A Job Well Done

As hard as it is to give up on a tree, especially one that has been pampered for five years, the fate of the native tulip poplar in our front garden was sealed last week when a massive oak crushed a nearby neighbor’s home.  We finally realized Goliath was too much of a risk, especially since we had lost 4 other trees in the past 6 months and they had fallen in a path which would put the ailing poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera) in line with my second story office.


The garden this morning with the patchy silver trunk of the tulip poplar just left of center in this photo taken from my office.

The man on the white horse (or truck, if you insist) arrived on time, despite a few early morning sprinkles, and he and his crew began to organize their tools and move their equipment into place while I dug 7 emerging Autumn ferns (Dryopteris erythrosora), creating a small work area at the base of the tree.

Here is a look at the next 6+ hours.


Small branches are removed and tossed to the ground. (Photo taken from the security of the carport.)


Then, ropes are used to tie off larger limbs, one by one, to be cut and lowered.


Makes my skin crawl. How about you?



With the top gone, here’s what Goliath looks like from the office. The tree is roped and cut 4-feet at a time. Wow, compare how big it is to the lift.


Here is what’s going on down below.


Over and over again, bit by bit, the tree is dropped safely to the driveway.


Until the last cuts are made.

Many thanks to George Powers of Total Tree Service for a job well done.  I’ve never met a nicer group.  They were meticulous about their work, never gave me a moment’s worry about their safety, charged a fair price, and tidied up before they departed.  All in all, a sad day was made a little less worrisome because of their care and consideration.

George has 20 years experience, is fully insured, and offers free estimates.  You can reach him at 864-238-5045.

Thanks again, George!








Gardens of the Dordogne


Here is temptation for garden travelers I hope you won’t be able to resist:

Gardens of the Dordogne in September!

This upcoming 10-day tour includes many of the best gardens of Bordeaux and the Dordogne Valley, such as Les Jardins de Marqueyssac pictured above, plus a free day in Sarlat-la-Caneda, a wine tasting, and more!

To know what makes the Dordogne so special, peruse this travel guide by the Daily Telegraph’s best expert, found here.

And for a full itinerary and more details about the tour, click here.



In the past six months, we’ve seen the demise of four mammoth trees in our garden, but their loss was nothing compared to what happened at my neighbor’s yesterday just before nightfall.




Thankfully, Jean and her family members visiting from California were unhurt.  A few hours made all the difference, however, as Jean’s bedroom was the most damaged part of the house.

Now we’re contemplating the future of our own Goliath, just steps from our front door.  We’ve been babying this weak tree for five years, but it might be time to let it go.


At 4+ feet in diameter and shaped like a telephone pole, it could spit our house in two.

What would you do?

Weekend Wildlife (and flowers too)

There hasn’t been much time for gardening or blogging recently, but I stole a few hours this weekend to rescue and transplant trilliums, rejuvenate a container, and simply enjoy the spring garden.

Friday provided a quick look at one of the resident red-shouldered hawks that live along the Reedy River.  I barely managed to grab my camera for a handful of photos before it saw me at the window and leapt from its perch in a black walnut tree.


Red-shouldered hawk

Though similar, this bird of prey is smaller than the red-tailed hawk and is easy to identify by its black tail with narrow white bands.


On Saturday, while moving Sweet Betsy trilliums (T. cuneatum) from a soon-to-be utilized city easement at the bottom of our property, I came across a small worm snake (Carphophis ameonus) in the leaf litter.  It was tiny, but not shy about its displeasure, which it expressed with non-stop writhing and, once, by biting my glove.


Worm snake


Notice the pink underbelly, which you can just see in the neck region.

I see these little snakes, which grow just a foot in length, in the garden quite often and they always make me smile.  I’m a bit worried I haven’t seen any black snakes yet, but perhaps it’s still a bit early.


Trillium cuneatum

Most of the trilliums were moved with as much soil around their roots as possible, but I shook these free so you could get a look at their rhizomes.  The smaller, which lost its foliage in digging, was positioned against the larger plant.


Common five-lined skink

Later, while pulling violas from a container, I unearthed a sleeping five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus).  This quick-footed creature is impossible to catch when fully awake, so I was lucky to hold it for a photo.  Minutes later I saw it had already found a friend and was cavorting in the rock wall, so no harm done.

Finally, here a few favorite blooms to brighten your day.  I hope you’re enjoying a spring as beautiful as the one we are having here!


Tulips on the front stoop



Spanish bluebells


And mayapples (Podophyllum) in the woodland, just beginning to flower





Almost Wordless Wednesday–March 23, 2016


Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans) is a perennial bulb native to the Balkan regions of Europe and Turkey which features white bell-shaped perianth flowers with six green and grey striped tepals. Although it is quite beautiful and has even won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in the UK, it is considered an invasive species in parts of the Eastern US, especially in Maryland and surrounding states where it has out-competed many native forest species. Here it is shown in my woodland garden, in the floodplain of the Reedy River.

In a Vase on Monday–March 21, 2015

Typically, I wouldn’t cut a native trillium for a vase, but the Trillium cuneatum below (commonly called Sweet Betsy, or sometimes Purple Toadshade) was collected for entry into the horticulture division of a recent flower show and, I’m happy to say, won  first place in the bulb/corm/rhizome/tuber class.  Though its foliage is not quite as turgid as it would be in the field, I’ve loved having the bloom on my windowsill and thought you would enjoy a look too.


First place winner!

This native plant is common across the Upstate in moist woodlands with calcium-rich soils derived from limestone.  On particularly favorable sites, thousands of plants can carpet the forest floor.  Since removing English ivy and other invasive species from our woodland garden over the past five years, the trillium has begun to make a strong comeback.  The area pictured below has nearly 60 blooming plants plus many immature specimens.


Trillium cuneatum in the woodland garden.

Surprisingly, we have not had a frost in Greenville in more than four weeks, but the forecast for tonight calls for a low of 34 degrees F.  Though these trilliums will be fine if there is frost, tender plants which have bloomed or leafed out ahead of schedule, such as azaleas and hydrangeas, might suffer.

To see what other gardeners are offering in a vase today, visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.