Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Eastern Red Cedar /Juniperus virginiana

A native evergreen that supplies food,nesting and winter shelter for birds and other wildlife.
I never really thought about it before but it seems the blue aromatic berries are actually cones
which only grow on the female.
Said cones are eaten by red squirrels, cedar waxwings, yellow rumped warblers and robins.
The Eastern Red Cedar is also host for the Olive hairstreak.

This is a large Eastern Red cedar growing way too close to our house. This year it has lots of the blue nice smelling berry/cones that make wonderful additions to a gathering of evergreen boughs for Christmas. I do not want to cut this tree down. It will take years to get a young replacement to form cones. Darn those foolish ones that did not know how large a Juniper virginiana may someday grow. Even just a few feet futher out and we could live with it. Now it has green only on the side facing away from the building. What to do...?

Read this mystery of the disappearing bark...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

'The Essential Earthman' Henry Mitchell

"It's important, isn't it, to think of the garden as a wonderful place to be, "

" While we have sense enough not to expect the impossible, we have a right to expect the magical."

To gardeners these words ring true.
Henry Mitchell tapped into the psyche of the average backyard gardener
working on their own wonders.
He understood that it was not so much advise that was needed but an understanding of the experience itself.
How one feels while digging in the dirt, making plans,watching the garden grow.

We say yes and nod, when the storms beat his prize flowers, for we have been there.
We say "oh yeah" when he buys the sculpture after disdaining all such.
We know his joy at beauty he lent a hand.

For what gardener has not risen at dawn to see the morning light and sat out at dusk watching fireflies or listening to the robins sing goodnight.
We marvel at the tips of growth in spring, the texture and size of leaves,the bright blue of the sky.
The magic in the garden delights us, it is such a wonderful place to be...

Garden Blogger's Book Club at May Dreams Garden

Monday, November 13, 2006

Why grow natives?

Why Not!!!

Why grow any plant that is suited to the place it will grow and your reason for growing?

I can only address how and why plants are used in my own garden.
When deciding what would be planted the Mr and I talked about what purpose the garden would serve in our lives.
First we would like to grow some food for ourselves. Then we would like a space full of growing plants and as much wildlife as our small urban space could accomadate.
Each choice could be looked at to accomplish this.

While looking into plant choices for sustaining a wildlife population we found that many times native species would be the best choice. One reason for this is that the wildlife and the plant life evolved over time together. Human interference while complex is still fairly recent in world history.
Problems of disturbance to habitat can not be completely overcome but can be looked at the same way any natural disturbance would be dealt with. Floods, storms, fire happen, flora and fauna recover. Populations explode , crash, recover. It is the way of the intricate web called life on earth.

We learned to evaluate the climate, the soil and the species of wildlife that could or should be found in this area. We also learned that food and water are only part of the picture. A habitat that supports reproduction and provides protection during the changing seasons and life cycles of wildlife must be part of the picture to be successful to our purpose.

And so native species of plants became a valuble resource. Whenever choosing even food plants for ourselves this criteria is taken into account. Berries and nuts ,prairie roses that produce hips,
greens to flavor salads, herbs with which to cook,foods that we enjoy and serve a double purpose.

I'm not saying this is the route for everyone or that it is the only answer. But it is another successful way to look at the garden.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Essential Earthman "Minor" Bulbs_Major Joys

Naples cyclamen-Mitchell speaks of growing cyclamen outdoors
overwintering with such nice fresh leaves.
Intrigued I googled up [Naples cyclamen] .
Came up with this...
In Europe, one finds in a state wild the Cyclamen europaeum,
characteristic of the flora of the alpine valleys,
and the cyclamen of Naples (Cyclamen hederifolium).

Be thankful for Latin Names. And the internet.

Apparently C. hederifolium is quite hardy even to -19 degrees F.
Mitchell states that an older corm spreads and fattens and can
produce a hundred flowers. With 50 corms in a few years he had quite a showing.
He does not say how many years.

I would never have imagined that I might possibly grow cyclamen here in zone 5,
out in the garden.
I do not trust that the leaves would do well for very late into this cold harsh winter.
Mitchell lived in a rather mild climate in Washington compared to more northerly
states. But even so if it would do as the hellebore,berginia, or heuchera and look nice until the winter finally covers in snow or bedraggles, then it might be worth the effort.

Does anyone grow this plant out in the garden?

Garden Blogger's Book Club May Dreams Garden

Friday, November 03, 2006

On Keeping garden records
While I am sure there are many good reasons to go about keeping garden records, I am just as sure that I will never do so.
I do have lists. And stacks of plant tags. More pictures than could possibly be necessary. Scribbled notes on odd bits of paper and saved seed packages. Some empty,some bent over and closed with a paper clip to keep the few remaining seeds inside. Some were never opened, still full of outdated seeds saved for no apparent reason .
A history so to speak.

As for the garden records those such as Henry Mitchell, Thomas Jefferson and other gardeners of note would advocate, I have not that sort of discipline.
It is just as well. I do not need to know the dates when the daffodil bloomed past years to trust that they will bloom again. I know without doubt when there is not enough or too much rain "this year". If a plant is lost and forgotten in the confusion, some other will take its place.
Each day when I step out into the garden to go about the days task, I am thankful for the moment. I leave each that comes after to do the same.