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Monday, February 24, 2014

What I am reading - Watership Down by Richard Adams

The original copyright date of this great adventure novel (about rabbits!) was 1972. There was a movie made based upon the book but when I enjoy a book as much as this one, I want to let the story and characters live in my imagination as I saw them and not as the movie portrays them. As a gardener, I am interested in the many plants mentioned as part of the rabbits' world. Plants they eat, take shelter within, gauge the weather and seasons by, use as navigational tools when traveling and even as names for themselves are important for their survival and well being in their world.

I am making a list of all the plants mentioned in the the book while reading it for a second time now and intend to research in order to learn more about each one. Some of the plants are familiar like dandelion and primrose but since the story is set in the English countryside there are some plants that may not grow naturally in our part of the world here in Delaware.

The author of Watership Down - Richard Adams - credits a book by R M Lockley called The Private Life of the Rabbit for his descriptions of the behavior and community structure of wild rabbits which informed Mr Adams' work. This is a book I want to read next.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Spring flowering bulbs

This seems like a good time to dream about the promise of spring flowers and warm weather. The 7" of snow last Thursday night was pretty and fun to play in and shovel(if you like that kind of thing) but the 5 degrees F Saturday morning was a bit extreme. The temperature for this coming Tuesday morning is forecast to be even colder! The following is a list of spring flowers that we can look forward to in the garden. (Common names are in parentheses.) Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty' (squill), Narcissus 'Baby Moon' (daffodil), Chionodoxa luciliae (glory-of-the-snow), Crocus tommasiniana (tommie crocus), Anemone blanda Blue Shades(windflower), Crocus Botanical Mix(crocus pictured above right), Camassia quamash, Ipheion uniflorum 'Wisely Blue'(spring starflower), Muscari latifolium (grape hyacinth pictured above left), Narcissus 'Geranium'(daffodil pictured above middle), Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete'(daffodil), Allium unifolium (ornamental onion), Allium moly 'Jeannine' (ornamental onion), Allium 'Purple Sensation' (ornamental onion), Narcissus Dutch Master(daffodil),Narcissus Fortune (daffodil)

'Emerald Sentinal' Eastern Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana 'Emerald Sentinal' is the name of this beautiful conifer. There is a great picture of the blue berries -which are an important food source for some birds- posted on the blog of the amazing High Line Garden in New York.

Winterberry holly

This one's for the birds. While we love the way the red berries look in the winter they are valuable food for birds. In Old New Castle, flocks of robins often consume all available holly berries in late December. So be sure to cut some branches for holiday decorating before this happens. Mockingbirds also stake claim to winterberry fruit and will attempt to chase other birds away from the plant. The scientific name of this winterberry holly is Ilex verticillata 'Nana' or 'Red Sprite'. It is a dwarf form growing only to about three feet with especially large red berries. It is a good plant for a rain garden or a periodically wet spot in your yard. They are especially dramatic planted in groups but if you are patient a single plant will expand by underground suckers to form its own colony. The best berry set occurs when a male pollinator plant is located nearby.