Monday, November 11, 2013

Short jaunt around the yard

Three days after knee arthroscopy, I am able to gingerly navigate a bit of the front yard with the wooden cane my children gifted me with post-op. I wanted to see the last of Fall before the predicted rain & snow start tomorrow. Most of the work to "button up" the garden for winter didn't get done given my gimpy knee, so I'm sure Spring will herald a ton of tidying chores. Of course, by then I will be healed, strong, rested and ready to go...

The Viburnum (viburnum dilatatum 'Michael Dodge') bush by the driveway, has set loads of white waxy berries and the leaves are simply lovely shades of  russet red, gold and green.This variety grows as a small tree, branching from a main trunk and is currently at it's full 5'x6' size.  It bloomed early this year and the slow to appear honeybees missed the peak flowering stage, but I guess enough blooms got pollinated to set fruit now. This plant is one of my favorites, supporting both the bees in May and the birds snacking on the winter berries. This viburnum has never needed regular pruning, only an occasional removal of a sucker type central branch. It has certainly added a lovely element to the privacy hedgerow between my driveway and my neighbor's front yard.

The mass plantings of Solomon's seal (Polygonatum) beneath my Star Magnolia are fading to a pale parchment color and their elegantly arched stems are starting to collapse. I find this plant to be a lovely, deep shade, space filler and it increases it's garden presence annually by underground runners. It's also low maintenance, only needing a single application of fish emulsion in the Spring and a blanket of leaves in the Fall. Since this patch of Soloman's seal grows next to the fish pond wall near my front door, it is one of my first indicators of the season change. Do consider purchasing a single pot of Solomon's Seal at your local nursery next Spring, it looks excellent paired with green & white Hostas; carrying the green and white theme to a greater height over average sized Hostas. The dainty white bell shaped flowers have a charming green heart design on them and overall you couldn't ask for a more maintenance-free planting.

My last offering is about the Osage-orange (maclura pomifera). This is a local tree that drops these huge, hard, lime green fruits in the Fall. I found this one at a nearby park while walking the dogs. These sticky fruits are reputed to repel ants and I am also hoping voles, so I have placed a few around the yard in the last few weeks. At worst, they make a winter food source for local squirrels. I have found pockets of Osage-orange trees at the edges of fields, along the river walk and at local parks; obviously easier to spot in the Fall when there are about thirty of these 6" diameter fruits at the base of the tree. I've never heard of anyone being struck on the head, but when such dense and heavy fruits plummet to the ground, there is an audible "thunk." To learn more about this fascinating tree check out this Wiki link:

Well, I need to put my knee up and do some more knitting. At the very least, I will have some completed projects to photograph for the next post. I also want to express my gratitude this Veteran's Day, to all servicemen and women for your courage and sacrifice.Thank you!

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