Just a few garden pics:
I can’t help myself. If I hear bees a-buzzin’ and I think I can video them I have to do it. Can someone ID this bee for me?
If I knew how, I’d have edited out that horrible Skytrain roar at the end…
A few minutes earlier there was a giant bumble bee (I imagine a queen, but I’m no expert!) enjoying the blooms of the Daphne odorata. And sooo odorata! Even tho’ it’s a really frail and little shrub–at least 10 years old, maybe 11, and still less than 3′ tall and wide– I’ll usually cut off just one little branch to bring inside to fragrance-up my living room. A shrub this fragrant should always be planted in a place where its delight can be appreciated–near the front door, or walkway that you use regularly.
But back to the bees… I didn’t have my phone on me, so didn’t photograph or video it/her. But I was able to see her very long pointy tongue. No wonder she likes the trumpet shaped flowers of the Daphne. Yesterday I saw her, one one just like her, crawl into a tunnel underneath the Spirea in the back yard. Interestingly, that Spirea was just transplanted into its spot last month, so she certainly didn’t over-winter in that tunnel. Wish I knew more about bees…
Take Advantage of Timing
Yesterday I mentioned the two ephemerals Sanguinaria (bloodwort) and Erythronium (trout lily). The Sanguinaria was coming up under the foliage of the Asplenium (hart’s tongue fern), and the Erythronium is concealed behind the Buxus (boxwood). But spring ephemerals are perennials that erupt, bloom, set seed and “die back” all in spring, so that by early summer there’s nothing to be seen but a bare space.
So in fact, I could in theory have left the fern where it was, cut off the foliage, which is normal procedure for most hardy ferns, and allowed the Sanguinaria to grow and bloom (or “bloom and grow”), because by the time the fern’s foliage was well up and in danger of hiding the Sanguinaria, there’d actually be no Sanguinaria left visible to be hidden.
Now, as it happens–and this is where “Viewpoint Part II” comes in– from my “preferred view from my living room window” the fern was obscuring my view of the waterfall, and I couldn’t have that! So fern was moved, replaced with something that will stay shorter.
But that brings me to ferns, and cutting down foliage.
Of all the ferns with really ratty late winter/early spring foliage, Asplenium is the least ratty. In fact, were it not for the utter beauty of the new foliage coming up but hidden in the old foliage, one wouldn’t feel the need to prune away the old foliage at all.
But then I’d miss this:
Some other ferns I don’t hesitate to prune to the ground as soon as I can, there being nothing of aesthetic value. E.g., the following:
Dryopteris affinis ‘Cristata’–Crested Male Fern–is one of my (many) fave ferns. Not at all beautiful in Feb, tho’ technically “evergreen”. But in summer:
…stunning. So I chop off everything above ground, and now I’m waiting for the “tarantulas” to unfurl:
Adiantum venustum–Maidenhair fern–behaves differently from year to year. This winter, altho’ not any more severe than any others lately, she suffered a lot of die back, so even tho’ the dead and “mostly dead” foliage was lying flat on the ground, and new growth rises prettily above it, I pruned away most of the dead stuff so that when the new growth began it would indeed be pretty, like this:
And then this:
So two take-aways:
- Understand the life cycle of your plants, and you’ll be able to coordinate blooming times, colour combinations, pruning times.
- Most hardy ferns can and should be cut down to the ground so you can see the wonder of new growth.
I’ve posted too little over the last two years, so with this forced isolation still upon us, I think I’ll try to post a little something most days. Remains to be seen–it always takes longer to write than I think it’s going to…
So for today, it’s about your viewpoint. This is the view from my living room window, where I stand and stare just about any time I’m not doing something else. (Duh! I mean when I’m not actually working on something else.)
See the little white flowers in the bottom of the screen? Sanguinaria canadensis, aka “Bloodroot” (altho’ you know I hate to promote “common names” because there are too many names for the same plant, depending on your location, and very often the same common name applied to more than one plant). A few weeks ago, when they were just emerging from the soil, I couldn’t see them from my preferred viewpoint, because they were hidden under the foliage of an Asplenium scopularium–Hart’s tongue fern. They could be seen from another vantage point, but not my vantage point. So there’s the thing: who are you planting/designing for, who’s viewpoint gets priority? Is it you, from where you stand staring out the window? or is it passers-by? or the person wandering through the garden?
I decided to dig up the Asplenium and put it into two areas (it was big once removed, so I split it into two) where they could grow as much as they liked, not overshadow anything, and enjoy being the stars of their own shows.
Another example: at the top of the screen (beginning of the short video) you’ll see a Choisya ‘Goldfingers’, and behind it an Edgeworthia chrysantha, in bloom from January, before the leaves appear. Edgeworthia begins to bloom when it’s still cold and miserable, so it’s great if I can see them from the window and not have to brave the weather to do so. But these two pretty shrubs were cleverly concealed by a Nandina domestica, species variety (so growing pretty big, unlike some of the cute little cultivars like ‘Firepower’ or ‘Moon Bay’). Thus, my two little shrubs behind, and especially the Edgeworthia which is still quite young, small and not massively blooming, were invisible to me from my preferred viewpoint. So out came the Nandina, got pruned back a little, and replanted over near the street. Now the Nandina is fully visible to anyone walking by, but almost invisible to me because there’s an evergreen in the way. Hmmm, we’ll see how that works out…
Sometimes it’s worth having things a little hidden. This little Erythronium is unintentionally concealed behind a row of boxwood. I chopped away at a nasty rose which gave me access into this little space.
Like the Sanguinaria, it’s a spring ephemeral–it disappears completely once the weather heats up. So in this case I really do have to go out to find it. Worth the effort.