Archive for the ‘plants’ Category
Expensive spa treatments typically include exotic ingredients, but the local food movement has contributed to the new treatment trend of fruits and herbs from local farms. Guests at the Ojai Valley Inn in California can get scrubbed with Pixie tangerines. Spa Hotel Healdsburg features the same wine, honey, and Meyer lemons found in its restaurant. As often is the case, don’t expect local to equate to cheaper prices than the exotic stuff.
More blueberries are being eaten and thus more blueberries are being planted. The U.S. produced 143.6 million pounds in 2007 and 182.1 million pounds in 2009. Washington State has gone from 28 million pounds of blueberries two years ago to an estimated 90.1 million pounds this year, which is an astounding jump. People love those antioxidants.
Trader Joe’s had so many brimming large baskets of strawberries for sale that I figured something must be up this season and the not martha post on an abundant harvest triggered me to do a bit of research. An April A.P. news story from Florida called out weather related factors. California and Florida growers try to stagger their harvest by planting different varieties at different times. Florida is usually the largest producer in January and February. California kicks in at springtime. This year Florida had record cold temperatures early in the year and California had heavy rains. Florida’s berries peaked late and California had more berries than usual as plants had gone dormant during the rain and then overproduced. The result is a glut of strawberries. A pound of strawberries last year cost $3.49, this year it’s been closer to $1.25. Closer to home for me and notmartha.com’s Megan, the Whatcom County berry farmers are keeping a close eye on the pollination activity around their strawberry flowers. They’re expecting a slightly early harvest the first week of June, so keep an eye out at those farmer’s markets.
Community gardens here in the Seattle area are referred to as “p-patches” which I thought came simply from “pea patch” but they are actually named after the original local community garden, Picardo Farm. Now, there may be other community gardens in other places that are also called “pea patches” but a search turns up primarily greater Seattle area “pea” and “p” patches, so it’s likely the term did originate from this area, and perhaps with Picardo, not peas. We referred to our community garden in Connecticut by its location (Allen’s Meadows), so I can understand the “P-patch” derivation.
San Francisco is notorious in international lepidopterist circles for its long list of disappearing butterflies.
There’s a new blueberry in town and it’s… pink. Vaccinium ‘Pink Lemonade’ is a media savvy berry plant. Not only does it have a custom domain for its website, it also has its own Facebook page. The plant is available for purchase now, though it was originally scheduled for a 2011 release.
My annual quest to find the original location of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree on Live/Bing maps’ birds-eye view turned up a neat little coincidence. The tree’s owner, Maria Corti, is a fifth grade teacher at Cider Mill School in my hometown of Wilton, Connecticut. Corti lives in Easton, CT and the 76-foot-tall Norway Spruce used to stand 10 feet from her bedroom window. She had been told that she may have to remove the tree in 5-10 years, which alleviated some of the guilt she felt at chopping it down. This year the tree’s Swarovski crystal star topper has been made over with 720 LEDs, 44 circuit boards, and 3,000 feet of wire for crowd-pleasing lighting tricks.
2008’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is in place in New York City, ready for holiday festivities. The 8-ton, 72-foot Norway Spruce came from New Jersey. After using it as their Christmas tree in a pot indoors for a few years, the Varanyak family planted the tree outside in the early 1930s. It was bundled up and cut down last week, then taken on a secret route out of town and into Manhattan, via the George Washington Bridge (neither tunnel into the city being big enough). I found a “bird’s eye” view of the tree at its old home on Live Maps as I did with last year’s tree. Popular Mechanics has an explanation of how it was hoisted upright and installed at Rockefeller Center. The tree will be lit on December 3rd.
This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas tree grew up in Shelton, Connecticut (another tree contribution from my home state!) and I found a nice view of it in its original location on maps.live.com (here on flickr). The Norway Spruce was cut down by hand this year, no power saws, and it will be lit with LEDs as part of an initiative to keep the Rockefeller Center celebrations more “green” this year. After its service, the tree will be made into lumber and used by Habitat for Humanity.
This year’s Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is from Ridgefield, Connecticut, not too far from my home town. About eight years ago a representative from Rockefeller Center contacted Robert Kinnaird to inquire about the large Norway Spruce next to his driveway. They’ve been keeping track of his tree since then and this year its time came. The tree was bundled up and attached to a giant crane before it was cut and transported to New York. Kinnaird’s parents bought the house in 1946 and the tree was there back then, large, but not as large as it is now. The official measurement from Rockefeller Center is 88 feet high by 56 feet wide.