Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Monday, April 30, 2007
Reader: Hey! If this blog is called Cultivated, do you ever post anything about gardening here?
Entangled: Um, er, I've been busy..... Would some pictures do? I made an album on Picassa just now.
Update, May 1: New! Now with functional links!
|Tangled Branches: Cultivated|
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Dilbert's Boss's Blog
Not gardening, but funny.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
CeVa Journal: Wildlife
Wild turkey and wood thrush. Whatever next? I was hoping to see new birds at the country house, but somehow wild turkeys didn't cross my mind. Two weekends ago, I saw this turkey hen amble through the woods in back. It is a hen, isn't it? Hard to tell from the crummy picture, but that's the best one I got.
Last weekend, something similar caught my eye, but this time I had the good sense to grab the binoculars instead of the camera. It was a tom turkey with red head and wattles and that strange beard thing sticking out from its chest. He scuffled through the leaves a while and moved on.
This morning, I heard a beautiful, distinctive bird song and tracked it through the woods to the singer. A wood thrush! It let me look and listen for a long while before it figured out I was following it around, and then flew away. It was back in a short time, but I didn't go chasing it again.
Yesterday, while hunting for wildflowers in the woods, I came across this tiny iridescent spider in the middle of its pollen-spangled web.
We started seeing dragonflies over the weekend. This one posed on the deck railing yesterday afternoon. I'm only just beginning to learn about dragonflies, and this one doesn't look like any of the pictures in my book. Maybe it's a damselfly instead?
Update, 4/25 5:30 pm EDT: Thanks to a comment from Annie in Austin, I think I've ID'd the dragonfly. She sent me here, and I clicked through to here, and said "Hmmm, that top picture looks quite a lot like my photo." My field guide only showed the Common Whitetail adult male, and that's what confused me. To be fair, if I had read the text in the guide instead of just looking at the pictures, I would have learned that the Common Whitetail juvenile male has a different abdomen coloration. And they're even more confusing when they go through puberty. ;-)
Saturday, there were at least five different kinds of butterflies around. We didn't pause in our work to identify them all - some kind of azure, something that looked like a fritillary, the same duskywings we've been seeing for weeks, sulphurs, cabbage whites and....ta da!...the first Tiger Swallowtail.This is a good argument for leaving your dandelions grow, if you ask me.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
CeVA Journal: Wildflowers
This started out to be a post about our long weekend in the country, but a long weekend leads to a long post, so I decided to break it up.
When we bought the country place last fall I couldn't wait for spring to discover all the wildflowers that were just bound to be springing up in the woods. And I'm still waiting. Yesterday afternoon, I was determined to do a thorough search. Who ever heard of a woods without spring flowers? There must be some somewhere. So I crisscrossed the woods with my gaze firmly on the ground. I'd already found a few patches of bluets several weeks ago - I'm skipping over them here, but they're still blooming and even more numerous.
In front of the house, there are lots of ferns. We're going to regard ferns as honorary wildflowers for this discussion. Christmas fern was with us all winter and is now putting up new fronds. Then there are several others that are new to me. I don't know what this one is but it's going to be big.
I think this is bracken, Pteridium aquilinum, but I welcome corrections.
Near the stream, I found this. It looks like Solomon's Seal to me, but it's much smaller than the ones in our suburban woods.
I've been watching the shrubs that I think might be blueberries. Very early in the spring, the tall white-flowered ones bloomed. This one is a low-growing thing that's part of a thick colony towards the back of the lot.
At first I thought this was another Solomon's Seal, but it appears to be Uvularia sessilifolia, or Sessile Bellwort.
A closer look at the Uvularia flower.
But while I had my nose pointed at the ground looking for tiny flowers, I almost missed this, which was above my head.
I believe this is Rhododendron periclymenoides. There's only one shrub like this blooming back in the woods, but there are several others nearby with just foliage. I may try to take a few cuttings and get it growing closer to the house. I liked it so much I went back and took more pictures today.
Monday, April 23, 2007
The suspense is over. The narcissus we discovered in the woods looks like this when in bloom:
The small white flowers are about 1.5 inches in diameter with a tiny, tiny yellow cup. Some are two to a stem, but most are only one. There isn't much fragrance.
Any guesses what this might be? It looks similar to some jonquilla hybrids, but the lack of fragrance surprises me. Also, this is on the late end of the narcissus season.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
A Tale of Two Narcissus
Throw away your horticultural rulebooks! I did and look what happened.
These are my first cultivated flowers at the country house and I did just about everything "wrong" when I moved them from their suburban location. I dug them up just after they bloomed and before the leaves had withered. I spread them out in the shade and left them for, oh, 6 or 8 weeks. They still seemed OK, so I gathered them up and put them on a tray in the garage. They stayed there all summer....and fall...and winter...and early spring. Then I noticed they were starting to sprout, so I brought them to the country to see if they'd put down roots. Looks like they're gonna be just fine.
Meanwhile, we were working on clearing greenbriar and dead wood at the country house, and my spouse said "There's something here I want you to see - it looks like daffodils." Well, I can't tell you how proud I was of him. They were daffodils - just the foliage - and I had no idea that he could recognize them that way. I didn't see any flower buds, and thought they might not bloom, but by last Tuesday they looked like this.
I can't wait to see what the flowers look like, but I wonder how they got here. Are we living on the remnants of someone's long ago garden? A nice romantic notion. Someday when I have too much time on my hands, I'd like to research the property's history. Until then, I'll just continue to discover what's growing there.
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Fun with Scanners
Sunday, April 15, 2007
Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
Time for the April installment of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.
The northern Virginia garden is moving from the spring bulb phase to the azalea/rhododendron phase. The spring bulbs aren't quite finished, and the azaleas aren't quite in bloom yet. Links are to photos, but I didn't get around to photographing them all.
In bloom in northern Virginia, as of April 13:
- Pansies and Violas
- Scilla sibirica/siberica (and if anybody knows the preferred spelling of sibi/erica, I'd love to know too)
- Veronica 'Georgia Blue'
- Muscari armeniacum
- Ipheion uniflorum
- Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler'
- Narcissus: several, mostly the later jonquilla and tazetta hybrids, and one lone jonquil
- Viburnum x burkwoodii (V. carlesii is one of its parents)
- Anemone blanda
- Epimedium 'Purple Prince', and 2 others whose labels I lost
- Anemone apennina alba
- Dicentra spectabilis
- Hellebore 'Royal Heritage'
- Muscari 'Valerie Finnis'
- Redbuds (Cercis canadensis)
- Lunaria , aka Money plant, variegated leaves with mixed purple and white flowers
- Violets, both purple and white-flowered
- Vinca minor
- The Mystery Tulip
- Euphorbia amygdaloides var. robbiae
- Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica)
Close to blooming in northern Virginia are:
In central Virginia, I'm counting the wild plants as part of the garden since there really isn't a garden there yet.
- Spring Beauties
- Field Pansies
- Lots of yellow-flowered Brassicas, including Barbarea vulgaris
- And my first cultivated flower in central Virginia: Narcissus, unknown variety
If you're thinking to yourself that a lot of these photos show raindrops on the flowers, you're right!
Thanks, Carol, for hosting the Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day (sheesh, I almost typed Gloom Day).
Labels: in bloom
Thursday, April 12, 2007
The little blue flowers keep on keeping on. The Siberian squills and Chionodoxa are basically finished, but the Muscari and Violas are still going strong. Well, that is, except for the store-bought Violas. They got frosted a bit, but they'll be back.
Some recent bloomers are Muscari 'Valerie Finnis', Ipheion uniflorum, and Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler'. The Virginia bluebells are just starting.
I planted Ipheion uniflorum several years ago, and the ones that settled in are now nice-sized clumps.
I wish I had planted Ipheion 'Rolf Fiedler' years ago. These are only a couple years in the ground so there aren't nearly as many of them, but the color is so much more striking than the species. I had this next to some yellow Creeping Jenny, but that particular planting was a construction casualty. (Last year's picture here.) I understand there is some confusion about whether 'Rolf Fiedler' is a variety of I. uniflorum, or a separate species. Rolf's petals are more rounded and the foliage seems more prostrate, but you can definitely see the family resemblance.
I can't make up my mind about Valerie Finnis. (And how does she rate having two plants - an Artemisia and a Muscari - named after her?) Anyhow, her Muscari is a pale blue thing that blooms after the Muscari armeniacum. Most of mine disappeared, but there are a few left. The thing I can't make up my mind about is whether I like the color. Up close and in bulb catalogs, it's very pretty. From a distance, it's kind of a washed out gray-blue.
But it's hard to find a prettier blue than the Virginia bluebells. These should have been a construction casualty, but they came up anyway after being trampled into the clay and having more clay thrown on top for good measure. I think I won't have a chance to get to Bull Run Park to see the bluebells this year, so I'll have to look at last year's pictures and pretend.
Monday, April 09, 2007
Snowy Easter Weekend
There are more pictures of our central Virginia weekend snow here. Nothing as dramatic as some other places - northeast Ohio, for example - but unusual for the time of year.
Here in northern Virginia, a few plants are looking wilty-like and unhappy, but I didn't see anything really frozen and dead. I think the nighttime low temperatures weren't as cold as predicted. Surprisingly, the epimediums are among the unhappy plants. I thought as wiry as they are, they wouldn't be much affected. The new shoots are very slender - maybe that's why?
Three Days in the Life...
...of a Virginia dogwood
The flowers (bracts) didn't suffer much. More pictures later. I know I said I wouldn't post any more snow pictures this season, but the woods were so pretty that I have to break the vow.
Saturday, April 07, 2007
In central Virginia.
2+ inches of snow.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
The Eviction of Phoebe
A few weekends ago, I noticed an Eastern Phoebe checking out our porch ceiling fan at the country house. The weekend after that, a pair of them showed a lot of interest in the front porch, but they didn't seem to want to share it with me. Last weekend, I found their nest on the porch light by the front door. What a snug little thing - stuck to the top of the light with mud and lined with soft moss - just the perfect place to bring up a family. Well....I really didn't want it there (they got mud all over everything - walls, door, floor, doormat) but I think I'm incapable of destroying a bird's nest, so I just told DH about it. He was unhappy (like I thought he would be) and a short time later the nest was gone. To the best of my knowledge there were not any eggs in the nest. I asked DH if there were, and his response was "Would you leave it there if there were?". Translation: "I can't believe you would leave a thing like that on the front porch". I hope they find the perfect nesting spot - away from the house - but from what I read it seems that's their preferred location.
I'm fiddling with Photoshop Elements slideshows. They use Flash 9.0, and I don't know how well they would work for users with dialup connections. And I'm not sure if the additional overhead is worth it just for the special effects. I'd love to have some feedback (good or bad) - just leave a comment.
Still not much in the way of wildflowers at the country place. In the woods there were a few spring beauties, and the ferns are starting to unfurl. We're making a path through the woods with wood chips, and I'd hate to cover up any good plants, so in a way I'm glad I haven't found many. In a field across the road, I found field pansies. I had never seen these before and I thought they were just the cutest things - imagine a Johnny-Jump-Up, but more delicate-looking. How could they be weeds?
While I Was Gone
I was blogging under a different address while waiting for the domain name transfer to happen. But there was no way to get here to tell folks I was blogging there.
Monday, April 02, 2007
TangledBranches.com is back. What a long strange trip it's been.