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Crepe Myrtle, Canna, and Cleome in Bloom

Crepe myrtle, canna, cleome and cone flowers make a lovely splash of summer colors in the raised bed in our back yard.

The bright yellow coneflowers in the foreground attract goldfinches when the flowers go to seed. The goldfinches are fun to watch when they perch on a flower and pick at the seeds. The flowers stalks bend and sway under their weight.

A dwarf crepe myrtle tree with its dark pink blooms that are almost a purple is almost hidden by canna lilies and cleome. It should get several feet taller over the next few years and be more visible. It was a volunteer seedling from an established tree in the front yard. it really struggled the first couple years after being transplanted, but seems to have finally adapted well to it new location.

The first couple years after planting canna lily bulbs in our front yard, they did well. Then they started to die off, so last year they were moved.

blooming flowers in raised bed

A few were left in the front yard, but moved to a different area and the rest were moved to the raised bed in the back yard.

Their red flowers are not big and showy like their leaves, but they add an intense color and interesting foliage to the flower bed.

canna lilies blooming

 

Here they have done well so far. I think the key to success will be to dig them up every few years when they start to get crowded, and then replant them.

Another interesting feature of the cannas are their seed pods, seen in the picture below.

canna lily seed pods

The light pink blooms are cleome that reseed themselves prolifically every year. This year, there were close to a couple hundred which were thinned down to a manageable number so they would not compete with the other plants.

Cleome is another flower that deserves a close up look. The long stamens start to escape from the flowers before the flowers open, making interesting loops.

 

 

 

 

 

 


4 July 2016

It is a rainy Independence Day.

So, my pictures today were limited to what I could see from the shelter of indoors.

From the living room window, I took several pictures this afternoon. Afterwards, when reviewing the pictures, I realized that the subjects were the colors of the American flag.

4 july 2016


Sun and Rain

Yesterday, we had sun and rain. It was alternately rainy and sunny today, but we also had sun while it was raining.

sun and rain 2

The day started with rain and ended with rain. Thunder and lightning kept me indoors during the rainstorms, but I did get a chance to spend a little time weeding a flower bed during the sunny part of morning.

sun and rain 1

My dog, who likes to sunbathe, let me know it was time for us to go in when it clouded over. Within a few minutes, it started to pour again.

sunbathing 2

 


Autumn Olive

Our Autumn Olive tree, Elaeagnus umbellata, was a large specimen, 15-20 feet tall with a significant girth. At least for a plant that is classified as a shrub or a small tree, it was fairly large.

Was, not is, large. We found it laying on the ground. Probably blown over by the wind we had a several days ago.

autumn olive tree in snow

It had an interesting branching habit, which can be seen in the winter picture above.

autumn olive tree fruit

It also produced an edible fruit, for which the birds never left any for us.

autumn olive tree

Visible in the picture above, is one of several rot holes in the trunk. We knew there was rotting on the inside, but not sure of the extent of the damage.

The tree grew next to the fence, and as you can see it leaned precariously. Some major pruning helped to balance the tree better. Then a couple years ago, a friend who is in the landscaping business, used a steel cable to tie up the tree so that if it fell, it would not land on the fence. It fell a few days ago, but did not land on the fence.

fallen autumn olive

The picture below shows the base of the tree trunk where it broke.

autumn olive base of trunk

Another view of the base of the trunk shows that it is hollow. I could see through the trunk and out a rot hole.

autumn olive hollow trunk

Our once large Autumn Olive has been reduced to a couple shoots growing from what is left of the stump. It will be interesting to watch it regrow.

 


Spring, up close

3 march 2016

This is one of my favorite plants in our yard, simply because it was a beautiful surprise. It was a volunteer plant that into a lovely tree. There is no other like it in our yard. We do have a wild cherry tree, but it has racemes of white flowers, unlike these delicate pink blooms. I do believe it is a cherry tree of some variety, but not sure.

oak leaf hydrangea leaves

Further up hill, along the lower path in the front yard, is a pair of Oak Leaf Hydrangea bushes that are starting to leaf out. They have such interesting texture: the new leaves are hairy and the the trunk have exfoliating bark. Later, there will be fabulous clusters of white blooms.

Lining the path is a low stone retaining wall, almost more of a border. Tucked in the crevice of several stones was a small one with moss growing on and around it. The little sporophytes in the picture on the left were sunlit and caught my eye when walking down the path. When looking at the pictures on the computer I could zoom in further and I saw another tiny little moss world underneath the small stone, which is the picture on the right.

bee and pieris andromeda

On the upper path, there is the Pieris andromeda, which was pictured in the previous post as well. While it is in bloom, you can hear when you are near the bush because of the drone of bees that the flowers attract. Here is one of the bees hovering over the blooms just before it lands.

yellow flower gournd cover

At the base of the the bush is a plant that I don’t know the name of, but suspect it is in the marsh marigold family. It has very shiny flowers and leaves that make almost appear to be plastic.

blue flag iris seeds

On the other side of the bush is a small area that tends to be wetter than the rest of the yard because this is where a couple of drain pipes empty. So, plants like blue flag iris do well here. These are seed pods that have opened but the seeds have not fallen out yet. Maybe it might be worth trying to grow some from seed.

bloodroot flowers

And the last picture is from the back yard. The charming white flowers of the perennial Blood Root come up and bloom before the leaves unfurl. Each plant has a single basal leaf, a leaf that arises from the base of the stem. They are snow white on top with a blush of pink on the underside. I saved this picture for last since this is one of my more cherished plants and one of my better pictures of it.

 

 

 


Almost Spring

It is almost Spring. Even though we had snow several days ago, the plants in our yard are telling me it is almost Spring.

My body also tells me winter is passing. It is difficult for me to tolerate the cold, so not much time was spent in the yard this winter, hence the lack of posts to this blog for a while.

The weather was beautiful here today- a lovely spring like day. It was good day for working in the yard  and for wandering around to enjoy the landscape. Both working in the yard and taking pictures of the yard provide me with excuses to spend time admiring nature.

 

helleborus bloom

The modest green blooms of the helleborus will soon give way to seeding and be out-shined by the brighter colors of spring blooming flowers in the yard.

daffodil bloom

One of the first plants to bloom in our yard is the daffodil, providing bright splashes of yellow scattered around the yard.

pieris andromeda

The Pieris Andromeda is just starting to bloom. This clump of flowers is one of the first to open on the bush. They have charming bell shaped pendulous racemes.

Jordan's Pride camillia bloom

Our Jordan’s Pride camellia got a severe pruning  last year, so I was surprised to see that it had any blooms on it this year.

tulip leaves

Tulip leaves are up. I have no idea what color the flowers will be, so it will be a nice surprise when they come up. One of the tulip leaves had to be rescued from an oak leaf. The leaf had grown through a hole in the oak leaf and was constricting the tulip leaf.

mums spring growth

The dormant perennials in the container garden are starting to leaf out. The mums in the large pot are first. Years ago, when these mums were purchased, we did not know if they would survive winter here, but they return each year and provide a nice display of white blooms. The hostas in the long planter are just tiny little tips that were too difficult to photograph.

lily seedlings

In the pot around a sedum plant, I planted bulbils collected from our Tiger Lilies. These were planted last year and they have just sprouted. They will probably have to be transplanted from the pot sometime this spring. Otherwise they will hide the sedum.

Today, I looked for and found Spring in our yard. I also found plenty of yardwork that needs to be done. This was the third day of cutting back liriope, which has to be done by hand and is not yet done.

The next garden project will be planting some gladiolus bulbs in pots. I’m thinking of layering them with other bulb to have an extended blooming time.


Garden Visitors

The many plants in our yard are not just for our enjoyment, but for creating a habitat for various wild creatures.

Recently, my way into our house was barred by a Black snake stretched across the threshold. It took its time slithering down the back side of the stairs and away into the bushes. It would pause to study me while I took pictures. By using the pictures as a guide, I was able to measure the bricks to calculate the length of the snake at approximately 3 1/2 feet long.

black snake

The leaf bug in this picture was parked under a light outside the same door as the Black snake, except later at night on another evening. It appears to be a lesser angle-winged katydid.

katydid

Early in the morning, before the sun crests over the trees, we often find bumble bees parked on flowers where the spent the night. This one might be an Eastern carpenter bee. It was resting on the flowers of a sedum plant and was starting to wake while I was taking pictures. When it started to react to the camera being close to it, I decided it was time to quit so I would not annoy it.

eastern carpenter bee

All three of these garden visitors came at a time when the light outside made taking a good picture difficult.


Winter Visitor

1 march 2015


Image

Bumble Bee on Tiger Lily

bumble bee on tiger lily


Squirrel Against Squirrel Proof BirdFeeder

When we first moved into our house, my husband’s parents gave us a squirrel proof birdfeeder. For over 20 years, this birdfeeder has lived up to its name, baffling one generation of squirrels after another.

squirrel proof feeder

It is designed so that the weight of a squirrel on the perch will close the door , blocking access to the seeds. It also has a counterbalance on the back which is adjustable to different weights to allow or limit larger birds or squirrels.

But it met its match the other day and lost to a smart squirrel. Maybe not as smart as just persistent.

squirrel proof feeder 2

Look at how the squirrel uses its hind feet on the counterbalance to keep the trapdoor open.

Then it figured out a method of getting the seeds without being able to see its objective.

squirrel proof feeder 3

Okay, it is  clever, but not all that clever since the first picture posted was the last picture I took. It got greedy and tried to climb over the perch and wham, the door shut.

squirrel proof feeder 4

Don’t worry. The squirrels are well fed in our yard since we put feed on the ground for the birds who don’t like feeders and for the squirrels and chipmunks who inhabit the yard too. Plus the birds flick seeds out of the feeder, adding to what is already on the ground.