Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Majestic Wildflower


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American Columbo is blooming its heart out this year and is looking the best I have seen it in the past three springs. Wowser on the blooms that the bees simply adore. But, as pretty as the little blooms are they are quite hard to really enjoy unless you get up close to the plant. The real show with the American Columbo is the stature of these grand native wildflowers.
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From a distance of over 200 feet the American Columbo will draw your eye to it immediately. The unknowing plant person will likely wonder what the tall and stately plant can be. For you see, in my experience American Columbo is not so common around my area of Tennessee. I am sure many hikers and naturalists are familiar with it but until buying this property I had never seen or noticed it before. An interesting note is that when I was visiting my daughter in Louisville a few weeks ago we took a trip to Bernheim Arboretum (highly recommended trip) I noticed some plants of American Columbo and was most excited. There were only a few plants and none in bloom that I could see but hey, it was a start on finding this cool plant in a spot other than our property.
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These plants range in height from three to eight feet tall. That is a really tall wildflower and I believe this particular wildflower is one of the tallest wildflowers in Tennessee. In fact, the book Wildflowers of Tennessee the Ohio Valley and the Southern Appalachians says it is one of the tallest in Tennessee. If you saw a mass of them in person you would be awed!
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This mass of the wildflower is in the corner of my yard in a native plant area that I try to maintain by leaving it alone. All year long there will be a parade of stunning native wildflowers come in and out of bloom in this area. The butterflies and pollinators are in heaven. I was quite pleased to see the bumble bees and honey bees love the American Columbo flowers. My two beehives are still doing fairly well and the bees have been a lot of fun. I have been stung twice but that's okay and to be expected.
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Like I said in the opening of  this post this year makes the best year ever for the American Columbo. The sad thing is that once all of these flowers have bloomed out and the plant has set seed these plants that are blooming will all die. Their dying will leave a void in the area, but a void I hope will be filled with new American Columbo plants from the interesting seed stalks the American Columbo will leave behind. I will do a post on the seed stalks once they come into their glory. I don't think there is a lot of information on the seed stalks but they are most interesting in their own right. This American Columbo grows in this field, in the woods, along side the hills, on road banks, and many places you would not expect it to grow. Despite it being so adaptable it is not an invader or a troublesome plant. Soon all of these plants that are not blooming will go dormant until next year....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Peony Bed


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Welcome to Tiger Way Gardens! The peonies are one of the first things you'll see upon your drive to our home. When I come home I want to stop right here and just sit all day and look at these beauties.
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Leaving you'll get a great view of the peonies as well.
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These plants are so awesome and my apologies to my Facebook friends as I keep posting pictures of them. I guess I just did not realize how much I'd like this bed once it got going. The effect of massing peonies is quite the sight and I wished to share it immediately. It seemed as each hour passed the bed got prettier.
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Moving most of peonies out here to the land in the Fall of 2013 I was in a predicament because I had to have a spot for them to go. The spot had to not be in the way of the house build, be permanent, and the conditions had to work for the peonies. As it was, this bed was a bit in the way of an electrical ditch but the backhoe operator did an awesome job of keeping damage to a minimum. 
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There are five crepe myrtles in this bed. They are the main framework. I moved them here about two years ago. They have constantly been damaged by the winters but come summer when they bloom I really enjoy them so for now the crepe myrtles stay here. It was an easy decision to make a full bed and add the peonies as well. Between each crepe myrtle there are baptisias and daffodil bulbs. Eventually I'll have about a dozen or two of baptisias here but right now there are only about nine. To see them showcased check this post.
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The bed is about sixty feet long. I was able to fit in about 40 something peony plants. I laid the plants out according to colors in a manner I thought I'd find pleasing. The color blocks really work well. I don't think I would've been as happy if I just randomly scattered the colors in this bed.
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The yellow of the 'Carolina Moonlight' baptisias plays well off from the pinks, whites, reds, and maroons of the peonies. The bonus is the flower form of the baptisias is most complementary to the rounded and full bloom of the peonies. Those peonies look like cupcakes to me! That might be why I like them so much because I love cupcakes.
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To show you where this bed started we go back to October 2013. I was surprised to learn I had actually turned over the soil in this bed. Despite this the weeds such as lespedeza have been an issue. Lespedeza had long roots that are wiry and difficult to pull and I would've thought turning the bed would solve that issue. Starting new gardens in a former field is really a big pain. All of the peonies are dejectedly hanging out waiting for planting. The best time to move peonies is in the fall. All but a few of the transplants survived. You must leave a couple of eyes for the plant to grow. On some of the divisions I barely had one eye but that's okay. Dividing plants is free and I have plenty so I have replaced the few that have died.
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Here is another shot of the bed. It is so interesting to me to see how beds transform over the years. Fortunately for gardeners we have that kind of time and before you know it you have full mature gardens. This peony bed will continue to mature and get better as the years pass. One caveat, you might not wish to plant all of one kind of plant in a bed because if a disease or pest does strike it might take out the whole bed. That is an individual decision tho and as for me I chose to garden my way. The peonies have not been bothered by animals, they are in a prominent position and are doing well.....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden