Jade plant

The jade vine is in bloom at Longwood Gardens.

LONGWOOD: A vine in bloom

We went to Longwood Gardens to see the orchid display before it closed, and as always the conservatory was spectacular and invigorating on a chilly March day.

One unexpected sight was the jade vine (Strongylodon macrobotrys) in bloom. I've been visiting Longwood since I was a kid (back then admission was free) and I have never before seen the showy, turquoise-blue cascade of flowers. It's almost reminiscent of Dale Chihuly's art glass sculptures. There were a few clusters of buds that looked like they'll be in bloom soon, so be sure to stop by on your next visit. The jade vine, a native of the Philippines, is in the banana room, growing on the conservatory wall overlooking the fountains.

We also had a great time wandering around the children's garden, with its whimsical sculptures, quirky water features and kid-sized nooks.

PANDEMIC: At least spring isn't cancelled

I've written this column under some trying circumstances over the years, but never during a global pandemic. I'm reluctant to write any more items about upcoming events, because they might be postponed. The news and recommendations seem to change hourly, with schools and colleges closing down, flights cancelled, stores running out of toilet paper, new cases of the virus being identified.

But despite all the upheaval, worry, contingency plans and plunging portfolios, it's still spring. This afternoon I saw two borough workers filling the sidewalk planters with fresh soil. On my way home I realized I'd be passing the marshy spot where I first hear the spring peepers, so I rolled down my car window -- and they were singing loud and clear! As a friend says, "That's one of my favorite sounds ever."

The forsythia and daffodils are starting to bloom, and Dearest Partner and I spotted the first purple mottled skunk cabbage rising out of the mud just down the road. I'm checking daily for the first sign of valerian in my perennial bed. In contrast, the bleeding heart sprouts are visible from a distance, and this might just be the year the monkshood gets the upper hand on the lamium. It'll be close!

ANIMALS: Is your pet the boss?

The University of Pennsylvania's veterinary school is offering an online survey for dog and cat owners about your relationship with your pet. There are separate surveys for dogs and cats.

I did the cat questionnaire and found it was fun and thought-provoking; you're asked whether you agree or disagree with a number of statements about your relationship and how important each characteristic is to you. There are questions about whether having a pet helps you meet people or allows you to express your silly side, whether your pet is ever aggravating, whether your pet knows when you're upset.

It made me think about what I value most about Tina (who is snoring on my lap while I write this).

In its Facebook announcement for the survey, Penn Vet says: "Take part in a citizen-science project investigating factors that contribute most to successful (and unsuccessful) owner-pet relationships. Take the studies here: https://bit.ly/3aLVxcX. The study is an international collaboration between Penn Vet’s Center for the Interaction of Animals & Society, and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences."

HOCKESSIN: Delicious Mexican food

We have a high bar for adding a Mexican restaurant to our regular rotation, but Mexican Table in Hockessin is a definite candidate after the meal we had on our first visit. My shrimp quesadilla was wonderful and the freshly made guacamole on the side was amazing. My dinner partner loved his chicken breast with grilled vegetables and rice (sabana invierno). There's lots more on the menu that we'd like to try next time, particularly the duck tacos.

The restaurant is comfortable, very nicely decorated, and relaxing. There's a bar, offering in addition to cerveza and wine several kinds of tequila and "craft" cocktails.

The place was packed even at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday night, mostly with family groups and couples. The host said reservations are a good idea on weekends.

Mexican Table is at 7288 Lancaster Pike, in a small shopping center that also has a Pat's Pizza, a butcher and a CrossFit "box."

PLAYING TAG: What does it mean?

Dearest Partner reports seeing a vanity plate on a sports car that said GR842. As a regular traveler on Upland Road (Route 842), naturally he thought that's what the tag was referring to. He puzzled for some time using this strategy before realizing that it was actually an abbreviation for "Great for two," referring to the size of the diminutive two-seater.

Write to Tilda at uvilleblogger@gmail.com. Thanks!
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