Six on Saturday – No Flo – September 22, 2018

Tuesday, the day the remnants of Hurricane Florence hit our part of the mid-Atlantic region I spent the morning on Poplar Island. Clouds in the photos below were all we got. Some rain was predicted but we didn’t get any until the afternoon and it was minimal. We are all so grateful we were not in Florence’s direct path.

My Six on Saturday starts with Poplar Island. Here’s the backstory.

Poplar Island was a 1140 acre, crescent shaped island in the Chesapeake Bay in 1847. It had a town called Valliant which included a school, a post office, a church, a sawmill, a general store and about 100 residents.  Erosion ate away at the island and by 1920 the last permanent resident had gone. By 1990 the island had been reduced to 5 acres.  In a joint project of the U.S. Army Corps and Engineers and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the island has been recreatedt using dredged materials from the Chesapeake Bay’s approach channels to Baltimore where there is a thriving port. Dredged materials from Baltimore harbor are not used because they are contaminated.  Poplar Island is now back to 1140 acres with an additional 575 acres planned. This is the Wikipedia link if you want more information.

  1. Our group from the St. Michaels Woman’s Club boarded a boat on Tilghman Island for the twenty minute ride to Poplar Island. We started the tour with a guide who gave us an introduction and then boarded the bus for an informational trip around the island. The garden pictured is maintained by Maryland Master Gardeners. The mosquitos were ferocious.

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2. Tours are free and this was my fifth trip over the last ten years. The island has changed dramatically since my original visit when the island was comprised of “cells” waiting to receive dredged materials. Now the island is lush with native plant material. One hundred and seventy-five species of birds use the island, but the biggest wildlife success is the terrapin hatchlings which have a 99% survival rate because there are no foxes or racoons on the island – yet. Typical terrapin hatchling survival rate is 10%. Some baby terrapins are fostered by selected school classes and the kids return to Poplar island for an emotional release of the turtle they named and raised. Eventually the island will be a wildlife refuge of half wetlands and half uplands and will be closed to the public.

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3. This view shows work on the projected additional 575 acres. Most of the island looked like this when I first visited.

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My final three photos are from my garden.

4. Hyacinth bean vines are still blooming but are also creating beautiful, glossy purple pods.

5. The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) plant’s airborne seeds are flying.

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6. Six feet tall (even after a fourth of July cutting back to half), this aster is just coming into bloom. Another plant that someone gave me. I don’t know the name and when I googled tall asters none of those listed grew this tall. Another shorter aster hasn’t started blooming yet. It needs to hurry up.

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That’s my six for this week, a meme started by The Propogator, a UK gardener. This is the link to the rules if you’d like to join in.

Six on Saturday – April 21, 2018

These are my Six on Saturday. The plants seem to believe that Spring is here.

  1. The Angelique tulips on the far side of this bed are just getting ready to bloom. There’s also a clump in the foreground.  They are a peony tulip and it looks like each bulb sent up several blooms. I think the pink and yellow tulips are a Darwin variety.

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2. The grass is greening up. I had to get the mower out and make a couple of passes where it was getting too tall. Repairing a grassy area that was full of Green Kyllinga (Kyllinga gracillima) last fall is on the agenda this afternoon if the lawn is dry enough. I sprayed it in the fall with  Sedgehammer which killed it, but I hadn’t realized there was so little grass. I’m not a lawn fanatic by any means. I’ll never get rid of the wiregrass (an uncultivated form of Bermuda grass that is just an evil weed in the Mid-Atlantic), but I don’t like the bald patches of dirt.

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3. Miniature hostas define a seating area on one side of my house. I always forget where the perimeter is in the winter, but the hostas, which get about 6″ tall, let me know. I put two Adirondack chairs in this area facing toward the back of the property so I can sit and enjoy the garden. The chairs are still behind the shed and it’s too wet to get them out. My father built them for me over 50 years ago. They are cedar and we have reinforced them several times, but amazingly they are still functional.

The cord of wood was delivered last week. It has to be wheelbarrowed (once the yard dries out) to the back of the shed where it will be stacked under roof and continue drying for next fall’s fires. To the left of the wood pile are white arches make of plastic electrical conduit. They are 16′ long and slip over pieces of rebar I pounded into the ground.  Originally there were four arches but I took them down this year when we were hauling debris from the back of the lot. When I put them back up it occured to me I could cross them over which might make a better foundation for annual vines like hyacinth beans. I’ll see what happens.

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4. I managed to get three raised beds ready for seeding before the latest rain. The one at the end has some transplanted kale that wintered over. I had to move it from another bed so I could dig it before planting. The other end has some iris I didn’t know what to do with last fall.

I have two more raised beds at the Community Garden. One bed is ready for  my tomatoes which are still in the garage waiting for warmer night weather when I will put them outside in the shade for a couple of weeks before planting them. We are still about twenty degrees lower than the normal temperatures for this time of year. The bed on the right in the foreground is garlic I planted last fall.

In the bed on the left (foreground) I found some sprouts of the Yellow Finn potatoes I planted last spring. There were ten seed potatoes in the bag and I didn’t get much of a harvest. They were, however, delicious. Perhaps I’ll do better with the babies I missed when digging the parents. I moved a few to corral them all in the same area. I still have to dig the rest of the bed.

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5. The epimedium blooms don’t last long, but are lovely pop of color. Wikipedia tells me that epimedium, also known as barrenwort, bishop’s hat, fairy wings, horny goat weed, or yin yang huo, is a genus of flowering plants in the family Berberidaceae. Mine has new leaves with reddish copper coloring. The leaves then turn green and are leathery by summer. Deer don’t like them and the plants spread. These are under a River Birch and tolerate dry shade.

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6. The first azalea is blooming. I think this one is a Lavender Lady. Many of my azaleas  began with plants my mother gave me. She started with a few plants and began to propogate them by air layering. Twenty years later she had an acre of azaleas of all varieties in a beech wood in rural Pennsylvania. Locally she was known as the Azalea Lady. One year, on my May birthday, she brought me a trunkload of azalea plants from her garden that bloomed on my special day. Babies of many of those plants, including this Lavender Lady, were brought as tiny plants from our old house to the new one in St. Michaels twelve years ago. I don’t air layer on the woody stems as my mother did, but if there is a low branch I pin it down to the soil and propogate new babies that way.

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That’s my six for Saturday. I’m not sure that Spring is finally here, but the plants believe it is.