Thursday, 9 May 2013

The sweetest mice for a garden

We have had a nice week of quite warm weather and sunny spells, top temperature of 23 degrees C, not exactly summer but a very nice change from the below 10 we had for weeks on end.

My garden is filling in and everything is growing fast these days. Still no sign of roses, which is very strange for me – it’s May and I have no roses at all, that’s never happened before. I have spotted the first, tiny buds on most of the bushes though, but I guess it will be June before I get any flowers. The first roses usually appear in mid April in my garden so we don’t seem to be catching up with things as of yet, still 6-8 weeks behind. At the bottom of my garden, to the right is my woodland area, where I last year had a magnificent display of crocuses and anemones. This year the display was a bit more drawn out and some of the crocus bulbs seem to have ended up at the squirrel’s dinner table during the winter months.

There are still lots of things going on at the woodland area, but giving the nature of many of these plants, they are not possible to see from the other end of the garden, you have to be up-close and personal. Can you see the heart shaped, masses of leaves in the centre of the picture? It is called Arisarum  proboscideum and is a typical spring plant, here now and gone before July starts. But there is more to see here than what meets the eye at first glance.

Let me push some leaves away to show you what’s underneath, here are the flowers, looking just like a group of sleeping mice, hence the common name for this plant, ‘Mouse Plant’ :-)


Look at the tails, they can be incredibly long!


They really look like the back-end of a mouse!


Just like mice, cuddled up together. Let's slip the leaves back and leave them in peace.


With the leaves back again, all you can see is some of the tails sticking up between the leaves. This plant is a great talking point, if you haven’t got one yet then now might be a good time to get one. Great to grow in a raised bed or a large container too, as you will be able to see the flowers better than on the ground.


And now to something growing next to the mouse plants, this is a Trillium luteum. In 2005 I got 4 small Trilliums, one of each type, a T. grandiflorum, T. cuneatum, T. luteum and a T. erectum. I have written about the Trillium cuneatums before, they are a lovely big clump by now and thoroughly photographed every spring. Trillium grandiflorum came back a couple of years, but only one plant every time and then I saw nothing more of it. The T. luteum and T. erectum flowered that first year when I got them, but never came back in subsequent years. But last year the luteum emerged again, after 7 years of dormancy! The photo here is from last year. There was a specific reason why the luteum didn’t come back for all those years and then finally emerged; the flower broke off the first summer I had it – it got trampled on and the stem broke. Nope, it wasn’t me, but it was an accident and he didn’t realise that the trillium would not just come back next year. You see, picking a trillium seriously injures the plant by preventing the flowers from producing food for the next year. A plant takes many years to recover. And that what’s happened to my Trillium luteum, it took 7 years. I was of course very anxious for it to come back this year too, and possibly with a sibling – and it did come back, but only one flower stalk.

But look, before I could even manage to take a picture of it, look what happened – the flower broke off, again! I assume it is a cat that has broken it off this time, possibly even my cat, when jumping off the fence, it was certainly no boots size 12 this time, I haven’t had any visitors to my garden for ages. I have a large clump of trillium cuneatum next to it, so it is so unfortunate that it was the luteum that broke and not any of the cuneatums I have loads of. I assume it will be another 7 years until next time I will see this little beauty.

Because I know it will be a long time till next time I see this flower, I made a display of it together with some other flowers from my garden.


The Trillium luteum looks fresh and crisp floating in the water.


I made up this bowl several days ago and it still looks great in the sunshine.


Daffodils and primroses.




I hope I will see a new Trillium lutelum next year, but I am prepared for this being the last I will see of it for many years.


My bird bath has proved popular with the magpies around here, I usually have two of these black and white birds visiting my garden, not sure if it is the same two and if they are a couple, but they are not that afraid of me and will land even if I am sitting in the garden. They have a good splash in the birdbath and take turn, usually coming back 3 or 4 times before they are finished. (Click on the photos to get a larger version.)

The birds are getting thoroughly soaked by the bath, and sometimes it looks like they are too heavy with water to take off again. I can always tell when they have been round for a bath, they make such a splash that half of the water is gone every time they have had a bath.

Sometimes they share, I wish I could have captured this moment in proper slow motion, or even filmed it, cause this was a double splash! There was almost no water left after they had finished today.

And finally, my cat hasn’t featured here for a long time, he has definitely enjoyed the recent sunshine too, spending the days being lazy on the garden bench. Let’s hope we get many more days like that.


There are stormy weather for tomorrow and showers on the way for the next week or so, I guess having 23 degrees for more than a day would be too much to ask – but as long as we are in the upper teens I won’t complain...although I spoke to my mother today on the phone, my parents live in southern Spain, they had 30 degrees C today, the back-end of a mini-heat wave. Mmm, wouldn’t mind 30 degrees for a while, I can’t remember last time we had that in London, I am not sure we actually had 30 degrees last year at all. Anyway, we no longer have night frost. Ayah! Something to celebrate I suppose, my tender seedlings are happy for that at least. Until next time, take care.

58 comments:

  1. Beautiful to see how your garden did grow. I have been on a holiday for a week and when I came back I could not believe what I saw. The roses are late indeed. Two of mine still have no leaves but the stems are healthy green. Overhere the weather is not much better. I hope we will get some rain because the plants need moist.
    Have a wonderful weekend with a lot of sunshine Helene

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    1. We have had rain on and off regularly so no desperate need for more rain, I just water my pots when they need it. My garden needs sun most of all, lots of it! And so do I :-) Have a great week-en you too.

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  2. Nice day you had, Helene!
    I love your display very much. When I have enough blooming daffodils I will make the same!

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    1. Thanks Nadezda, the display is still looking good, has lasted for almost a week now. Since I keep it outside and the nights are still quite cold it lasts much longer than indoors.

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  3. Beautiful Garden Helene and everything is so late even all the trees are still bare .

    We got 1 sunny hot day on Tue then yesterday back to cold and heavy rains but garden did need rain all looking lush now.

    I love your trilliums mine are just coming in to bud now .

    Do you know if you can divided Trilliums as I would like to take a part of mine along with my helebores up to the Glamsi castle walled garden [project.

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    1. I love trilliums too, but have never divided mine, haven't really dared although it probably is about time. I did Google it a couple of years ago, but found so many different kind of advice so I just left it. Some said to lift and divide just after finished flowering and some said to lift and divide in the winter, when dormant – although then you need to know where they are, as there are no leaves to guide you! If you go ahead please let me know how it went!

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  4. The mouse plant is cute! They really do look like little sleeping mice, how funny. What a shame about your trillium flower, but the display in the bowl is lovely. Floating the different flower heads is a good idea!

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    1. Thanks Ruth, I haven't seen the mouse plant on anyone else's posts so maybe it is not that common. It is readily available in garden centres here in UK though.

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  5. The birds are loving the water at the moment - our magpies are much more timid than yours. I seem to have some no show crocuses too that I planted last year in my blue and white border. They were a blue variety Blue Pearl

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    1. The magpies here are not timid at all, I am a bit surprised - the pigeons are much more afraid, they fly off as soon as I come out in the garden.

      My cat seems to have accepted the birds too, he sometimes look at me when the magpies walk around, as if he asks me if they really are allowed to do that? When I tell him it's OK, they are allowed, he will close his eyes and continue sleeping :-)

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  6. I love the idea of floating flowers in bowls of water, it looks so pretty. It looks like your cat is enjoying the good weather, I hope you are too.

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    1. Thanks Patty, yes we have been enjoying the weather, not much to enjoy today though, very windy and rain.

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  7. Your garden is really starting to bloom, Helene. What a shame about your trillium, it's always a bit heartbreaking when something like that happens. I snapped a whole branch of my clematis off the other day trying to tie it in. I have never seen or heard of a mouse plant before, they look fascinating.

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    1. Thanks Paula, I did the same with one of my clematis last month, I tried to make a cutting of it, but despite cutting the correct place and using rooting powder it still died. Maybe I should have had a plastic bag over it, I didn't do that. Not to worry, the mother plant is very healthy, having grown out of its new trellis in just 4 weeks! Not sure what to do now, I have to place another trellis above it I think!

      You can get mouse plants in most larger garden centres right now, or buy online from for example Burncoose.

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  8. Glad to hear you've been having some warm weather for a change! It has gone from cold to hot here in the midwestern US. Your garden is looking beautiful, even without roses. Amazing story about the trillium - it's such a lovely one too!

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    1. Thanks - and now the weather has gone bad again, the essence of British weather, never the same two days in a row! The stormy weather we had today would have fitted better on a November’s day!

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  9. Just been spending an hour out there and the weather is a bit weird and depressing for me today to be honest...too much wind!

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    1. You have been braver than me then, I found it too windy and the rain was a rather start-stop thing all day. I did a 5 min walk, and discovered a huge piece of roof felting from my neighbour’s everlasting building project. It had blown down from their roof, right down in my garden, tipped over my birdbath and broken 4 tulips, Argh! Last time it came down, last time it was windy, it broke several branches on my hydrangea and I told the neighbours not to just put it back on the roof without weighing it down with something. That message was obviously ignored.

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  10. Hi Helene
    Oh, I haven't heard of that mouse plant until yet. But it really looks interesting. Hmm, not sure, that my cat would approve with that kind of mice in the garden *LoL*. Hey, and your cat looks so sweet on the bench... very cute.
    I'm sorry to hear that you can't walk that good for going to garden market. A pitty I don't live closer. We sure would find a way to bring you on such a market or at least the market to you :o). I really admire your strength that you manage this lovely garden despite the illness.
    Have a lovely weekend!
    Alex

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    1. Thank you Alex, you know, shopping online is the biggest shop and market you can have! But it isn’t exactly the same as going there yourself, looking, touching and smelling – Yes, I do miss that.

      My cat has showed no interest in my plant mice so I think they would be absolutely safe for your cat too :-) If you can’t get hold of them in your local garden centre I am sure they sell them online, this would be the right time of year buying them. Have a great week-end you too!

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  11. The bowl with the beautiful Trillium, daffodils and primroses looks wonderful in the sun, a very good idea. I like Trilliums but they won't do in my garden. I also tried once the mouseplant with no success. Lovely photos of the magpies, they show very nice in combination with the Japanese maple.

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    1. Thanks Janneke, trilliums and mouse plants have very much the same requirements, slightly acid soil in dapple shade with plenty of moisture. The perfect place is under a big tree, like I have it. Perhaps yours didn’t get the right place to grow? I don’t do anything with mine except making sure they have enough water. That’s it.

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  12. I agree--the bowl display is priceless! What a wonderful way to enjoy the broken Trillium while it lasts. Actually, 23C sounds mighty pleasant! That's about normal early May weather for my part of the world. But my perfect temp is about 28C (82F) -- approximately what we had for a few days this week! That Arisarum plant sure is cute! The blooms do look like little brown mice!

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    1. Thanks Beth, the trillium is actually still looking good in that bowl, although I had to replace the daffodils and primroses yesterday.

      And I completely agree with you about the perfect temperature, I could have 28C every day all year round - except for a slight problem...lots of plants in my garden would not like it if I took away the seasons!

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  13. The yellow trillium is really nice, I'm putting that on my wish list.

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    1. It really is a sweet Trillium, and supposed to be one of the easier to grow so if you have a good spot for it, this one would be a good one to start with :-)

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  14. Wooow, I've never seen the mice plant here in Japan. Interesting!! They are flowering downward, aren't they? The bowl with Trillium looks gorgeous! And the photo of your cat makes me smile. He looks confortable sleeping in the sunny spot:)

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    1. Hi Keity, I am sure you could grow mouse plants in Japan, and you can certainly grow it in your container garden, you just need to make sure you have the right type of soil in the container (ericaceous mix) and give it a place in dapple shade away from strong midday sun. They need enough water and that’s it really. If you can’t find it locally, perhaps you can buy it online?

      I guess you can say it flowers downwards, the stalk is at the white end of the flower and when the seeds are ripe, they split lengthwise from the stalk and up to the brown part. The pollen is distributed by fungus gnats which lay their eggs inside the flower where they inadvertently pick up the plant’s pollen and carry it out with them to other mouse plants. The mouse plant has a slight fungus smell which attract the fungus gnats, thinking the flower is a fungus – they obviously don’t know what a mouse is then! I don’t know if I have fungus gnats in my garden, I have never seen any I think, but my mouse plant has spread beautifully over the years so perhaps I do have them. But they also spread by rhizomes so maybe that’s how mine have spread.

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  15. Hi Helene,

    I have never heard of a "mouse" plant, but it sure does look like one. You might need to make sure your cat doesn't try to catch it ... lol. Your cat is so adorable. My Cheops likes to find the sunbeams in the house and flop down. I love your floating flower display!

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    1. Thanks Donna, my cat has not shown overly interest in my mouse plant yet, but he is a quite a chilled cat and can't even be bothered to chase the birds walking around in 'his' garden :-)

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  16. I've heard of mouseplant before but I've never seen anyone actually growing it. How very neat. Love love love the bowl full of pretty blooms. What a gorgeous display.

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    1. Thanks Marguerite, the mouseplant is sure one to try if you got a suitable space for it, something your friends and neighbours will ahh over when seeing :-)

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  17. Hi Helene... I'm fairly new to Trillium luteum and have never seen the blooms open as with yours... guess I'll need to check them out more carefully! The magnolias are amazing this year... I just posted some more photos. Also the lilies arrived from England after being shipped a second time with a different carrier... they are of amazing quality and I need to get them planted but am on restrictions from yesterday's surgery for another week. Generally in that case, my wife and I will develop a system to get the job done... I'll probably use an auger on the electric drill and she will bend lower to get the bulbs installed... getting old can be difficult!! Larry

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    1. Larry, if you have bought young trillium plants it will take a few years before they produce flowers, you will only have leaves in the beginning. Is that what you meant?
      Great to hear your lilies finally arrived! Hope you are recovering well and are not overdoing it – easier said than done I know!! As for getting old and being ill being difficult, tell me about it, I was at the orthopaedic hospital yesterday getting my new hip brace fitted and I discussed with the orthotics what restrictions I could tolerate. I said to her that as long as I could still work in my garden I was fine. She looked at me with a bit of shock and horror – I don’t think able bodied people can imagine that we still have a life, even when being on crutches.
      I am off to visit your blog and see your magnolias :-) Take care.

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  18. I loved seeing the cat, the birds, and the 'mouse'! And your bowl of flowers is so pretty. My roses are just now beginning to bloom well. Very late year, indeed!

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    1. We are back to cold, rain and very windy weather, I can't see anything in my garden catching up at this rate. Not sure when my roses will bloom well, but I think it will take another 4 weeks!

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  19. Ah, memories. That Arisarum takes me back to two gardens ago (about 25 years!!). I really must grow it again. Given the tiny space it needs I reckon I could squeeze it in again.

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    1. You can even grow them in a container, they look better a bit up from the ground, as long as they are placed out of the strongest summer sun :-)

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  20. You have some really unusual plants Helene....I've learnt a lot today & your cat looks so peaceful & content :-)

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    1. I like to have plants not everyone grows, just wait to my Dregea starts flowering and I make a post about it, I bet you would like to have that one too!

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  21. I had no idea trillium were so delicate! Seven years is a long time to wait for one. I would have freaked at the sight of the broken stem. It's nice to see that you found a way to celebrate the long awaited flower. Your photo of it floating in the bowl of water is incredibly beautiful. I'm having a hard time finding places to order trillium bulbs in Canada, but I am always on the lookout :)

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    1. I must admit I did freak out for a moment when I saw the broken trillium!

      Here in the UK it is more common to buy trilliums as potted plants, since bulbs take a long time to establish. There are lots of varieties to choose from, if you have pockets deep enough!

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  22. Helene - Seven years is a long to wait for anything, I would have even forgotten that I had it. The display looks lovely, not so sure about the mouse plant though - I'm not a fan of rodents.

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    1. Well, these rodents won't harm anyone :-)
      I must admit I had given up seeing that trillium again a long time ago, it was a big surprise when it emerged last year, and exciting to see it come back again this year - even if it was only too brief.

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  23. The mouse plant is so cute - I haven't come across one before so thanks for the introduction! Our cats are alike.... I imagine that Milo looks exactly how your cat did as a youngster!

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    1. Yes, I have thought about that several times seeing photos of your Milo, same markings and very similar face. And my cat was just as slim when he was younger too, he didn't start to 'fill out' until he was about 8 years old. He is 11 1/2 now and although he can have a play around for a few minutes and still run around in the garden and jumps fences, he is very much a cat that lives the life in the slow lane - just like his owner :-)

      The mouse plant is worth looking into if you have the space for it, completely cat safe!

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  24. Everything looking so healthy, except the broken Trillium. I feel your pain!! Don't you just hate when something like this happens. At least you got to enjoying in your lovely display. This is a great way to display flowers. I don't particularly like them in vases but I can live with them like this.
    Having never heard of the mouse plant before - I looked it up. It's a wee smasher isn't it. Stocked by my local nursery, I must remember to pick some up.
    I hope your Roses don't keep you waiting much longer!

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    1. Thanks Angie, you know, I could always have shed a tear and moved on if it was a plant that came back next year - but seven years!! And I only had ONE of it.

      The mouse plant is well worth looking into, and you only need to buy one or two, after a few years you can start to move small groups around and they will multiply nicely for you.

      Still no rose open but it will happen this week :-)

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  25. I think it will be July before we see the Roses here Helene. I have never grown it but the mouse plant is quite delightful and such a curiosity. Thanks for the link to rare plants.

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    1. It is so incredibly cold during the night still here in London, down to only a few degrees, and top day time temp of just 12-13C, so that's still slowing down everything, including my roses. Even if I might get one open rose this week it will be many weeks before a proper flush of roses.

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  26. Hello Helene
    Your "mice" are the ONLY type I like! The real ones creep me out. Your poor Trillium luteum. I have a similar picture of a gorgeous Darwin tulip - tall and strong one day; head on the ground the next day. I think it's squirrels…
    Spring has been slow in Ontario as well but it has made the forsythia and the magnolias come out slowly and last and last. So nice!
    If your roses are slow, maybe you'll have them all summer…wouldn't that be nice?

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    1. Glad you liked the mouse plant, it should do well in your garden too if you can get hold of one :-)

      All my roses are repeat flowering, they just go on and on, they even flower in December. The only time they don't flower is from when I cut them down first week-end in February and until leaves and flowers are back again - which usually takes 8 weeks. So far it is 13 weeks since I pruned my roses!!

      It's been a cold, windy and at times rainy day today too, more like a November day. Ugh!

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  27. Hello! Very nice blog and interesting posts, great atmosphere.
      Have a nice day. :)
    Welcome to our blog about photography. +
    I hope you also enjoy it with us.

    Greetings!

    "Do what you love is not even that, but anyway"

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    1. Hi Patrycja, welcome to my blog and thanks for your kind words.

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  28. I see your garden has started to wake up :-). Those mouse-plants really look fascinating. Before I read the caption, I saw the picture and was wondering what are those strange creatures - mole - doing all huddled up together :-). Then, I read your caption.

    The flower arrangement is so beautiful. Why are flowers so beautiful --- they look so delicate and prim.

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    1. Thanks, some of the mouse plant flowers really look like mice, if you see them from a distance, they are quite sweet.
      Yes, my garden is really waking up, but it is still rather cold here in London so it's going very slowly. I have just posted my GBBD post, can't believe how late everything is, in middle of May!

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  29. I have to say that the mouse plant is much cuter than actual mice! The flowers are so exotic looking and adorable how they hide below the leaves (also, like mice).

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    1. Thanks, I think the mouse plant is one of the plants I really wait with excitements for every late winter.

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