Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wishing Everyone a Berry Happy New Year!

Every day I walk to the end of our little street with the three dogs and they love it! One would think it was a the best walk ever. While the walk is short I enjoy seeing all the plant material in everyone's yards. This is the season for berries on so many plants.

I wanted to share some of these great berries (though some are drupes) with you. Each photo can be enlarged by clicking on it.

It has been a wonderful year getting to know so many gardeners via the blogging world. I look forward to another year. May your weeds be few and your blooms be large and fragrant,
As the sun sets on 2009 I wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Howdy Partner...Merry Christmas to Ya

My buddy Les asked the following question to the blogging world "What's on your tree?"
My tree is such a combination of ornaments from all the places we lived over the years.

We lived in Germany for about 7 years and the first time we were there was very early in our marriage. As newlyweds our mission was to find cool ornaments for our tree. I love we got a lot of Santas over the years. If you look at this collage...the Santa with the white lace background is one that stays up year round. I used to tell the kids that Santa was always watching. That Santa has been mine since I was a kid myself.

Many of the German ornaments are wooden and handmade.

Some of these ornaments are delicate and have not always fared too well over the years. These are some of the more delicate ones.

Merry Christmas to all of you and your families. Hope yours is wonderful.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Magnolia grandiflora

What can one said about a Magnolia? It is certainly a grand tree in the southern landscape….it is almost a requirement! The Magnolia is a native tree to the southern region of the eastern United States. The hardiness of this grand tree is 7- 10a. Some reports indicate there are newer cultivars that are hardy to zone 5. This tree is used in various ways in the landscape. It is an evergreen tree that gets quite large in its full mature state. Throughout the south is can be seen as a street tree, lining a grand boulevard, or as a specimen tree, in its full glory, or limbed up a bit it is a wonderful shade tree.

The leaves are large, leathery and most cultivars have the brown fuzz on the underside. The leaves are simple, smooth, pinnate, and quite large- 8- 12 inches long by 4- 8 inches wide. While it is an evergreen tree, these huge leaves do fall as new growth appears. Some consider this the downside of having a Magnolia—raking or cleaning up this big leaves.

The bark is most unusual…at certain stages it reminds me of an elephant's leg….smooth with very wrinkly knees. The Duke web page has a nice display of photos of the bark at various stages of growth. Some of the photos I have are from my Fort Monroe visit and these are very mature trees. According to my favorite source of information, Forestry Service Silvics Manual, these trees can live well over 100 years. They are moderately fast growing trees. Mature specimen reach heights of 125 feet tall and they have quite a spread. Their growth habit is pyramidal and little pruning is needed for this tree to have good strong growth. The growing conditions are varied, growing in sun to part shade. The soil conditions range from clay to loam to sand and it is salt and drought tolerant. There are many cultivars available, 'Little Gem' and 'Teddy Bear' are some of the smaller ones..reaching 30 feet in height at maturity. 'Brackens Brown Beauty' is a more compact tree, slightly smaller leaves. Height is larger than 'Little Gem' but smaller than the species tree.

Flower and fruit….what can one say about this beautiful, fragrant, large white flower? It is amazing. One would think I had a great photo of said bloom…ha! (Thought I did) I do have a photo of the most amazing Magnolia Macrophylla, one of the ancient plants. There is a lovely specimen in the Greensprings Garden in Alexandria Virginia.

The Magnolia bloom is quite remarkable, a showplace unto itself. The fruit pod is large and quite fuzzy. As the seeds ripen they emerge from the pod bright red. As the large leaves are a bit of a hassle in yard cleanup, so are the seed pods. As kids we called them hand grenades and liked to throw them…. I am sure we were most appreciated by neighbors.

My other sources for this tree posting include University of Florida with its wonderful 4 page information sheet and Floridata, a nice short info sheet. Be sure to check out these sites for more in depth information on this wonderful tree.

Our next Tuesday's Tree will be in January…I would be fooling myself to think I would get one done during the holidays. Which tree will it be?? Since it is winter, I feel a need to go to the evergreens. I have a couple in mind….nothing firm yet. Stay tuned!!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Where in the Heck Have You Been????

I know I have been MIA for a little while. I have good excuses! Really!

Saturday the 12th we celebrated my mom's birthday. It was a milestone birthday and so we were in surprise mode. My sister flew in from Kansas and my brother and his wife flew in from Illinois. Our daughters drove in and as did two nephews and a fiancée. Boy was my mom surprised!!
There was silliness-
and Skyler wanted to get into the action-

And of course some wonderful sister did a signature quilt for her--- a true treasure! here is a link to her blog's posting of the quilt.

So the week before everyone came I was cleaning and putting up Christmas decorations. Busy busy.

After we put my sister back on the plane on Monday we headed down to South Carolina. It was time to pick cabinets, countertops, flooring, faucets and other plumbing items. On our way down the highway we got an offer to stay at a lakehouse...instead of a hotel! Sweet deal. It was really foggy when we got to Greenwood, but we did find the house. The next morning the fog was still hanging around.

Not a bad view even with the fog! The only drawback was we were without internet... what a strange feeling! (Tuesday's Trees will be back this week.)

We drove out to the house. Lots of progress has been made since we were there. The rain has slowed them down a little, but it was great to see it shaping up! You can see the water is high on the dock and there is a tree that floated downstream. The tree was gone the next day.

Great view from the lake.

The siding was getting put on and the windows are starting to be installed.

This big picture window is our dining room window, facing west. With all these trees I don't think the sun will be an issue.

The roof is coming along as well.

Sunrise was pretty impressive when it wasn't foggy. It was worth getting up at 5:30- 6:00 AM.

Will be back around to everyone's blogs and try to catch up a little. Time to get into the Christmas mode now!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

An Appreciation of What is Growing In My Yard

With my focus on trees and getting pictures of various specimen to use in my tree posts, I have taken a renewed appreciation of the trees in my yard. I have two small Japanese maples. Once they were planted together and neither did very well. I moved one to the front yard and left one in the back, they both liked the change. They are pass a long trees, not named cultivars. The tree in the backyard has just glowed this fall. I wonder, previous years of drought conditions left this tree bare in the fall, it was certainly stressed. This year we are well over our yearly average rainfall. Many trees have held on to their leaves, giving us glorious fall color.

The backyard Japanese maple is green in the summer---

here is morning light

here is afternoon light

and the front yard one is red----

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Tuesday's Trees- Carpinus caroliniana

-- Ironwood, American Hornbeam, Musclewood- this tree goes by many names.

My first introduction to this tree was at the Adkins Arboretum along the eastern shore of Maryland. The visit was part of our Master Gardener trip. The group I walked through the woods with had a few Tree Stewards in training and it seemed like we were in heaven.

Many of the Ironwood we came across were very young trees and making the ID with these young trees was primarily with the growth structure of the trunk. The leaves are so similar to beech and birch trees. The leaves are double serrated, oblong, ovate. They occur alternately from the twig. It is green during the growing season and in the fall it turns orange to red to yellow. Quite often the leaves hang on through the winter. Here is a link to Sweetbay's web posting with beautiful fall color.

It is a slow growing tree, reaching heights of 20- 30 feet with similar spread. Typically it is an understory tree and as such has an open canopy. If planted in more sun the canopy is denser. This native tree is hardy from zones 3- 9. Often seen as a multi-stemmed tree, the stems are crooked, smooth and light gray in color. The trunk has the appearance of a muscular limb…. One of the ways we were able to make our identification on a young tree was to feel the base of the trunk. It does feel like someone has a flexed muscle.

C. caroliniana is a monoecious tree with both male and female catkins in the spring. The fruit is a long nutlet and it a food source for birds. Large seed production occurs every 3- 5 years. The germination rate is low. The Silvics manual is an excellent reference guide for this tree.
Common names for many plants are often used for more than one plant variety. I first learned this tree to be an Ironwood, but there is another tree called Ironwood—Ostrya virginiana. Another tree in the birch family, also a crooked trunked tree…but this Ironwood has ridged bark, unlike the American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana) that has a very smooth trunk.
Wonderful resources for the Carpinus caroliniana-
MOBOT- wonderful pictures
What Tree Is This site- nice quick reference
UNCONN- concise information
USDA data sheet- great links to other information
NCState- quick list of information, no photo
Virginia Tech fact sheet easy to print fact sheet to carry with you
Forestry Service a great reference

Next tree- Magnolia grandiflora
Sorry for the delay in getting this posted, life happens.