Friday, January 28, 2011

Blooming Friday ~ Scents

In the spring there are so many wonderful scents.


Native azaleas

Florida Azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)

Piedmont Azalea (Rhododendron canescens)

Passalong white iris


American Snowbell

Hubricht's Amsonia

Smooth Phlox (Phlox glaberrima)

Peony 'Festiva Maxima'

China Roses, fruity and sweet

Cl. Old Blush

Archduke Charles

Rugosas, with a fragrance of clove and old rose

R. rugosa rubra

R. rugosa rubra and 'Purple Pavement'

Foxi Pavement


The Tea rose Devoniensis, smelling of tea and strawberries

No need to wait until spring for garden fragrance here. My Witch Hazel is blooming and temps in the mid-50's F have brought out both its sweet fragrance and the Honeybees.

seedling of Hamamelis x intermedia 'Jelena'

Happy Friday and thank you to Katarina at roses and stuff for hosting Blooming Friday.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wildflower Wednesday

There are no natives blooming here in late January. It's the middle of winter and cold and dreary, so this is no surprise. A Witch Hazel is in full bloom, but that is a seedling of 'Jelena', herself Hamamelis x intermedia, a Chinese and and Japanese hybrid. So I went back into both the archives and future plans to look at Baptisia.

I love Baptisia. It's both a very beautiful plant and a survivor. Its only weakness is that voles love its thick roots. It's easy to get around the voles by planting Baptisia into 3 gallon pots sunk into the ground and mulching the surface with sharp gravel. The bottoms of the pots are cut out to allow the Baptisia roots to sink in deep. 3 gallon pots work because the roots go straight down. Voles won't dig very deep or in sharp gravel, and since voles will not chew through plastic and plastic buried in the earth lasts forever, this strategy has worked. If I didn't go to this trouble I don't think I'd have any Baptisia at all, and voles don't really trouble anything else besides this and Lespedeza.

The effect of Baptisia is ethereal in spite of its toughness. I have Baptisia alba and B. 'Purple Smoke' in the big perennial bed

as well as Baptisia australis, whose color ranges from purple

to blue.

So, I decided to try some other types. This past fall I extended the bed beside the paddock to almost full length. Here is part of the bed from last spring, with 'Twilight Prairie Blues', a hybrid of B. australis and B. sphaerocarpa.

I remember thinking it might look good with iris 'Beotie', if they would bloom together at the same time. Not sure they would, since Beotie is listing as an early bloomer.

I found this picture and realized I had completely forgotten that the flowers were originally a deep chocolatey purple with yellow edges, the typical advertisement color combination, before they faded to the smoky lavender pictured above. This will of course necessitate more iris and other companion plant research. :)

I also added 'Carolina Moonlight', a lovely hybrid of Baptisia alba and B. sphaerocarpa. Like 'Purple Smoke', this hybrid was selected by the late Rob Gardner of the North Carolina Botanical Garden.

After reading in the Plant Delights catalog that 'Purple Smoke' is a hybrid of Baptisia minor and alba, not australis and alba, and seeing Baptisia minor in the catalog too, I was intrigued by this diminitive B. australis lookalike.

Enter Prairie Moon Nursery, which sells a spectacular variety of seeds. In their catalog I saw listed the seeds of Baptisia bracteata, minor, sphaerocarpa, and tinctoria, as well as B. alba and australis. So a couple of years ago I ordered the seeds, started them last year, and put them in the new bed beside the paddock last fall.

I don't have any pictures of the new Baptisia since they won't bloom for another 2-3 years. I have this picture from the Sandhills section of the NC Botanical Garden, which I think is B. sphaerocarpa.

Baptisia bracteata, commonly called Cream Wild Indigo, is a species of dry prairies and woodlands.
It's well-named, as the flowers are the color of blended butter and cream and nod gracefully.

Baptisia sphaerocarpa, one of the parents of both 'Carolina Moonlight'
and 'Twilight Prairie Blues', is another drought-tolerant species that
has round seed-pods, like cherries. Thus the scientific name sphaerocarpa.
image from Missouri Botanical Garden

Baptisia tinctoria looks like it has a somewhat softer yellow color than B. sphaerocarpa.

If I don't like these seed-grown Baptisias and selected cultivars are better, I'll just take them out and put australis and alba in and maybe try some of the cultivars. All were easy to grow from seed, perhaps because the seeds came from Prairie Moon with a species-specific inoculum.

Below is a picture of another Baptisia hybrid at the NC Botanical Garden.
I don't think it's 'Twilight Prairie Blues' ~ the color looks too orchid
purple. Since Baptisias hybridize freely, the possibilities are almost endless... :)

Thank you Gail for hosting Wildflower Wednesday!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Blooming Friday ~ Deserted

I happened to see this nest yesterday in a Buddelia in my biggest garden bed. I don't know how I missed it before! I can't find my guide to birds' nests but hazarding a guess I'll say it's a vireo nest, and if it is a vireo nest it's probably that of a White-Eyed Vireo.

It's exquisitely woven, a real work of art. Although deserted now, finding birds' nests in winter always makes me think of spring.

The garden in central NC is hardly ever deserted. The ground rarely freezes here and I will be working on projects all winter.

Happy Friday and thank you to Katarina at roses and stuff for hosting Blooming Friday.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

In the Beginning

In the beginning, our house was surrounded on 2 sides by forest.

(The pine tree to the right, which looks as though it was gauged by heavy machinery when the site for the house
was cleared, is doing just fine. It's actually a very picturesque tree. Loblolly Pines can take a lot of abuse.)

There were trees on each side of the long driveway.

From 2004, taken with a film camera and scanned in. The garden was in
its infancy. Now we park our cars where the horse stalls were then.

The big perennial bed was behind the house and backed by thick woods. Below is a snapshot of the big bed in 2005. The house is just out of sight, to the left, and the red haze in the background is Eastern Columbine. The bed by the pasture isn't planted yet.

Our passalong white iris and Climbing Old Blush its first spring in the garden.

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

I wanted a large sunny stretch of perennials, surrounded by pine woods as we were. That was then.

This is now.

April 2010, to be more precise

The house was moved in Nov. '06 and we were able to get back into it April 1, 2007. Much more open space!

There is so much extra to mow that another bed is in the works. Thankfully the rose seedlings I put in there last January grew this year, so the bed should not look so raw next year.

The vegetable garden is half rose garden.

Now that the house has been moved and there's a lot more open space in which to garden around the house, I don't have a need for such a large perennial bed. Weeding and compost I will do but I don't want to water it. I love perennials except when they're not... perennial. If I plant drought tolerant plants we get buckets of rain. If I plant wetland plants there's no rain for weeks. The garden is in a floodplain that's often as dry as the desert. There are a few perennials tough enough to take those conditions; for example Baptisia, if protected from voles, who love it. One time I accidently mowed a 'Purple Smoke' in August and it came back the next year.

I was even able to divide it when I moved it to a safer place. lol Lucky for me that it had already formed growth buds for the next spring. Amsonia tabernaemontana is a survivor too; it goes underground when the weather is very hot and dry.

But plants that go dormant just leaves more room for the ultimate enemy in a sunny Southeastern garden: bermudagrass. Resistance is futile. It's relentless unless shaded out. Baptisia will shade it out for the most part.

So the current plan is conversion of the big perennial bed to a big bed with shrubs and perennials. This conversion has been happening anyway, only now it's a plan concocted from necessity.

To be continued...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blooming Friday ~ Patterns

Daylilies. Like roses, iris, and dahlias, it's one of those plants that gardeners become obsessed with. My association with daylilies began innocently enough, and in a most commonplace way ~ I started out with orange daylilies (Hemerocallis fulva). In spite of being sterile orange daylilies have naturalized here in the U.S. and it's common to see them growing in roadside ditches, thus the common name ditch lily.

Then came the double orange day lily 'Kwanso', rescued from beside my parents' pond where another gardener had dug them up and thrown them out. Later I ordered a couple of named daylilies after seeing pictures online. I started with 'Ah Youth' and 'Buttered Popcorn'. Daylily beauties acquired in trades made their way into the garden, and more from daylily farms. I'm a cheapskate so I haven't paid more than $15 for one. Which doesn't mean I don't salivate over some of the $100 ones. :)

Daylilies have many different color patterns, some simple, some very complex. A self daylily has petals and sepals (the smaller "petals") that are the same color, although the throat is often yellow.

Blend of pink and yellow

Midribs can be a contrasting color, often white or pale yellow.

'Bleu Celeste' is bitone with white midribs. A reverse bitone has light petals and dark sepals.

'Lion in Winter'

Banding is contrast coloring above the throat that occurs only on the petals and not on the sepals.

A daylily is referred to as having a halo if the banding
or eyezone is faint or narrow. 'Ah Youth' has a haloed band.

Contrasting color above the throat is called an eye if it
occurs on both petals and sepals, as with 'Moonlight Masquerade'.

'Lemon Berry Frost' has light washy marks on the sepals which don't
show very well in this picture and is considered to have an eyemark.

A watermark is an eye that's often lighter than the flower's base color, and looks like watercolor paint blooming on wet paper.

'Avant Garde' x 'Maxfield Parrish'

Pencilled eyemark ~ 'Siloam David Kirchhoff'

Colorwashed with faint watermark ~ 'Smuggler's Gold'

A picotee daylily has darker or lighter fluting at the edges of the petals.

'Indian Giver'

'Fairy Tale Pink' a daylily with diamond dusting.

See the sparkle?

I hope you have enjoyed seeing some summer flowers again in the depths of winter.

Happy Friday and thank you to Katarina at roses and stuff for hosting Blooming Friday.

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