Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Symbiosis

In case you're thinking this is going to turn into some metaphorical tie-in to a spiritual maxim, I'll just warn you now that it's not.  This is truly about science.  What can I say, I am a Bio. major starved for a lab, a dissection, or both.

Some of you may know that my favorite flower is the peony.  I LOVE them.:)  I have coveted them from my neighbors' yards for years.  I have confessed that on more than one occasion.:(  Last year, I was happy to find a gardening enthusiast willing to split off her peonies.  There was a cost, but these peonies were not just any peony plant.  The gal that owned the house previously had been the president of the National Peony Association of America!  Therefore, she had acquired several species of peony from around the world.

Because my peonies were being transplanted, she warned me there would be no blooms that first year.  Sigh!  But this year, we got two blooms.  I usually get myself into several pickles all at once...you've already figured that out if you consistently read this blog...so I didn't do much research on the care and feeding of peonies before getting them.  We're pretty freaked out about bugs here since we've had infestations of Japanese beetles around our Wisteria vines and Rose bushes.


So when ants started to crawl all over the peony bushes, Lucas (my bug man) went on high alert!  


He immediately thought we should spray the bushes so we did that and would take our turns whacking the ants off the blooms.  Frustration!  They would not leave the peonies alone.  Finally, a quick Google search allayed my fears about losing my blooms.  Here they are.


Now let's look a little more closely.  Shall we?



and closer still...



You see here's the smaller bloom so we can get some...perspective.



That ball is packed super tight with a waxy but SWEET outer coating.  If you've ever touched one of these and even moreso tried to squeeze it, you'll know it's hard as a rock!  Now look who comes to help out...



Ants to the rescue!  The ants eat the sweet, waxy coating allowing the peony to bloom fully releasing all the petals.  They live SYMBIOTICALLY.  The plants want to perpetuate themselves and, thus, need to be pollinated by other insects...the ants included.  And the ants need to eat in order to perpetuate their colony.  Is there a God?  I think so!  Even these lowly creatures have nothing to worry about.  Great!  I still had to revert back to a spiritual maxim.  Oh, well.  What can I say other than I am consistently inconsistent!

BTW...I had a PineSol/Nicholas disaster today, but I'll leave that for another post.  Needless to say the other kids had a lifetime's worth of humiliation when 2 police officers, 2 paramedics, and 3 fireman showed up...just in case.:(  Nick is fine, my floor is cleaner than it will ever be, and the ambulance didn't charge us...thank God!  More on that later.

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