Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Mystery plant identified

In this post, I had a mystery plant in the woods. My sister guessed an immature pokeweed and Kylee guessed twinleaf. I found the same plant in the wildflower bed at work and the site's naturalist made the identification. It is Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides).

Monday, April 28, 2008

Princess Plants-a-Lot goes to a garden party

Twenty years ago, I was faced with empty beds after I ripped out the overgrown shrubs in my newly purchased home. So I came up with a scheme for people to give me plants, plants that grew well in this area. And so the plant exchange party began. I last hosted "my" garden party in 2004. Since then, Beth, the lovely lady in green in the picture below, opened her home for the plant exchange.

After we eat and socialize and scope out the plants, the exchange begins. This year, we moved to the garage because of the cold wind blowing across their lovely farmland. Here, our host is confessing to iris theft from the church and offering up bearded iris.
Next Vern brings out some tender bulbs. The lady selecting the bulbs flew in from Philadelphia for the party so you know how much fun we have.
Jennifer, my niece, has everyone's rapt attention as she explains the "garden in a box" that she brought. She brought coral bells for the front, hosta for the mid-section and garden phlox for the back. There may have been more but that's all I remember.

She did a good sales job, no wonder she is in marketing.

Here is one person's bounty.
Donna is getting started with the plants she brought. I've gotten to know Donna during the last year as we landscaped the church's new building and really enjoy her and respect her knowledge. Look at all the plants waiting to be given away. Donna's helper is Jennifer's daughter, Emily, my truly great niece.
Here's Emily with my tiara checking out the tub, perhaps for earthworms or maybe she is making a wish. Beth crowned me Princess Plants-a-Lot (P-Lancelot) in honor of 20 years of the plant exchange.

Beth offers up a hot item.

Here's an idea of the sheet number and variety of plants. Over the years, we've learned to limit the rampant growers, and people brought things like toad lilies, filipendula and sweet autumn clematis.
And a good time was had by all. The best thing is that you divide several plants to give away and you come home with literally hundreds of dollars of plants. This year I brought home garden phlox (I have is purple phlox and am hoping for some white and pink), rose flowered mother-of-thyme, calendula starts, centaura, hosta, and knautia. It's just unfortunate that I don't have more empty beds so I wouldn't have to show such restraint.

Releasing the wildflowers

I started tackling the garlic mustard in our woods several years ago. It is an endless task, but this year I may have seen some rewards. The appearance of these plants could be a result of the rain we received last winter, but please let me believe that it was the result of four years trying to eradicate garlic mustard, which prevents spring ephemerals from blooming.

As I was on my search and destroy mission against the garlic mustard enemy, I found a jack-in-the-pulpit. I had found one several years ago in the northwest corner of the woods, but this was the first time I saw one in the southeast corner.This is a trillium,trillium sessile, commonly called toadshade today but known as wake robin a hundred years ago. This is the first time I've seen it in the woods. It is clump forming and I am pleased to see two plants in my emerging clump.
Of course, this trillium, trillium grandiflora, is becoming abundant. It is so exciting to spot one in a new place in our little woods.This is known as lady's thumb. I heard a story about the "bloody" thumbprint and tried to find it online to no avail. She pricked her finger was one version and another version as she murdered her husband and left evidence on this little plant. Online I found a Scottish tale about the plant was at the foot of the cross. Or you can make up your own story!The mayapple patches are spreading. Steve and I wondered about the two distinct shapes in this patch. And this is my unknown but distinctive plant. The stems are a glaucous blue. No flowers yet. I'll have to keep monitoring it.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Spring is here, declares Earth Girl

Five sandhill cranes flew low over our house a few days ago. The spring peepers are serenading us at night. I've started my annual attack on garlic mustard in the woods. The red-winged blackbirds are calling for mates. Ducks and geese are checking out the pond as a potential nursery. My crocus are finally in bloom. The dogwood buds are getting fatter. One son is at a home opener for the Detroit Tigers and the other son is at Vero Beach, Florida. And I start work in the gardens at Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site in a few hours.

Spring is here.