Don’t combine daffodils with other cut flowers

Enjoy vases of daffodils (aka narcissus) while they’re in bloom, but don’t combine daffodils with other cut flowers … the calcium oxalate crystals in daffodil sap will clog the stems of other blooming vase-mates, causing them to wilt.

Daffodills With Pussy Willows W5 Save For Web 576x1024

A cheery spring combination – a vase of daffodils next to a vase of pussy willows

I try to share this warning annually during daffodil season in Connecticut. In my south-central zone 6 gardens, daffodils are in bloom now, at about the same time they bloomed in 2013 but a month later than they graced my gardens in 2012.

When picking daffodils it’s best to try to keep their sap off your bare skin. The same crystals that wilt their vase-mates can also irritate human skin leading to a contact dermatitis known as ‘daffodil itch ‘  that is common among people who pick or work with the cheery spring bloomers.

My picking method involves slicing or snapping daffodil stems near their base, and holding the flower stems blossom-down to keep the sap in the hollow stems. When picking just a handful, I carry them into the house this way and quickly immerse the stems in cool water.

Cut Flower Supplies ThumbWhen gathering a larger bunch of daffodil blossoms, take a small clean bucket or other non-breakable water-holding container to the garden. After cutting, quickly place each stem  into the water-filled bucket. Using this method, the flowers can rest in the water until I have time to arrange them in a vase.

Daffodils are lovely solo in a vase, but adding a few woody branches makes for a more interesting mix. The branches add structure and height, and don’t seem bothered by the daffodil sap.

Don’t fret about the vase or the arrangement. Daffodils deserve a natural look – all mixed together in a haphazard way.

But do take time to freshen their water daily. All flower arrangements last longer when provided with daily fresh water. Also, keep the arrangement out of direct sunlight and away from any heat source. Follow these steps and your daffodil arrangements will cheer you up for days and days.

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Watch a tree to advance climate change research

You can help advance climate change research … simply watch a tree, or plant, and record its changes. Scientists investigating phenology – the study of seasonal biological events – can use your observations to help determine how the growing cycles of specific plants or all flora have changed over time.

early-spring-beech-wClimate change is a hot topic. You’ve likely read or heard about climate change research: Spring Coming Earlier, Study Says, a January 2009 report for National Geographic; a January 2013 report that native plants in the eastern U.S. have responded to climate warming by flowering as much as a month earlier than recorded by American naturalist Henry David Thoreau; or the two March 2014 reports, The End of Spring in a Warming World in TIME and the isciencetimes report, Fall Foliage Delayed: Studies Link Late Autumn and Early Spring to Climate Change.

Much of the research on flora changes depends on observations from those of us in the field, so to speak.

If you live in one of the New England states – Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, or Vermont – you can join the New England Leaf Out Project by agreeing to watch and report leaf out dates of a tree growing in your yard or nearby. The website provides a list of trees to observe. You can watch one or a few. Connecticut and other southern New England residents should start checking in mid-April and every few days after until leaf out occurs. New Englanders in more northern regions should begin observing a bit later.

Those living outside of New England can join a seasonal  Project Budburst campaign. Commit just 15 minutes of time to make a single observation and report, or more time to make regular observations and reports on leaf out, flowering, fruiting, and and leaf drop dates of common trees, shrubs, wildflowers, herbs, and grasses growing nearby.

Both programs provide instructions and identification materials to make observations easy.

beech-leaves-against-winter-sky-wI’ve participated in Project Budburst observations in previous years. This year I’ve chosen to watch one of the American beech trees growing nearby and share my observation with the New England Leaf Out Project. Beech trees often hold their leaves through winter until new leaves of spring begin to emerge, shoving old leaves out of their way.

My observation, joined with hundreds of others across New England, may just shed a bit more light on how climate change hits home.

If watching trees or plants don’t interest you, there’s many other citizen scientist programs through National Geographic, Cornell University, or The National Audubon Society.

Which have you participated in?

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2014 Joene Hendry