Thursday, April 26, 2018

It's The Little Things

Spring has finally sprung here in South Carolina. Each day is an adventure in the garden. I enjoy seeing what is coming back from our harder than usual winter. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and one step back as a pampered plant finally shows signs of growth and then we get another overnight freeze. I have new plants I am watching and established babies that I celebrate their reappearance. 
A new plant from last year's native plant sale- Yellowroot, Xanthorhiza simplicissima is blooming and thriving...a great reason for choosing native plants.

I love fragrant plants in the garden and this Viburnum is one that really shines! Viburnum x carlcephalum had lots of blooms this year. Last year there were five, the year before only one! The fragrance is carried on the breeze and quite lovely.

Here is a native plant in the woods that I tied a ribbon to, a Pawpaw! Asimina triloba Last year it had a few fruit on it but with the drought conditions they dried up and fell off. 

Sweet little blooms under the steps to the deck. Fringed Bleeding Heart Dicentra 'Luxuriant'- a lucky Costco buy a number of years ago. 

When we moved here eight years ago, I carried two seedlings from the Red Buckeye tree in the Learning Garden in Virginia. I planted seeds the year before we moved and the tiny trees were less than a foot tall when I planted them here. This year they are well over six feet tall and full of blooms!
Aesculus pavia

Emerging blooms

Open blooms, ready for the Hummingbirds!

Every spring I find beauty in each and every fern as it unfurls its fronds. The fern below is a Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis

I have dry shade. I have been wanting some Epimedium as they thrive in such conditions. Last spring I planted one and then this past fall I planted another. The one from a year ago is going gangbusters.

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’

Today I finally saw some growth on the second one! Boy did that take a long time! A quick photo, a bit less than perfect.

Epimedium rubrum
 Two little white blooms, similar in appearance, make me smile. One a white Muscari and the other Lily of the Valley. 

Muscari armeniacum Alba 

Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley

Amsonia putting on a great show this spring. I know some people aren't fond of this native grass. They call the blooms as exciting as skim milk. (Believe that is a close quote, you know who you are!) I like this plant! Amsonia x 'Seaford Skies'


 Little surprises in the woods make me smile. I have a number of places on the property that this native orchid pops up. Tipularia discolor, Cranefly Orchid. Easily identified by the purple underside of the leaf.

What is my best little find this spring? The native plant sale last year had Bottlebrush Buckeyes, and I bought one. I was so thrilled to find one. I planted it in what I thought was a good spot. As mentioned above, we had a dry spell this past summer. I was afraid it died. The leaves dropped off last summer and I was not optimistic.....then on one of my walks through the garden last month I checked the little stick that remained in the ground.....
It's alive!!!

Aesculus parviflora
What are some of the little things in your garden that make you smile?

©Copyright 2018 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Winter Walk-Off 2018

Welcome to the Winter Walk-Off post for 2018. Every year I participate in my friend Les' blogging meme of the Winter Walk-Off. The rules are still very basic- leave your yard/garden and share what you see along the stroll, no pictures of your garden (though I have been known to include one or two!) Take pictures of things that you find interesting and say goodbye to winter!

On with the walk. We, Charlie and I, walk every day. Our neighborhood is a gated community with acre sized lots, about a quarter of the lots have homes. We walk in the middle of the road and barely ever have a car go by.  The photo above it about a half of a mile from our house.  While they aren't up yet, in the field to the right, along the tree line, is a stand of ferns. I think they are Bracken ferns, Pteridium aquilinum, but haven't ventured into chigger territory to find out. I do look at them longingly from the edge of the road.

In the photos above and below are some of the sweetest little spring ephemerals, Houstonia caerulea, common names are Quaker Ladies, Azure Bluets or just Bluets. They grow along the edge of the road all through our neighborhood. They vary in color from white to dark purple. 

When Les first posted the start of the meme, it was warm here in the Upstate of South Carolina. We were walking in shorts. I started taking pictures 3 weeks ago and just now am finding a second to write about our walk(s). As you can see below, we walk with Liebling, our 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd. She is about 80 lbs. of pure energy. Walking her a lot is critical. 

Our road curves and bends around the contours of the lake, and in a marshy cove area is the tree pictured below. At each season over the years I have tried to figure out what tree it is. To the best of my knowledge it is a Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra. Flowers and fruits are now evident but difficult to photograph. One day I will get a great photo of this tree and share.

We have lots and lots of Winged Elm, Ulmus alata, growing wild and rather scrubby looking. Winged Elm have corky 'wings' along the branches, hence the name. When they are bare in the winter the branching looks very architectural. The one below is covered with seeds (fruit), many that will populate far and wide. 

Almost swallowed up by the trees around it is a native deciduous holly. Probably Ilex decidua or commonly called Possumhaw. You can barely see the red berries.

Also visible in the winter months are the vines that kill trees- Lonicera japonica- Honeysuckle. See how the vine has cut into the young tree? It won't last too many more years with that strangle hold. 

Those who have been walking with me on these Winter Walk-Offs each year may remember Skyler, our Australian Shepherd. He is still walking with us on the after lunch short walk. He kind of reminds me of Eeyore, just plugging along at 14 years old. Also walking with us is my Mother in law, who lives with us now. She is a spry 96 and walks a 3/4 mile stroll, daily. Use it or lose it!!

The progress of the season has exploded over the last three weeks, below is a native plum (I think) Prunus americana.  Same tree, left and right....amazing how quickly the blooms pop.

Old trees are also interesting when they are sporting a hole or two. We have lots and lots of woodpeckers in the forest and are often serenaded by the Pileated Woodpeckers on our walks. Their calls sound like monkeys in the is wild out here!

This tree below will possibly be gone within the next year as this lot was recently purchased and the new folks are planning on building. Sorry to lose some of the forest for new homes.

I hope you have enjoyed the signs of spring in the Upstate. Don't forget to check out other blog posts on the Winter Walk-Off - all links can be found at A Tidewater Gardener

©Copyright 2018 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Try, Try, and Try Again- Don't Do as I Do!

Do you have spots in your yard where grass doesn't grow well? A spot that stays a bit soggy in the winter?  We have such a spot next to the driveway near the garage. My desire to have a sitting space in this part of the yard led us to decide to put in a rustic flagstone patio. Step one- dig out the area to give room for the flagstones to be level with the surrounding yard. We also put down a weed barrier, pinned down with some long nails.  

Step two- have the flagstones ready to place... sort of a dry fit.

Step three- sand to level the area and give the stones a base for nestling in.

Step four- place the uneven natural stones in a pattern to form the patio.

Hmm, too much space between the stones, move them closer.

Step back and access the work.

Step five- brush more sand over the stones to fill the gaps. 

More sand, the stones were so irregularly shaped, it wasn't easy to get the tops even enough as to not have a trip factor.

Step six- my plan was to plant mosses in the cracks- make it a little green. Some moss was purchased and some was harvested in other spots in my garden.

After watering the mosses well, we called it done....until it wasn't. We had a big rainstorm and the run-off from the driveway washed out a lot of the sand. 

Wash, rinse, repeat....time to pull all stones out, put the sand in a holding area and try again.

I tried to pull the seams closer, making the spaces smaller. 

Decided to mulch between the seams, mulch being heavier than the sand.

I did save some of the mosses and replanted them.

I liked how it looked. Lots of heavy work, moving those flagstones on and off the patio area...multiple times. Aughhh

Then it rained again. Time to change course. See all the sand that washed out again? 

We used a product that will harden and form a stronger surface, Gator Dust. Did we follow all the instructions on how to do a patio? No. It started as a flagstone area that would have the stones set into the soil like you would place a pathway, cutting one stone in at a time. Our plans changed a number of times over the course of a couple months as we regrouped -- I just wanted a spot to set a chair and enjoy this part of the garden. I didn't want it perfect and uniform- just wanted a hard surface without trip factors and no stones that rocked loose when stepped upon. 

We left it as is. The stones don't move, most of the tops of the stones are even with the ones next to them and the cracks are still filled. Then we got a puppy.... who liked to pull all mosses out of the cracks. Rotten dog.

Onward to the next project. Many of you remember the dry creek bed we put in summer of 2016,  if not you can read about it here.  Well, we had a lot of these baked potato sized rocks leftover. I did another hardscape project with some and now it was time to use more. Poor planning left these rocks at the bottom of the yard. They are piled up behind a garden at the 445 feet above sea level spot in the new lot. The place I wanted to use them is up by the front door...about 468 feet above sea level. I do not have a level lot. 
So, I filled my little red wagon with enough rocks to cover the bottom and proceeded to pull the now very heavy wagon up the hill. I made this trip six times. 

The spot to fill is along the sidewalk. This is a spot where the older dog runs out the front door and stops to do his business. Nothing was growing, so it was time to do something else. Our first plan was just mulch, a semi-level spot so we didn't have too much wash out. What we do have though is a puppy. She liked my mosses, and now she has learned the fine art of digging. The mulched area was an ideal spot to use those big moose-like paws and dig. I covered the area with the potato rocks around the few stepping stones placed earlier to make getting  to the yard earlier. I think it looked pretty good. 

See the evil little dog watching me from the shade of the Magnolia tree? She likes to watch and see what I am doing in the garden, what she can undo.

I no sooner went in and she started digging again. She thinks those potato sized rocks are a good size to play with. Oh please let her grow out of this phase. I have since added twice as many rocks to this spot. She is digging less. She is now a little over a year old and getting better every day. She is an 80 lb. 15 month old German Shepherd pup. Liebling.

More projects to share soon. I feel as though much of this gardening year was redoing something Liebling had torn up. 

©Copyright 2017 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.