Sunday, February 7, 2021

17 Year Cicadas Returning! Photos and Video from 2004

Has it really been 17 years already? I remember May 2004, I was taking organic chemistry as a summer class at Miami University in Oxford, OH. There were piles of dead cicada on the sidewalk that I would ride my bike through on the way to class. Every morning a dozen shells would be on my bike outside the apartment. In the morning, the emerging adult cicada would be white and drying their exoskeletons on or near their discarded shell. I heard on a radio show that you could cook and eat the still soft white ones so I gave it a try with some mushrooms and green onions. They taste vaguely nutty. Read more about periodical cicada in Indiana

17 year cicadas returning in 2021! Photo from 2004
17 year cicadas returning in 2021! Photo from May 24, 2004

Summer 2004 was also the year I got my first digital camera, and thanks to backing up my hard drives I still have all my college hard drives intact for posterity. I even have AIM logs of instant message conversations, it's a real rabbit hole! 

I think there were more cicadas in Oxford, OH than there will be in my suburban development in Noblesville, Indiana because I think they need undisturbed ground to mature, and with all the farming and development around here I just don't know how many areas of woodland haven't been turned over in 17 years. Probably a great deal, I'm sure the cicadas will be hard to miss, but I don't think I'll wake up to them covering the walls of my house that was just built last year. I guess we'll see and I'll be able to take photos for the future to document how many there were. 

In fact the article I linked to mentioned "Cicadas are abundant only in areas where trees harbored the eggs of the previous generation" so I think due to the large old trees in Oxford, Ohio we had a lot of them. All the trees in my lot were just planted, but we do have some wooded lots right behind and next to ours. 

Adult cicada emerging still white while it is drying out
Adult cicada emerging still white while it is drying out

cooking 17 year cicada
Pan fried cicada, you can see it's a fresh one where the wings haven't dried yet

17 year cicada covering tree
A particularly popular hang out spot

17 year cicada covering tree
Cicada covering trees in Ohio in 2004

17 year cicada covering tree
17 year cicada in Ohio from May 2004

17 year cicada mating photo
Cicadas mating back to back on the sidewalk

17 year cicada locust brick wall
Cicadas covering a brick wall in 2004

This great article from Purdue talks about the plants at risk of damage from cicada when the females lay their eggs in the tree branches. Maples made the high risk list and I have 3 different maple trees in my yard, just babies really. I hope they don't do too much damage, but it would be kind of nice to have this brood lay some eggs so in 17 years we have the fun of watching them emerge again. 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Identifying New Construction Plants

We moved into our new house November 25, 2020, so the plants that came with the house were basically twigs at this point. Some had plant tags but some did not. I'll have better luck identifying the mystery plants when they leaf out this spring, but here is what we have so far:

Front yard: Linden tree and two mystery trees. Maybe a maple (left) and the other some kind of cherry (right behind Linden)?

Front bed: A generic burning bush and two mystery plants, maybe some kind of hydrangea or lilac? The corner of the house has a Royal Raindrops crabapple and Taxus shrubs. 

West bed: Two arctic emerald boxwood and one Hydrangea 'Dolly' labeled

East bed: Two lilac 'Josee' and one Sweetspire Itea 'Merlot'. I also moved 2 divisions of Siberian iris from the old house - the only plants I took with me. 

Back yard: Exclamation!™ London Planetree - Platanus x acerifolia ‘Morton Circle’- this big boy is going to get huge. Hopefully when the HOA changes hands we can move the fence further back into the easement.

Exclamation!™ London Planetree - Platanus x acerifolia ‘Morton Circle’

Great Utility Box Plant Combination

One of my favorite combination of plants to hide the utility boxes is a mix of flowers that bloom at different times of the year, and a feather reed grass that provides a nice backdrop. Now, this combination also dies to the ground in winter so if you really wanted to hide a utility box you could use an evergreen shrub, but nevertheless over the years I found this combination works really well together:

  • Calamagrostis acutiflora 'Karl Foerster' feather reed grass
  • Iris sibirica - Siberian Iris
  • Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus' - Huge purple coneflower
  • Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
I learned that you don't want to have too many different types of plants, you want to have just a handful and have repetition so it looks really pleasing to the eye and not like just a hodgepodge of plants. 

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'

Iris sibirica
Iris sibirica

Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'
Echinacea purpurea 'Magnus'

Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'
Aster novae-angliae 'Purple Dome'

Last Photos of Old House

I'm saying goodbye to the old house, the lot that I landscaped from the ground up - replacing every tree and shrub that came with the house (except one shrub), taking trunk fulls of discarded sod to cover the back yard, digging and amending the soil to make beds on all sides. It was a lot of work! 

November isn't the best time of year to show off the final shots of the yard. But to be honest, once I knew we were moving I wasn't all that motivated to make everything perfect and put a lot of time and energy into it. I spent a lot more of my energy painting the outside trim and interior walls. We fixed the fridge light and ice maker right before moving out. Isn't it funny that we lived with a leaky ice maker for years and fixed it in an afternoon and now we can't even enjoy it. I guess that's just how it goes. Nothing lights a fire for home projects like trying to get top dollar. 

lavender flowers blooming in fall
Blue Spear Lavendar - Lavandula angustifolia 'PAS1213794'

Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry fall colors
Itea virginica 'Sprich' Little Henry

Liriope muscari 'Variegata' purple flowers
Liriope muscari 'Variegata'

Shade side yard including Little Henry and Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold' in foreground

Bloomstruck hydrangea and boxwoods in the front yard

Boxwood and hydrangea 'Bloomstruck'

Phemeranthus calycinum 'Judith's Favorite'
Phemeranthus calycinum 'Judith's Favorite'

Lilac 'Miss Kim'

Picea orientalis 'Skylands' oriental spruce
Picea orientalis 'Skylands' oriental spruce

Picea orientalis 'Skylands' oriental spruce
Picea orientalis 'Skylands' oriental spruce