six on Saturday, 4 July 2020

The stem structure of Hairy Angelica (Angelica venenosa) with its compound umbels of multiple rays ending in secondary umbels of small five-petaled flowers just seemed perfect for the featured photo for Six on Saturday, the 4th of July–a little plant fireworks for everyone.  I wrote about this native last June, but I find several more plants growing in the wooded area this year, and for the first time one of them is nearly six feet tall.  Because it is a native, and very much a favorite of bees, butterflies, and all sorts of small insects, Alabama plant sites recommend it over the non-native Queen Anne’s Lace.  It is, however, poisonous.  On that note, I’ll end this first entry for the week.

2. For my second entry I want to reprise an entry from two weeks ago.  I reported that some dahlias I had given up on were the promising to bloom.  And, at least one has.  I look forward to seeing which others will flower in a few weeks.  Notice that this plant has a bud developing in the upper center of the photo.


3. I also recently mentioned the daylily Hemerocallis fulva below.  I’ve included it again today to celebrate just how impressive this common “ditch lily” can be.

hemerocallis fulva

4. Hibiscus syriacus, or Althea, or Rose of Sharon, is next–and it is blooming in a variety of colors around the house and down the hill to the lake.  It is not a native, coming from south-central and southeast China, but it has certainly made itself at home in the Southeast US.  I have several shrubs 15 feet high, and one grouping nearly twice as high.

I can’t leave photos of Althea without including one with a bumble bee.  Unfortunately, as I took this photo after a rain earlier this week I also found a Japanese beetle enjoying the flowers.  I’ll keep a far less appreciative eye on that creature’s family and friends in the coming weeks.  I’ll also be on rose patrol.

5. The Limelight hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’) cuttings I took and rooted last year are coming along nicely.  Well, two of them are doing well.  There is another that is still in a small pot because I can’t decide where to transplant it.  All in all, I’m pleased with three of eight cuttings making it through their first year.

6. Finally, I the pear tree problem.  This tree, possibly Pyrus communis, is beautiful in the spring.  By this time of year, however, it becomes a squirrel buffet.  Pears never get to maturity.  They end up on the deck with bites taken out of them while they are still as hard and heavy as baseballs, but not nearly as big.  This year the pears are so numerous that some limbs have been broken by their weight as pictured below.  Also pictured is an example of the gnarled and erratic nature of the tree’s branching habit, which makes it very difficult to prune with a pole pruner.

pear4 pyrus communis

pear1 pyrus communis

In addition to the the mess from all of the bitten and cracked pears, and all the little squirrel crumbs taken over by the ants on the deck, the sound of those falling pears hitting the deck and the tin roof of the house can be quite disquieting in the middle of the night. Below are a before and an after pruning of the tree photo.  While it did make the situation better, it did not stop the dropping pears or feasting squirrels.

And that ends my six for this week, but does not end the pear tree problem.  Readers can connect with more successful problem solvers and gardens by going to the site of The Propagator.  Guidelines for joining the Six on Saturday postings can also be found there.  Visit gardens virtually and stay safe.



6 Replies to “six on Saturday, 4 July 2020”

  1. Susan, how did you do your hydrangea propagation? Did you root a cutting in soil? I have done a couple by taking a low branch, tearing a leaf off the branch and submerging the branch at the site of the cut into a pot of soil and placing a rock on top to keep it in the soil. After about a month, it has taken root and then you can sever it from the main bush and plant it. This has been very successful for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I cut a few branches into 3 or 4 inch cuttings, stripping the bottom leaves, then dipping that end in rooting compound. Then I pushed a finger-sized hole in some good potting soil in a small pot so the rooting compound would not be displaced as I slipped the cutting into the potting soil. Finally, I pressed soil around the cutting, watered, and watched. I’ve used something close to your method with azaleas.


  2. Most fruit trees need aggressive pruning that they rarely get. Some pears stay compact for a long time, but even they eventually need specialize winter pruning. They should not get so heavy that limbs break, although, since the fruit typically gets taken, this was not likely a problem before. I keep my fruit trees low so that I can reach almost all of the fruit from the ground. I would not want them high enough to drop fruit on the room.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tony. The tree was already large and tall when I bought the house in 1994. I kept it for shade and the spring show of blossoms rather than for fruit. I had it pruned a few years ago by the guy who does my heavy tree work. But maybe this winter it is time for it to be removed. It is also very close to an old oak tree, which I suppose will be happier if not invaded by pear branches. And I definitely prefer the oak.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There are two very old pears here that are so big that they make only a few tiny fruit that is too high to reach. However, it would be easier to plant new trees than to try to renovate the old trees. They just stay the way they are. Fortunately, without fruit, they do not break apart.


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