Thursday, April 25, 2013

Wildflower Wednesday

This is the time of the year that the natives start spreading their wings. And the time for some long-awaited friends to make a reappearance.

Toothwort used to bloom with joyful abandon at the old house site, but since then, it has been much more shy to bloom. Still, this has been a good year for it, and this spring I have been finding the delicate white blooms in all sorts of out-of-the-way shady places, where I had tucked spare rhizomes years ago.

Of the four Florida azaleas that used to be at the front of the house, three survived. The one below has scarcely missed a beat, blooming every year since. It's a nice size ~ about 4 high and 3 feet wide ~ and covered in flowers.

The other two I have waited SIX long years to see a bloom again. They've been residing on the east side of the house for the past two or three years now, after it became clear they wouldn't make it if they stayed where they were. I was so happy to see flowers on them again!

Ironically the Florida Azalea that's doing the best is one that I put at the edge of the woods opposite the paddock behind the house. It's taller than me now. The deer haven't touched it. I have heard from others that deer much prefer the evergreen azaleas and this tallies with my experience.

I love Florida Azaleas with Woodland Phlox.

I thought the only woodland phlox I had left was the medium blue ('Clouds of Perfume'), but there's some purple 'Louisiana' left after all. The very light blue/ white 'May Breeze' is gorgeous but isn't as tough as the others and it's gone now. We've had a lot of dry, dry summers in recent years and woodland phlox doesn't appreciate that. I'm going to keep mulching my little shade garden next to the house, though, as I don't have that much shade anymore where I'm willing to micromanage things.

Every year when the Piedmont azaleas bloom I wish all of my garden was like this.
The bright rose/purple azalea on the right is an Encore 'Autumn Amethyst'.

As the flowers start to fade they look like they are shedding "teardrops".

The native crabapples were magnificent this year, as usual. We have three: one at the edge of a field, one next to a path that leads to the creek, and one next to the creek. This is the first year I've seen many flowers on the pathside tree, and it was beautiful.

The tree at the edge of the field:

This one next to the creek was also covered in flowers, almost surprisingly so considering how many other trees are growing around it.

The flowers are not strongly fragrant but have the same sweet scent as apple blossoms.

Thank you Gail for hosting Wildflower Wednesday!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Eastern redbud and carpenter bee

Temps have been consistently in the 80's in the last week. Everything is coming alive with amazing rapidity. The trees are leafing out all at once. All of the different shades of spring green are so fresh and beautiful, with the silvery green of the white oaks the loveliest of all.

The garden is outstripping my ability to clean up before the spring show. I decided to whack back the beautyberries next to the driveway this year, as they were really starting to lean out into the driveway.

The Red-Shouldered Hawks are feeding their babies in the same nest that they used last year, about a hundred yards west of the house near the top of a large Loblolly Pine. Some summer birds are back: Ovenbirds, Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, White-eyed Vireos. Ruby-crowned Kinglets don't breed here -- they migrate up to the northern US and Canada to breed -- but they linger here until May and sing their gurgling stutter song for a month before they leave. A more adorable bird has never graced our woods.

The cool weather before this past week was perfect for the first serviceberry that bloomed. Days in the 50's and nights in the 30's are perfect for them. The ones that bloomed this week blew quickly.

I've never gotten a very good full scale picture of a serviceberry. It's
prettier than it looks in this picture. It has the look of white lace.

The daffs were reduced to limp ribbons by the warm winds, but more are on the
way. 'Thalia' doesn't love baking heat but they were lovely while they lasted.

The daff display in the big bed should be much more impressive next year; many of the bulbs that went in this year went in very late (just a month ago), and even the Campernelles from last year are taking a break after their first year of being in the ground here and blooming. I still have at least another third of the bed to plant, and I'd like to plant daffs of the jonquil class in the low part in front of it too. Scott Odgen writes in his book Garden Bulbs for the South "Narcissus jonquilla and its relations inherit tolerance to dampness, which suits them especially to the heavy cotton soils of the South... jonquils naturalize in bar ditches and other moist spots where their wild companions include true rushes."

The edges of the beds and the lawn looks like a fluffy crazy quilt of grass, clover, lamium, henbit, and speedwell. Although it looks crazy and yes, messy, the bees are just going crazy over it. First the honeybees came out, then the little native bees with faces full of red-orange Lamium pollen, then bees of every sort.

If you want to attract bees to your garden, plant one of these!

Bees love Eastern Redbuds. The picture below doesn't even begin to express the density of bees. At its peak it was actually necessary to walk slowly past the tree as not to bump into too many bees in their almost frantic comings and goings! The tree was an amazing sight, and standing next to it was like being in a giant bee hive.

For the first time in about 5 years I saw some pansies at Lowe's that I really liked. I didn't get them in the ground until late October so they didn't do anything all winter but they are taking off now. I think their soft butter yellow and violet blue shades are lovely.

The wild Crabapple tree is more than half opened up! I shall have to get some pictures of it tomorrow. When it blooms I think it's the most beautiful tree in all the world.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

A bed in the front yard

Spring is emerging cautiously here. It's a relief to see spring being cautious for a change. Often it's as heedless as an irresponsible teenager and gets burned as a result.

I am still cleaning up, and while be for a couple more weeks, so here's one of three more archived posts.

From May, 2010. The bed at the corner of the yard started off with leftover compost. We're still working on improving the lawn. If you were grass growing on machinery-tamped dirt with a pH of 4 you wouldn't be happy either.

Like this spring the pace of progress in this front bed has been cautious and slow. The somewhat straggly rose bush to the right is 'Blush Noisette', recently moved from the east side of the house.

I've added a few things for spring interest, like Marsh phlox, spiderwort 'Zwanenburg Blue', rugosas, and foxglove.

April 2012

The bed has become a repository for daylilies that don't fit in east of the house, such as 'Red Volunteer'.

June 2012

I've always wanted a Vitex tree and thought its blue-violet flowers would look well against the house. There are also a lot of Bidens in this young bed because they are a great filler and have seeded themselves around. One day Bidens will be around my gardens, rather than in them, but for now I will take what I can get. Many birds love to forage in and around this bed and fly to it for cover: throngs of overwintering White-Throated and Song Sparrows, our resident Chipping and Field Sparrows, Cardinals, Goldfinches and Carolina Wrens.

Btw, the horse blanket is handing on the railing to dry after
I washed it, not because it had been on a horse's back recently.

Prince has progressed to walking and doing a little bit of trot work under saddle. What he'd really like to do is buck and run madly, but he's not ready for that yet.

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