History of the Poinsettia

Where does the poinsettia come from? Where was this traditional Christmas plant discovered? Are poinsettias poisonous? Learn more! No plant symbolizes Christmas quite like the poinsettia. More than 2 million of them will be sold this year, making it the largest potted flower crop grown in the US. There are over 100 varieties of poinsettias available in shades of red, pink, white,and yellow—solids, streaked, marbled, and multicolored. It makes it hard to pick just one!...

Best Apples for Baking: Apple Pie, Applesauce, Cider

Not all apples are ideal for cooking! Below is a chart with some of the best apples for baking—from apple pies to applesauce. Ever eaten a mushy apple pie?  Often, the reason for this is a soft apple, such as a McIntosh. Have no fear!  When you use the right kind of apple, you may find you actually like apple pie! Below is a list of the best apples for cooking and baking. Note: Some familiar apple varieties may be missing because they are best eaten...

Fall Leaves: Why Do Leaves Change Color?

Why do leaves change color in the fall? When exactly do they change, and how does the process occur? What Causes Leaves to Change Color? First of all, not all leaves turn vivid colors in the fall. Only a few of our many species of deciduous trees—notably maple, aspen, oak, and gum—produce stellar performances for our annual autumn spectacular in North America. Several factors contribute to fall color (temperature, precipitation, soil moisture), but the main agent is light, or...

How Rainbows Form: 12 Types of Rainbows

Most everyone is fascinating by rainbows and how rainbows are formed. Did you know that there are 12 different kinds of rainbows? On December 17, 2015, Jean Ricard, a serious rainbow scientist (what a fun job!), reported that there are 12 types of rainbows and why. A rare winter rainbow SOURCE: Old Farmer’s Almanac   How Are Rainbows Formed? Rainbows are wonderful reflections of sunlight off raindrops. As the light is reflected, it is refracted, which changes...

List of Names for 2016 Hurricane Season

Tropical storms have been named for 2016, so here is the list of hurricane names for the Atlantic Basin (Miami hurricanes) and Eastern North-Pacific (California hurricanes). Is your name listed? How are Hurricanes Named? Native Americans called these storms Hurakons, after "a great spirit who commanded the east wind." Spanish explorers adopted the word and then began giving hurricanes the names of patron saints on whose feast days the storms occurred. Later, hurricanes were...

Take Note of Garden Journals

Winter is a great time for garden planning, We can make lengthy lists of plants we want to try growing, seeds to order, and drawings of new plot plans. Unfortunately a lot of this gets lost when the gardening season revs up and we are overwhelmed with work. Even though I start out the year with every intention of keeping close track of things in a garden journal, I am usually so busy by June that my record keeping has degenerated into hasty notes scribbled on muddy scraps of paper....

Looking for Planet Nine

What is Planet Nine? Find out more about a possible new planet in our solar system. Everyone likes planets.  They're familiar.  We live on one.  Ask your Aunt Lucie to name a few of the solar system's Moons or to recite five stars, and you'll probably get a blank stare.  But ask her to name all the planets, and no problem. It's been a while since anyone found a new planet in our solar system.  The world was amazed at the discovery of Uranus in 1781 and Neptune...

See Five Planets Align in the Morning Sky

Every naked eye solar system object now appears at the same time. Like a string of pearls, the Moon and five planets are arrayed across the heavens.  Dates to View Five Planets This planet line-up is good from Monday, January 25 right through February 6 or so. Ignore the media which reported it was happening a week prior—when only four of the five planets were visible. Mercury was only 2nd magnitude (it's always dim when it first emerges from the Sun's glare, on the near side of...

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