Spring Blooming Flowers 4-28-2017

Happy Arbor Day!!! Hug a tree =-)

I hope everyone has a nice Friday and enjoys their weekend.

Click to see previous years blooms 2016201520142013

Tulips ~ French Blend

Podophyllum peltatum ~ May Apple

Dicentra spectabilis ~ Bleeding Hearts

   

Chaenomeles japonica ‘Texas Scarlet’ & ‘Double Take Orange’

Viola canadensis ~ White violet  || Tooooolips!

Ribes uva-crispa ~ Gooseberry

Fuzzy tulips

Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Acer platanoides ~ Norway Maple

Common Name: Norway mapleimage
Type: Tree
Family: Sapindaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 40′ – 50′ feet
Spread: 30′ – 50′ feet
Bloom Time: March to April
Bloom Description: Yellow-green in color
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Form: Columnar to Oval
Suggested Use: Do not plant
Leaf: Colorful
Tolerate: Drought, Air Pollution

‘Columnare’

Dark green

Yellow

Columnar

50′ x 20′

‘Crimson Sentry’

Purple

Insignificant

Columnar

35′ x 25′

‘Deborah’

Red in spring, bronze green in summer

Bronze, yellow

Oval

60′ x 60′

Emerald Lustre

Dark glossy green

Yellow

Round, oval

60′ x 60′

‘Crimson King’

Purple

Insignificant

Oval

35′ x 35′

Princeton Gold

Golden yellow

Yellow

Oval

45′ x 40′

‘Royal Red’

Maroon, red, glossy

Insignificant

Oval

40′ x 25′

‘Variegatum’

Green with white edge

Yellow

Rounded

60′ x 50′

imageJohn Bartram of Philadelphia was the first to bring the Norway maple from England to the U.S. in 1756 and soon it began appearing along streets and in parks.

As its name implies, this maple is native to Norway and much of Europe into western Asia. It was introduced to the U.S. in colonial times as an urban street tree and is still widely used for that purpose today. Many years of horticultural selection has produced cultivars that vary widely in form, from columnar to densely global and different leaf colors varying from red maroons, bright yellow and even variegated. Many times the purple leaved varieties are miss identified as ‘red maples’. An easy way to identify Norway maples would be to break a leaf off and if the sap is milky, its a Norway. Other maples will have clear sap.

Norway maples are found in woodlands near cities, especially in the northeastern U.S., they have also escaped cultivation and invaded many forests, fields and other natural habitats. Norway Maple can be monoecious or dioecious, meaning it produces male (staminate) flowers and female (pistillate) flowers on either the same or separate trees. Either way, they produce a large quantity of seeds that germinate rapidly. The species can be locally dominant in forest stands, create dense shade and displace native trees, shrubs and herbs. Its dense canopy also can shade out native wildflowers.

The normal leaf color is a dark green but cultivars have also been created with maroon, purple, and variegated foliage. Leaf variegation is not a stable trait and often tree canopies will display solid leaves along with variegated. Few Norway Maples provide meaningful fall color, a few yellows at most and often persisting on the tree until late season frosts before turning a drab olive brown.image

Norway maples tend to have very shallow roots and sometimes growing grass or any other ornamental plant under it is impossible. This also is one dirty tree… dropping trash during every season; starting with flower buds, two crops of seeds, twigs, branches, and copious amounts of leaves. There are many alternatives to Norway maples.

Red maple – Acer rubrum

Sugar maple – Acer saccharum

Hackberry – Celtis occidentalis

Basswood – Tilia americana

Northern red oak – Quercus rubra

Sycamore – Platanus occidentalis

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Twin Tuesday ~ Flash 365

 “Oh! Take a shit, read a story” – My Mother on Flash Fiction

What else can I say? The stories on Flash 365 are the perfect length for a trip to the loo. Some stories even have a few episodes for those times you’ll need to be entertained a bit longer.  I have never laughed so hard or gotten such twist endings slapped aside my head like Flash 365 pulls on me. I hope my humble story (and art) below is half as good as what you’d experience on Flash 365 😉 Enjoy.

I’ve always looked good in black,” H whispered before inserting the wintergreen lifesaver into her mouth. A holdover oral fixation from quitting smoking.

Funerals were always a great place to go husband hunting. It was time. She was loosing her youthful appearance again and it was time to fall in love.

Her one and only friend D elbowed her slightly, turning her gaze to the solitary, elderly man sitting in the front row. He was quietly weeping.

H glided over to his location then sat next to the man, put her arm around him and spoke softly, “ She was a wonderful woman, you must have loved her deeply.”

She was my light,” he choked between his tears “I don’t know if I can go on without her.”

His devotion to his wife is what attracted her to him. She needed that.

There, there.” She scratched his back.

H returned D’s glance and nodded slightly. D turned and left the room.

H began singing sweetly at a level only he could hear. His crying ceased. His eyes locked with hers. His heart began to feel full of life and started to beat just a bit faster.

Soon after the memorial was over, he and H married in a quiet part of a tropical island. He never thought he could feel so alive again.

On their 20 year anniversary, he asked the the burning question that was on his mind all these years. He wondered how after 20 years, he actually started to look younger and H hasn’t changed at all.

Love.” She said. “True love will always make you young.”

On their 40 year anniversary, when he clearly looked like he did in his 20’s and she hasn’t changed, he asked her again. She answered the same, “Love.”

When they reached their 50th anniversary, he clearly wanted an answer from her as he noted his acne pocked face.

H just began to sing to him. Softly like a lullaby. He felt the need to cuddle and nap within her arms. He rested his head on her shoulder and dozed off.

After what felt like a deep rest, he awoke to find himself not thinking about much aside from feeling hungry and wet. A loud cry was the only noise that came from his mouth.

There, there.” H cooed to him. She changed his diaper, gave him a bottle and rested him on her bosom. He felt happy, safe and loved again. He looked into her eyes, and all he knew was in those eyes. Love.

Soon he melted into her navel. She breathed slowly while the rejuvenation took place. Years of age began to disappear from her face. Gray hairs turned auburn, wrinkles stretched taut, skin turned vibrant and her body shrunk to a firm stature. H stood in front of the mirror, naked. She smiled.

You look fabulous!” D shouted to H as she approached the outdoor cafe.

Thanks! Love will do that to you.” She said as she flopped into the chair. “Sorry I’m late, I had to shop for some new clothes.”

No worries. No one else understands like I do.” D sarcastically noted, while she picked up her baby boy to cuddle him.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 4-24-2017

Happy Monday!

Is everyone ready for Spring?? I am, for the most part, nothing has changed in all the years I’ve been in Midwestern landscaping. The phones at work are starting to glow, emails are filled with requests for new projects to be done ASAP. Seriously?!! Where were you all winter? I’m working on the projects that smart folks called me about in February. Smarter folks actually called me last December. Their plans have been approved, permits pulled, material produced and trees dug. All while you thought about your winter vacation and forgot about your landscape. And now you are angry that I’ve not gotten a quote back to you in less than three days? On top of that, do you really think you’re going to get into the construction schedule anytime soon? Huge belly laugh!!! Foolish 1%er. The economy is better now and your yelling for prime service is falling on deaf ears.

Click here for all things blooming in 2013 20142015 2016

Muscari spp. ~ Grape Hyacinth

Erythronium americanum ~ Trout lily

Dicentra cucullaria ~ Dutchman’s Breechs

These are related to the Bleeding heart.

     

Viburnum × burkwoodii ~ Burkwood Viburnum   ||   Mertensia virginica ~ Virginia Bluebells

Stylophorum diphyllum ~ Celandine poppy

A fav of mine. I’ve had these in my garden for the last 11 years. They are hassle free and continue to grow without any assistance from me. They are one of the longest blooming flowers I know of. It has bloomed for me from April through October, fairly regularly. It is very happy under a limbed-up spruce on the East side of my property.

     

Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ ~ Chanticleer Pear  ||  Special Daffy in my yard.

Sanguinaria canadensis ~ Bloodroot

Another one in my East-side shade garden. These bloom for such a short time, it’s a shame. They even close their flowers at night. Remember where these are in the fall, as the leaves turn a brilliant red during the harvest months.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Annual Flower Containers

Happy Spring!

This season started off fun! I was able to go out an plant pots with my coworkers. We had beautiful weather to work in on top of it =-)

Be sure your container / pot is very clean to start the season. A good, stiff brush dipped in a 10% bleach solution will do the trick. This will kill off any of the nasties waiting to infect your flowers. This cleaning should take you through the season also. No need to disinfect after each season change. (Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter)

Spring flowers such as; Petunias, tulips, hyacinths, primrose, cyclamen, stock, hydrangea, muscari, snap dragons, ranunculus, helleborus, viola, ivy and diacia are just a few cool weather choices.

Give your display a bit of height with pussy willow or forsythia branches. If cut at the right time (pretty much right before placing in display) they will also bloom, adding to the WOW factor.

These flowers will last until the weather turns hot & then it’s time to switch over to your summer display.

You don’t need to remember a bunch of annual names. The only thing you need remember for a well-presented display is: Thriller, Filler & Spiller! The Thriller is that one large plant that is generally in the center and taller than the rest. Filler are those mid-range sized plants, often of ‘fatter or fuller’ stature. Spiller is just that, plants that hang over the edge of the pot.

Just like autumn pots, these don’t grow any larger than they are now. So design accordingly.

Here are some Spring displays from 2016, 2015, 2014 & 2013.

    

     

     

     

     

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Twin Tuesday ~ Mad Cap Dog Edition

Scifihammy over at Mad Cap Dog cracks me up on Sunday’s with her ‘Sunday Musings’. Here’s my attempt at a Tuesday Musing…

Tuesday: The day after Monday that reminds you that you still have four more days of not trying to slap a fellow co-worker.   

Three horrible facts: 1. Today is not Friday 2. Tomorrow is not Friday 3. Even the day after tomorrow is not Friday.

Dear Tuesday, nobody likes you either. You’re just Monday’s ugly cousin.

Remember ~ I’m a blogger, Jim. Not a Sunday Muser!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Spring Blooming Flowers 4-17-2017

Looks like things are starting to pop here in the Midwest! I’m guessing I’ll be able to post at least once a week in the Phenology section. Last year, I attached quotes related about TIME with these posts. I’m not sure what I’ll do yet, However I’ll entertain any ideas =-)

Click here for all things blooming in 2013 20142015 2016

Creeping Charlie ~ Glechoma hederacea

Star Magnolia ~ Magnolia stellata

Karen’s Azalea ~ Rhododendron ‘Karen’

Dense Yew ~ Taxus densiforma

Daffy Dills!

Cornelian Cherry ~ Cornus mas

Eastern Comma ~ Polygonia comma on Pachysandra terminalis ‘Green Carpet’

Green Velvet Boxwood ~ Buxus ‘Green Velvet’

More Daffy’s

Badly focused Hyacinth

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Pyrus calleryana ‘Glen’s Form’ ~ Chanticleer pear

Semen Tree

Another name for the Bradford Pear, and ornamental pear tree. Characterized by greenish-white flowers which smell like a cross between old semen, dirty vagina, and rotting fried shrimp. Common throughout the South, these trees are pleasantly located near eateries and other fine establishments.

“Oh darn, there goes my appetite, for the semen trees in front of the South Campus Dining Hall are in bloom.”

I love Urban Dictionary! It teaches me how to communicate with the yutes these days…

image

Common Name: Bradford pear, Chanticleer pear, Aristocrat pear, Cleveland Select pear.
Family: Rosaceae (Rose family)
Zone: 5 to 9
Height: 25′ to 35′ feet
Spread: 13′ to 16′ feet
Growth: Starts very upright and pyramidal, aging into an oval.
Bloom Time: April to May – before the leaves emerge
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Full sun
Water: Dry to medium – Can tolerate drought after established.
Tolerate: Clay Soil, Air Pollution
Salt Spray:  Moderately Tolerant
Soil Salt: Intolerant
Flower: Showy
Leaf: The leaves are alternate, simple, 2-3 in. (5.1-7.6 cm) long, petiolate, and shiny with wavy, slightly toothed margins. Good Fall
Fruit: Small (1/4″ / .5 cm), green bunches of fruit which are hard until softened by frost. After which, birds eat and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Popular Cultivars and their differences:
Pyrus calleryana ‘Chanticleer’ (Chanticleer callery pear):
Narrower habit, foliage has a red-purple fall color.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Aristocrat’ (Aristocrat callery pear):
Leaves have a wavy edge, less prone to branch breaking, however more susceptible to disease, fall color is inconsistent.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Autumn Blaze’ (Autumn Blaze callery pear):
Good, early fall color, more cold hardy, susceptible to fire blight, consistent good red-purple fall color.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Redspire’ (Redspire callery pear):
Fall color more yellow than red, oval form, less prone to branch breakage, however very susceptible to fire blight.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Jack’ (Jack callery pear):
Shorter and more narrower than species, yellow in fall.
Pyrus calleryana ‘Bradford’ (Bradford pear):
Upright, fast growing, sterile cultivar. Fast-growing causes many branch failures, which can contribute to failure of the tree eventually.

imageI’m actually not particularly a fan of the pear, although I do love the true fruit kind. Pyrus communis ‘Williams pear’. I have a gnarly, old one, too tall to pick from in my yard. Occasionally, a squirrel will leave one on the ground and I’ll get to eat it.

Sadly, this ornamental tree is one of my boss’s favorites. We plant it in droves. Frowny face. He likes to line the driveways, flank patios and front doors with them. Yes, they are pretty, however there are many alternatives to white blooming, spring trees (Read Below) When these pears are in full bloom, many folks notice a foul smell. Even famed Horticulturist Dr. Michael Dirr calls the smell “malodorous”. Others have described the smell as rotting fish, chlorine or semen.

In 1858, a French missionary named, Joseph-Marie Callery (1810–1862), collected this plant in China and documented it’s existence. In the early 1900’s, the U.S. was having problems with their common fruiting pear (pyrus communis) succumbing to fireblight. In 1917, Callery pear seed was brought in from China aimed at developing a fireblight resistance for the species. It wasn’t until the 1950’s, that the Callery pear was perfected and marketed in U.S. as a promising, new ornamental tree, leading to monumental landscape plantings. During the 1980’s, concerns about its structural weaknesses and its escape into our native forests began to surface.

Callery pears are remarkably resistant to disease and blight, imagealthough they are regularly killed due to their naturally excessive growth rates causing them to be weak-limbed. Strong winds, ice storms and heavy snow are the chief culprits of pear deaths. Some cultivars, such as ‘Bradford’, are particularly susceptible to storm damage.

Many states now dealing with escaped invasive pears include Illinois, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. (Invasive.org is a great source for invasive species information in your area)

The reason they have become a problem in states like mine is the vast amount planted by landscapers and although folks think these pears are sterile, they really aren’t. In general, the various cultivars are unable to produce fertile seeds when they are self-pollinated, or even cross-pollinated with another tree of the same cultivar. However, if different cultivars of Callery pears are grown within an insect’s pollination distance (300′ ft – 100 m), they can produce fertile seeds, which birds will efficiently disperse. In addition to the previous method, fertile pear varieties are commonly used as the rootstock for grafting ornamental varieties. If the grafted crown is damaged, the fertile rootstock will grow out, producing fertile fruit. These two factors, among others, have contributed to the pear spreading into natural areas and becoming an invasive problem.

Here’s a list of wonderful alternatives to planting a pear:

Red horsechestnut ‎- Aesculus x carnea

Serviceberry – Amelanchier × grandiflora ‘Autumn Brilliance’

American hornbeam – Carpinus caroliniana

Redbud – Cercis canadensis ‘Alba’ (a white variety)

Yellowwood – Cladrastis kentukea

Dogwood – Cornus kousa, Cornus racemosa, Cornus alternifolia

Ironwood – Ostyra virginiana

Blackgum – Nyssa sylvatica

Chokecherry – Aronia melanocarpa

Blackhaw viburnum – Viburnum prunifolium

American fringetree – Chionanthus virginicus

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Baltimore Oriole ~ Icterus galbula

This medium-sized passerine measures 6 ½” to 8 ½” long and 9” to 12 ½ ” across the wings. They have a longish tail, fairly long legs and a thick, pointed bill. Their body weight averages 1.2 oz.

Baltimore Orioles love ripe fruit. Hang cut oranges from trees to entice orioles into your yard. There are special feeders that hold sugar water for them (like a hummingbird feeder). They also love grape jelly, which can be placed in a small bowl and hung from a branch. If you plant dark-colored, bright fruits and nectar-bearing flowers, such as raspberries, crab apples, serviceberry, tupelo, and trumpet vines… They will come! If your feeders are set-up perfectly for them, they will teach their young to come to them.

These photos were taken last fall, while we were camping. These feeders were hanging on the Camp Hosts site, which was right next to ours. He fed them sugar water and grape jelly. They would wait in the trees for him to fill the feeders!

Baltimore Orioles use their slender beaks to feed in an unusual way, called “gaping”. They stab their closed bill into soft fruits, then open their mouths to cut a juicy swath from which they drink with their brushy-tipped tongues.

Female orioles are just a tad lighter than the males, however they do tend to get darker with age, possibly even reaching the brightness of a male.

Baltimore orioles also forage by making short flights to catch insects. One of their favored prey is the tent caterpillar moth, which they typically eat in their larval stage, which can be a nuisance species if not naturally regulated by predation. The larvae caterpillar are beaten against a branch until their protective hairs are skinned off before being eaten. Gotta love these guys!!

The female oriole is the nest builder. She creates a tightly woven pouch consisting of plant or animal materials, and is usually located on the end of a branch. She likes to build in tall trees like elms, cottonwoods, maples or willows are usually selected. The female lays three to seven eggs, with the norm being around four. The eggs are pale gray to bluish white with an incubation period of about 12 to 14 days. Once the nestlings hatch, they are fed by both parents and brooded by the female for two weeks.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl