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Posts Tagged ‘Bay-friendly gardening’

I will be speaking to the Cape St Claire Garden Club, Tuesday, June 6th at 7:00 p.m., at Cape St Claire Clubhouse, 1223 River Bay Road, Annapolis, MD, 21409. The public is invited, and I hope some  Eastern Shore Gardener readers can join us!

My topic for the evening is Greener Gardens: One Step at a Time. I’ll be discussing options for creating landscapes that are more sustainable. Ideas range from simple steps to ambitious projects any gardener or homeowner can undertake. The goal is beautiful gardens and landscapes that are attractive and healthy for humans, wildlife, pets, and the environment as a whole. My focus is on  the Chesapeake Bay and all its tributaries.

Admission is free. I will have copies of my books, Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping and How to Prune Trees & Shrubs for sale, which I will happily sign after the talk.

I am looking forward to it, and I hope to see some of you there!

Hosta-Hydrangea-2017

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A couple of days ago I was returning from running errands, and spotted a family of turkeys in our yard. They were strolling through a group of trees along the driveway that I hope one day will resemble a woods. As they slipped into the tangle of vegetation, it reminded me how much progress I’ve made over the years replacing lwangrass with more wildlife-friendly plantings. This woodsy area is still far from beautiful, but it does now host a variety of native trees and shrubs that I have planted over the years. In the interest of full disclosure, it is also the site of one of my major wineberry battles earlier this summer.

I keep a list of birds I have spotted on the property, and this isn’t the first time I have seen turkeys here. (In addition to being a gardener, I am a birder, so I am usually always looking.) Still, it has been fun to follow this family all summer and plan what else I can add to the landscape that will make it friendlier to an even wider variety of creatures.

Yellow-billed-Cukoo

Above: Yellow-Billed Cuckoo, one of the many species spotted at Hackberry Point.

Come September, I will certainly add more natives for birds and other wildlife, and I hope many other Eastern Shore Gardeners will do the same. To help get you planning and planting, I wanted to share a link to 10 Tips for Attracting Birds to Your Landscape, a blog post I wrote for the University of North Carolina Press in support of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping earlier this year. I hope you enjoy it!

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Despite the fact that we have been living here since 2004, I am happy to report that there are still botanical surprises at Hackberry Point. Over the weekend David Arnold, who is helping me in the garden this year, left a cutting and a brief note on my doorstep. “Barbara, What is it? David.” I could tell right away that the plant was a member of the pea family, Fabaceae, but beyond that, it wasn’t familiar. Furthermore, I was astounded that I hadn’t seen it first, and I had to call him back to find out where the plant was growing.

It turns out it was along the edge of the creek, just next to where our dock extends out over the water. After taking some pictures, I delved into my native plant books. I finally found a cool on-line key to pea family plants that helped me identify it. I determined that my new native plant was Apios americana, commonly called groundnut or potato bean.

 

Apios-americana

Above: Groundnut (Apios americana)

The pinkish maroon flowers resemble miniature wisteria blooms. They look like tiny reddish replicas of the native America wisteria (Wisteria frutescens), which has more rounded bloom clusters than the non-native oriental species.  Groundnut flower clusters are 1 to 2 inches long and wide. Sources say the flowers are fragrant, although I couldn’t detect any scent. (I’ll keep trying on this point.)

The plants prefer sites with wet soil, which explains their location along the creek. Since I walk by the site frequently to go out onto the dock, I can’t imagine how I missed them in previous years, especially since they produce flowers in August. I wonder if tubers or seeds floated in from somewhere else and this year for the first time the vines conquered the tangle of grapes, phragmites, and shrubs at the water’s edge.

Apios-americana-and-phragmi

Above: Groundnut climbing phragmites.

Groundnut grows from edible tubers, and were an important source of food for native Americans and early settlers. Since tubers form slowly, they haven’t become a popular cultivated crop. For more information on ground nuts, Orion Magazine posted an excellent article by Tamara Dean. For a more detailed botanical description, see the page on this species in Climbers.

Groundnuts also aren’t popular garden plants because they are too rampant for most garden situations. Mine seem to be happy competing side-by-side with thugs like phragmites. I’ll continue to look for more spots in the wild garden where I could plant them. While I doubt I’ll be able to find tubers because of the density of the plantings along the creek,  I do plan to save seed this fall. E-mail me privately if you are interested in getting seed to start your own patch.

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I was honored to be asked to do a video interview about Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping, for The Chestertown Spy. Here it is for readers who don’t get the Spy. Below, I’ve added a photo that illustrates one my other overwhelming interests!

Barbara-and-Dogs

Above: Front row: Bienn and Bonnie. Back row: Bing, Casey, Me, and puppy Charlie.

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I hope some readers of Eastern Shore Gardener will join me at Adkins Arboretum this Friday or Saturday. Adkins is celebrating the opening day for their native plant nursery, and I’ll be there to sign copies of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. There’s little doubt I’ll be buying some plants as well.

I will be signing books on both Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Bring questions, too, and I will do my best to answer them!

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Adkins Arboretum is located at 12610 Eve Road, Ridgely, MD 21660
Phone: 410-634-2847

For more on the event see Native Plant Nursery Opening.

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Months ago, the University of North Carolina Press asked me to write two blog posts that relate to Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. The first of them was published today, and I wanted to share a link to it here on Eastern Shore Gardener. Six Tips for Creating an Eco-friendly Landscape, outlines the fundamental principles covered in the book that help create a sustainable landscape. Each principle offers many options for implementation. Chapter One presents ten tips for each principle that gardeners can use to move toward a beautiful, sustainable landscape.

Since it looks like spring is really finally here, I am spending the afternoon outdoors cleaning up beds and replenishing the leaf litter on the garden. The simple act of mulching works toward several principles. It is especially important for #4, Manage Water Runoff, but it also is an essential part of principle #6, Garden Wisely, because of all the benefits mulch brings to soil, weed control, and more. I wait until spring to clean up and cut down, because deep leaf litter and stems provide overwintering sites for insects and good hunting grounds for birds. All the stems and other plant parts pulled off the garden in spring go directly to the compost pile, and eventually are returned to the garden to complete the cycle.

If you don’t already have a copy of Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping, consider coming to one of the events listed in the calendar. Adkins Arboretum has copies available by mail. It is also available from Amazon.

Uvularia-grandiflora

Above: Large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) is finally beginning to emerge from the soil. It brings yellow spring flowers and handsome foliage to the garden.

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New Year’s resolutions are on everyone’s mind this time of year. This year my list starts with a very general vow: Spend more time out in the garden. At this point, I don’t care if that means time spent weeding, planting, pruning, propagating, or just watching the plants grow. During 2014, I simply spent far too little time doing what I love to do best. My garden suffered as a result, and so did I. With any luck, working in the garden will also help with resolutions relating to getting in shape and losing weight. According to Web MD, you can burn anywhere from 200 to 600 calories per hour in the garden, depending on the activity.

Galanthus

Above: All my resolutions will make room for more plants, including bulbs like these snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis).

I also want to continue taking steps to make my garden and landscape more Bay- and earth-friendly. Obviously, this is an issue I have been thinking quite a lot about in recent years, since it is a major focus of my new book, Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping. Since I don’t want to start off the year with a daunting list, today I am concentrating on steps that will help reduce maintenance or bring other benefits.

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