This site is for people who like plants -- growers, enthusiasts, aesthetes, novices and professionals, those who appreciate wild things and those who appreciate the cultivated. I garden in Chelsea, and I've been visiting people's yards for 20+ years in the course of my work. My goal is to make this blog a community project, so if you share my interests, please consider becoming a participant and contributing content -- Guerin. Info:

Thursday, March 29, 2012

March 28, 2012: a somatic mutation

The big excitement today was when the crew brought back this spruce branch from an otherwise normal-looking norway spruce. For all I know these somatic mutations occur regularly, but this was the first time any of us had run into it in nature. Now . . I expect someone will e-mail me and tell me we could have made a fortune propagating this odd growth form.  But we had a job to do -- which included removing the tree.

This mahonia was in full flower today. Even with the mild winter (well, I guess there were a few cold days), there was damage to the leaves, but overall it made for a pretty-enough site, and bright enough for it to catch my eye as I was driving by.

Monday, March 26, 2012

March 26, 2012: garlic mustard is starting to bolt

If you are trying to contain the spread of garlic mustard, it's time to get to it: it's already starting to flower. If you wait much longer, spraying with Roundup with only be marginally effective since the product is so slow to kill, and there is so much of energy stored up in garlic mustard's underground parts that it will manage to produce viable seed despite being sprayed.

A couple of pictures: amazing to see rhododendrons in full flower at this month. This landscape on North Ashley street is wonderful. It's a tiny front yard, but the owners have managed to squeeze in these lovely rhododendrons plus a weeping Chamaecyparis, a sweet-bay magnolia, gingko and more.

And here's something from my garden in Chelsea. Adonis vernalis plus some other silly-thing-that-seeds-around-but-whose-name-I-can-never-remember-but-I'm-sure-I-featured-this-last-year-so-go-ahead-and-check-my-posts-from-a-year-ago-and-get-back-to-me.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Breaking all April records . . in March

Egads, this has been a difficult two weeks -- mostly trying to get equipment up and running so as to be able to apply fungicides to the crabs and pines of GreenStreet's clients a full month earlier than expected. Before putting the sprayer on the back of one of the pickups, we decided to look under the bedliner to inspect the condition of the truck bed underneath. There was no truck bed to speak of, but a pile of rust fragments. So . . had to find a replacement bed, trailer it to the shop, prep it for painting, get it to a paint shop, upgrade the truck springs, then locate and acquire longer shock absorbers to accommodate the newly lifted bed. And that's just one truck. The phone is ringing constantly. Some clients are still hoping to get their oaks trimmed before the end of the dormant season.

At home I'm still raking up the leaves from last fall. Ran into this nice color(less)-form of Corydalis solida. Decided to try and cull out all the weak pink ones which make up the bulk of these plants. Every now and new I come across a good deep red. Should I try and move it into a nicer location now? How will I remember to move it later? 

a terrible photo, but hopefully you get the idea . .
The lovely shrub Corylopsis pauciflora is in bloom in my garden. I have two specimens that I almost lost entirely during a cold winter some years ago. Was hoping the species would be more cold-hardy. But maybe now that we have been officially upgraded to zone 6a . . .

And then there is GI Joe, who has been begging for a place in this blog. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Dexter after the tornado

Since the tornado, Dexter-Pinckney Road has been closed, and a representative of the sheriff's department or the state police has been there 24/7 to control incoming traffic.  Representing GreenStreet Tree Care, I was given a pass a few days ago in order to provide a quote for someone on one of the hardest-hit streets. This picture is from along Dexter-Pinckney Rd. I've driven it hundreds of times, but this time it was seriously unfamiliar. The conifers had been toppled, while the deciduous trees still stood but were badly mangled. I felt completely disoriented.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

A perfect American elm

This classic American elm along Plymouth Rd near Dixboro is growing to become more of a prominent landmark with each passing year. I have no reason to believe it has ever been treated to protect if from Dutch elm disease. One has to wonder how many thousands of elm bark beetles have taken a bite out of it over the years, thereby exposing it to the deadly fungus. There are not many large elms left within the city -- a good percentage of the remaining classic elms died during the last couple of years. Someone so inclined should take cuttings from this specimen, grow them on, then test them for disease resistance. There is a large market for such strains. Heck, consider the disease-resistant 'Princeton' strain: not only has it been widely propagated for use in the US, is was even selected by HRH The Prince of Wales to create the Anniversary Avenue at his residence Highgrove House (thank you wikipedia!).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A very early spring!

Never had so much going on in mid-March. Mid-March! 80 degrees this weekend maybe? Here's a nice hellebore that I found in a garden on Glendaloch Circle. Since it's so early and the flowers so white, I expect it's got some Helleborus niger blood in it. The flowers of the ones I grow are always badly tattered, more of a novelty just to say I can get something to flower in the dead of winter. This selection is a big improvement.

Here's another fancy schmancy selection from the same garden. It's earlier to open than the usual Helleborus x orientalis, which probably accounts for the tattered petals.
And then, from my garden: nothing exceptional about them, but it makes for a nice early display. The sticks in the foreground are part of an early and highly fragrant Daphne, one that seeds around prolifically but is impossible to transplant-- no fibrous roots. All my Daphnes fall over at a very young age in my sandy soil.
Can't get enough of these early bulbous irises! I have four or five color forms. The only drawback (as is the case with many bulbs) is the foliage, which grows and persists until sometime in mid-summer. 
Trees too! Silver maples are in full flower. Elms are close behind. These trees like to get the sex act out of the way as early as possible so that they can disperse seed while the ground is still moist and the rivers are running high. Hard maples are more relaxed about it, flowering later and dispersing seed in the fall.

I took an exam recently in order to keep up my certification as an arborist. One of the questions was to select the family name of maples. The only choice that made sense was Aceraceae. But I had to include a snarky comment that the maples are now classified as members of the larger Sapindaceae. I'm so au courant, n'est-ce pas?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tree roses: better than a psychiatrist

I've never tried my hand at roses. But the person who was housing these tree-roses in her garage was a devout advocate. "Better than a psychiatrist," was her comment. She informed me that the standard recommendations are to lay the tree-rose stems on their side and cover them with mulch at the time of the first hard frost. But because of the limited space in her garden she found it easier to just bring them into her minimally-heated garage. During days when the temperatures are not expected to drop below freezing, she drags them out onto the driveway, leaving them there overnight as the weather allows. She reports, however, that they definitely need a period of cool dormancy, so it won't suffice to just bring them into the warm house.

Now we're talking!

Nothing particularly unusual about any of these plants,  but it is sure nice to see the earth come to life. My 16-year-old cat, whom we thought was a goner only two months ago, was on his back, rolling in the leaves, soaking up the sun. The honeybees in the crocus flowers obviously felt the same. What joy!
Cyclamen, cyclamen, I keep telling people to grow cyclamen. It is remarkable how few people recognize its identity when it is grown in the open garden.
Sweeps of winter aconite, with flowers open so wide they looked ready to burst.
The snowdrops have been up and in flower for a while, but they peaked this weekend.