Archive for February, 2009

Friday, February 27, 2009

Snowdrop and Snowflake

Galanthus nivalis Leucojum vernum

Left: The snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) under the quince trees in Bonnefont Cloister bloom from February to March, while snowdrops in warmer climates may flower as early as January; right: the closely related spring snowflake (Leucojum vernum) blooms from March to May.

The winter-blooming snowdrop and spring snowflake appear so closely related that the great sixteenth-century herbalist John Gerard named them the Early Blooming Bulbous Violet and the Late Blooming Bulbous Violet. Read more »

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fair Maids of February

Budding snowdrops in Bonnefont Garden Snowdrop bulbs opening Fully open flowers

Above, from left to right: a cluster of snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis) budding beneath a quince in Bonnefont Garden; each bulb sends up two leaves and a single flowering stem; the fully open flowers persist for weeks.

The snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis) is the first spring bulb to emerge in Bonnefont Garden. Native to much of Europe, although probably naturalized in England, Scotland, Holland, Belgium, and Scandinavia, the snowdrop blooms from January to March in woods and scrub and by streams (Martyn Rix and Roger Phillips, The Bulb Book, 1981). It is widely grown in gardens on both sides of the Atlantic, and has escaped and naturalized in Canada and the northeastern United States. Read more »

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Rosemary in Winter (Continued): Dealing with Powdery Mildew

Rosemary Stems

Above: A closer look at rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis).

Most people who try to overwinter rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) inside are familiar with powdery mildew, Erysiphe sp. Similar to the whitefly I discussed in the earlier post, this fungus is favored by the indoor conditions that are typically provided in attempt to overwinter rosemary. Read more »

Friday, February 6, 2009

February Fill-Dyke

February page from the Belles Heures February Activity: Warming Before the Fire The Zodiacal Sign of Pisces

Above, from left to right: Calendar page for February, from The Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry, 1405–1408/1409. Pol, Jean, and Herman de Limbourg (Franco-Netherlandish, active in France, by 1399–1416). French; Made in Paris. The Cloisters Collection, 1954 (54.1.1); detail of the activity for the month; detail of the zodiacal symbol Pisces. See the Collection Database to learn more about this work of art.

February fill dike
Be it black or be it white;
But if it be white,
The better to like.

—From John Ray’s A Collection of English Proverbs, 1670

Rain or snow, the month of February was associated with precipitation and uncertain weather, and abounded in weather lore. Fine weather on the medieval feast of Candlemas (February 2) signified a long winter, and rainy weather an early spring, long before the American institution of Groundhog Day. The groundhog who may or may not see his shadow had European antecedents in the German badger and the Swiss wolf. Read more »