Pretty Excited to Nuture Leaf Mold This Year

IMG_3662So many folks in my neighborhood (Zone 8b) spend quite a lot of electricity and/or gasoline getting their fallen leaves in bags and onto the street curb these days. Not a lot of analog rake noises abound. And, here in my native deep South, the Live Oaks are the cause of so much local activity.

This candid culprit makes no apologies as it delivers a raucous leaf explosion this time of year. We love them so much whilst they herald the first day of Spring for us by shedding almost every dang brown leaf they have on board. With this kind of flotsam in an Oak lined drive….well, I get excited about the fallen leaves. They are so full of Nitrogen. Click here and here for all the great news!

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Queen of the Nymphs

This is my first one. The first one I have ever seen, much less, in it’s native lands. What a lucky find for me in Indonesia! The Nelumbo nucifera, or Lotus flower, was originally name in the genus of Nymphaea, or Water Lilly, only to be re-classified very recently. And, why this re-classification, you might ask? Wow. Check this out: The Lotus Flower is discovered to have thermoregulating powers. The Lotus warms itself, much like a human, to about 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit (and, thereabouts) during the pollination season to keep itself warm for it’s insect pollinators! What?? Thought by the Greeks to be goddesses of the Springs to compliment the gods of the Rivers, they still have their peacock proud, majestic, nympho-like allure, don’t they? Nelumbo or not.

Oh, The Linden Tree

Or, Tilia japonica, to be exact. Not to be confused with Tilia cordata or Tilia europa…though, this nearly perfect plant grows in so many different cultures of the world that I find myself falling in love with it for it’s open mindedness. My great friend Mark and I strolled along this romantic path together in Tokyo and this is the photograph that he snapped. Imagine my surprise to find this London like boulevard of Linden in Asia. The Linden is truly egalitarian and upright and social (can be crowded and planted quite close to another one) and healthy. It is no wonder so much of the world’s greatest writers have penned homages to this one. Here is a poem in the

    Paris Review

about the Linden just for you.

Do You Say Pecan or Pacane?

I don’t know how many Americans would recognize this grove at this distance to be a quintessential Pecan grove, but, most Southerners do. We live amongst so many of these deciduous trees and pull the fruit of them from our windshield wipers all Fall and Winter long. Every time the breeze kicks up, Pecans fall all over our landscape and our grandmothers bake pies. This particular grove is part of Brookland Plantation in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. And, I always find the leafless fields in the cold season to be a lonely and lovely sight. I came across a really fantastic article here from the American Forests website, written by a botanist named Jeff Ball, that points out that the word pecan comes from the Algonquin tribe of American aboriginal/First Nations inhabitants to mean the nut so hard as to require a stone to crack. Maybe the Algonquins didn’t run across the Sumner Paper Shell variety or maybe that variety is a modern grafting product and didn’t exist when the tribe was pounding the nut wondering what they should call it. Mainly, I sit around and ponder the reason there is such a nasty, bitter slice in between so tasty and wonderful a prize. And, of course I can get into a conversation about the pronunciation…So how do YOU pronounce the word? It still is unsettled with me.

Longleaf Pine

I shot this photograph while touring the coastal plain of South Carolina. The Longleaf pine, Pinus palustris, is the probably the most majestic of the natives of the forest of the savanna reaching heights of 100 feet. The natural resistance to forest fires creates this particular habitat above of wide open spaces and pine needle beds. Early settlers of the states released their hogs to feed beneath these trees and the hogs took to the environment nibbling away at the saplings causing a disruption in the ecosystem. This disruption and endangerment to the tree, introduced by man, has consequences that continue today. One emergency that comes to mind is the endangered Red-cockaded Woodpecker, which is dependent upon this beauty for her seeds. But, don’t stop here if you are reading this post. There is so much interesting information available on the web including Wikipedia about this tree. The Longleaf Alliance might make a better read on this subject than my attempt here today, as well. Please go see.

Winter and the Beach: Grasses, Reeds and Rushes

dsc_261dsc_17dsc_18Okay, I am still on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina and dreaming of Piet Oudolf designs. Why else would I want to sculpt a topiary tunnel up the pathway? His combination of boxwood and natural grasses are legendary in Europe. Now he has just finished the High Line garden design in New York City. And, we can all learn from Oudolf: plant native grasses. They are so indelibly conservation savvy. And, look how pretty, too.

Succulents Have A Great Name

dsc_0059I found this guy tangled in sand spurs and sand dunes on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina. Still trying to find out the botanical classification of it, since succulents make me swoon. Why are they called succulent? Dictionary dot com says the definition of the word succulent is rich in desirable qualities. And, juicy. Wow. No wonder we love them so. I am quite sure this one guy is a sedum. Sedum is the large stonecrop genus of the Crassulaceae, representing about 400 species of leaf succulents throughout North America. Prized as a green roof garden plant. Some are cold hardy. Some are heat tolerant. Most are neither both. So choose your species wisely and start planting today!