Friday, June 5, 2015

Where the Wild Things Grow

We got two and a quarter inches of rain from the soaker storm earlier this week. Everything looks so much better. Especially the weeds.

Multiflora roses are blooming now and they are pretty, but they are absolutely everywhere that isn't paved or mowed. They were introduced in this area for use as pasture fences -- no cattle can get through the dense thickets -- and it seems to work; I have not seen any cows in the meadow around our house in all the years we have lived here.

Out in the wild meadow I have been trying to identify the woody volunteers, other than roses, that pop up. There are several that grow taller than the weeds and I try to i.d. what they are.

I posted a week ago about Siberian elm. That's a tree I don't want here, but I am barely controlling all the thickets and saplings that are spreading about.

There are oak tree seedlings anywhere an acorn was dropped or buried, and that's fine. I like oaks, although I move some of the volunteers around so there won't be a massive tree in the wrong spot in a few decades.

I was not sure what these glossy leaved saplings were; they appear in the meadow in a couple spots:

I think they are Prunus serotina, or wild cherry. Shiny leaves, finely toothed margins, and I could even see little shiny lenticels on the stems. We do have cherry trees growing in the woods nearby. This is an aggressive tree that takes over disturbed land. That's our meadow -- a torn up swath of earth ready for anything invasive.

I'm letting them be. Cherry trees in the meadow are okay.

A Chinese mulberry tree, Morus alba, has leaped up out of the tall grass and I see some other seedlings nearby. The leaves are distinct and easy to identify. It's growing like gangbusters, a tall weedy thing. I'll leave it for now, but it is an alien invader that can take over sunny open spots.

There is one woody seedling that has puzzled me. The newest leaves are simple, but older ones develop three lobes, very distinctly shaped and cut at the bottom. These seedlings are reddish purple so they stand out against the green grasses and weeds.

There are actually two plants, and they are woody and tree-like, even though both are only a foot tall right now. One was found on the west side of the meadow, the other growing on the east side, 200 feet away.

I have to assume anything growing easily in disturbed ground is an invasive or aggressive seeder, so this can't be some unusual, unique specimen. It has to be something common or alien.

But . . . . the leaf shape, size, and color, and the alternate arrangement all look exactly like a purple cutleaf crabapple called Malus 'Royal Raindrops'. Can it be? Could birds have dropped crabapples in the meadow from someone's landscape tree nearby?

images of 'Royal Raindrops' look like the leaves on my seedlings

I'll definitely keep growing these two volunteers out in the meadow -- if they really are 'Royal Raindrops' crabapples, they will be lovely trees and I might transplant them to a nice spot.

'Royal Raindrops' crabapple in flower

Wow. After all the unwanted Siberian elms, trashy Ailanthus, nightmare Oriental bittersweet and multiflora roses, and after all the cottonwood volunteers and wild cherries and mulberries overtaking the meadow and hill in back, could it really be that a very nice specimen cultivar is growing where the wild things are?


  1. So happy to hear the roaming herd of cattle are kept at bay. You wouldn't want your yard trampled!

    1. Agreed. No cows wanted here (although it was originally a cow pasture 100 years ago. I sometimes find bits of barbed wire and rotted fenceposts when I dig in the garden.)

  2. So outstanding to have volunteers that you like coming through in your space! It is such a gift when that happens! Beautiful shots my friend and so glad to hear that the rain came and perked up the garden! Nicole