Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Carpenter Bees and Georgia Blue Speedwell

Yes, I confess it, I even have some Dead-Nettle growing in the bed next to the house. (Not much.) The bees aren't complaining. :)

They like Georgia blue speedwell too, which started blooming in January and will continue until the weather turns hot.

Carpenter bees make such good photographic subjects. They are not at all skittish, and their size makes them easier to photograph than some of the smaller, fast-moving bees.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gearing Up

With all of the up and down temperatures, spring is progressing cautiously, but to my mind that is better than 80's in mid-March, followed by a freeze that catches everything out.

Our Virginia bluebells is going to bloom this year. It took the last year off after the move, so I was very thankful to see buds on it this year. I think the new leaves are beautiful.

Another true blue, Jacob's Ladder (Polemonium reptans) photographed on Thursday. I got my first start of this plant from seeds received from the NC Botanical Garden, and this plant has proved altogether delightful. It's much tougher than it looks, and like Phlox divaricata will seed itself around a bit.

On Saturday

An especially colorful version of woodland phlox, 'Louisiana'. If you look closely you can see that the petals are actually swirls of many different colors.

I love the new leaves of Oak Leaf Hydrangea: spring green, quilted and fuzzy to the point of being cottony.

Look, 'Blush Noisette' made it through the winter!! I was afraid she was a goner. She is new to my garden, just planted last fall. I've read great things about this rose in the South, so I hope she can get established.

The rose below is a thornless hybrid Gallica, once-flowering and fragrant, that is covered in purple blooms in spring. I received it in a trade last year and it grew by leaps and bounds. Its identity is unknown. It was given the nickname 'Delia's Purple' by the original source, a lady who gardens in Louisburg and Raleigh.

'Climbing Old Blush' looks ready to put on a show this year. She's evergreen in any case, but she's been putting out a lot of new growth and even some buds.

I love Blue Violet. It can spread as much as it wants, the more the merrier. I love the purple color of the flowers.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Blooming Friday -- Woodland Phlox

Our woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) has started blooming, the lovely spiral-striped buds opening up to blue flowers with a wonderful sweet fragrance.

This low-growing native has evergreen foliage that does most of its growing in early spring. It seeds in somewhat but is not aggressive. In fact I very much appreciate the fact that it produces seedlings that I can spread around the garden. This particular phlox is a cultivar is called 'Clouds of Perfume' and it lives up to its name! I don't know if it's actually more fragrant than the typical species, but it is very fragrant. I love the grace and delicacy of the flowers.

Thanks to Katarina at roses and stuff for hosting Blooming Friday.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Question of Order

You know that old saying, Better is the enemy of good? I think this principle applies to gardening, or my garden anyway, when it comes to trying to keep everything in order.

We have a big place; my husband works a lot of hours and it's impossible for the two of us to keep a place like this looking perfect all of the time. It's never going to happen. I'd rather enjoy what we have than be a slave to it anyway.

We keep the lawns, pastures, and garden paths mowed. That in itself is enough work. But other things we let go. For example, someone put ditches next to the road that runs beside the pastures. I'd like to wring this nameless person's neck, because it doesn't help with drainage, running cross to the main drainage routes as it does, and it creates work for us. It's a good 2400' of ditch. We mow it twice a year to keep down the woody plants, and try to time the mowing so as to allow Bidens to fill the ditches. In a wet year they are magnificent in September. My husband doesn't really like for the ditches to grow up like that, until the Bidens bloom. :) But I think he's getting used to it.

I want parts of my garden to have structure and order, but overall my garden is too big, and it's too hot in the summers to keep everything just so. With so much new garden around the house and only expanding, I will have to take a more laissez-faire approach to the big perennial bed and the beds near the old house site.

I do spend a fair amount of time weeding. But each spring the Dead-Nettle comes up in the big perennial bed, and I leave it until it gets too tall or starts dying back.

Henbit too.

The chief reason I leave these plants is that the bees love them. It's basically a pasture for them to feed on, until other things start blooming.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blooming Friday

This morning I noticed that sheet-web weaver spiders had spun webs all through the skeletons of last year's Bidens that I haven't yet taken down. These webs most likely belong to the bowl and doily spider, Frontinella pyramitela . They are beautiful when covered with dew and amazingly complex.

The bloodroot in one of our beds next to the house waited until a sunny day to finally open. This lovely native is one of the most ephemeral of flowers, often only lasting a day or 2. When we lived in Pennsylvania we used to visit a park that had spectacular colonies of bloodroot. While beautiful as a single flower, they are truly breathtaking en masse.

One of the earliest native shrubs to bloom, highbush blueberry is beginning to open up.

The white and pink bells look like confectionary.

Chicksahaw plums (Prunus angustifolia) usually sucker to form large groups, but there is just one growing at the edge of the ditch near the old house site, under a young blackgum tree. I prefer a single tree anyway; the form and blooms have a delicacy and refinement that displays better with a specimen tree.

Thanks to Katarina at roses and stuff for hosting Blooming Friday.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

As it was

Two years ago our house was moved out of the floodplain. We had to clear a 50-60 foot wide swath of woods in order to make a path for the house up the hill. Below are some "before" shots of the garden, most of which were taken in the spring of 2006.

The first shot shows Mermaid, the house, and the woods behind the house that were later cleared. This picture was taken in 2002; the rest were taken in 2006, with my old Pentax 35mm film camera and scanned in. I was glad to see those woods go, actually. Not only was there the matter of moving the house, which was a great relief, but those woods in reality were rather a mess: loggers had cleared the trees about 25 years before we bought the place, leaving huge mounds, and there was the typical lowland coastal plain tangle of greenbriar all through it. In addition, the pines blocked the sun in winter. (I love pine trees, but not when I am north of them in wintertime.) Now that the house has been moved all we have behind us are tulip poplars, which is wonderful.

Mermaid and the house before move, 2002

We had Florida azalea (Rhododendron austrinum) planted in raised beds in front of the house. I loved them there, because the fragrance would come in the open windows in the living room, but they were simply going to get too large. So I moved them to other areas of the garden before the house was moved. The Florida azaleas were underplanted with Southern lady fern from the farm, toothwort, and white wood aster.

The big perennial bed and Eva's White iris with Climbing Old Blush. House is in the background off to the left.

Jesse's Song and Eva's White

Jesse's Song and looking toward the woods behind the old house site.

Pink Confetti

Eva's Blue-Violet

Dusky Challenger

Looking up the hill, towards where the house currently sits. We now park our cars about where the horse stalls are situated in the picture. I believe the perennial bed is about 3 years old in this picture.

A noid iris, probably in the intermediate class and definitely of pallida descendant, that I found growing near the mailbox. It didn't bloom last year and I hope I didn't lose it, as I adore this iris.

To be continued...

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