my news-related writing, but these days I have a diminished desire to post.

Anyway, I'll be back at some point in the future and we will chat further. Ciao!