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.


This is what they should look like:


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.

More glads

As a follow-up to the post on Gladiolus ‘Eno Orange,’ here are a couple more hardy glads that are currently blooming in the garden.  Both are significantly smaller than ‘Eno Orange,’ topping out at about 3-4 ft tall.

Yellow primulinus-type Gladiolus.

yellow Gladiolus
Yellow Gladiolus dalenii (syn G. primulinus)

I got these corms from Nancy Goodwin of Montrose Garden last autumn, so this is the first time they have bloomed for me.  Nancy says that they were collected beside the railway tracks in Hillsborough, North Carolina.  They seem to be the species that was once called Gladiolus primulinus but is now considered a yellow form of G. dalenii.  To my eye, they appear identical to the plant that is sold by several nurseries as Gladiolus ‘Carolina Primrose.’

Gladiolus ‘Atom’

Gladiolus 'Atom'
Gladiolus ‘Atom’

This hybrid dates from 1946 but is still readily available from bulb vendors.  The color is very intense, but the simple form of the flowers seems to blend well in informal flowerbeds.  I grow it among asters and goldenrod that bloom later in the year, so it adds splashes of color to what would otherwise be an unbroken expanse of green.

A Sunny Saturday

It was a beautiful spring day.  Both Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham and the J.C. Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh had their spring plant sales, and I picked up a few interesting bits and pieces, some native and some exotic:  Polygonatum humile (dwarf solomon’s seal), Trillium vaseyi (sweet wakerobin), Trillium recurvatum (bloody butcher), and Osmanthus ‘Jim Porter’ (holly-leaf tea olive).  At Raulston’s used book sale, I also snagged a nice clean copy of The Vascular Flora of the Carolinas for just $5.00 to replace my old copy that is falling apart.  This is an invaluable resource, but it isn’t really a field guide; it would probably break your toes if you drop it.

Here are a few iPhone snapshots from the garden today:

A small native Vaccinium, perhaps narrowleaf blueberry (Vaccinium tenellum), that is common in the surrounding woodland.  Here, it is growing under hickory trees on the dry slope beside the greenhouse.
At night, the flowers of Fothergilla ‘Mt Airy’ smell exactly like Nyquil cold medicine. This witch alder is sometimes sold as the dwarf Fothergilla gardenii, but its size suggests a hybrid between F. gardenii and the larger F. major.
Leucojum aestivum, the summer snowflake, starts blooming in late March in North Carolina.
It’s hard to capture the airy, delicate beauty of wild columbine flowers. Although Aquilegia canadensis is native to the piedmont, these grew from seed that I brought from our old house when we moved. Every year, I scatter seed in a new part of the garden, and there are now hundreds of plants.
Tiny bluets, Houstonia caerulea, have self-seeded all over the lawn and the mossy woodland path. None of my snapshots today look any good, so I’ll cheat and post a picture from this time last year.