The Blue Jay

April 23, 2014 — Leave a comment

The Blue Jay is a large songbird native to North America. They are easily recognizable by their mostly blue plumage, broad and rounded tail with a white chest and underparts. They are smaller than crows but larger than robins. Blue Jays are known for their intelligence, noisy calls, complex social systems and fondness for acorns. Sometimes Blue Jays are referred to as jaybirds.

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The Blue Jay occupies a large variety of habitats, they are found in all kinds of forests especially near oak trees. They have even been credited for spreading oak trees during the last glacial period. They are more abundant near forest edges than in deep forests and has expertly adapted to human activities so that they can be seen in parks and residential areas.

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The Blue Jays have a strong black bill that they use for gathering food, cracking nuts and acorns. They basically eat just about every known plant, seed, weed, fruit and small invertebrate. They also sometimes raid nests of other birds for eggs and nestlings and sometimes pick up dead or dying adult birds. They also store food in caches to eat later.

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Blue Jays start mating mid-March and extend to July. They are not very particular with their nesting area, any suitable tree or bush can be used for nesting however they do prefer the evergreen. Both sexes build the nest together but only the female incubates them.

The Blue Jay can make a number of sounds and can even copy the cries of hawks which they use to test if a hawk is in their territory or to scare other birds away from their territory or food source.

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Flower Fields

April 22, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Blue Roses

April 21, 2014 — Leave a comment

The Blue Rose is of the genus Rosa that represents the blue to violet pigmentation instead of the usual and more common red, white or yellow. An individual experiencing unrequited love could present a blue rose to his or her object of affection.

A blue rose does not exist in nature as a result of genetic limitations but researchers are constantly testing and trying to produce a true blue rose. Traditionally to produce blue roses, white roses were dyed blue. This was done by putting blue dye mark into the bark of the roots.

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Blue roses were often mentioned in history and literature but never seen. In 1840, horticultural societies of Belgium and Britain offered a prize to the first person who could produce a true blue rose.  Although a truly blue rose has yet to be found satisfactory to some die-hard rose breeders, gardeners can now find near blue roses that incorporate “blue” in the name.

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There are several blue rose types: Blue Girl, Blue Nile, Shocking Blue, Blue Moon, Blueberry Hill and Florigene-Suntory Rose.

Created by Germany’s foremost hybridizer, Blue Girl Rose is a unique hybrid tea that is a rare treat for the connoisseur. It is also called ‘Cologne Carnival’ or ‘Kohner Karneval’ and was the Rome Gold Medal winner in 1964.

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The Blue Nile Rose is a hybrid tea rose in a lavender-blue color. It has strong fragrance with large leaves that are a distinct olive color. The flowers may form in singles or in clusters and when in full bloom they are quite large.

The Shocking Blue Rose is a free blooming type with classic rose-shaped flowers in a mauve hue with dark green foliage.  It is deeply perfumed with a citrus fragrance. They bloom from mid-spring to mid-fall and the flowers are edible.

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The Blue Moon Rose is pink-blue in color and is the closest thing to a traditionally hybridized true blue rose. It is a fragrant tea rose with exotic buds with its bush reaching as high as 6 feet.

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The Blueberry Hill Rose features unique pale lilac semi-double blooms that has dark green foliage early in the season and then continuously until fall. The rose petals are delicate in full bloom and have a sweet apple fragrance. They bloom well all over summer.

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The Florigene-Suntory Rose named after the companies Florigene and Suntory who worked on genetic engineering a true blue rose for over 15 years. The petals of this type of blue rose flower are nearly 100 percent blue in pigment. The Florigene-Suntory Rose has been sold in Japan since November 2009 under the name “Applause”. It is not available elsewhere and at the moment the scientists behind it are still working on improving its colour.

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Blue roses have been mentioned in literature mostly because of the mystery of its origin and because it doesn’t exist in nature. The blue rose expresses an appreciation for the enigmatic, the unattainable or the impossible. A person receiving a blue rose is said to have been the subject of much thought and speculation. The blue rose stands for something that is hardly within one’s grasp and is admired as an unrealized dream.

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Easter Blessings

April 20, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Sweet Baby Chicks

April 19, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Farm Life

April 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

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Alfred Colomb Rose

April 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

‘Alfred Colomb’ exhibits flowers of large, full, strawberry-red blooms and is healthy and vigorous. The fragrance of the flowers is a delight. Ethelyn Emery Keays in her book “Old Roses” likens this rose as a “family head in the subdivision of the Hybrid Perpetuals.”

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Other names include: Madame Brosse and Marshall P. Wilder. It can tolerate a small amount of shade and is somewhat disease resistant.

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Classed as Hybrid Perpetual it was introduced in 1865. It is almost thornless with a height of 4 to 5 inches. The flower has about 45 large, very full petals and blooms in flushes throughout the season.

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More info can be found at Antique Rose Emporium and Dave’s Garden

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The swallowtail butterfly gets its name from the “tails” on the back of their wings that resembled the forked tails of swallows. This can be seen when the butterfly is resting and its wings are spread.

Swallowtail butterflies have a wingspan of 2.6 to 3.5 inches with bluish-black and yellow-white wings. They will sometimes have additional red markings. A band of large yellow spots through both fore and hind wings are prominent in males. In females, these spots are more orange.

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The swallowtail butterfly undergoes four stages in its lifecycle: egg, larvae, pupa and butterfly. Young pupate develops inside a cocoon in the fall and emerges as butterflies in the spring. Once it has emerged as a butterfly, it immediately looks for a mate. The eggs are attached to the leaflets of a food plant and after 8 to 10 days young caterpillars emerge and start feeding. The caterpillars are smooth and large with an orange “horn” that is hidden under the skin of the thorax. This horn would pop when threatened by predators and secretes repellent chemicals.

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Adult swallowtails are strong fliers and hide in trees at night to avoid predators, they can also defend themselves with toxic chemicals but still, they can fall prey to frogs and toads, spiders, wasps, mantis, and insect eating birds. The caterpillars and pupa are often prey to shrews, mice, ants, parasitic flies, lady beetles, mites and green lacewings.

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Swallowtail butterflies live in open areas like fields, meadows, vacant lots, sides of streams, open forests and anywhere near their food plants and especially those with abundant flowers.

The Oregon Swallowtail is the state insect of Oregon. The Eastern Tiger Swallowtail is the state insect of Virginia and the state butterfly of Georgia, Delaware, and South Carolina. The Black Swallowtail is the state butterfly of Oklahoma.

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Tulips!

April 15, 2014 — Leave a comment

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