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May 2010

April 2010

Woodland wonders- Glaucidium palmatum

The back woodland garden is a transition garden.  It is an interesting detour on the walk to the barn and is the end of the gardens culminating in the barn driveway which leads past the barn to the field.  This garden has been neglected for the past few years and needs some attention to prevent total chaos from ensuing.  The garden is part sun on the edges as the oak tree is narrow and the Carolina Silverbell is still young.  There is a combination of sun and shade plants in this garden and eventually it will be mostly shade.  The EM made this rebar arbor which I love for its' simplicity of form. DSC_0023
  There are clematis growing up the sides.  The arch used to lead through the garden to the barn with a series of crosscut tree rounds.  The tree rounds have disintegrated and the tree has grown and is now right in the way of the path so this is going to be a shaded sitting area. My goal is to add a bench under the Carolina Silverbell.  Right, who sits in their garden?  Tucker and I do stop here at this time of year to observe what is newly blooming.  I have spent some time in this garden this spring moving plants around, adding some snowdrops which needed moving and cleaning up a bit.  More needs to be done.    The bleeding heart has self seeded here along with some other volunteers.  This Japanese maple has beautiful foliage from spring until fall and it is short of stature.  DSC_0024
One of the true delights of this garden is the Japanese wood poppy, Glaucidium palmatum, which was added last year.  While still small, it holds great promise as this sought after herbaceous perennial has four lavender pink blooms this year. DSC_0027
  It is the only plant in the genus Glaucidium and it is a member of the Ranunculaceae family.  The blooms are actually petaloid sepals surrounding an intricate center of multiple anthers.  DSC_0041
It does look somewhat like a poppy although a small one.  This is a woodland plant which prefers cool, moisture retentive, humus rich soil and partial shade.  The soil here does tend to dry out so I will have to keep an eye on it and water as necessary.  I have added quite a bit of compost and will add mulch to retain moisture.  In a perfect situation, this plant will form a two foot mound.  There is a white form available although this plant is not that easy to find at the garden centers.  If you come across one it will probably cost quite a bit but then rarity usually does have its' price.  What is the rarest plant in your garden?

It's the little things

It is hard to overlook big, flouncy flowers in the garden.  A peony flower is hard to miss and the drifts of brightly colored tulips and daffodils are clearly visible and delicious to the eye.  The magnificence of bloom is precisely the reason these show stoppers are planted.  It is also important for the garden to have texture and structure and some of the plants which fill these spaces also bloom.  The blooms may be hard to see and insignificant to those viewing the garden from a distance but up close they can be magnificent.   It is the little blooms which require a different degree of attention.  Not for the casual eye, the much maligned barberry blooms almost in anonymity.DSC_0002  As gardeners, we know that to be on the invasive species list, the plant must spread somehow and blooming and setting seed is one vehicle of transportation.  I have not found this barberry variety to self seed but Berberis vulgaris and Berberis thungergii are listed on the Invasive Plant Atlas list here.    This one is the cultivar 'Crimson Pygmy' and it provides a nice dark foil to the Spirea 'Magic Carpet'.  You can just see the very small flowers showing on this shrub and it takes getting down on all fours and then lying prone to get a good shot of them but it is well worth it. They are tiny little gems hanging from stems.  DSC_0006
They would be easily overlooked especially since this garden is viewed from a distance most of the time.  As you can see, they really don't show up until the telephoto lens zooms in and captures their tiny charm.  I actually almost walked by them this morning but something stopped me.  Some thought crossed my subconscious that perhaps these were worth a closer look and I was down on the ground before I knew it. DSC_0003Click on picture to enlarge

I think they were worth it.  I was entranced. It is unexpected to be beguiled by something so seemingly insignificant. It makes me wonder what small worlds I am missing on the daily walk.


Morning confessions....

The morning walk is a must for many of us who garden, blog, and love nature but just what are you carrying, wearing and doing while going about the morning walk?  The camera is an essential.  I rarely strap it on, preferring to have it in one hand with the coffee cup in the other.  This can create a few problems if one has to manually focus or adjust a setting so it is important to have the coffee cup a bit drained before stepping into the garden.  In the case of this gardener, the Project Manager, Tucker, is leading the trekDSC_0016

although his attention is taken by the fragrance of the garden rather than the blooms.  By fragrance, I really mean stink as the rotting odor of some soft bodied, unlucky creature gets his attention more than the delicate, delicious odors of the daffodils or the Viola odorata.DSC_0009

Then, there is the morning strolling attire.  This usually depends on weather, energy level, and schedule.  Sometimes, the desire for the morning walk is greater than the desire to dress properly keeping the sensitivities of the garden and the Project Manager in mind.  Since the garden is located within ten acres of woodland with the neighbors well out of view and it rarely complains, attire is not entirely necessary.  This is not the Naked Gardener however especially in April when the air is a bit chilly.  The first pair of shoes found and a warm sweater or coat over the PJ's suffices with not a complaint from Tucker.  He is just anxious to get out the door.  IMG_1595
There is only one person who has seen this attire other than The Equipment Manager and that would be the early delivery guy.  Usually deliveries happen late in the afternoon here in the 'sticks' but on occasion, such as this morning, the delivery guy comes with a surprise package. The surprise is on him but he never acts surprised.  Can you imagine the stories the DG's could tell?  Never mind the hairdressers, it is the delivery guy who has the most tales.  He didn't mind the striped PJ's covered with the wool sweater, the brushed but not styled hair, or the lack of cosmetics, in fact, I truly don't believe that he noticed.  I cowered behind the door while accepting the box from Johnny's containing the soon to be planted asparagus roots.   The DG didn't miss a beat, he just said that this was his third Johnny's delivery this morning and this was before nine a.m.  Good for Johnny's and bless the delivery guy. DSC_0083
The morning walk ritual continues and you never know what sights you might see.  Therein lies the joy.


Hally Days

I know I have posted about Hally before but Hally is a well underused shrub in the gardens of Zones 5-7b and she needs further introduction.  This plant was developed by Dr. Karl Sax who was an American botanist and geneticist.  His wife was also a renowned scientist, a cytologist and, in a reverse trend, was his teacher before they married.  Hmmmm.....good for her.  Her name was Hally Jolivette and it was for her that Dr. Sax named this plant.  You might ask 'What makes this cherry special'?  This plant is a cross between Prunus subhirtella and Prunus x yedoensis.  Prunus x yedoensis DSC_0143 Prunus x yedoensis 'Akebono' at Blithewold

is the cherry tree which lines the tidal basin in Washington D.C.  and which blooms each year providing clouds of pale pink mist in a rapturous display for tourists and townies to enjoy. DSC_0149
I have not yet seen this spectacle.  It is on the list.  I have my own little cloud provided by this child of P. x yedoensis and this is a well behaved child, blooming for over two weeks and covered in a mist all its' own.  This year, it has bloomed earlier than its' usual date.  Last year it bloomed two weeks later in April.DSC_0024
  I will not complain as the bloom period is long.  The tight pink budsDSC_0013a
open over this two week time period and cloak this plant in its' own mist.  I know I need some more of these.  The other fact which makes this plant special is that it blooms at a young age and at a small size.  This plant has been in the ground about six years and it has bloomed every year since the first planting season.  A mature 'Hally' can be over ten feet tall and it is grown in a variety of forms such as a single stem standard,DSC_0166 Standard form at Blithewold Mansion & Gardens

a small tree or multi stemmed shrub.   It is fast growing and benefits from a haircut just after it blooms.  I do see a few Japanese beetles on this shrub in July but I have not seen any real problem with this plant which is a bit unusual for a cherry. The bees love it and bury themselves in the flowers. DSC_0054
If this is not on your list, or, I should say, if a few of these are not on your list, you might consider adding some.  It is, after all, a plant with a love story attached and it is a beautiful addition to a bed or border.     


For the birds

Christmas is now months past.  You may remember that #1 son built me a birdhouse in the replica of this house we call home.  DSC_0014
It is not a normal house as the main part has eight sides and then there is the addition which he left off as it does compromise the visual integrity of the structure.  Jean from Dig, Grow, Compost had it right when she said that it reminded her of plans from Mother Earth News from days of yore.  It was either MEN or Popular Mechanics when a very much younger EM and this gardener embarked on life together.  Anyway, it suits us and we have raised two children here and Tucker, of course.  DSC_0008
This past weekend was installation time for the birdhouse.  I decided that it should reign over the Garden of Five Sisters and one Daughter. There are six rocks placed in this garden.DSC_0074
The EM and his Dad took on the job of digging the hole, attaching the house, and then installing the post in the river of bulbs which is starting to bloom.   DSC_0012
Trees have been cut in the back of the wall to allow a bit more light into this garden.  DSC_0079
In summer, the back of the garden was shaded just a bit too much.  The house has been outside for a while as birds often don't like new houses.  I'm not sure how long this one will take to become occupied.  I hope it happens this season.  It was suggested by many to have the proper entrance hole for wrens. I do love the wrens and a wren hole was drilled.  Hopefully, they will love the house. DSC_0011

It is ready and waiting.


A week's difference

DSC_0071 Last week was rainy.  That is an understatement as over eleven inches of rain fell and flooded much of the state.  Here at Ledge and Gardens, the garden was saturated and the fishpond liner floated after the water levels under it forced it upward.  In the fifteen years since it has been here this has never happened.  It is settling now.  The temperature has seen a steady increase.  The weekend was beautiful. In the high 60's to low 70's, no bugs, sunshine and just a whisper of a breeze.  Garden beds were cleaned, the new birdhouse installed and the garden changed in just a few days from the above, to this view.  DSC_0024a
Tomorrow is supposed to be in the eighties but I am not celebrating as these beautiful flowers will last a short time with those high temps. DSC_0140
The late crocus are on the wane now but this weekend they were in full glory.  The Cornell Pink Rhododendrons are usually the first of the flowering shrubs to bloom but they have the company of the Magnolia stellata this year.  I am living in the moment and in the midst of these pink beauties.DSC_0127
Last is the picture of the forsythia which was in bud just one week ago.  It is fully bloomed today.  What a difference this one week of spring has made in the garden.  DSC_0016a
Has your season been a bit askew?