Field of Science

Bad pruning

One of the easiest gardening no-nos to observe (just walk anywhere) is bad pruning.  This is a so-so bad example here.  The lowest whorl of branches was too low, and by the way, not pruning off the lowest branches of lawn trees is another easily observed no-no.  Here the branches 2-3" in diameter were just wacked off, sloppily cut off leaving a stub.  The tree may grow out and around such stubs, but this injury will remain internalized to the end of this tree's life.  The normal decay of such stubs may also lead to a hollow tree because this becomes an avenue to the heartwood of the tree.  This hurts so much to see.  If you look up tree pruning on the web & just try a little it will come out better than this.  However, this tree is in the lawn of a rental and this fairly demonstrates the attention, or more usually the lack there of, to landscaping around these buildings.

Nifty plant gift ideas - Moss of the month

TPP has to admit that this one caught him quite by surprise; Harry and David it is not.  This is a gift to buy for that really dedicated gardener to help get them through those winter months.  And nothing say "green" quite like a gift of a non-vascular plant.  So here's the link for the curious about moss of the month.  Just so you know a 3-month gift subscription starts at $57.  Wait until the guys at the local garden shoppe see this one! 

Garden roundup - Flowering & diversity

TPP finally got caught up on his first day of flowering data & got his database up to date except for a few unresolved issues involving a faulty memory. Firstly, for certain plant species only groups of varieties are recorded and kept track of, e.g., hostas.  Our gardens being shady have lots of varieties b but when it comes to flowering there are early varieties, mid-season varieties (most of them), fragrant ones (a different species), late small-leafed varieties, and really late flowering varieties (like Red October).  But there are dozens of varieties altogether, but only those flowering entries.  Species are all treated individually, if known.
In total, for the 2017 season, which started for us on the 12th of February (the recently mentioned witch-hazel).  And which ended on the 4th of October (wolfbane or Monk's hood), our gardens had 337 flowering events, actually more but only herbaceous and woody perennials are counted, no annuals unless they are native & take care of themselves, to get the total diversity the 'did not flower' species and the 'new' (dnf) plants also have to be counted, bringing the total of  363 flowering plants, plus another 28 gymnosperms and 19 ferns for a total diversity of a bit over 400 species.  It keeps us busy, but wandering our gardens to see what's new is a favorite activity for the cocktail hour. Native species weigh in at around 121 species and growing as our woodland garden expands, but it won't when the leaf guys take away all the chopped leaves.  Hey, you owe us a couple of tons of leaves!
Finding new plants that will grow here is becoming more difficult.

Last flowers addendum

Or would that be spelled addendumb?  TPP knew he'd missed the witch hazel, but an alert reader who was not worried about hurting feelings, but wanted to see the gold corydalis, let me know the ball had been dropped.  Well, while checking the estate to see how well the leaf guys had done (very well), TPP noticed that these were still in flower and likely to continue for awhile.  So here are the missing blooms, the Corydalis lutea (probably better named Pseudofumaria lutea), but this hardly helps because the old Fumiariaceae (bleeding heart family) is a defunct family now submerged into the Papaveraceae, the poppy family, and it's a false fumaria anyways.  And the 4-parted witch hazel with those long narrow petals.  This same shrub can also bloom in the spring, but then the flowers are reddish in color.  Pretty cheerful, huh?  Happy?  Hope so. Because this is it for the season.

First snow - November 18

November 18 is not really early for snow and this was a slushy nearly rain type of snow that wasn't going to accumulate, but the Phactors got to see plenty of it because it was ahappenin' while errands were being run. Needed the final fixins' for a Caribbean dinner, starting with a rum-based Planter's Punch cocktail and ending with a rum cake. Sounds well rounded doesn't it. Won't bore you with the rest of the menu (what? you like boredom. OK):  Chorizo & shrimp filled lettuce rolls & fried plantains, calaloo soup, Jerk Chicken with a papaya salsa, a black beans & rice side dish with a mango topping.  On the whole quite good & everyone was happy.

Friday Fabulous Flowers - last of the season

TPP took a stroll around the estate a couple of days ago; it's what having gardens is for.  Here and there a few plants remained in flower, sort of, more like the dregs of coffee in the bottom of the pot. This idea was stolen from PlantingPosting blog (it's on the side bar), but her's was prettier and better photographed, and we have really different gardens! 
And here they are.  A couple are really tough plants, often flowering in the very early spring.  One is missing the witchhazel, sorry but only saw the flowers later.  And flowering in November is not unusual for this plant at all.  The periwinkle and golden corydalis are also among our earliest flowering plants in the spring, so a few flowers in the fall are not a surprise.  The warmth of the house protected a knockout rose from getting totally frozen so a bud or two remained, and then under the roses were a couple of volunteer petunias, probably from last year's window boxes to judge by the color & who even knew they were under the roses? The catmint had a few flowers left again a tough plant in cold weather.  The orange "sun rose" a Helianthmum is just confused after a tough summer.  The golden corydalis is amazing, flowering all season long nearly first to last.  It is a bit weedy but not too aggressive often occupying spaces not suitable for other plants like under a bald cypress.  But this is it.  These are definitely the last of the season.

Current events with environmental bonus

Wow, Hannity, one of the prime reasons for it's low batting average (Phlox News) loses a sponsor and conservatives (anyone actually is OK) smash Keurig Coffee machines (environmentally stoopid), so it's a real two-fer!  This may also mean that both Hannity and Keurig are banned in Hamburg Germany.  Some people have standards.

Fall, where does it leave us?

2017 was a strange fall here in the upper Midwest of the USA.  September was cool, then hot and dry. A lot of trees showed stress & TPP hopes he watered enough trees and new plants well enough.  It was a $400 watering. It was a late fall staying warm until well into October, and a hard frost waiting until November.  Fall color was late to develop, and even then it was funny with some well colored trees framed against a green backdrop.  When a hard frost did come our sugar maples dropped their leaves literally overnight, covering our patios to at least a foot deep.  And then the leaf netting over the lily pond had to get dragged off for a second time, and it was heavy with leaves, walnut and hackberry mostly, and the pond doesn't want those.  
Nonetheless when some plants colored up they were  wonderful.  Foremost among those were the Japanese maples.  This image shows a pair that grow just beyond the lily pond.  The low-growing one in the foreground (Emerald lace) might develop more color if the chlorophyll fades a bit more, but the 'scolopendrifolium' behind turned a wonderful orangey hue.  So nice and bright.
Of course our lawn is a confluent carpet of leaves and the oaks are still hanging on to their leaves for later.  These will all get semi-shredded and piled on areas destined to become woodland gardens.

Friday Fabulous Foliage

Fall foliage can be very colorful.  This bed was planted for the purpose of colorful foliage in the fall, indeed, the late fall because this "flowering" kale laughs at cold weather.  And it grows pretty easily. However as my best garderner buddy likes to say, "Kale grows easily and likes cold weather, but the trouble with growing kale is that when you're done, what you have grown is kale."  TPP is not a huge fan of kale as a green, but you can make one heck of a great soup with kale, and a local farm to fork chef made us a kale slaw that was pretty good (but a bit of a chew).  At any rate after looking at the flowering kale for awhile you can make it into soup.  TPP was asked about this awhile back and another soup recipe was linked here.  TPP is making some today.

How to deal with the time change - feline style

Here is a cat dealing with the DST to Standard time change as cats do it best.  Sleeping through it on a kitchen chair.  Where else is a cat to sleep?  In this cat's case, one of two beds, one of three chairs, and anywhere else that looks comfy.  In all honesty this cat's time clock is dead accurate, but takes time to reset, and you better be getting up a 7 am to get her breakfast kibble, even it is now 6 am.  She was dead on at 6 am, and nearly frantic by 6:30, when Mrs. Phactor fearing for her life (you can get nagged to death) arose to officially start the day.

A fungus amung us

The Phactors recently visited N. Carolina for a family wedding.  While crashing at a relative's house and taking a walk around their little lake side community, these lovely and quite common mushrooms were found poking up from the pine needle mulch/litter.  It had rained the day before, so their appearance was almost expected here in the fall.  These were shaggy mane mushrooms (Coprinus comatus) and it's one of the easiest of mushrooms to identify especially because of its almost uniquely columnar cap with its coating of scales.  The long narrow gills inside are snow white when fresh, but they quickly begin to turn dark and will in a short time dissolve into a black inky ooze of spores.  This is typical of the inky cap mushrooms, which TPP featured once before, but not this species.  And the process is called autodeliquescence.  When fresh (white), they are edible, but go easy unless you've eaten them before.  And do avoid alcoholic beverages as the two sometimes produce a bad combination for some people.

Friday Fabulous foliage - Everyone needs a Nyssa

The Phytophactor lives having survived the flu-like substance, but the congestion hangs on.  Thanks for asking.  The constant sniffling, coughing, hacking, etc. has gotten very old.  When the head doesn't feel well, no blogs get written. 
In the view from our kitchen, the back drop is basically Mrs. Phactor's perennial garden with a wooded backdrop. The whole area slopes upward ever so slightly, so at the "back" or "top" of the garden are several ornamental trees, and as the fall progresses the most attractive tree is a smallish Nyssa, a tupelo, a dwarfish variety of some sort.  The flowers do not amount to  much, but the leaf display is vivid and long-lasting.  Everyone has room for one of these trees somewhere.