Friday, March 26, 2010

Blooming Friday ~ April 1st, 2010

Spring is here in full force. In the past week even the fields that were brown are now pale green and the daffodils and redbuds are blooming. Tomorrow it's actually going to be hot -- almost 90 degrees F.

The delicate blossoms of Chicksahaw Plum

The unfurling petals of serviceberry

Many thanks to Katarina at roses and stuff for hosting Blooming Friday. It has been fun!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Blooming Friday ~ Spring is Here

The last couple of days have been really beautiful -- if you were to look up spring, these last couple of days would be there. Sunny, with a light wind and temperatures in the mid-70's. Everything is starting to be covered in spring green, the birds are singing like crazy, and the native flowers have started to bloom.

This Bloodroot has been blooming for several days. I've never seen it bloom this long before. It's planted in front of the house and I hope that eventually it forms a colony.

Before long the Eastern Columbine will be in bloom. The foliage is
beautiful right now, a lovely combination of rosey pink and spring green.

'Veilchenblau' is leafing out.

Our passalong family daffodils are in full bloom. They look like sunshine captured in flower form.

The birds are very active and conspicuous. Birdsong fills the air every morning.

This Cardinal is after the remaining birdseed that I have
been putting down in the gardens between the house and the drive

and this bluebird is hawking for insects.


I was getting a little close for his comfort, so he flew uphill a little ways to light on the neighbor's fence post, where he struck various handsome poses. His mate was hunting one fence post down.

Next month the resident birds will start nesting and the migrants will start coming through. I saw a chickadee taking nesting material into the little nestbox at the back of the big perennial bed yesterday; if they decide to really use the nestbox, it'll be the first time in 3 years.

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

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wildflower Wednesday ~ Trout Lily

Erythronium americanum, commonly called Trout Lily or Dogtooth Violet, is one of the earliest spring ephemerals to bloom in central NC.

When I think of Trout Lilies there are two places I immediately think of: Azalea Hill at the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill, and a hillside next to a walking trail that goes around the Duke Gulf Course in Durham. Trout Lilies like a woodsy place with a lot of humus but soil that is not too rich, or they won't bloom.

The leaves are an unusual mottled green and brown, and seem to emerge all at once, as though by magic.

The flowers are very graceful and have a dynamic aspect to them; they do in fact slowly twirl, being relaxed in low light and highly reflexed in strong light. This is one of what I hope will eventually form a colony in the bed on the east side of the house.

Join Gail for Wildflower Wednesday on the fourth Wednesday of every month.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ongoing Projects Part V

There's a lot of ground left to cover: down the driveway on the left and right and the open space between the house and the big perennial bed. A small part of a new bed in that open space is just visible on the left.
September '09

There is still open space on the other side of the new beds. This used to be a gravel pit where we parked the horse trailer and is still occasionally used as a turn-around by visitors. I haven't decided what I want to do with it yet. For now I have broadcast Bidens seed around it, as a temporary fix.

For now I like the negative space in front of the trellis. The area will form a sort of a bowl if the Bidens come up.

I started on the new beds in July of last summer

and here they are in November, almost finished. The new beds are a mix of compost, the old clean shavings pile by the horse shelter (which was left when we moved the house and had to board the horses for several months), and hay.

I have broadcast Bidens seeds beside the driveway -- if they come up, that will eliminate 3-4' of mowing on each side.

Bidens gain most of their size during the month of August, before they bloom. Often they are only about a foot high until the beginning of August, after which they grow as though given a megadose of Miracle Gro.

A balance will need to be struck between plants and bugs. The more plants, the more bugs. Even all of the birds cannot keep up with them, and I mean biting bugs that drive the horses (and us) crazy. Fly spray is essentially useless, except for the first 20 minutes after it is applied. However, since the Bidens are not very big for very long, their effect on that type of bug population may be negligible.

Trying to plant around the well has been another ongoing project. The soil in the year is extremely acid, and packed by construction machinery. A relatively thin layer of poor sandy soil over clay. Well, rugosas don't care. They love it. I put some seedlings in last year, and some this fall, mulched them with hay and watched them go. The rugosas won't hide the well in the winter, but I didn't want a small forest dead in front of the house either. I had so many rugosa seedlings that I ended up filling up the new beds with them, with some other plants on the side -- beardtongue, Baptisia, hardy ginger, and Carolina rose.

The ditch full of Teddy Bear's Paws on the left is a continuation of the ditch beside the driveway. Before the house was moved the ditch was an a narrow deep ravine that ran through the woods before it flattened out behind the big perennial bed. We didn't change its path but it was necessary to put part of it underground.

I have plans for the ditch as well. Besides putting in hibiscus and Louisiana iris in the bottom, I put in American snowbell seedlings, Rosa palustris scandens, Magnolia virginiana seedlings and 2 blueberries (the only wild seedlings I have successfully transplanted) near the bottom; at the top wax myrtle seedlings, a sassafras, a couple of Lindera benzoin seedlings, a pawpaw, beautyberries, and winter honeysuckle.

August 31, 2009

We have a lot of wild snowbells here; the biggest and most beautiful one is at the edge of the woods near the old house site. It's easy to grow from seed. I never could manage to get a good shot of the whole tree, but here is a picture of the flowers. The fragrance is both strong and exquisitely sweet.

Below is a picture of a Snowbell next to one of the pastures that has a western exposure. In more shade the tree has a more layered and graceful aspect. Sun or shade, it's the most wonderfully fragrant tree that I have ever come across.

These are only three pine trees left by the ditch after we cleared a path for the house. All of that space across the ditch from the big bed was filled with trees before the house move, but it wasn't an exactly ideal view. There were a lot of falling-down trees from when Fran and Floyd went through, and there is so much greenbriar and honeysuckle here, it wasn't like a beautiful upland Piedmont forested area. These trees may be the only two trees left, but they are greedy. I stopped watering the big perennial bed last year, and as a result the pine tree roots sucked the life out of a lot of what was planted at the back of the bed. Good-bye woodland phlox, good-bye goatsbeard, and even some of the Amsonia tabernAEmontana may be gone. Not the Carolina rose, however. It's very happy. So I planted new starts of Carolina Rose all along the back of the bed and mulched with hay. It's ambitious on its own, sending up runners, but it would take years to fill the 30' strip of garden that I want it to fill if it didn't get some help. There's one snowbell planted near the teddy bear's paws and lone cattail, and Carolina rose is starting to creep down the bank too. There's a lot that could do well here -- Aronia, blueberries, Virginia sweetspire -- but I'll probably have to water the first year if we have a dry summer. I love loblolly pines but there seems to be a 20' Zone of Death around each one.

Below is the back of the big perennial bed in May '08. Small's penstemon is one of the few perennials that likes it there, along with Carolina bush pea. However, Small's penstemon (on the left) is just a biennial really, one of those plants that you realize too late that you didn't start last year.

Close-up of Small's penstemon

Carolina bush pea (tall yellow spires) and Carolina rose

Carolina rose is one of my favorite roses, beautiful and blessed with a lemony rose fragrance. It seems to be able to grow anywhere, even in the dry shade of my parents' yard (where, btw, wild Pink Lady's Slippers also thrive). I may plant this on the dry hill beside the driveway, although it grows low in dry conditions -- sometimes only a foot -- and the honeysuckle may overwhelm it when I'm not looking.

I will be very happy if this fills up the back part of the big perennial bed. There are some young Baptisia back there too that have sized up and should starting blooming in the next couple of years. Baptisia alba seems particularly adept at handling dry poor soil and part shade.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Blooming Friday ~ Summer, then spring

Katarina of roses and stuff asked "If you were to pick one single photo to illustrate summer, which one would you pick?" This one, a view of a part of the big perennial bed looking toward the neighbor's pasture.

In real time, the garden is stirring awake now, with holdovers from this winter still going strong and true spring bloomers starting up too.

Winter Honeysuckle
The entire bush is so covered with flowers that it's
actually pretty; very hard to take a good picture of though.

Prunus mume

This is not a pussy willow (although I wish it was), just one of the wild willows that grows here.

In the big garden Iris reticulata and daffodils are opening up.

Daffodils from my husband's grandmother's garden, which are a very welcome sight every March.

Double Lent Lily ~ (Narcissus pseudonarcissus)

My favorites are the simple yellow ones.

Thank you to Katarina for hosting Blooming Friday.

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