a week ago i noticed a large purple flowering tree on 207 beacon street in somerville and i've been meaning to go back to get some photos and find out what kind of tree it was. turns out it's a paulownia AKA princess tree. the clusters of purple flowers not only resemble orchids but are fragrant as well. leaving beacon street, i paid a visit to another flowering tree, a black locust on the corner of prentiss and oxford street. locusts are a weird sort of tree (i have a honey locust growing in front of my house), belonging to the pea family and their seeds come in long sticks that look like giant pea pods. if you're at all familiar with what pea flowers look like, the flowers on the black locust look exactly alike.
my all-time favorite spring flowering tree has got to be the pink horse chestnuts i "discovered" a few years ago. usually when horse chestnuts bloom in may their flowers are white conical columns, which always makes me think of firework rockets and their glittering trails. the flowers are so unmistakable i can spot a chestnut tree a mile away. i've always thought they were white until i came across some pink ones on bradbury street in cambridge, off of mt.auburn street near the charles river. later coming back i saw an example of a normal white horse chestnut tree on the campus of the harvard law school. nearby (in the courtyard of a student dormitory) i came across another smaller pink horse chestnut. there was actually a tree tag, "aesculus x carnea, red horsechestnut." turns out "red" horse chestnuts are actually viable hybrids that arise when a normal horse chestnut tree fertilizes with a red buckeye. once the flowers are gone it'll be hard to tell the difference, but red horse chestnuts have wrinklier and smaller leaves and the chestnut capsules are not as spiky.
since i was in close proximity to my garden, i decided to swing by briefly just to take a look. there were a few other gardeners there as well (i thought there'd be more since it's the weekend, but everyone's probably away for memorial day). my short visit became a long stay as i tilled the soil of my plot some more, uprooting some more unwanted plants, including the celandines. the large raspberry bush that i thought was somebody else's is entirely on my garden; for now i'm going to keep it, just to get some raspberries, but i might get rid of it at the end of the season to make more room. i was chatting with the woman who lives next door to my garden, who was busy priming a wooden fence. i didn't realize it last year, but my plot is actually pretty big, approximately 8x10'. there's a lot of possibility, and despite being underneath the mulberry tree, i still think i get a good deal of sun. there's a lot i can do with it but for now i'm going to plant the vegetables i bought on thursday and maybe grow some quick-growing flowers (from seeds) for color.
it was 4pm when i finally came back home, still haven't had breakfast or lunch yet. i ate some cocoa pebbles cereal before tackling my next project: switching out the fish stand. it's not as easy as it sounds. besides the major appliances in my house (refrigerator, oven, washing machine), the aquarium tanks are actually one of the heaviest items i have. it move them off of the old stand i first had to drain at least half of the water (anymore and the fish wouldn't have anything to swim in). the 5 gallon minibow wasn't a challenge, but the 10 gallon tank required more thought. after siphoning out 4 gallons of water, it was light enough for me to quickly move it to the new stand. i then (1) removed the old stand, (2) moved the aquarium back onto the old stand, (3) moved the new stand into position, and then (4) moved the aquarium onto the new stand. the floor also wasn't completely leveled (old house) so i had to adjust the gradation with some wooden shims i dug out from the basement.
the fun didn't stop there, in fact it was just starting. next i set up the old fish stand in the guest bedroom and filled up both aquariums. looking at the empty repaired aquarium (the one with the siliconed crack), i decided to take a gamble and set it up on the old stand and then fill it to see if it'd fail or not. 10 gallons of water later, it was still holding. not sure if i'd ever use it permanently but it makes a nice temporary tank, for when i eventually have to move the guppy fries from the 5 gallon minibow and separate them out according to gender.
finally i set up the "new" 10 gallon tank. the first step is to wash the gravel. even after 30 minutes of panning it was still muddy so i basically gave up and poured everything into the aquarium. something i didn't notice: this new tank actually has a dark translucent bottom, never seen that before. after the gravel, i started slowly filling the tank with water from an elevated bucket and a well-placed siphon. naturally the tank was a cloudy mess with almost zero visibility. i added a few drops of that water clearing solution and when i came back hours later, it was miraculously clear. i set up the 20 gallon whisper filter to cycle the water. all i need to do now before i add the guppies is to get some plants (i'll do that tomorrow).
because it's been so warm inside the house the past few days (80 degrees indoor today), i unplugged all the aquarium heaters. i think for the rest of the summer i can leave them off. not that i'm too worried about saving money, since earlier today i was happy-relieved to receive a work check.
in the evening i made some clam sauce linguine (even had to run across the street to get a can of chicken broth) and watched the red sox game on tv. with tonight's victory we're now 11.5 games ahead of the yankees.