Posts tagged sun

Iris open house

Iris grow beneath a statue in Wanda Lunn's gardens in 2008/ Cindy Hadish photo

Iris grow beneath a statue in Wanda Lunn's gardens in 2008/ Cindy Hadish photo

    I had the opportunity last year to visit the beautiful iris gardens of Wanda Lunn in Cedar Rapids. Wanda had 400 visitors in two days last spring and let me know that her gardens will again be open for viewing. If you get the chance, visit her home at 526 Bezdek Dr. NW from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 9, 2009, to see dwarf bearded iris, blooming shade perennials, blooming bushes and spring bulbs in bloom.

    The gardens will also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both Saturday,  May 30, and Sunday, May 31, when 300 tall bearded iris should be in bloom. Wanda noted that instructions on planting, care and identification will be available each day.

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Ready for Daylight Saving Time

I love sunflowers and thought it was a good excuse to use one in this account of Daylight Saving Time (or Daylight Savings Time, as many people say) from www.webexhibits.org

sunflower

sunflower

Just as sunflowers turn their heads to catch every sunbeam, so too have we discovered a simple way to get more from our sun.

  

 

   Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 8, 2009, so set your clocks ahead one hour before going to bed Saturday night.

 

 I, for one, am looking forward to the time change and wish it were year-round. I know there have been studies that show people have trouble adjusting their sleep schedules during the fall and spring time changes.  In the last two years, we have extended the length of Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.  – a positive move, in my opinion. Anyone else like to weigh in?

Whether you agree or disagree, you might find the history behind Daylight Saving Time interesting. Following are some tidbits from the WebExhibits site. Much more can be found at: http://www.webexhibits.org/daylightsaving/index.html

   According to some sources, DST saves energy. Studies done by the U.S. Department of Transportation in 1975 showed that Daylight Saving Time trims the entire country’s electricity usage by a small but significant amount, about one percent each day, because less electricity is used for lighting and appliances.

    The rationale behind the 1975 study of DST-related energy savings was that energy use and the demand for electricity for lighting homes is directly related to the times when people go to bed at night and rise in the morning. In the average home, 25 percent of electricity was used for lighting and small appliances, such as TVs and stereos. A good percentage of energy consumed by lighting and appliances occurred in the evening when families were home. By moving the clock ahead one hour, the amount of electricity consumed each day decreased.

   In the summer, people who rose before the sun rises used more energy in the morning than if DST were not in effect. However, although 70 percent of Americans rose before 7 a.m., this waste of energy from having less sunlight in the morning was more than offset by the savings of energy that results from more sunlight in the evening.

   In the winter, the afternoon Daylight Saving Time advantage is offset for many people and businesses by the morning’s need for more lighting. In spring and fall, the advantage is generally less than one hour. So, the rationale was that Daylight Saving Time saves energy for lighting in all seasons of the year, but it saves least during the four darkest months of winter (November, December, January, and February), when the afternoon advantage is offset by the need for lighting because of late sunrise.

   In addition, less electricity was thought to be used because people are home fewer hours during the “longer” days of spring and summer. Most people plan outdoor activities in the extra daylight hours. When people are not at home, they don’t turn on the appliances and lights. Although a 1976 report by the National Bureau of Standards disputed the 1975 U.S. Department of Transportation study, and found that DST-related energy savings were insignificant, the DOT study continued to influence decisions about Daylight Saving Time.

   The argument in favor of saving energy swayed Indiana, where until 2005, only about 16 percent of counties observed Daylight Saving Time. Based on the DOT study, advocates of Indiana DST estimated that the state’s residents would save over $7 million in electricity costs each year. Now that Indiana has made the switch, however, researchers have found the opposite to be the case. Scientists from the University of California, Santa Barbara, compared energy usage over the course of three years in Indiana counties that switched from year-round Standard Time to DST. They found that Indianans actually spent $8.6 million more each year because of Daylight Saving Time, and increased emissions came with a social cost of between $1.6 million and $5.3 million per year. Commentators have theorized that the energy jump is due to the increased prevalence of home air conditioning over the past 40 years, in that more daylight toward the end of a summer’s day means that people are more likely to use their air conditioners when they come home from work.

   However, the Indiana research findings don’t necessarily apply elsewhere. In cooler climates, for example, energy savings may well occur. In addition, some argue that there is a public health benefit to Daylight Saving Time, as it decreases traffic accidents. Several studies in the U.S. and Great Britain have found that the DST daylight shift reduces net traffic accidents and fatalities by close to one percent. An increase in accidents in the dark mornings is more than offset by the evening decrease in accidents.

   However, recent research indicates that pedestrian fatalities from cars soar at 6:00 p.m. during the weeks after clocks are set back in the fall. Walkers are three times as likely to be hit and killed by cars right after the switch than in the month before DST ends. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, who found a 186 percent jump in the risk of being killed by a car for every mile walked, speculate that drivers go through an adjustment period when dusk arrives earlier. Although the risk drops in the morning, because there are fewer pedestrians at 6:00 a.m., the lives saved in the morning don’t offset those lost in the evening.  This research corroborates a 2001 study by researchers at the University of Michigan, which found that 65 pedestrians were killed by car crashes in the week before DST ended, and 227 pedestrians were killed in the week following the end of DST.

There may also be an economic benefit to DST, as daylight evening hours encourage people to go out and shop, potentially spurring economic growth.

The Daylight Saving Time plan was not formally adopted in the U.S. until 1918. ‘An Act to preserve daylight and provide standard time for the United States‘ was enacted on March 19, 1918. See law

 

Under legislation enacted in 1986, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. began at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of April and ended at 2 a.m. on the last Sunday of October.

 

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 extended Daylight Saving Time in the U.S. beginning in 2007, though Congress retained the right to revert to the 1986 law should the change prove unpopular or if energy savings are not significant. Going from 2007 forward, Daylight Saving Time in the U.S.

  • begins at 2 a.m. on the second Sunday of March and
  • ends at 2 a.m. on the first Sunday of November

 

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Living with plants

                The following is from Linn County Master Gardener Claire Smith:

 

                Many thanks to my son for power washing my deck Sunday.  Oh! What a mess it was!  The spring and summer rains left a thick cover of green gunk on the old pressure treated boards.   I’m on my way today to purchase weather seal.  The cleaning process was as a result of bringing house plants back indoors.  Each spring I set house plants on the deck to enjoy them in combination with potted annuals. 

                Bringing plants indoors prior to turning on the furnace acclimates them from the cooler nights.  If there is any possibility of pests residing in the plants, they get gentle warm water bath. 

Live greenery in the house in the winter creates such a soothing ambiance.  Plants add color to compliment the décor.  Bright colors such as scarlet and yellow are focal points. Blue and pink combine easily with other colors.  Silver is a striking addition anytime.  Add height by setting the plant on top of a larger overturned pot. Use a pedestal.  Turn a floor lamp base into a plant stand for vines.  Invest in a wheeled platform to easily move your huge “statement” plant.  Any texture enhances your rooms:  large leaves make a room feel larger; smaller leaves will make a space more intimate.      

Remember, any house plant is one that has been moved from its natural environment.  You control and are responsible for its livelihood with the amount of light, moisture and warmth you provide.  Select a healthy plant.  Check it for pests.  Check its general (healthy) appearance.  Check the label to be certain you can provide its optimum living conditions.  Just as with outdoor plants, some prefer sun, some shade.   Some prefer a constantly moist soil, some a dry soil.  Push your finger an inch or two into the soil.  If the plant prefers moist, the soil should be damp, but not soggy.  If it should be dryer, the soil should be dry to an inch or two below the surface.  Turn the plant about a quarter turn each time you water it to provide evenly distributed light.  Buy your houseplants now rather than transporting them in and out of cold temperatures. 

Are you in a quandary about which houseplant(s) will suit you?  Call the Linn County Extension Office Horticulture Line @ 319-447-0647 and ask for suggestions.  Then visit your favorite local garden center to visualize and take home your prize purchase! 

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Tips on container gardening

Master Gardener Gloria Johnson gives us some timely container gardening tips:

 

    My deck seems so bare with no furniture and no plants, but May 10th is

about the earliest date to safely start planting in Northern Linn County. 

My house plants are eager to share the outdoors with my container annuals and

two tomato plants.

     Container gardening works so well for a patio or deck.  With so many

folks living in apartments and condos, there are now flowers and vegetables

bred specifically for container gardening.  Check with your garden center when

you purchase plants.

     Following are a few suggestions for effective container gardening:

     Select a container that you can easily handle, but not less

than 15″ in diameter.  Bases on rollers are very convenient.  Choose a style

and color to compliment your home’s exterior.  Use odd numbers of containers,

i.e. one large and two smaller.  Have a drainage hole, but use a screen or even

a coffee filter over it to keep the soil from washing out.

      Know how much sun or shade the plant will receive during the

day and purchase plants accordingly.

      A good potting soil mixture is equal parts of garden loam,

course sand and peat moss.  Do not use regular garden soil as you may

introduce pests and disease into the planter.

      Daily watering is a basic necessity.  Early morning is best,  

but if you must water in the evening remember that foliage that doesn’t dry

out overnight can produce fungal diseases.  Revive a wilting plant by

immersing the entire plant in water until no air bubbles are visible then

place the plant in a shady spot while it perks up.

      A layer of mulch is an attractive method of retaining

moisture and also decreases splashing when watering.

      Deadheading (removing dead and wilted flowers) promotes

reblooming. Serious pruning in late summer will eliminate “leggy” plants.

      You are limited only to your imagination, determination

and resources, but if have you have questions, call the Master Gardener

Horticulture Hotline at 319-447-0647. 

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