Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All Grown Up! The Air of Spring, More Flowers and Insects

They grow up so fast! We waited so long, and finally there they were, turning up their cute little faces, so delicate and tiny and full of hope. We were so eager to see them grow, to become everything that they could be. Seems like only yesterday that they were beginning to blossom into their full potential (wait, it was just yesterday!) A little rain and a few hours of sunshine and all those baby plants have shot up to six times their cuteness, had sex, procreated and are now literally tossing their progeny to the winds. And just look at them! Violets a foot tall or more, crested with crowns of seed pods, daffodils two feet tall (or they would be if they hadn't gotten lazy and laid down all over their neighbors)

This was a problem last year, as some clumps have a hundred or more bulbs and cover quite an area with ripening leaves, so I experimented this spring to see if I could control this daffodil habit of sprawling and smothering everything else in the vicinity. I made cages for some of the clumps as they were coming up, using whatever I had on hand:  tomato cages cut in half and upended over emerging shoots, pieces of left-over fencing and 2x4 wire, made into circles and poked into the ground. This method helped a lot with the daffodils that were thus contained. They have mostly stayed upright and in check. As the wire I used was somewhat rusty, it is almost invisible under the foliage. Next year I am going to try to cage all the clumps that share beds with other plants!

If you look carefully at the lower part of this clump you can just see the wire tomato cage.

Lunaria is three feet tall, blooming wantonly all over the place, shoving its bed mates over without a thought. I nearly got bumped in the nose by a hesperis shooting up its buds while I was weeding near it. (OK, so I might have made that up.)

And those weeds! Where did those two foot tall wild lettuces come from all of a sudden, and isn't that poke over there in the middle of the hostas? And I do believe all that group of echinaceas are not really all echinaceas! What IS that big thing over there in the herb garden? It wasn't there yesterday. It might not even have been there this morning! I don't dare stand still too close to the honeysuckle, I think it might be aiming to wind me up in its waving tentacles. Tendrils. Whatever. My compost pile is so full, stuff is falling off and I have resorted to tossing clippings and weeds on top of the brush pile, and over the fence Out Beyond.

The garden is lush and beautiful, in spite of the weeds. This is an azalea, one of half a dozen that I got at $2 each from Lowe's early this spring. It is an unnamed variety, but gorgeous! I also have other varieties in white, peach, lavender and red.

False solomon's seal is finally blooming.

Just taking a breath outdoors is wonderful right now. The lilies of the valley are wafting perfume for yards around, a ferny euphorbia is honey-scented as I work near it, and there are still lilacs.. Out in the woods, deciduous holly is has a sweet, musky odor, woodland phlox is heavenly, and I just noticed today that honesty (lunaria) has a delicate aroma that you have to have your nose right into (but look out for bumble bees!) or you'll miss it. Black locust (robinia pseudoacacia)  dangles its white clusters over our heads with a tantalizing scent. The pale blue antique irises are beginning to open along the walk to the mailbox and are filling the air with the smell of Grape Nehi soda that takes me back to hot summer days and country stores of my childhood.

Grape Nehi iris.

Honey-scented euphorbia. No wonder the bees love this!

A patch of this wild camassia  found growing Out Beyond last year has more than doubled its size this spring. I've successfully transplanted a few of them into the woods and a colony of seedlings has started there.

Japanese roof iris (iris tectorum) is a beautiful spectacle in whites and blues.

Hardy orchid (bletilla) is beautiful! I see this one has been slightly chewed on a couple of petals by something, but who really expects perfection in a garden anyway!

Lamiastrum "Herman's Pride" is a glory in the spring garden, and well-behaved in clump form, unlike its similar but invasive cousin, "Yellow Archangel". Pretty with hostas, ferns and bleeding hearts in the shade garden.

The last daffodils of spring, a delicate white multiflora.

Here's a seedy fellow. On a rainy "bad hair day" a dandelion puff sports a spikey "do".

Looking equally as stylish is a pasque flower (anemone pulsatilla) seed head.

Another spikey fellow, this leopard moth caterpillar was hiding under a rotten log. It curled up into a stuborn ball and wouldn't look at me! It is a good 4 inches long and fat as my thumb. These caterpillars overwinter in rotten logs and under leaf litter and feed in the spring on cherry, dandelion, violets, oak, and plantains, among others. There should be plenty for it to eat around here!

And the last picture of the day, a pretty skipper visits Star of Bethlehem (ornithogalum).

"I was rich in flowers and trees,
Hummingbirds and honeybees."

Monday, April 26, 2010

Just for pretty

 I just can't resist taking photos of pretty flowers. Here's some you might enjoy.

Pink spiderwort
Blue spiderwort
Virginia waterleaf

pretty tulip

Iris tectorum, Japanese roof iris in white

Iris tectorum in blue
Star of Bethlehem (ornithogalum)

Pink azalea

Busy bee in Jacob's ladder

Blue Princess holly


Clusiana tulip

strawberry blossom


Ok, I've got that out of my system. Now I can get to thinking about a more interesting post.  Thanks for being so patient!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Walk at Wildcat

It was a cloudy day that looked like rain, but the thought of a little water never detered us! Off we went to Wildcat Park.  The site of The Wildcat Glades Conservation & Audubon Center, Joplin, Missouri, is adjacent to some of the last remaining chert glades, a globally unique habitat found only in this area and the biologically rich Shoal Creek; an important place for migratory birds and other wildlife. The park itself has been in existance for many years, with primitive hiking trails and fishing along Shoal Creek, but the chert glades were slowly being destroyed by human misuse. A few years ago, in partnership with Audubon Missouri, the City of Joplin and the Missouri Department of Conservation, spearheaded by a group of concerned citizens, the Center was established. Opened in 2007, the Center itself is, as their brochure states, "a celebration of nature. Innovative "green" technologies create a truly distinctive building in keeping with our mission of appreciating, conserving and understanding our natural world." The local Missouri Department of Conservation offices are also located on site. New trails were built and paved, a bluebird trail was set with bluebird houses, native trees and shrubs were planted and much clearing of trash and restoration of the natural woods was done, largely in part by a group of dedicated volunteers who work tirelessly and ceaselessly to make the center a viable, living thing for all to enjoy.

There is wonderful diversity of life here! From the rocky chert glades to the lush river growth and beautiful wildflowers, it is a wonderful place to spend a day. Trails wind through the park, along the river, across bridges to neighboring McIndoe Park and back, about a 3 mile walk, most of it easy, some of it a bit of a rough hike around and across cliffs and ridges. We only walked about a third of it today, taking our time, lots of photos and enjoying the park. It never did rain! Come walk along with us!

A glimpse of the glades

Just a tiny corner, rich with miniature plant life.

A fine pair of Canada geese

This is the entrance to a cave, one of many in the area. The actual entrance is gated to  keep it from being destroyed. Can't you just imagine early Native Americans using this? Perfect location on the river, plenty of chert and flint for arrowheads, game, shelter. Osage was a local tribe but there were others who traveled through here and also there were prehistoric tribes in the Ozarks. 

This Canada Goose had a quiet little cove all to itself.
This is wild impatiens, or jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) . You will often find it where you find this:
Poison ivy. Jewelweed is an antidote for the rash.

This is the old Reddings Mill bridge. It was taken out of service and a new one built; it is now part of the trail system.

Baptisia, and a fine fat bumblebee that wouldn't stop and pose for me nicely. He was much too busy.

Picnic tables and benches were donated to make the bridge a rest stop. Here we would cross the river and follow the trail on the other side. Today this is our point to turn back.

Looking downriver

Headed for home.

Blackberry blossoms

Lousewort (Pedicularis lanceolata)
Native viburnum


The park will be closing soon so it's time to go home! Thanks for walking with us. We'll share with you another part of our park another day. If you'd like to read more about Wildcat Glades, here's the link: