28 April 2010

Wine & Wetlands

I resolved this summer to visit many of the local sites and attractions that I have never visited. I guess that human nature is such that convenient nearby activities and diversions are not a high priority since the opportunity for a visit will always be there.

A leisurely Sunday was spent visiting a few Maryland attractions located less than an hour's drive away. A wine sampling at Friday's Creek winery lead to a stroll through its old tobacco barn art gallery. Afterwards, a hike ensued at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, and then a visit to Lower Marlboro Nursery, specializing in native species and run by a local women in her front yard.

The walk on the boardwalk at Jug Bay, along the tidal Patuxent River, yielded opportunities for bird spying on some winged friends not found in my neighborhood. Five osprey nests on platforms dotted the wetlands. Seven great blue herons foraged near each other. A group of palm warblers played in the trees on the old railroad bed trail. Bird watching friends brought along a scope to bring the birds closer.

The trails were filled in with a native rhododendron shrub in bloom, more appealing and delicate than the solid-color pink and fuchsia azaleas overpopulating every suburban garden in the area. A lookup on the internet revealed them as a Pinxter Azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides (Michx.) Shinners). It likes wet areas, which explains why it was found in the shady spots around the shores of the wetlands. It is also supposed to be highly toxic to both humans and animals, leading one to believe it deer-proof.

The end of the wetlands trails wove along a beaver lodge, where red belly turtles were sunning themselves, perched on logs and rocks in the pond behind - 45 turtles in all. Orange-red coloring around the bottom of the shell with yellow and black tripes on the head were certainly not considered camouflage.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: coreopsis, iris, allium

19 April 2010

Plant Swap Adoption

One year ago at our annual Plant Swap Brunch, I adopted a perennial geranium looking for a new home. Most gardeners attending our plant swap do not know the names of what they have, but I knew this was some sort of geranium.

I divided it into twins and placed them in a sunny location like their original home. With some TLC throughout the summer, they grew slowly. This spring, each came back and shot up some magenta blooms. Based on these, I identified the plant as Cranesbill Bevan's Variety (Geranium macrorrhizum). Isn't the internet wonderful?

Information seems to indicate that this is a semi evergreen that blooms throughout the summer, and can be considered a ground cover. This was not my experience, with few blooms last year and 100% winter die-back. According to one source, the highly aromatic leaves are used for 'woodland scented perfumes.' I always knew my twins fell into the scented geranium category. What I admire (compared to my other geranium [10.5.2008]) is that clusters of blossoms are held above the 8-inch tall (20 cm) mound of foliage. The plants are also beginning to spread out new little ones, so the ground cover behavior is beginning.

You Are Invited To A Plant Swap Brunch
All gardeners are welcome - maybe some local garden blog readers would like to stop in. Our plant swap brunch is near the Huntington Metro station in Alexandria, 12:00-1:00 PM, Saturday May 1 at the Huntington Community Center on Liberty Drive. Bring something to swap (seeds, seedling, plant) and a brunch item. Contact me if you need further info. At last year's spring plant swap, coreopsis, hosta, lettuce, St. John's Wort, and iris all walked my way. I said goodbye to pepper, & tomato seedlings, asters, dragonflowers, geraniums, and cosmos & castor bean seeds.

For The Record:
  • Well drained soil
  • Full sun
  • No pests or disease

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Cranesbill geranium, allium, azalea, viburnum
  • Germinated: peppers (12 days), castor bean (5 days), tomatoes (9 days)
    millet (8 days), cleome (14 days), hollyhock (11 days)

14 April 2010

April 2010 Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of each month

This day, I got the urge to be more creative with the photos. Lighting from behind the azalea, lighting casting shadows to bring out highlights, chartreuse all alone among the red, and depth of field changing.

It is a toss-up on which photo to submit for this month's photo contest Green World theme. Please help me decide.

Doublefile Viburnum buds

St. John's Wort 'Brigadoon'

Azalea 'Snow' Dogwood

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: dogwood, azalea, poet & chiffon daffodils, grape hyacinth
  • Seedlings: tomatoes, pepper, cleome, millet sprouted

07 April 2010

Vertically Challenged

In addition to the regulars in the garden, I like to extend invitations to a few new plants each year. One of the new arrivals to my spring garden is the Tête-à-tête daffodil (Narcissus 'tete-a-tete'). (Tête-à-tête is French for 'head to head'.) My problem with daffodils is their inclination to wear out their welcome. After blooms have come and gone, they like to hang out long afterwards while their leaves slowly and unattractively die back. This miniature's petite size lead me to believe they will not become a noticeable nuisance waiting for leaves to die back, thus allowing other plants take up their place.

I have seen these little ones around here and there in other gardens, so they seemed like a good choice for a spot up front. They really need to be seen close up. They can get confused for crocuses from a distance. I must wear my glasses.

Being only 4-6 inches tall (10-15 cm), these particular tête-à-tête daffodils appear to be lower in height than others I have seen around town. Still others have longer cups than these. My guess is that these are a different subgroup of a larger mini daffodil group, or that they are new, or that I planted them too deeply. I know I planted them too far apart. They would surely look better snuggled together as a mature clump.

For The Record:
  • Well-drained soil
  • Full sun
  • Small amount of bone meal in Fall

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: tete-a-tete, lemon chiffon, poet daffodils, apeldoorn tulips, hyacinth, snowflakes
  • Seed started: cleome, tomatoes, millet, hollyhock, peppers