Sunday, April 26, 2015

No Scent Yet

It is not likely that more closely watched wild arbutus plants exist anywhere.  Six days each week two trips are made down the hill to the mail box.  Arbutus plants are given a visual inspection on every return trip.  Frequently the protective wire cage is set aside so that fallen tree leaves can be removed from arbutus leaves.  This year's heavy snow load really flattened these evergreen plants.  I must confess to a certain amount of fluffing to expose hidden bud clusters.  Finally today, buds are beginning to open.  Their sweet fragrance is still a day or two away.  The sight of open flowers was a super spirit booster.

All of the flowers here from previous years have been white.  This plant was transplanted last year and the bud tips have shown pink for the past few days.  It is a female plant as shown by the seed clusters it produced last year.  We will watch to see if any of the other female plants display pink flowers.

We feel extra pressure to keep this bed adjacent to the road in good shape since it is on prominent display.  Most cars whip by at a high rate of speed so all that is seen is just a blur of colors.  Grass clippings did cover the undeveloped section in the distance but the quack grass made a return.  We will try to extend the garden by at least six feet this year.  The distant brown mound holds all of the plant clippings and weeds removed from the garden last year.  We were surprised by the volume of material taken from the garden.

The garlic planting looks promising.  Only five of the two hundred seventy bulbs planted have yet to make an appearance.  Daphne's method of treatment before planting has made a big difference on the health of our plants.  Last year we tried dried grass clippings as a mulch at planting time.  A winter's snow packed the trimmings into a difficult to penetrate mat.  This planting was covered with a thin layer of ground leaves.  Garlic tips had no trouble pushing their way past the leaf mulch.  We will watch to see if any problems follow this mulch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Forest Floor Springs To Life

It seems that snow cover was deep and continuous just a few days ago.  Unseasonable early warmth ended the snow quickly and perennial plants are now rapidly appearing.  Shooting star was purchased from cultivated stock several years ago.  Apparently foraging rodents have no taste for it as the emerging bright green shoots are numerous.  Its dried stalks were allowed to drop seed at will so we will be looking for more of these close by.   The three leaved plant is a wild columbine that grows here like a weed.  Its numbers will have to be kept in check.

Fringed polygala is evergreen but at this time of year its leaves are reddish.  The green leaves speckled with brown are new.  Trout lilies corms were inadvertently moved with the polygala and they are also highly prized.  We will see no lily flowers until each plant presents two leaves.  A number of years must pass as the corm reforms itself deeper and deeper in the soil each year.  Expecting no flowers yet, we were thrilled just to see the single leaves.  Another look is needed to see if we have twins yet.

Aconite frequently blooms while surrounded by snow.  This year the depth of the snow cover held the plant dormant until the snow was gone.  Clear bright yellow flowers like this lift my spirits now.

This bleeding heart has been modified from its natural wild form.  More compact and covered with deep bright flowers, we find it to be an improvement over its close by wild cousin.  The dark green oval leaves belong to a weed that remained unseen because of its early appearance.

This squirrel corn remains despite its inadvertent disturbance several years ago.  Now Becky is called in to closely watch my weeding activities here early in the season.

Many of these plants are woodland natives but appear here in our artificial shade garden.  A single locust tree provides both the shade and the fallen leaves and stems.  We will complete the filling of the wild shade garden with natural soil washed from the woods and diverted into a collection area near the lane.  The more demanding wild flowers will be replanted in this more natural soil.