Articles for the Month of May 2009

A Moment in the Sun

Yesterday we had a brief spate of intermittent sun.  Enough time to grab a few shots of the developing garden and to throw a little more mulch on the developing weeds.  

Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) of unknown vintage

Tree Peony (Paeonia suffruticosa) of unknown vintage

We have several large Tree Peonies that were added over the years.  All are unknown varieties that were picked off the nursery tables and grown to full flowering size.  They make a spectacular impression both in the garden and as cut flowers.  More recently we’ve added intersectional hybrids (more on those to come…)

The first Clematis are beginning to appear as well.  Last year we planted Clematis montana at the back of the rose garden and it showing rapid growth.  We’ll have to decide whether to allow it to grow into the neighboring double flowered cherry tree which is what is seems intent upon doing.

Clematis montana vine

Clematis montana vine

 

Clematis montana flower detail

Clematis montana flower detail

As I mentioned in my last post this should be the high point for the azaleas which are blooming all over the yard, but they are looking a bit bedraggled by the constant rain.  Azaleas should be a given in the DC area.  They just grow and grow with little in the way of negatives.  The lace bug does leave tracks in the veins of the leaves some years but mostly they are spectacular in flower and then look like boxwoods when they are not in flower.

Azaleas weighed down by rain

Azaleas weighed down by rain

They still managed to have a color impact on the yard when seen from a distance.

Azaleas in the front yard

Azaleas in the front yard

And then of course there are still more of the Allium which we have increasingly found to be a spectacular addition to spring flowering

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation'

and which lend themselves to detail photography.

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' side-view

Allium hollandicum 'Purple Sensation' side-view

A Seattle Rain

It has been raining here as though we had nothing to do but drink cappuccino and ponder the upcoming sun-filled summer like they do in the Northwest.  For us this is supposed to be the highlight season.  But it seems likely that the azaleas are going to get drowned out this year.  They are certainly looking bedraggled at the moment.  Instead of just moaning about the azaleas I thought it might be good to go back a couple of weeks to mention a few things I missed like the bluebells at Worthington Farm. 

The Worthington Farm is a part of the National Monocacy Battlefield Park.  That means that it gets care and tending by the National Park Service.  And though the history is interesting, for us it is nearly 6 miles of trails through woods and along the Monocacy River.  It’s interesting in most any season as a natural oasis just minutes away from downtown Frederick, but there is one special highlight for the park that occurs every April.  The Virginia Bluebells have taken claim to a large portion of the banks of the river.  And in April, when they are fully in bloom they are quite a sight to see.  This year the weather was overcast and the river near flood stage at peak bloom.

Virginia Bluebells in 2009

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) in 2009

But even this overcast shot gives you some idea of the extensive bloom.  The flowers themselves come in a range of shades.

Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica)

Virginia Bluebell (Mertensia virginica)

Including Pink and White, though these are less common.

Virginia 'Pinkbell'

Virginia 'Pinkbell'

Virginia 'Whitebell'

Virginia 'Whitebell'

There are also numerous wildflower companions to the bluebells in April at Worthington.

Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica)

Spring Beauties (Claytonia virginica)

 

Nodding Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans)

Nodding Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans)

and butterflies

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

But most of all I’ve enjoyed tracking the progress of Baltimore Orioles that have typically ended up nesting in the giant Sycamores that line the entrance road to the park.

Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula )

Baltimore oriole (Icterus galbula )

As the season moves on it gets harder to spot the orioles, but just before the leaves are fully out they are very visible against the blue sky as they assertively announce themselves to the world.  We’ve had the Orioles come to our place for a visit, but we have yet to see them nest any closer than the Worthington Farm (about 2 miles away).  I think they like the safety of the large trees.

Back to the Flowers

After two days of  recreating this website and expurgating the trash files that had been hacked into it I can start the return to garden blogging.  The experience of having my sites invaded was a wake-up call to the security issues of maintaining a presence on the web.  Keep your software up to date, change passwords regularly, check the code content that lies behind your pages.  As it happens whoever had invaded was more interested in using my bandwidth and ip number than in disrupting my site.  Indeed their purpose was to use my site as a parking place for all sorts of references to quasi-commercial porn sites and such.  I believe that they came in from other pages on the website that used joomla software that I had not kept up to date.  Thank goodness for backups!

At about this time every year we have pink snow that results from the Kwanzan Cherry shedding it’s blossoms.

The annual pink snow under the Kwanzan Cherry

The annual pink snow under the Kwanzan Cherry

The density of blossom fall depends very much on weather conditions — the wind and rain determines how far from the tree the blossoms fall and how fast they come down.  As we were working outside I remarked to my partner in garden servitude that we needed a video to capture the effect of being ‘snowed up’ by pink blossoms.  Maybe next year.

Primula vulgaris in pink snow

Primula vulgaris in pink snow

A Complete Hack

 

The Face of Evil

The Face of Evil

I’m fighting to restore MacGardens after a complete Hack of the site.  Please be patient…