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It’s been chilly, rainy, and cloudy, but flowers brighten the days.
Also blooming are salvia silvestris, Sweet William, foxglove, geranuim sanguineum, rose campion, lobelia, nasturtium, campanual cup and saucer, sedum, coral bells, many varieties of pinks, trandescantia, an orangy-red nasturtium I started from seeds that are supposed to be creamy yellow, and an oriental poppy ‘Princess Victoria Louise’ started from seed in 2004 and blooming for the first time this year. Also blooming: penstemon, snow-in-summer, wild yarrow, mountain laurel (Connecticut’s state flower), and my last dark purple bearded iris. I have photos of most, but for some reason photo uploads are touchy today. Happy bloom day everyone.
Study up … this is serious. Mile-a-minute vine – acronym MAM – is no joking matter. Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) came by its common name quite naturally – it can grow 6 inches a day. This highly invasive vine, aka mile-a-minute weed or Devil’s tearthumb –has thumb-tearing barbs along its stem; it is a devil of a job to clear it away from any plant to which it has taken hold.
I’ve seen it and removed it from gardens I care for, but until now I was not aware of requests to report all possible sightings. Mile-a-minute vine has been officially identified in 15 CT towns. Horticulturists see it as a serious enough threat to devote a website to the identification, reporting, and eradication of mile-a-minute vine.
I’ve mentioned some of Connecticut’s invasive plants in previous posts. Eradication of these non-native threats requires time and commitment – as does anything worth doing. But first you need to know what is invasive and how best to remove and destroy each plant that threatens to overtake our native species. I cannot urge this strongly enough.
I’m devoting part of this rainy, foggy day to throw on a raincoat, waterproof shoes, and a pair of sturdy gloves so I can scout for, remove, and report any mile-a-minute vines I find. But I’ll also be clearing bittersweet vines, Japanese barberry and multiflora rose. I would like to think that my soon-to-be-born granddaughter will be able to enjoy the bloom of our native mountain laurels (Kalmia latifolia) when she is grown, just as we enjoy them now. When you think of future generations, it tends to give you some incentive to protect the things we have.
touring joene's garden
There are a couple of interesting sounding garden tours this weekend for those who are more caught up with their gardening tasks than I … and I suspect there are many of you out there. Normally I would jump at the chance to visit other gardeners’ gardens, but this year mine beckon too forcefully to give up a weekend day. So while I tour my own gardens, others will be touring these.
June 13 – 10 to 3 – rain or shine. Northeast Organic Farming of Connecticut, fondly called CT NOFA is sponsoring an Organic Garden Tour. Call 203-888-5146 to register to visit private gardens in Shelton, Westport, Wallingford, South Glastonbury, Hamden, Southington, Lebanon, Manchester, West Hartford, Windsor, Coventry, Tolland, and Sterling. The tour will also feature Hatchery Brook Community Gardens in Berlin, School Courtyard Gardens at Barnard Magnet School in New Haven, a community garden and trail at Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury, a community garden at Unitarian Universalist Society in New Haven, and the Master Gardener/Foodshare Garden at the Auer Farm in Bloomfield … you choose which and how many gardens you want to visit. Sounds like a great deal for $20, and one of the most intriguing parts of this tour – boy I wish I could go – is that all the featured gardens are not completed to perfection so visitors can observe gardens in progress. Fantastic!
June 14 – 10 to 4. Country Places Garden Tour opens up private gardens in East Haddam to visitors. Meet at the Old Town Hall (488 Town Street), pay the $20 registration, and head off to be wowed.
If you visit, think of me while wandering, and do share your experiences. I’ll be busy weeding, planting, mulching, and smelling the flowers here … rain or shine.
tulip-tree in early May 2009
I completed my Project Budburst observations for 2009
when my tulip tree (Liriodendron tulipifera) bloomed in my wooded piece of Connecticut. This, along with my other observations – first bloom of the common dandelion (mid-April), as well as Eastern Red Columbine and Jack-in-the-pulpit (early May) – are now listed with thousands of others at the Project Budburst website
. Phenologists use these data to build nationwide information about plant habits and climate change.
I have one, treasured tulip tree in the woods behind my house that first bloomed about May 31. Unless you have a tulip tree in a prominent area or frequently walk under one in the woods, you may not see their waxy, tropical-looking blossoms until they drop from the tips of the often 60 feet high branches. This year other commitments kept me so busy that I nearly missed catching the yellow-orange hand-sized blossoms swaying in the treetop. If you look closely in the photo above, you can pick out the orange at the base, yellow at the rim, cupped flowers facing upward as if waiting for dew to collect in their base. It’s not easy to capture these flowers on film – as my amateur photo shows – but one watchful photographer luckily caught a perfect tulip tree bloom after it fell to the ground.
But back to Project Budburst, which is a great project for getting kids and budding gardeners involved in nature watching. The website provides printable Identification Guides of native shrubs, trees, wildflowers, herbs, and grasses – with photos – making identification easy for everyone, no matter their age.
My participation renewed my interest in watching for native vegetation … what have your Project Budburst observations taught you?
Slugs – slimy blobs of goo that feast on hosta, lettuce, and other leafy vegetation such as the horseradish leaf pictured here – are perennial problems for many gardeners. The moist spring weather we’ve had in Connecticut has been a boon for the local slug population, but for an effective, low-cost method to reduce slug counts, think beer.
Slugs love beer. Sink a saucer, adjacent to slugs favored plants, so the saucer rim is level with the surrounding ground, then fill the saucer with beer to “invite” slugs away from plants. Fill the slug pools in the evening and awaken the next morning to – ewww – a dearly-departed saucy soup.
Another sure fire slug-depleting method is to sprinkle them with common table salt. In reality, it’s not quite as touchy-feely as depicted in the following never-made-it cartoon, but it is effective.
I have to be pushed to use the salt-eradication method, but I will happily reach for the salt shaker when I consistently find patios and decks slimed with slug trails or when slugs manage to position themselves exactly where my bare foot just landed – double ewww!
Still, I prefer the thought of them enjoying their last hop-enhanced moments, naively floating in a Bud- or Duff-filled basin, maybe singing along with Homer …
Oh yeah, use cheap suds for slugs … like Homer they don’t seem to have a discerning palette … save the good stuff for human’s with more discriminating taste.
Connecticut gardeners still need to be aware of night temperatures. Tender annuals, such as impatiens, coleus, and morning glories, and tender vegetables, like the eggplant shown here, do not like temperatures in the low 40’s. It was 38 degrees to my south-central gardens the morning of June 1.
This is an unusually chilly spring and it’s best to not become complacent – overnight cover with an overturned basket or an old sheet may be all that’s needed to protect tender plants.
Our baby robins are getting closer to flying off on their own. I don’t see how they can get much bigger and still fit in their nest. These, nested in a rhododendron, should be fledged by the time the blooms have passed and need deadheading. Spring blooming shrubs are best pruned immediately after they flower, so now’s the time to deadhead and prune lilacs that are finished with thier annual show.
Siberian iris-geranium sanguineum-cranesbill
Stamford, Connecticut recently held a Sustainability Expo. Read Debbie’s current and future posts on what she learned and had re-confirmed there. Also check out the info on the plant swap planned for June 6 in New Canaan, Connecticut. You may find perennials that become anchors in your garden. Over the years, I’ve managed to fill my gardens with finds from similar local events. The cranesbill and iris pictured above were two of my most prolific finds … I started with one small clump of each, but over the years have divided both plants to the point that they offer spectacular shows in the early spring.
Have you stretched your gardening dollars with plants from local sales and swaps? Do tell!