Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Open letter to Silk Soy Milk and the White Wave Company:

I had been wondering what was up with my latest carton of Vanilla Silk, which tastes funny. Cloying! Not good AT ALL. So from your Web site I learn that indeed, you have gone and changed the recipe. "The taste you love is more lovable than ever. We've reformulated our most popular Silk flavors, Original and Vanilla, so they now taste better than ever." Why do you think they're so damn popular?! Did we learn nothing from the New Coke fiasco?

I have been drinking Vanilla Silk with my cereal EVERY morning for as long as I can remember. Looks like I've gotta find a new breakfast companion. How truly disappointing.

(Not to mention that sleight-of-hand with the new "all natural" label instead of "organic"—to account for your new nonorganic main ingredient. What's next? High fructose corn syrup? I expected more from you!)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Spider on dad's tomato plant. Doing its job.

Dead beetle. But shiny and somehow beautiful.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Daubenton's bat on the hunt

Amazing BBC video of the Daubenton's bat hunting insects. So cool how it scoops up prey with its tail membrane.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How would "clean coal" help miners working in horrific conditions?

The death of 25 workers in a West Virginia coal mine, owned by a company fined for repeated severe safety violations, is yet another reason why "carbon capture and storage" technology (aka "clean coal"), even if it existed, would "solve" only a fraction of the nightmares associated with our addiction to coal. It would have no impact at all on the dangers caused by extraction of raw material—including miner fatalities, sludge disposal, destruction of mountaintops and water pollution.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Park Seed files Chapter 11

Fifty percent of the seed sales in the world are rung up by Monsanto and Dupont. How long will it be before Monsanto has all of the world's seeds in its dirty, greedy pockets?

I received this press release from Park Seed/J&P today:
On Friday, April 2, 2010, the Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Inc., Park Seed Wholesale Company, and the Jackson & Perkins Company voluntarily filed to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the District of South Carolina. Customers should not be affected by the filing. Park Seed/J&P’s Greenwood, SC, business office, Garden Center, Call Center, and websites are open and functioning normally. Shipping and receiving areas are continuing their daily operations, delivering products to gardeners around the country as their hardiness zones open for the Spring.

According to a company spokesperson, “The horticulture industry is challenging and highly seasonal in the best of times. As the general economic situation declined starting in 2008, demand for luxury, non-essential purchases dropped sharply. All of our brands experienced significant decreases in sales for core products, including roses, perennials, and garden-inspired gifts. This created cash-flow issues that worsened with each passing season. Despite deep cost-cutting and numerous attempts to execute supplier payment programs on our own, we simply could not meet our short- and long-term operating cash requirements. Seeking court protection and restructuring is clearly our best option for returning to a position where we can focus on delighting our customers and resuming sound relationships with our supply chain partners.”

The companies are currently functioning as a “debtor in possession,” under the leadership of a court-appointed Trustee. The companies have 120 days following the filing to prepare a plan that contains a new capital structure for the company and that treats all creditors equitably. The Park Seed Company/Jackson and Perkins management team is confident that this experience will ultimately strengthen the business and lead to long-term success.

# # #

The Geo. W. Park Seed Company, Inc. ( has been providing innovative, top-quality gardening products to generations of American gardeners since 1868.

Founded in 1872, Jackson & Perkins is America’s premier name in roses and garden-inspired gifts (

Park Seed Wholesale has everything needed to run a small to medium-sized greenhouse, nursery, or growing operation. Since 1870, Park Seed Wholesale ( has been known for delivering world-class products with downhome, friendly service.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

More bloodroots

Bat killers sentenced

Tonight I went out to discover that another bat has rejoined the first. It is so comforting to shine the light up into the bathouse and see them resting safely, side by side. I guess you can call me sentimental, but I have very tender and protective feelings about the bats that have found refuge in our bathouse.

I was pleased to learn that at least one of the two men who slaughtered 105 Indiana bats (this species has been on the Endangered Species List since its inception) in a Kentucky cave in 2007 received a jail sentence of eight months. In case you decide to read about the case, I should warn that the details are graphic. It's heartbreaking but also heartening that at least the perpetrators were prosecuted successfully.

Oakleaf hydrangea, 'Little Honey'

New leaves unfurling.

Species tulip

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blooming today: toad trillium

Trillium cuneatum

Monday, March 22, 2010

Sunday, March 21, 2010

You didn't really want to read the sign anyway, did ya?

Tulip magnolias trump historical markers.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Happy 77, Mom!

Gave Mom a pot of sweet alyssum for her birthday. Also a set of ergonomic garden tools. She turns 77 today.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Smooth earth snake or rough earth snake?

I see one or the other in the garden frequently. This one was under a clay pot I moved yesterday. I've never been able to tell a rough earth snake (Virginia striatulata) from a smooth earth snake (Virginia valeriae). The field guide descriptions are so similar. This one certainly felt smooth. However, according to Amphibians and Reptiles of the Carolinas and Virginia, the rough earth snake often has "a pale band across the top of the head." It certainly seems like this one does (click image to zoom). I could ask one of my herp friends but I like to try to figure things out on my own first.

The field guide also says, "The smooth earth snake differs from the closely related rough earth snake by having usually smooth dorsal scales in 15 rows throughout the length of the body as opposed to keeled scales in 17 rows." Do tell! I'll have to count them next time. ;-)

Update: After looking at the definition of "keeled scales" I feel comfortable pronouncing this specimen a rough earth snake.