Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

Greetings to all and a very Happy New Year to you. Today started off as any other day....shower, then walk the dogs, then throw the ball for Skyler in the backyard. Unfortunately the ball went into the creek this morning. Unfortunately Skyler went in after it. Fortunately the tide was in. He had to get hosed off. Unfortunately while I was getting the hose turned on and ready for him, the mailman came up the street. Since he hands out dog cookies all three of the dogs ran to greet him. The mailman got wet. Here is a picture of Skyler earlier this year when the water was really really in no water at all....this is the creek!!! He was chest deep and kind of stuck.

It took a long time with the hose to clean him off enough to bring him into the bathtub for a full fledged shampoo. What a mess.

Newton is my resident bunny chaser...though he really just hops through the garden looking for the bunnies. He has no respect for any of my gardens. Newton is supposed to be part Australian Shepherd hence the name Newton. Newtie is 6 years old, a year older than Skyler. Here he is in the "L** Memorial Butt Garden". (We dug this garden by hand and took 9 truck loads of roots to the dump. It was supposed to be heart or kidney shaped. By the time we were done with it, we felt we had worked our butts off, so now it is so aptly named.)

Here is the "Butt Garden" last May with a high tide. I will add new photos of all the gardens as they begin to sprout and bloom. Thank goodness for Rugosa Roses that don't mind salt water occasionally.

Last, but not least, is my old girl Monroe. She just likes to be in the sun. She is our pound puppy and it now a month shy of 15 years old. She is part Chow and part shepherd of some kind.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Plume Day deux

Back to the plumes. Should never start a blog entry at dinner time. Most of the grasses are in the front and side yard. I have a few specimens of the Carex comans "Bronze" and it is a nice compact sedge. The plume or seed head is very small, almost didn't see it last year, but there were a few new sprouts nearby in the spring.

Pennisetum alopecuroides "Moudry" is front and center of the front yard garden. Unfortunately it reseeds prolifically so I am careful to get the 'babies' under control... sharing with friends.

As a couple accents I have two red Cordylines, not sure of the variety. I was surprised to see it come back after last winter. The rotten bunnies had eaten the foliage down to a nub in the winter, then a hard freeze in late February took out the rest of what was left. Spring brought new growth and a nice accent near my red Japanese maple.

Throughout the garden I have had the Stipa tenuissima "Pony Tails" reseed. They are easy enough to dig up and share, so I don't mind the scattering of these little grasses. They move so easily with the breeze and give nice movement to the garden.

The only Miscanthus that I have is Miscanthus sinensis "Dixieland" It is a 3'- 4' tall specimen. I am not entirely happy with the location of this grass. Think I may move it so it is more noticable. The foliage is a green and white variegation with a slender leaf. I love the plumes on Miscanthus...very graceful.

A true thug in the garden is Phragmites australis - Giant Reed grass or Common Reed grass. This guy came into our neighborhood with the flood waters of Hurricane Isabel. My neighbors and I are trying to eradicate this very invasive weed. It chokes out the natives shoreline grasses and keeps on coming. Pruning to the ground and applying Roundup directly to the fresh cut seems to be fairly effective.

Last but not least are two small 'grasses'. First is the common Liriope muscari, this is a nice anchor, border, filler and all around easy plant. You don't think about the flowers nor the berries during the growing season, then during the winter they really stand out.

The second is a carex that was planted late September and didn't bloom this year but I am really looking forward to having it bloom next year. I saw an example of this plant in Pam Harper's garden. It is truly striking. This variegated carex is Carex phyllocephala 'Sparkler'. Will be sure to take photos of it when we have the seed heads splaying out as a sparkler.

The Stipas and the Carexes do not need pruned back in the winter, though you can comb your fingers through the foliage and pull out the dead. The Pennisetums, Liriope, Miscanthus, Muhlenbergia and the Pampas Grass all get cut back before new growth starts in the spring. For now, they are all gracing the garden with their beauty.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Plume Day

I have been thinking about taking some of these pictures for a few days now. I really like the structural aspects of ornamental grasses. Since most of the grasses are drought tolerant, I seem to add a few more each year. One of the recent additions is the Muhlenbergia capillaris "Pink Muhly Grass". It was planted late this summer and was struggling a bit. I got this from my friend Linda. I divided it into two clumps. One clump is just in front of the bird feeders and if it thrives it wil be spectacular in bloom with the sun behind it in the late afternoon. I had one there before and it didn't do real well-- could be the high tides or the clay fill that the rip-rap guys put in. I amended the soil and crossed my fingers. The other clump I planted next to the swingset where one of the pennisetums had been...see picture on first post. The very delicate plumes are visible against the wooden leg of the swingset.

Also in the backyard is the Pampas Grass --Cortaderia selloana. This was a donation from a neighbor. I divided it into a few pieces....two pieces are doing better than the others.

Will add some more later.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Hawk Update

Yesterday looking out the kitchen window we had another hawk...this one larger than the one the other day. So, after some investigations we have decided the one the other day was a Sharp-shinned and the larger one was a Coopers Hawk. That's our story and we are sticking to it! Cooper's Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk
Here is a great place to learn the differences...
No photos of the Cooper's Hawk, he was too fast.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Feathered Friends

Today has been busy with birds of all kinds. Earlier this morning we had some Canada Geese swimming down the creek. Seems like every Christmas we have a flock of them that hang out at this end of the creek. As I am writing this there are about six or seven back again. We also had a pair of Hooded Mergansers swimming in the creek. These diving ducks are hard to photograph as they dive as soon as you make any move. I did take one photo of them...but it is so far away that it is difficult to tell what you are seeing.

Later in the day, after I filled the meal worm cup we had three bluebirds come to feed. They had to wait their turn with the Carolina Wrens, Chickadees, and Tufted titmouse. This photo is from the spring, but it could have easily been taken this morning.

The feeders were busy all day with Cardinals, House finches, Downy Woodpeckers, and a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker....and a host of others.

Then everyone disappeared. I was baking, so I didn't pay much attention to all the activity or lack thereof. Then I looked out the kitchen window. Now I know why they all flew off. Think it is a Sharp-shinned Hawk or a Coopers Hawk.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Native Plants

So, today on Victory Garden they mentioned Lady Bird Johnson's Wildflower web site. After checking it out and bookmarking it, I thought I should share. You can find natives for your area. The search engine even gives you capability to search for color of bloom and month of the year it blooms. Native Plant Information

This is my Callicarpa americana, Beautyberry, earlier this year. The leaves are all gone and the Mockingbirds are wild about the berries.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Skyler and the Muddy Day

This is of the three four-legged buddies I have the pleasure of as my 'fan club'. His mission in life is to play with his ball....every day...rain or shine.

Here is the rain gauge for the last 24 hours

This is what he looked like multiple times today. The ball play is done -- regardless of the yard conditions. I use about 5 or 6 towels a day to dry him.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A beginning blog

Today is the first blog. It is my goal to write once a week, sharing what goes on in my garden in zone 7b. I chose this picture with my first post as I miss this setting. Living on a creek that feeds a river that feeds the Chesapeake Bay lends one to getting brackish water flooding at times. This is what my backyard looked like before Hurricane Isabel and subsequent nor'easters invaded the yard. New plants have been added and once spring comes we shall see what has survived another season.