Heaven scent

Dracaena fragrans

I have had this house plant for many years but one day, a few years ago, at this time of year, I noticed a strong perfume throughout the basement and it took me several days to track it down.  It was this plant, which was at the back in my winter plant room, where I bring in the tropical plants to overwinter until the greenhouse is warm enough again.

Dracaena fragrans
Dracaena fragrans

It’s not much to look at, but the perfume is very pleasant and fills the entire house from this one little spike. It’s quite tall, you can see it is up to the roof; about 2m.  It is very easy to grow; I don’t water more than about twice all winter and it could probably do without even that.  You can read more about it on Wikipedia.

As I’ve mentioned a few times, we have had such a mild winter that the squirrels didn’t really hibernate.  I’ve also mentioned that, unlike my former home in the U.K., the reds and greys (here they’re black) seem to get on fine together.  But here’s evidence that perhaps they get on only too well.  This black seems to have a red tail:

Black squirrel with red tail
Strange bird for you to identify

The caption is a nod to @GrrlScientist – if you like birds or politics you would be well-advised to follow her – because this strange bird is shovelling up all my bird food which I put on the ground for the various ground-feeding birds like these juncoes.

Juncoes
Juncoes

I haven’t seen the snow buntings recently.

Finally, back to plants.  This orchid blooms several times a year for me and lasts about 6 weeks.

Oncidium
Oncidium

This time, though, it has been infested with scale insects.  I’ve had these for several years on another Oncidium variety but there has never been more than a few so I never did anything about them.  Suddenly, this year, they are all over several plants and the plants are dripping honeydew from them.  Luckily, this seems to have attracted ladybirds/ladybugs (I’m still bilingual) and I am picking them off by hand.  They don’t move visibly so I should be able to catch up with them.  Most plants seem (so far) immune.

Scale insects
Scale insects

It’s not easy even to tell they are insects as they soon grow a hard shell and settle down to feed.  You need a strong magnifying glass to see the baby ones which are more insect-like.

 

 

Author: Eric Lawton

Eric is a natural philosopher living in rural Ontario

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