June 17, 2008

Violent Spring...Silent Spring

Late Spring Storm Damage
Last night we had a squall line of thunderstorms push through before a cold front, bringing to an end, the 100 degree plus temperatures, but with it, came fierce winds, with gusts near 75 mph. These winds brought down three massive trees, including a huge red oak tree, growing near the pigeon lofts in the back corner of the yard. We were all amazed that none of the trees hit any structure, and now we are blessed with enough fire wood to warm us for most of the winter!

Flowering cacti species blooming in June
Relatively carefree, cacti never interested me, that is until I saw a collection in bloom on display at Chelsea flower show a few years ago while visiting London. After a little research, I discovered that many of these spring blooming cacti require the same environmental conditions that many of the South African plants in my greenhouse require, except opposite. So, in the summer, they can get heavy doses of rain water and full sun, but in the winter, they must be allowed to go bone dry, and survive temperatures near freezing. All conditions easy to provide in ym greenhouse, the cacti are moved to the upper benches where pots stay dry, away from the hose watering. In the summer, the South African bulbs are moved there to go dry and dormant for the summer. So these cacti are a perfect marriage and these cacti such as Rebutia, sulcorebutia and Lobivia, all native to Bolivia and other South American countries with deserts, thrive and now bloom regularly, with hardly any care.
Mountain Laurel is a native plant in New England that adds value to any garden.
We in New England are sometimes blind to the rare offerings our native plants provide. In these times of environmental awareness, and greater focus on native plants, we should be grateful that there are such choice native plants for us to use. Around our property, there are a number of plantings of our native Mountain Laurel ( Kalmia latifolia), shrubs that are so large that they tower near 12 feet tall, most planted by my parents and grandparents early in the 2oth Century. ( Remember, my Dad is 95 years old), and still feeding the birds and picking bouquets of Mountain Laurel which his father planted.

A view of the Petasites japonica growing near the old gold fish pond. The leaves this year are massive, since we have been having a wet spring.

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