I have not posted anything for Six on Saturday for a few weeks now; the reason can be found in the featured photo above. The storms that ravaged the Southeast U.S. on Easter Sunday, 12 April 2020, took with them several trees on the fringes of the wooded portion of the garden and one in the middle of it. I’ve been doing lots of clean up and damage control pruning since then. One of the two trees above was dead, left in place for the woodpeckers and the beetles. The other, a tall 70 or 80-foot spruce, showed no obvious signs of being at risk. But the photo to the left reminds me that any tall tree might be at risk in the winds that accompany the powerful, tornado-threatening storms the Southeast is experiencing. Although this one does seems to have been weakened at the bottom, the tree was snapped above the base, as was the dead tree beyond it. Both damaged several other trees when they fell.
Because of the size of the trunks and the massive gathering of debris, the wood had to be removed from the hill–something far easier said than done. The terrain below the ridge where the trees fell is steep and inaccessible except by foot. Everything had to be extracted by an excavator. Leaving it all in place was untenable. Fortunately, the excavator operator’s mother and wife are gardeners. He knew what he was driving through and over and was wonderfully careful to do as little damage as possible to plantings. Still, the result is a new “road” thorough an area that was home to oakleaf hydrangeas, mapleleaf viburnum, dwarf irises, Carolina lilies, rudbeckias, and a variety of other native wildflowers.
2. That story comprises my first item for Six on Saturday. The second is a happier story in the midst of tree chaos. Another mature spruce fells very close to the small shade garden below. It took out a young maple and did significant damage to a well-established Leyland cypress, still the hostas were spared!
3. Except for those that became a roadbed, many of the wild flowers are doing well, especially what is commonly called lanceleaf tickseed, or more specifically, lanceleaf coreopsis (Coreopsis lanceolata). A native wildflower, it comes up where it will in sunnier parts of the garden. But it is so plentiful this spring that I think I will try to transplant some and to save seed to start a larger patch in full sun next year.
4. In the second photo above, lanceleaf coreopsis became a volunteer companion flower for variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’), which brings me to my forth entry: false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum). This North American native has a superficial resemblance to Solomon’s seal–hence the name “false Solomon’s seal.”
Just a quick comparison, though, reveals a significantly difference stem structure and flowering habit. Maianthemum racemosum is on the left below, and Polygonatum odoratum on the right.
5. During the past couple of weeks I was able to identify two unknown native shrubs in the landscape by their flowers. Both have wonderful common names. The first is deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum). Although native to North American, including Ontario and supposedly even parts of Mexico, it is most common in the Southeast. I’d call it a rather unassuming shrub, but there is something calming in its soft round shape and somewhat velvety light green leaves this time of year. This spring’s flowering is the most abundant I have seen. According to Carolina Nature, the fruits stay green when ripe and are tasty only to deer–therefore the name!
6. Big leaf snowbells (Styrax grandifolius) is the second. I don’t have much to say about this deciduous Southeastern native other than it has taken me some time to identify it. As with the deerberry, the big leaf snowbells had more abundant flowers this spring than I have ever noticed before–and the flowers were my key to identification. The flowers are also quite delicate and lovely, and a nice image to end on.
Readers need not end here, though. There are many more “Six on Saturday” gardens to visit worldwide by going to the The Propagator’s site and browsing the comments.