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:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Southern blackhaw: Viburnum rufidulum

The cranky old guy at the nursery off Taylor Rd insisted it was Viburnum prunifolium, but the label begged to differ. I believe the label. Native to more southern parts of the eastern U.S., V. rufidulum is an attractive plant and vigorous grower. It is closely-related and similar to V.p., but it flowers a bit later and is less 'stiffy' in habit -- assuming the ones in my garden are typical representatives.

By now I expect I've lost my readers. I'll try again. There is a species of viburnum called Viburnum prunifolium. The specific epithet suggests the leaves are 'cherry-like.' True! Its native range squeaks into the very southern part of Michigan. The flower clusters are white and lack fragrance. Its shiny clean leaves and ease of cultivation make it a good candidate for a screen. Also it sends up suckers, so from one plant you can make many. Fun! Common name: black-haw.

V. rufidulum flowers
A little south, but overlapping in range, is the southern black-haw, Viburnum rufidulum. I stumbled upon it at the nursery referred to above. It is a little different and it, too, is a worthy species for the landscape (though unfortunately lacking the wonderful fragrance of other viburnums).

The fruit of V. rufidulum you can eat. It tastes prune-y. In fact it tastes just like the fruit of yet another species of viburnum, the nannyberry (V. lentago). says that these two species are closely related and sometimes hard to distinguish from each other. So now are you confused? I'm not because I've got all three growing within spitting distance. I love the viburnums.

Inglorious poppies

On North Ashley, photo taken yesterday

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Localized freeze/frost damage on a big list of woody plants

Healthy vs damaged leaves on shingle oak
Apparently it happened on Mother's Day. I didn't notice freeze damage on anything at my house in Chelsea, but my partners and I have seen extensive damage to a wide host of plants, including a variety of oak species (a big surprise to me, since they are generally so late to produce leaves), japanese maple (for the second year in a row), mulberry, tulip-tree, mountain-ash (ugly, ugly), sycamores, honeylocust, and walnut. We're debating amongst ourselves why the maples came out relatively unscathed. If you drive down Miller Rd west of town, check out all the big oaks near where the road crosses Honey Creek.

Surprise pawpaw in Ypsilanti

It was right there on Collegewood, right on the side of the road, a lush forest of flower-laden pawpaw stems. I have little doubt that these stems share a common root system, and therefore the whole thing should be considered a single plant.

Often solitary pawpaws fail to produce fruit. But on this one there were lots of these tiny little 'banana; clusters hanging from the tree. I'm no expert but I imagine that most of the 'banana' units will abort, leaving the remaining ones to develop into plump pawpaw fruit. I'll be back in October. And kindly forget I told you about this treasure. Anyway, it's right in front of someone's house, and the homeowner likely will want first pick.