Sunday, May 8, 2016

Spring goes so fast

The trees went from looking like this at the beginning of April, with the new leaves of
the red maples looking like pastel smudges of palest green, silver and warm russet red

to lush spring green everywhere.

Path to the slough with the wood duck houses.

Red maple leaves

Red maple leaves and young river birches

Creek that borders one side of our property.

Path beside the creek

Path between the floodway fields, headed back towards the pastures.

Recently loggers were working on one of our neighbors' land. That was a long couple of weeks. The loggers weren't that close, but the noise was intense and bothersome. I felt like The Grinch when he complained about the Whos on Christmas Day. "Oh the noise noise noise noise!" One of the members of the logging company had put tape on some trees on our land well over the property line so we took down the tape and left a note and our phone number.

There's a slough where the loggers marked the trees and I've found several species of wildflowers nearby over the years and put divisions in the garden: Amsonia, meadow rue, bellwort, and Atamasco lilies. Unfortunately the bellwort didn't do anything and the Atamasco lilies haven't increased the way I'd hoped/ envisioned, but the Amsonia and meadow rue have been very happy.

Ever since we moved here there's been a colony of Atamasco lilies.

The crabapple tree in the nearby field was in full glorious bloom.

Bees visit the sweet smelling flowers in droves.

The new oakleaf hydrangea leaves look dusted with pale spring green and silver.

I really loved the Florida azaleas in front of the house, but until there's a cultivar that tops
out at 8 feet (the height of the porch railings), I will "make do" with oakleaf hydrangea 'Pee Wee'.

The brand new leaves of serviceberry are silvery and downy too. Most of the wild
serviceberries here don't have much fall color but they are beautiful in the spring.

I moved this serviceberry next to the ditch several years ago and it's about 8 feet tall now. It does
lean a good bit though. I tried to stake it but I wasn't successful - I waited until it got too big.

I want to put in an 'Autumn Brilliance' serviceberry this fall. Only one serviceberry here (and
possibly some seedlings) has good bronzy gold color and I'm always looking to add more color in the fall.

American snowbells are the most fragrant tree I know of. When the temps are warm enough the sweet perfume carries a long way. I've grown several from seed I collected here and it's seeded itself around quite a bit too. This row of trees are volunteers next to the driveway between the house and the big bed.

I first saw Mazus next to the pond in the display gardens at Niche Gardens years ago. It made a lovely carpet of tiny lavender flowers. I tried it and it's been happy in the path of the garden east of the house.

My lilac (acquired in a trade) was supposed to be white, but I'm glad it's lavender. judging from the leaves and the fragrance it's Syringa vulgaris or a vulgaris hybrid, so I'm shocked it's done this well. Usually vulgaris is a miserable one cane wonder here.

The azalea from DH's grandmother's garden looks happy and is twice the size it was in its previous location, due to the motion detection sprinkler trained on the nearby potted plants (seedlings, cuttings, and divisions slated to go into the garden this spring or fall) every night that wasn't below freezing.

I've wanted to grow pearlbush ever since reading about it in Passalong Plants. I have it planted beside the drive above the house and it's happy there. I can see why it's a passalong. It's tough.

A few years ago Phillip of Dirt Therapy generously sent me a division of Alabama snowwreath. I fell in love with Al snowwreath after seeing it in the mountain section of the NC Botanical Garden. I tried planting it above the house in the half shade of some tulip poplars and it was miserable. As it turns out the only thing that has been happy so far are a couple of volunteer wax myrtles. I thought the site would be fine because it gets drainage from the field above, but the tulip poplar roots take everything. So I potted the snowwreath back up to recover and last fall planted it northeast of the vitex tree in the front yard. It was beautiful this spring!

Two other bits of good news: I thought I had lost my yellowwood and devilwood, one from being too dry and one from being too wet or getting frozen. I was especially bummed about the yellowwod since I started it from seed and grew it in a pot for 3 years before planting it out last fall. This week I saw that that both had sprouted new leaves on the lower stems. The Osmanthus has been moved to a drier spot and the yellowwood is back in a pot to size up. Keeping my fingers crossed that they will ultimately be OK.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Florida azaleas

I love Florida azaleas but they can be a little difficult to place in my garden.

They clash with my pink Piedmont azaleas, as you can see from this picture from 2014.

I had to move that Florida azalea after it declined suddenly, I think because the
neighbor got overzealous (again) with the Roundup again when spraying under the fence line.

When the house was in its original place I planted Florida azaleas in front of it after Hurricane Floyd. Flooding killed the oakleaf hydrangeas I planted there after ripping out the boxwoods the builder put in.

They loved it there and likely would have gotten too big eventually.

I tried them on the east side of the house after the move but that strategy wasn't very successful. Too dry. One Florida azalea remains there, along with some coast azaleas that seem quite happy. This is one of the azaleas that used to be in front of the house; I cut it back so that it would survive the move. It's grown (very) slowly over the past 9 years.

Florida azalea makes a great combination with woodland phlox
and toothwort, especially since both are deliciously fragrant.

The other Florida azaleas I moved to the edge of the woods that wrap around the west side of the house. I put one there years ago when I ran out of places to put them next to the house. Unwittingly I planted it in the perfect place, right next to a spring, and it's been very happy. It's over 6 feet tall now.

Florida azaleas range in color from yellow to cream/orange to bright orange to nearly red. Of course I want all of the colors.

Florida azalea in the mountain section of the NC Botanical Garden.

'Admiral Semmes' in the Coker Arboretum

Florida azalea by the Totten Center at the NC Botanical Garden. I would love to have this azalea
in my garden. It's very very sweetly fragrant and the combination of pastel colors is beautiful.

And then there are the hybrids. 'My Mary' is a soft yellow
pinxterflower/coast x Florida azalea hybrid that Niche sells.

'Choice Cream' is a Florida/coast azalea cross. I love the delicate
coloring and the fragrance has traits of both a Florida and a coast azalea.

I was able to collect a lot of seed from the azalea next to the house and plan on trying them this spring. Azaleas aren't hard to grow from seed as long as the potting medium is light and airy with a good mix of peat moss.

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