Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Some Leap Day Traditions

It only happens every four years: Leap Year. Leap years were introduced over 2,000 years ago with the transition from a Roman calendar to the Julian calendar. Leap years help to keep our calendar in alignment with the Earth’s rotations around the sun. Since a day is added to our calendar this year, 2012 will have 366 days rather than the normal 365.

Some interesting traditions and customs have grown up around the Leap year. According to Irish legend, St. Bridget asked St. Patrick to let women do the proposing once every four years. Men would pay a penalty if they refused the marriage proposal; hence this day was sometimes called “Bachelor’s Day.” Leap year is sometimes called “Sadie Hawkins Day” for the comic-strip character in “Li’l Abner.” Sadie was the daughter of early Dogpatch settler Hekzebiah Hawkins and loved to chase men.

In Scotland, it was considered bad luck to be born on Feb. 29. In Greece, it’s considered unlucky to marry during a Leap year and especially on Leap Day.

For leap-day babies, the hard part is how to count their years. The chance of being born on Feb. 29 is 1 in 1,461. Although there are 4 million leap-day babies worldwide, around 200,000 live in the U.S. Some famous leap-day babies include Jimmy Dorsey, Dinah Shore and actor Dennis Farina.
Celebrating a leap year birthday is a fun way to beat growing old. For example, an 84-year-old could honestly say he or she was turning 21. There is even a special society that leapers can join: the Honor society of Leap Year Day Babies.

At any rate, enjoy the extra day this month. It only comes around every four years!
Sources: Cape Cod Times archives, www.timeanddate.com

This morning I baked some brownies for my brother's birthday and some for me too. If you all lived closer, I would share them with you because I do not need those extra calories!

 The plants are growing nice and I enjoy working in the warm, sunny greenhouses.
Hope you all have a fantastic day.

The Plant Lady ~ Linda

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Oreo Cookies and Spring Bulbs

My grandson had me buy his favorite cookies, Golden Oreo's. We opened the bag and a little later I noticed he had a stack of cookies on his plate. I put all but three back in the bag hoping to teach him good eating habits. The other day my husband and I noticed that the middles were missing from a  lot of the Oreo's. We were perplexed until we realized that grandson had eaten the centers and put  the cookie part back in the bag. We laughed about this one. I quess three year olds are smarter than their grandparents!

Now for some flower advice ~
How will the lack of snow and cold affect the plants?
 Bulbs will grow in response to two variables, light and temperature. This year, the lack of deep cold and periodic spring warmth has tricked many of early bulbs to break ground weeks ahead of their normal cycle. Nearly all bulbs need a cold period to produce flowers and the cold period needs to last 12-16 weeks or 3-4 months in order of the bulbs to rest and then regrow. Even with the relatively mild winter, our temperatures have been cool enough to give the bulbs their needed dormancy period.

The leaves of spring bulbs are much tougher than their summertime counterparts. The cellular structure of the leaves is such that they can handle the freeze thaw cycle of late winter and early spring. These types of bulbs include daffodils, tulips, crocus, and the like. The fact that the leaves have already broken ground this time of year won't harm the bulb. What you may notice is some browning of the leaf tips and an earlier bloom.  Some bulbs don't flower as well after not having a nice blanket of snow. In the future, you could take some evergreen branches, like those from your Christmas tree, and cover the emerging bulbs with the branches. If you don't have a tree, cut some greens from the woods or use some hay. Keep some soil visible by not piling on the greens or other material too thick. Remember, tulips and hyacinths decline anyway after few years,  treat them as annuals. We will have nice ones at the market during Easter this year.

So what about those shrubs that have their buds opening or already opened? Shrubs that flower early set their buds last summer. In other words, those flower buds always sit dormant through the winter. Plants like lilac, forsythia, rhododendron, magnolia, early dogwoods,and others that flower before mid-June may start to come out of dormancy earlier than usual with the warm weather. The plants themselves will not be harmed. However, some of the flower buds could end up being killed if they open too much and then we get a blast of arctic air. The cold air will be able to penetrate into the buds and thus the plants will not be as floriferous as they potentially could have been. The cold air basically dried out the flower buds. I am ready for spring. How about you?

The Plant Lady ~ Linda