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App that Identifies Trees

White spruce tree in my yard

This week a friend showed me an app that identifies trees, birds, weeds, insects and several other things, among them allergen identification, tree ring identity, and plants that are toxic to pets.


What a find! It's called Picture This, and I have never been so excited about an app. Many times, I have seen a tree that I couldn't identify. With this app, I take a picture of the tree, and in a few seconds it identifies it.


Just this afternoon, I took a picture of a tree in my front yard that I have been calling a spruce. Now I know it is a white spruce, or Picea Glauca. A lovely spreading tree in my neighbor's yard across the street has always intrigued me. I had no idea what it was until I took a picture of it with my new Picture This app. It is a white mulberry, or Morusalba.


My next door neighbor has a beautiful tree that I have always enjoyed seeing. Now I know it is called an oriental arborvitae, or Platycladus Orientalis.


I am grateful that my friend, a ping pong buddy, told me about this amazing app. We were playing ping pong at a local church Tuesday morning because the city recreation center where we usually play was being painted. During a short break, I looked outside one of the glass side doors and saw a bush I did not recognize. I asked my friend if he knew what it was.


He didn't, but he said he could find out. He opened the Picture This app on his cell phone and snapped a photo of the bush. In just a second or two the app identified the bush as a weeping forsythia. I was hooked! I downloaded the app, which has a seven-day free trial. The annual charge is $29.99, and it is worth every penny to me.


I am ecstatic! If I could turn cartwheels, I would be turning them in glorious glee. I have only run across one tree that the app couldn't identify. It is an unusual looking tree that grows in my next door neighbor's yard. When I took a picture of the tall, gracefully shaped tree, the app told me the connection was not good enough to identify it. I may take a picture of the tree again sometime tomorrow to see if the app can identify it then.


Now I have an easy-to-use tool in the palm of my hand that identifies trees for me. I am giddy with delight! I am totally mesmerized by an app that one or more people developed to do what I have been wanting for so long!! Many thanks to those creative, innovative people who have come up with the perfect product for me.

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Celebrate the Light

Juniper tree drinks in the light on a bright sunshiny day
Juniper tree welcomes the light

As the days get longer and the weather starts to warm up, it's more comfortable to be outside. One of the first things I saw when I spent more time outside was the weeds. They were popping up all over! They like the longer days and warmer weather too!


Plants other than weeds also like the increased light. Trees drink in that extra sunshine. Fruit trees gauge when it's time to sprout blossoms based on how much light they sense.


We're no different. Light revitalizes us. After the shorter days of winter, we drink in that light just as do the trees, the weeds and the rest of the plants. Light gives me more energy. I enjoy being outside when I feel the sun's warmth enveloping me. In spring that warmth is not too hot, so it feels really good.


Sometimes I like to lean on my hoe for just a moment and watch the sun filter through the juniper tree in my front yard. The light sparkles as it touches different parts of the tree. It tunnels through denser branches. It finds its way through every twig, needle and juniper berry on the tree, and it finds its way to me.


When I stand propped up against the hoe as I take a rest from weeding, I remember something my mother-in-law told me one spring day. She and my son, then about eight years old, were joking around as they chopped weeds near the house. When she took a break by using the hoe as a resting prop, my son looked at her with a smile aid said, "Someone's standing up on the job." She thought it was funny enough that it became one of her standard stories about her grandson.


Getting together outside in the sunlight brings families together in heartfelt, fun-loving ways. Yay for increased sunshine. Celebrate the light!

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Baby Elm Sprouts Never Give Up

This baby elm has chosen to sprout for some protection along a chain link fence.
Baby elm sprout grows along chain link fence

When I pulled up my small garden last week as autumn ended growing season for me, I hoed all the weeds that had hidden under broad vegetable leaves. Up against the chain link fence around my garden, now that vegetable leaves were gone, I found several baby elm sprouts. They had already grown a few inches. With some effort, I pulled them out of the ground by their roots. Baby elms quickly grow long, tenacious roots.


Those baby elms were determined to reproduce in places that protected them from being seen. Unfortunately, they chose locations where they would have no room to thrive. Whenever I found them throughout the summer, I pulled them out. In spite of that, they never gave up.


Baby elms like to hide between rocks or bricks, under vegetable leaves, beside flower stems, anyplace where they're hard to spot. Even though they're tiny, they know instinctively where they will be least detected. It takes constant effort to keep them from taking over my garden.


Now that my garden is hoed and raked with only marigold flowers and lavender still growing, it looks a little bare. The marigold and lavender plants did a great job of keeping squash bugs away from my butternut, spaghetti, delicata, and acorn squash all summer.


It is nice to have extra time now that the garden doesn't claim as much attention. I thought I would forget about it for a while and focus on other projects. But I often catch myself thinking about what I'll plant next year. In spite of the need to frequently battle baby elm sprouts, there's something about gardening that never gets old.

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