Been a While – Reconfiguration

This gallery contains 10 photos.

  It’s been a while since my last post… A lot has happened… I got married… Bought a house out in the country… Even Started a side business making crafts out of recycled pallets and selling them at craft shows… Life is different now and I can’t wait to share it with you… I am […]

Sunshine and Moonshine

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“Autumn Splendor” – Frick Park – Pittsburgh, PA

Moonshine… Evening rising… Sunshine falling…
Cold wind blows away the morning sun calling…
Alone with you… Together with a meadow lark…
Seasons slide away into the never ending dark…

Sunshine fleeting… Fog rising off the calm water…
Flashbacks to carefree days… Bud and sunshine blotter…
Steadfast we glide across mountains made of lime…
Aging is just the way we come to terms with time…

We will shine… Our reflections dance on the still lake…
Confidence is nurtured… Bread is what we break…
In the morning spiritual energy tends to rise and fall…
When the weather breaks we will answer natures call…

Nightfall resigns… Yet our spirits continue to rise…
We are limited to the earth… Birds rule the sky…
Our souls fly above the clouds and into outer space…
Some folks pray for peace… Others pray for grace…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Waiting for… Finding a Home…

"Waiting for a Home" - Soergel Orchards - Wexford, PA

“Waiting for a Home” – Soergel Orchards – Wexford, PA

I haven’t posted in a while… A life consumed… A life confirmed… For me…

In the meantime… I was interviewed for Ignite… Check it out right here

Red sky mourning… Red sky and the mourning doves…
Yellow leaves grace trees rising above…
Spring is a whimper… Summer is a reply…
Autumn is the way the seasons try to say goodbye…

Summer is falling… Fruit is rotting on the frozen ground…
Mourning doves fly through the winds winter bound…
Frozen time lost in the name of sleep…
When we wake the spring clouds will thunder and weep…

Winter is of the night… Winter is a time of passing…
Winds send the naked trees suddenly crashing…
Darkness lasts longer than the winter sun…
I am of the daylight… Together we are one…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Aster Blossoms and Orion

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“Blood Moon Eclipse” – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

Autumn… Orion… Wind from the north…
Guide me to the sky and let the stars come forth…
Aster blossoms purple… Basil sets seed…
Mighty trees get naked and poppy pods bleed…

Bask in the glow of the warm harvest sun…
This is the point summer and winter are one…
Dreamscapes of neutral memories terraced…
Nightmares will scare us… Pray to Polaris…

The end is near… But the worst has passed…
Surprised to find that any of us could last…
Green leaves fade to a bright shade of rust…
After the autumn leaves decay into dust…

Under the blue sky… Floating balls of cotton…
The scent of the breeze is of fallen fruit rotten…
Green grass fading… Goldenrod swaying…
This is a moment in time worth replaying…

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“Web in Dew – Foggy Bottom” – Frick Park, Pittsburgh, PA

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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Summer Rise – Autumn Fall

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“Monarch on Milkweed” – Penn State Master Gardeners Demo Garden – South Park, PA

Stellar summer sunlight…
Autumn is slowly creeping…
When the tree leaves fall…
The earth begins sleeping…

Night sky lit in orange…
Sirens interrupt silence…
Just another reminder…
Of surrounding violence…

So into the blue we sail…
Together constantly rising…
Heaven is a hop away…
Into the stars of Orion…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

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A Plant A Day Till Spring – Day 74 – Calibrachoa

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“Calibrachoa” – Summer 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

“A Plant a Day till Spring” will highlight one plant a day, starting on the winter solstice (December 21, 2013)… And ending on the vernal equinox (March 20, 2014)… If all goes to plan I will be starting with old Snowdrop photos from 2013… And ending with new photos of Snowdrops in 2014…

I don’t often say I hate a plant… But I can honestly say I am not a fan of calibrachoa… I swear when you see it at the nursery in the spring… It is in full bloom… A lot of money has been spent breeding this plant into the multitude of colors currently available… I guess that money has to be made back somehow…

I would be willing to bet a lot of people believe these to be dwarf petunias… After all they are commonly labeled “Mini Petunia” or “Mini-Tunia”… This couldn’t be further from the truth… In my own personal experiences this plant shares none of the same characteristics as Petunias… Where a Petunia is pretty bug resistant… Calibrachoa is one of the first plants eaten… Petunias bloom year-round… While Calibrachoa has a small window at the end of the season…

That is sort of the kick in the ass about this plant… It is really an autumn-bloomer… But when you buy it in the store it is often in full bloom regardless of the season… This is just one trick nurseries often use to get us to buy plants that we would not even notice…

Plants that bloom during a specific time of the year are triggered to do so by the sun… Throughout the course of the year the hours of sunlight we experience is constantly changing,,, For many Autumn blooming flowers this is triggered by the shortening hours of daylight… This trait is called photosensitivity and is a trait shared by many plants… All the nurseryman needs to do to get late-blooming flowers to open is modify the hours of available light in the greenhouse… For many temperate climate plants the magic number is 12 hours on and 12 hours off…

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“First Snowfall on Lilac” – Fall 2013 – Whitney Avenue – Wilkinsburg, PA

The one redeeming quality of Calibrachoa is the little fact that it blooms well beyond the first snowfall… In fact… It takes a relatively hard freeze to kill it… In its native range of South America it is a tender perennial… Some might even consider it a tender evergreen… Either way… If you do decide to plant it… Which I won’t be doing again… You will at least have something to photograph well after the first snowfall…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

If you want some science – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calibrachoa

These “Plant a Day Till Spring” posts are simply intended to kill time until spring when I start writing more… My source (where applicable) is Wikipedia.org… The photography is all my own… And I am adding my own information…

This website and all of the information presented within is provided free by the author… Me… It is my sole opinion and is not representative of anyone other than myself… You can contact me directly with questions at – c.condello@hotmail.com

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Practical Permaculture – Only the Oak Leaves Remain

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The snow is falling… Only the Oak leaves remain… Winter is calling…
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This post was born from the haiku above… I never intended to write a permaculture post…

Wait a second… Why do the Oak leaves remain…

Walking through the woods after a winter snow… Silence… Just the crunching of snow under your boots as you walk… In the wind you hear the sound of leaves rattling together… But all the leaves are covered in snow… A closer inspection of the sound will most likely reveal a tree that is covered in dead leaves… Leaves that are hanging on for dear life in the cold winter winds…

Long after all other trees lose their leaves in the winter, the dead leaves of an Oak Tree remain. This trait is extremely helpful in identification, often remaining until the buds break in the spring. This retention of dead plant matter is known as marcascence, and it is a genius evolutionary trait that I am going to try and explain.

In autumn, shortening day length tells the deciduous trees that it is time to stop growing. The tree then forms a layer of cells at the base of each leaf. This is called the abscission layer, it slows and finally stops the flow of sap to the leaf. Once the sap stops flowing the leaves lose chlorophyll and all the reds, yellows, and oranges that the green chlorophyll was hiding becomes visible.

Oak trees tend to be variable in this leaf retention, young trees will remain covered… while older trees may shed the top leaves, but retain much of the bottom… I’m not sure if many people pay close enough attention to the trees around them, but these leaves last until early spring. This is because the abscission layer forms much later on Oaks than on other trees. Though the leaves may look like they are nothing more than a fluke, there are actually many theories as to why this occurs.

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“November 23rd – Hangin’ in There” – The last speck of color waiting for the snow… Underneath the fading suns pale winter glow…

One theory is the leaves act as a browsing shield from deer. In the deep winter when foraging is difficult and scarce, deer will target the young buds and branches of trees. The leaves that remain are very tough and prevent the deer from finding the tender oak buds. Another theory is that the tannin-rich dead oak leaves have a taste deer find unpleasant and therefore avoid the trees altogether.

Another is frost and wind protection. The new buds on a tree can be damaged by extreme cold and wind chills, leaves are retained to protect them. I don’t know if I am a fan of this theory, Oak trees have successfully flourished in extremely cold winters for a long time. This idea just seams like a stretch to me. Maybe possible on southerly oaks growing towards the northern end of their range… But still a stretch…

Lastly… And the theory I agree with… Spring nutrients and compost… In the early spring the forest floor is sprouting with life. Many spring plants are germinating through the partially composted leaves of last year. Around the same time the gardeners are putting down spring mulch, the oak tree drops its leaves. These leaves serve many purposes, but the obvious is to keep weeds to a minimum.

In nature, the leaves that fall to the forest floor in the autumn are slowly broken down. The freeze and thaw cycles of winter pulverize the leaves to a point where the previous years seed can germinate through them with ease. Normally these plants would finish the leaf decomposition as they grow, but the mighty oak has other plans with its leaves.

I find it interesting that many of those leaves remain right up to the spring weed push. These freshly fallen leaves help keep undergrowth to a minimum. As they break down over the summer they provide surface nutrients during a time when they would otherwise be scarce.

Regardless of the theory you choose, you have to admit marcascence is a cool trait. The idea that the leaves that stay on the tree through winter are their for a reason, is really something special. It is important to mention that you will not find this on every Oak tree, it is not uncommon to find one tree that has retained many of its leaves among twenty that did not. The variable nature of marcascence is what makes it such a mystery. A mystery that nature has yet to give up…

plant petunias and question everything – chriscondello

This site… And all the photographs and information presented within are provided free of charge by the author… I am not affiliated with any product or business… Only myself… Writing this blog takes a ton of time… If you find any of this information helpful, please consider purchasing a print from my online store… It is obviously not a requirement… But it helps…

I sell prints of my photography here – http://www.society6.com/chriscondello Or you can contact me directly at c.condello@hotmail.com for commissions or locally/personally produced prints… Thank you for reading…

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