Thursday, March 19, 2015

Winter Walk-Off 2015

As winter winds down to a close, I am finally back to writing a post here. It is time for Les' Winter Walk-Off 2015. I have participated in this annual event every year he has hosted it. You can find my older posts here- 2014, 2013, 2012, & 2011.
The 'challenge' is to take a walk and photograph your sightings....nothing to be photographed from your garden. Not too tough to do. Over the years my walks have gotten shorter as my friends have gotten older and less interested in a long walk. They like eating grass on either side of the road. Maybe they are part cow? Newton, on the left, is now 13 + years old, and Skyler on the right, is 11 years old. Chasing bunnies and deer gets them running, otherwise they like to mosey.

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Our neighborhood is still a quiet place and our walks are generally uninterrupted by cars.  Just past our property is a stream that runs under the road and into the lake. The frogs are always singing up a storm. Love how the sunshine is dappled through the woods - you can see into the forest a good bit before the undergrowth fills in.  Looks like I need to clean my lens. 


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The wildflowers that pop up this time of year are so sweet. I enjoy the sea of purple along the roadside. I have shared pictures of this little beauty on Facebook and had to do a little more investigation to get the correct name. Common name is Bluets, botanical name, Houstonia pusilla.


Small four petaled little blooms, hardly a couple inches tall...but en masse--spectacular.

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As I was looking for the name, a site I use quite often is namethatplant.net. listed it as H. pusilla. For some reason I saw it listed somewhere else as Houstonia caerulea and thought I had misnamed it. Oops, not unusual, but hate to do that. I apparently misnamed it last year in my Winter Walk-Off post.
More research and  I found that these beauties, above, are in fact Houstonia pusilla, one of the distinguishing features is a red eye. Check! Then I noticed that there were some that didn't have a red eye....and they were white.

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See all those white little blooms and a pale blue one in the midst of them? White ones with a yellow eye are Houstonia caerulea and the pale blue are H. pusilla. The common name for the white ones is Quaker ladies, cute name.

Hard to photograph something so tiny...here is a side by side comparison.

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Larger plants are coming to life as spring is really just about here...TOMORROW!!! The maples in  the woods have that reddish glow as their blooms emerge. The grasses from last year are still that lovely blonde but at the base you see new growth starting to show. The winged elms, Ulmus alata, have already blooms and will be leafing out soon.  They are a scrubby tree and quite abundant in our area. Luckily the pines haven't released their pollen yet, thought the river of yellow will be coming soon.

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Another sign of spring on our walk is the blackberry brambles starting to leaf out. They are everywhere! We do get some blackberries but the birds and other wildlife get most of them. I pull out those brambles in my garden all the time and have thorn snags on my jeans to show for it.
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Please check out Les at A Tidewater Gardener to see other Winter Walk-Off posts from various blogs.

©Copyright 2015 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Yes, I know it is December.  Like I said in my last post I have had a few posts in mind for a while. Perhaps this time of year we can reflect on last summer's activities. I used to hate it in school when the teacher would assign a writing assignment on the topic of 'What I did on my summer vacation'. We used to move every summer or two, my dad was in the Army. 

Last summer I attended the Garden Bloggers Fling in Portland....a great trip that warrants multiple posts, none of which is this one.  I did enjoy seeing the mountains out the airplane window.  Mount St. Helens, Mt. Hood and ??? 


This post is a little closer to home. Do you explore your area as if you were a tourist? All too often we don't explore unless we have company. I am glad I was able to join a neighbor and her grandson on a short excursion up to Greenville. Our destination was Falls Park, in the center of downtown. Too often when going to Greenville I hadn't had time to walk around the Falls. The Reedy River runs right through the center of town. 


 Various restaurants, apartments and shops have a front row view of the river.  The river runs under Main Street and through Falls Park.

Breath taking views are at every turn. Picturesque walking bridges cross the river, restaurants on the left and the Peace Center, performing arts venue, to the right.


Additional water features dot the streetscape.


A large cantilevered bridge takes you away from Main Street to the Park. Liberty Bridge, built 10 years ago, it a one of  kind bridge.



It is as if you are in the treetops.



View back up to the bridge. 


Back around and under one of the bridges....


A wonderful outing. I plan on going back and taking more time to explore the trails. We dodged some heavy downpours, luckily it didn't spoil our day and I came home with some good pictures.

One item from Portland I wanted to share with you was one of my winnings from our banquet night. I won a Seed Sprouter from Botanical Interests. Last year I had hoped to win one when we were in San Francisco, but I didn't. This time I put many of my raffle tickets in for the drawing of the Seed Sprouter. I won! And I won again, and again....it was pretty funny. I passed on the second and third time my name came up. 

Once home I pulled out my seed packets and followed the directions for sprouts. 
Step 1- Soak the seeds in a diluted bleach solution to disinfect them. (can't be too safe) 


Directions and equipment all laid out


After disinfecting, you rinse the seeds.


Set up the Seed Sprouter, I had one kind of seeds on one tray and another type on the other tray.


The seeds are sprouting! They need to be rinsed every day to keep them moist.



In pretty short order we had sprouts.  A wonderful addition to a salad or sandwich. 


The sprouts are a little peppery... and tasty! 


After our first round of sprouts I put the Seed Sprouter away for the summer. In our area we are light on mosquitoes but heavy on fungal gnats coming in on the seasonal fruit. Rather than fight the gnats I figured I would bring it out again this winter.

So, short trips, long trips and prizes....a great summer.



©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Yesterday

While I have a few posts in the 'hopper' I wanted to talk about yesterday. Yesterday was the perfect fall day to work in the garden. The sun was shining the air was cool, just lovely. My garden was suffering from total neglect since July, it looked like crap. Why you might ask. It gets stinkin' hot in South Carolina and the bugs are in full force, making being in the garden less than pleasurable. The last few weeks I have been becoming reaquainted with my garden. The shoreline was a mass of weeds, so I decided to work a couple hours each day, dragging out four or five large garbage bags of weeds and crabgrass out the the shoreline garden. I am almost finished. Maybe Monday? Who knows. 

Yesterday was a planting day. I had visited a local garden center and found a sweet little Itea virginica 'Little Henry' and was looking for a spot to plant it. There were multiple stems coming up around the circumference of the container. I know I can get a couple plants in this case. I had the main plant and three 'babies' to place in other spots.  Don't you just love the bright red fall color?


While figuring out where to plant some of the babies, I took a critical look at my native azalea, Admiral Semmes. Planted a few years ago it has failed to thrive. The first year it was gorgeous, it had big yellow blooms in the spring. I had visions of years down the road, this beauty would fill the space where it was planted. Well that didn't happen. Each year since it has declined, it has been maybe two years? Well, yesterday I dug it up, telling myself it needed to be in a better area and I could put a little baby Itea in its spot.  The azalea was about the size of the main plant of the Itea in the above photo....pretty small for a shrub that has been in the ground for a couple of years. 

The root ball was equally small. The mass of roots was less than a softball in size and inside the small roots was a tangle of fairly large roots, circling the stem/trunk area. It had clearly been rooted in a small container, left too long and the roots were growing in a small circle.  It was time for some root pruning. I first dunked the root mass into my watering can as I didn't have other water close by. See the hole at the top of the can? The roots fit in quite easily. 


Repeated dunkings and washing away soil and old potting mix and still the roots would not release. Have you pruned roots before? If you find a plant that has circling roots, you need to either uncurl those roots and pin them apart in the ground OR cut those roots apart. I tried to manually separate the roots over and over again. I was unsuccessful. I felt bad cutting so many roots...but kept telling myself that left alone the shrub was not going to do well. I cut straight down on two sides and repeated the dunking and pulling process. Once done I put the azalea into a new hole and spread out the remaining roots, covered with soil, and watered. 

I have done this before, another azalea that I bought earlier this year had severely girdling roots and needed some tough love. (see below) The one thing you must remember is to water frequently as the roots need soft moist soil to grow into. The azalea from earlier this year looks pretty good. The leaves held on and the stems are strong, no drooping.  I look forward to this having a great presence in the garden.



As for Admiral Semmes- see the photo below....sad. I will let you know how he does this spring -- there might not be blooms but if I get a lot of spring growth I will be happy. Root pruning, taking out girdling roots, is beneficial for the growth of shrubs and trees. Imagine if those closely circling roots never were cut, just growing larger and larger, squeezing tighter and tighter, not allowing water and nutrients to travel to the body of the plant. 


I am trying to make it a practice, when planting new woody shrubs and trees, to check the root structure-- all the way to the center of the root ball. A little prevention early in the life of the plant will allow strong growth. 
Have you pruned roots?



©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.