As you all know I am a bit of a skinflint so when it comes to plants I do so love to take advantage of the free ones that Mother Nature gifts me with. In the next couple of months I will be recommending those “weeds” (or native plants as I prefer to call them) that I enjoy and that I find do very well in my Eastern North Carolina garden.
When I first moved to this house I found a lovely patch of pink Oxalis growing in the woods at the bottom of the garden and all of the plants that now grace my landscape originated from this one plant.
This photograph was taken after a heavy rain and the flower stalks have fallen over due to the weight of the rain drops.
The plant forms bulbs underground and these can easily be divided and transplanted pretty much any time of the year. I now have plants all over the landscape, some in full shade, some in full sun and they reliably form tidy mounds of four-leaf clover like leaves with jaunty pink flower heads on delicate stalks that sit above the leaf mound.
This one is in my front flower bed underneath the living room window sharing the bed with some daylilies.
They are a very hardy perennial and remain green over the winter even under a heavy blanket of snow. Another of its delightful attributes is it does not have a narrow bloom time and will reliably bloom from Spring and all through the Summer and into the Autumn. To say that it is a carefree plant is an understatement. I have never had a problem with it doing anything other than being a little treasure and I cannot think of a single pest that pays attention to it. You can buy a version of the plant (generally white ones) and there are hybrid types with purple leaves and flowers, but I have found that these are nowhere near as vigorous as their wild cousins.
So there you go, if you happen to live in the woods and come across some pink Oxalis on your property divide it and use it all over your landscape. You will be glad you did I promise.
Last Autumn I decided to experiment with overwintering some of my favorite plants so that I would not have to replace them come Spring. If they were in the ground I dug them up and put them in pots in the greenhouse (as with the Angelonia) or if they were already in pots I just moved them into the greenhouse. So far the experiment has worked well.
The Gazania that overwintered has just put out its first bloom.
And while the Angelonia did not fare as well, having almost completely died back there are some heartwarming green shoots to be seen at the base of the stalk.
My hanging basket ferns also survived as did the tender patio Hibiscus trees that I kept warm all winter. The Hibiscus are right now putting on buds.
I believe that with the cost of the plants saved as well as the savings in starting things from seed rather than having to buy plants from the garden center the greenhouse has already paid for itself.
One of the nicest parts about gardening is many a gardener’s tendency to forget planting things and therefore being pleasantly surprised when the garden awakes to find a bloom that one had forgotten about. I have to admit that this particular trait happens to me frequently and the annoying part is that it happens with the same plants every year. Many moons ago I found a poor Clematis plant growing out of its plastic bag at Lowes, it was on sale for 75% off so rescuing it was relatively easy. I planted it at the base of the large tree in the front garden and promptly forgot about it until it sent out a couple of small blooms the next year and I proceed to forget about it every single year until it comes into bloom. It has grown over the years and this year the blooms are truly spectacular.
Of course there are many times where the “I don’t remember planting that” theme is because you actually didn’t plant it, but Mother Nature has gifted you with one of her native plants in this case the Cross Vine which is this week coming into bloom, just in time for the arrival of the Humming Birds.
These trumpet like blooms must be full of nectar because I have also noticed many ant species traveling up the vines and deep into the flowers to collect its sweet treasure, I am not sure what the nectar tastes like because the blooms have an almost spicy, curry like scent, perhaps the ants like Indian food?
Of course in my case the things that I am more than likely to forget about are the bulbs that I buy on sale as Winter approaches. Generally in the big box stores at 50-75% off to get them off their hands I usually end up filling a cart with goodies and then having to get them in the ground before it gets too cold. This invariably results in me wandering the yard with a bag of bulbs in one hand and a trowel in the other muttering to myself while seizing upon any scrap of dirt that doesn’t already have something planted in it. This led me last year to having a full on argument with myself in front of the heavily discounted bulb section of Lowes. Me “but they’re 75% off!, I can’t pass up that bargain!” Me “but you don’t have anywhere to put them, remember last year you ended up having to put them in containers?” As it turned out the “sensible” me won out over the “can’t pass up a bargain” me and I walked away bulb free and saved myself the weeks of angst trying to find somewhere to put them. Still it is nice to be surprised as I was this weekend when this particular Dutch Iris greeted me one morning.
Once I saw it I even remembered it’s name, Lion King (that is a rare occurrence to be sure, unless I keep bags or labels I rarely remember the name of a plant other than it’s general species) and with it’s colors it was even in keeping with my purple and gold theme. Sometimes having a rotten memory has its advantages.
This weekend while I was doing some dishes I looked out of the kitchen window and saw this (warning photo taken through a very murky outside window).
A Goldfinch in full breeding plumage! I was pleasantly surprised to see him because normally the little ingrates live in my garden all winter, getting fat and happy off my birdseed, and then when it time for them to put on their Sunday clothes and get their pictures took they naff off inland to the Greenville area to breed. Obviously this little guy didn’t get the memo because he appeared to be quite happy to stick around. I am thinking that perhaps with the steady supply of food that he knows will be around he decided that there was no need to go to Summer School at ECU. I look forward to seeing more of him and the missus.
Thanks to the regular rains that we have been having everything is going great guns (including the weeds unfortunately, I really need to get the beds heavily mulched).
The Tomatoes in the first bed already have flowers on them.
Second bed (the seedlings you see by the pepper plants are direct sown radish) I have already begun harvesting lettuce leaves for my husband’s salads every evening (I use the “cut and come again” method of harvesting rather than harvesting the whole lettuce).
The onions, carrots and peas are doing well
and my herb bed at the edge of the patio is looking lovely.
From back to front Blue Sage, Lemon Balm, Chives and Bronze Fennel.
Once the husband gets that Chipper/Shredder that he has been lusting after I should have lots of mulch to suppress the weeds and keep me from having to do the back breaking task of pulling them. Not that I mind it all that much, there is something very therapeutic about weeding, you just think of something that has annoyed you that week and take out your anger on the weeds. Works for me.
She has now fully recovered from being spayed. In fact she thought she was fully recovered the day after and thought nothing of tearing around the garden at top speed which resulted in her getting an infection at the surgery site, which resulted in her having to go on anti-biotics and some heavy duty tranquilizers to keep her calm, still, all better now and more’s the point, no puppies in her future. She now weighs 45lbs, and is growing like a weed. She absolutely adores being out in our huge back garden. When we are not home she has access to a small patio area and the deck but a gate keeps her from the main area of the back yard. When I come home at night I let her out into the yard and she does a 100 yard dash and then circles the yard at break neck speed (much as Cueball used to do) until she is exhausted. She also loves chasing the cats but as cats have the ability to climb trees (a trick she will never learn of course), they tend to sit on a branch and torment her for her trouble. She has also noticed that Mommy carries a black box thing around with her sometimes and points it at her at which point any pose I was trying to get invariably results in this
OMG OMG SHE’S GOT THE BLACK BOX, THE BLACK BOX IS THE DEBBIL, I MUST EAT IT!
Eventually though she will tire herself out and find herself a shady spot by the back gate and chill out chewing on a lump of grass.
You will notice the muddy feet, did I mention that she is particularly adept at finding any wet spot in the yard and paddling through it? No? Well she is. She is also getting to know the next door neighbor’s dogs and again much like Cueball she takes great delight in running along the fence line to torment them. I am sure during the barked introductions Raven and Grecko said to her “what’s your name?” and she responded “Not sure it’s either Flossie Don’t Do That or Flossie No!”
This weekend when I was working in the front garden and she was gazing wistfully at me through the living room window I took pity on her and put her harness on and brought her outside and attached her to an extending lease tied to a tree. I thought it would be nice for her to be with me while I worked. It didn’t work as well as planned, first she wrapped her leash around three trees, then she attempted to chew through the leash, then she tried to run away from the leash, and eventually ran so forcefully that she busted completely out of her harness, shattering the clip until she was free of it. Her foray into the front garden lasted all of 30 minutes until she was corralled and once again looking wistfully out of the living room window. I think I may have to stick to gardening in the back yard from now on.
This weekend while I was busy planting all of my recent flower purchases I lifted down one of my hanging baskets to add an additional plant. I was merrily digging down with my fingers when I noticed that something didn’t look quite right with one of the leaves in the basket. Once I put on my glasses I saw this
Cute little guy was just snuggled up in the basket minding his own business and didn’t seem to be at all bothered by my poking around in his bed sit.
As I wandered around checking out all my solar light ornaments, making sure the batteries were still working, and straightening the stakes, that sort of thing I came across another critter.
He was taking advantage of the solar panel to grab some rays and warm up his body before no doubt going on the hunt for some tasty insects.
Speaking of insects, last weekend as I was working on my containers in the driveway I noticed the cats chasing some flies which appeared out of nowhere. I turned around and looked at the stump of a long gone tree to see winged creatures just boiling out of it. As usual I did not have my camera so I ran into the house to fetch it. On my return I discovered that something else had noticed the all you can eat buffet and was taking advantage of it.
I decided to let her be and enjoy her meal so by the time I got back to the stump with my camera most of the termites had either been eaten or had flown away.
It was fascinating to watch though, especially watching the wingless worker termites patrolling the top of the stump to make sure that all of the winged new queens left the stump and didn’t attempt to return to the nest. At least the Mocking Bird got a good meal out of it, have to look on the bright side after all.