mardi 21 avril 2009

Will the wonders never cease?

The lace-cap hortensia

Today was a day of wonders. I nearly called one a miracle, but it isn't. Not really. It was nature doing what it does, when you haven't completely screuxed up (Jim gets credit again, although I have removed the "a" for correct sound in French).

It just feels like a miracle.

That was the first one of the day: the very light lace-cap hortensia from the entry courtyard, the one that was not more than a stub of a root system that I transplanted -- with as much care as I would had it had an intact and vigorous root ball -- smack in the middle of the hydrangea bed down behind the pool last July in preparation for the work on the house. Well, guess what?

It paid off!

It's not much to behold. It still looks exactly like it did all last summer and through the winter, except -- it has a branch and leaves sprouting from its base. It will become a bush in time, and give us flowers again.

Then, I saw a flower I have never seen before, growing among random things in the right second terrace planting bed against the retaining wall.

I have seen this somewhere. It has leaves with a white stripe like a crocus -- no.

You know what?

This is a crocus. A late-flowering white crocus. I still have research to do to be able to tell you which one, and I need to mark it so I can try to save the corm and perhaps use it elsewhere with more of the same (it's very lovely), or just let it come back in this random way.

No. No, it's not a crocus. I am so bothered by this one. Some kind of lily came to mind, and it resembles closely Spiloxene aquatica (fourth photo, top row of photos), but the stamens are white on mine, not yellow, and the leaves are not cylindrical in section, but more like crocus leaves, with the white stripe up the center.

This is going to take some time. I'll have to send a picture to some kind person at some site or another.

*And then, as if these weren't enough, the larger of the two frogs, who have remained faithful to the renovated pond-in-a-basin, appeared again, this time -- sitting on a still submerged water lily pad!

Is it genetic? Do they just know to sit on these?

Then, in the category of less-than-wonderful, but noteworthy, I was able to discover that the mottled but mostly black goldfish that came from the toxic fish basin is indeed a male.

This confirms the behavior Audouin and I witnessed, which appeared to be a sort of grade school courtship in reverse, where he chases the others around the pond (in grade school, it was the girls who did the chasing, as I remember it), tending to draw them toward the matted roots of the reeds, which is an excellent place to lay eggs, which he will encourage them to do and then spread his milt.

Euw. Fish sex.

I know this because I spotted without any shadow of a doubt the tubercules on his gill covers and along the top of his front fins. I was able to photograph the latter quite clearly.

They are the pearly white spots running along the delicate bone of the fin. Do you see them?

When he starts to nudge one of the rounded females (eggs), I will know that he is encouraging her to release them. I won't likely get to see this, since they are not in an aquarium. It is possible that the others will eat those eggs nearly as quickly as they are released, but I don't want to upset the fish by removing the male and one of the females to put them in a separate aquarium for mating, even though that would help guarantee fry.

They've had enough of being changed from vessel to vessel lately. Time to enjoy the spring in their new and very wonderful home.

All this and I haven't mentioned the Judas tree blossoms, the first Potentilla fruticosa (mine's white flowering) -- Bush Cinquefoil or Potentilla -- blossom and the first rhododendron bud opening down by the pool, and the pick-flowering dogwood in bloom, as well as the peonies threatening to do the same.

It's about to be a perfect riot.

Let's finish with a pretty picture, and then I have to get back to work. I am cleaning out the St, John's Wort beds -- something I have never done before -- and trimming the hedges along the stairs.

The morning was spent removing more than a decade of ivy from the walls at the terrace of the guest room. I have far more to do there, but I got sick of sneezing.

* I am nursing my disappointment. The frog was not actually sitting on a submerged water lily pad. He (or she) was sitting on a stone in the water lily plant pot. They do sometimes sit on the pads, floating, as they do, on the water.

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