Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

This is a native, not the invasive Japanese honeysuckle. It is not fragrant but is supposed to be a magnet for hummingbirds. I've not seen any hummers near it but I only saw them for about a week this spring even around their nectar feeder.

Coral honeysuckle comes in shades from deep red to clear yellow and I have three different cultivars at the back of my lot, behind the asparagus bed and scrambling up over the winterberry bushes.

Hedge roses in late June

The wild roses, R. virginiana and R. carolina have already set hips. They'll be a food source for birds and squirrels in the fall. They're supposed to be edible by humans too but all processing instructions sound like a lot of work.

Darlow's Enigma, a 'found rose' and thought to be a hybrid musk, is still in full bloom. It puts forth flushes of white single flowers all summer long and is very fragrant.

Pimping for my plants

Success is sweet. The cranberry bush viburnums (V. trilobum) have set tons of fruit which is just beginning to redden. Lots of the shrubs I have planted are supposed to bear fruit for the birds. The hitch is, many of them are not self-fertile and have special needs for sex partners. Some require a male and female shrub. Others simply need a second, genetically different member of their own kind. All must actually have overlapping bloom times with their pollinators. The Forest Farm catalog has an excellent chart showing workable alliances for winterberry hollies. The GardenWeb shrub forum has treatises on pairings of viburnums. I had to procure mates and perform the introductions.

Do order yourself a hard copy of Forest Farm's catalog. Even if you never buy from them it's a good reference tool.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


I have now eaten two ripe blueberries off of my very own bushes. I have about a dozen bushes, none over 2 feet tall yet. They are southern highbush blueberries which I believe are a hybrid between northern highbush and the southern rabbit eye ones. They are supposed to be well adapted to the mid-Atlantic region. You do need several cultivars for cross pollination and overlapping bloom time. They are available from a number of nurseries. I think I have purchased them from Stark Bros. and Park among other places.

I lost almost all of the first ones I planted to hungry rabbits. I don't mean just the berries, the wretched creatures ate the whole plant right to the ground. This winter I surrounded each with its own little chicken wire fence and they seem to be thriving. There must be half a dozen cultivars back there and this one had lost its tag but the berry was large and sweet.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)

This is the larger of my two pawpaw trees. I planted it two years ago and purchased it from Peterson Pawpaws in West Virginia. It started to bloom this year but a late frost blasted the small purplish flowers. My mom grew up eating pawpaws and did not speak well of them. I've read that seed grown pawpaws are quite variable in flavor, as are apples. Some growers have been identifying particularly tasty ones and then selling grafted plants.

Larger trees get a nice pyramidal shape and I like the long droopy leaves.

This is the main larval host plant for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly.

The Herb Garden

My herbs are in a bed that wraps around the screen porch. Conditions range from Hot and dry at one end to shady and moister as it disappears under the apple tree and around the far side of the porch. I do a lot of cooking and it's very handy to step out of the kitchen and into the herb garden. The lavender is in full bloom, smells wonderful and is visited by many bees. I cut a handful for flowers and added them to a plastic tub full of sugar. I have a recipe for lavender flavored shortbread that I want to try. Tea party anyone?

In the sunny part I have thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, several cultivars of English lavender.

In the shadier part I have lemon balm and then mint and woodruff slugging it out in one bed.

Basil, tarragon and parsley are in the transition zone from sun to shade.

My cats will lounge around in the herbs and may come inside smelling strongly of mint or rosemary. I need to put some catnip out there for them but it's hard to get it established. Cats have no ability to delay gratification and eat the stuff as soon as it sprouts.

The Impressionist

From Roses 2007
The Impressionist, a climbing, English style rose from Heirloom Roses. This is just a baby sized plant but produced a gorgeous flower. The bud is bright orange and opens to a lighter orange, shot with yellow and and some outer petals that are pink. It's going to climb a trellis on the front of my house.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria)

Pipevine swallowtail butterflies are one of the picky sorts that can only lay their eggs and raise larvae on a very few plants. Aristolochias include the big Dutchman's Pipe vine and the small groundcover Virginia Snakeroot vine. I don't have room for the big Dutchman's Pipe vine and the idea of meeting big black wormy things at eye level is disturbing so I set out to acquire some Virginia snakeroot. Not as easy as you would hope. Through a Garden Web forum I found a man who grows odd woodland plants. His nursery is called Loess Roots but he doesn't seem to have a website. He provided me with a packet of seeds in exchange for keeping records and telling him how I germinated them. I did one batch the winter of 2005 and another in 2006. They need winter chilling to germinate so I did them in flats of a soil and sand mix and got about a 25% germination rate which he said was quite good. The first ones are planted out in the front bed and the second are still in the pots where they wintered over. I didn't think either were going to come up but they are finally emerging and growing. Maybe next year I will get butterflies.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Take a look here for a collection of my 2007 rose photos

Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

I planted this all through a bed of native azaleas in front of the house.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Jack in the pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

First one, then several of the Jacks I planted in the fall have come up! I've always loved Jack in the Pulpits. I grew up camping in Virginia and Maryland and once in a while we would find them.