If I could send fragrance along with a blog post, this could be a one-sentence missive. All it would need to say is common sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus): Smell it, love it, plant it.
Above: Common sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)
One of two plants in my backyard just started to bloom, and the fruity fragrance of the flowers gathers outside the back door whenever the air is still. William Cullina provided an effective description of the fragrance in his Native Trees, Shrubs, & Vines (Houghton Mifflin, 2002). He summed it up as “a fruit salad perfume of strawberry, banana, mango, and peach guaranteed to get your stomach rumbling.”
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Posted in Natives to Know | Tagged Fragrant shubs, native plants, Native shrubs, shrubs for shade | 6 Comments »
Like most gardeners this time of year, the majority of my gardening time is spent on my knees. Weeds are making their annual attempt to overtake beds and borders. (Now that I think about it, though, perhaps I should say weeds are continuing their perennial attempt to overtake the place.) Currently, my primary focus is on ridding the garden of bittercress (Cardamine spp.). The bittercresses are charming, innocent-looking weeds with dainty, four-petaled flowers. Wait too long to pull them, though, and they catapult seeds everywhere for next season’s crop. Thus far, I must have eliminated seeds for at least a million of next spring’s seedlings.
ABOVE: Hypericum calycinum ‘Brigadoon’ with magnolia petals.
But, I didn’t start this post to write about weeds, despite the amount of time I am devoting to them. We have a large saucer magnolia (Magnolia soulangiana) in the backyard that has been lovely this year. I especially appreciate its flowers once they begin to fade. As the blooms break apart, they scatter a deep blanket of white petals blushed with pink all over the hillside behind the house. And while I barely notice their fragrance when they are fresh and still on the tree, once petals coat every surface, it is simply marvelous. Perhaps the scent is more noticeable because I am spending so much time working on my knees, but whatever the reason, the petals and their fragrance create a memorable combination in the garden.
ABOVE: Epimedium rubrum mulched with magnolia petals.
ABOVE: Tulips with magnolia petals. This is a long-lived clump with leaves edged in yellow. If I can find the label when it is done flowering, I will post the name.
Posted in Plants of the Season, Uncategorized | Tagged Fragrant flowers, Magnolia, Mulching with magnolia petals | Leave a Comment »
This post is as much a celebration for me as it is a way to reconnect with readers of Eastern Shore Gardener. I mailed my manuscript for Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping to the publisher, the University of North Carolina Press, this afternoon! While I still have photo editing to do, and there is lots left to do before the manuscript becomes a book, today certainly is a milestone.
I am looking forward to being able to get back out in the garden with a clear conscience and free of the deadline pressures that I have been under for a year.
Harley helping with mis-printed pages. (Sorry this isn’t a better picture, but she was not really interested in holding the pages still.)
UPCOMING EVENT: I also wanted to mention that the botanical illustration class I attend is having a show at the Chestertown Library. The show will be up for the month of April, and we are hosting a reception this Friday, April 5, from 5 to 8 p.m.. I hope some of you can stop by and say “hello!”
Here it is: Three copies and 14 pounds.
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged Botanical illustration | 14 Comments »
Greetings fellow gardeners! I managed to pull myself away from my Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping manuscript long enough to add some more events to the calendar. One of immediate interest is Grounded Design blogger Thomas Ranier, who is speaking for free at the Annapolis Horticulture Society’s meeting tomorrow night!
Also coming up, Adkins Arboretum has a bus trip to the Philadelphia Flower Show this year! Kent County residents note that there is a special pickup at the 301/291 Park and Ride (you have to request it, but is saves lots of driving!).
As for my book, it is due out in spring 2014, but the manuscript is due next month, yikes! I am really pleased that I have lots of lists of natives sorted according to where you can use them. They have me really inspired, and as soon as I press “send” on the manuscript, you can bet that I will be ordering plants. Writing has also given me loads of ideas for blog posts, so stay tuned!
Posted in Upcoming Events | Tagged Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping, Philadelphia Flower Show | 2 Comments »
Greetings Eastern Shore Gardeners!
I’ve pulled my head out of my manuscript on this gloomy morning to get started with my annual events for gardeners. There are several lectures already scheduled in 2013 that are worth registering for, and you can check out the details at the Eastern Shore Gardener Calendar.
As always, if you know of events that should be included, please let me know about them by sending an e-mail to email@example.com.
I’m back to writing! Happily, I am working on a section on attracting butterflies and moths. It’s a really fun topic. In addition to lots of flowers for adult butterflies, I will have extensive information on food for caterpillars. Did you know that violets are larval food for great spangled, meadow, variegated, regal, and silver-bordered fritillaries? That’s more than enough reason to keep drifts of them in your garden. While they may be too enthusiastic to be planted with other herbaceous perennials, consider using violets as ground cover under shrubs and trees. Here is a great site to learn loads more about the Butterflies of North America http://www.butterfliesandmoths.org/
Posted in Upcoming Events | Tagged Calendar, Eastern Shore Events | Leave a Comment »
Eastern white pine (Pinus strobus) won’t ever make the short list of plants grown for fall color, but this native species is pretty this time of year nonetheless. The two- and three-year-old needles are now turning yellow and dropping, so don’t worry if your trees have lots of yellow needles. This feature is widely ignored in descriptions of the species, which simply list the plants as evergreen, but the patterns the yellow and green needles create really are quite pretty. So, as long as the needles on the tips of the branches on your white pines are still green, they are healthy and right on schedule.
Above: Yellow and green needles on Eastern white pine make a pretty, if subtle, pattern.
White pines are valuable, long-lived evergreens. This species once covered much of the northeast, and 200- to 220-foot-tall trees were common. Logging from the 18th to early 20th century claimed all but about one percent of virgin stands. Today in cultivation, mature white pines typically reach 75 to 100 feet and spread to 75 feet. Virgin stands still exist in Great Smokey National Park and a few other locations—they are worth visiting! (See “Range” at this link for a list!) Although white pines are happiest in moist, well-drained soil, they tolerate dry to average conditions, sand or heavy clay, pH that runs from 4 to 6.5, and part shade to full sun.
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Posted in Natives to Know | Tagged Autumn leaf color, Eastern White Pine, Pinus strobus | 3 Comments »
If you are interesting in taking Fran Phaneuf’s class in botanical illustration, but want a better idea of what kind of painting we are doing, come to the First Friday opening of the “Unfurled” exhibit at the River Arts Gallery in Chestertown, Maryland. Fran has put together a small exhibit of her own work, plus pieces from the class, and I’m happy to say that two of my paintings are in it! She has also written up a description of the class/workshop, which is open to everyone. Beginners are welcome! The exhibit will be up for about two weeks if you can’t make it Friday night.
The class is Wednesday mornings at Heron Point from 9:00 a.m. to noon.
Fran and I will both be at the First Friday opening. Hope to see some of you there!
Above: Ilex opaca, American holly, by Barbara W. Ellis, which isn’t one of the paintings in the show!
Posted in Upcoming Events | Tagged Botanical illustration, Painting | Leave a Comment »