susansflowers

garden ponderings


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While walking in the woods…

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I was walking in the woods and saw some things I had not noticed before.
This plant, nestled in moss and fir tree needles, is small now, and I wonder what it will look like when it grows up?  It could be a shrub, a vine or a flower.  It doesn’t look like anything in my cultivated flower garden, so I’m assuming it is a native.  It may be spring before I find out how reliable my mental map of its location turns out, so I can what it looks like as a mature plant.

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Do you see the plant growing out of the middle of this tree stump?  The amount of moss on the stump gives a sign that it was cut a few years ago.  (Live trees here do not have much moss growing on the outer bark.)  The moss breaks down the outer layers of bark, while the stump decomposes slowly.  I followed a vine with my hand, from next to this stump where it started, to the top center of the stump, where it re-rooted in debris that had naturally collected.

Did you know that a fir tree seedling can take root in the stump of a cut tree?  It can take years, but plant detritus can collect on a stump and the conditions for a seedling to grow and mature can be met.  I’ve seen examples of large tree stumps that were moved to downtown Portland, Oregon, and inoculated with seeds.  The baby trees are now over 20 feet tall.  These trees are in front of the Oregon Convention Center, and have plaques that describe how they were made.

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While this is well within the range of how mushrooms grow in many places in nature, I have not seen them growing in clumps like this around here.  These were good-sized ‘shrooms, and I notice the outer ones appear to be the oldest.  I’ll try to check in on them and see if new ones are still appearing.
Many of the larger mushrooms that grew so lush and tidy after a few rainstorms, are now in bits and strewn all around.  The local deer are known to nibble on mushrooms, and have spread the remnants all over.  They are not tidy eaters, but then why would they be?

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Queen Anne’s Lace – weed or not?

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We have too many of this plant living on our land.  It is a weed as far as I am concerned.  Those pretty white flowers close up as they ripen their seed heads (in the upper middle of the photo is a spent flower with seeds developing).  Then the seeds are dispersed – I think by clamping onto socks, shoelaces or anything fibrous.  I have picked so many of these seeds out of footwear, it can make me scream!  Honestly, I seriously consider the value of the socks or whatever the clothes item is, when I decide whether to throw it out or start the tedious de-seeding process.

The leaves of Queen Anne’s Lace do resemble carrot leaves, and the scent or both is very similar when digging the roots out.  They must be botanical cousins of some sort.

I wonder what people were thinking when the name of this flower evolved?  It seems like they did not like their Queen Anne at all!


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Bee Balm

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Maybe because this is a newer plant for me, and these are the only flowers, but I have not seen any bees around it.  I do like the feathery petals of these flowers a lot, and the bright red sure stands out in my flower garden.  It is planted between white-flowering salvia and chamomile.  Unfortunately they do not flower in the same month as their blooms would look so striking next to each other with short white flowers under the taller red bee balm.

I understand the base of this plant should spread as it stays in one place, and I look forward to seeing that.  It will take a bit of nurturing since this flower bed is on shale and clay with redwood trees growing behind.  If you didn’t already know, the roots of redwood trees go sideways for a very long ways, and not much grows in their shadow.  I just keep adding amendments to lighten the ‘soil’ and keep raising the bed for the flowers.  Don’t know how long I can pull this off, but for now, it works.

Salvia – Snow Hill

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Salvia - Snow Hill

I’ve tried growing various salvias, but this is the first perennial success for me. The flowers might appear delicate, but I think they are sturdy. I’m thinking that if I can keep it deadheaded, I’ll have blossoms for quite awhile. Trying to remember how long it bloomed last summer, which was its first in my garden.

This small plant is positioned to be the first I walk by when entering the gate of a long rectangular flower bed, next to the driveway to my house. The entire bed used to be in sunlight all day long, but things have changed. Just up the hill, redwood trees have grown on the west side of the bed and now give late afternoon shade relief. There is a minor side effect to planting anywhere near redwood trees: those trees have a multitude of shallow roots that will infiltrate anything and everything. So, I’m learning to keep adding topsoil and plant flowers that can think of competing with tree roots. So far, so good.

Weeping Cherry

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Weeping Cherry

This poor tree has had a tough time. My husband fell in love with it when he got it and brought it home. This is its third spring, and it is still struggling. But it is so pretty, so I keep pruning the dead twigs and keep it watered, so it will bloom again next year.

I think I know the cause of its troubles. The tree in the background is a redwood. It was so cute and little when we planted it over 20 years ago. But it isn’t so cute once it grows up (kind of like puppies and kittens) and the downside of such a dominant tree start to show. The roots of a redwood tree go everywhere – horizontally. I know this because when I dig any holes around the redwood, the roots are a distinct red, and they are prolific. Redwoods seem to seek the moisture, and in my clay soil that is sideways.