Sunday
Apr022017

Deb's Garden, April 2017

April has always been one of the prettiest months in my garden. We are shaking off effects of last year's severe drought and a couple of mid-March freezes and moving forward. Here are views of Deb's Garden today: 

The lawn is bordered by the front garden. The Japanese maple on the left is our 'marriage tree,' purchased soon after Lou and I married 41 years ago:

This view of the front garden was taken near the patio:

Here is a red Japanese maple with a flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, in the background. This is one of our older dogwoods that survived last year's drought:

A few days ago we purchased Cornus florida 'Cherokee Brave,' a new variety of pink flowering dogwood bred for vigor and disease resistance. But how many dead dogwoods have we cut down? We plan to buy another Cherokee Brave this week. That makes two, a small beginning, but we are grateful that a number of our dogwoods still survive, including some younger ones.On the left is one of our original white flowering dogwoods. On the left is our new 'Cherokee Brave.'

If you follow my blog, you know how much I love Japanese maples! Japanese maple 'Aconitifolium' is one of my favorite green ones:

Here are views of assorted other Japanese maples growing in the garden:

Japanese maple 'Waterfall' grows in the woodland garden:

The blue bridge image is one of my favorite views of the woodland garden through the seasons. Here is April, 2017:

As I walked in the woodland garden today I noticed several butterflies. This Eastern Black Swallowtail was preoccupied with a native azalea and did not mind me taking its photo:

Also in the woodland garden today was an anole lizard resting on the side of a green watering can:

Here are assorted flowers currently blooming in the garden:Top row: Camellia japonica 'Gunsmoke'; Ajuga. Middle row: Fothergilla; Pink Columbine. Bottom row: Bloodroot; Hellebores.

Clockwise from top left: A white Encore Azalea; White double petunia; Variegated Solomon's Seal; Philadelphus (Mock Orange).I hope you enjoyed the tour! Have a great week!  Deb

 

 

Sunday
Mar262017

An Answer for Dying Dogwoods?

When we moved to our property in 1985, I was enchanted by its abundance of native dogwood trees, Cornus florida.Many of my dogwoods were mature specimens with thick trunks and widely spreading canopies. Each spring fluttering white blooms frosted the woods. Anticipation of the sight brought me eagerly through the winter, and when the dogwoods blossomed I knew spring was firmly entrenched.

However, recent years have hit my dogwoods badly. Dogwood anthracnose, dogwood borers, powdery mildew and drought stress have left dogwood skeletons standing forlornly throughout the eastern US. The drought we experienced last fall has been brutal on local dogwoods. Lou has cut a half dozen dead dogwoods from the property already this year, and recently I identified several more dead ones. 

When I looked out over the garden this week, I noticed a scattering of white blooms, a pale shadow of former glory. In past years this spring view was covered in dogwood blooms, where now only a sprinkling of dogwood blooms show. Lou wants to plant new dogwoods. At first I refused, thinking new ones would likely succumb to the same problems as the old ones. However, a local nursery owner pointed out that hybrids are much more resistant to disease and insects than Cornus florida. Many of these are hybrids of Cornus florida/Cornus kousa. The Kousa dogwood is native to Japan and China and is more disease and insect resistant. Kousa dogwood is a pretty tree but its blooms appear after the leaves have appeared, so lacks the impact of our native dogwood. The hybrids seem to have the best of both worlds. 

Dr. Elwin Orton of Rutgers University has spent about 40 years developing hybrid dogwoods. His Stellar series includes several sturdy varieties, including popular 'Stellar Pink' and the highly anthracnose resistant 'Appalachian Spring'. Dr. Orton also developed 'Hyperion', which is known for its rapid growth and vigor. 'Red Pygmy' is a dwarf red hybrid.

Other plant breeders are working on additional hybrid dogwoods to take the place of our dying ones. I planted a 'Stellar Pink' several years ago. It survived last year's drought, though bloom production is less this year. I told Lou I will look at more hybrids and make a selection to replace a few we lost. However, I don't think anyone has come up with a dogwood that can survive without water. So these will have to be planted in the garden where we can take good care of them.