susansflowers

garden ponderings


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Changeable Weather

We had a few days of record heat, then rain, and cooler.  The plants are dealing with this variable weather better than I am.  At least I don’t have to water anything myself!

New flowers are blooming nearly every day.
So much to do, and only so many hours of agreeable weather.

Not a lot of blossoms on this tree peony, so I savor every one.
These photos are of the same flower, on the same day.   They open fast in the sunshine.
I did cut a couple of these flowers, just as they began to open.
They are hanging in a closet, clothes-pinned upside-down from a hanger.
If my experiment works, I’ll have some peonies all summer – or maybe even longer!
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Lots of white Dutch iris, I like these a lot.
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Rhododendron flowers open in the same order every year.
These are some earlier bloomers.* * * * *
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Weigela is an old-time shrub, and new to my garden.
This particular spot can get very wet during rainy season, and I’ve lost a few plants here.
Upon investigation, I determined that this is a prime candidate to like this location.
It sure looks good now, I do hope it stays around.


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A Different Bloomer

I have driven past this tree many times through the years, and finally  bothered to stop and take a photo.  Have seen many more shoes on this tree at various times in the past.
I suppose a big wind or snowstorm could decimate the decorations, as it would with any tree in bloom.  Or maybe someone just saw a pair they could not live without!

Do you notice that all the shoes are paired?
I’ll bet that makes it easier to get them to hang on the tree.
I believe I’ve seen similar trees on other desolate roads – though this particular one gets plenty of traffic for a two-lane road.


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Last Hurrahs

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Leaves on the Sweet Gum tree (above left) are just turning from green to yellow, while the Sugar Maple (on the right) has lost most of its leaves.
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Why would the leaves on one of three Aspen trees still be hanging on, when the other two trees are almost naked?

There are no flowers around the house.  Between the drought and global warming, I should be able to find some plant that will flower later in the season.  Driving today, I did spot nasturtiums in a neighbor’s yard.  Those I know I can grow – and they come with the bonus attribute of being edible besides pretty and late-growing.
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Down in the garden, it is another story.
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Dill (left) and Cilantro (right) flowers are staying handsome.  I think it is the perfect balance between enough sun to keep them happy, but cooler days of less daylight keep both of these plants from ‘going to seed’.
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Copy of DSCN4155 Copy of DSCN4157Cherry tomato and jalapeno flowers are in for disappointment, there is no chance they will grow to maturity before winter sets in.  Just not enough heat-hours left in this season.
Strawberries, also, keep blooming, and their fruit is much quicker to ripen, so I have a chance to harvest more of them – hoorah!


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Treasure Hunt

Back in Fall of 2013, I purchased a bag of pastel color tulips from a local store.  All 40 bulbs were planted under a Japanese Maple Tree, and bloomed beautifully the next spring, in April 2014. Copy of DSCN0106
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A year later in March 2015, the flower production was not quite as spectacular.

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I am suspicious this is inherent in tulips, that they bloom less every year the bulbs stay in the ground.  Or it could be a plan by the tulip breeders, to get customers to buy fresh bulbs every year.

I decided to dig up the bulbs under this particular tree, divide them and replant in the fall.  It doesn’t seem like I have a lot to lose, especially if the flowers diminish even more next year.
So . . I went on a treasure hunt.  After hours of shoveling and sifting with my fingers through the dirt, I had over a gallon of bulbs in a bucket (about 5 liters). Copy of DSCN3445 The bulbs had definitely multiplied, but none were near as large as the original bulbs.  Next, I sorted the bulbs by size. Copy of DSCN3447 I selected the forty largest bulbs and put these aside to replant under the Japanese Maple tree.  Into another container I put fifty of the next size down bulbs.  And into another container went 100 of the next size bulbs (very close to the same size as the 50 bulbs).  Containers 4 & 5 hold 150 bulbs each, and in the last container went hundreds of very small bulbets.
If I looked at it as multiplication, I hit the jackpot by turning 40 bulbs into more than 500.  Or I could look at my ‘winnings’ from a different point of view and see a very slight increase in bulb volume.

This fall, the plan is to plant as many bulbs as I can.  I will try to note where each size goes, so I can learn if they all have a chance of blooming again. I’m wondering what is done commercially?  Do the tulip farms replant all the small bulbs?  Do the bulbs take more than one year to grow large enough to be marketed?  I hope be able to answer some of these questions next spring!


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Pastel Tulips under Japanese Maple

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This particular green-leafed Japanese maple tree is leafing out, just as the tulips below begin to flower.  A bag of pastel tulips planted a few years ago is reaching maturity, and will need to be divided this year.  The yellow and pink flowers are so pretty, and the timing couldn’t be better as the tree is coming to life at the same time.

I have been photographing this tree for a few days trying to get desirable light and a background on which the tree’s new leaves would show up.  This morning’s photo was taken after the sun rose over the hills to the east;  tulips are shadowed by the house.


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Weeping Cherry tree looks good even in the rain

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We had some good rain over the weekend resulting in droopy daffodils.  But there is no problem with the weeping cherry tree as rain does not dampen its appearance.  This photo is only a couple of days old, and the hanging branch on the right is now full of blooms.
It was just a few short years ago this tree was planted, and it took so long to look established, I wondered if it would survive.  Now, it is starting to fill out and there are no dead branches in sight.


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First Freeze

We had our first overnight freeze and a number of plants are now dormant for the winter.  Still, the first official day of winter is not due for over a month.  Leaves of the hydrangea quickly turned a droopy brown, and those of the lilac bushes are on the ground.

But there are also trees whose leaves are not finished with their autumn show.
I present three examples I found around my house:
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First is a dwarf ginko tree, which is barely over a foot (30 mm) tall.  Daylilies keep trying to invade its ‘turf’ from the back and chamomile from the front.  The poor little ginko is so small, it cannot defend itself.
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Next is a Japanese maple that is a fairly new addition to my garden.  While my other Japanese maple tree has shed all of its leaves, this one is still trying to put out new growth.  Some of the leaves are starting to turn orange, and others are sprouting the light green of new growth.  Is this particular tree native to the Himalayas?
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Last is one of the beauties of this area, a Sweet Gum tree, from the maple family.  It grows more vertical than the sugar maple next to it, which has a classic roundish leaf area.  The sugar maple gets its leaves long before the sweet gum in the spring, but the sweet gum hangs onto its leaves longer in the autumn.


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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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Rose Hips in Fir Tree

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A close-up photo is what is needed for the rose hips to show up.  While walking in the woods around the house looking for mushrooms, I was surprised to find this fir tree with a wild rose bush intertwined high in its branches.

It is a little early for Christmas decorations to be going up, but that is exactly what I thought of when I saw these two plants growing together.  There are a number of wild rose bushes growing around here, and I encourage them to stay.  This particular rose bush is growing exceedingly tall, perhaps because (a) it has been left alone for a long time, and (b) it has grown up as the tree has grown and a very long stem has developed.

This is at least a 30-foot tall Douglas Fir tree, about 30 years old.  In the US Douglas Fir trees are synonymous with Christmas trees.  There are many Christmas tree farms in this state, though most are farther north where it rains a bit more.


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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.