Saturday
Jul192014

This Plant Had to Go

I was forewarned. When I was eyeing the wondrously variegated Artemesia 'Oriental Limelight', the nursery worker told me it could be invasive. The look on her face said more than her words. But it was so pretty!I noted the warning, however, and decided to plant my new specimen in the ground within a plastic pot. That was two years ago.

Last year I found new sprouts coming up out of the ground, all within a couple feet of the mother plant. I pulled them up but hesitated to remove the original plant. It was so pretty! I even let it flower, because I thought the white buds looked great along with the neighboring yellow day lilies.I was diligent to cut the seed heads off before they dried. Like someone nursing a pet sin, I felt I had it under control. 

This year I had to face my problem. This plant was in front of my house, next to where visitors park their cars. I never intended for it to be a ground cover, but not only did I have new plants coming up from underground runners that had escaped the confines of the pot, but now I had seedlings coming up that were five feet or more from the mother plant. So this week I was ruthless, pulling up the original plant, with its tenacious runners snaking out of several holes in the sides of the plastic pot. How was this plant able to make these holes?! I also ripped out every visible seedling. I don't fool myself that I have seen the last of it. 

There is a good place for most plants. Perhaps Artemesia 'Oriental Limelight' belongs in a meadow with grasses and other aggressive growers. It does not belong in front of my house.

Sometimes gardeners have to admit their mistakes. A plant may overgrow its spot, or maybe it won't grow at all. Perhaps it demands too much maintenance. Maybe it doesn't look good in its setting, and another plant would be a better choice. Maybe a plant is sickly despite all our doctoring. Gardening is often about editing, and that means we have to be willing to let a plant go. 

Saturday
Jul122014

Encounter With a Box Turtle

Lou came inside the other day and announced we had a visitor...a box turtle!I had not seen a box turtle in our garden for a couple of years, so I grabbed my camera and went outside. The box turtle was nestled against our walkway by the patio, with his head poking up out of pine straw. I wanted a photo, but I wanted one with a clear view; so I sat down on the walkway and carefully removed most of the pine straw, whereupon he pulled his head into his shell.

Box turtles are North American natives, land dwelling members of the American pond turtle family. They protect themselves by hiding, by biting (as my son Josh once discovered!) and by tightly closing up their shells. My visitor pulled his head in but did not close his shell, so I was optimistic he might relax if I stayed very still. I lay down on the walkway so my head was not too far from the turtle and waited. In less than five minutes I was rewarded when his head began to cautiously emerge, little by little. Soon we were eye to eye with each other.

I was impressed with his nostrils. I also noted his red eyes. Red eyes indicate the turtle is probably a male, whereas females have yellow brown eyes. I have no idea what he thought of me, but he looked me over for about ten minutes. I shot a bunch of photos of his face; I do believe he was posing for me! Then I slowly adjusted my position to shoot some side views.This turtle has been around a while, and he has had at least one close call.

Deep scratches and bite marks are symmetrically placed on both sides of his shell. Was it a raccoon? Or a dog? One thing for sure, he is fortunate to have that tough shell for protection! Young turtles with softer shells often fall victim to predators, but once they reach adulthood, they can live a long time. The average life span of an adult box turtle is fifty years, and it is not uncommon for them to live longer than 100 years! With lots of wear on his shell and a mature countenance, this turtle is no spring chicken! I would not be surprised if he has been around as long as I have.

After a while, the box turtle decided to move along.

The end!