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:

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day odds and ends

As you may have noticed, assuming you live in Michigan and have a pulse, the record breaking heat in March was followed by some very cold nights in April.  Did it take a toll on any of your plants? I've seen complete and partial defoliation on some japanese maples, and I noticed a tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima) with liquified leaves. Some of my odd-ball asian perennials took a hit, including my two exotic species of mayapple (Podophyllum). My Kirengeshoma palmata (sorry, no common name) was reduced to mush, but it serves me right -- it had no future in my dry sandy soil. I was saddened to see damage to my toad-lilies, but it doesn't appear severe. And of course whatever is left of the magnolia flowers has become quite the embarrassment. (Late breaking news: caller reports that her tulip-tree has suffered 75% defoliation).

My neighbor's rock-cress, Aubrieta deltoidea, is putting on a great show right now. The one I grow hugs the ground, whereas his has distinctly upright stems. His creates enormous patches, mine is the same puny size it was when I planted it. I would ask him what his secret is for encouraging such a magnificent display, but a stroke has left him unable to tend his garden for some years now. So the answer is: sunlight, some moisture, decent drainage and neglect. I've got that last bit covered.

Here's another worthy euphorb from my neighbor's garden, this one being Euphorbia myrsinites. This plant used to volunteer quite a bit in the very coarse limestone gravel I used in the steps by the side of the house. When I converted to landscape timbers, the plant disappeared and I forgot about it. The stems, which are are cloaked in bluish leaves, continue to elongate during the season. It's a nice enough curiosity in Michigan, but in some of the arid western states it is considered a noxious weed.

A final oddball (at least in Michigan) from my neighbor's garden is this conifer with spiny-ish needles, Cunninghamia lanceolata. From what I've seen in local gardens, it's a little tender for our area, and it's typical for it to have a complement of ugly brown foliage. This is the species that was planted by the gazillions during a drive to reforest China under the reign of Chairman Mao. One species for all occasions. A colossal failure.

1 comment:

  1. My wisteria started putting out flower buds during the warm spell. I'm guessing about 1/2-1/3 of those buds got hit with the frost. Still a nice display this year, but it could have been magnificent.