Thursday, April 11, 2013

Why do flowers have scents? by Tina Ligon


I am sure most of us know the flowers don’t have scents just to please us gardeners but why? I started pondering this question recently when I noticed that the petunias that I have started from seed (and currently reside in every southern window of my house) have a much more notable scent in the evenings. I have noticed this before; a friend has an orchid that smells delightful in the mornings and like pepper in the evenings, to my nose anyway. Being the science geek and master gardener that I am, I decided to do a bit of research.

Petunias originated in South America and were primarily pollinated by the hawk moth (also known as hummingbird moth) which is more active in the evening. The blossoms actually have an enzyme that regulates this diurnal difference in scent. (Floral Scent Diversity is Differently Expressed in Emitted and Endogenous Components in Petunia axillaris Lines, M. KONDO,1 N. OYAMA-OKUBO,2,* T. ANDO,3 E. MARCHESI,4 and M. NAKAYAMA2)  I recommend this reference for anyone that is totally into the chemistry of floral scents, it is on the technical side.

There is another reference that I found that mentions how a lot of the scents are being breed out of plants.  I know you have noticed this with a lot of more “modern” varieties that just don’t smell like the flower you remember in grandma’s yard.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Signs of Spring -- by Irene Shonle

It's the first day of April, and spring in the Rockies is doing its usual schizophrenic thing.... yesterday, we sat outside on the deck and basked in the sunshine and 53 degree temps.  Tonight, it's supposed to snow...

If the unsettled weather isn't enough, there are more sure signs that spring is on its way. Even though not all of them are botanical, gardeners can take heart from all of them:

The aspen catkins are swelling.....

The chipmunks just emerged from hibernation  (and yes, they may try to eat any new green that dares sprout in your garden).....

I've heard reports of bluebirds (I haven't seen them myself, but my sources are good), and I heard a robin just this morning.   The juncoes are starting their staccato spring song (sounds much like a sewing machine), and the pine siskins are starting to warble.  

The days are growing longer, and the snows are melting faster....

Spring is on its way.... but don't get too excited and jump the gun.  Last spring frost for most of Gilpin County is June 10.