Thursday, April 29, 2010

Catching Up with Spring

‘Appalachian Spring’ Dogwood

Why is it that winter drags on like a pokey mule and then when spring arrives it's like a high speed train? That's what this spring has felt like to me. There is so much going on in the garden and in life in general that I keep neglecting blogging. So this will hopefully be my catch up post.

Above is my newest tree, a baby dogwood that is currently only about 2.5 feet tall. This variety, 'Appalachian Spring' (Cornus florida) is a grafted dogwood said to be anthracnose and powdery mildew resistant. I read that the original tree from which all Appalachian Spring dogwoods come from survived an anthracnose outbreak in a Maryland park. This is my first dogwood and I've been told they can be tricky to grow, wanting just the right amount of water and good drainage. But right now (this photo being three weeks old) the tree is covered in HUGE leaves, which makes me hopeful.

Worm for the babies (you may be able to see the worm by clicking on the photo)

My chickadees have fledged and I missed it! This home was on a shelf right next to our deck and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the parents prepare the nest and then feed the babies. As the babies got bigger (I couldn't see them but could tell by their chirping they were getting big), I grew more excited at the prospect of watching their first flights. Alas, they managed without me. Below is a shot taken a few seconds after the above one. The parent bird is removing soiled nest material. Such good parents! I later opened the house to look at the nest. It was a full 4 inches worth of extremely soft moss!

Cleaning up

'Forest Pansy' Redbud

Another new baby tree, planted last fall, is this small 'Forest Pansy' Redbud (Cercis Canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’). It gets the usual dark pink blooms (although this one is too young for that just yet), followed by very dark purple leaves. As the season progresses the leaves turn mostly green. By the way, if you live in my area I highly recommend a visit to Willis Farm Nursery near Doyline. I've bought several trees and bushes from them and all have been extremely healthy. And they have a fantastic selection of natives and heirloom shrubs and trees.


I might as well continue my tour of new trees. This little whip is a Pawpaw tree (Asimina triloba), a tree native to this area and a larval host for the Zebra Swallowtail butterfly (which I've yet to see around here). It will eventually produce fruit that is said to resemble bananas in taste. I can remember a neighbor kid when I was a child singing a song "Picking up pawpaws, put 'em in my pocket...". I never knew what a pawpaw was until much later!

Mock Orange (Philadelphus coronarius)

Sometimes I wish we all spoke botanical Latin and there were no common names for plants. It might sound funny for a while but we'd get used to it. When I lived in Texas I thought a Mock Orange shrub was a Pittisporum. But I learned that here a Mock Orange was actually Philadelphus coronarius, also sometimes known as "English Dogwood". Aye, how confusing. Anyway, my Mock Orange is just starting to bloom. On a recent garden tour and plant sale, which I'll tell you about in a second, I saw a variety of this plant with much larger blooms. Of course I coveted it but restrained myself.

'Henry Garnet' Sweetspire

This past weekend my friend Kathy and I went on a garden tour that the Northwest Louisiana Master Gardeners have each year around Shreveport. We had perfect weather and a great time. One plant we saw at every yard we visited was 'Henry Garnet' Sweetspire (Itea virginiana). Of course, if it hadn't been in bloom we probably wouldn't have noticed them much but they were really at their prime. (A few weeks ago while I was in Houston I bought a dwarf variety of this called 'Little Henry' Sweetspire (such a cute name!).)

Some of the homeowners on the garden tour helpfully labelled all their plants and some did not. This pretty little rose was not labelled, probably because this yard had gazillions of plants. If anyone knows what it is, I'd love to know. It was at least 5 feet tall.


I've still got work to do around the yard but most of the major work (in prep for summer) has been done. I do however, need to snip all the chive blossoms in order to prevent a milliion little chive seedlings from popping up (which I'm suffering from right now).

Lanai Bright Pink verbena

I'm in love with this trailing verbena and wish I could find some more of it. I planted this last spring because I wanted a match with my Pink Homestead verbena (since I couldn't find that variety). This plant is so much better than the Pink Homestead. The Homestead one petered out last year but this one survived several days of freezing weather this winter without even being covered. I've managed to find another Lanai pink one that's labelled 'Deep Pink'. It's almost but not quite the right color.

The mixed lettuces, grown from a seed tape, are doing fantastic. They were quite grumpy through the cold winter weather and stayed a mere half inch tall for a long time. Once the warmer weather hit they really went to town. I swear they can grow an inch a day.

I haven't been able to solve the mystery of what keeps knocking over my potted plants during the night. A cat? A lumbering possum? Makes me crazy.

I have finally solved the mystery of who keeps knocking pine straw on to my walkway. At first I thought it was the nasty squirrels. But no, it's the robins! They're searching for goodies obviously.

Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’

I just can't help myself. I must have a new succulent or two each year. Here's my latest acquisition, Echeveria ‘Topsy Turvy’.

Well, I think I've covered the major (and some of the minor) things happening in my garden world this April. I leave you with a photo of one of my Foxtail Ferns in the morning light. Happy April everyone!

This post was written by Jean McWeeney for my blog Dig, Grow, Compost, Blog. Copyright 2009. Please contact me for permission to copy, reproduce, scrape, etc.


  1. Love your dogwood and sweetspire (a while for those here yet) and mock orange. SOMEone (I know it wasn't me) chewed on my eeny beeny mock orange over the winter, but it looks OK. :)

  2. I know what you mean - Spring arrives and then it's full-out in the garden and then all of a sudden it's Summer! Enjoy your Spring! Oh, and your pictures are fabulous!

  3. I agree...spring is going by at warp speed. Soon, the heat will set in.

    If your pots were here, it might be deer knocking them over...well, outside the fence, anyway. They stomp through everything.

    There must be a lot of plants called 'Mock Orange'. I think I've seen one that's different from that one, too.

    Happy gardening,

  4. It is easy to over look an itea out of bloom~except in the fall when it's leaves turn brilliant burgundies. I noticed that three new ones I brought still have burgundy leaves but those two year in the ground are a fresh green. Your dogwood is so sweet~they are picky about drainage! Mine did not set bud this year when we had 18 inches of rain last fall! I find myself blaming squirrels, but chipmunks and raccoons can be very bad! Unfortunately I have found deer hoof prints and eaten plants in the Susan's bed...I hope you have a good weekend and plenty of time in your garden~ gail

  5. How exciting to have all those new trees! I just planted three for Earth Day and hope I can get them through their first Mississippi summer without a $5000 water bill!

    Our dogwood is on a slope in partial sun. It is very healthy-looking but doesn't bloom much.

    LOVE LOVE that last picture of the fern!

  6. I have the Lanai purple and peach verbenas. Found them at a local nursery, but I haven't seen them anywhere else. My spring is crazy busy too. I just keep plugging along though.~~Dee

  7. All your new trees are beautiful, Jean! I love redbuds, and the 'Forest Pansy's' purple leaves are so beautiful in the spring. I do like the sweetspire, and I'm intrigued by the 'Little Henry'; I'll have to check that one out.

    I didn't realize birds would clean out their nests--how thoughtful of them! We've had such strong winds here the last two days, I'm afraid some of the bird nests may have blown away.

    Isn't it ironic that we have so much to show in the spring, yet so much less time to actually blog about it?:) I find myself pushing myself away from the computer in the morning so I can get out to the garden.

  8. I've been so busy outside that I've gotten way behind on reading blogs. I had to come into work at the model home this afternoon to get caught up on them, LOL. I applaud your choices of new trees. I hope the Dogwood does brilliantly for you. I don't remember your childhood friend's song about the pawpaws ... but now I'm hearing "way down yonder in the pawpaw patch ..." over and over in my head!

  9. Great pictures, Jean! I do the same thing, plant small trees and be (more or less) patient. You have some beauties. I covet the maroon of the redbud but our Hill Country alkaline soil and arid climate would kill it. Hope you post regular pictures so I can enjoy yours.

  10. At least you are staying on top of your garden, right now we are so far behind we've been having difficulty just keeping the grass cut. Oh well, one day. -- Randy


Thank you so much for visiting! I truly appreciate your visit and comments. If you ask me a question in your comment, I will answer it here.