Archives for March 2012

Wordless Wednesday

Afternoon Visitors

In Flight

Magnolia Blooms in Flight

It doesn’t take much to distract me from my weeding chores. Last week, just before dusk, I looked up at the sky and saw…… pink butterflies!  Or was it a flight of exotic pink birds? No, it was the soft, fragrant blooms of Magnolia x ‘Jane’ that appeared to be fluttering everywhere …so much more entertaining than pulling out vinca.

‘Jane’ is part of a group of hybrids developed by the U.S. Arboretum in the mid-1950s. They bloom a little later than most magnolias. They only get about ten feet tall so they work well in small gardens. My Jane is planted a little too close to the woods, so it doesn’t get quite as full as it might in full sun. But I like the wispiness of it where it is and the way the slender, silvery branches contrast with the flowers.

Jane fits in well with trilliums and other spring bloomers. The fragrance is exceptional–similar to a gardenia, but more subtle.

Plant Limbo: Overwintering

Here, on one side of a path in the backyard, is evidence of my inability to make a decision or turn down an alluring botanical specimen. (And, no, that is not an illegal plant in the middle of the photo). I have a similar-size grouping on the other side of the path, just out of camera-range.

In my weak defense, there was a good chance last winter that the plants would be headed to a new home. We didn’t want to plant everything and then dig them up. Also, the deer have been so destructive I didn’t want to just give them my treasures for lunch. So, last fall, I surrounded the pots with a thick mulch of leaves for protection from the winter cold. Some plants have gotten this treatment for more than one winter, I must admit.

My son was over today and pointed out — as diplomatically as possible — that the dozens of black pots were “a little tacky” and detracted from the vision I often articulated for my garden. He is right, and I took no offense. Maybe I have a latent desire to have a nursery, so this is my cobbled-up version of it.

Of course, my dream is to someday have a garden with everything in its place, with no deer or voles lurking in the background to savage my efforts. But, then, that would not be a real-life garden and I would have to find something else to do with my time.

Winter casualties: mostly cinnamon fern.

Crossing Limbs


This oak tree is over a hundred years old. It was probably growing in the middle of the woods when it was younger, away from people with pruning saws and knowledge of how crossing branches can invite insect and disease problems. Now the tree grows on the lawn of the Davidson College campus, alongside other oaks of equal stature. It appears to be healthy, despite its branching structure — a moving, powerful example of nature’s endurance.

A Lovely Afternoon

Love was in the air today at the Botanical Gardens of Asheville. Tenderness seemed to abound — in people, mallards, and the soft awakening of buds and wildflowers.

Lenten Rose. Afternoon Light.

Lenten Rose: Old Faithful

Little Tree Under Siege

These two photos show that even the tiniest Canadian hemlock is vulnerable to attack by the non-native insect, wooly adelgid. This little tree is just over a foot tall. It’s already covered by the same nasty pest that destroyed the stately (and considerably larger) hemlock that thrived for many decades at my North Carolina homeplace. Every morning, I looked out through the limbs of that tree from the window of the bedroom my sister and I shared. I think about those days –and that hemlock– nearly every time I go home.