Sunday, April 29, 2007

A walk in the wildflower garden

My husband and I enjoyed a visit to the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden on Saturday. They were celebrating the 100th anniversary of the garden, founded by botanist extraordinaire Eloise Butler back in 1907, right in Minneapolis's North Side, in the middle of Theodore Wirth Park.

We watched as a costumed interpreter portrayed famed botanist and plant namer Carl Linneaus, followed by a brief ritual tree planting by our mayor and some park board people. Then we skirted around the small crowd and went for a leisurely stroll through the garden, stopping to admire this beautiful blue hepatica as well as several other spring ephemeral wildflowers along the way. (For more wildflower photos, see my Flickr page)

We sat awhile on a bench in the shade (it was a very warm day), and listened to a cardinal calling repeatedly from on high; a little girl talking excitedly to her mother about something she had sited, "I have eagle eyes, I can see 'em"; the trill of a red-winged blackbird in a nearby wetland just outside the garden; the distant, faint hum of traffic, reminding us that we have not left the city; and two women talking, seemingly oblivious to the tranquility all around them -- one was nodding and murmuring in an understanding kind of way as the other said, "so I said, 'fine, do this other thing, I'll support you, but I don't think it's a party, it's hard.' " We also heard other bird sounds that I could not identify.

All in all, a lovely couple of hours.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Forsooth! Forsythia!

Pardon my typical Minnesotan obsession with the weather, especially when it's as lovely as this. And I'm so pleased my forsythia survived not only being transplanted last fall, but also an early April cold snap just as the buds had formed. I was afraid that it might have killed the blossoms, but as you can see, they are doing very well, thank you!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Of cabbages and eggs

eggs and red cabbage
I have tried using natural materials to dye Easter eggs in the past, but my kids recall better than I do that they didn't really turn out that well. They not only lacked the intense color of the artificial dyes, but they didn't have much color at all. However, I didn't feel like buying egg dye, and since my teenagers don't take much interest in doing these little holiday projects with me anyway, I figured I would just try again. Besides, I had already bought some red cabbage at the co-op, and I had a whole jar of turmeric, which I never use for anything.

So I got some directions from the Minnesota co-op Lakewinds Natural Foods and tried again. Noting that they recommend leaving the eggs in the dye in the fridge overnight, I did just that, limiting myself to two colors so I wouldn't have a fridge full of cups of spillable liquids. And I think they turned out pretty well!

eggs in turmeric
The first photo shows the eggs with red cabbage to produce a pretty robin's-egg blue, in the second photo they're sitting in water with about a tablespoon of turmeric powder. Both were mixed with boiling water and a tsp or so of white vinegar. I increased the amounts from the original recipe because I assumed it was for one egg in one cup of liquid.

The third photo shows you how the colors turned out.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Looking for spring

The weather has been mild here for some weeks, but noticeable signs of spring have been few, until now. I suppose their seeming sudden appearance has something to do with our several days of rain, which kept me from wandering outdoors and poking around for these tell-tale signs, so now it seems of a sudden that there are green buds and tulip tips and such. I am participating in a swap on Swap-bot called "Extreme Close-up Photo ATCs," the idea being to take close-up photos and then crop them down to ATC size. The fun of this swap has been that it has given me a little extra push to get out and look for things to photograph, and not the grand vistas or stunning but cliche'd sunsets, but to get up close and personal with my surroundings. So here are some of the photos I have been taking in anticipation of this swap.

The first one shows the tips of emerging tulips, which I planted last fall shortly after we moved into this house.

The next one is of forsythia buds. I dug up the forsythia and moved it with me, so it is a great relief to see such robust evidence that it survived its late autumn transplanting.

The third photo is of some primula blossoms, which are actually on a houseplant that I set out by the back door about a week ago to get it used to the outdoor conditions so I can transplant it into my garden. It seems to be liking it just fine out there!