Sunday, June 18, 2017

Pine Barrens Hike

I had the chance to go on a guided plant hike in the NJ Pine Barrens yesterday, led by the incredible Janet Novak of the Delaware Valley NARGS chapter.  I've wanted to dive into the Pine Barrens since I read John McPhee's book 25 years ago, but had never gotten around to it in 11 years of living in NJ.  Neighbor Ray and my 9-year old botanist (above, with beaver stump) made a long, humid day out of it.

We started at Pakim Pond in the Brendan Byrne State Forest in south Jersey.  We shuffled around the mucky edge of the small pond on boardwalks and pine needle-covered paths.  The acid sandy soil is host to carnivorous plants, ferns, a few orchids, pitch pine, blackjack oak, and a wide range of ericaceous shrubs, including the high bush blueberries that we snacked on as we walked.

I've come to think of pitcher plants as rare, fussy, expensive and hip (lately), but here they were in the wild, growing at the wet edges of the pond.

Here's the super-famous curly grass fern, a really tiny thing.  Note my errant finger in the photo. 

Each hummock in the pond was a little garden.

We moved on next to Webb's Mill, a bog that looked like an impressionist painting yesterday.

Pitcher plants, sundews, bladderwort...Monet, right?  I felt like a kid.

Pitcher plant and compatriots.

More bog beauty

Incredible things were everywhere.  I took too many photos and inevitably failed to capture the excitement of this site.

Dwarf pines growing in sand just outside the Warren Grove Bombing Range

Dwarf pine

The last stop of the day was at Bill Smith's garden in Warren Grove.  We walked around the corner and found this 10' x 30' raised bog garden in full bloom.  Bill is growing many of the same plants that we'd seen growing wild in the local bogs, but what floored us were the pitcher plants.  I had that feeling that I have in front of a masterpiece in a museum: overwhelmed by the combination of beauty and skill.

Gorgeous containers lined the raised bog bed.

Another of the many, many saracennias

A mini masterpiece.   The yellow is bog asphodel.


Red + Blue= Wow

These guys looked hungry.

This dude survived 5 hours of plants, plants, plants with Ray and me.  He had a well-deserved burger followed by a nap on the ride home.

Monday, May 29, 2017

Tiny Jewels Part 3


The trough above has been gorgeous for a couple weeks now.


On the front is saxifraga 'Whitehill' (r) and dianthus 'Inshriach Dazzler' (l)

On the side is erigeron scopuliunus. It's been more mat than flower this year.

On the front corner is saponaria x oliviana.

Next to that is silene uniflora.


Another trough has edraianthus graminifolius.  

dianthus ssp.

antennaria dioica rubra 

helianthemum 'Raspberry Ripple'

silene caroliniana

genista ssp. 'Boz Dag'

androsace sarmentosa

saponaria pumilo

helianthemum 'Wisley Primrose'

sisyrinchium angustifolium (blue-eyed grass)

dianthus myrtinevius

dianthus 'Tatra Fragrance'

erigeron leoimerus

With the cool, rainy weather, it's been a great spring to be a rock gardener.

More to come...

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

That 'Whoa!' Moment

I rounded the corner of the garage to head out back to the garden on Saturday and let out an audible exclamation when I saw the honeysuckle.  I hadn't realized how large it had gotten until it flowered.  The fence above is six feet tall and the honeysuckle is trying for more.

I guess it liked the recent 3" of rain followed by three days above 90 degrees.  I'm glad somebody did...

Monday, May 15, 2017

Stubborn Garage Gardening

I was looking forward to working in the garden and on planting my troughs on Saturday.  I had a bunch of new plants from Wrightman's Alpines that I was dying to get planted.  The weather did not cooperate.  It rained all day and was in the low 50s...not a gardening day by any normal definition.  Being of the stubborn sort, I moved into the garage with my trough planting.  Above is one my hypertufa troughs (30 x 16 x 12"H) on a dolly, partially filled with a mix of Turface MVP, fine granite, and some topsoil.  The mix is richer on the bottom of the trough and leaner (very little topsoil) nearer the plants.

Once I had the rocks arranged (and split thanks to my new carbide stone chisel), I started placing plants.

Yes, I know it looks like too many rocks.  It's not.  These tiny plants like the cool root run of crevices.

I removed most of the bark or whatever it is that these plants were grown in at the nursery.  This material is too rich for long-term cultivation of these plants.  Working their nearly-bare roots down into the crevices between the rocks, I added more grit, tamping it with a chopstick.

A top dressing of pea gravel and the trough was ready to roll out into the rain.

I promise I'll post a photo of the trough that doesn't look like it was taken in a cave.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Tiny Jewels Part II


The ridiculously beautiful spring parade continues.  
Above is epimedium grandiflorum var. higoense 'Bandit'.

Good old reliable arabis sturii.

Home Depot aubrieta.

Home Depot saxifrage (L) and aubrieta x cultorum 'Royal Blue'

Veronica whitely is out to dominate this trough

Aquilegia viridiflorum

A couple days later on and it's fully open.  (Thanks, Hilary)

Fritillaria uva-volpis (back) with white dodecatheon in front.

That red pasqueflower really hit its stride this week.

I got one flower on androsace barbulata

The native aquilegia canadensis self-seeded into a crack in the patio in front of a trough.

 Saponaria ocymoides

Another sax from Home Depot.

Daphne cneorum 'Blackthorn Triumph'

Potentilla porphyrantha

The nearly-impossible-to-photograph-well mattholia trojana.