Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wild blossoms in spring

The woods are full of blossoms in spring.  Here are some black haw blossoms.
Here are some coral honeysuckle blooms.

Of course, the insects are out as well.  Here is a grasshopper enjoying the warmth of the sun on a truck tire.

Take time to smell the flowers.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Work in the mixed border, iris buds

This week I've been doing some work in the mixed border.  I have a royal mess, to be sure.  I've been pulling up honeysuckle and poison ivy.  Those can be quite invasive.  Here is a little pile of honeysuckle; I had already taken a larger pile of it to the back yard where I stack it to dry out.
Here is a pile of poison ivy (and a couple of cow itch vines and a little sweet gum root and sumac).
Over the last little while, I had accumulated a wheelbarrow load of weeds that I had removed from the border.  I put them on my compost pile yesterday and decided that would be a good time to finish turning the pile.  Last July the pile looked like this:
Last fall, Caleb or I put some of the sycamore leaves beside this pile, and I layered the nandina canes I pruned out recently.  I stacked my weeds on the nandina canes and began turning last year's pile over onto the new stack, adding some chickweed that was growing all around as I went.  The pile was fairly dry, and the grass clippings from last summer had an impressive amount of mold that blew everywhere in the gusty wind.  I left a small amount of the pile unturned.  If we get some rain tomorrow to wet the pile, I will turn the last little dab.  Here is the new pile...
...and the last little dab yet to be turned:
I had moved enough of the pile to have good access to the compost that has sifted its way to the bottom of the pile.  I loaded up the wheelbarrow and began strewing compost here and yon.
Some went on the rose by the porch.  The bed by the porch is a frustration because it seems to be harboring black root rot.  When I found out that irises are resistant, I thought I would get some rhizomes from Mom.  She has a white iris that I thought would be pretty next to the rose.  I got some divisions from her late last summer.  This is what they looked like not long after I had planted them.

Just this week, I noticed a couple of fat buds on them.  I'm thrilled.  I'm looking forward to seeing some pretty blooms.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Few daffodil blooms this year

A daffodil is the kind of flower that tolerates a wide variety of conditions and still puts out cheery blooms year after year after year.  However, something is amiss with my daffodils this year, and the blooms are few.  I'm wondering if the hailstorm last April damaged the foliage that would ordinarily have sent energy down to the bulbs.  The Daffodil Society has a list of things that could be wrong, and I'm thinking last year's hailstorm is the most likely culprit.  Some are overcrowded, but even the ones that are not have such sparse blooms I'm ruling that out as the main cause.  Perhaps last year's spring ended with an early heat wave or a dry spell.  I don't remember that in particular, but that seems plausible.  I'm planning to throw a little compost and high phosphate fertilizer on them.  We'll see how they do next year. 
I'm just a little concerned that I did the wrong thing by putting a few wood ashes around them last year.  The optimum pH for daffodils is 6.0 to 6.5.  I felt reasonably sure the pH was lower than that.  With the amount of moss growing in the area, I suspect it still is lower than that.
Anyway, I'm asking myself how brown my thumb is to not be able to grow daffodils.
This is a jonquil my sister gave me.  It has a nice fragrance.  You can see how few blooms compared to 2 years ago.



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March weather--flowers and hail

The weather has been warmer than usual for March.  The vegetation that is affected by warm temperatures is coming out early.  I always enjoy seeing the flowers.  Sunday evening brought a rainbow.  Monday evening brought a hailstorm.  After having experienced the one that was so damaging last year, it was not pleasant to think about what might be happening again.  Fortunately, the hail in this storm was much smaller, dime sized. 
I'm talking about the weather because I dare not talk about politics.  Today is election day in my state.
How's your weather?


Thursday, March 10, 2016

A "narrow fellow in the grass"

Yesterday at the botanical gardens, we saw a little snake--maybe the groundhog was right about the early spring.  It was a little brown snake.  As wary as he was, he still allowed me to get a close up.  I was amused at how the close up in the late afternoon sun makes him look like a big snake on a sun-drenched rocky terrain, when in actuality, he was just "a narrow fellow in the grass."  You can see by the pathway gravel and pine needle how small the snake actually is.
For those who aren't fond of snakes, perhaps you might enjoy seeing another sign of the unusually warm weather--an early azalea bloom.
How's the weather at your place?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Trout lily at botanical gardens

Today, dh and I took a walk at the botanical gardens.  We really didn't quite take a walk together.  I stopped to take pictures, he walked on ahead, I walked on later and even took a different trail.  I had to ask if he had a "peaceful" walk. 
The trout lilies are in bloom!  Last Saturday, I noticed a bud on one.  I knew they would soon be blooming. 

These plants go by other names as well.  One name is dog's tooth violet.  My sixth-grade science teacher challenged us by saying anyone who brought one in would be guaranteed an 'A' for the year.  I knew I could make an 'A' the ordinary way, but what fun was that?  Unfortunately, he only showed the picture in the book once and refused to show it to those of us who weren't close enough to get a good look.  I took several violets and even a bluet to class, but, alas, not a dog's tooth violet.
I think this is the plant my father called a turkey pea which is a common name used for another plant as well.  Common names are like that and can sometimes be quite localized.  The botanical name is Erythronium americanum.  I happen to like the name trout lily, so named because the foliage is mottled like a trout.
The sight of the bank beside the trail flecked with spots of yellow here and there was just another sign that spring is in the air.

Monday, March 7, 2016

This past week

It's been a week since my last post, so it's high time for an update.  I've enjoyed a few walks at the local nature preserve.  It's my favorite place locally. 
One day, I was able to have lunch with my friend Lea, and we enjoyed stopping in at an antique shop just to look around.
I did a little pruning today--the gardenia and the nandinas.
(Here's the before and after of the gardenia.)

Some of the nandina that I pruned had berries, so I put them in a vase.  I also trimmed away the dried carnations from my Valentine's Day bouquet.  I'm down to two little blooms.  This is the way they looked 2 weeks after receiving the bouquet.  No wonder carnations are such a popular cut flower.
This week the weather is supposed to be warmer than normal, so I will try to work on some outdoor chores.
That's what's happening around here.