Thursday, April 30, 2009

Spring Ephemeral Highlight: Self-Seeding Virginia Bluebells

Virginia bluebells highlight the spring ephemeral season for me. As I wrote in my post about them last year, they continue to slowly and delightfully self-seed throughout the garden.

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I eagerly await the beautiful purple mouse ear leaves which break the surface in early March. The leaves quickly grow into large glaucous green leaves.
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After the leaves are out, the blue bell shaped flowers begin to appear.
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To look into one of these is one of the most thrilling experiences of spring. They are stunning. The color variation within each bell is something man could not create. In addition, bluebells have a light, wonderful fragrance.
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My best patch is in the Long Border growing under a rose bush. It has steadily grown from three plants planted three years ago into a three foot wide patch in the rich, humousy soil underneath the rose. In areas with poorer soil the bluebells have not been as vigorous.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Gardening with Children: Pictures of an Eight Year Old's Spring Garden

As I wrote in my Ten Tips for Planning a Children's Garden, one of the ways to enable your children to enjoy and appreciate the garden is to encourage them to participate in the gardening activity. Each of my children has a small plot that I let them plant. Last year, my now eight year old planted primarily annuals, but in the fall decided to follow mom's example and densely plant daffodils and tulips. What do yo think? I think she might have out-planted mom!
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The first picture is from about two weeks ago with mostly daffodils and a few tulips beginning to bloom.
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The second picture is from this past weekend when the tulips were in full bloom.

Gardening Gone Wild: Native Plant Photo Contest

Gardening Gone Wild just concluded its native plant photo contest. They have some great photos of native plants and plant combinations.
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I didn't get around to posting this photo during the contest, but it is one of my favorite photographs of a native flowering tree. This Cornelian cherry dogwood (Cornaceae Cornus mas) was on my property before I was and it blooms in late March/early April here in zone 6b.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Daffodils: an Easy way to add Beauty and Variety to the Spring Garden

In addition to the daffodils I posted for the April 2009 Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, here are some additional ones blooming throughout the garden. Daffodils are one of the easiest ways to brighten up your garden: endless variety, varying bloom times that can make daffodil season last for over a month (April-May in zone 6b) while the rest of your garden wakes up, and pest proof (given that the bulbs and leaves are poisonous to deer, squirrel, chipmunks, etc.).
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Article Really Made Me Laugh: "The Art of Fencing: En Garde!"

From Gerri Hirshey, published in The New York Times:

"EVERY family has its comic tales, and one of our favorites is “Daddy and the Woodchuck.” That Looney Tunes scenario, seared into memory about a decade ago, began with the shrieking of our two children: “Mom, there’s a woodchuck stuck in the fence!”

My husband and I ran out to find the fat fiend about two feet up the vegetable garden fence, with his head and forelegs through the 3-by-5-inch wire mesh and his middle stuck tight. His hind end wiggled desperately. Mommy may have said a few bad words. Daddy grabbed a shovel."

In addition to the entertaining story, there is some good advice on pest control that you can tell came from a real gardener. For the full article, click here.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Jersey Wildflower and Native Plant Sales

The Native Plant Society of New Jersey is hosting several wildflower and native plant sales around the state. For the full listing, check out this link:

http://www.npsnj.org/events.htm

For Morris County, check out the sale being hosted by Chester Township. The plant list and order form is below. Orders must be received by April 30th for pick-up on May 9th.

http://www.chestertownship.org/form/annual-native-plant-sale-2009.pdf

Monday, April 20, 2009

Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris)

Here are some pictures of my Snake's Head Fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris), which are blooming in April in New Jersey (Zone 6b).
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I love these little flowers, but they have been finicky about their conditions. Many of the bulbs haven't survived for more than a year. I haven't figured out exactly why they are working in some moist places, but not others. The pictures are from two of my mixed borders.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pictures from the Reeves-Reed Arboretum Daffodil Day in Summit, New Jersey

If you didn't make it to Daffodil Day at the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey today, here are a few of my pictures.
A view of the Daffodil Bowl as you approach from behind the great Sugar Maple with the Reeves-Reed home in the background.
A close-up of the Daffodil Bowl.
A different view of the Daffodil Bowl.
Another view of the daffodil bowl from the Reeves-Reed house.

A plaque reminding us: "In the weeks following September 11, 2001, we came together to plant daffodils on this site as a symbol of courage and hope for all." For those of you who are not from around here, we are a commuter town to New York City and we all lost relatives, friends and neighbors in the attacks.
A beautiful saucer magnolia overlooking the daffodil bowl.
A close-up of a daffodil combination that I quite liked.
A view from the parking lot. I love the way botanical gardens plant everywhere, particularly in the places that others accept as being unsightly.
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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Goodbye, Old Oak Tree...What Should I Plant in Your Place?

The mature oak tree in our front yard, right in front of our home (first picture) had unusual growths on it.
With some fear that it would disastrously collapse on our home some day, we consulted our favorite arborists, Savatree--who are not quick to cut down any tree--and they sadly agreed that the tree should be removed. A few days later, they removed the tree (second picture).
After the tree was removed, we could see that, in addition to the disease causing the growths, the trunk had also become hollow in the core (third picture).

What do you do with the tree stump grindings that are left behind? We now have a cubic yard or two of stump grindings. I am saving some to mix into our compost. The rest I am spreading as playground mulch in the Walled Garden. It's soft under bare feet and now I don't have to buy and spread the cedar mulch I usually put down.

The question now is: what do I plant in the place of the old oak tree? It's now full-sun of course and it is right outside of the large picture window where I like to sit and read or knit or have a cup of tea. Any suggestions?

Friday, April 17, 2009

More People Gardening, Canning, Sewing, and Focusing on Family in the Recession

Yes, the current economic crisis is awful, but here is some good news from Peggy Noonan's editorial in today's Wall Street Journal:

"A small sign of the times: USA Today this week ran an article about a Michigan family that, under financial pressure, decided to give up credit cards, satellite television, high-tech toys and restaurant dining, to live on a 40-acre farm and become more self-sufficient. The Wojtowicz family—36-year-old Patrick, his wife Melissa, 37, and their 15-year-old daughter Gabrielle—have become, in the words of reporter Judy Keen, "21st century homesteaders," raising pigs and chickens, planning a garden and installing a wood furnace.

Mr. Wojtowicz was a truck driver frustrated by long hauls that kept him away from his family, and worried about a shrinking salary. His wife was self-employed and worked at home. They worked hard and had things but, Mr. Wojtowicz said, there was a "void." "We started analyzing what it was that we were really missing. We were missing being around each other." ...

...The article offered data suggesting the Wojtowiczes are part of a recent trend. People are gardening more if you go by the sales of vegetable seeds and transplants, up 30% over last year at the country's largest seed company. Sales of canning and preserving products are also up. Companies that make sewing products say more people are learning to sew. I have a friend in Manhattan who took to surfing the Web over the past six months looking for small- and farm towns in which to live. The general manager of a national real-estate company told USA Today that more customers want to "live simply in a less-expensive place."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

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