susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Sugar Maple

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We have a large Sugar Maple tree out front of the house.  It is just beautiful to watch as the leaves slowly change colors.  I’ve been taking pictures nearly every day, as I watch the fallen leaves collect under the tree.  One thing I noticed this year, is that the first leaves to fall are on the south side of the tree.  The north facing leaves change color later and stay on the tree longer.  We have had pleasant fall weather, so the tree has kept its leaves awhile.  If a wind storm or cold snap were to come up, this tree could lose its leaves almost overnight.

There is a resident gray squirrel in this tree, who we have been watching from the kitchen window all summer long.  No way he will sit still for a photograph, it is a wonder he doesn’t run away as soon as he hears the front door open.  I suppose he knows he is safe in the tree, since we cannot climb up there.  Recently, we have seen him climb out on a limb and nibble away at something.  Later, I looked close at the tree, and noticed the seed pods at the far end of the tree limbs, which must have been the objects of his interest.  We saw many gray squirrels when we moved here over thirty years ago, but soon after they disappeared.  In just the last couple of years, these animals have returned.  This is not the first wild / native animal whose population we have observed apparently growing and ebbing in a cycle.


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Sweet Pea in Mini-Vase

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I just love sweet peas.  So much that I planted an entire package of everlasting sweet peas.  Did that turn out to be a mistake!

The flowers were beautiful as they grew along a fence.  Deer kept them pruned on the outside of the wire fence, but there were still plenty of flowers to go around.  I picked handfuls to put in vases indoors, and there were still lots more flowers.  Which of course, meant lots of sweet pea seeds.  I collected seeds to strew along other wire fences, the flowers made even a wire fence look pretty.  It took another spring before we saw sweet peas coming up everywhere.  Not just along a fence line, but everyplace the ground had been stirred.  Between the birds and the wind, the sweet peas were on the verge of taking over everything. 

Then I remembered where I had seen sweet peas growing wild along roadsides.  They looked very pretty there, also.  But nothing else grew in the masses of sweet pea vines.  Very reluctantly, I took a shovel to the now unwanted plants.  It has taken a couple more years and I still find interlopers that need to be dug up.  The flower pictured was a surprise, and the plant was immediately put an end to.

I still love seeing sweet peas in the wild.  They were planted by someone, or the birds dropped a seed – all it takes is one seed in a favorable environment to start a colony of these flowers.  But I keep them out of my garden. 


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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!

Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley

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Italian Flat-Leaf Parsley

Parsley flowers are so small, they can be hard to notice when they finally bloom. The seeds are about the same size as the numerous flowers and are just as plentiful.

Seeds will sprout easily as long as there is plenty of moisture. Under, or near, a water faucet is a good place to start a parsley bed. Later on, seeds can be spread to other places to see where the emerging plants best like the prevailing micro-climate. This particular bed has been reseeding itself for many years, and I think it is in need of rejuvenation. This is where timing comes into play – I need to wait until the plants go to seed, then save some seeds, just in case there are any challenges (like a heat wave) when the planting bed is cleaned up.

In the upper right are parsley leaves, don’t be misled by the sage leaves in the upper left of this photo. Sage and parsley live together with stray violets, and are protected from deer in this fenced planting bed.  I keep any other interlopers (weeds)  out in an effort to encourage what I want to live here to thrive.