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July 2014

June 2014

Dogwood Blooms


Flowers rowIt is common to accept much of what we know without question. Take the dogwood for example. Did you ever wonder how that tree got its name? There is speculation that it is derived from the Old English word 'dag' which is short for dagger. Daggers were supposedly made from the hard wood of the dogwood. When I hear the word 'dogwood' I most often picture the Florida dogwood which is  a lovely and delicate flowering tree but there are over fifty species of dogwoods and they encompass every shape and size from small shrubs to 30 foot spreading trees. Kousa flowerThere is one dogwood which all but the smallest garden should contain and that is the Chinese dogwood, Cornus kousa. Of course that is just my opinion but the Chinese dogwood waits until the spring show is over. It blooms at the beginning of summer with creamy white or pink star like flowers floating on the layered branches. Cornus kousa 2013A Chinese dogwood gives a garden substance, architecture and form. As a youthful maiden is upright and vase shaped, so is the young Chinese dogwood but as it ages it settles and spreads with a determination and maturity akin to a woman in later life. Last year my Chinese dogwood which is about 25 years old, flowered with intensity. Barely a leaf showed. Dogwood 2014This year the flowers are sparser. We did have quite a harsh winter which may have dessicated some of the flower buds. I have to say I am still enjoying the show this year in spite of the lack of abundance. The tree looks more like the night sky to me. In the center is the band of heavy flowers reminding me of the Milky Way while there are pinpricks of white over the rest of the tree. Three flowersI would love to know exactly what mechanism adjusted the bloom this year. It could have been the cold, the wind or the soil fertility which changes over time but Mother Nature has her secrets. I will have to be content with the blooms, such as they are. In my area I have seen dogwoods with a similar bloom pattern this year but then I have seen full ones as well. The mystery remains.    


A Plague of Alliums


Parade of AlliumsI cannot say that this is an original term, 'A Plague of Alliums'. It is one I heard last year on a garden tour from a gardener who was bemoaning the fact that her alliums had reseeded in her garden. The effect was magical. Much more magical than the dire statement. I remember being envious. Globe allium bulbs are not cheap and they have never reseeded for me. Never say never. While I don't have a 'plague' this year I do have many more than I planted. They have seeded in at the feet of the parents and I am quite enjoying the 'Alice in Wonderland' effect of so many perfect spheres. Alliums and geumThey are no trouble. Should I wish to remove them I could do so with a soil knife.  It would be easy to lift and throw the unwanted right into the compost tub or move them to another spot. I would do so if I found them to be a problem. I cannot imagine that happening but editing the garden is a constant, brutal and necessary task. If left undone, Mother Nature will gain control. She can have the woodlands, pastures, meadows and wetlands. I would love to control her as far as rain, wind and temperature go but my only real control is in the editing. So, edit I will. Front Left BorderThe garden looks very serene in early June. The perennials have filled out and are plump, fresh and full. The burgeoning health of the youthful garden in late spring is glorious. I have to remind myself to take time to just enjoy it.