The summer garden

Thankfully, recent thunderstorms have somewhat renewed the garden’s vigor, though the standard for the summer garden is low. There are numerous flowers and uncountable pollinators. Alone, the wide spreading patch of mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum, below) invites so many of a variety of bees that butterflies cautiously steer clear. Swallowtails feast on the last of…

On the trail, and in the garden

I’ve been twice frustrated by losses of sweet ferns (Comptonia peregrina, below) in the garden. The reasons are uncertain, though I suspect positioning in too much sun and unsurprisingly, too little moisture. I first became curious about sweet fern seeing several shrubs at the U.S. Botanic Garden. Sweet shrub is notable mostly because it is…

Tricky

Native orchids can be tricky. I’ve failed and failed again with several. The reasons sometimes confound me. I’ve studied and attempted to duplicate their native habitat, that is, except for the mysteries of their desired soil content which are occasionally difficult to match. While non-native Bletillas (above) require no more than the willingness to make…

I like trees

Trees are easy. I could not be without them, though arguably there could be a few too many in this garden. My wife remarks that our views are obstructed, but we sit low between rather tall hills, so there is not much view to spoil, I think. There are a few dozen Japanese maples in…

Just okay

Flowers of various beautyberries (Callicarpa, below) are pleasant upon close inspection, though not showy, but delightful bunches of purple or white berries follow in late summer to cover the the long stems. The shrub is unremarkable whenever it is not cloaked in berries, and in most years branches must be chopped back by a foot…

Just rewards

I once thought, in error it seems, that there should be no need for a pollinating male with each cluster of female winterberry hollies (Ilex verticillata). Certainly there must be some native holly nearby, or another pollinator in a neighbors’ garden close by.  My reward for thinking, no berries in two groupings of winterberries. This…

Guilty

If a verdict must be assessed, I plead guilty to a lack of editing in parts of the garden. Native sporelings of Sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis, below) obscure lovely hostas that I am quite certain are seedlings, though my memory is famously unreliable. The ferns are easily removed, but I am reluctant to disturb a…

The heat of summer

Certainly, there must be rain any day now as temperatures climb into the mid nineties. Rain is overdue by several days, so I chip out holes in dry ground as a few hostas and ferns are moved to fill open space beneath the bigleaf magnolia’s (Magnolia macrophylla) canopy now that summer snowflakes (Leucojum aestivum) are…

Almost

A year ago I could see considerable progress in what is today a garden begun thirty-two years ago. Of course, this sounds absurd, but with yearly changes, long established evergreens that decline and perish, and some that overgrow and must be chopped out, regular additions are required. Yes, the standard changes also. The fullness of…

Right place

Two pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia, below) are blessed by a glimpse of sunlight at high noon, but bright shade (at least as I categorize it) thereafter. I wonder if this is their best place. Both are planted too close to stone paths to account for their eventual growth, but what else is new, and this…

Tame the beast

I’ve been warned, but as is too often the case, I plant anyway. Every one who knows better agrees that Pinellia tripartita (below) is aggressive and a nuisance, maybe just short of being invasive, and I was told before planting it, yet I couldn’t resist its narrow jack-in-the-pulpit inflorescence. Fortunately, and for this blind luck…

What a difference

By late in the past year the passageway from the driveway to the rear garden had deteriorated into a muddy mess. What was once lawn, though hardly a good one, had become mostly shallow rooted clover with the slope becoming increasingly slick when wet. More than a few times I slipped with an armload of…