Entries in Japanese maples (12)

Thursday
May052011

From the Patio

I am done with planting, pruning, fertilizing, mulching, transplanting, and all the other garden chores of spring. That doesn't mean I have completed these projects. In fact, there are a couple of big jobs I haven't even started. It's always a race to get the heavy gardening completed before the heat arrives. I never get it all finished, but I am grateful for what I have accomplished. And now the first, relatively gentle, wave of our Deep South summer has come. I feel it in the humid, warm days, with temps well into the 80s. I see it in the plants, the spring blooms receding, the deep green taking over. 

The great Southern Magnolia tree is blooming, a sign of summer's arrival.

Confederate Jasmine, Trachelospermum jasminoides, has taken over the former rose arch by the patio. Here is a view across the patio through the arch:

The sweet smell of the jasmine drifts upon the air. I like to sit in the shade of the big umbrella and take deep breaths of it.Near the arch is a candle-less lantern. (I put a candle in it when I first purchased it, but the summer heat soon completely melted the candle. It was a mess!) Behind the lantern is a large upright rosemary, which adds to the olfactory experience.

Another flower blooming near the patio in early May is Anthony Waterer spirea, a favorite low maintenance shrub.

From my vantage point on the patio I can get just a peek through the foliage of the Lady Garden down the hill. Peachy impatiens are blooming and provide some color amidst the textures and shades of green.
As much as I love flowers, I am most enamored by plants with beautiful foliage. Here are some that catch my eye from the patio:
The brilliant spring foliage of red Japanese maples is beginning to fade to more sedate rose and greens.

The lacy green leaves of a thread-leaf Japanese maple are also a delight. I love the feathery appearance of this small weeping tree.

Arborvitae fern is lush with new green growth.

And the silver foliage of Powis Castle artemesia will provide a cool accent through the summer.

There is weeding to do - that's like washing clothes and doing the dishes - and there's the vegetable plot to tend to, but nevertheless most of the chores are put on hold till fall. So now I have more time to sit on the patio and enjoy the sights. It's a great place to listen to and observe birds and other wildlife. I was lounging there the other day, and this little green lizard ran by my feet, across the patio, then up a small tree by the house. These lizards are called green anoles. They are native to the southeastern USA and live in trees. Males have a red skin flap called a dewlap on their necks which they extend for territorial display and courtship. 

 I think the green anole was eyeing a large green luna moth. Although its wing was a bit damaged, I was still impressed by its beauty. I know that lizards like to eat moths, but I think this one, which has a wing span of several inches, may be too much to swallow. I hope!

As I survey my comfy little world, I am reminded how fortunate I am that we were spared from the terrible tornadoes that ravaged Alabama and other southeastern states last week. For many, recovery will take a long, long time. My heartfelt prayers are with them and the tireless souls who work to bring relief and comfort. I recently posted about my visit to John's Native Nursery in Scottsboro. Check out the web site to see how these beautiful gardens came through the storm.  

Wednesday
Nov242010

Grab a Rake and Have Some Fun


I love the leaves upon the trees

and as they're falling in the breeze;

and when they pile upon the ground,

I love their crinkly, crunchy sound

beneath my feet!

When I was a child, I liked to visit my grandmother's house in autumn. Her house was perched up on a hill, and there was a large rock retaining wall at the bottom. The grown-ups would rake mountains of leaves in front of the wall, and we children would take flying leaps off the top of the wall into them. I'm sure we undid most of the adults' hard work; but there was lots of laughter, and I don't remember anyone complaining. I was nearly an adult myself before I discovered that many people consider raking a chore and not a game.

I maintain a positive attitude about fallen leaves. They make excellent mulch, and I generally let them lie in the woodlands. We do rake them off the lawn and the paths. My neighbor gave us the lightweight Trooper rake seen in the photo above. It is 30 inches wide and does a terrific job.

I was out raking just a few days ago. It was a perfect day, and the fall foliage of my Japanese maples was at its peak. Here are some photos which illustrate why these are among my favorite trees:

After admiring the Japanese maples, I headed for the woodland garden:I like to keep the leaves off the moss paths, so the moss will grow better. While I was raking I noticed the woodland pot I nestled in an old rotting stump. The pretty leaves sprinkled all around reminded me of rose petals:

The leaves are falling from euonymus alata shrubs, aptly called burning bush:

Guess what's inside the pot:

A warning about burning bush:  Although I have never seen any seedlings in my own garden and in fact one of the original five I planted died and had to be replaced, this is considered an invasive species and is even banned in some areas.

After raking the moss paths I studied the results:One could argue whether this is a before or after photo!

I was glowing with satisfaction when a shower of leaves fluttered down in front of me. I laughed. One can't get too serious about raking my yard, but I will keep at it. If I waited till all the leaves were off the trees, I would be wading through over a foot of foliage. Now that would take real work to clear!

Happy Thanksgiving to you all, and remember this: Raking leaves can burn nearly 300 calories per hour, so if you are feeling guilty about that extra serving of turkey dressing, grab a rake and have some fun!

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