I’ve shared previously pictures of the patch of wildflowers that are growing on the hillside right now. Dominated by Larkspur, Cornflowers, Daisies, and Poppies it’s an eclectic mix of delightful colors. Seated on the bench it provides a nice colorful introduction to the pasture and the pines beyond. In addition Beth takes stem cuttings from these flowers to refill the various small vases throughout the house. The other day the cuttings she took came with an additional bonus — some golden eggs that we have never seen before. I’m thinking now that we should have saved them to see what they developed into…
A few years back Josh and I chose a “Lady in Red” Hydrangea for Beth’s Mother’s Day gift. It has been on the porch ever since. This year it has really come into its own. In addition to pretty reddish foliage when it first emerges the flowers are a lovely light pink shading to violet. They make nice cut flowers as well. So far it seems to be quite happy living in the pot year round.
I should also note that the newest Ponerorchis (obtained from Asiatica on the open house visit) has flowered and it’s quite different from the ones I bought from Rare Plants in England. This is a simpler, less complex flower and quite nice in its own right. Of course it is every bit as tiny as the others (get out your magnifying glass to enjoy the beauty!).
This morning we did our normal sunny day routine of starting the day with an hour in the garden before breakfast just watching the birds come and go at the Mulberry tree. Beth has come to appreciate the meditative quality of getting into the pace of the birds. Normal routine is probably not the right descriptor because even though the general approach is the same there is always some surprise if you are patient. This morning I noticed a tiny participant in the morning events. It was a Ruby Throated Hummingbird perched on a vine in the tree.
Now I’ve seen the hummingbirds flitting about the yard but I don’t remember seeing one perched before. Everything about them looks so delicate. And yet, as Beth noted, if you look them in the eye you could say they have an attitude…
Another occurrence this morning was the first time I’ve seen the Baltimore Oriole go into the yard close to the house. He was in and out of the cherry tree and going down to the ground in pursuit of some insect or worm. The remarkable thing about spotting the Orioles so regularly is the number of years we never saw them (or noticed them which is hard to imagine given their brilliant orange coloring).
Other mornings have brought equally interesting sightings.
Beth says she thinks he looks like a penguin
Overhead I have seen the Great Blue Heron come by on a couple of mornings
And of course the Bluebird is a constant favorite
And lest it appear that all we do is watch birds, we have been picking blueberries every day.
So far we have frozen several gallons and we are eating them morning, noon, and night…
Along with others I’m posting our current blooms as part of Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. This month’s big winner is a Passion Flower from Logee’s Tropical Plants that we picked up this winter. Putting it out on the deck has given it a chance to grow rampantly and it’s now blooming it’s head off. I have no idea what we will do for bringing it in come winter…:)
For the yard itself the real statement right now is coming from the lilies.
In addition to the daylilies that are appearing everywhere, the asiatic lilies are popping up in various places about the yard.
A particular standout is the Lily ‘Blackout’ son Jonathan shared with us this year.
It’s a good time of year right now and many other things are blooming — roses, gallardia, globe flower, spiderworts, astilbe, sundrops, geraniums, etc. But upon just returning from the a trip this weekend the other thing that really caught my eye was the patch of wildflowers on the hillside. This was grown from seeds from Wildseed Farms. It’s hard to go wrong with any of their mixtures, but it’s best if you can start with a section of bare earth before seeding in the fall.
And then in celebration of the season let me close with a picture from this morning’s birdwatching…
Our Mulberry tree (Morus rubra) is providing delectable fruits to the local bird population right now. In fact there are so many visitors I think that it must be on the bird version of the interstate flyway guide as a standard stopping point. I used to think that mulberries were an annoyance because of the falling fruit and the bird droppings (which get very purple). Now, however, I make it a point to go down to the garden on sunny mornings and watch the birds coming and going (with camera of course). Across from the Mulberry tree is a very large wild cherry (Prunus avium) which is also ripening at this point.
The foliage on the cherry tree is much more dense so that it’s much harder to see the birds except when they are on the boundaries of the tree. But together with the Mulberry they provide quite a draw for the birds. My position is on a comfortable chair at the end of the garden looking southwest as the sun is coming up. Up until about 10am I have wonderful view of the activities, but I try to get out there by 7am. It gives me a chance to meditate about the start of the day. While I watch the birds in the garden at other points in the year nothing is quite like the traffic coming to visit the mulberries and cherries on these June mornings. I’ll add some of the pictures at the bottom of this post but just in one hour this morning I saw Cardinals, Blue Jays, Mockingbirds, Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, Eastern Bluebirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Wood Thrushes, Catbirds, Sparrows, Grackles, Cedar Waxwings, Goldfinches, Swallows, House Finches, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and Chickadees.
Today I drove up to Pennsylvania to take advantage of one the special open house days for Asiatica Nursery near York, Pennsylvania. Asiatica specializes in rare plants, especially, as the name implies, those from Asia. They have an extensive catalog and you can order online but I often find that you have to actually look at these plants, even the small ones, to get personal feel for how you feel about the foliage and flower. It was close to a deluge today but I was not the only one who persevered through the rain for a chance to see the offerings. I also wanted to take a look around the place to see what else there was up there. I was struck by the rampant growth around the house and grounds. Many of the plants I did not recognize. Probably the most striking was a Magnolia hybrid, Magnolia x wieseneri.
The flower on this small tree goes through several interesting intermediate stages before it gets fully open. And it all looked very lush today…
Another small tree that I had never seen before was a Chinese Allspice.
Looking at it I thought immediately of some kind of Apple or Quince but the flowers are much bigger.
I also noticed a Larix hanging over one of the walls. The effect was quite nice and not what you expect from a tree.
Of course what I actually came for were the little plants :). I saw the shade house where many of the treasured beauties are housed.
I came away with 3 different Tricyrtis, 2 Iris gracilipes, 2 Hepatica yamatutai, 2 Orchis graminifolia hybrids, a double flowered Anemone nemerosa , a pink flowered Anemonella thalictroides, and a Trillium veride ‘KC Silver’. I was particularly surprised to end up with 3 Toad Lillies. Last year I was disparaging these small orchid/lily take-offs but now I realize that they flower when many other plants are done, and like Epimediums they reward the detailed inspection of their flowers — Tuna, you were right! The three I got were Tricyrtis ‘Amanogawa’, Tricyrtis formosana ‘Autumn Glow’ (nice foliage!), and Tricyrtis macropoda.
As Beth has noted, I’ve probably exceeded my budget for EPL’s (expensive little plants) for this year, and I’m now behind on my planting again :).
This morning I found two particularly elegant plants had come into flower. The first is the Peruvian Daffodil.
This is a big flower — think Amaryllis size. I now grow this plant in a pot after trying a couple of times to put it in the ground. Although it survived the winter outside it seldom flowered again and even when it did the the foliage flopped in a unattractive way. As it a potted plant it’s much easier to take care of and the flowering is more predictable. It’s quite happy to go into the basement for the winter and get ignored till Spring. And I mean really ignored. I confess I forgot about it completely this year until I noticed some green poking up through the boxes I had put on top of the pot. Fortunately once I brought it outside again the Hymenocallis ignored the slight and rapidly put up it’s flowering stalk.
The other plant coming into flower is the Ponerorchis grammifolia.
This is the polar opposite in terms of size. Think of the tip of your finger. But the whole growing process is intriguing. From the little tiny pods that I got from Rare Plants in the UK to the grass-like foliage that starts to grow before you ever start watering. The flowers are kind of like a bonus… This would be a great plant to put over the kitchen sink as it wants indirect light and pretty consistent watering.
This year I took a good look at the old strawberry row replete with weeds that were very well established. I decided it was time to start a new row. This had two major positives right off the bat. It meant I didn’t have to weed the old row and the weeds would definitely have a slower start on the new row. On the other hand it’s a fair amount of labor to put in a new row if you do it well. So I compromised by putting in a partial row on the theory that even unweeded the old row was going to yield some berries.
I usually plant a double row with 1 foot spacing so even a partial row is 75 plants to be planted by my extensive labor force (me). The ground has to be well-tilled so it has all the usual problems of trying to get plants in the ground around the April rainstorms. I finally got them in about mid-April. And then added pine bark mulch to try to suppress the weeds for a while. I’ve used straw in the past but it’s tough to find bales with no grass seeds.
As it turns out we did get a fair amount of strawberries from the old plants and now the new plants are beginning to yield.
Now a better man than I would have pinched off the blossoms so that the plants could go stronger for next year but I confess to limits in my ability to delay gratification.
The varieties I put in are not particularly special (Earliglow, Allstar, and Sparkle) but hey anything you plant in your home garden is so much better than what you find in the supermarket. And there is nothing quite like picking a hot strawberry and eating it in the garden.
Another daily yield right now is coming from the salad crops. The combination of actually weeding them and the regular rainfall has given us some of the best greens we’ve had in a while.
And with peas and asparagus there has been ample reward to going out to the garden every day… 🙂