The Last Week of Winter, in Bloom

Two Mondays ago, March 8, when I went to put away my trash can, I noticed the witch hazel. I noticed it by scent–it’s a wonderful scent–a little spicy, but neither heavy nor overwhelming. The plant is a good 50 feet from the sidewalk. In the light of morning, I noticed that its flowers are all going wah hoo! The petals are sticking straight out.

Witch hazel celebrating the warm sun. Photographed on March 9, 2021.

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The Annual Witch Hazel Watch

December and January were pretty warm, relatively speaking, and I was wondering how it would affect the witch hazel. Last year this plant bloomed on January 15; not this year. My guess is that the plant did not know that it was officially winter. The ground was not frozen at this point.

Witch hazel flower buds. Photographed on January 2, 2021.

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The Longest Short Winter Ever

It is three days shy of six months since I last posted, which is utterly ridiculous for a gardening blog. We are all in the same boat, and many people, including some of my students, have had it far worse than I did. Do.

The dumpster fire meme for 2020 is a fitting one. Students were quarantined, students were hospitalized, and students were attending funerals for people who should not have died. Almost everyone I normally see on Sunday mornings for coffee came down with COVID last fall. Thankfully, they recovered. Continue reading “The Longest Short Winter Ever”

The Roses of Summer

My favorite rose started blooming in late May, bloomed right through the dryness of August, and will continue for a while yet. At this point, I’m leaving the hips on to ripen, as they turn a very nice orange. It’s a David Austin rose called Windrush, which has a fabulous scent.

The rose Windrush in full bloom. In the upper righthand corner there are columbines; to the right, there are geraniums, Johnson’s Blue. Photographed on June 9, 2020.

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Watch Out for Leaning Pawpaws!

I believe that if this were an apple tree, with an apple tree’s superficial and small root system, it would have been completely ripped out of the ground by this storm. Pawpaws have taproots, and I think that’s whats holding the tree up.

Using a level app on my phone, I see that the trunk is leaning roughly 17° off vertical, and the big cluster of pawpaws at the top are pulling the top section to  horizontal. Just add adolescent raccoons…. If the tree were to go over, it would probably land on the blue fescue and whack the western edge of the oakleaf hydrangea.

A pink line highlights the edges of the main trunk of the leaning pawpaw.
The heavily fruiting pawpaw is leaning badly after a couple of inches of rain at the end of August. Photographed on August 29, 2020.

It has a very heavy crop ripening, mostly just beyond the upper righthand corner of this photograph. The lower branches form a tent you could hide in. I will be even more careful about where I stand under this tree.

I have to assess it this winter when I can see the trunk and branches. I may be removing both pawpaw trees in late winter. There’s no use keeping one—they are not self-fruitful.

Texture in the Summer Garden

A relaxing garden has both restful places for your eyes and focal points to enjoy. Green is restful, but it can get monotonous if it’s all identical, as in a yard with a well-kept lawn, but nothing else. Texture is a good way to add interest without losing the restfulness of green. Massing, an application of the design principles of repetition and proximity, is a great way to develop texture that is sufficiently interesting to lead your eyes to an interesting larger plant or something in bloom. Continue reading “Texture in the Summer Garden”

Irises, Native and Not

I mentioned rearranging plants in my last post. This is the best time to rearrange your irises. They are dormant, and they are happier to remain dry this time of year, which makes post-planting attention simple.

Native Irises

I moved blue-eyed grass last week. It seeds where it wants to, but the plants are very easy to move. They are small enough to be a trowel job, even when they have reached blooming size.

Blue-eyed grass in bloom in moderate shade. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

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A Look Back: Purple, Winding Down

There is a lot of purple in May and early June. Here are four purple-flowered plants, two natives and two not, that have done very well. They will all take light shade, although the geranium would probably be happiest with more sun than the others.

False Indigo, Baptisia australis

This native plant erupts from the ground the second week of May, and is blooming by the end of the month! It is very popular with our bumblebees.

Baptisia with a bumblebee. Photographed on June 6, 2020.

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