Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Saturday, April 30, 2005
Well, it's been a busy week in my hometown, I mean garden. The rain held off all week (mostly) until this morning, and there was no other work that was urgent, so I spent most of the week outside. First, I planted part of the order from Plant Delights; then there was the mulch; then planted the rest of the order from Plant Delights, then my order from Song Sparrow arrived. Last evening, as we were sitting down to dinner, my last order of plants arrived - this one from Bluestone Perennials.
I want to mention Song Sparrow's packaging. I almost didn't go through with the order when I saw how much they wanted for shipping. I know it's expensive to pack and ship decent-sized plants, but it still gave me pause. But I'm glad I did place the order. The plants are just beautiful - big, well-grown and healthy - and the packaging is something to behold. I ordered 2 Japanese maples, and they each came packed in a tall cardboard sleeve that fit the pot exactly and allowed the tall stems to remain intact and upright. Then each was individually packed in a shipping box. My order of 6 plants arrived in 4 boxes. So now I'm thinking the shipping charge is a bargain, and I don't know how they do it that cheaply.
I spent part of today catching up with my neglected housekeeping and part knitting, and part editing some garden photos I took yesterday.
Thursday, April 28, 2005
Yesterday, while we having tea and toast in the morning, a gray fox strolled through the backyard/woods and casually marked one of MY epimediums as HIS epimedium.
This morning, while I was having tea and toast, a rabbit made a quick tour through the backyard/woods. I hadn't seen any rabbits for a while, but I knew they were here. They seem to like crocus foliage.
Earlier, this morning, with the first cup of tea, I saw 6 (!) brown-headed cowbirds perched in a tree just outside the patio door, gleaning insects. Eating bugs is good, but I hope they're just tourists - I'd hate for them to parasitize a nest of some bird I really like.
And just now, while reading VA-bird, a startling news item crossed my computer screen - the ivory-billed woodpecker has been rediscovered in Arkansas. This seems to be for real.
So I'm out working in the yard on Tuesday, and tree guy stops by. This is how we do business. He drives by, sees me working out in the yard, stops and talks, and then we usually find some work for him to do. This time he trimmed the shrubbery in front into standard suburban form. And then I heard myself ask him if he would sell me some mulch.
"Sure, I'll bring it tomorrow morning."
He did. Then DH and I spent the rest of the day moving 7 yards (according to tree guy) of shredded wood from the driveway to where it could do some good. Actually DH didn't spend all day - just the afternoon - but he did volunteer.
We had a termite problem a couple of years ago, and I swore I'd never use shredded wood mulch again, but hand-weeding and mulching with leaves/grass clippings was just not getting the job done. This looks much better. But I noticed something yesterday - and this may be totally unrelated - my bridal-wreath spireas have no aphids on them this spring for the first time ever, and up until yesterday they had no mulch around them for 2 years or so. We always had trouble with ants in the mulch in that area, and ants & aphids have a symbiotic relationship, as do ants & termites. So no mulch, no aphids. Coincidence?
Tuesday, April 26, 2005
Odds 'n' Ends
Weather: After our extended dry spell, it looks like we're headed for an extended wet spell. Quote from the National Weather Service forecast discussion:
.LONG TERM (WEDNESDAY THROUGH MONDAY)...
AN UNSETTLED WEATHER PATTERN IS IN STORE FOR THE CWFA IN THE EXTENDED PERIOD.
So, today is going to be the day to get most of this week's outdoor work done, at least as regards digging. Thursday may be OK too, depending on how much rain we get tonight/Wednesday.
New Plants: My order from Plant Delights arrived Friday, and yesterday I planted Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilafee', Dicentra eximia 'Dolly Sods', and Dicentra 'Aurora'.
Birds: A blue-headed vireo and an unidentified yellowish warbler visited the yard on Saturday. I'm sure there were a lot more birds to see, but the tree leaves are starting to obscure the view.
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Big Rocky Run Trail
DH and I walked on Big Rocky Run Trail this afternoon before the rain. The dogwoods are looking very pretty now; the redbuds are still going; and the path is lined with spring beauties (& hepaticas?) and a few other wildflowers. We saw a few butterflies, but none were in the mood to pose for a picture.
Wedding season has started in the park.
The azaleas have started to bloom. Having come from the frozen tundra of northern Illinois, I'm still fascinated by these "Southern" plants. Almost as soon as I got to northern Virginia though, I started to read disparaging remarks about them. Too common. Well, I still like them, but never planted any until we opened up the woods to a bit more sun by having some tall pine trees cut down. I put in some about 5 years ago and a couple more last year. The first ones are just now getting big enough to put on a show, but of course I don't know their names because I don't know where my records are. I think they are all Gable Hybrids though, and I think the pink one now blooming may be 'Boudoir'.
Last year, I added 'Mildred Mae' and 'Kathleen Gable', two more Gable Hybrids, both of which are now in bloom.
Oh, and I just remembered that I planted 'Northen Lights' many years ago in a place where it is waaaaay too shady to grow it. It grew (survived, really) for a few years, but never bloomed. I was always intending to move it, but never got around to it.
Now that I look at what I have, it seems they are all varieties intended to be cold-hardy. Why is that. I wonder?
Thursday, April 21, 2005
The woods turned green overnight. Up until yesterday, there was just a haze of buds and tiny leaves. Today almost all the trees are showing definite leaves, though still small.
Three azaleas are blooming: the bubble-gum pink one (bought several years ago from ?); the clashes-with-everything reddish-coral-magenta one (put in by the builder); and Kathleen Gable, a light warm pink color (bought last year from Shepherd Hill Farm).
The dogwoods in the woods are just starting to bloom, but the neighbors' pink varieties in front of their houses have been blooming for a few days.
I've been digging away at my renovation project, but so far have removed more old plants than put in new plants. Two things that went in yesterday were Passiflora incarnata (newly purchased) and Hosta 'Golden Tiara' (dug up from under the bubble-gum pink azalea).
I haven't taken any pictures since Tuesday, and didn't post them until this morning. There's one more tale of survival, and one of bountiful increase.
Tuesday, April 19, 2005
It's 83 degrees F and I'm stuck indoors today waiting for a delivery. (Update: delivery was rescheduled for tomorrow and the weather turned cloudy and cooler after I started writing this).
It's come to my attention that my blogs have very dull names. When I started this one almost 2 years ago, I had no idea I was supposed to give it a clever title, and so I didn't. The "Tangled Branches" part fits both gardening and genealogy. Then I added Making Things and My Food Blog. I still don't know how they fit in, except they're things I like to do.
So. I have several ideas in mind. These would each follow the same format - Tangled Branches: (blog name)
- My Garden Blog becomes Gardening; Making Things stays the same; and My Food Blog becomes Eating/Drinking.
- My Garden Blog becomes Cultivated; Making Things becomes Fabricated; and My Food Blog becomes Satiated.
- My Garden Blog becomes Herbaceous; Making Things becomes Industrious; and My Food Blog becomes Delicious.
- My Garden Blog becomes Perennial; Making Things becomes ?; and My Food Blog becomes Victuals.
There have been volumes and volumes written about gardens, and people devote their careers to the naming of plants, but where do our basic English words about gardening come from?
Sunday, April 17, 2005
Where Do Bulbs Come From?
The daffodils are winding down here, but this evening I happened on this photo on Flickr of narcissus production fields (in the Netherlands?). And this one of tulip fields.
Which got me thinking about a famous garden in the Netherlands. And they had a link to another garden, which was new to me. And also a link to a bulb trade association, which provides a short history of the bulb industry in the Netherlands. It's a frame-based site, so select "Public", and then "Bulb Industry and History".
Saturday, April 16, 2005
I posted some new pictures yesterday, including my mystery tulip. Most of my tulips have disappeared, but this one lives on.
I spent some time this afternoon updating my eBird reports. I was trying to get a spreadsheet report out of it which would be the basis for my Lifetime Backyard List, but they won't summarize every single report you have ever given them in one big data dump. The most they will give you is a year at a time. I have a few birds in my reports that I've only ever seen once in the backyard, and the sightings didn't all occur in the same year. I could consolidate all my yearly reports in one spreadsheet, then sort on name and delete the duplicates, but then how to get it back into taxonomic order? Hmm...more thinking required.
Random bird notes:
- The juncos are still here.
- Chipping sparrows are now giving the goldfinches competition for the Nuttery seed feeder. They behave exactly like the goldfinches too, parking themselves on a perch and eating and eating and eating.....
- I'm thinking of trying a hummingbird feeder again. Bought one last year and the squirrels got into it right away - knocked in down, broke a perch, spilled sugar water all over the ground (great for the ants). But I think if I put in under the Big Top feeder where I now have the suet feeder, the squirrels might leave it alone.
- Robins are enjoying the birdbath, at least when the crows haven't fouled it by bringing their
garbagefood to dunk before eating.
- There were just a few holly berries left on the little tree in back, and the robins are now picking it clean.
Thursday, April 14, 2005
A Few Pictures
Posted a few new pictures, taken yesterday when the sky was somewhat overcast. The sunlight is starting to get harsh, and it's harder to get good pictures on a clear day.
Yesterday, I continued planting bulbs from Brent and Becky's Bulbs. Crinum x powellii 'Album', Nerine bowdenii, and Polianthes tuberosa 'Single Mexican' all are either not hardy or questionably hardy here, so they are spending the summer in pots.
Miscellaneous garden chores took up the rest of my time outside yesterday. Weeding, edging, and some minimal fallen leaf clean-up. After a few years of trying to clean up the leaves in the woods each spring (because all the neighbors do), I'm going back to a more natural look.
Events conspired to keep me indoors and working this morning, but I'm on my way out the door right now.
Wednesday, April 13, 2005
wasting time enriching my life this morning surfing the Web, when I decided to go to technorati.com and see what garden blogs I could turn up by searching for names of flowers in bloom this time of year (say, narcissus). Predictably, there were things that had nothing to do with gardens, but then I noticed this. Which led me to this and this and this. Our DC cherry blossom festival is a pale imitation of the way they do it in Japan.
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
Posted a few new pictures today of things currently in bloom.
Another shipment of garden plants arrived today, but they happen to be dormant. I decided to try some summer bulbs from Brent and Becky's Bulbs. Some are hardy, some not. The hardy ones I intend to plant directly in the ground, and the tender ones are going into pots. Except for some oriental Lilies, I've never grown any of these plants before. Today, I planted Bletilla striata and Zephyranthes candida directly in the ground. The Bletilla should be cold-hardy enough, but I'm hoping it will find the soil in the woods to its liking. I've been thinking of trying Zephyranthes for a while, and candida is said to be one of the hardiest. They went into the ground in front of the house next to some Plumbago.
Friday, April 08, 2005
No, not pictures of chores, although that's an interesting idea. So many gorgeous illustrated garden blogs now, but I haven't seen any pictures of the sweat-drenched, mud-crusted gardeners who make them happen. But I won't be the first one to post that kind of picture; here are the latest pretty ones instead.
I planted half the order from Niche Gardens yesterday. The rest are going to have to wait for drier weather, and the place they're going to be planted is one of the last places on the lot to dry out.
So I continued pulling weeds back in the woods. Some Japanese honeysuckle had gotten a good start last year before I noticed it. Wild strawberry had gotten farther out of hand than I thought. And the berry brambles are much more shade-tolerant than I would have expected. Then there's the garlic mustard. When this first popped up back in the woods several years ago, I hadn't started to garden in the woods yet and it looked like a reasonably attractive
weed wildflower so I let it go. Now I know better. It's easy enough to pull up, but there are new seedlings every year. An Iowa Garden has a great post about this pestilential scourge.
Wednesday, April 06, 2005
What a great day! The first really warm weather + the arrival of the first plant order. And the daffodils are almost all in bloom, Virginia bluebells are opening up, and Anemone apennina opened a few flowers yesterday.
I placed my first order with Niche Gardens this year. They were offering a few native plants I wanted to try: Euonymus americana, Erythronium americanum, and Passiflora incarnata. (Forgot to order the paw-paws. Maybe next year. I wanted these because they're a host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail.) And while I was browsing the catalog, I also decided to try: Abelia chinensis, Agarista populifolia, and Eupatorium coelestinum. The Agarista (aka Leucothoe) will go back in the woods somewhere (hope it won't be too dry for it). The Abelia and Eupatorium are going into my big project for this year - a late summer purple/blue/white mixed shrub and perennial border. More on this later.
And we're celebrating the weather by grilling burgers tonight. First grilling of the season.
Tuesday, April 05, 2005
Deluge, two kinds. First there was about 2 inches of rain last Saturday, then the first of the month bookkeeping flood threatened to drown me. So, it's been too wet to do much in the garden, but I didn't have time either. Lovely weather today though, and even better predicted for tomorrow.
The warmer weather has coaxed out few more flowers, and I uploaded some new pictures today. I wish I had written down all the variety names of the Narcissus I've planted over the years - then I could say something sensible about each one. Instead, I have a lot of "Narcissus, unknown variety". The very early ones that were blooming in the middle of March are now withered, and 'Ice Follies' is not far behind. Still to bloom are the tazetta (or is it jonquilla?) hybrids (more of those unknowns) , with multiple flowers to a stem.