Fiddlehead Fern or Cinnamon Fern?

These lovely fuzzy ferns are growing in a few places in our neighborhood. I stopped this morning to snap this picture on the way home from the kid’s bus-stop.


I was about to post it on Facebook with the label of Fiddlehead Fern (because that’s what I thought it was.) But after a little looking around, it seems that the popular edible fiddlehead fern that frugal New Englanders love to forage doesn’t really look like this, but instead are much smoother looking:

Fiddlehead Ferns

So I did some Googling around to find out what these ferns were. I am pretty sure they are Cinnamon Fern (, but will need to wait for their Cinnamon stage to be sure. Here’s a little snippet from Google Images of their “cinnamon stage.”

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What’s growing in your neighborhood right now?

BTW, in case you too can’t find the handy “similar images” link that used to appear on the Google Image Search Results, this quick (silent) little video shows you the “new and improved” <ha!> way to find visually similar images on Google Image Search.

Snakes from Virginia? Are they rough earth snakes (Virginia striatula)?

Last weekend while working in the garden I came across two of these snakes in my garden, snoozing away underneath the walkways.

rough earthsnake I starting trying to find out what he (she?) was. I tried a Google Image Search, but got nowhere. I searched for New England Snake Identification, Brown Snake, tried a few more dead-ends, then landed on this result:

The last common small snake is the Rough Earthsnake (Virginia striatula). These can be very common, often several under a single rock. They are gray, brown, or reddish with no obvious markings and the belly is a light tan (never pink). These eat earthworms, slugs, and insect larvae.


Which lead to bunch of great Google Images that looked really close the snakes I found.

Rough Earth Snake: Virginia striatula

However, the Wikipedia entry for Virginia striatula says that their geographic range is Texas to Florida and as far north as Missouri and Virginia. Well, Connecticut is a good bit north of Virginia and it’s still early Spring here (so not very warm).

The first reference and Wikipedia say that this type of snake feeds on earthworms. Which might explain why they are hanging out in my garden. But then the question becomes… I like my earthworms, should I do anything to get rid of these snakes?

It’s also possible that  I am totally off-base and the snakes I found are something entirely different that I haven’t discovered yet, or the range of the Virginia striatula extended quite a bit.

How to Divide Siberian Iris

The other day I wrote a post about knowing when to split Siberian Iris. So today, here’s a little photo-journal of me dividing Siberian Iris.

Turns out that there are 3 bunches that should really be split, but 2 of them seemed to be more grown  in than the other and I was worried that disturbing the ones that are grown in would impact their ability to bloom for the season. So I split one batch and will leave the other two for Fall.

Digging up Siberian IrisI dug up the whole bunch and then used my handy-dandy soil knife to split the bunch into smaller bundles.

Based on the information from the UMN extension center site, I kept at least 6 growing points in each bunch with adequate roots. Because they also emphasize keeping them moist, I put them into a trug of water while I was preparing the soil at their new sites.

Siberian Iris divided

Then I dug some holes in a few empty spots in my garden bed, plopped in the newly split iris clumps, filled in the soil and watered thoroughly.

Divide Siberian IrisYes, I know the garden bed is a mess… it had not yet been raked out and prepared for fresh mulch. It’s looking a bit better now. It’s been raked, but new mulch has not been put down yet. Surrounding the iris are the day-lilies that are starting to come up.


When and How to Split Siberian Iris

Siberian Iris

My irises are starting to come up (Hooray, Spring is HERE!) but I noticed that every bunch started coming up in a circle. I wondered if this meant it was time to divide them.

Siberian Iris growing in a circle

I found a great article at the UMN Extension Center site on Irises:

There are two opportunities for dividing Siberian Iris. To insure flowering it is best to divide in early spring as new growth just appears. Waiting until the new growth has started may stress out the plants and prevent them from flowering that season. Dig up the clump and cut through the thick root system, keeping at least six growing points with adequate roots in each clump. Keep these sections moist, plant immediately, and then water in thoroughly. In late summer or early fall it is possible to cut back the foliage to about six inches, then dig and divide the plant as before. Replant, water in, and mulch well for winter survival. Siberian iris don’t require division as often as bearded iris to perform at their best; their tough crown often requires a strong arm to cut them apart.

So, based on this (I have great faith in extension center websites), my own understanding of when plants need dividing and this little blurb on the site:

 If your irises have grown into a circle with a dead zone in the middle, it’s time to thin.

I think I will tackle splitting these asap before they get too big. There are about three clumps of irises coming up in that circle pattern. I may do one or two now and save the last for the Fall. Just to see if it makes a difference in the health of the transplants, or the ease of dividing to do them in the early Spring or Fall. I have a feeling my sister is going to want to take all my excess rhizomes, but I have a few ideas of where I’d like to fill in with new patches of iris. These have been very healthy over the years and I’m thrilled that I have three bunches ready to be split.