Thursday, April 14, 2011

Azaleas, a Wild Crabapple, and Garden Plans

The picture below from March 28th of this year shows that part of the garden next to the neighbor's pasture has turned into a miniature meadow, the result of no Bidens coming up there last year. A finely woven wild grass thatch and last spring's drought prevented it.

March 28, 2011

My eventual plan is to convert this mini meadow on the left to a woody plant garden with a few perennials: native azaleas and Virginia sweetspire under shade of the pine tree and Rosa palustris scandens, blueberries, and winterberries out in the sun. There's already several starts of Joe Pye Weed from the farm and a stand of swamp sunflower in the swale.

You can see my sweet garden assistant Prissy in the lower corner, and a tangled "mess" to the left of that. I use the word mess in quotes because it really is a mess but the indigo buntings love it. If there are any blackberry briars they are there. When we moved the house the indigo buntings moved into our old yard when some of the barely contained areas were allowed to go more wild. I will take out most of the saplings and dead canes though, eventually.

The birds love garden squalor, and they really loved the strip between the woods and the grass that was high-mowed with the tractor once and then allowed to be. Both indigo buntings and blue grosbeaks included the tulip poplars above the house as their territory and took baths in the puddle beside the water trough behind the house.

At the edge of the woods a wild Dogwood that was opened to
the light when the house was moved looks beautiful this year.

When the earth dries out again I plan to mow that stuff in front of it, and try not to mow down any of the seedling trees that I planted like I did last year. I was able to salvage two mowed redbuds but a dogwood and a swamp cyrilla were toast. It's not like they were ready to bloom or anything though; they were 1' high among 5' "weeds" and hard to spot from a tractor even when marked with pink surveyor's tape. I thought I was being really safe as far as distance from the seedling trees when mowing; my spatial memory sucks.

I am looking forward to the day when the trees that I planted at the edge of the woods are big enough to bloom. They include dogwoods, redbuds, hawthorns, snowbells, a sorrel tree and one remaining swamp cyrilla.

I would love to have wild crabapples along the wood's edge too. I am hoping that the second year for the is the charm for the seeds to germinate, as I picked up the fruits and buried them in the compost heap more than year ago. The tree down in the floodway field is in full bloom and a vision of loveliness.

The azaleas are a vision of loveliness too, from the bud stage to full bloom. Especially the natives.

April 5, 2011

The leaves of the evergreen azaleas are not
brown and dead. :) They turn purple over the winter.

April 10, 2011

While I was admiring the azaleas I heard Cedar Waxwings.

They were taking a break from chowing down on nearby American Holly berries.

In a typical year the berries are gone sooner than this, but last year the birds didn't eat them at all. I think the Waxwings were disgusted by the cold wet winter in '08-'09 and decamped south and/or east. After the first major snowstorm that winter I didn't hear them and they're usually around until May.

It was very nice of the Waxwings to pose for the camera. Two years ago I got some pictures while they were feeding at the holly tree and then accidently deleted them before getting them on the computer.


  1. Pięknie tam. Śliczne zdjęcia i widoki, jemiołuszki rewelacyjne.

  2. Beautiful beautiful azaleas - we plant them up north, but they never perform as well as yours. Just beautiful, and lucky you to have captured those waxwings!

  3. Oh my gosh, those wild crabapples made me gasp in delight. The remind me of my rose Dainty Bess. Oh to have trees filled with that beauty every spring. Sigh.

    And your evergreen azaleas are beautiful too.

    How nice of the cedar waxwings to pose for you too.

    I love seeing the changes in your property every year, all year long. Always a joy to visit and tour your bit of paradise.

    Enjoy your gardening ventures and thanks for sharing.


  4. You're so lucky to have so many birds. It must be all those native food plants you have going. I've never seen an Indigo bunting here but where I walk on base I've seen one. I once saw a Scarlet tanager and considered that quite a siting here! Great shot of the cedar waxwings!

  5. That first photo of the quiet country lane just grabs me.

    I love your tree and shrub choices, such wonderful plants if you have the patience to tend them, and when you stop mowing them down : )

    ("Garden squalor" for the birds is a great term and very descriptive!)

  6. You have a beautiful area Sweetbay. Are those Piedmont Azalaes? This past winter was the first time I have seen the Cedar Waxwings here and I fell in love with them. Great capture.

  7. I love the deep woods around your house, and of course the many plants you nurture are lovely. I've only seen an indigo bunting once. Must be wonderful to have such a large variety of birds.

  8. Don't you hate when you accidentally hit the "delete" button? I have cried before at that!
    Glad you could get some replacement photos. I hardly ever see waxwings in my yard but I don't have the berries you do. I'm trying but the space is so small...
    I am imagining the dogwood (in your photographs) is much more spectacular in real life. Sometimes it's hard to capture a shot like that.
    You have a lot of plans and a lot of space to make it happen. I think you've done great already.
    Thanks for your comment on my blog too. I think that blogger bar is very handy. I'm going to look around typepad and see if I see anything similar?

  9. Great pictures of the cedar waxwings! You are so lucky to have indigo buntings. I don't see those very often around here. Carla

  10. I can picture the meadow area in your first photo full of azaleas and sweetspire--that would be beautiful! You have so many lovely natives here, but I'm impressed that you've managed to nurture so many of the smaller ones. It's not easy mowing and weeding and not accidentally cutting or pulling something you wanted to keep. A year or two ago, I decided to trim and weed around the big oak tree in our front yard. My husband had always done that before then, so I didn't know until he told me that one of the "weeds" I had cut down was a baby oak he had been nurturing for two years:( Now I pay more attention when I'm trimming.

    Beautiful crabapple blooms!

  11. I love the setting and the plant choices. The cedar waxwings are so attractive. I've only seen them one time in our garden. I guess they were just passing through.

  12. You always post such beautiful dreamy pictures, I love looking at them. It is so fun to read about your large-scale gardening, I can barely fit nine trees into my little garden, and that's probably too many... I love the long stamens on your deciduous azaleas, and the bird picture is really great too.

  13. It'll work perfectly, great plant choices. It's interesting to see spring's progression and the changes in a few weeks.

    Those waxwings look like they have real personality. Do they have a nice call/song?

  14. Dear Sweetbay, Sighing over a really delightful post~I enjoyed reading about your plans, learning about Indigo Buntings preferences and reveled in the slow movement toward the Crabapple flower crescendo! Then you encored with the azaleas! happy Spring....gail

  15. There is just something about those native azaleas. They are so beautiful. I don't have any, but I've thought if I were going to grow azaleas, these would be the ones. Love your Cedar Waxwing picture.~~Dee

  16. I can't tell an Indigo Bunting for an Evening Grosbeak when they flitter and fly so quickly. I love seeing the flash of blue.
    Your gardens are wonderful...just love the native azaleas.

  17. Oh, my, the crabapple is spectacular! I see why you want more! And your native azaleas are fabulous! I like your plans for the area next to the meadow. I planted a very small Virginia sweetspire about a month ago and didn't expect much from it this year. But it is growing and already has blooms on it. I think it will become a favorite!

  18. Thank you everyone for your comments!

    Rob they have a high musical trilling call that is very distinctive although not very loud. You can hear it here.

  19. The waxwings were very cooperative to sit for your photo. Interesting that they didn't come to eat the holly berries last year.

  20. The Malus blossums and buds are so delicately beautiful. Yes, aren't they a slow grower? It took about 15 years before our 2 original trees had any significant bloom.
    I love your azaleas....yes, so beautiful in bud as well as flower, like the malus and many others.
    How lucky you were to see the waxwings and capture a photo. I've never seen them here, and only glimpsed them a couple of times in other places.
    Oh, and you have Indigo Buntings! How wonderful!

  21. Janie they took off when the weather turned cold! We had a series of snowstorms that year and I didn't hear them anymore after the first one. They have a very distinctive trilling call that they make a lot of the time.

    Kerri I think Crabapple growth is slow to medium. I may just have to enjoy our wild tree if I can't get the fruits to germinate in any case. (We have 2 but one is deeper in the woods). Ah well it is enough! :)


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