Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Northern Vinca

A tiny sliver of crescent moon might be seen by sharp eyes just above the horizon to the right of the locust tree.  The major event of recent weather was continuous cloud cover.  Just being able to see stars was a welcome sight with the moon just ahead of the rising sun a bonus.

A blue Vinca minor flower in bloom was included in a recent email from Texas.  Not to be completely outdone, a picture or two of our plants was taken.  Ours have no flowers yet but still display green leaves.

This is a true to life statement of affairs now present in upstate New York.  A dry stone wall backs our planting of this hardy plant.  Yet to find a method to control briers, the stone wall and the Vinca plants share this ground.  Bunny berries show the ever present presence of wildlife here.  The attraction of briers on rabbits was well documented by Walt Disney and appears accurate but not understood.

In the past when hiking the wilderness was possible but perhaps unwise, we occasionally stumbled onto a sizable patch of Vinca.  It is not a native plant to North America but its toughness explains why early settlers brought it with them.  Signs of human habitation in these reforested areas were not obvious save for the presence of Vinca and the tumbled down remains of a chimney.  When a scrap of this plant came our way it was hastily planted in an uncleared area.  Despite the competition from weeds and general lack of care, it has claimed a fair sized piece of ground.  Prompted by a communication from Texas, we went out in bright sunlight to capture a glimpse of one hardy plant.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A Promise Of Spring

Perhaps we are experiencing a genuine January thaw since the driveway has softened.  If snow precedes cold weather's return we will be plowing gravel.  Finding flower buds is a much more pleasant experience than worrying about snow removal.  Pinxter is a native plant that forms its flower buds prior to the onset of winter.  This picture also includes spent brown colored seed hulls from last year.  Just what advantage is realized by carrying flower buds exposed to the entire winter remains completely unknown here.  It is simply one of the marvels of plants.

This picture of the same bush was taken last June.  Look carefully and you will find the same stones in both pictures.  Both the sight and remembered scent of these flowers is something worth waiting for.  If these buds can survive winter so can we.

Despite the century old belief that Arbutus cannot be successfully transplanted, this recently moved plant is thriving.  Its white flower buds at this time of year serve an easily understood purpose.  Early appearing flowers need a head start.  Their perfume defies description and is well worth waiting for.  Chewed leaves show that evergreen leaves serve as a food source when little green remains.

Yesterday remaining snow cover kept these Snow Drop's early growth hidden.  Moved here last season, they were expected to survive the move.  They are not native to North America but their early white flowers will be welcome here.  Those red Sumac seed berries paint quite a picture.  We will be weeding out buckets of new trees.

Daffodils are not native here either but no garden would be complete without them.  A friend buys a big bag of these bulbs each year and plants them in her woods.  She now has a huge display of bright flowers on land that really serves no other gardening purpose.  As these photos show, Spring is definitely coming here reasonably soon.

Saturday, January 4, 2020

More Green Native Plants

Wild Columbine was found in blossom on the fill that was used to bury the remains of the barn that burned here in the mid 1960's.  When we visited John Burrough's cabin columbine was growing in front of his cabin and around the dry stone wall that enclosed his grave site.  We also found it growing from narrow slits in the shale cliff that bordered the trail at Buttermilk Falls State Park near Ithaca.  It seems like the perfect plant to grow next to our neighbor's mowed field.  Here in January some of the plants are still green.

The plastic tag identifies this as a purchased plant.  Its size may place it among bushes but we plan to use it to separate sections of planting beds.  We were surprised to find it still green.

Robin's Plantain looks like an aster when it is in flower but the season then is all wrong.  Another name for this plant is Blue Spring-Daisy.  We found it growing wild in one of the pastures.  It took to being transplanted and has claimed large sections of ground.  We are using it as another border plant between our flowers and the neighbor's field.  Here again we were surprised to find it still green.

Round Lobed Hepatica is in danger of being overrun by Forget-Me-Nots.  Aside from their exuberance they are a desirable plant.  These will be weeded out when the ground thaws but many will be planted in open ground.

Saving the best for last, here are some new Cardinal Flower plants for next summer.  At least three dead stalks can be seen so the new plants are overcrowded.  Since this is a wild plant we will wait and watch to see just what will grow here come spring.  Some of these plants were known by us to remain green under snow cover but others gave us a pleasant surprise.  They are not the only living things here that are eager for the arrival of the next season.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Still Here Waiting For Spring

2020 is a year that I never expected to see.  In 2005 cancer was found on both kidneys.  I found in Albany a skilled doctor that used two procedures that removed only the cancer.  88% of my original kidney mass remains.  I have truly enjoyed the past fifteen years doing what I love.

This native  moss was moved this past year from our woods to our developing shade garden.  Only recently have we discovered the magic of mosses.  So far winter seems to have had no effect on these plants or the moss covering the rocks that define the walking path.

The day before the moving van was scheduled to snatch Steve and Elaine away, I was given one last chance to make some of their plants mine.  There is nothing appealing about the name slime mold but that day was a now or never situation.  Once home some quick reading resulted in placing well rotted wood in the acid soil previously lifted from our woods.  It may be that the pink spheres are reproductive organs.  They swell in response to moisture and nearly disappear when dry.  The grayish green blobs are the body of the mold.  Sumac berries are the deep red balls.  It appears that this slime mold intends to survive in its new location and we will carefully weed out any tiny trees that grow from the red berries.

This photo contains two recent transplants, wintergreen and arbutus, as well as a jumble of fallen plant parts.  The maroon colored leaves belong to wintergreen as do two red berries located at the junction of its top two leaves.  All of the other red berries are sumac.  Green leaves mark the location of arbutus.  These plants were hastily placed here on moving day.  Fortunately acid woodland soil was already in place.  Just what to do with these treasures is presently under consideration.  Our usual habit is to segregate our transplants but this looks like a more natural placement. An unseen wire cage keeps the wildlife from eating these still growing plants.  These native plants will serve as a reminder of the debt owed these two people for all that they have done for us.  Extra care will be given to keep these plants alive.

This does not look like much but it may hold great promise.  Disregard the sumac berries and find the reddish stem that still holds a leaf.  Fringed polygala has a history here.  Invasive native plants ended what had been a highly successful transplant.  Last spring we tried again.  This plant is still alive under its protective wire cage.  Just at the soil surface is the cleistogamous  flower that produces only seed.  Here we have two chances for a surviving plant.  Most people would never see the promise of a possible native plant returning here.  Check back around Mother's Day to see if the paired purple flower petals are on display here.