Iowa State University

Probably one of the most important reasons I chose to come to Iowa State University is the beauty and small size of this large university campus.  Yesterday the temperature climbed into the high 70’s and everyone on campus seemed to be in a state of bliss!

The Campanile was providing a concert.  There was the fragrance of grilling coming from somewhere.  Students were hangning out on the steps of Curtiss Hall and sprawled out on the warm grass.

The little blue flowers were peeking out from under the brown leaves.

It was a perfect day in Cyclone country!

Getting Your Green On

I saw my first robins on Saturday.  They’ve probably been here for a while, but I’ve just been too distracted to notice.  This photo was taken behind my brother’s condo a few years ago, but it gives me hope….that green grass IS coming…that it will be a beautiful spring…that I will manage to get un-distracted and make some time for my passion for green.

Spring preview

After Valentines Day, I think it’s ok to start really anticipating spring, don’t you agree?

So just for a moment, close your eyes and think of tulips….not the grocery store tulips you are seeing in the store right now.  Think of a soft spring breeze, puffy white clouds in the sky and a mass of spring tulips with a ripple of giggles and laughter blowing through them, fresh sun-warmed earth breaking open at their feet, and bees tickling their inner frailty.

Interview!

Last Friday I was interviewed about my blog by an ISU journalism student.  I have to admit, I was a little nervous, but Kim was GREAT!

We met at the Horticulture building, one of my old haunts, talked in the student lounge there and then went to the conservatory for some photos.  One of the students in the lounge said that the old Hort greenhouses and conservatory are scheduled to come down.  The greenhouses will be replaced, but it sounds like the conservatory will not.  It’s a wonderful place to duck into on cold winter days like today….a breath of tropical world that can transport you to southeast Asia or the Amazon! Stop in and wander around sometime, while we still have this treasure on campus.

Natural plants

Ok, I am going to admit some of my extreme greeness here.  Today, being green means being ecologically sensitive;  but for me, being green means loving plants, you know, the way people love their dogs, their kids, maybe their houses.

I’ll blame my mother who let me buy the book The Secret Life of Plants when I was a pre-teen, and my gardening dad can share some blame too.  So…I feel really guilty when I don’t take care of my plants properly…and…..although I love some of the extreme bloomers that Earl May and K-Mart sell these days, sometimes I wonder if these plants feel abused, their genes pushed to the extreme for the sole pleasure of humans, kind of like ultra thin models or 3 year old beauty queens.  Maybe we as humans just need to change our point of view and see the natural beauty in some of our native plants.  I know a lot of ecologically green people are doing that these days.  So here are some close ups of plants from yesterday’s rain garden.  Aren’t they beautiful?

blue

brown

shy one

texture

rudbeckia

mini lace

puff

Rain Gardens and Native Plants

If you live in Ames, have you wondered about the “weedy looking” lot next to the Ames Public Library? (2018 update: this is no longer there due to the library expansion)

I stopped by there to take some photos last Saturday.  My understanding is that it is an example of a rain garden, planted for the purpose of slowing  water runoff during hard rains.

Remember the flooding of 2008 in Iowa? Some blame the changing landscape that has eliminated “weedy looking” areas, but these examples of native planting alternatives to traditional lawn grass are much better at catching rain water, holding it, and keeping it from running and collecting in such a way that increases flooding.

P1010093

People usually keep lawns, parks and highway landscaping mowed.  Shorter grass means faster runoff.  Another thing a lot of people never think of: when you mow frequently, the heavy equipment will compact the soil, making it harder and harder over the years and less able to absorb rainwater.

 

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If you visit our library, take a few minutes to escape to the prairie, walk the little path, run your hand through the fresh smelling sage, chatter with the wasps, bees and butterflies and think about the rain, where it comes from, where it goes…

 

 

Fragile spring beauty

crab apple close up I don’t understand why every year I forget how breathtaking spring is. In the winter, I yearn for it, I day dream about it, but when May comes around, my breath gets taken away again, as if it’s the first time all over again. I’m not working full time right now, and that adds to my feelings of urgency to fully take in this brief flush of new life.

I love to take close up photos of flowers, to get the veins in the petals, the stamens, the puffy yellow pollen. I cut these crab apple blossoms from the trees around my apartment complex. The close up shows how perfectly designed each blossom is and yet with one bump or gust of breeze, all the petals come tumbling off and the showy beauty disappears.

That reminds me that it’s all about the seeds. The fragile beauty slips away, but the seed producing core remains and pulls all the sunlight’s energy into it’s important task. Knowing this helps me look forward to summer and not mourn spring’s passing too much. The leaves on the trees are growing bigger and stronger every day now, rustling in the breezes, the tree flowers are mostly gone and summer is slipping in.