Sunday, January 29, 2012

When plants go crazy

Great article here http://www.rodale.com/invasive-plants on native vrs. non-native shrubs and perennials, and how the ability of some non-native plants to profusely re-seed is wrecking havoc on ecosystems, displacing important native plants that are a source of food to good insects and wildlife. While there are enough good native plants for me to stay away from many of these invasive foreigners, I have a hard time resisting Butterfly Bush (which is actually banned from being sold in the Pacific northwest due to it’s ability to easily re-seed and pop up everywhere). On a warm, breezy summer afternoon, I find myself drawn to the fragrance and sight of those long purple-red blooms, humming with butterflies drinking up the nectar. I believe I’ve alluded to this situation in one of my first posts to this blog. I do confess to having a number of non-native shrubs in my garden, but I haven’t really encountered much of an issue with them getting out of control. In fact, just to see if I could (having had no luck with propagating plants from cuttings) I grew some Nandina from seeds, and have allowed my Buddleia to spring up where seeds fell last fall.

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Of course, being an avid lover of wildlife, I’ve balanced these with natives like Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius), Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirons, and Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

In the “zone”

I was surprised to learn this morning that the USDA has released an updated Plant Hardiness Zone map for the United States. This is the map that plant growers, garden centers, and landscapers use to determine the cold hardiness of plants, the average minimum temperature for an area. Much of Richmond and surrounding localities in this new map are still in zone 7 (0 to 5 degrees F.) which is no change from the older map issued in 1990. Most perennials, shrubs, and trees used in the Mid-Atlantic states are hardy to at least zone 6 (-5 to 0 degrees F), so keep on planting!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A daylily for Hokies!

I was watching the local news this evening and a story came on about a new daylily developed at Virginia Tech. It’s called ‘VT Spirit’ and features an orange flower with burgundy center (Hokie colors!) and blooms for a longer period of time than most other daylilies. The breeder, Linda Pinkham, is a graduate of Virginia Tech. I’ll post a link to where this daylily can be ordered when I find it. Given how new this variety is, it might be later this spring before it’s available.

VTSpirit

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Up close with birds

I was going through old pictures this evening, trying to clear some space off of my memory card, and found these shots I took of the bird feeder this summer, with bluebirds and cardinals feasting on the sunflower seeds, safflower, peanuts, and suet. I had to use the maximum zoom level on my camera, but I think they came out pretty well considering I only have 3x optical zoom and I was standing in the kitchen at the time.

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It’s been a real treat hosting all kinds of birds in the yard since we started setting up feeders a year ago. We’ve seen cardinals, bluebirds, tufted titmice, chickadees, robins, various woodpeckers, catbirds, juncos, sparrows, and finches. The chickadees and titmice in particular have become accustomed to my presence as I work in the garden, so I’m able to get an up-close look at them while they perch and eat. Even more satisfying is seeing them fluttering and hopping around inside the shrubs and trees I’ve planted. I don’t think I’m far off from being able to designate my garden a NWF Certified Wildlife Habitat.

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