Thursday, March 27, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday

This month I am joining Wildflower Wednesday on time for a change!

Serviceberry is the earliest native tree to bloom here, and only one is open so far, and that one just a little bit. The flowers display a silvery fluffy fuzz as they open, giving the tree lacy appearance in bud. Later the new leaves will also be covered in silvery down.

Reportedly the black fruit is delicious but I haven't yet tasted any because they are a great favorite of birds! My wild serviceberries don't typically have the spectacular fall color that Jason's of gardeninacity have (due to premature leaf drop), but some years they surprise me with beautiful gold, bronze, and orange hues.

I have loved this tree since I first saw one at the edge of our back yard at the original house site. The tree had been pushed over when the site was cleared but still managed to hang on for a few years, and looked just like a bridal veil when it bloomed. There are several young wild serviceberries around the old house site and and the seedlings are easy to move around.

Thank you gail for hosting this wonderful meme.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Winter Walk-Off 2014 UNC-CH campus

Wheee! Did you feel that thrill in the pit of your stomach? It must be from another roller coaster dip in the weather. This has become an at least weekly occurrence over the past few weeks. On Saturday we had a lovely golden day of 70 degrees; yesterday and today, gray, sodden, and just above freezing.

In his Winter Walk-off post almost a month ago Les described his wish to run winter out of town, but it's still got us in its icy claws. There's been a real yo-yo effect typical for this time of year except that the down swings aren't usually this extreme. There have been lovely days interspersed among the wintry ones.

When we took a day trip to Chapel Hill a couple of weeks ago we had one of those gorgeous days. It felt and looked just like spring.

The campus and arboretum were filled with people out enjoying the beautiful day.

We wandered around the UNC campus and Coker Arboretum and the Gimghoul neighborhood. As we were passing Battle Hall I noticed (or perhaps I should say was hit over the head with) a scent that was like your mother's old-fashioned lilac perfume.


DH hates it. That may have been because there was a whole hedge of it. The fragrance
was a little cloying but I think one of these shrubs by itself would be very nice.

Several 'Okame' cherry trees were blooming.

Some Lent lilies were flowering beneath a shrub in the Coker Arboretum. I have some of these in my own garden after reading about them in Scott Ogden's book Garden Bulbs for the South.
"February in the South is a season of false promises. Unsuspecting blossoms are lured out during warm spells, only to be brutally reproached with the blue winds of northers. Strangely enough, there are certain plants whose peculiar demeanor suits them to this chancy weather. None is more welcome in gardens than the wild trumpet daffodil, or Lent lily, Narcissus pseudonarcissus." I love the toughness, the grace and the fragrance of these early daffodils, although as Ogden writes "If you want to smell their sweet fragrance n the frosty morning air, you must warm a blossom in your hands."

I think Saucer Magnolias are beautiful but prefer to see them in other people's yards since they are so often taken out by frost mid-bloom.

Hammocks are very much the in thing right now and could be seen strung up all over campus. Some of the trees had signs asking that hammocks not be hung on them.

Typically I enjoy seeing flowering quince bushes in other people's yards because the color clashes with my garden's color scheme (big time), but I really liked these crab apples. Beneath the saucer magnolias was a quince with soft white flowers tinged with pink aptly named 'Apple Blossom', one with pure snow white flowers, and this interesting smooth coral pink.

I love the fushcia and soft pink/lilac colors of these primroses.

I don't have hellebores in my garden due to the brown leaves and downward facing flowers (although I will admit they photograph beautifully), but these had all been neatly groomed and looked lovely in this large stand.

There were not very many flowers left on this Japanese flowering apricot but their fragrance was wonderful. More flowers than are left on mine, which was cut short by some very hard freezes and now has maybe a dozen flowers.

I wish I knew the name of this white apricot. Both it and the pink tree were labelled 'Whiskers' but they obviously aren't the same. When I googled 'Whiskers' I got nothing. This tree was spectacular: the fragrance, the double soft pink flowers that read white; everything about it was just perfection.

The best moment in the arboretum was when we rounded the corner and saw these beautiful witch hazels: Hamamelis mollis 'Pallida' and Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Beauty'.


'Orange Beauty'

On our way out we saw this beautiful Paperbark Maple. The papery swirls of bark look like that of a cinnamon dusted River Birch.

Hellebores on Gimghoul Road. I like the lime green Corsican Hellebores.

On the drive home from Chapel Hill we heard a winter weather warning on the radio. What?! Sure enough, the next day temps had plummeted to the mid 30's and there was very cold rain and ice and misery, much like today. Winter, you won't be missed.

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