Wednesday Vignette

 

 

Because things are the way they are, things will not stay the way they are. — Bertolt Brecht

I walk around this lake a couple of times most weeks.
It’s never the same.
It’s a good reminder.

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Wednesday vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum.
danger garden and Dirt Therapy participate, too.

Field Trip in Winter

I’m taking a winter botany class through adult education this month. One of our walks was  along Mink Brook, in Hanover, NH. As our class stood in the parking area, we spotted two minks, chasing each other along the bank of the brook! I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to capture it, unfortunately, but it was thrilling to see them. The only other place I have seen mink, twice, was along creeks on Jekyll Island, GA.

I went back to the trails a couple of days later and took a few different paths. Didn’t see the mink that day, but here are some other photos of flora and fauna (mostly flora, because winter botany), plus snowy landscape views. Hope you enjoy.

minkbrookwithtracksoftwominkssnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
You can see the minks’ tracks along the snowy shore!

There’s a kiosk with trail maps and other info near the small parking area off Route 10 in Hanover (there’s also a bigger parking lot up the hill from the trails).

kiosksignmapsnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
kiosk

The Mink Brook Nature Preserve is a 112-acre preserve meant to protect habitat for wild brook trout, waterfowl, black bears, minks, et al.

mallardducksfemalesplashingblackduckminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
mallards and a black duck
femalemallardducksplashingminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
female mallard shaking it in the brook
blackduckminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
black duck

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There are two brooks in the preserve, the smaller Trout Brook and the larger Mink Brook, which is a direct tributary to the Connecticut River, which eventually flows into the Long Island Sound.

minkbrookwatericesnowtreesminkbrooknp23feb2017
brook through snow
brookcurveiceminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
icy curving brook
brooksnowfogtreesminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
mist rising over snow and brook
brookbridgecrosswithcareicysnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
“Cross with care” — icy bridge over roaring brook

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Then look out for the little brook in March,
When the rivers overflow,
And the snows come hurrying from the hills,
And the bridges often go.
Emily Dickinson)

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The Upper Valley Land Trust collaborated with the Conservancy to buy the Preserve and it now holds the conservation easement; also part of the same trail system are the Angelo Tanzi Tract, owned by the Town of Hanover.

hanoverconservancyminkbrooksignminkbrooknp23feb2017
The Hanover Conservancy oversees Mink Brook Nature Preserve
tanzitractsignaboutinvasiveplantsminkbrooknp23feb2017
Tanzi Tract sign about invasive species

The main trail runs atop the Hanover sewer system, as you can see by the many sewer covers along the way, obvious even in the snow.

hanoversewer1976manholecoversnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
sewer

The Conservancy, the Hanover Lions Club, and other volunteers have worked to control invasive buckthorn, honeysuckle, barberry, and Japanese knotweed that had overrun the floodplain, then replanted with 2,000 native trees and shrubs, including silver and red maple, red osier dogwood, and elderberry, selected because they are adapted to changes in water levels and provide wildlife food and cover. (We still saw buckthorn, barberry, and knotweed on our walks, though.)

Pets are allowed so long as they are under voice control and their people pick up their waste (which not everyone does, I noticed). Fishing is also permitted, though trapping, hunting, biking, and camping aren’t.

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Herewith, some trees and evidence of trees and shrubs:

acerspicatummountainmaplebudminkbrooknp23feb2017
bud of mountain maple (Acer spicatum)
coryluscornutabeakedhazelnutcatkintwotonebudminkbrooknp23feb2017
Beaked hazelnut catkin (Corylus cornuta)
populusdeltoidescottonwoodtreetrunkbarkcloseminkbrooknp23feb2017
Cottonwood tree (Populus deltoides) bark
boxelderbudscloseminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
bud of box elder (Acer negundo)
redmapletreeleafsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
red maple (Acer rubrum) leaf in snow
smallwhiteoaktreetrunkbarksnowMinkBrookNP23Feb2017
white oak (Quercus alba) trunk
whiteoaktreeleavesminkbrooknp23feb2017
white oak (Quercus alba) leaves

carpinuscarolinianasspvirginianamusclewoodamericanhornbeamtreetrunkbarksnowminkbrooknp23feb2017

Musclewood aka blue beech aka American hornbeam tree (Carpinus caroliniana ssp. virginiana) tree trunk

witchhazelflowersbranchesMinkBrookNPHanoverNH25Feb2017
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) stems with flowers
witchhazelflowersminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
witch hazel (Hamamelis virginiana) flowers
treestanzitractsnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
trees in snow

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And perennials, wildflowers:

thistleflowerheadsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
thistle
damesrockethesperidesmatronalisseedssnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
probably Dame’s Rocket (Hesperides matronalis) seedhead
burdockbristlesbybrookminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
Burdock (Arctium sp.) burrs by brook

Two of the three kinds of goldenrod galls:

The first shown is the ball gall (aka apple gall), which forms in late spring when the Goldenrod Gall Fly (Eurosta solidaginis) lays an egg on a goldenrod stem: “After the egg hatches about ten days later, the hungry larva eats its way into the stem and forms a feeding/living chamber. This stimulates the host plant to create the ball gall, which provides more space and a lot more succulent goldenrod cells on which the grub can dine all summer long.” The ball starts out green and shiny like the stem but over time it turns brown and eventually this purple shade. Inside the gall — though not this one, as a downy woodpecker seems to have bored its way in — a small fly larva overwinters by replacing its fluids with glycerol, a sort of larva antifreeze. (source for more info and pics)

purplebluegallsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
ball gall

The second is called a bunch gall (or a flower gall) and occurs only in Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). It’s caused by  a Goldenrod Gall Midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis) that lays its egg in a leaf bud: “After the grub hatches, its presence somehow keeps the stem from growing and elongating, even though the goldenrod continues to produce leaves. This results in a tight, flower-like cluster of foliage, usually at the top of the goldenrod’s main stalk. Although the Goldenrod Gall Midge is the only insect known to cause a bunch gall, the heavily leaved cluster may become home to a diverse assemblage of arthropods, including spiders and other midge species; for this reason, the Goldenrod Gall Midge has been referred to as an ‘ecosystem engineer.'” (source)  There were lots of these on one side of the brook.

wildflowerheadsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis) flower gall

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Finally, ferns, lichen, moss:

ostrichfernsporeheadsnowminkbrooknp23feb2017
Ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) spore frond
orangeyellowlichentreetrunkminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
yellow lichen
greenmossashtreetrunksnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
green moss on a white ash tree (Fraxinus americana)
christmasfernsnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides) in snow
chartreusemosslichensnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
chartreuse moss and some lichen, on a log in snow

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Sometimes, I just like the look of rocks:

colourfulorangeyellowrocksnowminkbrooknphanovernh25feb2017
colourful orange rock

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wateraquaticplantssnowbrookMinkBrookNP23Feb2017
a little glimpse of wetland through the snow
iceinbrooktreeshadowsMinkBrookNPHanoverNH25Feb2017
ice in the brook, with trees and shadows

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I slip, I slide, I gloom, I glance,
Among my skimming swallows;
I make the netted sunbeam dance
Against my sandy shallows.

I murmur under moon and stars
In brambly wildernesses;
I linger by my shingly bars;
I loiter round my cresses;

And out again I curve and flow
To join the brimming river,
For men may come and men may go,
But I go on for ever.

— last lines of “The Brook Poem,” Alfred Lord Tennyson

The Urge to Tame

snowsideyardvegetablegarden17feb2017

Well, there’s a foot or two of snow on the ground here, but it’s time to order seedlings! I sent in my order yesterday to a new place (for me), Good Earth Farm in Weare, NH (I’ve never even been to Weare. Where? Weare.)

pretty beet seed packet
pretty beet seed packet

This year, in a break from past planting seasons, I’ve decided to go with seedlings almost exclusively, and eschew seeds almost completely. I have always had a lot of trouble planting seeds but persisted because a. their packets are so appealing, b. they seem like a good value, c. there are so many varieties of seeds.

nasturtium seeds planted and marked
nasturtium seeds planted and marked

But because I plant vegetables, herbs, and annual flowers not only in rows in a sort-of-dedicated vegetable garden (that also has perennials and annual flowers in it), but also among perennials, bulbs, and shrubs, I tend to lose track of where the seeds are entirely — even when I take photos of them in their planted spots — or if I plant them “as soon as the ground can be worked,” as is often advised, I’d learn a month or two later that some ninja perennial had leafed out, spread out, and otherwise completely (and literally) overshadowed the little seeds, which only wanted sun + water to survive. I just could not keep track of the little rascals.

seeds in vegetable bed
seeds in vegetable bed

Even in the vegetable bed, except for large seeds like green beans and peas (I love you, legume seeds), I felt the soil was too coarse to really plant them well. I’d scatter and then have to thin 90% of the seeds, which ended up feeling tragic and seeming a waste of money, time, and life force rather than a good value.

probably the only seeds I'll be planting this year
probably the only seeds I’ll be planting this year

So. This year — other than for peas — it’s seedlings all the way, little plants that I can see from the get-go.

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Here’s what I ordered from Good Earth Farm, and will pick up in late May to plant in my yard by early June:

Perennials
3 4″ pots organic ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ echinacea – red, orange, purple, yellow, or white! (from Johnny’s Seeds)

Annuals
2 4″ pots Chocolate Covered Cherry’ coleus – “rose and mahogany leaves” (Harris Seeds)
1 six-pack organic ‘Standard Mix’ Bachelor Button – pink, blue, violet, white
1 six-pack organic ‘Alpha’ Calendula – orange
1 six-pack ‘New Day Formula Mix’ Gazania (I love this annual!) – bronze, orange, yellow, white
1 six-pack ‘Vanilla’ Marigold – white/cream
1 six-pack organic ‘Jewel Mix’ Nasturtium – red, orange, yellow
1 six-pack ‘Lime’  Benary’s Giant Zinnia — three feet tall!
1 six-pack ‘Queen Red Lime’ Zinnia – pink/burgundy petals with lime centre
1 six-pack ‘Benary’s Giant Mix’ Zinnia
(I do love zinnias)

Herbs – all organic, grown from either Johnny’s Seeds or Fedco, except the thyme, from High Mowing Seeds
4 4″ pots organic Arugula
2 4″ pots organic ‘Bouquet’ Dill
3 4″ pots organic Thyme
1 six-pack organic ‘Aroma 2’ (organic classic Genovese) green Basil
1 six-pack organic ‘Giant of Italy’ flat Parsley

Vegetables – all grown from Johnny’s, Fedco, or High Mowing Seeds
1 six-pack organic ‘Provider’ bush Beans
1 six-pack ‘Diva’ Cucumber
1 six-pack organic ‘Marketmore’ Cucumber
1 six-pack organic romaine mix (‘Jericho’ green and ‘Marshall’ red) Lettuce
1 six pack organix ‘Yellow Crookneck’ Summer Squash
1 six-pack ‘Bright Lights’ Swiss Chard
4 4″ pots ‘New Ace’ red Bell Pepper
2 4″ pots ‘Sun Gold’ gold cherry Tomatoes
2 4″ pots ‘Tomatoberry Garden’ red cherry Tomatoes
2 4″ pots ‘Honey Bunch Red Grape’ grape Tomatoes

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The tips for choosing, planting, and caring for vegetables on Good Earth’s website are very useful for me. For example, although I know cucumbers and tomatoes like warm soil, I didn’t realise I should water them both with warm water, at least the first week, and probably delay planting the cuke seedlings until the 1st or 2nd week of June, when night temperatures are warmer. Makes sense; I just never thought of it. And now I know not to put straw around the tomatoes right away, when the soil is cold, because straw reflects some of that hard-to-come-by spring sunlight and warmth; I should wait until the end of June or start of July to apply the straw.

green bean seedlings
green bean seedlings

I also learned not to separate the bean seedlings, which will be planted 2 or 3 to each cell in the six-pack, because that would disturb their roots, but rather I should plant them as a cell clump and leave 4″ between the clumps. Probably this root disturbance is an issue with other seedlings planted more than one plant in a cell and may be the reason for some past transplant failures.

I’m looking forward to meeting my new plants in three months and tucking them into the soil here, confident that I will be able to find them again. Photos of the seedlings in situ coming in June!

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“But each spring…a gardening instinct, sure as the sap rising in the trees, stirs within us. We look about and decide to tame another little bit of ground.” — Lewis Gantt

Wednesday Vignette

lacyeatenleafpairsnowartsyspnhftrailsconcord19feb2017

“Ever seen a leaf – a leaf from a tree?”
“Yes.”
“I saw one recently – a yellow one, a little green, wilted at the edges. Blown by the wind. When I was a little boy, I used to shut my eyes in winter and imagine a green leaf, with veins on it, and the sun shining …”
“What’s this — an allegory?”
“No; why? Not an allegory – a leaf, just a leaf. A leaf is good. Everything’s good.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Possessed

(Wednesday vignette is brought to us by Flutter & Hum)

Field Trip: Atlantic White Cedar Swamp and Bog

The Atlantic White Cedar Swamp in Bradford, NH, is a good example of an inland cedar swamp (others in NH are Cooper Cedar Woods in New Durham and Loverens Mill Preserve in Antrim; I haven’t been to either). These inland swamps, located more than 30 miles from the coast and at an elevation higher than 500 ft., are known for their quite acidic (pH 3.4 to 4.8) and usually wet soil. At the end of the swamp trail (mostly boardwalk) is the Bradford Bog, which is really a fen — a medium-level fen system, to be exact. There’s a short observation tower from which to view the bog and the surrounding hills.

view from atop observation deck
view from atop observation deck

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I’ve visited the swamp and bog four times, in August of 2014, May of 2015, October of 2016, and just this past weekend, when the snow was about 18 inches deep, or more. We parked on the narrowly plowed edge of E. Washington Rd., then when we left we saw that there was a large plowed parking area a hundred yards or so farther up the road that we could have used if we had seen it. There was no plowed path into the trail but the kiosk was visible over the snow mound; with snowshoes on, it was easy to clamber over the snow and onto the trail, which was fairly well packed down by others who’d used it before us (we saw only one family in the 2 hours or so we spent here).

washingtonstkioskbehindsnowmoundsbradfordbognh18feb2017

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What’s nice about winter, snow, and snowshoeing is that you can travel off-trail in these wet bogs, swamps, and lowlands, without damaging the delicate plants or risking being sucked into eternal mummification beneath the mossy hummocks, dark standing water, and/or peat moss. We took a couple of side trails that are often too wet to walk, and once we reached the bog at the end of the trail, we were able to trek all through it, which is not possible or advisable at other times of the year.

snowyfieldblacksprucetreeshillsbradfordbognh18feb2017

Usually, you don’t get this view of the observation tower, taken from in the bog:sideviewobservationdecksnowsprucetreesbradfordbognh18feb2017

There was some animal fur in the bog snow:

fewinchesgreydarkfursnowbradfordbognh18feb2017

Views around the bog in winter and in other seasons:

blacksprucebogsnowskyhillbradfordbognh18feb2017

view in October
view in October

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blacksprucebogsnowblueskyhillsbbradfordbognh18feb2017

view in May
view in May
view in October
view in October
closer October view
closer October view

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blacksprucebogsnowblueskyhillscbradfordbognh18feb2017

view in May
view in May

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And as doors to the next world go, a bog ain’t a bad choice. It’s not quite water and it’s not quite land – it’s an in-between place.” ― Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

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The downside to visiting in winter is that you can see only a few of the species common to this community: the Atlantic white cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) of course, as well as red spruce (Picea rubens), black spruce (Picea mariana), balsam fir (Abies balsamea), eastern larch (Larix laricina), sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia), rhodora (Rhododendron canadense), some lichen. And of course, no butterflies or other insects were out.

Rhodora:

And Rhodora in the spring:

rhodora, seen in May
rhodora, seen in May

Black Spruce:

Lichens:

Larches:

larches, spruce against sky
larches, spruce against sky

And larches at other times:

larch tree, seen in October
larch tree, seen in October
larch branch, seen in August
larch branch, seen in August

Atlantic White Cedar:

Atlantic White Cedar with sign
Atlantic White Cedar with sign

And a non-snow shot of the trunks, with mosses:

white cedar trunks, with mosses, seen in August
white cedar trunks, with mosses, seen in August

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Off the main swamp trail, I also found some stands of speckled alder (Alnus incana) growing, as well as winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and cherry birch (Betula lenta), and some polypore fungi on a white birch snag:

birch polypore
birch polypore

Alder:

speckled alder buds
speckled alder buds
speckled alder cones
speckled alder cones

 

Winterberry:

redberriesilexverticillatawinterberrybradfordbognh18feb2017

Cherry birch – the bark smells strongly of wintergreen!:

cherry birch bud
cherry birch bud
cherry birch bark
cherry birch bark

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In other seasons, you might see (those in bold are pictured below) black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), northern highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), three-seeded sedge (Carex trisperma), bluebead lily aka Clintonia (Clintonia borealis), creeping snowberry (Gaultheria hispidula),  wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), bunchberry (Cornus canadensis), bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), bog cotton (Eriophorum angustifolium or the tawny variety, E. virginicum ), pitcher plants (Sarracenia purpurea), pink lady slippers (Cypripedium acaule), painted trillum (Trillium undulatum), spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), star flower (Trientalis borealis), three-leaved goldthread (Coptis trifolia), Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) …

Vaccinium corymbosum (northern highbush blueberry) flowers, seen in May
Vaccinium corymbosum (northern highbush blueberry) flowers, seen in May
Clintonia in bloom, seen in May
Clintonia in bloom, seen in May
wintergreen, seen in October
wintergreen, seen in October
mass of wintergreen, seen in October
mass of wintergreen, seen in October
bunchberry, seen in August
bunchberry, seen in August

 

lots of bog cotton, seen in August
lots of bog cotton, seen in August
pitcher plants, seen in August
pitcher plants, seen in August
Lady slippers and star flowers, seen in May
Lady slippers and star flowers, seen in May
painted trillium, seen in May
painted trillium, seen in May
spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), seen in August
spotted wintergreen (Chimaphila maculata), seen in August
three-leaved goldthread (Coptis trifolia) in bloom, seen in May
three-leaved goldthread (Coptis trifolia) in bloom, seen in May
Indian cucumber root, seen in May
Indian cucumber root, seen in May

and many kinds of mosses, ferns, and fungi:

Clavulina fusiformus (coral fungi), seen in August
Clavulina fusiformus (coral fungi), seen in August
taffy-like Clavulina fusiformus (coral fungus), seen in August
taffy-like Clavulina fusiformus (coral fungus), seen in August
blurry Trichoglossum hirsutum (Black Earth Tongue fungus), seen in August
blurry Trichoglossum hirsutum (Black Earth Tongue fungus), seen in August
unidentified red curly fungi, seen in August
unidentified red curly fungi, seen in August
underside of a likely Lactarius fungus, seen in August
underside of a likely Lactarius fungus, seen in August
yellow jelly fungi, seen in October
yellow jelly fungi, seen in October
fern, seen in May
fern, seen in May
moss along boardwalk, seen in August
moss along boardwalk, seen in August
mossy stump with fungi, seen in August
mossy stump with fungi, seen in August

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“In a swamp, as in meditation, you begin to glimpse how elusive, how inherently insubstantial, how fleeting our thoughts are, our identities. There is magic in this moist world, in how the mind lets go, slips into sleepy water, … how it seeps across dreams, smears them into the upright world, rots the wood of treasure chests, welcomes the body home.” ― Barbara Hurd, Stirring the Mud: On Swamps, Bogs, and Human Imagination

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For More Info:

Inland White Cedar Swamp, Natural Communities of NH, at NH Division of Forests and Lands

Map and info at Ausbon Sargent Land Preservation Trust

The Ecology of Atlantic White Cedar Wetlands:  A Community Profile, 1989 report of the Fish & Wildlife Service, U.S. Dept. of the Interior. 125 pp PDF

Atlantic white-cedar: Ecology and Best Management Practices Manual, by Kristin A. Mylecraine and George L. Zimmermann, Dept of Environmental Protection, New Jersey, 2000. 19 pp PDF.

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As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible but more mysterious. – Albert Schweitzer, “Paris Notes”

 

 

Gardens in Other Climates

Recently I’ve travelled in Savannah, GA, Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, at the northern end of Florida, and Jekyll Island, GA. As I walked trails, Savannah’s city squares and botanical garden, and looked at plantings in yards and public spaces in these locales, I couldn’t help but notice again how different not only the vegetation along trails is from what I see in northern New England, but also how different are the plants in the created gardens.

This small succulent garden, on the corner of Jasmine and Fletcher streets in Fernandina Beach, across the road from the beach, was a favourite; the sign said it was installed by Rockstar Gardens (get it?).

succulentgardenjasmineandfletcherbfernandinabeachfl22dec2016 succulentgardenjasmineandfletcherfernandinabeachfl22dec2016 succulentgardenjasmineandfletcherpurpleflowerfernandinabeachfl22dec2016

Although the garden has an exotic, tropical appeal to me, some of the plants look not unlike the sedums and ice plants in my own garden, 1,200 miles away:

Delosperma 'Jewel of Desert Topaz' ice plant
Delosperma ‘Jewel of Desert Topaz’ ice plant
Sedum 'Hab Grey'
Sedum ‘Hab Grey’
Sedum cauticola, with oregano and lupine
Sedum cauticola, with oregano and lupine
sedum whose name I can't recall
sedum whose name I can’t recall
Sedum selskianum 'Spirit'
Sedum selskianum ‘Spirit’

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In Savannah, in some of the downtown squares as well as in the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, I saw Giant Leopard Plant (Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’), which is very similar to the Ligularia stenocephala ‘Little Rocket’ we plant in our gardens (some do; I haven’t) in New England. 

Ligularia tussilaginea 'Gigantea' in a downtown Savannah square
Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’ in a downtown Savannah square
Ligularia tussilaginea 'Gigantea' at Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, outside Savannah
Ligularia tussilaginea ‘Gigantea’ at Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens, outside Savannah

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This planter, on a street in Savannah, is more familiar than not:

herbsplanterssidewalksavannahga31dec2016

The sage, rosemary, lavender, and (I think) thyme or oregano in these pots is similar to what’s in my herb container in NH — with rosemary, tarragon, and parsley — except that mine is now covered in snow:

As is the sage in my sunroom border:

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On Bull Street in Savannah (and probably elsewhere in town) there are small plantings along the sidewalk that include edible plants and others — I think I see rosemary in the top photo here, and perhaps Brussels sprouts, though it’s probably ornamental cabbage; plus the lush foxtail fern, and penta, lantana, and ‘Diamond Frost’ euphorbia (in the bottom photo), all annuals here, the latter of which never seems to survive even a few weeks for me.

herbedibleplantingsidewalkbullstsavannahga18dec2016herbedibleplantingsidewalkbbullstsavannahga18dec2016

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In the Jekyll Island historic district, there’s this planter with dead nettle (Lamium sp.), which is also perennial here in NH, and it looks like perhaps a heuchera or a tiarella, also perennials in NH (and tiarella grows wild):

My dead nettle and tiarella:

purple dead nettle and yellow archangel in shade garden, June 2016
purple dead nettle and yellow archangel in shade garden, June 2016
tiarella in bloom, June 2016
tiarella in bloom, June 2016

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In the market/shops area of Jekyll Island, there are containers of neon, tropical plants, quite different from what’s normally seen here in northern New England even in summer as hothouse annuals, much less in December:

plantersshopsjekyllislandga31dec2016
Duranta ‘Goldmound’, Phormium ‘Cha Cha’, Diascia species (with orange flowers), Brassica oleracea cultivars (kale) including B. oleacea ‘Peacock White’ and a Cordyline, possibly ‘Red Sensation’ (the red grassy looking plant).
tropicalplanteroutsidekennedysjekyllislandga27dec2016
Strelitzia nicolai (sometimes calle Wild Banana), Matthiola incana double cultivar (stock), and Brassica oleracea cultivar (ornamental cabbage).

(IDs for two planters above are by someone else, not me!)

By contrast, here’s one of the containers at The Fells, in Newbury, NH, this past June, with coleus (an annual here) and dahlias, which have to be dug up, stored in a basement or other cool dark spot, and replanted each year; and by no means will they bloom outside in December:

redflowerincontaineroldgardenfells27june2016

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Finally, in downtown Fernandina Beach, just before Christmas there were containers of tropical canna lilies, hardy in zones 8-12 but not in my zone 4 or 5:

orangecannaliliesstreetplanterfernandinabeachfl22dec2016

Since I can’t have canna lilies in my climate, I’ve planted crocosmia bulbs, which are hardy here and provide a showy tropical display that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies for several months:

 

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Just looking at these photos almost convinces me that spring is just around the corner. Almost.

M2E71L216-216R408B332

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(Featured image: ginger plants in Wright Square in Savannah, December 2016)

The Dead Months

Go to the winter woods: listen there; look, watch, and ‘the dead months’ will give you a subtler secret than any you have yet found in the forest. ~ Fiona Macleod

True, not much blooms in December in northern New England (witch hazel is an exception), but there is still a lot to notice in the winter woods — and in the winter fields, streams, lakes, marshes, hillsides, town landscapes.

Some photos taken in the garden, on a walk in Concord NH, and at the nearby lake, from 1-10 December:

In the garden …

Pieris japonica by day and night (5 December) —

Animals on the motion camera —

Fox (2nd, 4th, and 6th Dec)

Deer (1st, 3rd, and 7th Dec)

Birds (mourning doves, blue jays, cardinals) and Squirrels (2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th Dec)

Other garden photos —

6:30 a.m. 1 December - rain puddle on motion camera
6:30 a.m. 1 December – rain puddle on motion camera
5 Dec - bark of dogwood shrub
5 Dec – bark of dogwood shrub
6 Dec - veggie garden
6 Dec – veggie garden

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On the Winant Trails, Concord NH … 3rd December

large oak tree
large oak tree
moody field
moody field
water reflection in oak leaves
water reflection in oak leaves
beech leaves
beech leaves
club moss strobili
club moss strobili
very white birch tree
very white birch tree

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At the lake …

Stump cairn (1st and 10th Dec) —

Water inflow (1st and 10th Dec) —

Other lake photos —

lichen on tree, 1 Dec
lichen on tree, 1 Dec
view of picnic area, 6 Dec
view of picnic area, 6 Dec
snowy road, 6 Dec
snowy road, 6 Dec
lake with ice, 10 Dec
lake with ice, 10 Dec

 

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It was beginning winter.
An in-between time.
The landscape still partly brown:
The bones of weeds kept swinging in the wind,
Above the blue snow.

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It was beginning winter.
The light moved slowly over the frozen field,
Over the dry seed-crowns,
The beautiful surviving bones
Swinging in the wind.

*

Light traveled over the wide field;
Stayed.
The weeds stopped swinging.
The wind moved, not alone,
Through the clear air, in the silence.

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— “It Was Beginning Winter” by Theodore Roethke

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