Thursday, March 26, 2015

seed cake

I don't remember when I learned about seed cake, but I do know that it was years before I actually tasted it. It sounded so interesting, but no one in my circle had ever heard of it. I've been making it for years now, and I've never tired of its simple but intriguing taste. It's basically just a very rich biscuit dough flavored with caraway seed. I generally add orange or lemon zest to the dough. A newly made one has a half life of about a day here.

Tetramerous snowdrop flowers

Typical snowdrop flowers are built in threes: three large outer petals and three smaller inner ones. Every once in a while a flower appears which is in four parts - it's tetramerous. Here are two which appeared this year. As far as I know they do not keep this structure from year to year. Too bad: the snowdrop game is such a freak show that a permanently tetramerous form would probably fetch a pretty penny from some crazed galanthomane. 

Lilium canadense and Maryland

The image in the middle of the plate shown here is the image of Lilium canadense in Parkinson's Paradisus. The Paradisus was published in 1629. Parkinson says the English got it from the French, and the French got it from the French colonies in Canada (and saying it that way makes it sound like a social disease). This name Lilium canadense antedates Linnaeus by well over a century, and it is the name we still use today.
But here's something fascinating to think about: the first permanent English settlements in Maryland were in 1634. So Lilium canadense got to England before permanent settlements of English people got to Maryland.

Crocus reticulatus

If it's possible to have a least-favorite-crocus, then for me,  this one, Crocus reticulatus,  is it. The flowers always look dirty and dull. I acquired this one in 2005, so it's one which takes pretty good care of itself. If someone wants to try to convince me that this crocus is really C. versicolor, that someone might find that easy to do.

This has been such a cold, late year that we are only now at the peak of the late-winter, early-spring crocuses. The big Dutch crocuses have yet to bloom for me - maybe the first will open tomorrow.
The signs seem to point in the direction of a year in which a lot of early bloomers will arrive all at once. While walking Biscuit this morning, I noticed that the flower buds of our local flowering dogwoods, Cornus florida are already opening a bit.

Merendera sobolifera and Colchicum hungaricum 'Velebet Star'

These two interesting and related plants are blooming today. I took advantage of this and cross pollinated them. Merendera sobolifera is sometimes called Colchicum soboliferum, so this effort is not so far-fetched as it  might seem.

They are both tiny little things with anthers which are about two millimeters long; the styles and their stigmas are in the same size range. I had to lie on the ground to get to them. While I was pollinating the Merendera, a neighbor who happened to be walking her dog nearby saw me on the ground and began to run towards me excitedly calling “Are you alright? Are you alright?” When I realized what was happening, I was a little embarrassed. “Just gardening” I told her, but I don’t think she believed me. Maybe “Just crazy” would have been more like it.

The form of Colchicum hungaricum used was ‘Vebelet Star’.