Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Seeing Yellow

This small cup Daffodil opened first on Forsythia Hill.
It's a blaze of yellow on Forsythia Hill this time of year.  The yellow Crocus arrived first then secondly my Grandmother's lovely antique large cup Daffodil.  Now the absolutely shocking yellow Forsythia is in clear view out every window in my house!  Hence the name, Forsythia Hill.  I just transplanted stray 10 Forsythia shrubs yesterday and today I spotted another possible transplant location!  We have those hideous electrical boxes on entry up our driveway.  I've never quite decided how to mask them.  I have some stray Althea shrubs that need a new home.  I think a few of them along with some Forsythia might make a good screen.  I was told by the electrical man that as long as I planted to the side and front I would not interfere with the box.

Forsythia was named after William Forsyth, who started the Royal Horticultural Society of Great Britain.  A member of the olive family, it was discovered growing in China in 1842 by Scottish Botanist, Robert Fortune when he was sent there to bring back plants by the Society.  Another species of Forsythia had already been growing in Europe since 1833 but was labeled as a Lilac.

The way you prune Forsythia - YOU DON'T
Often mentioned as a hiding spot for the dancing Fairy or even a sly Fox (in my yard) the Forsythia hedge grows with abandon having few limits.  The tiny Forsythia fruit from the Weeping Forsythia suspensa was recorded as being used in China beginning in 100 A.D. as a medicinal along with Lonicera to cure heat related diseases and remove toxins (fever, goiter, sores, abscesses, swollen lymph glands, flus, etc). 

Personally, Forsythia reminds me of the past and I always envision it as situated, overgrown, beside an old farm house in a field.  On Forsythia Hill it welcomes in Spring and cheers me to view it out every window.  I've not yet discovered a Fairy but as a young girl, I looked and looked for them under the old Forsythia shrub. 

The main Spring activity around our back Forsythia hedge is the Mockingbird territory wars. Often three or more Mockingbirds zooming around and around in and out and over the Forsythia hedge - battling for the supreme nesting spot.  I'm not sure if the same bird wins each year but it appears the returning bird puts up a most ferocious fight.  One evening I was walking my dog through the yard when a beautiful Red Fox popped out from under the Forsythia shrub.  It was an incredible sight but I felt as if he was sniffing around for my Hen House!  A two door night lockup system will hopefully keep them safe.

A pruned yellow neon highlighter line of Forsythia in a field - UCK
Forsythia certainly provides cover for wildlife and nesting for the birds.  It's a valuable shrub with a long history.  Can there be too much Forsythia planted?  Well yes, it can look horrible when attempts are made to control it by pruning.  I shudder when I see lollipop Forsythia or even worse is the manicured short clipped boxed version.  If you grow Forsythia, plant it in a spot when it can naturally roam and spread without much attention.  Up against the house is asking for trouble, or next to almost anything is a bad idea and planting just one bush usually looks kinda weird (a neon glob of yellow).  An expansive hedge is best and it will form this all on its own given time.  Annually, I dig up the roaming sprouts each year and cut back a few of the really tall spikes but not much else is required.  Once you have Forsythia, you will always have it!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring Gardening DEAL

Now that is a Cock-a-Doodle-Deal
Great deal right now.  I just printed my gift certificate!  What gardener wouldn't buy $40.00 of gardening goods for $20.00 --- check this deal out!  Good at Snow's in Charlottesville, VA.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dividing Perennials

I'm always amazed at how quickly Spring ends and the heat of the Summer takes over.  I've been dividing bulbs and perennials for 2 weeks now and they are all growing and are in good shape.  It gets so hot here in Central Virginia in the Summer that dividing and planting anything is risky.  I've burned up many a plant and tree by not providing enough water and baking plants to death in the hot sun. 

If you can see it sprouting then go ahead and move it or divide.  Your chances of getting good moisture increase during May showers and decrease as June approaches.

Actually I prefer to transplant bulbs when they are in bloom.  I know that sounds crazy but I can see the bloom and the location of most bulbs and perennials so I won't accidentally dig up something.  Carefully relocating keeps the bloom intact without any problems.  Dividing is another matter.  There is greater risk of harming the bloom if you need to rip apart bulbs and this is better done after bloom or in the fall.


Monday, March 5, 2012

For the Birds

Just a Brown Bird ?  Think again, a Yellow-rumped Warbler
Did you know there are over 10,000 bird species in the world?  I've discovered that viewing birds through a strong camera lens or binoculars is a necessity for identification.  A small brown bird looks totally different magnified.  I was thinking we only had White Throated Sparrows at our suet feeder but after magnification, I discovered actually both Sparrows and the Yellow-rumped Warbler were dining at our feeder.  More common birds become brilliant through the camera lens. 

Pair of Red Bellied Woodpeckers
A pair of Red Bellied Woodpeckers has finally gotten together and were enjoying the suet in the snow today.  I've heard drumming on our gutter now for a solid month.  I'm glad they have finally hooked up for the season.  I can hear my favorite Woodpecker, the Pileated, on Forsythia Hill but have only gotten glimpses this early in the season.  A Cardinal pair was ground feeding together in the snow.  It was predicted we would have .1" and it looks like 6" is more like it!

Female Cardinal in budding Red Maple Tree
I love all birds, from our Chickens and Crows to the Nuthatch.  The White-breasted Nuthatch has always been my favorite bird.  Climbing on trees with that slicked back 50's Elvis style cap.  I've always referred to them as Little Elvis.  I've not yet gotten a good shot, they move so quickly.

You can see how I'm spending this snowy day... enjoying nature.

Happy Snow!

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