Archive | April, 2013


30 Apr

azaleas 003The first of the azaleas has begun blooming.  This is an old-fashioned pink, which makes a pretty underplanting below the white dogwood tree at the corner of the house.  Coming soon will be the evergreen purple variety, the red, and hopefully the peach.  Gorgeous!

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apple trees

28 Apr

apple 003This is the first apple blossom so far this year.   They are on one of the columnar trees; the other columnar has very few blossoms.    The third tree, on the back of the garage, has only a few blossoms at the top, most of which were knocked off with yesterday’s rain.   This tree normally fruits the heaviest on the main trunk (which is the winesap variety); the  side branches (with red and golden delicious, granny smiths, and braeburns) are not as productive.  That’s bad news for the squirrels, who most years manage to  get to the fruit before I can get it picked.

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pretty weeds

27 Apr

A weed generally is considered any plant that grows where it’s not wanted.  I’d expand that definition to say that a weed not only grows where it’s not wanted but also spreads so rapidly it chokes out whatever is meant to be growing there. You’ve probably noticed as you’re pulling weeds from flowers beds that many of these unwanted plants really are very pretty.  Some of these are from my garden, but I’ve noticed so many more around the neighborhood that I’ve begun taking my camera along when I walk the dog each morning.   (My next-door neighbor probably is used to seeing me down on the ground or up on a ladder to get a good picture of plants, but now the whole neighborhood has reason to question my sanity.)  I’m not suggesting you let the weeds grow in with your flowers, just that before you yank them out you take a good, close look.  (If you’d like a ground-level view, click on a picture to enlarge it or play the picture gallery as a slide show.)

common lilac – syringa vulgaris

27 Apr

lilac 006lilac 007

This shrub looks a little lopsided; it was damaged in the last major snowfall and will need to be pruned back a bit after the flowers have all faded.  It is located at the end of the driveway near the garage.  Its flowers have a nice, though fairly mild, fragrance.  The plant’s primary attractions are its size (about 10′ tall and 5′ wide) and large flowers, which make it easily visible from the street, although you really need to take a close look to really appreciate the beauty of the flowers (click on an image to see a screen-size version).


22 Apr

ajuga 006Sometimes called ajuga weed or bugle weed, this ground cover grows only 4″-6″ high but puts on a pretty display in the Spring.  This version has slightly darker leaves and is called bronze ajuga.

I have it planted in a half-circle garden on the East side of the gazebo surrounding a bird bath.  When the grape vines covering the gazebo are leafed out, this section is blocked from the afternoon sun.  Apparently that isn’t enough sun for the ajuga, which is gradually being taken over by wild strawberries and no amount of pulling or digging has been successful in dislodging them.  On the other side of the garden, the ajuga is thriving — almost too well.  It creeps out of its bed and blocks the stone path there.  Lesson learned.  When this ajuga has finished blooming, I’ll move it out to a more sunny locale.

golden euonymous

21 Apr

gold euonymous 004Although flowers take center stage in Spring, many shrubs are putting on quite a show.  This golden euonymous will lose some of its bright yellow color as the season progresses;  it will fade to a yellow/green color but will continue to be a pretty backdrop for the flowers in the bed.  It keeps its leaves all winter, although the color fades a bit more.  golden euonymous 002Like most euonymous, it tends to spread.  You need to watch out for branches that are trailing on the ground because they will put down roots, causing the shrub to come up all over the garden.  Getting rid of those branches and an occasional trim is about all the care this shrub needs.

dogwood tree – cornus florida

21 Apr

dogwood 001One of my favorite signs of Spring, the flowering dogwood is found in all the wooded areas in the Midwest.  It’s a little tricky to transplant, and some nurseries won’t guarantee it unless they plant it for you, but after it has been established for about two years it’s relatively carefree.  I like the scale for a small house and lot.  The flowers are elegant. dogwood 003 There are pink and white varieties, but the white is far and away my favorite.

crab apple tree

20 Apr

crabapple 005I think this is an Arnold variety, but I’ve long since lost the tag so I’m really not sure.  It grows very small – about 1/2″ – apples that have very little taste — even the birds aren’t crazy about them.  It’s strictly ornamental and when it’s fully leafed out does a nice job of screening the neighbor’s back yard.

red tulips

20 Apr

tulips 001There are hundreds of varieties of tulips in all colors and exotic petal shapes, but who could not like the standard, old fashioned red?

tulips 004

redbud tree – cercis

20 Apr

redbud 007Redbuds grow wild through most of the Midwest; a drive down almost any highway or rural road show banks of these trees, looking from a distance like airy pink clouds.  This one is fairly old and has been losing branches for the past couple of years, probably a sign that it doesn’t have long to go, so I’ll enjoy it while I can.