Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Sunday's flowers

Sunday I kicked around in the garden a bit then met a friend to go on a nature walk in Hillsborough. It is pouring rain right now, expected to rain the next two days as well. Not building the screened porch the until it dries up at least. Did someone mention taxes, oh my....

Back in November I planted 24 of this daffodil 'Replete'. Most are blooming right now, but the flowers are so heavy we are forced to take cuttings from those hitting the ground.
Here are the snow flakes Leucojum aestivum I planted last fall, not much of a bloom this year. Maybe next year they will burst out. We went to a meeting at the Durham Public Library and they had one of these in a solid 18 inch round clump full of blooms.

I mentioned last year that triandus Hawera daffodil was my new favorite daffodil, it still is. Planted in three places in the gardens, it is doing very well.

This Cut-leaf Toothwart Cardamine concatenata was everywhere on our walk. Most of the toothwarts seen were blooming white, pink seems to happen once in a while. Sorry to report the spring beauties were hiding as it was cold and threatening rain. If you want to see more of this flower my post from last year.

The cold frames are uncovered, we survived the 'hard' frost yesterday with no damage. I covered the peonies, columbines and bleeding hearts. Now the rain is making the peas very happy. Oh, the English Breakfast Radishes Meg planted February 21 are pretty tasty, we have been eating them since Saturday.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

More Camellias Airlie Gardens

Here are more camellias from Wilmington, NC first ones are from Sharna's yard where I collected 7 seedling plants from 2 inches tall to a foot tall.

This first one was my personal favorite of the entire trip. We did collect seedlings under this one, though there were 3 other camellias close by also.
Hoping we'll get something close to this. If you did not know a seedling camellia most likely will not be exactly the same as it parent plant, it might cross with any of the other camellias nearby.
Not very often do you see a three color camellia.
White, hard to photograph. We saw lots of white camellias in Airlie Gardens, but I'll not feature them today.
All the next three photos were huge 5 inch blooms!

The below photos are from Airlie Gardens.  This bloom might have been more than 5 inches. I saw a 15 foot camellia plant very similar to this one in Durham on Friday. Sad news is we are planning to build a big deck where it and 3 other 10 foot camellias are planted, hoping we can have them moved to a new place in my customer's yard if we do the job.
The rest are from Airlie Gardens!
As you can see here camellias can turn out very different on the same plant.

Not one camellia bush is labeled at Airlie Gardens which is a shame. I think this one below is La Peppermint, we have it in our garden. Ours is blooming, but with frost burns on the blooms.

 Mixed blooms heaven, this was the scene in many places on our visit.

Pretty good visit and we'll have to return again soon. Not long until the Wilmington Azalea Festival!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Airlie Gardens Camellias, Daffodils and Tulips!

Today Meg and I visited Airlie Gardens in Wilmington, NC. It was a beautiful day to visit,hardly anyone was there. The sun was very bright and taking landscape photos were a big challenge. Meg told me at the beginning even though I'm not much of a tulip fan I'd be one after visiting today, she was right.

Airlie Gardens has lots of tulips planted in mass. Shame in some areas lots were dug up by rodents, hundreds!

 Given the sun problems Here are some of the photos I managed to get.
 These giant yellow tulips were huge. I'm sure I saw several that were 7 inches wide! There were 4-5 masses of these in the camellia garden.

 Just a sample of the tulips in the gardens. Those are pansies planted along with the tulips.

 The drive had this ring of daffodils, those trees are a ring of vitex trees. Would enjoy seeing those vitex in full bloom, but that is much later in the season.

We found some daffodil foliage that was clearly 2 foot tall, the blooms were gone, never seen any daffodils even close to that tall.
 Flowering Dogwood with Spanish Moss.
 A cherry tree that caught my eye.
 See the yellow on top of the concrete pagoda? That is the top of the pagoda path covered in Carolina Jasmine.
Here is the Airlie Live Oak estimated to be almost 500 years old. FYI that gray stuff  is Spanish Moss  hanging down from the tree.
 Thousands of camellias in bloom! Never seen so many in one place. Most of the camellias were planted 80-90 years ago in the gardens. Seems the theme is multi-colored and huge blooms. Surely I saw blooms approaching 6 inches across.
This red camellia is challenging the camera's color tones, I worked hard in photoshop and still did not get it right. Anyway I have a whole another post of camellia photos if you want to see them?

One last note about camellias. The person we were visiting, you would think her yard was part of the camellia garden at Airlie gardens. There is a nice selection of camellias all huge bushes. We brought home 6-8 camellia seedlings from her yard!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Bee Hives & First Butterfly Photo

I worked on the bottle wall today. Mid day I took a break as the mortar needs to harden before you can clean it up and go taller. Happened into my neighbors yard where she has nice shrubs that attract butterflies. Granted in was not suppose to reach 60 today so butterflies were not out much.

Anyway I found this Eastern Pine Elfin, an un common butterfly in NC, they have been seen here in recent years about every two years. Been thinking the timbering of the Lobolly Pines two tracts over last year might have hurt them, but they usually host on sapling Lobolly's and timbering makes lots of saplings.

One of my all time favorite butterflies. This one landed on an oak leaf and I placed the leaf with the elfin on it in a better location as the clouds and low temps kept it from flying off.
 Look what I found about 300-400 yards from our property on the 350 acre tract! Three hives with two brood boxes in each hive. No wonder we have been seeing so many bees around here. Still I'm, placing a hive next to our pond.
 Made some progress on the bottle wall today. See all the brown mortar, today's progress. Placing bottles like this can be very difficult, I like challenges. See it has about reached the  grade. The leaves in green reaching out from the center where it'll bee a blue flower above grade. I'll be glad to get rid of those concrete blocks.
Don't think I mentioned it , last night American Toads started calling. So through out the day right now one can hear Spring Peepers, Upland Chorus Frogs, Pickerel Frogs and American Toads in the pond. Oh and see the water lilies in the water.

This is the second post today, I think it is only the second time I have done that....

More Spring Wildflowers

Finished the beekeeping class yesterday, learned a lot. It was nearly system overload with all to learn in such a short time. Nope I did not win the bee hive. My bees should arrive around the first of May, so the next step is to purchase a hive, smoker and cheap veil(maybe gloves to go with it).

Will be working on the bottle wall today, in the 60s just perfect for working with mortar. In the past two days I have acquired 5 more blue bottles including a really long one. Costco sells a wine in the beautiful long blue bottle, I'm drinking it little by little to get the bottle, I'll have three of them once it is empty. These long bottles I plan on installing them sideways so most of the blue can be seen in the sun light.

Here are a few things that I found on our property yesterday.
 Windflower grows in the shady part of the yard it was planted there by nature. Last year it there was a lot more of it, the drought must have slowed it down this year. It is an anemone. The fall anemones I bought last fall looked pretty dead all of them a few weeks ago. I'm happy to report all the fall anemones look to be alive and are waking up. Oh and the lower hillside has Trout Lilies opening up everywhere.
Bloodroot, this was found about 20 foot out of our property line, I have seen it on our property. While down there looking I found our neighbor has a RTV trail that barely hits our property and it goes right through the bloodroots. Guess I'm ok with them riding down there, it is barely a trail at this point.
 The thrift is just starting to open up, this is from our largest patch, about 3 ft by 3 ft. We have three different colors of this. I'd love to see more of it, but we have not the room for it. Butterflies will use it. To date this year we are at 9 species of butterflies now, dragonflies should be showing up any day.
The pansies are looking pretty good, thought I'd share this one.

Oh and I have added what looks to be the last of our hellebores to bloom this year to my plants page. They are marked hellebore breezy 09 and 10 see them here, all of our blooming hellebores can be seen on this page, there are a lot so enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Bottle Wall, Day Four

Spring is here! Today while working in the yard I saw 6 species of butterflies. The butterflies were 1 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail,  4 Falcate Orangetips, 1 Sleepy Orange, 2 Spring Azures, 1 Anglewing sp and 1 Mourning Cloak.

The frogs are calling nearly non stop, mostly Spring Peepers, then Upland Chorus Frogs and new for the year today Pickerel Frogs calling. Tonight the peepers are a 5-6 on a scale of 10 for intensity.

Between my errands I had to do today, I worked on the installing bottles in the bottle wall. The first being underground I have to make sure they were capped. I found caps or corks for most of them, the rest I sealed with duct tape. My expensive duct tape (left over from a job) messed up and can not be used until I can fix it, never had this happen before. FYI when you lay the bottles point them down slightly towards the opening so it does not fill up is it does get wet.
 You can not see it, the bottom two  rows of bottles are green then clear. The photos makes those lower clear bottles look green. The plan is to bring the wall up to (grade) the top of those sunken in concrete blocks(the upper blocks are one of the cold frames). The two green bottles on ends at a 45 degree angle are the base of leaves. Those leaves will curl out and then down slightly. Between the leaves will be a big blue flower above grade so the light can shine though it. The top of the wall will likely roll up and down.
A bonus with the bottle wall is the reflection on the pond, I like it.

The mix I used for concrete was 3 shovels Portland Cement, 6 shovels #78 gravel and 9 shovels sand per wheelbarrow load. This portion of the wall took two wheel barrow loads.

Right now I'm hoping that using Portland cement  instead of type S mortar is going to be OK. Type S motar is Portland cement with lime added. Reading the bags type S is for 1/2 inch joints and concrete is for 2 inches deep and over. It all looks good, in the morning we'll see.

Now some of what is blooming in the garden!

Crocus chrysanthus 'Gipsy Girl' just opened up yesterday, it is a stunner and new addition to our garden.

 This primrose we bought from Clifford Parks at Pine Knot Farms Hellebore Event last year. Glad to see it made it through our hot dry summer.
 Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc' in a small drift.
 American Plum blooms are at peak right now. The tree has been is sad shape for years, maybe 1/3 of the tree is blooming. The aroma right now on a warm day can be picked up more than 50 foot away! Butterfly magnet, yet today I saw no butterflies on it.
 Our Bleeding Heart, Meg pointed this out to me yesterday. It is a mini right now, hope it fills out like last year.
We have seen Valentine in the new bird feeder a few times, she scatters if you bring out a camera. Grumpy on the other hand has one-eye and he is very tame. No he won't catch any birds, just enjoying the view. I'm really surprised he climbed up there.