No matter how I resist, I curse rabbits that inflict increasing damage upon new plantings in the garden. My inattention to caring for tender newcomers is a challenge, but a newly planted sweetfern (Comptonia peregrina) has been nibbled in half, twice, with the damaged stem left behind. I understand damage by hungry wildlife, but this seems senseless.
I am now fully convinced that due to dual threats, my inattention to nurturing, and rabbits, I must pot up tiny newcomers to grow to a more substantial size, or plant larger sizes from the start. While deer have been an issue for decades, though one easily managed, rabbits are an increasing presence, and one not so easily addressed.
As always, I must adjust. If larger plants are the answer, this is not most convenient, but it can be done.
In recent years I’ve noticed large lumps on leaves of the vernal witch hazel (Hamamelis vernalis, above). It seems no harm comes of it, but a bit of research reveals that the curious galls are created by aphids. There seem fewer this year, but nothing will be done to prevent more and aphids have not been much of a problem. I’ve noticed a few Japanese beetles on the dark leafed crape myrtles, but only a few and while the small numbers are most often seen on the patch of Ostrich ferns in part sun, none have been seen this summer.
I am too much a skeptic to believe the garden has reached a permanent balance where beneficial wildlife controls the abundance of damaging creatures, and of course I do not hope that coyotes move in to control the bunnies. But, after repeated defoliations due to caterpillars and invasions of beetles and aphids I have no complaint with the current balance.
So, on to more pleasant discussion, the stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamellia, above) continues to flower on more shaded branches, of which there are many with a number hanging low enough that we can enjoy the display. The fallen flowers are quite slick on the stone path below, but a month of careful footing is a small cost for this splendid and prolonged show.
The hydrangeas have recovered nicely from winter damage that required considerable pruning of dead stems. Long ago, I conceded that only reblooming, remontant mopheads (Hydrangea macrophylla, above) should be planted, though a few that flower sparsely remain. Lacecap and mountain hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata, below) are much sturdier in resisting winter injury, and these are a highlight of the garden in late June.
Again, the Oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia, below) are glorious, not a surprise since they are very dependable, but I am pleased there are more flowers on ones that are shaded. The shaded Oakleafs are grown more for foliage than flowers, so this is a bonus.
A year ago, ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescent ‘Annabelle’, below) was chewed nearly to the ground by deer, though thoughtfully one flowering stem was left. Lesson learned, as so few are, the repellent has allowed full growth and flowering this summer. Yesterday, numerous smooth hydrangeas flowering along a nearby mountain trail clearly showed the larger flower and sturdier stems of ‘Annabelle’.
Two magnolias, a rooted stem of ‘Royal Star’ potted two years ago, and a seedling of a native Cucumber magnolia are now ready for planting. I didn’t shop these much, but found no takers for the giveaways, so they’ll be planted in the garden somewhere, if I can find a spot with a bit of sunlight. Of course, both are large enough that rabbits should not be a threat.