Thursday, October 25, 2012

Window Views and Ants

It is fall and the colors are outstanding.  I love the views from our dining room window.  We live in an Oak-Hickory forest and in the fall the view just sparkles.   This is the view of the lot next door to us.  This summer I saw a deer walking down through the woods, heading to the lake for a drink.  The bird activity is just wonderful.  (Except for Great Backyard Bird Count day when they all hide)  

The late afternoon sunlight shines through the forest, love the angle of the sun this time of year.   On the windowsill you see a pair of binoculars....they are well used!!

Gardening is usually nicer in the fall here in South Carolina because the weather is better.  Unfortunately for me, I found a nest of fire ants.  We planted a new bed at the front gate of our housing area.  Moving a little bit of mulch the next day to cover a bare spot of soil, I picked up a handful of ants.  Note to self --wear your gloves and look before you pick up anything!!!

We made a trip to the doctor and I have meds to take care of getting my hand back to normal.  Will have to wait a few more days to get back into my garden, don't want the blistered bites to pop and get worse.  
The tree post from last week will be up probably tomorrow.  Benedryl makes my head a little fuzzy so I haven't finished writing it.   Be sure to check previous tree posts as fall pictures are added.  

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

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Grasses and Blooms in October

We continue to have some gorgeous days in October.  The garden is still growing, fall is the best time to plant and transplant in our area.  My native grasses, Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem,  have started to reseed a little and I am happy to move the babies to spots that need filled in.

These grasses were planted along the driveway to help slow water runoff.  Some of the grasses have done very well, others, not so much.   I love the no care attitude with these grasses.  I have a soaker hose that sits on the top of the ridge where I have some trees and shrubs planted, but these grasses are on their own, subject to whatever Mother Nature has to offer. 

Another native grass I have in the yard is Panicum virgatum, 'Dallas Blues'.  The idea initially was to put this blue grass along the side of the yard where I have Callitropsis glabra 'Blue Ice' and Cupressus arizonica 'Carolina Sapphire', repeating the blue color.  Well, as you can see in the photo below, it got lost.  

I decided to move them from along the right side of the yard to the left side, up on the ridge.   We had a tree go down last year, almost on the property line.  It doesn't bother me so I am leaving it down.  There had been a redtwig dogwood shrub in this open spot, it didn't do well (that is code for it died).  

Adding the three blue Panicum was a good idea, they will do well with minimal care....less water needs than the shrub.  Here they stand out better, showing off their great blue color.

Also along the driveway, closer to the Bluestem grasses, is a little gully.  In that gully is where I found the Cranefly Orchid, Tipularia discolor, growing a couple years ago.   I looked for the blooms this fall, none were found.  I thought perhaps the plant had disappeared, but look what I found the other day.
 The winter foliage of the orchid emerging through the pinestraw!  Hooray.

Some more happy findings-- my Snail flower Vigna cararalla is blooming, oh so fragrant!!  I got this plant from Julie at Growing Days.  It took so long for it to bloom, I thought it may never happen.  So happy it bloomed!!  It is an heirloom vine, seeds from Monticello, a lovely vine grown by Jefferson.  It is a tender perennial in the South, crossing my fingers it makes it through the winter for another year!!

The cooler temperatures have spurred my Janet rose to bloom again.  Love the hint of yellow/coral in the center of this delicate pink bloom.

The buds are so pale pink with a hint of peachy yellow.

Wonder how long I will continue to have blooms?  Wow.

 Another fall bloomer is the Mexican Sage, Salvia leucantha.  Love these purple blooms on long stalks!!  There are four of these subshrubs in the yard, each full of blooms. 

The Gerbera daisies are coming back into bloom again.  Really had wanted red ones, these are more tomato soup red.

Finally, the Coca-cola box I got from my mom is planted with succulents and ajuga, making a nice addition to the area where my planted Croc is .  It is really dry in this area and there are some tunnels -- voles?  Maybe, who knows, but they do leave the Euphorbia alone.  This is  Euphorbia x martinii 'Ascot Rainbow'.

How is your fall garden?

©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, October 9, 2012

Tuesday's Trees- Winged Sumac

Winged Sumac, Black Sumac, Dwarf Sumac, Shining Sumac, Rhus copallina goes by many names.  It can be called a large shrub or a small tree.  It is a native to North America, hardy to zone 4.   The native range goes as far north as Ontario, south to Florida, west to Texas, and back north to Michigan.  
This is a stunning plant in the autumn landscape as it turns a fiery red.  My favorite color in the fall is the various reds that pop in the woods, meadows, and gardens.  This lovely little tree is quite common in our area.  It grows in full sun, mature heights can be up to 30 feet but it is more commonly under 20 feet. 

The leaves are odd pinnately compound, dark green and have a pubescent on the underside.  There are 9- 21 leaflets on each leaf.   The wings on the rachis (leaf stem) is one of its easily identifiable features.

The margins are untoothed.  

The Winged Sumac is dioecious, though some polygamous flowers can be present.  These polygamous flowers usually abort, so another plant is needed to fertilize the female flowers.   The drupes appear in the fall, bright red with a single nutlet.   I will have to add a spring photo of the flowers, greenish-yellow in color. This plant catches my eye in the fall, bright red fruits and bright red foliage.

The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem.  The stems are woody and can be multiple stemmed or a single trunk.  The stems are reddish with noticeable lenticels.  

New growth is puberulent (downy hair) to tomentose (hairs that are flattened & matted).  The lenticels are very noticeable on these fuzzy stems.

The mature stems are smoother, light grey showing off the lenticels.  This is a fast growing tree.  It forms a colony by underground rhizomes.  It is a pioneer species and is not eliminated by fire as it has a vigorous root system.   

Pests are not really significant to the Winged Sumac, aphids and scale are two most mentioned.  

Native Americans used the roots to treat dysentery and the fruits to make dye.

Before I end this post, I want to share a similar Sumac, Rhus glabra.   It is similar to Rhus copallina in most every way except two- leaflets on R. copallina are untoothed and the stems have wings on the midrib.  See the leaflets below?  Toothed.  And the stems? Unwinged.  It is Rhus glabra.

My references are Forestry Service, UCONN, MOBOT, U of Florida, Illinois Wildflower, Missouri Plants (great photos of the male and female flowers), and Floridata.

Thanks for coming to see another tree post.  Be sure to check back as new photos are added with fall colors, flowers, and fruits.  For those who are new to the tree posts, I have all the trees listed under the Tuesday Trees tab at the top of the page.

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

Friday, October 5, 2012

It Is Skunk Time

While there are a few REAL skunks around here, that is not the kind of skunk I am talking about.  If you want to see some real skunks, head over to Mountain Musings and see a trio that came visiting under the bird feeder.
Every October is the time for the Albino Skunk Music Festival.    We live about an hour and a half away from Greer, where the festival is located.   The first weekend in October there is a three day long music festival, or should I say F-E-S-T-I-VAAAAALLLLLLLLLLLL, a common call heard throughout the day.
This takes place in a neighborhood where there are large lots.  Best guess on the attendance on Thursday when we went was over 300 people there.  It is better attended on Friday and Saturday.  Many folks camp out on the grounds. (We do not camp)  We picked the day that had artists that we wanted to see, it was hard, there are a lot of artists we like playing this year.  Our ABSOLUTE favorite to see was Elizabeth Cook, so we went on Thursday.

Driving up to Greer isn't hard, and as you get close to the neighborhood there are signs-- looks like we aren't the only  ones headed up there.

The next turn.....

And finally, to get into the parking area, or the front yard---

The first band, Ben Miller Band, from Joplin, MO, had car trouble, so the next group was getting ready to go on a little early.
The show started a little before 4:00 PM, and lasted well past 11:00 PM.

 The first band we saw was 'The Congress'-

These guys play rock and roll.  They are based in Denver CO -- lots of energy and great fun.  They played a second time, at the end of the evening.  We headed out as they started their second set.... it was late and we had a long drive.

From Denver we travel over the ocean to Dublin, Ireland for the next band.  Would you believe Irish Bluegrass?  This band was super!!!  Welcome 'I Draw Slow' This was their first time in the States, hope they come back again!!

After the Irish came the kids from Brooklyn.  What a diverse collection of bands.  'Food Will Win The War' is an Indie band the festival organizer found on Youtube.  Quoting from their Facebook page, they play "accordion-infused, violin-tinged glockenspiel rock"

Elizabeth Cook came on next and had the crowd hoppin'!

Final act for our evening was 'The Lee Boys' from Miami, FL. Sorry to say I didn't get a photo of the lead singer in front of  the group.  Their band is described as sacred steel,a form of Gospel music with a hard driving blues based beat, and boy did they get the crowd on their feet and dancing.  Just amazing.

So glad we went, plan on going again -- there IS a Spring Festivaaaaaal.  Anyone living close by should put it on your schedule!!!

©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, October 2, 2012

Tuesday's Trees - Willow

Many of you know Willows, there's Weeping Willow, Corkscrew Willow, Pussy Willow, and some gorgeous Willow shrubs with variegated foliage.   I found there are also Black Willows and White Willow.  Black Willow, Salix nigra, is a native tree, White Willow, Salix alba, are not native.  Since we live in an rather untamed area, I believe what I have growing in the ditches and along the stream beds is S. nigra.  After doing a lot of research, checking on the trees, rereading the information, I am not 100% sure.   

 The leaves on the willow are long and narrow.  The margins are serrated.  I was surprised to read that they were serrated, then I cropped and blew up the photo, sure enough...they are serrated.   They are arranged alternately along the stem.   The White Willow has thick white down on the underside of the leaves, giving them a silvery white look.  The Black Willow is light green in color on the underside of the leaf.  Ok, so far the thought is I have a Black Willow.   According to Vanderbilt, Black Willow twigs have stipules along the twigs. Stipules are side growths or leaf scars along the stem.  Name That Plant has a great group of photos showing different examples.   I don't see the little stipules on the branch....could it be a White Willow?  Oh I am getting confused again.  But, there is no thick white down on the underside of the leaf, so I am leaning toward the Black Willow.   My husband wondered if the stipules are more pronounced on mature trees?  These photos are from a young tree growing along our side yard.  Hmmm, maybe?
Camera in hand I went for a walk with the dogs and found a willow along the side of road in a rather wild area.  I couldn't get too close to the tree, but zooming in and cropping to enlarge, I still see no stipules.

The bark is grey to dark brown, with deep ridges.   As you can see the fall color is a dirty yellow.  We are in the beginnings of our fall color changes.  

Black Willow is the only commercially important harvested willow lumber.  It is lightweight and straight grained, takes stain well, and shock resistant.   It does not splinter easily and at one time it was used for artificial limbs.   

Ancient  uses of the willow bark include bark and leaves in the relief of rheumatism.  A chemical component in the bark is the natural glucoside, salicin, which is the building block to our present day aspirin.  Amazing isn't it?  To make gunpowder Black Willow's charcoal was once used.

It is a fast growing tree that can reach its maturity in as little as 30 years.  A mature tree is on average about 60- 70 feet tall, though it can reach heights of 135 feet in great growing conditions.  The shallow roots are laterally extensive.  Pay note to where septic and sewer lines run. 

It is a spring flowering tree, dioecious, two households, male flowering trees and female flowering trees.  The white cottony puffs help spread the seeds once they have ripened and are ready to germinate.  

The last few photos are of a Weeping Willow, Salix babylonica, another non-native, along the shoreline of the Hudson River.  The S. babylonica is a native of China.

 I was happy to gather some nice pictures of the cottony seeds and the deeply furrowed bark on a mature tree.  You can see cotton tuffs all over the ground on the above photo.  Here is a nice close up.

Thanks for coming along on another quest for a tree ID.  It is not as easy as these keys or keyB make it seem.
References-- VATech dendrology, Forestry Service, and the Vanderbilt site listed above.

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