Thursday, May 28, 2015

Seven Days From Frigid To Fantastic


When the snow on the garden finally melted this spring, my uncaged tree peony received another  pruning from the deer.  This year they cut it back hard!  The plant was ugly, misshapen and dead looking.  I have always been conflicted about pruning this plant since I have read that they should not be cut back.  This year I snapped off the dead wood and cut it back hard.  It was starting to look great and then on May 22 we got a hard freeze.  Fortunately we covered the plant with a sleeping bag and a plastic tarp.  When we got frost again the next night I had my doubts, but once the sun came out, the weather warmed and the tree peony exploded with growth!


I have had this plant in the same spot for years. It has never shown me anything like this.  I count eleven big beautiful blossoms in this picture and there are a couple on the back side of the bush that don't show.  This plant could stop a bus on the highway driving by at 60, but of course no one drives by this garden.


I did not measure this intriguing flower, but it is much bigger than the picture, at least 5 inches across.  These flowers do not appear to have any scent.  I suppose if you can dazzle with that kind of flamboyance, who needs perfume.  Now I'm wondering if I should uncover the plant for the winter and let the deer do the pruning for me. Perhaps the plant thrives on adversity.   Like Scarlet I'll think about that tomorrow.  In the meantime, "Oh WOW!!!   Check out my tree peony!"

Monday, May 25, 2015

Native Invaders


On May 12th we were enjoying the bizarrely structured flowers displayed by our transplanted fringed polygala.  Trout lily also intrigues us and at first we were pleased to see it growing with the polygala. Canada mayflower was also moving in and its numbers seemed excessive.  Polygala is an easily displaced plant and we reluctantly reached the conclusion that the invaders had to go.  Weeding here required the summoning of all the courage we could muster.  Wishing to avoid damaging the tender one we finally moved in with delicate force.


If John Burroughs had seen a trout lily in this configuration, he would have had no difficulty in seeing how this plant placed its bulb several inches deep into the soil.  Soon new bulbs would have formed at the tips of the white roots.  One plant would have become three in a single year.  Quickly the trout lily would have crowded out the polygala.

A firm but gentle tug removed many invaders with their roots intact.  The free hand was used to hold the surrounding soil and stems in place to limit the impact on the polygala.  Weeds whose roots broke off may return but so will the determined weeder.


The bright light green leaves are new polygala growth.  A generous soaking with a watering can followed the weeding.  The tilted new growth will have to right itself since no way to help in the tangle could be found.  An unbroken stem has a good chance to straighten itself.  We continue to water here frequently and the polygala is now showing more new growth.  Carefully tending native wild flowers seems to be filled with basic contradictions.  Polygala is disappearing from our woods and intervention to try to save it seemed to be the only course.  Two daughter plants have appeared near the transplant but we can find no information defining a preferred location where this treasure can make it on its own.  For now they will remain where they are presently growing.