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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

It's alive!

When we moved from Chipmunk Ridge last year, I potted up some favorite plants to bring with us. One of those was clematis viorna, a native vine with sweet little bell-shaped flowers in an unreal-looking pink and yellow combination. (My photos of the plant are all on an external hard drive that I am too lazy to access at the moment, but you can access images and information here.) Not sure how a native vine would do in a container, but not having anyplace in the walled garden to plant it until the Final Battle With the Alien Invaders has been won, I purchased the largest container available at our local Lowe's (which coincidentally happened to be pink and on sale for $2.99), planted the clematis with burgundy and chartreuse heuchera, and stuck in a large tripod from our local ironworkers at Garden Forge for climbing.

The results were not good. The heuchera did fine, and for a good few months the clematis climbed slowly, twining its tiny tendrils around the metal supports and putting out some healthily-green leaves. Then--nothing. Sometime in September or thereabouts, viorna vanished. Not a wisp of anything vaguely resembling a vine.Evidently, the plant had departed this earthly plane.

The pot remained on the patio all winter, where the heuchera stayed in full leaf in front of the large bare spot. Then, making my morning toast, I glanced out the window to see--tendrils! Viorna has put out a good eight inches of growth already, and we had snow just a couple of hours ago.

This is a Sign of Good Things to Come.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A beauty-ous spring

This may be the best year for spring beauties (claytonia virginica) that I remember. Of course, it is totally possible that my memory is getting worse, but this year, the little things are everywhere: not only in the lawns and lawn strips where we expect them, but popping up in sidewalk cracks and covering one entire side of the Turtle Mound, a Hopewell earthwork a few blocks from our home. Alas, I had no camera with me when walking past the mound, but this view of a city park may give an idea of the abundance of beauties this year.

And this isn't one of the most thickly- carpeted areas. When the violets and dandelions really get going in a day or so, the show will be even more impressive.

Individual claytonia blooms are small--not as tiny as those of creeping veronica (a favorite weed) but not as large as those of sweet violet, with both of which it shares a blooming season. It is a major nectar source for early pollinators, so most people around here avoid mowing until after the plants go dormant.

Claytonia is edible (not that I have ever sampled it) and has had a variety of medicinal uses. Native peoples dug and roasted the corms, while the raw roots were eaten as a form of birth control. The powdered plant was used to treat convulsions, eye problems, and dandruff, according to Marian Blois Lobstein of the Prince William Wildflower Society.

 I don't intend to experiment with our local plant populations, but obviously, spring beauty is more than just a pretty face.