Death Note

Spring flowers are coming out even as winter holds on

Korean fir needles and bud.
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Korean fir needles and bud.

March went out both as a lion and as a lamb earlier this week, from snow on Saturday/Sunday and temperatures in the teens to the balmy 70s by midweek. And now back to the mean temperature.

Boxwoods are showing winter injury with leaf scorching and blanching; additional winter and spring injury to woody plants will not be clear for a while. Evergreens still hold court, including the lovely off-white buds contrasting with the compact needles of Korean fir.

Forsythia was not quite out this past Monday in the ChatScape (my yard), but when forced blossoms from indoors were placed on a windshield covered with frozen snow crystals — what a contrast.

A forced forsythia and a late March snow.

winter jasmine (Jasmine nudiflorum) bloomed at Secrest Arboretum in Wooster, with butter-yellow flower petals appearing forsythia-like until further inspection revealed there were six rather than four petals. The two are related, both in the olive family. The Chinese name for winter jasmine is perfect: Yingchun, translated as “the flower that welcomes spring.”

One thing I can assuredly say is that this week’s snow and cold is the last of the season — we shall not see temperatures below freezing until next November.

Just kidding.

April Fools’ Day alert, one day late! Speaking of April Fools’ Day plant jokes, the best of all time is the North Carolina TV spoof decades ago about marshmallow mold. Check it out on YouTube at Grower Ben Yoakum and NCSU fruit specialist Willie Kidd shall live forever!

Winter jasmine flowers last week at Secrest Arboretum in Wooster.

spongy moth

You have heard of this insect under a different common name: the gypsy moth. The Entomological Society of America (ESA) has made it official that “spongy moth” replaces “gypsy moth” for the laudable reason that the term “gypsy” is being retired as it is a “derogatory name for the Romani people.” The often nomadic nature of many Romani people in Europe led to cultural connotations of illegality, and the term “gypsy” became a racial slur.

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