Foliage Follow-Up–April 16, 2014

As the temperature dropped into the danger zone, I slipped outdoors at 4:30 this morning to spray a mist of water over some of the most tender spring foliage and flowers. I’m cautiously optimistic, as the temperature reached only 34 degrees F at 6:00 a.m., so the low was roughly 5 degrees warmer than forecast. Fingers crossed! We have one more cold night ahead before conditions improve.

There’s much to admire in the spring garden today, and I admit to a special enthusiasm for the morning’s blue skies and happy birdsong because it’s my birthday. After sharing this time with you, I’m headed to garden club and then out for a bit of shopping for my grandson, David, who will turn one year-old on Friday. I hope you, too, enjoy a fun-filled day.

Hosta 'June'

Hosta ‘June’

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

Autumn fern (Dryopteris erythrosora)

Japanese maple (Acer Palmatum 'Dissectum autopurpureum')

Japanese maple (Acer Palmatum ‘Dissectum autopurpureum’)

Chinese wild ginger (Asarum splendens)

Chinese wild ginger (Asarum splendens)

Heuchera...sorry I haven't kept up with its name.  Perhaps someone knows?

Heuchera…sorry I haven’t kept up with its name. Perhaps someone knows?

Cornus x 'Celestial Shadow', a new tree from Speciality Ornamentals.

Cornus x ‘Celestial Shadow’, a new tree from Speciality Ornamentals.

A front stoop container garden featuring another unknown heuchera, with carex and variegated sage.

A front stoop container garden featuring another unknown heuchera, with carex and variegated sage.

Admired yesterday for its showy bracts, here again is the popular Rainbow euphorbia (Euphorbia x martini 'Ascot Rainbow')

Admired yesterday for its showy bracts, here again is the popular Rainbow euphorbia (Euphorbia x martini ‘Ascot Rainbow’)

And Spring arose on the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth’s dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
~Percy Bysshe Shelley

For more spring foliage, visit Pam at Digging.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day–April 15, 2014

For Upstate gardeners, and others in our region, it appears to be a matter of enjoying spring blooms while we can, as weather experts are predicting a hard freeze for tonight. Fingers crossed that the cloud cover moves out later than expected, thus improving conditions.

On this wet and windy day, here’s some of the best of what’s blooming in the ornamental garden…

Front garden including white & pink dogwood trees, azaleas, Spanish bluebells, Lenten roses, Japanese maple, and  Chocolate Chip ajuga.

Front garden including white & pink dogwood trees, azaleas, Spanish bluebells, Lenten roses, Japanese maple, and Chocolate Chip ajuga.

Front garden from opposite direction.

Front garden from opposite direction.

Container gardens on front stoop.

Container gardens on front stoop.

Rainbow euphorbia

Rainbow euphorbia

Variegated Solomon's seal

Variegated Solomon’s seal

Iris cristata

Iris cristata

Epimedium grandiflorum

Epimedium grandiflorum


And in the woodland garden…

Sweet Betsy trillium

Sweet Betsy trillium

Wild blue phlox

Wild blue phlox

Carolina silverbell

Carolina silverbell

Sweetshrub

Sweetshrub


If you have time to visit other gardens around the world, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens, the host of GBBD.

My Garden this Weekend–April 6, 2014

I’ve had two days in the garden in the past week and things are showing enough improvement to give an update. On Wednesday I transplanted roughly 3 dozen Sweet Betsy trilliums from the development site off Pleasantburg Drive (about a city block from my back garden through the woods). I also finally emptied the last plants from the holding area. Nearly all went in the woodland, with those needing the most sun being planted closest to the river or in little pockets of light, here and there.

Saturday was devine, with temps in the 70s and plenty of sun. Tim helped me move another dozen or so trilliums plus a few Christmas ferns and then I marked all the native plants (130+) in the woodland with new orange flags. Marking the plants is important, at least for now, so I don’t loose track of them when they’re dormant. Finally, I worked on pulling the little bits of ivy that show up in spring and other small tasks that always pile up but seldom get done.

Woodland garden with flags marking native plants.

Woodland garden with flags marking native plants.

Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera)

Carolina silverbell (Halesia tetraptera)

The Carolina silverbell are in full flower, with their white hoop skirt-like blooms hanging in clusters below the braches. I counted roughly a dozen types of pollinators, mostly bees, among the blooms.

Bumble bee among the blooms of Carolina silverbell.

Bumble bee among the blooms of Carolina silverbell.

The second most exciting thing to happen in the woodland is the emergence of the mayapples. You can tell right from the get-go if the plant will have a bloom or not, as the shoot comes up with the flower bud at its tip.

Mayapple shoots, one with flower bud and one without.

Mayapple shoots, one with flower bud and one without.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

In just a few days the leaves take on their umbrella shape and begin to rise above the bloom. In time, the flowers produce a fleshy, egg-shaped fruit that is edible when ripe, but all other parts of the mayapple are highly poisonous to humans and most other animals.

Flower buds on the sweet shrubs are roughly the size of an English pea. The honey-scented blooms of Fothergilla are beginning to form, and just above the retaining wall, the serviceberry are flowering. Best of all, I caught sight of a giant turtle in the river.

Sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Sweet shrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Fothergilla major

Fothergilla major

Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora)

Serviceberry (Amelanchier x grandiflora)

Turtle!

Turtle!

And here are a few signs of spring in the front garden.

White dogwood (Cornus florida) and azaleas.

White dogwood (Cornus florida) and azaleas.

Fullmoon Japanese maple (Acer japonicum)

Fullmoon Japanese maple (Acer japonicum)

Blue starflower (Ipheion uniflorum)

Blue starflower (Ipheion uniflorum)

Pink dogwood (Cornus florida rubra)

Pink dogwood (Cornus florida rubra)

Tulip Time

In November, I made out like a bandit when I found a variety of bargain bulbs at a local home store. Then, remembering the success of a blogging friend, Jason, I decided to plant a pair of containers in hopes of a colorful spring display for my front stoop. Here’s what the pots looked like in mid March.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Here’s what they look like today!

Tulip time!

Tulip time!

If you’re wondering who would plant pink tulips with orange and yellow tulips, let me explain.

End of season bargain bulbs.

End of season bargain bulbs.

Clearly, the bulb fairies had a bit of fun filling the “Spring Blend” bag, as the package only shows red, orange, and yellow tulips.

But I love the result! Don’t you?

Here’s the full bulb story in a nutshell:

Against expert advice, which discourages planting different blubs together because of varying bloom times, I decided to give it a try anyway. Bulbs in pots are typically planted much closer together and more shallow than bulbs in the ground, but I knew to arrange them so they were not touching and to provide plenty of soil under the blubs for adequate root growth. So, I added five inches of soil before carefully spacing the daffodils in the containers, and then added more layers of soil before arranging the tulips and, lastly, the grape hyacinths.

With planting complete, I watered the pots and huddled them against the wall of the garage under the overhang of the house, where cold temperatures could be somewhat moderated by the warmth of the brick wall and I could regulate soil moisture. I planned to keep the pots outside, but Old man winter had other ideas. The pots were moved inside the garage when temperatures plummeted.

At first, I made an effort to shift the containers outdoors on better days, but I soon became weary of the task and settled on leaving them in the garage. As the weeks rolled by, I simply forgot about the bulbs. Then, in mid February, I stumbled across the containers again when I was looking for my pruning shears. Surprisingly, the grape hyacinths had sprouted stringy, grass-like foliage, even though the bulbs hadn’t been watered in more than two months. As soon as the pots were returned outside and watered, the foliage perked up a bit. And it wasn’t long before the tips of tiny grape hyacinth blooms began to push through the soil. Within a few days, the daffodils were up and growing too.

You know the rest of the story.

Thanks for the inspiration, Jason. Pots of spring blubs are now an annual tradition in this Upstate garden.

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

Grape hyacinth (Muscari)

Talking Turkey

The calendar says spring, the weather says winter, and Mother Nature says it’s a good time to talk turkey. At least, that’s what I assume she intended when I glanced out the window yesterday after a cold, wet morning of garden chores to catch a wild turkey hen strutting through the woodland between the house and the Reedy River. Surprisingly, I saw the hen a second time just a few minutes ago, which puts me at the computer to share the excitement with you, since I managed to grab a camera in time to take photos. A turkey can move fast when it wants to, however, so the pic below, made utilizing the zoom on a Panasonic DMC-ZS19, is a bit blurred.

Wild turkey hen

Wild turkey hen

And here’s a photo Tim captured yesterday with his phone showing the turkey in the larger landscape — including our tiny back garden above the woodland terraces that slope down towards the river. (Clicking on the photo will provide an enlarged view.)

turkey photo 2

At the bottom right, you can see the second of two stone stairways that are recently constructed for easier access up and down the steep slope. And if you look closely, you can see the new fescue (grass) seed I spread in yesterday’s cold rain, after carefully hand cultivating the soil with a prong hoe. Growing a lawn in this area is problematic, to say the least, and a new plan (which I’ll show you soon) eliminates grass completely. Work in this garden area is on hold, however, until the basement patio and first level deck are removed and replaced with a pair of porches.

I also pruned this weekend, cutting back foliage burned by single digit temperatures and winter winds, such as that on the evergreen fronds of the Japanese holly ferns (Cyrtomium falcatum) and autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora). Here’s an after photo, taken this morning.

Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

Holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum)

The new fronds, which were just visible above the soil when I cut away the old, have been quick to unfurl. I’ll be dashing around to provide cover later today, as we have another deep freeze with temperatures in the mid 20s headed our way. Though the last average frost date for the Upstate is April 15, we seldom see temperatures below 30 degrees F in late March. Fingers crossed this wave of frigid cold will be our last.

Thankfully, these pretty pots will be easy to move under the protection of the front porch.

Pots of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.

Pots of Tete-a-Tete daffodils and grape hyacinths, with tulips on the way.