Saturday, May 17, 2014

Officially Worried

Two inches of rain overnight, sparkling sunshine this morning. It rained hard. Everything looks wonderful now and the morning air is cool and fresh.

I saw a red fox for the first time. He trotted right through the back yard this morning on urgent business. I was surprised how big he was.

This is the first year I have not bought bags of bark mulch or ordered a big pile of it delivered. Instead, I have been spreading the unfinished compost I have.

Leaves and grass clippings and a lot of woody branches have been mouldering behind the berm for several years and since I have been turning it by hand, it is getting looser.

If I crumble it up, I can get a lot of rough, chopped material that works beautifully as a mulch around the gardens.

It looks better than the wood chips, darker and more woodsy and natural. There are sticks and whole leaves still in it.

The pine bark mulch I got last year from Envirocycle (rather than the dark spruce mulch) formed impenetrable mats and pieces of bark bleached out and got shiny. I hope my crumbled rough compost will stay fluffy and dark.

It probably has weed seeds in it -- that's a worry since this is not cooked, finished material.  And it may disappear quickly, which is a great amendment for the soil but I'll lose the moisture holding mulch effect. It's hard to get a photo of crumbled leaf litter, but here it is spread in the garden. Nice stuff. Free stuff.

Now that mid May has passed and we are entering late spring, I am officially worried about a couple plants.

The Forest Pansy redbud looks like it is struggling. There were just a few rosy flowers which Jim captured a week ago by going in very close for the shot.

But they were so few, and none were visible from more than10 feet away. Even silhouetted against a stormy sky before the rain came, you could not see the flowers.

The rain knocked the tiny flowers off and now, in the sunshine, I can see that there are a few --- a very few --- little leaves emerging. But not on all the branches.

I have had poor luck with redbuds. My beautiful 'Oklahoma' redbud was a stunner until it broke apart in the 2011 storm. This 'Forest Pansy' is the second one in this location and I don't think it's going to thrive. I won't replant if it goes too.

I am also officially worried about one of the blue beeches, Carpinus caroliniana, out in the meadow. Two of the trio (my attempt at a "grove") look good and leafy, like this one.

The third does not. It has a couple tentative leaves unfurling, but it's not good, and I'll probably need to take this out.

I'm also officially worried about one of the sassafras saplings. It's the odd one that has differently shaped darker, curled leaves than the others, and although it has buds, they don't look like they want to open, and some look dry.

It's a different sassafras, unlike the others, so maybe it's just very late to open. It doesn't look good, though.

The persimmons are late openers too, but I do see hints of leaves. A little more waiting before I get officially worried about them. The largest one is taking its time, but I do think it's ok.

Finally the sourwood is opening its buds, and the sweetgums. No worries there, just impatience on my part.

And the worry is over for a few things I lost, they are gone. My cherished spigelia marilandica, the pretty red flowered woodland plant that forms stands in part shade, won't grow for me and my one plant did not come back.

I lost both the dwarf potted Jelly Bean blueberries, one this winter, and the last one is not leafing out now.

But how can I stew and worry on such a clean, fresh, sunny day after a rainstorm in spring? How can I worry about a few losses when the ajuga is in full purple bloom, and the tiarella's spiky stars are open?

The woodland hyacinths have opened too, not very showy in the Birch Garden, but fragrant and cute. They are all a moody pale purple or cream, and hard to notice, but I love to see them.

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