Tag Archives: brown

Black-Eyed Susan: Inspiration for a Horticultural Adventure

12 Jul

Not  far from a mailbox near our house is a cheery patch of yellow flowers commonly known as Black-Eyed Susans.  When I went to confirm their scientific name (Rudbeckia hirta), I discovered that–much to my chagrin–they are the state flower of Maryland, which has been our home for the past 12 years. I have no excuse. I really had no idea, despite having some Black-Eyed Susans in the garden of our old house (also in Maryland). My current garden does feature a close cousin: some tall and graceful Rudbeckia maximas. I’m hoping I get some bonus points for that family connection….

This bout of state-related ignorance has inspired me to go from having no idea to having a nice idea: in two weeks, we will drive across the United States (from the West Coast back home to the East Coast). So my admittedly joyful task will now be to make note of each state flower along the route and see if I can take a picture of it. In the meantime, here is the lovely state flower of Maryland:

Cicadas as Meteorologists?

5 Oct

The much-hyped cicada Swarmageddon turned out to be a bust this past spring–at least in our area. Far from being a plague of biblical proportions, not a single Brood II cicada graced our yard. Local pundits suggested that perhaps the cicadas were put off by Washington, DC traffic….

But just because periodical cicadas (like the Brood IIs, which appear every 17 years) didn’t put in much of an appearance, that doesn’t mean other cicadas haven’t been going about their usual business. This morning, as I sat sipping my coffee, I glanced out the window and saw a visitor hanging on our screen.

It was an annual (or Dog-Day) cicada, and the visit was brief. Possibly because it was rushing to complete its checklist amid a rapidly ticking biological clock. Dog-Day cicadas are supposed to show up during the long, hot days of July and August.  This is October–though admittedly, it’s been an unusually warm October so far. Today, temperatures are expected to hit 84 degrees F. And since it does feel like summer has dragged on and on, that Dog-Day cicada seems to be right on target.

According to folklore, these cicadas are seasonal barometers in one other way, too: once you hear them singing, you can expect the first frost of the season in six weeks. I’ll be on the lookout.