Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Party's Over

This time of year many of our plants are a little sorry looking. The frosts have played havoc with those delicate blooms like Cosmos. Late in November I went into the field across the street to collect seeds from the spent blooms. We have our septic drain field across the street. You might remember my planting some daffodils earlier this year. This fall we waited until after a good frost and then had the field bush hogged.
The seeds I scattered in the early spring were a mixture I picked up at the local hardware store. Of the flowers in the mix, the Cosmos were the ones that stood out as the summer grasses and weeds grew taller. There were still a few blooms left in the field but a few more frosts and they would be gone.

Bush hogging is like cutting it with a giant/ strong mower.  This field is our septic field, so trees are not a good idea.  A wildflower meadow?? Perfect!  After the field was cut we went over some of it with the small push mower to cut some of the grasses shorter.   The field looked so much larger when it was cut.  Some in the neighborhood just cut theirs and leave it bare...I like flowers!

There is a hunt club in the woods at the back end of the septic field.  I always wear bright colors when working over there. 

So now that the field is cut and a few frosts have occurred, what next?   Meadow in a Box!

I found a website that has great variety of seeds---- so I ordered my own mixture.  I love the blue cornflowers I have seen in the spring, so that was on the list!  I also ordered Blanket Flower Gaillardia, Black-eyed Susans Rudbeckia hirta, California Poppies Eschscholzia californica, Nigella, more Cosmos, and some Joe Pye weed Eupatorium fistulosum.  I added some red poppies I  saved from the last year or two.  I mixed and mixed. 

After mowing and bush hogging I used a metal rake to expose at least a little soil.  I am hoping this exposure will be enough.  Taking the container of all those seeds,  I scattered all my seeds in the field.  Well, not ALL of them, I scattered a few on the other side of the street near the driveway as well.  The only problem with scattering seeds in the winter/fall?  WAITING for spring!!    I timed the scattering to be right before a few days of rain.  The rain helped settle the seeds down into the soil, all tucked in for the winter.   After the seeds, a few more (hundred) bulbs were also planted.  Spring will explode with color! 

Isn't this the saddest Zinnia you have ever seen?  I have been collecting the seeds from this one as well.  This Zinnia was from a packet from James Madison University Centennial Celebration.  The bloom is purple...the JMU purple!  I have some seeds to share with JMU alumni.  If you are an alum -- and want a few seeds, let me know.  Will share until I run out.  Why do I have JMU seeds?  Both my girls went to JMU as well as future son-in-law. 

While checking on the zinnias I noticed the Viburnum next to it was trying to bloom.  This poor baby had a rough summer with the lack of rain.

Still blooming is my native honeysuckle- Lonicera sempervirens

Love this pretty trumpet.

Also blooming is the Gaillardia in the backyard.

A few of you know we got a garden shed this fall.  I am so thrilled with it.  Charlie is calling it "Janet's playhouse".  We will paint it in the spring, once the wood cures.  HOA rules that it should match the house.  I like the natural wood.   It is a really solid shed, tongue in grooved pine planks. 

You can see the slope of the yard.  The cinderblocks are under a dozen points making it very sturdy. 

So, if the party is over for your blooms, make sure to collect as many seeds as possible. 
The seed company I bought my seeds from is new to me and I am not recommending them over any other place.   I will say the seeds were in great condition and I am hoping for tons of color next spring and summer...and for many seasons to come.

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Happy Arbor Day

This past Friday my friend Ann and had the pleasure of participating in Arbor Day festivities at USC Upstate.  Arbor Day is the first Friday in December in South Carolina.  Our weather is mild enough that this is one of the best times of year to plant trees and woody shrubs.   The featured speaker was Dr. Michael Dirr.  I know!  We were pretty excited to see him.  There was a presentation in the morning by Dr. Dirr.  His topic was "In Praise of Noble Trees".  The slideshow was filled with photos of wonderful trees and peppered with fun quotes--my favorite?  "The road to hell is lined with Bradford Pears".  For those who are not acquainted with Dr. Dirr, he is a well known author and educator.  He has published more than 300 books, both scientific and popular publications.   Many of us have a copy of his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Charateristics, Culture and Propagation and Uses on our own bookshelves.  He has retired from academia but still is involved with research and plant developement.  He is one of the founding partners of Plant Introductions, Inc. where they are working on breeding and evaluation of new woody plants.   Many of the new breeds of Magnolias and Hydrangeas have been due in part to Dr. Dirr.

 The handout was filled with descriptions of many trees.  A few of the ones he focused on included new cultivars  as well as old favorites.  In alphabetical order, here are some of the ones he mentioned. 
Corylus -- C. fargesii, an exfoliating bark specimen, C. jacquemontii, a large tree with broad pyramidal / oval shape, and a hybrid of C. colurna and C. maxima-- 'Te Terra Red' which is a redleaf with beautiful bark.  I like the sounds of the last one! 
Fagus grandifolia-- the American Beech.  One point he made with this one was the myth of difficulty in transplanting this native tree.  He said he never has had a problem with this. 
Gymnocladus dioicus-- Kentucky Coffeetree, a native that I know of from the Learning Garden, the York County Master Gardener garden I worked in while we lived in Virginia.  Dr. Dirr says there are some good examples in the Milliken Arboretum in Spartanburg.  I need to learn more about this tree.  The one in the Learning Garden was pretty young. 
Liriodendron tulipifera-- Tulip of my favorite spring flowering trees.  Dr. Dirr is also quite fond of this grand tree.  All the tiny seedlings that sprout up from the samaras that twirl down from the seedheads up high should be shared with all your friends!  He advocates planting as many tulip poplars as you can. 
Nyssa sylcatica---Blackgum or Tupelo tree, apparently a Dirr favorite.  There isn't enough praise for this tree.  I love the bold red fall color. 

Quercus---Oaks are the go to tree.  There are so many species that are native to North America.  Q. bicolor is one species he spoke a great deal about....especially a newly discovered upright-columnar Swamp White Oak.  Look for it under the name of Q. bicolor 'Beacon'.  Oaks are so vital to the life of over 534 species of caterpillars.  The acorns are a food source for all sorts of wildlife.  The oak grows to such a grand height and provides shade, truly a noble tree. 
There were many other trees he talked about ....many with new varieties coming on the market with better disease resistance or new colors or new forms.  Be on the lookout for many new Ulmus americana cultivars like 'Princeton', 'Jefferson', 'Valley Forge' and 'New Harmony'. 

After lunch and a talk by Kevin Parris (also a interesting plant breeder/ horticulturist) we had a walking tour of the Susan Jacobs Arboretum, led by Dr. Dirr.  This was a smaller group of folks and we were able to interact a good bit with Dr. Dirr as well as Kevin Parris.   We were introduced to many trees along the tour, quizzed as to which one it might be and given a good lesson on tree identification.  One tree that I was THRILLED to see was this one on the left-- the infamous Franklinia altamaha!  I really would like to have this rare tree in my garden.  Kevin Parris said this is the third one that was planted in the Arboretum.   This native tree is no longer found in the wild.  If you want to try this tree, make sure it has super drainage and is protected from cold winds.  I will be going back up to Spartanburg to see this tree in the growing season. 
I am so happy we were able to go to this function.  Hearing Dr. Dirr and walking through the Arboretum with him was like a dream come true for this tree fan. 
I know I haven't posted much lately.  I could say I have been busy, but I don't know, looking back, what I have been busy doing.  I plan to get  back to regular blog postings and reading your postings. 
Hope your Arbor Day was as great as mine! 

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Another Wildflower Wednesday

I often miss the Wildflower Wednesday that Gail hosts at Clay and Limestone.  As I am usually behind in my reading of blog posts, it could be Saturday or Sunday before I see that WW has come and gone.  Ah, retirement!  Lucky for me I saw another's posting, so I know it is THIS week that is WW, so I can participate.
This first little beauty I believe to be one of the Gerardia Agalinis, though I am not sure which one.  This was found in the ravine(ish) area of the backyard that leads to the lake.  Many of the wildflower finds are in this area. 
 Reading a little more, the book says the Agalinis linifolia is the only species in South Carolina that lacks yellow lines within the corolla.  I see no yellow, I believe this is the species.

In the front yard, along the lower side yard I found this sunny yellow beauty.  Again, not sure what the species is....though it looks like a Helianthus to me.  Many of these are quite tall, but mine~~~ only about 12- 18" tall.  It could be due to the drought that the growth is stilted.  Wildflowers are not my strongsuit, I am learning one flower at a time.

This fall beauty is Schizachyrium scoparium 'Little Blue Stem'.  Native grasses are doing well in many places of the yard.  The area along the driveway is very hard packed, full of construction rock and sand, little to no topsoil.... and a bear to dig in.  We decided to put a number of 'Little Blue Stem' in to help slow the water (if we get any rain!) as it rolls down the hill.  I planted 17, 14 still survive.  There are some that are really small and some, like the one pictured, that are doing quite well.  I love the seedheads that shimmer in the light.
 Hidden in the woods at the top of the property are some Hawthorn, Crataegus flava.  Love the yellow fruits in the fall but watch out for those thorns.
 While exploring the front woods, I thought I would check out the area where the Cranefly Orchid, Tipularia discolor was last year.  Imagine my delight when I found two leaves!! 
I have done a whole posting on Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, each fall, when these beautiful red leaves jump out of the landscape it is hard not to mention them again.   As we drive by this tree, I tell my husband I love this tree.....and him, not necessarily in that order.  Don't you just love these flower buds??

 I seldom go into the septic drainfield area, too many bugs this time of year.  I have ventured in during the winter and spring.  The other day I was along the edge of the grasses, checking out the Cosmos I planted earlier this spring.   Look what else I found growing near the Cosmos!! A Helenium perhaps autumnale. 

Goldenrod is present this time of the bold yellow color.  I thought about collecting the seeds from this one and scattering it in more places ...the wind will take care of it.
 Last but not least, a wildflower that Frances mentioned in her posting today.  Dog Fennel, Eupatorium capillofolium, later in the fall the stems will turn a ruddy red.  This is one I will admire from the street.

 Please stop by Gail's blog and see other Wildflowers. 

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Great Combination, If I Do Say So

As the cold weather moves in I wanted to bring in a few of the last roses on my 'Janet' rose.  These roses are such beauties, changing colors as it opens and matures.  

  The stems are small and slender and really not strong enough to hold the flower heads up in a vase. 
 The solution was to put them in a small bowl shaped vase.

The combination that suits me ----to accompany the roses---Deep, dark, delicious chocolate from Belgium.  Leonidas chocolate....freshly flown in, made with no preservative, pure deliciousness. 

I love getting a box from my sweetie.

And I love having roses to bring in and enjoy....................................

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Can't Get Enough of It

Do you have a bloom that you are thrilled when it opens?  One where you watch and watch as the bud gets plumper every day?  You know what I am talking about, the prized bloom.  I think everyone has one.  Mine is the Epiphyllum oxypetalum.  I have posted about it many and here and here to name just a few.  One of the drawbacks is trying to get a great photo of this night bloomer....because it blooms at night!  If you use the flash it is too bright, the lack of flash you have the possibility of a blurry photo. 
This morning after feeding the dogs I noticed my Epi had bloomed...and the blooms were still open.  Maybe it was because the night was so cool...think the lows were in the low to mid 50's.  Camera in hand I went out and started taking photos.  I couldn't get enough .... I love photographing this beauty. 
 To be able to capture this great bloom in daylight was a treat.
 The lighting was super for capturing these blooms.
I took a bunch of pictures then ate breakfast, walked the dogs, went about my morning.  Just before noon, I looked out back and saw the blooms were still open!  Amazing!!  I was taking pictures from , the back.....

the front,

 the side
 I was enjoying every angle of blooms.  I wasn't sure how much later in the day before they faded so I kept snapping away.

For as gorgeous as the blooms are, the plant itself is sad looking and oddly shaped. It needs a good trim and other years I trimmed it just before briniging it in for the winter, which should be about now.  But I couldn't trim off flower buds before they opened.  So now that it has bloomed it will be trimmed and retired for the winter.  I have one person, Lola, who would like a piece of the plant, anyone else? 

This month the Gardening Gone Wild Photo Contest theme is 'Fill the Frame' I thought I would try my hand at it again.  I have two photos to argue with myself about which is the best choice.

Back of two or---
 inside of one..........

I think I am going for the back of two.   My entry is this one (see larger one above) or click on any photo for a larger view.

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved.
 Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford.
words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I Love Fall

Fall is a time of year where the temperatures are more pleasant and I can get back into the garden.  It is like getting reaquainted with an old friend.  The ornamental grasses are in full bloom and dancing in the breeze.  Last year I planted three small Miscanthus--'Little Zebra'.  This year they are looking great.
 You may remember I planted some daffodils in our field across the street.  It is our septic drain field and will soon have to be cut again....have a few trees popping up.  I want to wait to have it cut (bush-hogged) until closer to frost.  I scattered some flower seeds in that area to come up after the daffodils were finished.  I don't water over there at all.  The only flowers that really put on a show are the Cosmos.  Love how they sparkle in the early morning sunlight.

Magnolias are great all summer long with their gorgeous blooms....and now, these lovely seed pods.  It almost looks like they are adorned with tiny little ornaments.  
 Additionally the Euonymus americanus is showing its seed pods....looking like its common name--'Hearts A Bustin'  I am happy to have some growing in my property.

Some of the Muhly grass is finally blooming.  Love how the water droplets hang on the seedheads.

We have had some more opportunities to go out on the lake and enjoy the wildlife.  Not too much longer and the Egrets will migrate.   These two look like they had an argument-- not looking at each other.
 I love these birds, they are so graceful.
 It was amazing how calm the lake was when we went out last time.  At our end of the lake there was nary a ripple.

All in all these are great examples of why I like fall....BUT- there are also the end of season plant sales in our area! At the end of September I went to one that I had gone to last year. Acres and acres of plants. The only thing limiting me was thinking about the holes I would have to dig in this hard clay soil. One neighbor asked for a pick axe!
 I had an idea what I wanted and headed through the rows with my wagon. Finally got them all planted and am crossing my fingers that they will all make it through the winter and shine next spring and summer. 
We have had a lot of company off and on for the past month.  I know I have missed many postings from all of you.  Will make my rounds and try to get back in the swing of blogging. 

©Copyright 2011 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.