Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Crane-fly Orchid, Wildflower Wednesday

I seldom have the stars line up to be able to participate in Gail's Wildflower Wednesday post. Yesterday while walking through the garden I happened on a number of happy surprises. Crane-fly Orchid, Tipularia discolor is one of those surprises. There are multiple spots on my property where this evasive native pops up. I say evasive because it disappears over the course of the spring and early summer, then surprise- a flower stalk in August/September.
One might walk by this cluster of leaves in the woods. The ovate acute leaf is green with smooth (entire) margins, green on top sometimes with small purple spots.  I came across these leaves in March and made a note to come back to this spot late summer.
March 28, 2018 Tipularia discolor
 The underside of the leaf is purple, making this identification very easy. See how distinctive the coloring is? This orchid's native range is pretty large, as far north as New York, west to Texas and Oklahoma, and south to Florida. Look for this perennial in woodlands in humus rich soils. I used the term evasive because from year to year it might disappear, this could be due to drought conditions. 

March 28, 2018
My surprise in the woods yesterday- a flower stalk!! I think it is a little early to see the flower stalk, though this has been a crazy year weather-wise. This little beauty is difficult to photograph, even the slightest breeze makes it dance. It is pollinated by moths via pollinaria (specialized structures that contain pollen in orchids) that attaches to the moth that carries it to other flowers. 

July 24, 2018 Tipularia discolor bloom
 See how tiny these are? 

Please visit Gail's blog to see her post and the links to other native wildflower posts.

©Copyright 2018 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Eight Years -Showing Warts and All

It has been a couple years since I did a yearly review of the gardens. Some garden areas have been successful and others have gotten quite overgrown.  Last year was not the year for tending to the garden and it is obvious to my eye. Below are comparison photos from 2017 and 2018. If you would like to see earlier years you can see 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016.
In the photo below it is great to see how much the Japanese maple, Acer palmatum 'Glowing Embers' has grown. It is in the left side of the garden. 

This past spring I added a garden along the wall, post on it later. The wall and the new garden seem to point to the 'Glowing Embers'.
It is funny how much the white Caladiums stand out along the pathway in the woods. I need to put more in next year.

A little more of the center of the garden. The burgundy tree in the center is a Japanese maple- Acer palmatum dissectum 'Garnet'. The shape is finally coming back, a November 1 snowfall a few years ago took a third of the crown.
Along side the house is always in a state of 'maybe it will be better next year'. The deer had found the hydrangeas last year and ate them to a nub. Around the propane tank is a very healthy stand of  Sweet Flag grass, Acorus gramineus 'Ogon'...home to many of my snakes and a favorite place for our little Liebling to "hide". In between the hose spigot and the propane tank is the A/C condensation pipe outlet. During the summer it is a constantly moist area. I like to use the downhill side of it to have my plant nursery. Any time I am pruning I will stick a few branches in the soil in that nursery area. I have had some success with a few Hydrangeas and Camellias and boxwood.

This year you can see more growth on the Hydrangea macrophylla 'Madam Emile Mouillere', a white blooming mophead. Downhill from this hydrangea is a variegated one- it was also in the photo above, barely. Apparently variegated hydrangea are especially tasty to those pesky deer. Last year the hosta in front of the variegated hydrangea looked like celery stalks sticking up through the Sweet flag grass. Uphill from the Sweet Flag grass is a substantial stand of Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko', a deer resistant low growing shrub. In the spring it is very attractive if a late frost doesn't kill the blooms. The rest of the year it is a space filler.
You can see we have had to patch the turf again this spring. Slowly but surely it is filling in. We have eliminated more of the turf in the front yard.

From the front door you see more Sweet Flag grass on the right side of the walkway. To the left there is a Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls', one side is always "pruned" by the deer and the other creeps across the walkway. A Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Daruma' is in front of the front window. In some of the next photos you can see how much it has grown.
This year's view shows some of the mulched front. With the dogs running out front, the trees creating more and more shade, and winter moisture killing the grass, we finally figured out that we needed to take a different tack.  So far I have added two more Japanese maples, 'Red Dragon' and 'Butterfly', a Camellia sasanqua 'Leslie Ann', and a small Cryptomeria. There is a lot more room to plant. Oh. the possibilities!

Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' has grown!  A few winters ago we had a pine tree hit it during an ice storm, spurring it to fill out and grow taller!
Another view of the front yard, here in 2017, I have help from Liebling, our German Shepherd puppy. She will be 2 this August. See the large Loropetalum by the front by window? It was only supposed to get four to six feet tall. Each year it is cut back to the bottom of the window.


Similar view this year, you can see the edge of the mulched area. See how much the Loropetalum is now? Yikes.  At the corner of the house is a Coral Bark Maple, Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku'. It really has been a show stopper in the fall and winter with its leaf color and the coral bark.


This spot is the uphill part of the front yard next to the driveway, planted with a few roses, lavender, irises, and a flowering apricot, Prunus mume 'Hokkai Bungo'. I enjoy the fragrance of the cinnamon scented blooms in the winter.

This year you can see some of the lavender is missing. A peony or two have been added and a Calla lily, Zanteschia aethiopia. Some of the iris were uprooted by the marauding Armadillo. We have deer, rabbits, Armadillo, chipmunks, and voles to battle.
A bright spot in the woods as you continue to walk up the driveway is an anise shrub, Illicium parviflorum 'Florida Sunshine'. I liked how it glowed in the woods so much that I bought three more, working my way up the driveway, three on the left and one on the right.

A semi-new garden up at the street is shaping up. I do not have irrigation there, so the plants need to be drought tolerant and resistant to the deer that graze through. A few of the plants include Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard', Hesperaloe parviflora, Lagerstroemia -a Red variety of the Black Diamond Crape Myrtle series, Amsonia x 'Seaford Skies', and lots of Nassella tenuissima - Ponytail Grass.
Walking to the backyard from the bottom of the front hill. Viburnum tinus 'Spring Bouquet' on the left and Morella cerifera, Wax Myrtle, on the right. Not pleased with the Viburnum, going to cut them back a good bit and see if they shape up any better.
In the lower part of the yard, last year's photo shows the dry creek bed we put in the year before. What a good asset to the landscape! It channels the rain water through the gardens and empties into the grassy flat land before going into the lake. The flat land has River Oats and other grasses that filter the water and slows it like a charm!
A little bit of a different angle in this year's photo. The elephant ears aren't making the showing they have in past years. I know I should have dug them up and divided them a few years ago. Oops.

Here are the warts- last year's photo from the boat dock....lots of weeds on the right side. Almost no visible planted material to be seen.

This year, even worse. Will be tackling it in the near future.  I just hate to get into that mess in the heat....and remember, there are snakes.
Finally another view of the large mulched area in the front yard. My pitcher plant needs to be transplanted into a larger container, thinking it might become part of the garden. See my chicken? He is a water feature- trying to find the best place for it.

Thanks for joining me on the yearly update, hard to believe we have been in South Carolina for eight years! I am glad I have been taking photos at the same time of year, year after year, to see the changes.

©Copyright 2018 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

It's The Little Things

Spring has finally sprung here in South Carolina. Each day is an adventure in the garden. I enjoy seeing what is coming back from our harder than usual winter. Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and one step back as a pampered plant finally shows signs of growth and then we get another overnight freeze. I have new plants I am watching and established babies that I celebrate their reappearance. 
A new plant from last year's native plant sale- Yellowroot, Xanthorhiza simplicissima is blooming and thriving...a great reason for choosing native plants.

I love fragrant plants in the garden and this Viburnum is one that really shines! Viburnum x carlcephalum had lots of blooms this year. Last year there were five, the year before only one! The fragrance is carried on the breeze and quite lovely.

Here is a native plant in the woods that I tied a ribbon to, a Pawpaw! Asimina triloba Last year it had a few fruit on it but with the drought conditions they dried up and fell off. 

Sweet little blooms under the steps to the deck. Fringed Bleeding Heart Dicentra 'Luxuriant'- a lucky Costco buy a number of years ago. 

When we moved here eight years ago, I carried two seedlings from the Red Buckeye tree in the Learning Garden in Virginia. I planted seeds the year before we moved and the tiny trees were less than a foot tall when I planted them here. This year they are well over six feet tall and full of blooms!
Aesculus pavia

Emerging blooms

Open blooms, ready for the Hummingbirds!

Every spring I find beauty in each and every fern as it unfurls its fronds. The fern below is a Royal Fern, Osmunda regalis

I have dry shade. I have been wanting some Epimedium as they thrive in such conditions. Last spring I planted one and then this past fall I planted another. The one from a year ago is going gangbusters.

Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’

Today I finally saw some growth on the second one! Boy did that take a long time! A quick photo, a bit less than perfect.

Epimedium rubrum
 Two little white blooms, similar in appearance, make me smile. One a white Muscari and the other Lily of the Valley. 

Muscari armeniacum Alba 

Convallaria majalis, Lily of the Valley

Amsonia putting on a great show this spring. I know some people aren't fond of this native grass. They call the blooms as exciting as skim milk. (Believe that is a close quote, you know who you are!) I like this plant! Amsonia x 'Seaford Skies'


 Little surprises in the woods make me smile. I have a number of places on the property that this native orchid pops up. Tipularia discolor, Cranefly Orchid. Easily identified by the purple underside of the leaf.

What is my best little find this spring? The native plant sale last year had Bottlebrush Buckeyes, and I bought one. I was so thrilled to find one. I planted it in what I thought was a good spot. As mentioned above, we had a dry spell this past summer. I was afraid it died. The leaves dropped off last summer and I was not optimistic.....then on one of my walks through the garden last month I checked the little stick that remained in the ground.....
It's alive!!!

Aesculus parviflora
What are some of the little things in your garden that make you smile?

©Copyright 2018 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Winter Walk-Off 2018

Welcome to the Winter Walk-Off post for 2018. Every year I participate in my friend Les' blogging meme of the Winter Walk-Off. The rules are still very basic- leave your yard/garden and share what you see along the stroll, no pictures of your garden (though I have been known to include one or two!) Take pictures of things that you find interesting and say goodbye to winter!

On with the walk. We, Charlie and I, walk every day. Our neighborhood is a gated community with acre sized lots, about a quarter of the lots have homes. We walk in the middle of the road and barely ever have a car go by.  The photo above it about a half of a mile from our house.  While they aren't up yet, in the field to the right, along the tree line, is a stand of ferns. I think they are Bracken ferns, Pteridium aquilinum, but haven't ventured into chigger territory to find out. I do look at them longingly from the edge of the road.

In the photos above and below are some of the sweetest little spring ephemerals, Houstonia caerulea, common names are Quaker Ladies, Azure Bluets or just Bluets. They grow along the edge of the road all through our neighborhood. They vary in color from white to dark purple. 

When Les first posted the start of the meme, it was warm here in the Upstate of South Carolina. We were walking in shorts. I started taking pictures 3 weeks ago and just now am finding a second to write about our walk(s). As you can see below, we walk with Liebling, our 1 1/2 year old German Shepherd. She is about 80 lbs. of pure energy. Walking her a lot is critical. 

Our road curves and bends around the contours of the lake, and in a marshy cove area is the tree pictured below. At each season over the years I have tried to figure out what tree it is. To the best of my knowledge it is a Slippery Elm, Ulmus rubra. Flowers and fruits are now evident but difficult to photograph. One day I will get a great photo of this tree and share.

We have lots and lots of Winged Elm, Ulmus alata, growing wild and rather scrubby looking. Winged Elm have corky 'wings' along the branches, hence the name. When they are bare in the winter the branching looks very architectural. The one below is covered with seeds (fruit), many that will populate far and wide. 

Almost swallowed up by the trees around it is a native deciduous holly. Probably Ilex decidua or commonly called Possumhaw. You can barely see the red berries.

Also visible in the winter months are the vines that kill trees- Lonicera japonica- Honeysuckle. See how the vine has cut into the young tree? It won't last too many more years with that strangle hold. 

Those who have been walking with me on these Winter Walk-Offs each year may remember Skyler, our Australian Shepherd. He is still walking with us on the after lunch short walk. He kind of reminds me of Eeyore, just plugging along at 14 years old. Also walking with us is my Mother in law, who lives with us now. She is a spry 96 and walks a 3/4 mile stroll, daily. Use it or lose it!!

The progress of the season has exploded over the last three weeks, below is a native plum (I think) Prunus americana.  Same tree, left and right....amazing how quickly the blooms pop.

Old trees are also interesting when they are sporting a hole or two. We have lots and lots of woodpeckers in the forest and are often serenaded by the Pileated Woodpeckers on our walks. Their calls sound like monkeys in the is wild out here!

This tree below will possibly be gone within the next year as this lot was recently purchased and the new folks are planning on building. Sorry to lose some of the forest for new homes.

I hope you have enjoyed the signs of spring in the Upstate. Don't forget to check out other blog posts on the Winter Walk-Off - all links can be found at A Tidewater Gardener

©Copyright 2018 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.