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Sin lies only in hurting others unnecessarily. All other "sins" are invented nonsense.
Robert A. Heinlein

Almanac April, 2008

Winter's Back -- 22 April 2008

Spruce Trees in Snowstorm


Winter has returned. I almost called Judy at Boreal to send my trees. Spring was in the air. The snow had gone. The ground was thawed enough to rototill the top few inches. That was a close call.

Snow started coming on Friday evening. Laura went to town on Saturday as usual, but said the roads were getting 'interesting' by the time she came home. Sunday we watched in awe as the snow at times was intense enough we could barely see the junipers at the corner of the driveway.

Yesterday I took the camera with me to work. You can see what we're putting up with.

Blowing Snow Beside Road

Normally it's a 12 minute drive to get home. Today it took me half an hour.


Today there is a heavy snowfall warning out. We're getting another 10 centimeters today according to Environment Canada with 'flurries' tonight. E.C., if anything, tends to underestimate snowfall amounts.

While spring storms aren't unusual here, they are most often warm, sloppy, heavy storms with little wind. They come in and out in a day, and even a heavy dump is melted in a day or two. This one comes with temperatures 15 degrees below seasonal normals.

And wind too!

Oh well. I can work on getting an address list for a mailout to the garden centres.

Spring? -- 14 April 2008

Ice Departing

The ice in our pond was just a single slab yesterday. Today that slab is breaking up. Frog day is not far. (Usually the chorus frogs start singing when the last of the ice is gone.)


The snow is gone! Tra la, tra la, tra la. I love a lot of things about Canada, Alberta, and our part of it, but I would gladly trade March for another copy of September. By this time of the year I am so-o-o-o glad to see the last of the snow. It's good to see the grass start to turn green, see the day lilies poke their noses up. (The oriental lilies must know something. THEY aren't visible yet.)

There are still a few drifts at the pot yard. Maybe I'll be able to go out and take inventory soon.

Snow Gone

No snow here. There is still some snow where drifts were thick, or where there is heavy shade for the snow to hide.


Meanwhile I've been planting willow shoots. Have placed about 2000 willows into styroblocks, and set them under the spruces where they will be in moderate shade while they root. We'll see what happens.

It's still pretty raw out in the field, so I've set up a place in front of the house to work where the sun is warm and the wind doesn't find me.

Website update -- 6 April 2008

If you have been here before, you'll notice the cleaner look. I've simplified the look to a 2 column display. All the navigation is in a single column now, which I hope makes it more intuitive.

You'll find some new stuff in Advice, and in Links. Home now has a 'Site Map' page which is an exploded menu tree for the entire site. This is a good place to bookmark, as I have no intention of moving it. It's also the page that gets thrown at you if you try to go to a non-existent page.

Hint for web site designers. If you can, show your site to a brand new person who has never seen it before. Try to say nothing, but watch the mouse. I think mouse motions reflect where people are putting their attention. If it goes back and forth between two areas, the person is indecisive, and unsure about where to click. Watching two sisters-in-law do this, (If you can't inflict your web site on family, who can you inflict it on?) I decided that I needed to consolidate.

5 April 2008

Last spring I bought 10 Arctic Blue Willow. They pretty much have the branch structure of a spreading tree willow, but they are only about 2 feet high, with small blue green leaves. Anyway, armed with my trusty pruners, I went out and cut 4 of them down to the ground, and planted 120 cuttings in loam, and put another 100 or so in water.

4 April 2008

Laura and I went on semi-separate holidays. Her brother Drew has a house in Phoenix, so all the siblings and their spouses (mouse -> mice :: spouse -> spice? Nah...) converged on a place in the warm. A day later my sister flew in, and we both drove off to Las Cruces to see my older brother. Ok, ok. Not a lot to do with trees. Bear with me.

Alligator Juniper

My sister and I comtemplating our first alligator bark juniper. I'm so used to junipers getting beaten up by our dry winter winds that seeing a juniper in the middle of the desert like this was an eye-opener.


Desert Pine

This pic is cropped from the background of that young ponderosa. It might be another pondy, but the needles seem too short.

Both of these pictures were shot from the east side of the Organ Mountains, overlooking the White Sands Missle Test Range. (I'm not a spy. Honest!) We're near the high point of the Aguire Springs loop trail, so it's about 7000 feet. In the desert here this is about as low as you will find these two trees.


While we were down visiting, we took a hike in the Organ mountains outside of Las Cruces. I met some new trees and forests. Alligator Bark Juniper is a real tree, not a shrub. While it won't grow here (zone 7) I'm going to look harder for members of the juniper and cedar families.

Young Pondy

Young ponderosa, probably 6-10 years old. When small, ponderosa is shaped like a ball. This one is just starting to come out of that stage.


I also met my first ponderosa pine forest. PP makes a very different forest from spruce. It's far more open with space around the crowns. This forest doesn't block the sky. The crowns themselves are open, resulting in only partial shade underneath them. Most of the ground is grass covered. Where I saw it in the Gila National Forest it was mixed with what I think was concolor fir, douglas fir, western white pine, and a few englemann spruce. About 3/4 pine, and the rest making up the final quarter. (I'm uncertain about the concolor. Not as white as I normally think of concolor, but I may be influenced by horticultural varieties.)

In addition to being different, it taught me a couple of things. 1. I had always associated the 5 needle pines with moist loamy soils. Not so with these Western Whites. I always thought of firs as needing lots of water, and not being very tolerant of dry desert. Again, not so. Sigh. Back to the drawing board. Need to rewrite a bunch of my advice columns.

Coming down out of the mountains we stopped for lunch in a forest service pullout. More ponderosas and white pine, but here they were big. One mature ponderosa in the middle of the picnic area was a good 3 feet in diameter, the top was just sort of lost in the clouds. And me without my camera. (The pic at right is from my brother's camera.)

I had decided to travel light on this trip. Should have left the jacket and brought the camera.


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Sherwood's Forests is located about 75 km southwest of Edmonton, Alberta. Please refer to the map on our Contact page for directions.