April 25, 2018

Patience Pays! (and Persistence Revisited)

plot 2016

Back in 2012, we had a major drought here in the Madison area and much of Southern Wisconsin. I realize folks in the Southwest have them frequently, but a drought of this magnitude is rare for us. Our plants, animals, and people really struggle when it happens.

It didn't rain, at all, from mid-June through mid-August, and not much before and after that. We didn't officially come out of the drought until April 2013.

I mention all of this, because the drought set back several areas of the garden, including one near a large Oak tree (shown above) that was brown and dead, even by the next summer.

So, I did a little inexpensive experiment. I try to introduce only native plants back in the woods, to keep the area as close to "natural" as possible. I seeded the area with Pennsylvania Sedge (Carex pensylvanica) and Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Both are native, rabbit-resistant, woodland plants, and they tolerate some summer drought. Plus, I like them.

Much to my surprise, by the next summer, the area was filled with Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), Ostrich Ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris), and even Great White Trilliums (T. grandiflorum) and other native plants that hadn't been there before!

bluebells 2016

Meanwhile, the Pennsylvania Sedge was spotty, and the Virginia Bluebells looked like this, with no blooms, for several years.

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Until now! Do you see it?

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How about now?

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Yes! Buds!

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Several of the Virginia Bluebells will bloom very soon! Cheers!


Maybe someday in the not-too-distant future, I'll have a healthy patch of them back there, like this grouping I saw during a hike.

survivors collage

Oh, by the way, the plants that were snowed in at my last post survived, and are now thriving with our near-perfect springtime weather. Boy, they're tough!

I'm linking this post--because of the native, about-to-bloom Virginia Bluebells--to Gail's Wildflower Wednesday meme, over at Clay and Limestone. Check it out!

April 18, 2018





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(Congratulations to the winners of my recent book drawing. Shirley at Rock-Oak-Deer won a copy of "Shakespeare's Gardens," and Carla at The River won a copy of "Vegetables Love Flowers." Thanks to all who participated.)

April 11, 2018

'Low-Country' Azaleas to Brighten the Day

2 floral mix

Those who live in and near the Low Country or the low country, please correct me if I'm wrong, but my understanding is that lowercase "low country" includes the coastal area between Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia, as described in this TripAdvisor entry (see link). "Low Country," when capitalized, denotes a specific region in South Carolina. (In my blog post title, the words are capitalized because it's a title, but I'm referring to the "low country").

In any case, the Azaleas and some Rhododendrons (both belong to the genus Rhododendron) were at peak bloom in this part of the U.S. when we were there in mid-March. I'd been aware of their prevalence in the Southeast, but the multi-color display really exceeded my expectations. We have Azaleas and Rhododendrons (and even some native ones) here in the Midwest, and I've seen them in other parts of the country, but they're certainly spectacular in the "low country" in early spring.

6 statuary reflection

3 magnolia plantation

4 pathway

5 savannah cemetery

The highlight of the Azalea blooms, this trip, had to be the explosion of beauty and color at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in Charleston, but they were also lovely at the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah, and throughout the region.

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Among the beauties were several deciduous native species, including Piedmont (R. canescens), Flame (R. calendulaceum), and Florida Flame (R. austrinum) Azaleas.

azalea 3

Most we saw, however, were Asian hybrid Azaleas, which obviously love the growing conditions of the region. Most weren't marked, so I'm unsure of the cultivar names. I went overboard with photos, and I'm including just a few here--some native species and hybrids, and some Asian cultivars.

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The butterflies obviously appreciated them, too!

For more Azalea images, visit this post's Flickr album, which includes a small sample of the Azalea photos on my camera memory card. (Ooops, I snapped too many.)

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Note: There's still time to put your name in the hat for two garden books: "Vegetables Love Flowers" and "Shakespeare's Gardens." To read about them, check the "Products" tab at the top of this blog. Then, simply leave a comment on my previous post and let me know which book you want. I'll draw two names: one for each book. I'll announce the winners in my next post. Good luck!

April 02, 2018

The Window Boxes of Charleston

azaleas and moss

As we face the reality of a very cold start to April here in the Midwest, I'm remembering our recent trip south. We spent the middle of March in Charleston, South Carolina, and Savannah, Georgia. We pretty much hit the peak of Azalea bloom, and I've never seen healthier, larger Azaleas--blooming just about everywhere we traveled. More about that later.

Of course, the camera and the mind are full of photo and blog post ideas, but I thought I'd start with a quick look at a few of the window boxes in Charleston. They were bright, pretty, and inspirational, and they complemented the city's unique, and mostly historical, architecture.

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It was a fabulous vacation, and I wish I was back in the South. Thinking about it warms me up a little. More to come on both Charleston and Savannah.

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On another topic, I'm offering readers two great gardening books: "Vegetables Love Flowers" and "Shakespeare's Gardens." To read about them, check the "Products" tab at the top of this blog. Leave a comment on this post, and let me know which book you're interested in. I'll draw two names: one for each book. Good luck!