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Friday, April 30, 2010

Paradise Easily Lost; Hard to Regain

Paradise in the gardening sense is akin to a native ecosystem- plants living together in harmony through long association, each plant becoming part of a delicate balance where none run amok.  I see this in woodlands or prairies where no alien species have been brought in.  Here is an example from the woods by my property, which was at one point old growth mixed forest, predominately Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, and Bigleaf Maple. 

The ground is carpeted with delicate little spring plants, many of them ephemeral.  The flowers at the base of the large tree are Trilliums, which can develope into large clumps, and slowly age to a deep magenta.

Delicate little flowers like Miner's Lettuce, Claytonia perfoliata, and Spring Beauty, Claytonia sibirica, rise in spring in a delicate assemblage, here with Tellima grandiflora, Fringe Cup, which persists through the year.

Even though the former owners of my property logged out the Douglas Firs, and did their best to obliterate the native plants with a covering of grass, little pockets of the natives remain, and surprisingly, when the grass is removed or buried in deep mulch, the tiny delicate plants can spring forth once again from their reserves of seed in the earth, as in the Miner's Lettuce here at the base of an apple tree.

I enjoy spending some of my gardening time trying to bring back or increase some of the native plants still present in remote corners of the yard.  Here is an area where native Oregon Holly Grape, Mahonia aquifolium, has become buried beneath Himalayan berry vines and other weedy growth, I can repost later when I have done some work on clearing it away.   My photos were taken by me on a Canon Powershot a530 digital camera.


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Saturday, April 24, 2010

Introduction, spring gardening shows

Welcome to my first blog posting! Today was a busy day, I went to a gardening show with four of my grandkids. The landscaping exhibits were inspiring, common elements were outdoor dining and even cooking and entertainment areas.

My own greatest gardening struggles involve the battle with various weeds in my 2 acre garden. Since weeds can be defined as plants in the wrong place, from a gardening viewpoint the many mature Western Red Cedars in my yard act as weeds for me. The roots are difficult to escape, and the environment under the trees is hostile to most shade plants. However, they moderate the summer climate nicely, so there is always a cool and shady place to work in the garden somewhere. I have been experimenting with a number of different ground covers to evaluate them under cedars and large maples.

This is what I consider my most successful ground cover, Symphytum grandiflorum, ground cover Comfrey.  It is presently blooming, with scorpiod spiral cymes characteristic of the Borage family.  The blooms start out pink and fade to blue then white.  There certainly seems to be an allelopathic effect with this plant so I give it the coveted "Stronger Than Grass" Award.  No weeds seem to grow in it's borders.  However I wouldn't want to have to try to remove it, either-  If you hate invasive plants or have a small yard or want to grow other plants nearby,  you might want to give it the "Ground Cover From Hell" Award.  It does stay green here in my zone 8 garden, though sparser in winter.  The rough coarse leaves stay a nice cool green, and I like it in the orchard under fruit trees to keep down weeds and make it low-maintenance.

Happy Gardening!
© Weeding on the Wild Side, all rights reserved. Any material copied must link back to this website,