An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

May 21, 2016

It Could Be Yours

     Last weekend my father and I stopped by the former home of friends of his. They have moved on to a new life in Florida and have put this house on the market. It is in the small courthouse town of Accomac, on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and sits on over three acres of sandy loam that will grow just about anything (I've been eating fresh asparagus from their garden all week). The house is surrounded by boxwood and Poncirus hedges, there are large trees and shrubs, plus many beds for perennials. There are also several outbuildings, including gardening sheds, an old schoolhouse, and a large garage/workshop that might induce grown men (and some women) to drool. The house itself is over 120 years old and has 4 bedrooms, and 3 and a half baths, and if you are interested all the particulars are on Zillow. I'm not on commission; I just like old houses and big gardens. 

Bearded Iris (1)

Chives

Split Rial Fence with Weigela

Eastern Red Cedar

School House under Eastern Red Cedar

Porch View (2)

Porch View (1)

Porch View (4)

Bearded Iris (2)

Front View with Dianthus and Boxwood Lined Walkway

Front View Beyond Poncirus Hedge (1)

May 1, 2016

Barred Owls and Buttercups

     Yesterday I took my first paddle of the year. While I had opportunities to go earlier in the year, it was way too cool. When warmer temperatures did arrive I was under doctor's orders not to lift anything over 20 lbs until the end of April. Yesterday was not ideal with strong northeasterly winds, overcast skies, and with the threat of rain, but I would not be deterred. I headed inland and west to the Blackwater River, and put in at Joyner's Bridge near Walters. This river is lined with one of my favorite trees, bald cypress (Taxodium distichum), freshly leafed out in an impossible shade of green. Paddling among these giants connects me with something much older and much larger than myself. This genus has witnessed 100 million springs, when the first seedlings somehow manged to avoid trampling from creatures like Tyrannosaurus Rex, while Pterosaurs flew overhead. While I saw neither creature yesterday, their descendants were numerous. Ospreys, great blue herons, cardinals, crows, wrens, sparrows, yellow warblers, wood ducks, wild turkeys, and pileated woodpeckers were all present, but the greatest thrill was being able to approach a barred owl while smaller birds were trying to peck its head.
Taxodium distichum (5)

Taxodium distichum (6)

Taxodium distichum (1)

Taxodium distichum (7)

Taxodium distichum (2)

Bald Cypress with Yellow Warbler

Barred Owl

     Of course the cypress were not the only plants I noticed. Resurrection fern (Pleopeltis polypodioides) was full and fresh from recent rains.
Pleopeltis polypodioides (2)

     Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)
Chionanthus virginicus (2)

     American Wisteria (Wisteria frutescens)
Wisteria frutescens

     Blue Marsh Violet (Viola cucullata)
Viola cucullata

Viola cucullata (2)

     As green as the river was, many of the nearby fields were equally as yellow, cloaked in a blanket of buttercups (Ranunculus species), and I couldn't help stopping for a quick trespass. This European invasive is toxic to cattle and horses, but it is also distasteful, and when there is enough good forage livestock avoid it.
Buttercups (Ranunculus) (7)

Buttercups (Ranunculus) (6)

Buttercups (Ranunculus) (2)

Buttercups (Ranunculus) (3)

Buttercups (Ranunculus) (4)