Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Some Surprises

Last spring at the Garden Bloggers Spring Fling we had Southern Living give us a presentation about new plants.  It was fun to see new cultivars that have been developed.  When the presentation was over, a list was sent around for us to sign up to possibly receive one of these plants -- sort of to test them in our gardens.  Who wouldn't sign up for a free plant?  Well, many (perhaps all) of us did receive four plants from Southern Living.  I will do a full post about the progress of these plants after the growing season.  My plants arrived in October, two of them were Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'.  I like the yellow blooms on Mahonia, but the sharp leaves of the M. aquifolium were a problem.   Well, Soft Caress has SOFT foliage, not stiff and not spiny.  I was thrilled to have a couple of these for my shady garden in the backyard.  

Sadly the deer loved it as well.  I send Aimee Coker an email (she is the contact person who emailed us for mailing address and garden conditions) and told her I was unable to give feedback on this Mahonia.  
Then...... in the past week or so I was walking through the garden, checking on this spring's progress and look what I found!!   This tiny growth is my Mahonia!!!  My back garden is large enough that if something dies or is eaten, I leave it....mark it with a stick to remind myself of the location and wait.  Well, it looks like the waiting has paid off.   I will spray some deer deterrent on the new growth every week or so, telling those deer to feed elsewhere.   

Speaking of eating in the garden....this was my Furfugium japonica, prior name- Ligularia tussilaginea.  The hole was a lot larger than a typical vole hole.   I was not happy about this!!  Nor was I thrilled about some mysterious underground critter that was larger than a vole (rat???) eating my plants from below.  

I stamped down the hole, pushing the remaining roots to have soil contact....put my stick in the soil to mark the spot and waited.   I thought about getting some kind of trap, like a large mouse trap, but didn't want to deal with what it caught.  Ignore it, that is good for now.    Well, once again patience has paid off.  

The hole has disappeared or rather has not reappeared and the Furfugium is putting out new spring foliage.
I love nice little surprises like this!
We have had a good amount of rain in the past few days, spurring on more spring growth.  I like having the 'overhead' view of the garden.  Slowly but surely the garden is filling in.   I will do a yearly comparison in July but wanted to give you a fresh spring shot.

Yes, there are a lot of weeds out there....I still need to mulch and along the shoreline there are bales of pinestraw from last year.  I got tired of getting chigger bites and quit spreading it.  
 Here is a pieced together photo of the backyard.  This is the view that a certain blogger got to see.

Saturday I got a Facebook message from Skeeter asking if we were going to be home on Sunday afternoon.
Yes, Skeeter and her husband  Mark stopped by on their way home from Asheville on Sunday afternoon! They had a nice trip to Asheville and Biltmore but the rains and thunder here were kind of limiting garden tours.  I know she and Mark will come back, we live pretty close.  Garden blogger visits are lots of fun!
 Skeeter brought a couple cute garden items ---they are already in place.  Really cute.   Thanks so much!  I will think of you every time I see them.

Both are by the front door, welcoming visitors with a splash of color.  Thanks so much Skeeter!!  What a nice surprise to have them visit.

I have a few new 'visitors' in the parsley.  This year it looks like I will have to share my parsley with these caterpillars to the Black Swallowtail.

As they grow (and eat my parsley) will they be around long enough to become Black Swallowtails ......

.....or will they be bird food??  Here is Mr. Eastern Towhee.. hanging out in the backyard.

And a newly identified bird, Mr. Yellow-breasted Chat, seen on a walk with the dogs.  Pays to keep your camera with you!!

Do you have some nice surprises in your 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.


  1. Janet, I'm so glad your Mahonia is making a comeback. I know how much you were looking forward to growing it!

    Your bird photos are wonderful! I have never seen a Yellow-breasted Chat before. Mr. Towee and Mr. Rose-breasted Grosbeak have been staying longer than usual, so we are hoping they have decided to visit us all summer.

    We loved getting together with Skeeter and Mark too. Next time we must all meet up for more fun.

    I had a nasty surprise in the garden yesterday. Something (perhaps even the pouring rain) broke the longest cane on my climbing rose Night Owl. An entire year of growth is lost, but it will bounce back.

  2. Animal damage is so hard to cope with. On the one hand, we want to encourage wildlife, but we don't want them to completely destroy what we've built. It's a difficult line to walk. I'm glad your plants are staging a comeback! Here in the PNW our biggest predator to Farfugium is enormous slugs.

    Visits with other garden bloggers are such a treat! I'm looking forward to meeting you at the Fling this summer!

  3. I like Good surprises in the garden rather then the Bad ones such a holes and eaten roots. Grrrr, I have found the smelly sprays do seem to work for the bunny and deer. Now to find a 100% cure for those pesky Voles and Moles. The Saint and I had a great visit with you guys and we will be back again some day. It was wonderful to see your gardens in person as I have been watching them progress from a blank slate to such beauty. Now we must get you two to GA for a visit....

  4. Great surprises Janet. I loved the Soft Caress mahonia but I was sent other plants that have done surprisingly well. It's a treat when bloggers visit. I am so going to miss you and Fling this year. gail

  5. I fell in love with 'Soft Caress' a couple of weeks ago - sadly it has become an over night success here and I can't find it to buy on line at anything less that extortionate prices... Love the lesson in patience, and wow, you garden has really filled out. it is developing a real presence. Beautiful.

  6. Your garden looks great! Too bad the deer ate your plant, but with a bit of repellent, perhaps you can give it another chance.

    I had the same kind of holes in my cottage garden yesterday! One beneath a lambs ear and one beneath dianthus. I stomped the holes closed and went out today for a new supply of I Must Garden Rabbit Repellent. I think they're nesting, don't you? That's my guess at what varmint was digging.

    Great decor items from Skeeter! I know y'all had a great visit.

  7. Nice surprises and what fun Skeeter and the Saint stopped by for a visit! And what a nice view! That yellow bird is really cool looking!

  8. Lucky for us all that the plants have a strong will to live. Thanks for keeping us up to date on your garden's progress. It's such a wonderful setting you have.

  9. My two Soft Caress didn't get eaten, but all the foliage turned brown over the winter and is now falling off. I'm waiting see if they bud out and regrow. Our lowest low was only 10. I think that is a zone 7 number which is what it was rated to. The evergreen dogwood and rose also suffered winter die back. Even the nandina shed a bunch of leaves. I'm attributing it to the plants being shipped so late and not being acclimated properly for winter. Next winter will be the real test for them.

    That Skeeter sure was sweet with the garden gifts. It was a nice visit and garden stroll, even with umbrellas in a gentle rain.

  10. Beautiful bird, the yellow-breasted chat. Would love a surprise like that in my garden!

  11. Everything is looking great, despite the deer and other critters. Love the birds too.

  12. Love this post, Janet! From the good news about the plants that you decided to 'watch and wait' for, to the visit from Skeeter & the cute garden decor she brought to you, to the birds you've seen...all such great and inspirational happenings!!
    I hope your deer spray will work for you. I spray it regularly here to keep a variety of critters at bay. So far it has helped tremendously from the mess I had with my hellebores in late winter. However, it doesn't work for 'underground' critters (!) and I have similar holes next to a few plants. So frustrating! Every now and then I also find 1 plant that has completely wilted and looks dead...I pick it up and it is not attached, meaning that 'something' devoured it from below. I try to water sparingly now to keep the area as dry as possible, hoping the yard will be less hospitable to voles/moles if it's dryer. But with the rain we've also had for the past 3 days, I think my garden is currently a 5-star hotel for such critters!! Ahhh, we gardeners just keep pluggin' along, taking the bad with the mostly good, don't we?!

  13. Dear Janet,
    I always forget that I don't have a garden anymore but only the balcony - so I went to buy a mahonia for that - but saw that the leaves with there spikes were discourageing even me - and there are already the long arms of the climbing roses pinching for husband :-)
    A good surprise: my vine survived the long cold winter - I just had given up hope! (But the magnolia got a bad dump on the head by a lat frosty night - seems she hasn't survived - looks burnt). Well - but spring is here, and my many roses already have a lot of buds - as the clematis.

  14. Janet, I'm so happy the deer didn't win! I can't wait to hear what you think about the mahonia. We have so much shade, but I never added mahonia because of its sharp leaves and my kids' tendency to not look where they run. This may be a perfect solution! I'm just planting my freebies in a new bed this week, which I'm sure was not the intention of the kind Southern Living folks. Still, they overwintered in their pots beautifully! Your garden looks so fresh--I love the new green of spring! So happy you and Skeeter had a good, although wet, visit--adorable garden goodies!

  15. Hi Janet, I tried to leave a comment with my iPad and I don't think it went through, so I will try for the third time. I too got the Mahonia and planted one of them in the garden and one in a pot. The one in the garden lived all winter, staying very green. It was well mulched with pine needles. This spring, the leaves browned and all fell in one weeks times. I talked to another that received the same plant and her Mahonia also was browning in Spring. I found this strange because it lasted the entire winter. I doubt it had wet roots since we had little rain, but maybe the snow cover made it too wet. Anyway, it is gone, with no new growth. At least your deer eaten one is returning. I like your Yellow Breasted Chat. I never heard of them.

  16. So glad your damaged plants recovered...and your garden looks WONDERFUL compared to mine...I'm a little embarassed at just how "rough" it's look at the moment!

  17. Looks like the deer appreciated the soft leaves of that Mahonia as well! I used to have mahonia in my old garden on the west coast and the deer never went near it but boy was it ever sharp.

  18. How fun to come to your blog & see the Eastern Towhee when I'm seeing the Spotted Towhee here! The Yellow Breasted Chat is a very handsome bird as well. You do a good job photographing your bird sightings Janet.
    I'm glad you haven't lost your plants ~ I love surprises like that. How fun to trial the plants too. Another motivator to get to a Fling!
    Your garden is looking good ~ I'm majorly jealous that it's raining ~ would love moisture in that form over the snow we can't seem to shake.
    Thanks for all your comments too. I always enjoy hearing from you.

  19. Hi Janet, I have a similar problem with certain shrubs being eaten, though in my case, the damage is not done by a deer. I imagine it is a rabbit chewing my spirea and a few other shrubs down to nothing. I look at them in early spring and think they'll never recover but they always seem to bounce back. Love the leaves on the Furfugium. Glad the voles didn't get it all!
    Wasn't that nice of Skeeter to bring such pretty gifts. Love the butterfly especially. Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting a local garden blogger and there is always so much to talk about. It is wonderful to connect in person with internet friends.

  20. Beautiful Spring at your house!
    Love the bird photos!
    I had holes like yours in my Pansy bed. Didn't know what it was. Then one day last week my dog caught and killed a large rat! I'm hoping that solves my hole in the ground problem.
    Have a wonderful day!
    Lea's Menagerie

  21. Wow caterpillars already...and a nice visit... gorgeous garden near the shore.

  22. These are the best kind of surprises! Well, maybe not the deer and voles, but it's good to see your mahonia and ligularia recovering from the damage they did. Speaking of the ligularia, I wonder why botanists or whoever decide to change names?? I like ligularia a whole lot better than Furfugium, which sounds like a Dr. Seuss word:)

    What fun to have Skeeter and The Saint stop by for a visit! And it's nice to have the swallowtail catts visiting, too; I just planted some fennel and dill yesterday just for them.

  23. Miss Janet you are having way to much fun... isn't it funny how we see all the weeds in our own garden and no one else does.
    hugs, Cherry

  24. Looks like fun! Lucky you to have cats already. :o) I had to move several clematis and the only way to do it was to cut them back hard. I thought I'd have to wait a few years for flowers, but they're are full and have set some buds! Woo-hoo!


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