Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Miscellaneous Monday

OK, so it's really Miscellaneous Tuesday but that isn't alliteration and I have a thing about alliteration.

1.  Big weekend project.  We had two very, very large Pieris japonica in front of our house.  They were planted as foundation plants but they weren't a petite variety.  Rather than prune them twice a year or allow them to block the windows we elected to attempt to move them.  Here they are in their new home.

We'll have to wait and see if they survive.  The Husband and I had a hard time lifting the larger one so if we didn't get a large enough root ball there is no way we could have.  (Piper, our dog, is overseeing my photography).

2.  I attended a work conference in Connecticut last week.  This meant that Logee's was on the way home.  Logee's is a complex of greenhouses that contain not-the-same-old house plants (they also have mail order).  I had a hard time restraining myself.  I limited myself to three new plants.

This Blue Sansevieria ehrenbergii (no common name).  It does have blue-gray overtones that are not obvious in this image.

A Philodendron called Prince of Orange where the new leaves come in, well, orange.  This is a bushy philodendron, not a vine.

And last, but not least, for The Husband, this Calathea lancifolia, also called a Rattlesnake Plant.  [This isn't the only plant called a rattlesnake plant which is why scientific names are so valuable.]  The leaves close up at night (they stick straight up), exposing their purple undersides.  

2b.  I also picked up this Dracena, probably Lemon-lime.  But I got this one at a Big-Box retailer when I was picking up something else.  I just couldn't resist!  I love pale, yellowy greens, especially in combinations.    And I like large leaves and strong lines.  This plant has them all.  So Sexy!

3.  May was a very rainy month for us.  And we all know what rain brings.  

4.  Back outside - all of my Aquilegia are blooming.  At this time of the year I can hardly get enough of these plants!  This one is Denver Gold.

E.  Lastly here is a new requisition for the outdoor garden.  I was just going to the Local Garden Center to buy some houseplant potting mix and I found this Centaurea monttana Black Sprite.  What a shocking color!  I hope the blooms stay easily visible.  It's in the light and I'll plant paler colors around it to accent it (I'm thinking Perovskia [Russian Sage]).  

I always like the odd and unusual.  You, know, Edgy stuff.

That's the wrap up for this Monday Tuesday at The Edge.  It's been a busy week.  The weather looks to be good this week as well so if you're trying to reach me I'll be in The Garden.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Amazing Weeds

Yes, that's right.  I'm writing a blog post talking about how amazing weeds are.  Wanna make something of it, punk?  [it's really hard to type a good John Wayne impersonation -  you'll have to use your imagination and since I'm really bad at impersonations imagine Nathan Lane doing it.  {think The Birdcage}]

The Husband battles dandelions in the lawn.  Other weeds he ignores or tolerates but he constantly deadheads or removes dandelions (he can't walk past one without deadheading it).  Last week he dug some up in the back yard and tossed them onto the bulk head doors.  Where they lay on metal in the morning sun.  Baked dandelions, anyone?  But wait, look!

That's right.  They're still trying to bloom!  Talk about a tough little plant!  They've sucked all of the moisture out of the leaves and roots to support one last, desperate bloom!  How can you NOT be impressed?!  [can I use more exclamation points in one paragraph?!  I bet I can!]

This is a dying tree in my neighbor's yard.  Look at that tight crotch angle.  Look again - see that green?  That is a wild violet.  Somehow the seed blew up there, found enough rotting organic material in the crotch and grew.  I guess they don't need much to thrive.

Here's a "weed" growing in the crack of the sidewalk.  This Spiderwort (Tradescantia) has gotten to be good sized despite The Husband and other walkers stepping on it.  Don't you know if you step on a crack you could break your mother's back?  Don't worry, Queen Bee, I always step OVER the crack.  

Last up is not a weed but is still an impressive story of plant survival.  I have Sedum 'Angelica' growing in the Hell Strip Garden.  Some of it got torn off when the snow plows can by and came to rest about 5 feet away.  Ignore all of the little seedlings that I need to weed out of there and look at how well the Sedum is doing.  It's put down roots and decided to stay awhile.  Who am I to argue?

Now I need to get back outside on one of the first nice days I've had free this spring and, well, remove weeds.

I bet an hour from now I won't be so impressed with their ability to grow anywhere.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Working in the backyard Saturday (the first nice day in over a week) I kept hearing a strange sound.  It sounded kind of like it was starting to rain.  But it was warm and sunny.  What was that noise?

Here's a clue.  Look at those maple leaves.

Here's another clue.  This is a Viburnum that is under the maple trees.

Got an idea yet?

Here is the culprit.  The caterpillar of the Winter Moth (Operophtera brumata).

This is an introduced species that has become a major pest here in Eastern Massachusetts.  They can completely defoliate trees of preferred species (a neighbor has a weeping cherry that is in decline from years of winter moth damage.  She has to resort to spraying to keep this full sized specimen alive).  While a healthy tree can survive defoliation once several years of defoliating can cause the death of the tree.

Oh, that sound?  That's the sound of millions of caterpillars chewing on leaves.  And the dark spots on the Viburnum leaves are the Frass (feces) of all of those caterpillars

No, I'm not kidding, you really can hear them.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

RudEbeckia Surprise

I bought about 9 Rudbeckia (Black or Brown Eyed Susan) of three different varieties last year.  All went in during April.  Two of the varieties did very well (the other sort of limped along).

Now the snow is gone, the perennials are up and even my late starting Asclepias tuberosa (orange butterfly weed) is out of the ground and several inches high.  Where are the Rudbekcias?

None here.
Not this one.

Here's where Prairie Sun sat last year.  It's supposed to readily reseed.  Those are all Liatris (blazing star or gayfeather) seedlings (make note to weed this spot if I don't want Liatris to take over).

I'm not sure what happened.  The roots are well established (I can't tug them out of the ground) and undisturbed by burrowing critters.  Rudbeckia are supposed to be rabbit resistant but it's possible the young leaves aren't and were chewed by the Hungry Hoard of Hares that live in our neighborhood (yes, yes, I know they're rabbits, not hares but hare makes for nice alliteration and I always enjoy a nice alliteration).

I do fence the rabbits away from a few plants (notably Baptisia) but I'm not going to fence the whole garden.  That might cause issues with the coyotes, foxes and turkeys that pass through.  Not to mention the neighbors who would have to look at the ugly chicken wire around the garden.  I guess I'll replace the Rudbeckias with something a little less appetizing to the Hungry Hoard.

That means a trip to the garden center!  Woo-hoo!  New Plants!

Friday, May 6, 2011

I love technology

I love modern technology.  When it works it can make things so much easier!  You can now carry a smart phone to the garden center so that you can go on-line and check out the plant before you buy it.  You can blog about your garden and share pictures.  You can read other peoples' blogs to find out what works for them.  It's easy to check multiple sources for information.  No more needing a shelf full of book.  No more depending on a relative or neighbor for advice that may or may not be any good.

Lately I've started using technology to document the progression in my garden.  During the winter when it was time to order plants I was trying to go back and remember what the garden looked like, where there were empty spots, what blooms together.  Of course I've never made a map.  That would be too useful.  

I'm going out every two week to a month and photographing every inch of my garden.  I start at my driveway and take a photo of that end of the garden.  Then I take a big step to the left and repeat.  And repeat.  It takes about 100 photos.  Way too cost prohibitive in the old days of developing film.  Now?  Cheap and easy.  And I can find what I'm looking for if I organize it well on the hard drive.  Next winter I'll have a better guide to where I might be able to squeeze in just one more....

I love technology.

PS.  The end of the semester is in sight!  In about two weeks I'll have more free time and will try to get back to blogging regularly, I promise!