Archive for May, 2008

Pond CSI

Goldfish and shubunkins (by RPOP)

I’ve had to keep refilling the pond every couple of days this spring, and I was worried that there had to be some unfixable leak in it somewhere. After reading this very reassuring article from Aquascape, I had a plan!  After filling it up again last night, I unplugged the pump and marked the level of the water (3/4 of an inch above the overflow in the skimmer – guess I went overboard with the sprinkler).  Despite worrying that the fish would be starving for oxygen, they were just fine overnight and through the day.  The water level went down to the level of the overflow valve…and didn’t go any lower.  Ah ha!  The waterfall and stream will be getting some revisions this weekend, which should be a simple task if the giant rocks lining it can be moved without destroying the wild geranium and Pennsylvania sedge planted around them.  The fix itself should just be shoving some extra soil under the liner.

Late spring developments

I’m still in the dark about whether I inadvertently planted an invasive bittersweet, but that’s not the only thing going on these days.

Wild hyacinth

The wild hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) that I got last fall from Prairie Moon nursery is blooming! It’s not as showy as the garden hyacinth that bloomed in early spring, but it’s still an awfully pretty native for the rain garden.

Mapleleaf viburnum

The mapleleaf viburnum is making a valiant effort to rebound from being nibbled to death over the winter. I might still keep my eyes open for another plant to put next to it since mapleleaf viburnum does tend towards suckers and shrubbiness, but I’m so glad it survived.

Indigo bunting

Thanks to a sick day, I was able to see the indigo bunting visiting the pond again and snap a photo without having a windowpane in the way. I sure hope it’s nesting in the neighborhood.

Bittersweet second thoughts

Bittersweet flowers - female? (by RPOP)

Female American bittersweet flowers…maybe.

Bittersweet flowers - male? (by RPOP)

Male American bittersweet flowers…maybe.

My lack of botany training is catching up with me.  I was so excited that the bittersweet vines have finally covered the trellis and are blooming, but now I’m worried that these might actually be the invasive Celastrus orbiculatus rather than the native Celastrus scandens.  Furthermore, what was supposed to be the male plant has flowers that look suspiciously like the (supposed) female plant.   I looked for identification guides online, but the terminology is a little dense to wade through.   Any pro or amateur botanists out there that can tell me which one these look like, and if these are of different sexes?  I’d be happy to add more photos if you can tell me what you need to see.

And if you’re not a botanist, I’d appreciate any kind words about how you face ripping out something that finally looks good after 2 years of waiting….

Update: it wasn’t the native.  See the proof in my later post.  Also, see what native bittersweet flowers really look like.

Bloom Day – May 2008

After a very slow start, we’ve caught up with last year’s blooms (although the blackhaw viburnum’s flowers haven’t quite opened yet). The garden is filled with flowers, with even more to come…

  • Shooting star (by RPOP)
    Shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia)
  • Woodland phlox (by RPOP)
    Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata)- yes, from my “Do not plant” list!
  • Wild geranium by biofalls (by RPOP)
    Wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)
  • Celandine poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum)
  • Marsh marigold (Caltha palustris)
  • Labrador violet (Viola labradorica)
  • Cream violet (Viola striata)
  • Just plain old violets
  • Lilies of the valley
  • Wild ginger (Asarum canadense)
  • Purple-leaf sand cherry (Prunus x cistena)
  • Columbine in part sun (by RPOP)
    Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)
  • Dutchman's pipe flower (by RPOP)
    Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla) – much happier this spring than it was last spring
  • Prairie trillium (by RPOP)
    Prairie trillium (Trillium recurvatum)

Coming soon: wild hyacinth, Canada anemone, peonies, blackhaw viburnum, and maybe (fingers crossed) American bittersweet. Stay tuned!

Another bird sighting

Indigo bunting (by RPOP)

This indigo bunting stopped by to take a bath while I was using the sprinkler to refill the pond. I saw one just about this time a year ago, so perhaps this is a regular stop on its migration route.  This shot was from the 2nd floor through the windowpane.

Rain Garden, now with plants

rain garden

The rain garden I started last summer is finally planted. The plants I put in last fall all came up, and I put in some of my latest Stone Silo shipment as well. If you want to see (nearly all) the plant IDs, click on the image to see my notes. Both the wild hyacinth (Camassia scilloides) and Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis) are about to bloom – I’ll get some closer photographs when they do. I doubt that the Virginia bluebells (to the right) will bloom this year, unfortunately.

Stone Silo and a bird

Start unpacking... (by RPOPtream)

I went a bit overboard ordering from Stone Silo this spring – I ended up grabbing at least one of each plant they had that grows in clay and likes at least some shade (and that I don’t already have). The result was two heavy boxes on the porch this week.

Time to plant (by RPOP)

All the plants were big and healthy and packed with care, just like all my previous shipments from Stone Silo. Most of these plants (the Virginia bluebells and white false indigo on the top and the awl-fruited sedge on the bottom, for example) are headed for the rain garden (which I will photograph once we stop having 40 mph winds and heavy rain coming off the lake).

Rose-breasted grosbeak (by RPOPtream)

This rose-breasted grosbeak stopped by the pond for a quick drink. I barely had time to get a shot through the windowpane before he flew away.

Lots of green and a little purple

Ostrich ferns spring up (by RPOPtream)

Rain and warmth have done their trick – it’s turning green out there. The ostrich ferns are colonizing the shade quite nicely.

Solomon's seal (by RPOPtream)

The Solomon’s seal is one of the later native plants to emerge. The leaves are still tightly furled, and it hasn’t gotten tall enough to arch over. You can see that the wild geranium and celandine poppy (background) and Labrador violet (foreground) are already leafed out and blooming.

Purple Leaf Sand Cherry in bloom (by RPOPtream)

While the Labrador violets add a little purple to the yard, the purple leaf sand cherry adds a lot. The blooms don’t last long, but you can see them all over town for the week or so they are out. This is a tough little tree that is thriving next to the porch in fairly deep shade.

Spring’s Progress

'Bloodgood' Japanese maple

For all the folks that hit my blog looking for the Japanese maple ‘Bloodgood’, here’s mine, just leafing out. It’s right next to a red-twig varigated dogwood, and a forsythia is in the background.

Gigantic celandine poppy

Can I say again how much I like celandine poppies? All of them are already a foot and a half high and covered in yellow flowers. Yeah, I said the same thing last year at this time

American bittersweet leafing out

Both the male and female American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) vines have leafed out. I’m hoping for flowers this year now that they are a couple of years old.

Shooting star buds

My hopes for shooting star (Dodecatheon meadia) blossoms this year appears to be based in reality. They haven’t bloomed since I planted them a couple of years ago, but it looks like they’re well established enough to pop this year!