Saturday, May 26, 2007
This was very small when I planted it. You plant them small because they hate having their roots disturbed once they're larger. Since it has made this year's growth it is looking quite satisfyingly substantial. The yellowwood (Cladrastis kentukea) even put out a few blossoms. It doesn't bloom when young and not every year even when mature so I was delighted to see them. They look like creamy white pea blossoms.
Friday, May 25, 2007
Each year I've added shrubs: Serviceberry, scarlet elder, Viburnums trilobum, dentatum and nudum, Spicebush, and Rhododendron atlanticum, arborescens, canescens, periclymenoides, and some hybrids of the native azaleas. I'm about to move some redtwig dogwoods from the front yard where I decided they're too big and straggly for the space.
This gave me a miserable job of mowing in, around and between these individual plants. This year I'm tying them all together into one mulched island. I'm using a year's worth of newspaper and making weekly trips to the liquor store for cardboard. A thick layer of paper goes down first to smother the sod, then mulch over top. It's not quite done but already looking good.
This one has white flowers that look like lacecap hydrangeas. I saw the other day that they have set small green fruit that should ripen and look like hanging cranberries. They're said to be most palatable to birds after they've frozen so are useful for late winter and early spring food.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
For grasses I plan to start with three that are native to this area and supposed to be suitable for the soil and moisture. I don't want the very tallest ones so I have chosen Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), Prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepsis) and Bottlebrush (Elymus hystrix/Hystrix patula).
In 2006 I laid out a teardrop shaped area that covers approximately 1000 square feet on the left side of the backyard. This is zone 6, full sun, mesic in spring to dry in summer. It's Virginia clay soil and a neighbor enlightened me to why I was hitting a near impenetrable layer about 8 inches down in places – an old railway bed ran through there years back. I killed the grass with glyphosate herbicide and have repeated applications every month or so. Used a broadfork to break up the soil to about 12 inches.
It has received most of last year's compost and fresh yard waste. By happy chance our town changed trash pickup rules and my neighbors brought me grass clippings all season. It looks like I have a good 4 or 5 inches of compost now that it has wintered over. I will need to do a couple of applications of herbicide this spring before I plant. I have some awful perennial weeds to get under control.
I'll plant out all the potted plants and seedling plugs, probably in June. In the fall I will direct sow more grass and wildflower seeds and see what comes up in the spring. I understand it takes about 3 years for it to look like much.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Snakeroot (Aristolochia virginiana)
Wild Ginger (Asarum canadensis)