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Monday, May 2, 2016

May Flowers Big and Small May 2, 2016

Today I am linking with-

Today's Flowers hosted by Denise

Macro Monday 2 hosted by Gemma and Mystical Magical Teacher

In a Vase on Monday hosted by Cathy

I Heart Macro hosted by Laura

When photographing my Japanese Maples for Foliage Follow-up last month, I took notice of their tiny flowers, which I usually overlook.


I even cut some flowers and foliage, which make an unseasonable fall impression-

The flowers are now forming seed pods, and the formerly orange-tinged Amber Ghost has become a paler shade of white.


Adding to my list of flowering carpets, a favorite little lawn flower is Bellis perennis, which I obtained by digging up a few from a parking lot soon to be paved.

It looks pretty in the lawn where it has to fight with the grasses-

 But does even better on the inhospitable gravel driveway where it shines for its drought tolerance-

Another carpet that basically only flowers a little in spring, but is a marvelously tough ground cover for dry shade and spreads wonderfully, always looking neat, is hardy Geranium macrorrhizum-



All this came from a single plant that spread all by itself, under a Bigleaf Maple!  Never gets watered through our dry season!  It will not do as well in sun.

And now for my Monday vase, answering Cathy's challenge to find flowers for a vase to enjoy, my Lily of the Valleys have started to bloom, and smell wonderful, so I couldn't resist plonking some in a vase with some remaining Forget-Me-Nots and a few of those rascally Herb Roberts.


I also, while out weeding every day, notice some very tiny "weed" flowers, which have a mesmerizing effect on me and compelled me to make a tiny vase, compared also with the larger tame version of the Forget-Me-Nots.  Some members of the Borage family have mystical powers to spread themselves far and wide.


The plate in this photo is from my original china my parents gave me when I got married, It is Lenox 'Melissa'.  My father's grandmother was a Lenox, but the business was run by male members of the family so was not part of his inheritance.  Lenox is my father's middle name.  A Yankee from New Jersey married a Southern belle from South Carolina, my mother, imagine that.  But the strange part is that both of their fathers were born in South Carolina.

The tiny white flowers tend to be highly invasive and make a tiny ground cover fine in the grass but seem to threaten some of my plants in the garden-

 The tiny flashes of deep blue are pretty, I haven't noticed any bad effects from this one, not as vigorous or invasive in the lawn-

A comparison of the tiny wild Forget-Me-Nots with the regular ones,

And regular FMN on the lower left compared with the slightly smaller and less varied in color flowers of another famous Borage family flower, Brunnera, which is very well-behaved but can self-sow-

FMN can make quite a flowering carpet,  which can actually act to slow down other weeds for a while in spring-
 but eventually turns into a mildewed mess here, and the tiny seed pods have a sticky quality from tiny hairs that cling to clothes and gloves, so this year I am waging full scale war on them and bagging all the plants and flowers I can find in hopes there won't be many next year.

Another extremely invasive flowering carpet is Herb Robert, though I have to say it is known for being a medicinal herb and also can suppress other weeds very well with its dense growth and perhaps a little allelopathy thrown in, so it can transform some weedy areas of my 2 acres into this-

And has very cute little flowers-

  I hope you have made fewer mistakes than I have in planting invasive plants out of ignorance.   What plants have become problems for you?    -Hannah



















Thursday, April 28, 2016

Native Flower Carpets Wildflower Wednesday April 28, 2016

Today I am joining in with Gail's Wildflower Wednesday posts, featuring especially some that like to make carpets that bloom.  Native plants occur in pockets of my 2 acre garden, especially in the southern woods, where sheets of Hydrophyllum capitatum come up in spring after becoming ephemeral the previous dry season-

The little ball-shaped flowers are just beginning to form-


I've seen a similar appearing more ornamental purple-flowered eastern USA native,  Phacelia tanacetifolia, that looks interesting, as well as Phacelia bipinnatifida on Gail's blog that is quite pretty.

Another Borage family native perennial that grows by itself in sun is Phacelia hastata.  It can get quite large and furnishes food for the native bees in the summer with its very long bloom season-


Another ephemeral plant that carpets the woods is Circaea alpina, Enchanter's Nightshade, with smaller bright green smooth leaves and eventually tiny flowers, from the Onagraceae family.  It is separate here from the Hydrophyllum in the upper right.   I was amused once at the fair to see this in the weed display labeled as "garlic mustard".  Perhaps it seemed invasive.;-). Minute white flower will show up soon-


False Solomon's Seal is starting to bloom, the deer will nibble it so I have to protect it.  The ones growing here have an exquisite fragrance I can't get enough of-

The native Mahonia (now Berberis) nervosa,  is blooming and will have edible berries, it slowly forms colonies of plants, either alone or mixed with Salal, which I enjoy, especially in the few beds without weed competition-



Spring Beauty, Claytonia sibirica, can carpet some areas with it tiny candy-like flowers and edible bulbs-


The related  Miner's lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, is one of the most recognized of the wild edibles, eaten by miners to prevent scurvy-



A miniature vining plant with cute little incised leaves also makes an appearance, Nemophila parviflora also in the Borage family-

I once read an article about a study where a residential lawn that had been grass for 40 or 60 years was killed then watered and weeded to see what wildflowers would appear, and grew some amazing plants from dormant seeds.  What native plants grow for you without intervention?   Hannah

Monday, April 25, 2016

More Flower Carpets, Vases April 25, 2016

Today I am linking with-

Today's flowers hosted by Denise

Saturday's Critters hosted by Eileen

In a Vase on Monday hosted by Cathy

Macro Monday 2 hosted by Gemma and Mystical Magical Teacher

Continuing with more plants that make flowering carpets in the spring, one that is really popping up everywhere this spring is Ajuga, I have bought several varieties over the years which have possibly hybridized with each other, varying from green leaves to dark burgundy, and flowers that are a blue purple or pink, here coming up in the grass.  Mowing would remove the flower spikes but leave the thick low-growing runners that carpet the ground after the flowers are gone-

For those who like a very drought-tolerant ground cover that dies back in the fall then starts growing and filling in rapidly in the spring, Euphorbia cyparissias has very fine foliage and is soon covered in yellow flowers and bracts-


Another choice that is one of those perfectly adapted PNW plants, growing in shade in the late winter to early spring to make a dense carpet of arrowhead-shaped leaves, is the Mouse plant, Arisarum proboscideum, so cute it always makes me smile to see the little "mice"-

The flowers are not readily visible but hide under the leaves, they are a Jack-in-the-Pulpit relative and the flowers look whimsically like a mouse with its tail in the air and head in the ground-

After the spring rains are over and the summer gets hotter and dried, the plants are ephemeral and disappear underground until the next rainy season, like the Anemone nemorosas and others.

I actually found a critter this week, it is a very abundant spider that doesn't spin a web, but is camouflaged to blend in with flowers, either white or yellow, and has its front legs bent like a crab's, hence the name crab spider, bees are often their victims-

She is hiding out on a yellow tree peony, here is the flower-


Blooming next to it is the exquisitely shaded Peony -



It's time for In a Vase on Monday, so I couldn't resist using some peonies.  Here is a white tree peony, and the wonderful P. suffruticosa 'Kamata Nishiki', so full in the vase I couldn't figure out how to add more flowers-

And the cute little bloom of the Peony delavayi 'lutea'with a few Geum 'Totally Tangerine', Primula elatior 'Black Lace', Euphorbia cypariassis, Euphorbia amygdaloides, Wojo's Gem variegated Vinca, and some tall wild very weedy buttercups with their amazing shiny petals-




Top view-

What flowers are surprising you now?   

Easter is just past, and I wish the Jewish readers a Happy Pesach.   Here is a photo of the kids in my family dressed for Easter, a 5th girl was born around that time.  I am the oldest girl.  In our Easter bonnets....

             -Hannah

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