August thunderstorms

Gusts from an incoming thunderstorm have dislodged many of the large, seed bearing fruits of the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, below), I suspect before the seed has ripened. It is not unusual for many of the heavy fruit to be torn from the tree in summer storms, and occasionally branch tips are severed to ride…

Pagoda dogwoods

A ‘Golden Showers’ Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia ‘Golden Showers’, below) is off to a good start despite its miniscule size upon delivery and extreme heat that set in shortly after it was planted. Certainly, I do not have the patience for a tree this small, but the yellow, variegated leaf dogwood is jammed into a…

Problems aplenty

There are many problems in the garden, but none that are unusual or overly concerning. No doubt, a certain decline from the lushness of spring is expected with the heat of summer. A few Japanese beetles were spotted early in summer, but now there are none on the Ostrich ferns, or elsewhere. No other beast…

Joe Pye and friends

In recent years, native Joe Pye weeds (Eutrochium purpureum, formerly known as Eupatorium) and a patch of cattails have invaded the perimeter of the koi pond, lending additional wildness to this untamed water feature. Long ago I would float and sometimes snooze on the pond, but then Northern Brown water snakes took up residence along…

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…