Saturday, January 28, 2012

Long Angles and Foggy Mornings

This time of year the long angles of the sun make for some wonderful light shows.  The other night taking the dogs for their evening walk I saw this gorgeous sight.  Love how the setting sun broke through the pines, illuminating various parts of the forest. 

 Turning around and heading to the house, the sun is shining along different parts of the woods.  Can you tell I live in a pine forest? 
With the mild temperatures we have been having we have had some interesting fog.  This morning, while letting the dogs out, this blanket of fog rolled in and out in the course of about a half hour.  We have fog like this in the fall-- always magical.

Fog is so interesting, but hard to really capture in a photo. 

We spread 4 cubic yards of hardwood mulch so far, the hill killed us.  Today I did some trimming/pruning and spread the pine straw in the garden along the driveway.   While in the woods I found a fun little mushroom, think it is a Turkey tail mushroom. Trametes versicolor   After reading through the Mushroom Expert, I am not sure.  Will have to go and do a closer investigation.

Whatever it is, it is pretty. 

So, like I said, mulch was spread on some of the gardens....we will probably have two more loads (2 cubic yards each) to finish around the house.  The shed sits on the front part of the grassy area of our yard. We mulched from the driveway to and around the shed

 I put layers of newspaper under the mulch to take care of the grass.  There are bulbs planted on either side of the door.  Along the window side is a Yuletide Camellia, two red Rhododendrons 'Besse Howells', and a Tea Olive on the back corner.

You can see how much this part of the yard slopes. The shrubs will help hide the space as they grown.  On the backside of the shed I planted three Spirea vanhouttei that will have plenty of room to grow to their full potential.   
As you can see, the house sits on the hillside. I am standing next to the lower corner of the shed, turned facing the house.  The side garden is now mulched and next we have the other side of the house and the front garden to do....think that will be a lot less mountain climbing!

 Hope the nice weather holds out, we have a few more work days!

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Growth, Buds, and Sparkles

I had to share this tiny bit of growth, this little bud, this emerging leaf from my tiny crabapple tree.  This is one of the watercolor brush sized trees planted last month.   It is alive!  It is growing!    I had been hauling water up the driveway to take care of all these little babies.  Thank goodness we have had some good rains to help as well. 

Also growing nicely is the Quince...I am not asking for gangbusters right now, just growth.   It feels like spring here in South Carolina.  I am enjoying working outside as much as possilbe.  What a change from last winter when we were buried in snow.  I will take spring awakening anytime! 
Right next to the Quince is this fun little mushroom.  Looks like someone has been eating the edges of it.  The gills are so neat.

Winter's sweet fragrances are in the breeze.  My Edgeworthia chrysantha is just starting to open.  I love its fragrance and the bright sunny little blooms on the bare stems are just super.  Isn't this great against the clear blue sky? 
 While in the backyard I checked the Hellebores....still waiting to open, the buds getting larger and taller.  I can't wait for them to open.  Last year they were kind of late might be the variety, though last year I thought it was late because I had moved them. 
 Just down the hill a little is my one Witch hazel.  She is starting to open, I really like the shape of the bloom and this variety is more pink-ish orange.  It is Hamamelis x intermedia  'Feuerzauber'.  I hope to find a good native to put in the edge of the woods out front.  Would love to have that clove scent wafting on the wind. 
 After some good thunderstorms, yes I know, in January! I found a lot of limbs in the garden.  This one was especially interesting.    There are so many fungi and lichen on the trees in our area.  Wonder why?
 These brown specimen are kind of gooey looking aren't they?

A walk around the backyard is like a treasure hunt.  So many treasures... look at how sparkly the Muhly grass is in the sunshine.   It is hard to capture the twinkling of the seedheads in the breeze.  So happy I have this grass in my garden.

Another great find in the walk around was all these great berries on my Wax myrtles.  Well, one of my Wax myrtles...Myrica cerifera is dioecious, meaning male and female plants.  Thankfully I have at least one female.  The bayberries are a good food source for the birds.  *Fun fact- Myrica californica is monoecious.  It has both male and female flowers on one plant.

Also getting ready to open to its full glory is my Blue Leaf Isu, Distylium myricoides.  It is an evergreen Chinese Witch hazel.  This was a great happenstance --- I came upon this plant at the nursery while in bloom....had to have it.  Stay tuned for more photos as it opens.
Finally a little rearranging in the landscape.  I have had a section in my front garden that nothing has done well.  Could the soil be bad there?   Maybe this is where paintbrushes were cleaned?  Who knows.  I have had three Gardenias 'Frostproof' die in this area.  Finally have one replacement gardenia that is doing well, but it is off center.  The Nandina domestica 'Blush Pink' was another gardenia replacement.  Well, I got some new garden soil and dug out the soil that was there.  I moved the remaining gardenia and added two Loropetalum 'Daruma' from the back slope by the lake.  The Loropetalum wasn't blooming where it was, so moving it should be a good idea. 
See how large the other Gardenia 'Frostproof' are?  They are happy......



The Loropetalum will grow to about 3- 4 feet tall and about the same width.  With the reddish purples in the stonework on the front of the house, I think the summer colors of the Loropetalum will be a nice repeat of color. 
Tomorrow?  Mulch hauling..... I am switching out the pinestraw mulch in the beds around the house to hardwood mulch.  As the hardwood breaks down it will help amend  the clay soil.  It won't be done in one day...but it will be a start. 

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Invasion of the Sod Webworms

This past Wednesday we had over a half of an inch of rain.  Hooray, we needed it and more.  After the rain I took the dogs for a walk and came across a rather bizarre sight.  For approximately one hundred feet on the road were these worms.

There were hundreds of these worms all over the road.  Where did they come from?  What are they?  Well, the second question is easier to answer-- my guess was a Sod Webworm so I conferred with a fellow Master Gardener who knows his 'bugs'.  Yes, Sod Webworm.  Thanks Vincent! 
With all these worms all over the road one would think there would be a lot of birds arriving for a big meal...but none were in sight.  A mystery.  Perhaps the worms are not tasty, have a toxin or something?  Time for research!  Since I live in South Carolina, the best place for information is the
Clemson web site.  The entomology department has a couple publications.  Best is the Insect Information Series.  Good information about the habits of the sod webworm.  They feed at night and if temperatures are moderate they will also feed during the day.  This webworm is the larval stage of the Sod Webworm Moth.  Photo courtesy Clemson publications and Purdue University Entomology Department. 

A sod webworm adult. Note the characteristic snout-like projection from the head.
Photo: Purdue University Entomology Department
The larvae feed on your turf lawns.  They can skeletonize it rather quickly.  Insecticide controls can be used according to the labels.   Bacillus thuringiensis is the first one recommended.  B.t. controls are the most effective on young larvae.  Wetting the lawn and applying late in the day is the recommended application. 

I know many are leery of using products on their lawn to eliminate insects, I understand that.  These are Extension recommendations for turf management.  After seeing so many of these worms all over the road I will be keeping my eyes open for infestation in my yard.  I tried to circle three of the worms in the road....there were webworms every 6 to 12 inches for the width of the road and for about one hundred feet.  Lucky for me right now, they were a good way down the road from my house. 
After reading about these worms, I hope the birds were just late to the game.  In my research you may see your first indication of newly emerged larvae if there are lots of birds feeding on 'something' in your yard.  I vote for Mother Nature to take care of this pest....hope she agrees.

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fern Update

It rained yesterday/ last night.  Why do you ask I am bringing this up?  We drove by the Resurrection Fern tree this afternoon on our way to pick up our weekly order from Upstate Locally Grown.  I wanted to check and see if the fern had been revived from the rain.  Camera in hand, I captured the resurrection!!  This is a short and sweet post....just wanted to share.  Remember how shriveled and crusty it was in my last post? 

Pretty amazing  isn't it?

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Monday, January 16, 2012

What's That in The Tree?

tree chickens and moved shrubs 001 Near the wonderful oak tree I shared in the posting 'Just For Fun' is this tree.  It sits along the ridge right next to the road.  This summer I saw something green, growing on the trunk and its limb.   At one point we stopped the truck and  I made the initial identification of a large vine of poison ivy.    Well, after all these freezing nights the poison ivy has long since lost its leaves.  Driving by on Tuesday I noticed it still had something green up in the crotches and along the trunk.  
I stopped the car (though I didn't get out) and started taking pictures.  I was amazed to see it was the Resurrection Fern!   I first encountered this fern on one of our trips through the countryside.  It was when I found the Burr Oak.  Resurrection Fern,  Polypodium polypodioides is a hardy fern.  This is a native fern, hardy from Delaware to Southern Florida. It is an epiphyte, using the host plant for an anchor and grows in the cracks of the bark of trees.  All the water and nutrients come from the rain and dust in the air.  When there is no rain the fronds curl up and are scaly and grey.  When moisture is reintroduced, the fern resurrects! 

trees and riley seawall completed 005

Isn't this fern great? 
trees and riley seawall completed 006

It grows up the limb...covering all the bark.
trees and riley seawall completed 005-2

See how green and lush the ferns were on Tuesday? 

trees and riley seawall completed 005-1

Now on Sunday we went out and Charlie stopped the truck and I was able to get out and take more pictures.  We had some really cold nights between Tuesday and Sunday, with no rain.   See how dry and brownish grey the ferns are? 

tree chickens and moved shrubs 002

I will have to go back after a rainfall and see if, even in this mild but winter time, it will resurrect again!  It is easy to propagate, take a piece of the fern, making sure you have some root material and place it in a tree of your choice.  You can read more about the Resurrection Fern at Floridata. 

The best thing about this Resurrection Fern?  The tree it is growing on is in a family cemetery that has been there for ages.  One of these days I will check out some of the old headstones.

trees and riley seawall completed 008-1

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Twelve Trees Fourteen Shrubs and Almost 200 Bulbs

December was THE month for planting in South Carolina.  Yes, I planted a dozen trees and 14 shrubs.  The bulbs were plants in January.   The shrubs were a great purchase from the Abbeville Cooperative Extension Tree Sale.  Last year I bought three dogwoods and three redbuds and a couple pecans.  Sadly the pecans did not make it through the winter.
This year I bought only shrubs through this sale.  Nine of the shrubs are Spirea vanhouttei.  Six were planted along the very long driveway.  I thought I was staggering the plantings but after I was done it appears they are paired, across the driveway from one another.  The other three were planted on the side of my playhouse/shed that faces the ajoining property.   All these shrubs have ample room to grow to full size.  The nice thing about this spirea is that it can be planted in full sun to part shade.   This picture below is the nine, bundled together, each having a nice baseball-ish rootball.   

In the top photo are three red flowering quince, Chaenomeles sp. .  All of them are nice sized, the order form said they would be 2-3 feet and I wasn't sure how much shrub was going to be there.   These three  are planted up along the street in front of the woods on the left side of the driveway as you walk up the drive.  These are spring blooming and will be a nice pop of red early in spring.  A couple buds are already leafing out.

I also bought a  snowball Viburnum, probably a Viburnum opulus, though I didn't get a botanical name to go along with this one.  It is planted in the lowest part of the backyard.  Finally, the last one I bought and probably the one I wanted most-- Oakleaf Hydrangea, Hydrangea quercifolia.  I have some small ones in the back garden but really wanted one to fill a space along the driveway.  Knowing this shrub can get to be the size of a small pickup truck,  I am giving it all the room in the world.  Right now it is a straight stem, abou 3 feet long.   Come on spring!!!

The trees were purchased/received through the Arbor Day Foundation.  I got the ten 'free' flowering trees when I joined.   I wanted a Sassafras tree and received a free Red twelve trees to plant.  Two of each of the following were planted- dogwood- Cornus florida, redbud- Cercis canadensis, Flowering Crab Apple- Malus sargentii, Goldenrain Tree- Koelreuteria paniculata, Washington Hawthorn- Crataegus phaenopyrum.  These darling dozen were all about the size of a watercolor paintbrush.  In order to know where these little babies are located, I tied a little piece of green ribbon around each.  It has helped in locating them when I water and will help in the spring when I check to see if they survived the winter.

Redbud next to soaker hose

Crabapple -- so small it needed a stick next to it and some rocks to mark the spot
This photo below shows the red Maple.  It was wrapped with a sticky label...the little white dot the arrow is pointing to. 
 Here is a blowup.
We will see if these tiny trees make it, I worry about animals walking over them and snapping them off.

This is my notebook, I have marked every single plant I either brought with us from Virginia, was given by friends, and the hundreds I purchased and planted since moving here a year ago July.  I also write down where bulbs are planted, it helps when looking for them or knowing where NOT to plant more bulbs. 
The bulbs planted last weekend were two large bags of 50 double bulb daffodils, Narcissus 'Dutch Master', one bag of 50 Paperwhites, yellow Paperwhites, Narcissus 'Grand Soleil d'Or' and a bag of ten tulips,  hybrid greigii tulip.  
Spring is going to be spectacular in South Carolina....stay tuned!!!

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Just For Fun

I know I haven't been around for a little while, but I am back now!!  To start my return to the blogging world I want to share some photos I have had --ready to share with all of you.  They are pretty much unrelated --they are all just for fun! 
First I want to share my favorite tree, well ok,  ONE of my favorite trees.  It reminds me of the one that is often shared by Pam at Tales from the  Microbial Laboratory.  I need to make an accurate ID of this oak.  The leaves were so tattered this year after the cicadas it was hard to be sure.  The lichen and moss are so thick on the trunk it is hard to see the bark.  When I asked my husband to stop so I could take a picture of my favorite tree, he said, "You are going to have to be more specific".  Hahaha

I will take many pictures of this tree over the course of the year.   

 Next, another owl sighting.  This was the week in between Christmas and New Year's Eve.  The exciting part of this sighting was he was across the street from our property, next to the septic field/ meadow.    After I feed the dogs their evening meal I take them for a walk.  Since the oldest dog is almost 18, we don't walk too far.  We were at our turn around point and I saw the owl.  Of course I didn't have the camera.  I hustled to the driveway and saw Charlie outside, called to him, and he took the dogs so I could run down the driveway to get the camera.  Yea!!!  The kids came out and saw the owl as well, life in the Wild Kingdom. 

Here is a close up.  Isn't he grand?
 Another fun adventure was another walk along the shoreline.  The mosses, lichens, and other fungi growing on the exposed tree roots are always cool looking.

Another find along the shore was evidence of our beaver.    This limb was about as big around as my arm and roughly 6 feet long. 

 About 600 feet up the shoreline was a tree whose roots were exposed on the bank.  Apparently the beaver thought that root would be a great addition to his den.   I am keeping an eye on my trees!!!

And finally a night visitor --seeking a taste of the suet on bird feeders.   These guys are not pretty.

 Many thanks for coming back to read my postings.  Hear's to a new year and a better blogging habit.

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.