Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Where Will I Plant It

I have been in the nurseries a lot in the last month. It's spring planting season. Can you imagine walking into a nursery and buying whatever you want in whatever quantities it takes to fill the space now? Oh the joys of working at the Posh Estate. The bed formerly known as the rose garden was finally abandoned in hopeless exasperation after major winter dieback. It has been turned into a mixed flowering shrub and perennial border. The new woodland garden started last fall is an ongoing expansion and fill project. I love plant shopping for the Posh Estate.

Considering how much I have been in the nurseries, I have been very good, not buying anything for myself, not even from the discard rack until today.

This is Cornus canadensis, Bunchberry, a native herbaceous woodland groundcover in the Dogwood family. It hails from the far north, hardy to zone 2. I hope I am high enough in elevation to keep it cool.

Now where will I plant it? I am getting mixed sun exposure signals from the Monrovia tag and my online research. I may just cut it in half and plant it in two locations.

I only bought one plant, really. My bulb dealer next door has already dug me some white trumpet daffodils and a sack of Grape Hyacinth. I brought a rescue azalea home. It took a beating over the winter and was replaced by a fresh plant. It still has some life left in it though. I see sprouts in the crown. The evergreen azaleas plain and simple don't like it up here. I know I brought it home just to watch it slowly die. That could take years though and I might get a decent bloom out of it once or twice before it's all over.

Now where will I plant them all?

I plant at times to mimic the effect of nature left undisturbed. I am seeing more of the transplanted trilliums coming up and more trilliums I did not plant coming up. I know they know how to spread on their own.

The deep shade of the deep forest is different than the more dappled shade of the garden becoming. My light levels allow more competition. So I edit to favor the wanted. My light levels also allow me more diversity and season long bloom.

It is my hope that when I cultivate a native woodland plant that they will turn wild. There's no shortage of violets up here, but there is only one Bird's Foot Violet, for now.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Lost And Found

The Bird's Foot Violet, Viola pedata, is much happier since I moved it to a new location last year. It languished the first year. I was lucky I remembered where I planted it. It is a miniscule plant. I looked it up online to learn more about it to try and avoid a slow demise. Who knew a violet wanted a full sun location and dry, even gravelly soil.

Now it has full sun and well drained soil. It's blooming its tiny little head off. Now it needs to colonize.

I went into the deep forest last year and dug up trilliums to move into the garden becoming because I felt there was a trillium deficit. There wasn't. Where did all these trilliums come from? I searched high and low for more red trilliums after finding only two in the forest. They were hiding in the garden becoming all along. This might be Trillium vaseyi.

And I don't remember seeing this particular grouping last year.

I remember these Nodding Trillium, Trillium cernuum across the path. Not quite this many though.

I kept looking and looking for my Arailia cordata 'Sun King' to come up. Did it survive its first winter? I knew where I planted it. I tend to remember where I put plants I pay money for. Gifts, findlings and strays that follow me home are more apt to be the ones that get lost out there.

I kept looking and looking and because I was about eighteen inches off from where it actually was it took me an extra week to find it.

I think I know where I planted the Painted Trillium and I keep looking and looking. I may be eighteen inches off and not be able to find it until the flower opens.

You can't miss these bright red tulips. Bulbarella was surprised when she saw them though. It's hard to remember where you plant all those bulbs.

Could this be the year the pink azalea doesn't get zapped by a frost? The bloom on this has been lost more than once.

It is usually the first of the deciduous azaleas to bloom and is most lovely in a still barren forest.

I may have ID'd this patch of violets by the old chimney as a different species at one point. It is most similar to Viola canadensis, but it has a distinctly creamy yellow hue quite different from the white violets down by the giant rock. It's a nice patch of violets no matter who it is.

The world is turning green and I go out hunting amongst the baby Lush for plants I remember, sort of, and every thing new that nature is offering up for the year.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Clematis Free

I wish.

I have been going on some what manic weeding frenzies for the last three weeks editing out the hated and unwanted Clematis virginiana vine. The entire slope below the roadside vegetable garden was particularly infested with it since it has not received much attention before. I made the first push on this slope last fall.

Nothing much blooms on this slope. That is why it has taken a back seat. That is also why the clematis has to go. Nothing much blooms here and I aim to change that.

The clematis prefers sun and the sunny utility meadow follows the power lines. I started my concentrated assault on the clematis three years ago. The meadow was choke full of it.

And the meadow goes on and on. From one end to the other it is at least and acre of land. An acre of land I have been hand weeding of the steel rooted clematis for the last three years. I am making progress. I'd like to think the sunny utility meadow is 80% to 90% free of the clematis by now.

I've been weeding out the clematis around the perimeters of the roadside vegetable garden too. Where there is sun there is clematis. It will only wander so far into the shade of the forest.

The first sowing of greens have begun to germinate and a few sugar snap peas are up. No sign of the potatoes yet.

The clematis situation in the garden becoming was not any better. It was another three quarters of an acre of hand weeding of the steel rooted clematis. The sunny end of the slope below the scenic byway was a veritable carpet of the clematis. It's hard to grow baby shrubberies when they are under constant threat of being grasped by reaching tendrils and engulfed.

The clematis swept down the slope through the forest and back out into the sun of the utility easement. I've been weeding out the clematis here for seven years. The last three years have been more purposeful and aggressive. I am making progress. The garden becoming might be 95% free of clematis by now. Damn vine. Hate it.

I want the pretty little things, not a mono crop of clematis. The Dwarf Crested Iris at bloom is barely four inches tall. It simply can't compete with a smothering vine sitting on top of it blocking out the spring sun in a leafless forest that it depends on.

The trilliums are not much taller. That spring sunshine is just as critical for their survival and reproductive success. More of the transplanted trilliums are beginning to appear. Now where is that Painted trillium?

And when the clematis disappears I am rewarded by the appearance of native plants I had no part in planting. The Jack in the Pulpits are showing up in all kinds of places. They may have been there waiting all along. Without all that vine growth on top they are easier to see and much more likely to grow bigger and better.

Out there in the vast expanse, a garden is set free to grow in abundance and diversity when the thugs are edited out. All the small ephemerals of spring can been seen, unencumbered by thick cords of vines starting to leaf out and turn green.

The cultivated part of the wild cultivated gardens is half just knowing what to get rid of.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Second Awakening

Plants that had wisely waited until after the mush making freeze are beginning to stir. Fiddleheads are breaking the surface all around the shaded half of the garden becoming.

The bamboo is alive. I've been checking and checking and checking. Finally new culms are coming up. The first few have just broken ground. Now the question is will the old culms leaf back out. The stems are still green. Either way nothing will get cut until the new culms are all the way up and leafing out. Making them grow through the old growth will ensure that they grow taller.

The False Solomon's Seal has arrived. I'll need to look for babies from my seed tossing on the slope below the scenic byway.

The botanical garden bought trilliums came up first.

Then the existing patches of the nodding trillium showed up.

Now I am starting to see the transplanted trilliums come up. These look like they are going to be the Trillium grandiflorum from deep in the forest that were moved last spring. Now where is that Painted Trillium? Then while I was at a job this week, a memory bubbled to the surface, what ever happened to those big red trilliums that followed me home? I don't remember seeing them last year. Was that last year or the year before that I planted them? I better be on the look out for those.

One Japanese maple, one I found on the side of a garden just last month only got slightly nipped because it hadn't gone too far before the freeze. It is looking most interesting so far. The stems are bright green and the new foliage is bright red.

Look at all them May Apples. Yes it is a native. You may want to think twice before planting it in your garden. It makes trilliums harder to find. My May Apples came with the place.

Late last summer I sprayed a section of hillside because it was a near pure thicket of the Clematis virginiana and the thought of hand weeding it was too daunting after spending months weeding out the steel rooted clematis all over everywhere. I started planting in early fall. Shortly there after the turkeys used the newly cleared slope for a dust wallow and then the cats decided it was a fine litter box. My seed grown baby plants took a beating.

Spring is proving how resilient the crowns of perennial plants can be even when they are tiny or transplants. I have been surprised how much has survived the constant digging and thrashing. The mystery bulbs turned out to be alliums. I hope they like this sunny slope and are reliable returning bulbs. The other plants coming up are sedums, goldenrod, milkweed, baptisia, Indiangrass, purple coneflower and liatris. I tossed out copious amounts of liatris seed and see them coming up in large numbers.

Then I sort of bought a pot of Little Bluestem grass at the big box today. I cut it in half and added it to the mix. By mid summer I expect all bare dirt to have vanished. The cats will have to find other accommodations.

We are down to the last few daffodils as the second awakening gathers momentum.

There is much to come in the months that lie ahead. I need to remember to look for seeds on this Larkspur, Dephinium tricorne. It wouldn't hurt to have some of that in the garden becoming.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Organizing Rocks

A good friend said she was ready to do something with her landscape and would I come do it. What do you want to do, I asked. I don't know, she said. Something. Anything. I probed a little and got nothing. I'll come by and have a look and we can talk about what you want to do.

I was handed a big check shortly after I arrived, before any discussion really, and told, give me this amount of pretty. Do whatever you want.

Well I knew that the money and enthusiasm had run out when the house was finished being built. The landscape is most often the loser in this situation. Some trees and shrubs got planted and that was that. The interior is flawless.

What I saw was a boulder strewn site that had never gotten any finish prep work to prepare for a garden.

The first thing that had to be done was to organize all the rocks scattered around the site and lined up in loose rows and heaped in piles. Even a rock garden would have better arranged rocks than this rubble field of boulders.

So I started moving rocks.

Lining them up in neater rows and getting rid of the excess.

Because things like the hideous fake plastic rock

Might look a little better with some company. It still needs a bush to help.

Paths were made.

Retaining walls were knocked down and rebuilt so they would retain things.

And much to my horror there was heavy duty construction plastic under the entire front bed.

People! DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME! It does not prevent weeds. They will grow right on top of the plastic in the mulch you hide it with. You will still have plenty of weeds. All plastic does is create an air and water barrier between the soil and all life processes the soil needs to be healthy. Your plant's roots will hate this. It is not good. Not good at all.

Landscape fabric that is supposed to be breathable is only slightly less horrible. Weeds will grow right on top of your landscape fabric too.

The idea of putting plastic and fabric into planting beds to prevent weeds is the most horrible lie foisted on the gardening public in the last several decades. Just don't do it.

Another bed was needed on the left side of the house.

And I had access to plenty of rocks. Now the redbud tree won't be sitting all alone in the middle of the grassy slope.

It's almost ready for some new flowers and shrubberies. Next comes compost and mulch.

When I was leaving for the day, something small and pink caught my eye on the slope along the lower drive. I had never seen a violet that color before.

That's no violet. The business parts look very orchid like. Is this another native orchid? There were hundreds of them blooming across this slope.

I started searching when I got home and could put the picture on the computer so I could see it better. No it is not an orchid. This is Fringed Polygala or Gay Wings, Polygala paucifolia. It is a rhizomatous perennial native to north eastern North America ranging down to the mountains of Georgia.

Of course you know some of it fell out of the ground and followed me home.