Monthly Archives: April 2012

Native Flowering Dogwood

You could say I have an obsession with spring flowering trees, especially our native dogwoods. Is it a mystery why? 

cornus florida rubra

I adore flowers, and branches shrouded with tree-flowers are even more romantic, perhaps because we are seeing repeating flower shapes, en masse.

Native Flowering Dogwood ~ Cornus florida

Even with only the tiniest bit of space, I encourage everyone to plant a tree-garden. Contact me if you need help in finding the perfect tree for your garden.

Tulip Orama

This is a view into the courtyard garden I designed for Willowdale Estate. The tulips are at their peak. I call this mix of colors my ‘Bridal Mix,’ because it provides a symphony of watercolor hues for the April and May weddings. Don’t you think too that the satiny sheen of the tulip petals looks like the silk satin gowns of wedding parties?

spring flowering tulipsSpring Flowering Tulips Willowdale Estate 

Click photo to view larger image. More from Willowdale spring to come.

Update on Giant Silk Moth Cocoon

No exciting news yet to report on our Giant Silk Moth Cocoon. The leaves of the American Birch Tree are unfurling, but no movement within the cocoon.

Best Magnolias

Number Three is Magnolia ‘Forrest’s Pink’

Forrest’s Pink Magnolia

Forrest’s Pink is new to our garden. I purchased it several years ago through the mail and it arrived as nothing more than a stick with several side branches. FP is coming along beautifully and I was thrilled when last fall its very first bud had formed. Forrest’s Pink purportedly flowers slightly later, which is ideal for our predictably unpredictable New England spring. I also found very appealing its descriptions of delicious shell pink blooms, without a hint of purple. Although, what is most appealing is knowing that it’s parentage is that of the Lily Tree, or Yulan Magnolia (Magnolia denudata, synonomous with M. heptapetala)–the most dreamily scented of all the magnolias.

I was excited to show you a photo of its first flower but some devilish creature chewed the bud to the base of the tree. The bud had formed very low to the ground—perhaps it made a great bunny feast. The list of critters who eat magnolia flowers is long and includes snakes, deer, squirrels, moles, mice, and opossums. In China, the sweet citrus-scented flowers of the Lily Tree are pickled and used as a flavoring for rice. The lovely ornamental seed heads of many species of magnolias provide food for a wide range of birds. Hopefully by next year at this time we will have more than one bud to gaze upon and to photograph.

Newly developing seed head of Magnolia ‘Alexandrina’

Nearly the moment the fruits of our magnolia trees ripen, they are devoured by the Catbirds and Mockingbirds.

Image of Forrest’s Pink Magnolia courtesy Google image search

Flowering Dogwood ~ Cornus florida ‘Rubra’

Is there a tree more lovely in flower than the North American native dogwood?

Whether flowering with the classic white bracts, the stunning rubra bracts, or the less often seen pale, creamy rose-tinted bracts, our native dogwood (Cornus florida) never ceases to give pause for beauty given.

NATIVE TREES SUPPORT NATIVE POLLINATORS!

At this time of year when traveling along southern New England roadways we are graced by the beauty of the dogwood dotting sunny roadside borders where meets the woodland edge. The bracts and flowers emerge before the leaves, serving only to heighten their loveliness. The fresh beauty of the bract-clad boughs is offset by the impressionistic symphony of tree foliage unfurling, shimmering in hues of apple green, chartruese, moss, and lime peel.

*Bract – A bract is a leaf-like structure surrounding a flower or inflorescence. The colorful bracts of poinsettias, the hot pink bracts of bougainvillea, and the bracts of dogwoods are often mistaken for flower petals.

The open florets (pea-green colored) and unopened buds are surrounded by the rose red-shaded bracts.

Read about how to help prevent an attack by the lethal dogwood anthracnose.

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Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Trailer

Dear Friends,

You’ve heard me talking about my butterfly documentary (for Months now!). I began filming the black swallowtails last July and am only now close to premiering my film.  I am so excited to share this project with you and hope you enjoy the trailer.

My daughter Liv and our dear friend Kathleen Adams collaborated on a beautiful rendition of “Simple Gifts.” The music in the background is an improv interlude from their recording session.

Coming soon: Documentary about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, from egg, to caterpillar, to chryrsalis, to adult. Filmed in a garden and along the seashore, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Featuring the black swallowtail butterfly, wildflowers, pollinators, the sun, the garden, and more.

Some Favorite Jonquils and Narcissus

‘Minnow’ and Greigii Tulips 

The first photo is of the petite and scented jonquil ‘Minnow,’ offset by the coral red Greigii species tulip. Both are low-growing, which makes them ideal for rock gardens, and both varieties reliably return annually. The second photo is an ever-increasing little patch of narcissus and I know not the cultivar’s name. It was a spring gift that had been purchased as a potted plant from the grocery market, then planted in the garden in early summer.

The third photo is perhaps my all time favorite and consider it the very best for several reasons. ‘Geranium’ is divinely scented—sweet with a hint of fresh lemon blossom; its color and shape meld beautifully with a wide range of spring flowering bulbs; and ‘Geranium’ not only reliably returns each spring, it also increases in number.

Narcissus tazetta ‘Geranium’

For more information about narcissus and jonquils, including a list of the most sweetly scented varieties, see my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden, page 178.