Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deer Everywhere

June has seen at best a single rainstorm that gave us less than one tenth of an inch of rainfall.  Weather systems carrying moisture pass either north or south of us.  Our plants are nearly surviving on the dew that forms each night.  A chosen few get a sprinkling can of well water during the early hours of the day.   Hours are spent each day carrying water to the plants.  I have become such a regular part of this scene that a bird recently landed atop my hat like I was a fountain in a park!  That was a first for me.

This coral bells is directly in front of me in the first photo.  The deer seldom come inside of the square but the field grasses are crunchy dry.  Moist plants that received water from the sprinkling can appear to now be at risk.  More wire cages might be an answer but one of my larger rectangular cages was flipped on its back by some animal.  That has never happened here before.

This white phlox is to my right in the first photo.  Cut stem ends show that a deer trimmed this plant to the height of the cage.  Phlox are at risk early in the year but the foragers have moved on to other food sources by now in a normal year.  Taller cages are unsightly but may become necessary.

We call this plant Inga's mallow in memory of the gardener that first gave us this plant.  It self seeds and so far it faithfully reappears each year.  The rusty old cylindrical wire cage was placed early since the deer love to eat this plant.  The plant is far too beautiful to risk losing so protection is a must.

The potatoes receive daily attention.  Two five gallon cans and both sprinkling cans are filled with water and trucked to the garden near the woods.  Hand weeding and hilling revealed dampness just under the surface of the soil.  This was a welcome sight as I was unsure that my meager efforts were supplying adequate moisture.  Yesterday I was working on hands and knees at the far end of these plants.  I looked up to see twin fawns standing just outside of the fenced area.  Their first reaction was to freeze motionless.  This gave me a good long look at them.  Then mother called her offspring and they bounded into the tall growth at wood's edge.  Despite the deer damage recently inflicted onto my plants, seeing two fawns up close was a real thrill.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Two Wild Flowers Named Carolina

In some manner there has to be a distinction made between pernicious weed and treasured native wild flower.  This Silene caroliniana has remained a common weed for as long as we have gardened here.  Its usual appearance is as a single stalk sporting few flowers.  For some unknown reason, this year a clump of stalks produced a group of flowers of sufficient size to capture the eye from across the garden.  We have known this plant as sticky catch fly, or more simply catch fly, for years.  That name is connected to the brown sticky bands that encircle the stem at separated intervals. Wild pink is another common name that seems better suited to a garden specimen.

This plant prefers dry rocky barren soil.  That is what naturally occurs here but we wildly amend with stone removal and compost additions.  The tiered bed under construction in the front of the house sounds like a perfect location for wild pinks.  Since the basal foliage looks tattered at blossom time, this one will be placed at the back of the bed.  This plant may have been overlooked for all of these years since it grows here unaided.  Those days are behind us now.  In addition to the bright purple color, a pleasant scent is released by these beautiful flowers.

Here is another weed plant that we found growing alongside of an old fence line.  As it turns out, this is the New York State flower.  Properly named Rosa carolina, one must wonder how it came to be our state flower.  One also might wonder how the name carolina came to be attached to so many native plants.

The simple elegance of this highly scented flower is somewhat hidden by this picture taken late in the day.  These flowers last for only a single day.  The pictured one is curling its petals in preparation for casting them off.  The ground beneath this plant is littered with intact pink petals already dried.

We are still looking for a suitable location for this plant.  Underground stolons send up new growth at some distance from the parent plant.  Our five foot wide beds do not provide the growing room that this plant deserves.  We must find a suitable location soon since the two new plants potted up this spring are showing buds now.