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.