About Me

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I'm a woman entering "the third chapter" and fascinated by the journey.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

FInding their way

Slowly but surely, the critters are finding their way to the new place. The little pond (soon to be drained and cleaned) hosted spring peepers in noisy abundance (and probably mosquito larvae, hence the need for the cleanout). The neighborhood concert includes lots of starling music (and I have to confess that starlings amuse me), but we also have robins nesting next door, lots of cardinals, chickadees, and titmice, and a plethora of Little Brown Birds. Unidentified bird calls have led me to believe that we have had warblers nearby.

The bees are here. The torenia, of all weird, non-native porch plants, is quite popular with bumblebees, and smaller bees have started making appearances.

What we have not yet seen are the butterflies and hummingbirds. My hope is that the about-to-bloom monarda in the front yard and the ridiculously red Texas sage on the back patio work their hummer-attracting magic soon. Mittsy and I are becoming impatient.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Wind in the Trees

One of my favorite things about three of the seasons in our part of the world is the sound of wind blowing through leaves, and one of the benefits of a few days of forced inactivity (maybe the only good thing about getting the flu) is the opportunity to sit on the patio and not feel guilty about everything that needs doing. Mowing the lawn strip or carrying boxes up from the basement would, after all, violate the doctor's advice to get some rest.

Living across the street from the arboretum  as we now do, I get to enjoy not only the smallish trees directly in front of our place but also the venerable hundred-footers gracing our cherished public green space. Between the oaks, the various maples, the hollies, and the tulip poplars, we get quite the concert on a breezy afternoon. Best of all, this music is free, as is this song from one of my favorite (now-disbanded) bands, the Mayhaws. We'd best enjoy it now since, as the song reminds us, "The trees won't matter when you're dead" 
(apologies for having to sit through an ad).

Monday, May 18, 2015

Cornus kousa

The two mature cornus kousa (Asian dogwood) in the lawn strip are in full bloom right now, and while the trees are not something I would have planted, given my predilection for natives, they are showstoppers for anyone walking in the neighborhood. The original owner/designer of the garden we have inherited (and will one day get to work on more intensely--once we sell Chipmunk Ridge) wanted an Asian-inspired urban oasis, and given the view from the front patio, I would say that she got her wish.

This small tree (seldom more than 25 feet tall) has quite spectacular bracts surrounding tiny fertile flowers and takes over just about the time the last of our native dogwoods finishes blooming. The species has been widely planted in recent years because it seems immune to the anthracnose currently threatening cornus florida.

Its large blooms are, I have to admit, quite gorgeous and most welcome at a time when few other trees are flowering. (Apologies for a blurry shot taken during a rain shower.)

Alas, this Asian beauty has a downside. While its North American cousin hosts some 117 species of  moths and butterflies, none of our insects can eat kousa, and its fruits are too large to be eaten by any of our migrating songbirds. In its native regions, monkeys feast on the berries, but the Mid-Ohio Valley has a dearth of non-human primates. 

I have, however, read, that the fruits are tasty to humans and are a good smoothie ingredient. This summer may bring some culinary experimentation.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Saving Coppertina?

Some of you may be aware of my (perhaps excessive) love for physocarpus in all its varieties and seasons. May is perhaps the glory season for this plant,

so you can probably imagine my distress when yesterday found one of the six-foot Coppertinas in the front yard at the old house literally covered in powdery mildew. This is what the spring foliage on Coppertina normally looks like:

powdery mildew covers all those leaves with a thick white powder and eventually turns them into blackened twists. PM is not uncommon on physocarpus, but, in our yard at least, it had attacked only the occasional stem and posed no real problem. Yesterday, I could find only a single healthy stem on one Coppertina and about a third of the plant on the other.

Because there is no real cure for this plague and it can spread, the only hope was radical surgery: every speck of mildew had to be removed to keep it from spreading to the other plants, which as of yesterday afternoon were mildew-free. I didn't have a camera with me, but the larger Coppertina has now been cut down to the ground, leaving quite a large gap in the front hedge at Chipmunk Ridge.

We can only hope the patient survives.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A few more things

More to love in the new neighborhood (particularly though not exclusively in the arboretum across the street)
  • half a dozen blooming fringetrees
  • a yellowwood ready to bloom
  • a 70-foot tulip tree 
  • an enormous bottlebrush buckeye 
  • the scent of lilacs
  • mature blackhaw viburnums just finishing bloom
  • two lindens within two blocks of the house--I no longer need to be in Bulgaria to enjoy that intoxicating scent
  • the fact that so many of the houses in town seem to be inhabited by gardeners--flowers everywhere.
And something I don't love: the plethora of boxwood (I originally typed "boxweed"). Why anyone would plant a shrub that
a) requires frequent pruning and
b) smells like cat urine
is beyond me. And there is a hedge of them just outside the office window.


Sunday, May 10, 2015

The old and the new

Working at Chipmunk Ridge to get it ready to sell, I am noticing things that I will miss:
  • chipmunks! (of course)
  • the Black Squirrels of North Parkersburg
  • the front-yard savannah garden
  •  and our wonderful neighbors. 

 I will not miss the North Parkersburg deer herd.

Things I am  loving about the new place:
  • being able to walk nearly anywhere I want to go (LOVE the river trail!)
  • the poofy Japanese maple outside the living room window

  • trilliums in the sunken garden  
  •  spring beauties in the lawn strip 
  •  the ability to grow tulips that remain uneaten.
     Other delights will no doubt materialize.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Urban Wildlife

The pileated woodpecker has not made a return visit when I was watching, but all the usual suspects--cardinals, titmice, chickadees--have been present in abundance. The year's first bumblebee made an appearance last week (on a pot of torenia, of all things!), and the little pond in the sunken garden has proven to be home to a VERY noisy crew of spring peepers (and, I fear, mosquitoes--must get a new pump). Unusual birdsong that I can't identify has been heard in the neighborhood's taller trees, making me think that the arboretum is a way station on the spring warbler migration. Of course, the little darlings are nowhere that I can see them, even with my (cheap) binoculars (with which I am not very skilled), but it's good to know that the neotropical migrants are still migrating.

On this morning's walk, blue jays were collecting nest-building materials, and swallows were swooping around the bridges and the boats at the river museum. Then, a semi-tailless squirrel made its way across the river trail--Marietta's own version of our dearly-missed Stumpy.

Hoping for hummingbirds next.

Monday, May 4, 2015

A long time between entries

It has now been something like six weeks since the last entry, a record that I sincerely hope is never broken. Life has been busy, what with moving, working on the old house, starting a new garden, observing Earth Day with an amazing group of humans, and dealing with the usual end-of-semester rush, but there is no real excuse for not taking the time to appreciate fully one's surroundings and share those observations.

And what surroundings they are. The arboretum across the street has exploded with bloom, including a quite lovely silverbell,

lots of dogwood, redbud, several varieties of crabapple, and Asian magnolias in abundance.

When a cultivar (in this case, a pink dogwood) is this lovely, I cannot wish for the straight species,although those have also had a good year.

And--we have TULIPS!!! After more than a decade of tulipless springs (thanks to the Mid-Ohio Valley urban deer herds), we now live on a street that the Bambis have (so far) not visited. I went a little crazy last fall, putting so many tulips in the lawn strip that total strangers have stopped to photograph the display. And this week--the parrot tulips bloomed.

I think I'm in love.