Monday, January 19, 2009

Olga, the pink cloud in the garden 

Well, it is pretty hard to get into the garden frame of mind when the snow keeps piling up and the temperature goes down to -16˚ at night, but I will have to admit that visions of spring do dance through my head. On the positive side, all of this snow has covered most of my rhododendrons, so they will be spared the winter burn that the icy winds inflict upon them in snowless winters.

Rhododendron leaves actually tell you a lot in the winter. On cold days they let me know, without going out or looking at the thermometer, just how cold it is. those curled up droopy leaves say it all. As soon as it warms up they react and their leaves tell me it is fine to venture out.

Over the years I have had good luck rooting rhodie stems, separating them from the parent plant and transplanting them to a new spot. I learned this trick by accident when several branches got buried in damp leaves for a year or two. When I saw the roots that had formed on these stems it occurred to me that this was a good way to get some new plants. It has worked like a charm. Sometimes the new plant doesn't take, but just as often it does, and it is such a feeling of success to see more and more rhodies through the woods. Some years I have flowers and some years I don't, but I love the plants so much that I am happy to have them for the foliage. One that I can count on to bloom every year is Olga Mezitt. In spring it is so covered with lovely pink blossoms that it looks like a pink cloud. Right now there are lots of buds covering my Olgas, so if the deer don't nip them off (they did one year) they should be a beautiful June.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Tree Toad and Grasshopper At Home In the Daylily

I have been thinking about the mission statement that Helen Yoest suggested on her site . I have decided that my mission in 2009 is to "Emphasize plants that will attract winged creatures to the garden and to take time to pause and enjoy watching them". The birds and bees are always there, but often I am so busy doing things that they are just in the background, and I don't really see them. Once in a great while I sit in the Adirondack chair and really look at what is happening in the garden. Those are the treasured moments, and I want to experience more of them in 2009. The picture above is an example of what you might see if you take the time to really observe your garden. the little tree toad moved to a new daylily blossom each day. Perhaps the flower was attracting insects for the toad to eat. Catching the toad sharing the flower with a grasshopper was a bonus.

I am being selective in saying that I want winged creatures as this omits many of the visitors to the garden, but I will have to admit that it is hard to enjoy the beauty of animals like deer when I see them munching one of my prize hostas. I was aghast a year or two ago when a rabbit chewed off my clematis about two inches above the ground. It didn't eat any of it, but the clematis was done for. That rabbit also chewed off my amsonia and left the stems lying on the ground. For the most part the critters with wings don't destroy anything, so I welcome them. Oh yes, I don't hope for any Japanese Beetles to visit my garden, but they seem to prefer my neighbor's garden as she is growing plants more to their liking.

With the temperature at 3˚ the Adirondack chair is currently empty, but it will be waiting to be occupied next summer. I can hardly wait. 

Thursday, January 1, 2009

After reading Kathy Purdy's idea of a mission statement for your garden I began to think about some of the high points in my own gardening. I recalled one morning when I was potting up some plants in the driveway. I was on my knees overlooking the garden and bird bath pictured above when I saw a humming bird fly up to the spray from the fountain. After dancing around it for a few seconds he flew into the spray several times and then alit on the edge of the bird bath and dipped his breast into the water several times. I was in awe as I watched this wee creature taking his bath. Since then I have had them fly up when I am watering the garden. I quickly change the nozzle so that it sprays a fine mist and they seem to delight in flying into this mist and then sit on branch and preen. They seem to know that I am doing this for them... at least that is what I like to think, and for a few moments we seem to be communicating. It is breathtaking to say the least.

So, with snow outside and thoughts of summer in my head I wish you all a very wonderful 2009. The days are already getting longer, summer will be here in no time. Happy gardening.