Monday, August 19, 2019
High humidity and building heat sent us into the shade this morning seeking a somewhat comfortable place to work. Gathering moss covered stones from the wildly overgrown border area seemed like a good idea. Rain forest like moisture dripped from plant leaves making the uneven ground slippery. Caution prevailed and a load of stones was gathered without incident.
Planting this area will be a totally new experience for us. A trip to the back woods in search of natural soil will provide some of the raw materials for the soil that will fill this island. If we complete that task ahead of winter's arrival, we will have a clear area ready to receive native plants next spring. Usually our habit is to frantically prepare a planting spot for the generous load of new purchases bought with little idea of just where they will set out.
This Ruby Spice Summer Sweet may be given a home in the foreground narrow tip seen in the first photo. Calling it a native plant might be viewed as questionable since pure white flowers cover the wild form of Summer Sweet. Both carry the overwhelmingly pleasant aroma that caused this plant to appear here now in several different locations. The real drawback to placing Summer Sweet on Moss Island is its size. A vigorously spreading bush that grows to five feet high will in time overrun this relatively small planting bed. Individual stalks can be pruned without harm to the plant to control its spread but so far we have been unable to cut away parts of such a beautiful plant. One of the entrances to our stone square has been totally closed by this pink beauty and still it remains uncut.
Last night's rain pulled this growth up out of the mulch path just beyond the right distant tip of the bed in the first picture. As fragile as they look, these will be broken and torn by lunch time. Pure luck allowed us to see this short lived beauty today.
Friday, August 16, 2019
Here is one of the great treats of summer in our garden. Amy and I discovered this native plant while hiking in the Gunks. Our first plant for the garden was a small plant taken from a friend's garden. Summer Sweet multiplies freely with each clump consisting of many single shoots with no large trunk to be found. Its scent is wonderful beyond description and carries for considerable distance on the wind.
Any attempt to approach this plant when its flowers are open guarantees other life forms on the plant. These two White Admiral butterflies were so intent on feeding that my close approach did not cause them to fly away. This picture would have been better if I had taken a moment to snap off the brown remains of last year's flowers. I was quite certain that motion would have sent the butterflies away.
This bee is carrying a heavy load of yellow pollen. Its color puzzles me since the open flowers show brown where the pollen forms. Here again a really close approach was not even considered despite the fact that a pollen carrying bee is incapable of assuming a stinging posture.
One of my goals for this year was to have the native plants Cardinal Flower and Summer Sweet growing close together. Bright red blossoms close by nearly pure white flowers could present a perfectly beautiful scene. For some unknown reason the entire center section of the Summer Sweet had no flowers this year. For some time it looked like there might not be leaves on this section of our original plant. We still have much to learn.
In our shade garden down by the road, both Summer Sweet and Cardinal Flower were planted together. As mentioned Summer Sweet grows with single stalks. The transplants are all alive and in flower but their scraggly appearance will be diminished with another year's growth. Several Cardinal Flower transplants were set around the outside of the bushes. If all goes as planned, a stunning photo should be possible next year.