Temporary Garden early-May Walkabout

I snapped some photos during the past few days of things that have appeared in the Temporary Garden. Most of my identifications will be best-guess because everything here was planted (for good or ill) by the former owners.

Magnolia soulangeana

Magnolia in bloomThe magnolia has been flowering for about almost a week, starting right after we had a late frost (Murphy’s Law!). Luckily I found a totally-unzapped bud for a close-up.

camellia bloom

Camellia sasanquaThis camellia, which I’m assuming is a C. japonica cultivar, was also in bud when the frost hit. It’s in an eastern exposure and frankly I’m surprised the outer petals aren’t in worse shape than they are.

double daffodil v1

double daffodil v2This double daffodil is, would you believe, practically under the skirts of the newly-mulched Japanese maple. I have no idea which one it is (or to be precise, which two because that’s all there are!) but it has more flounces than Scarlett O’Hara at a barbeque. The back petals all do reflex this much, which is something I haven’t seen in any of my own former doubles; anyone recognize this flower?

mixed vincaNow that it’s flowering, I found that the vinca here is a mixture of blues and purples.

muscariThanks to some creative cropping, this relatively small patch of muscari appears more impressive than it really is!

progressionAs I walked past this section of the back property line I was struck by the “progression” from left to right: first the pussy willow (you can see the last few catkins still on the branches as they begin to leaf out), then the cherry blooming at the moment, and then the rhody to look forward to.

white violetsThere are a dozen or more clumps of these white violets scattered randomly through the lawn. I adore all violets, violas and pansies and so was very happy to see these. In my last garden the ‘lawn violets’ were lavender and purple. My next-door neighbor there absolutely hated violets in her lawn and was on a perpetual seek-and-destroy mission; she probably thought I was the devil incarnate for not eradicating mine and would have been shocked at the idea that I actually hoped they would increase.

weeping redbudThis is a weeping redbud that I think is probably Cercis canadensis ‘Lavender Twist’, also known as ‘Covey’. At only about 4 ft high it eventually will form a solid dome of ridiculously large (for its stature) heart-shaped leaves. The flowers exactly match the color of the early rhody adjacent to it, which is unfortunate because it gives the overall visual impression of a single unbalanced blob of color. The bare shrub to the right is (again unfortunately) a Rose of Sharon, Hibiscus syriacus, which has always been on my list of Things I’d Never Plant in My Garden. Until about two weeks ago it had six bigger relatives in the backyard (before I pointed my son and his chainsaw at them) which I know will be sprouting from their stumps any day now but at least I’ll be able to easily cut off all the new growth. This one is a double and so it doesn’t seed around as much – the others were all singles and had obvious intentions of creating a hibiscus forest – so I’ve just hacked it back and will keep doing so all summer to minimize the number of flowers. However, I’ve not entirely ruled out another visit from the chainsaw contingent; we’ll see how much of a nuisance the constant cutting back will be as the summer goes on. I’ve occasionally read complaints from gardeners that they have no success with this shrub, and all I can say is that they must live in either the Arctic or the Sahara because in my part of the country they are practically unkillable!

I also discovered a couple of things a bit less salutary than the above, including several areas in both lawn and planting beds where various lengths of the inground-sprinkler system hose have now appeared on the surface to greet the light of day. What this will mean for lawn mowing is anyone’s guess. Also discovered the top part of a sprinkler riser broken off and hiding in some pachysandra; it was originally at one edge of the driveway and clearly when I had to call in the Man with Plow for one of our nastier storms, a large mound of snow got pushed over it. I don’t intend to use the sprinkler system – it does bad things to the bottom line of the water bill – but will need to have it fixed anyway before eventually putting the Money Pit on the market (whenever that glorious day arrives). Also noted that the outer edges of the brick front walkway, which was nice and level before last winter, are noticeably sinking; this was probably another DIY job by the former owners.

The most puzzling thing is the appearance of what I can only surmise is the Alien Fungus from the Planet Zork, in at least two dozen areas (found thus far) in various planting beds in the front yard. The only common denominator seems to be location: the northeast quadrant of the property and all within ten feet of the edges of the (crumbling concrete) driveway. Other than the photo below, the best way to describe these growths is that they resemble a small black leather ball that has exploded outward from the top, leaving an empty interior. They range in size from a cherry to an orange. I’ve never seen anything like these before, anywhere, and haven’t been able to match it up with any online fungi photos. The closest seems to be something called an earthstar or earthball (Scleroderma) but supposedly these prefer sandy soil which mine definitely is not; none of the photos I’ve found are really good matches for what’s here. So at the moment I will just call it the fungus from outer space and hope that it doesn’t decide to invade the backyard beds as well.
fungiIs there a mycologist in the house??

  4 comments for “Temporary Garden early-May Walkabout

  1. May 6, 2015 at 3:03 am

    What a gorgeous Magnolia and I love your Camellia too. I love Hibiscus syriacus too, although I don’ t like the way it comes into leaf so late that that you think it’ s dead. I’ve never heard of them seeding around, do they come true from seed? I really hate what we call Rose of Sharon, Hypericum. Now there’ s a really loathsome plant. As for your fungus, what can I say? Yuck!

    • May 6, 2015 at 10:01 am

      Ah, the late-awakening hardy hibiscus here is H. moscheutos; it’s the one with much larger flowers and bigger, less-serrated-edge leaves. I believe there are 2 of those in this garden, if I recall from last autumn, and also recall that those large leaves were almost skeletonized by some pest or other. Those still look like dead white sticks but what we call Rose of Sharon (H. syriacus) began showing new growth at least 3 weeks ago. Not sure if it comes true from seed because I’ve never had the desire to have more, LOL. From my experience it seeds around like crazy within a 6 to 8 ft radius of the shrub — probably more in a windy area.

      On the other hand, Hypericum is something I had in two gardens and liked (well, a H. calycinum hybrid anyway) except for the fact that was semi-evergreen here and looked awful after even a moderate winter. Never found it to seed around at all which I thought was a shame because I liked it, but maybe that’s because it was an interspecific hybrid. Wish I could recall the name but it eventually died on me and I removed it from my garden database. :-/

  2. May 10, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Why is it that people hate violets in the lawn? My violets are reluctant to grow in the lawn where I would celebrate their presence, but eager to grow in the beds and borders where I have more mixed feelings about them. I do encourage them to grow as a groundcover in a shady, semi-wild corner of our back garden. I do think the wild white violets (which I’ve heard referred to as “confederate” violets) are especially fetching.

    • May 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      I moved about a half dozen of the white lawn violets into a bed earlier this week, not because I don’t want them in the lawn but because I didn’t want the lovely pristine flowers to be decapitated by the lawn mower. 🙂

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