Six on Saturday #28, May 19, 2018

Last weekend, the weather shifted from fairly cool spring to full-on summer, with highs around 90-93 F (~32-34 C) and high humidity.  Over the past few days, the temperature has moderated, but only because tropical air streaming up from the Gulf of Mexico has brought frequent showers and thunderstorms.

Since I missed last week’s Six on Saturday (because I was attending Montrose Garden’s spring open-house and eldest offspring’s last track meet of the season), this six includes photos taken over the past ten days.  Oldest photos are first.

1.  Chionanthus virginicus (fringe tree)

Chionanthus_virginicus

There are a few wild fringe trees in the woods nearby, but I planted this specimen beside the path leading to the front door.  It’s a male tree, so its flowers aren’t as showy as a female’s, but it doesn’t drop fruit on the path in autumn. [Correction:  The internet says I was mistaken.  It’s the male trees that have more impressive flowers.]

I recently read that the invasive emerald ash borer has started attacking C. virginicus, so we may have limited time to enjoy this tree.

2. Allium siculum (honey garlic)

Allium_siculum

This species is often labeled Nectaroscordum siculum in bulb catalogs. By either name, it’s a good choice for piedmont gardens, because it blooms after most of the spring bulbs but before the summer bulbs like Crinum and Eucomis get started.

3. Cypella herbertii

Cypella_herbertii

This is the first flower of 2018 for my clump of Cypella herbertii.  This little irid is amazingly hardy for a plant that is native to Argentina and Uruguay.  It flowers for much of the spring and summer and remains green for most of the winter.  Even when frozen to the ground by very cold weather, the foliage starts growing again as soon as temperatures rise above freezing.  Flowers open early in the morning and usually last only one day, but each inflorescence produces new flowers sequentially for several weeks.

4. Liriodendron tulipifera (tulip poplar)

Liriodendron_flower

Although Liriodendron is one of most common deciduous tree species around here, I rarely see the flowers, because they open high in the forest canopy.  The twig bearing this one broke off in the wind and landed on my garden path.

5.  Terrapene carolina carolina (eastern box turtles)

The garden’s resident box turtles are enjoying the wet weather.

boxy
“Notch”

I hadn’t seen this adult male box turtle in the garden before, but he turned up twice this week [update: three times].  The notch at the front of his carapace is distinctive, so I won’t have any trouble recognizing him if I find him again.

Penelope
Penelope

This smaller female is a garden regular.  The kids have named her Penelope.  We offered her a fresh strawberry on Friday morning, and she ate most of it before disappearing into the flowerbeds.

Percy Shelley hasn’t made an appearance yet this year.

6. Mutinus elegans (elegant stinkhorn)

Mutinus_elegans

Look what else the rain brought out.  I’m not sure what the scientist who named this species was thinking.  Elegant?

Mutinus_elegans2

Slugs and snails enjoy munching on the stinkhorns.  Their  smell also attracts American carrion beetles (Necrophila americana), but I was unable to get a good photo of the surprisingly alert insects.  As soon as I get close, they scuttle down to the ground and bury themselves in the mulch.

Want more Six on Saturday?  The Propagator is our host, so head over to his blog.

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Six on Saturday #27, May 5, 2018

Here we go again.  Six more plants blooming on a Saturday.  When you are finished here, get on over to The Propagator’s site for more Six on Saturday.

1.  Philadelphus inodorus (scentless mock orange)

Philadelphus_inodorus

I grew this pretty native shrub from seed obtained from the NC Botanical Garden’s annual members’ seed list.  It seems to be primarily a species of the Appalachians, but the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service has records for Orange and Randolph Counties in the NC piedmont.

2.  Melittis melissophyllum ‘Royal Velvet Distinction’ (bastard balm)

Melittis

I bought this European perennial partly for its pretty flowers, but mostly for its common name.  It’s Latin name suggests that it is popular with bees, but I haven’t been able to track down the origin of “bastard balm”.  For the first two years, it produced a fairly sad little flowerless rosette, and I wondered if it didn’t like our climate or soil.  But, this year it has grown three flowering stems that are about a foot tall.

3.  Iris tectorum (Japanese roof iris)

Iris_tectorum

As with many other Japanese species, Iris tectorum loves our climate.   After the flowers fade, the foliage remains neat and tidy throughout the summer and autumn, dying back only in midwinter.  I started with a single plant ten years ago , but I scatter seed every autumn.  Now there are scattered clumps and large drifts throughout the garden.  Some of the older clumps suffer from iris borers in late summer, but there are always enough seedlings to replace them.  I think it might be nice to get a few of the white form to intersperse among the typical lavender flowers, but the whites have suddenly become hard to find at local nurseries.

4.  Arisaema triphyllum (jack in the pulpit) 

Arisaema_triphyllum

This is another plant that is slowly spreading through the garden.  I started my garden population from seed of local wild plants, but at this point I’m on the third or fourth generation of cultivated plants.  A. triphyllum isn’t as bizarre as some of the Asian Arisaema species, but I like our little native.

5.  Amorphophallus konjac (konjaku, voodoo lily)

Amorphophallus1

Hey, who planted this stinking aroid so close to the house?  And right next to the beautifully fragrant Persian musk rose, too.  Oh, yeah, it was me.

There are three flowering this year.  The burying beetles and blow flies are so pleased

6.  Sarracenia flava (yellow pitcher plant)

Sarracenia_flava

Fresh young pitchers of one of our native carnivorous plants emerging from my bog garden which is in desperate need of a renovation.

Lady’s slipper orchids

This is the blooming season for the two species of lady’s slipper orchids that are native to the North Carolina piedmont.  Unfortunately, I don’t have time to go out searching for them this year, but I have been lucky enough to see and photograph both species in past years.

Cypripedium acuale (pink lady’s slipper, moccasin flower)

cyp_acaule3
Cypripedium acaule blooming in late April

C. acaule is definitely the most common of the two species in the piedmont.  The plants are tolerant of varied moisture levels, and their main requirement is for very acidic soil.  They often grow in fairly dry pine woods, but I have also seen plants in mixed deciduous forest.

Blooming-size plants usually produce a pair of pleated leaves that sit flat on the ground and are easy to recognize even when the plant isn’t flowering:

C_acaule leaves
Having said that C. acaule leaves are easy to identify, I sure hope I haven’t misidentified this plant that I photographed in late summer in eastern Maine.

A good place to see C. acaule in the Triangle area is William B. Umstead State Park.  I’ve seen plants blooming along the trail near the Reedy Creek Entrance.

Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens (greater yellow lady’s slipper)

Cyp_pubescens1
Cypripedium parviflorum var. pubescens blooming at an undisclosed location in Durham County, late April, 2016

C. parviflorum var. pubescens is quite rare in the piedmont, and I have only seen plants at one location.  They were growing among Christmas ferns (Polystichum acrostichoides) on a fairly steep hillside in deciduous forest dominated by beeches, oaks, and tulip poplars.

cyp_habitat
Habitat of C. parviflorum var. pubescens.  The plants were growing near the top of the slope.
Cyp_pubescens2
Another flower

Cyp_pubescens3

Because C. parviflorum var. pubescens is rare and is one of the native plants most likely to be poached by unscrupulous plant collectors, I don’t feel comfortable publishing the location of this population on the internet.  Thanks for understanding.  If I know you in real life, you can ask me in person.

Squirrels! Again.

The word of the day is “drey“, which means a nest of twigs and dry leaves built by a squirrel, usually in the fork of a tree.  And where do the twigs come from?  One of our local tree rats has taken a liking to the Cleyera japonica shrubs growing on the north side of our house.

cleyera_damaged

This is what they should look like:

cleyera_intact

To add insult to injury, the squirrel doesn’t use the branches to build a proper drey in a tree.  Instead, it climbs up on the roof and shoves them under the solar hot water panels.  So, every couple of days, I have to haul out the ladder and scramble up to the peak of the roof to remove a new nest.  The C. japonica branches are usually mixed with twigs sheared off my beloved Tamukeyama lace-leaf Japanese maple.

The local hawks really need to start pulling their weight. They seem to prefer picking off birds at our feeder instead of hunting squirrels on the roof.

Effing tree rats.