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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The End and The Beginning

Today is the last day of 2008 but unless you've never seen a calander you probably knew that already.  As one year ends and new one begins.  It's time for a short look back at 2008 and a glance into the future.

2008 was the first full growing year that we really had in the garden.  Our first year in our home (2007) time and money was spent making it suitable for living.  The money went into the hardwood floors, new carpets, painting, wainscoting and other miscellaneous projects and wasn't there for gardening in our first year.  Needless to say 2008 was a better year for the garden!

My first project in 2008 was the rain garden. We had an area of our driveway the pooled a significant amount of water during a rain. It didn't matter whether it was a light rain or a heavy one standing water always remained on the driveway. The solution was the rain garden. I have more planting to do but it succeeded in eliminating the puddles on the driveway.

Before spring officially started growing in our garden I tackled my second project of the year, the raised bed garden.  I made a vegetable garden layout that would be both functional and aesthetically pleasing.  I put the lumber together and filled the beds with compost and soil and the garden did fantastic.  I can't say enough how beneficial raised beds are for gardening!  The tomatoes took off and produced into October.  Unfortunately squash vine borers attacked our squash vines and our cucumbers fell to a bacterial wilt, but we had a ton of tomatoes!  I fell short on my plans for the space around the garden.  I was hoping to make a circular ring of perennials and annuals to decorate the vegetable garden space.  I didn't get that done due to time (gardening and raising two little children don't always mix!) but maybe I can move that item of the to-do list to 2009. 

I propagated all kinds of plants including salvias, Russian sages, coneflowers, red twig dogwoods, Japanese dappled willows (very easy, it almost seems unfair to mention it as propagation), gaillardia, catmint, daylillies, liriope and many others.  Some were by division but most were made from cuttings.

I moved a fair share of plants around.  You see, I have this gardening syndrome that many other gardeners seem to have: The I-Can't-Decide-Exactly-Where-To-Plant-This-Plant Syndrome. It's OK since so much of gardening has to do with experimenting (trial and error).  The aforementioned syndrome is often directly related to the I-Bought-This-Plant-Because-I-Like-It-But-I-Don't-Have-A-Place-For-It Syndrome. 

I put together the corner shade garden and filled it with hostas, heucheras (a favorite of mine), coleus, astilbe, two heucherellas (related to heucheras), and an Oak Leaf Hydrangea.  It did fairly well except for some of the hostas who experiemenced what must be the hosta's equivalent of a horror movie: Attack of the Slugs.  Coming soon to a theater near you! (hopefully not)

I added the front sidewalk garden and moved several Russian sages to it, a wise gardening move. The silvery green foliage and purple flowers looked great when in full bloom and they lasted all summer.  Silver mound artemisia and a discount gaillardia were brought into the garden.  The artemisia served as a border and softened the hard concrete walkway while the gaillardia added some long lasting color to one end of the sidewalk.

The patio project was started in 2008 and after many months eventually completed. A raised bed was built against the garage that I never talked about. I meant to mention it but wrote about other things instead and time has a way of letting you forget things.  The patio itself was completed with a Japanese Maple Garden and a raised bed deck wrap around garden.  These beds aren't completely filled yet with plants but I do not doubt that they will be soon enough.

The bird bath garden continued to expand growing from a copper birdbath and a couple plants to an area covering 12-15 feet by 6 feet.  That's just an estimate and plans for its expansion are still in the works.  This little area will become a peaceful area for contemplation next to our dear departed friend, Amber.  We buried her near the bird bath in the garden, could there be a more appropriate place for our feline friend than by a birdbath?

Yesterday in the warm weather I began a new project for 2009 a self-seeding annual garden.  I'll talk more about the self-seeding garden in greater detail soon.  

I'm sure I left out a few things that were accomplished in the garden this year. Lots of new plants were added, some propagated, some discount, some swapped for and some just new.  2009 will bring new challenges, new plans, new plants, and a new to-do list.  I'll show you the 2009 To-Do list tomorrow!

Garden Coaches: Pimp My Yard?

OK, I wouldn't have titled the article with Pimp My Yard (I'm really not cool enough to do that) but there's a very good article on Slate about garden coaching as an emerging horticultural profession.  Garden coaches offer guidance for do-it-yourselfers who want to learn how to garden better.  For more information beyond the Slate article go check out Susan Harris's Garden Coaching Blog.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Sedums in the Garden

The Plant of the Month for December over at Gardening Gone Wild is all about sedums!  Sedums (also called stonecrop) are a type of succulent and are capable of storing water in their leaves which makes them very drought tolerant here in Tennessee.  We have several kinds of sedum in our garden with one of my favorites being the Dragon's Blood Sedum or Sedum sprurium.  Dragon's Blood sedum makes an interesting ground cover due to its burgundy colored foliage.

The other day while we had temperatures in the upper 60's (very unusual for December) I took a few cuttings of our sedum to use in an indoor pot.  Sedums are extremely easy to propagate and in most cases just need to be stuck in dirt to grow roots.  I used the dirt sticking technique and put four small cuttings (or maybe I should call these pinchings since I pinched them off instead of making a cutting) into a small pot.  In the spring I'll add these sedums into various places in the sedum garden but I can easily overwinter them inside the house. 

Please forgive the chip in the pot.  It's been around a while!

There are a several of other kinds of sedums in our garden one of which is everyone's favorite sedum 'Autumn Joy' (Sedum telephium) seen here in the picture behind a mound of mums and some hollyhock leaves. It never fails to offer up a bounty of pink colored blooms.  We have two other 'Autumn Joy' plants both of which came from cuttings.  I used the sedum-in-a-jar-of-water method, which of course is the technical term.

I picked up an 'Angelina' sedum (Sedum repestre 'Angelina') at a plant exchange last year but sadly it disappeared after planting.  It was either a victim of rabbits or neglect (since as I remember I was very slow in planting it).  At the same plant swap I came home with a sedum 'Acre' but I had second thoughts about planting it. Sedum 'Acre' is known to expand its territory very rapidly. It's still resting in its pot waiting for something to be done with it, any suggestions?

Another sedum in our garden is the 'Blue Spruce' sedum.  'Blue Spruce' is a great one for propagating since anywhere you stick it, it grows!  It shoots up yellow flowers in the summer like in the picture to the right and has an attractive blue-green hue to its foliage.  One plant in a pot eventually turned into three large clumps that will spread to cover large portions of our sedum garden - it makes a great groundcover.  I have it mixed with the Dragon's blood sedum for some color contrast. 

The last sedum we have is officially an unidentified one that we purchased last spring at a garden show.  I suspect that it is Sedum sieboldii but I don't know for sure.  The sedum didn't have any identification.  It's a good thing it never got pulled over.  The blooms look great as you can see in this picture from August.  The soft shaded green foliage is what attracted us to the plant but the flowers really do make it worth planting!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Return of the Gardener

The gardener returned to the garden today from his voyage across Tennessee.  From his home, to the lands of the cedar glades, and to the western lowlands he crossed the miles in only trio of days.  Friends from long ago were coming to visit from the northern winterlands and he had to return in time to see to their hospitality.  Today the gardener returned to the garden. 

The gardener entered cautiously into the boggy soil paying careful attention to the shifting ground still soaked from frequent rains.  He observed the changes brought about by moisture and freezes, the unseasonably warm temperatures and the snowfall.  The hardy verbenas were turned to mush, a casualty of the hidden sun and weeping rain.  The ravenous rabbits gorged themselves upon the evergreen chutes of the liriope while the gardener was away.  Leaves layered for mulch shifted and traveled, not far, but far enough to appear unkempt and unruly. The ravages of winter were present but so too were the signs of an emergence of spring still months away.  Cool season weeds were emerging from their slumber.  Wild onions, henbit, and chickweed were continuing their assault on the garden.  The gardener chose not to engage in combat with these enemies.  Today was for reconnaissance and not battle. Good things were happening as well.  Daffodils were peeking above the mulch, raising their leaves like little periscopes peering above the water.  Buds on the crabapple and viburnums were continuing to swell bringing hope that this spring will be just as good if not better than any before. 

The gardener returned and the gardener found that there was much work to do.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Dappled Willows and Winter Interest

One of my favorite shrubs is the Japanese dappled willow (Salix integra).  In the springtime its new foliage emerges with variegated green and cream leaves that persist through the fall.  The leaves darken some as they grow older (or for those who prefer different terminology "grow more mature") until they bare themselves when the light levels drop and cooler temperatures arrive in the fall. 

One thing you may not have considered with these willows is their value in the winter landscape!   The younger branches emerge with a reddish color that may not match Salix alba 'Britzensis' for winter value but certainly does an adequate job.  To ensure that you get nice reddish tinted stems you may want to coppice the shrub (cutting it back to just above the ground) and allow new stems to grow from the roots each year.  Depending on the desired size of the willow you may not want to trim it back drastically but cutting out the oldest wood would be advisable to attain the winter red.  It's a similar strategy to trimming Red Twig Dogwoods.  Just trim out the brown and leave the red.  Japanese dappled willows may not be as showy as other plants for winter interest but they look pretty good to me!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Christmas Eve Sunset

Here's a quick look at the view from Mt. Juliet, TN where we spent our Christmas Eve. I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

We Wish You A Merry Christmas

We would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas 
and a Happy New Year!
Posting over the next week will be irregular as we celebrate the Christmas season with our family. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Idea

For a quick, easy, and cheap stocking stuffer gift idea try a homemade seed packet! I learned how to put together these seed packets that use a technique of  paper folding from Nancy Ondra's blog Hayefield House. Go take a look at her post titled Origami for Seed Savers to learn how. The only thing that you need to do to make these seed packets suitable for Christmas presents is to use the leftover bits of wrapping paper. Not only is it easy to do but it's environmentally friendly since the leftover bits of paper won't end up in the trashcan. 

Just make your packet following Nan's instructions then label the outside and put a little gift tag on it.  Now you have a cheap and easy Christmas stocking stuffer idea.  After all what else are you going to do with the two thousand marigold seeds you collected?

Monday, December 22, 2008

How Cold Was it This Morning?

How cold was it this morning? The wireless thermometer said 15.5 Degrees Fahrenheit at 8:00 AM. That's pretty cold! The low last night in our little nook on the hillside was somewhere around 3-4 degrees!

But really, how cold is that? Cold enough that the bird's won't receive any enjoyment out of the birdbath in the birdbath garden for a while. Cold enough for icicles to form along the edge of our copper avian jacuzzi. Wait, it would have to be heated to be a jacuzzi wouldn't it? Perhaps Woodstock will come along and go ice skating, or maybe I've just seen one too many Christmas specials.

Whatever the case the advantage to a metallic birdbath is that you don't have to do anything special when it fills with water and you can leave it up year round.  And when you get freezing temperatures you get to take neat pictures of icicles hanging on in bitter cold temperatures! Concrete birdbaths can't hold water during the winter or else they may crack under the stress of the expanding and contracting water turned to ice that collects in the winter rains and snows.  At least for this birdbath garden, copper conquers concrete!

Dogwood Seeds (Cornus florida)

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a dogwood (Cornus florida) seed looks like?  If you read yesterday's Name that Seed post you caught a glimpse of some dogwood seeds that were cleaned off by the birds.  Many birds enjoy eating the berries that form on flowering trees.  In this case the bird ate the fleshy outer covering of the drupe leaving behind a more unfamiliar seed. (These never saw the inside of a bird.  If they had I would never have gathered them so cavalierly!) Dogwood seeds need a period of stratification in order to break dormancy.  A good way to simulate this is to put the seeds in a bag of moist (not soaking) potting medium in a plastic bag and put it in a refrigerator for about three months.  In the spring plant the seeds into a pot and let them grow.  Once fall arrives the small saplings can be planted in the ground or transplanted as needed. Eventually they will produce wonderful white displays in the springtime.

Dogwoods enjoy shade and thrive in understory conditions.  They are a native tree to the eastern United States that grows up to 30 feet tall but tend to be much shorter. You can see some of the white flowers of the dogwood blooming with the redbuds (Cercis canadensis) along our back property line. 

The winner of Name that Seed is Gail of Clay and Limestone!  She really knows her seeds!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Name that Seed (There's a Prize This Time!)

This week's name that seed might be a challenge.  The seeds are in the exact state that I found them in however they do not look exactly like they would if they were freshly formed on a tree.  Here is your one clue: the tree prefers shade.  All answers should be posted by the morning of Monday December 22, 2008 when I'll reveal the seed.

The Prize:
The first Name that Seed participant to correctly identify the seed will receive one pair of boots donated by Muck and Stuff.  These Muck Boots look like they would be real handy for gardening chores in wet rainy weather like we have now! In the event of a tie (two responses simultaneously posted) we'll do the high-tech method for determining winners...flip a coin!  Name that Seed is open to anyone reading this post so I'd like to encourage everyone especially if you aren't a regular commenter to participate. 

The Daily Garden - one of three possible prizes.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Say Nothin' Saturday: December Sunset


Friday, December 19, 2008

A December Day in the Garden

We had a short reprieve from the cold winter temperatures we've been having.  It reached nearly 70 degrees  and we actually saw the sun for the first time in days. It felt good to be outside this afternoon tending to some minor garden chores.

My first task was to pot up some more Purple leaf plums (Prunus cerasifera) that had rooted.  I put all six  cuttings into a medium sized pot and left them in the garage near the window and the garage greenhouse.  Last year I made nearly 20 cuttings from some leftover branches after a pruning of another plum tree.  It was an experiment then, I didn't need nearly that many!

I also went outside and did a walk around.  I examined the garden beds around the house and took note of the current state of each area.  Cool season weeds were encroaching in most of the beds.  Wild strawberries were invading the corner shade garden while henbit and chickweed were invading every other area.   A little maintenance now should save a lot of work later. 

I ended up in the Japanese maple garden where I began removing the henbit and chickweed while they were small sprouts.  It was easy work since the recent rains have left the ground very pliable.  The best time to weed is after a good rain!

After removing most of the alien invaders I brought a bucket of kitchen scraps to the compost bin and perused the wilder areas of our yard.  The deer have been still been visiting as evidenced by their prints in the mud. 

I finished up with my time outside today by taking a few cuttings of a Dragon's Blood Sedum.  I put the cuttings in a small pot to bring indoors for the winter.  My goal is to produce a few new plants for next spring's planting season.  I also dressed up a pot of succulents I threw together for my wife to take to work.  I'll show you that in a future post. 

It was nice to see the sun!

Yew Propagation (Taxus x media 'Densiformis')

Just recently I checked some cuttings of Densiformis Yew (Taxus x media; also Taxus cuspidata) and found roots! Densiformis Yew is also known as a spreading yew and is a common evergreen shrub in landscape plantings. It makes an attractive foundation planting with its dark green needles. If you have animals fond of chewing on plants avoid planting yews since they are very poisonous.

Several weeks ago I took five greenwood cuttings from the yews in the front sidewalk bed. I bought the yews in our first year here from the discount rack for $2 a piece. They had some browning branches at the time but a little trimming was all that was needed to correct that. Since then they've grown fairly rapidly providing me with plenty of good branches for propagating.

I took greenwood cuttings about 5-6 inches long and treated them with rooting hormone and placed them in a small container of sand. I watered them and waited. And waited. And waited. I checked them a couple times. Then I waited. And waited. And finally after several weeks of waiting (it really is the hardest part of propagating) I examined the base of the yews and found the roots you see in the picture. Four of the cuttings had rooted but the fifth was showing no signs of rooting. I decided I would go ahead and pot them all up together for the time being and see what happened. If they all end up rooting, like I hope they will, I'll have 10 yews that I spent a total of $10. How's that for cheap gardening!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A $50 Greenhouse!

Today I was stumbling through Stumble Upon and happened to come across a great tutorial on building a $50 greenhouse!  What is especially cool is that the author of the blog (The Door Garden) who wrote the tutorial is also a Tennessean (Cookeville).  The greenhouse he built is a hoop house made from PVC and has about 165 square feet of space.  This looks like a very economical project that home gardeners could definitely benefit from building.  Go say "Hi!" to David and his $50 Greenhouse.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Purty Weeds Revisited

Even in winter gardeners in Tennessee need to keep up with the weeds.  Cool season weeds like chickweed and henbit can easily take over while you aren't watching your garden beds.  I actually like the look of henbit in the lawn but not in the garden beds.  If you have a warm winter day get out there and do a little weed management.  It can go a long way toward making your spring preparations much easier.  If you aren't vigilant you may end up with some Purty Weeds!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Farewell to a Feline Friend

It was springtime in 1999. The day was warm and the windows were open in my college apartment.  I was in my upstairs bedroom reading a book and had left the backdoor open to create a cross flow of air through the apartment.  Motion in my bedroom door caught my eye and the little tortoiseshell colored cat was walking into the room.  We met eye to eye and she said "meow" then as casually as cats can be she turned around and walked out of the house and onto the back porch.  There she waited for me to come visit with her.  This kitty had been visiting near my home for a couple weeks prior to this visit but it was the first time she entered my apartment. She had become the defender of the back porch.  No other kitty was allowed to venture there.  At night she meowed wanting to be let in, or at least to talk to someone.  It was only a couple days later that I adopted this little wayward feline. 

Soon I graduated college then got married.  We discovered that Amber (our furry friend) didn't cause an allergic reaction to my wife like other cats did.  Amber became an important member of our family.  In fact for the first few years of our marriage my mother-in-law referred to her as the grandkitty. 

Some days she would run around like a cat possessed by a tiger, growling everywhere she went.  She loved sitting in peoples laps on cold winter days and of course scratching on the stairs.  You could have long conversations with her in the language of cats.  She was a very vocal cat with her "meows," her "merps" and her purrs.  She was mischievous and fun.  She never liked the toys we bought her, only the everyday items that could be used like toys. Strings and bouncy balls were her prey with an occasional attack on the toy mouse.  And she loved cat TV, you know, that window that looked out upon the bird feeders. Her favorite stars were the doves, what a tasty meal they would make! 

In 2001 we moved to a new apartment in Manchester, TN.  It was soon after this that Amber had trouble.  We brought her to a Vet and discovered that she had the beginning stages of Feline Chronic Renal Failure.  Chronic Renal Failure is where the kidneys don't filter the toxins in the body properly.  Without a properly functioning kidney the toxins build up to poisonous levels.  The doctor hooked her up to an IV and began filtering her system with fluids which helped immensely.  The IV fluids eventually turned into a home treatment for Amber.  Every couple of days we would hook up an IV bag to a needle and run subcutaneous fluids under the skin on the back of her shoulders and lower neck.  This kept her very healthy for a long time, a very long time.  Originally we were told that we'd be lucky to keep her going for 3-4 years.  Three to four years turned into five to six which eventually turned into over seven years. 

Just before Thanksgiving she had another flare-up. She couldn't eat and only wanted to lie curled up on the couch or underneath a bed.  We brought her in to the Veterinarian where we had fluids pumped into her over the weekend and she made a miraculous recovery.  Her blood tests had moved from complete renal failure to normal.  We were astounded and so was the Vet.  He had never seen a cat move back into the normal range from acute renal failure before. Her behavior changed back to normal and she played and visited with us again, but it was only temporary.

Last week she reversed course.  She was listless and not eating, the two telltale signs of a kidney failure flare-up.  We knew that this event being so close to the last flare-up wasn't a good sign.  I brought her in last Thursday to the Vet and had the him run another blood test.  It was high again.  We had her treated with the fluids until Monday and another blood test run.  The numbers were even higher.  One more day with Amber was all we had.  I brought her home Monday and we made her as comfortable as we could.  We took pictures in front of the Christmas tree and did our best to explain to our 3 year old daughter what was happening. 

It's hard to figure out how to explain the death of loved one to a toddler. In the end we decided on the truth.  We told her what she needed to know, that Amber wouldn't be around any more.  She had a disease that she couldn't recover from and that she would be dying soon. Dying is a concept that 3 year olds aren't fully capable of understanding.  Often people say things like "She's going to sleep" or "she's going away" but those statements give the wrong impression. Telling my daughter that Amber was going to sleep might make her afraid of sleeping or make her think that Amber would wake up again.  

This morning we took Amber back to the Vet and said our goodbyes.  Euthanasia wasn't something we wanted to go through but when you have a cat as sick as Amber you have to do what is best for her and not something for your own emotional well-being.  Over the years we've tried about everything to help her short of a kidney transplant for which she wouldn't have been a good candidate due to her age.

I've always been an animal person but in my mind was always more of a dog person than a cat person.  A lot of people might even think that all our efforts to keep Amber alive were silly to begin with, afterall cats are a dime a dozen and if you've seen one cat you've seen them all.  Not so!  They have distinct personalities.  They become a part of the family and you just can't let them go without a fight.  We all fought hard.  Fighting a terminal disease isn't easy for anyone and sometimes the best you can do is draw it to a stalemate, to extend the quality of life as long as possible.  Amber brought us a lot of fun and a lot of joy over the years.  I suppose in the end there is a balance between the lifetime of joy they bring you and the grief you feel when they leave. 

Today I buried a friend that I've known for a third of my life.  A cat who would greet me at the door after a day of work and chase me up the stairs.  A cat who sat in laps, chased laser pointers and attacked unsuspecting feet as they passed by.  A cat who would tolerate merciless pettings by babies too young to understand the concept of gentleness.  A friend who was there to talk to even though she didn't understand a word you were saying, and if she did she never let on.  Farewell Amber, we'll miss you!

Plant Propagation: Leyland Cypress Cuttings

Plant propagation can continue at almost every time of the year, the winter is no exception. This is especially true if you have a little space in your house to put your cuttings or can manage to manipulate them into interesting centerpieces! Leyland cypress (x Cupressocyparis leylandii) is a common evergreen planting due to its fast growth and economic pricing. It's a hybrid of the Montery Cypress (Cupressus macrocarpa) and the Alaskan Cypress (Cupressus nootkatensis). It is mostly planted as a privacy screen but could be used as a evergreen focal point. Some people choose to limb up the branches to make the trunk more visible. They aren't as highly recommended as Arborvitae due to occaissional ailments.  Frequently they are planted too close together into poorly drained soil which can cause cankers and eventual dieback of branches.  Other than that they are very attractive and relatively disease free landscape plants! For more on Leyland Cypress ailments including Seiridium canker, Botryosphaeria canker, and root rot diseases please visit this University of Georgia publication.

Propagation of Leyland Cypress

Last week I took 5 cuttings from several different Leyland cypresses.  Leyland cypresses don't produce viable seeds which means that cuttings are the most reliable method of propagation.  I gathered 6-8 inch long semi-ripe stem-tip cuttings from branches that were mostly upright.  Some evergreens take on the characteristics of the direction they are pointing so upright cuttings are important for an upright speciman.  The picture on the right is an example of the cuttings I took. The cuttings are nice and green with no brown spots.  The stems have hardened off somewhat toward the base and is still green at the top. 

After I collected the Leyland cypress cuttings I stripped the lower 3-4 inches of all leaves.  This area will be underneath the rooting medium (in this case sand).  I made a small half inch cut into the bottom of each cutting to help them take up water.

Then I put the cuttings into a nice pot and watered.   Hopefully in 6-8 weeks I'll see some signs of rooting and I'll transplant them into pots with potting soil.  All that is left to make them presentable for the Christmas season is to add a merry red ribbon around the pot!

Related Posts:
Plant Propagation: The Basics of Cuttings
10 Easy Plants to Propagate for Your Home Garden
Thrifty Gardening Tips: Plant Propagation

Monday, December 15, 2008

Have Heucheras?

If you like Heucheras or Coral Bells as much as I do then take a look at this video from Fine Gardening Magazine. In it Alan Armitage talks about the heucheras in the trial gardens at the University of Georgia. Heuchera 'Silver Scrolls' and Heuchera 'Rave On' stand out as two perennials I will have to add to my garden next year!

Related Posts:
Foliage in the Shade Garden
In the Fall Garden

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 2008 Review

Since I have very little to show for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day in December I'll display a review of each Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day post over 2008 that I've done. Inside this post you will see one or two pictures from each post that in my view are the best of the blooms. Unfortunately I missed a few months like February, July, and November but all the others are accounted for with plenty of photos! The highlight of the Bloom Day Pictures for me was the Monarch Butterfly I photographed in October. Click on the Month to go to the original post for more pictures of my garden! Be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens for more Bloom day posts.

Nandina Berries

Bradford Pear Buds



Redbuds and Dogwoods

'Caradonna' Salvia

'May Night' Salvia with an Achillea backdrop

Asiatic Lilies


Verbena x hybrida

'Oranges and Lemons' Gaillardia
'Longwood Blue' Caryopteris

October 2008
Monarch Butterfly on Asclepias

Pink Cosmos

Sunday, December 14, 2008

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

The answer to today's Name that Seed is the White Ash! The White Ash is a dioecious deciduous shade tree that grows to nearly 80 feet tall. Dioecious means that individual trees (or plants) are either male or female and not both, very similar to hollies. Last week I featured the Persimmon in a Name that Seed post which is another dioecious tree.

The flowers remain somewhat inconspicuous due to their lack of petals. The wind plays an important role in the reproduction process for ash trees. Pollination occurs in the spring via the wind and in the fall the samaras rely on the wind for transport. (Samaras are the winged seeds produced by many plants like ash and maples). The samaras are capable of traveling great distances on the wind to germinate new trees wherever they land.

Fun Facts from the Field Guide:

  • If you like baseball you should appreciate the Ash as its wood is well suited for making baseball bats!
  • It has also been used to make hockey sticks.
  • There is a variation of the White Ash called the Biltmore Ash which has hairs that cover the twigs, leaf stalks and on the undersides of leaves.

The two photographs of the trees are in the public domain and a courtesy of:
"Fraxinus americana." Wikimedia Commons, . 30 Nov 2008, 13:56 UTC. 14 Dec 2008, 13:51

Seed Sunday: Name that Seed

I'm starting a new theme for Sundays that will last through winter until Spring time after all the seeds have been planted. Seed Sundays will be all about seeds! Seed planning, plotting, planting, and any other seed related subject that can be thought of and written about. You're welcome to join in if you wish to talk about your seeds. Maybe together we can dream of spring while the garden is sleeping!

To start Seed Sundays here is a little game of Name that Seed. Last week's Name That Seed was correctly identified by several bloggers (Gail, TC, and Kim) as being the seeds of a persimmon tree. Today take a look at these samaras and try to guess what tree they might be from. Here's one quick clue: the tree produces large amounts of samaras that mature in fall and disperse in winter.

Can you Name that Seed?

If you're joining in to Seed Sundays post a link in the comments when you have a post up!
The answer to this post will be posted at 9:00 PM today so check back and see if you were right!