Creating a wildlife haven one plant at a time

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pitcher Plant

Today, Fer at my little garden in japan is hosting a carnival of favorite plants where garden bloggers are asked to showcase their favorite plant. What a dilemma. This is like asking me to pick a favorite child....IMPOSSIBLE! So I have decided to profile a plant which I have been fascinated with this past year....the pitcher plant (Sarracenia).

It is a spectacular plant. The pitchers are actually modified leaves with sealed bottoms. Insects are attracted to the pitchers because they mimic flowers. Notice that the color is more intense at the mouth of the plant.

Flies, bees, moths and other insects are lured inside then slip to the bottom of the trap where they drown and dissolve in the plant's digestive juices.

mosquito crawling up plant

Fun Fact: Some pitcher plants are home to small caterpillars that use the inside of the plant to pupate and metamorphose into an adult moth. 

In the spring the pitcher plant produces beautiful flowers which are harmless to insects and in fact contain pollen and nectar just like conventional blooms.

Pitcher Plant Bloom

In the Southeast United States the pitcher plant is threatened by habitat destruction. The Atlanta Botanical Garden is the national collection holder for the genus Sarracenia as appointed by the North American Plant Collections Consortium. They showcase species found in natural bog habitats in the wild.

Sarracenia in natural bog habitat (ABG)

If you live in the area or are visiting Atlanta I highly recommend taking a tour of the gardens. The pitcher plants are best viewed April through October as they go dormant during the winter months. I am in the planning stage of installing a bog garden in my backyard and will certainly blog about it as it becomes a reality. Until then I am sharing photographs of pitcher plants that I have taken on Garden Tours and visits to various Botanical Gardens.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

A glimpse at my Japanese Maples

One of my favorite tree is the Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). According to the Arbor Day Foundation it is named Acer palmatum after the hand like shape of its leaves.

They look so delicate yet they have a toughness about them and are very versatile. They come in countless forms, color, leaf types, sizes and preferred growing conditions (shade/part shade/sun).

Every November my Japanese Maples never fail to disappoint.

They transform from this lovely summer green

to this most brilliant red.

My Coral bark maple (Sango-kaku) was purchased earlier this year for a sunnier spot in my woodland garden. It had lovely lime green leaves

that turned this gorgeous golden yellow a few weeks ago.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing its pink bark during our winter months.

This lace leaf cultivar (Tamukeyama) is in the sun-dappled part of my woodland garden in a pot with a lot of loamy soil and organic material.

It too gave a fabulous performance of burgundy red before it started to drop its leaves.

The Japanese maples are a very showy and versatile species and a sensation in any garden. I love them for their brilliant fall color but also for their wonderful hues in spring and summer and interesting bark characteristics during the winter months. They are so adaptable and blend well with companion plants. Most importantly they represent calmness and peace which is a what I strive for in my garden setting.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A visit to Reedy Falls Park

Earlier this week my kids and I took a trip over to Greenville, South Carolina to explore Reedy Falls Park. I had heard good things about the park so I was very interested in visiting and what a breathtaking place it is!

The 26 acre park was reclaimed by the Carolina Foothills Garden Club in 1967 with the support of the City of Greenville and Furman University. Over the span of 40 years the park developed into what it is today; an amazing collection of "garden rooms" designed by landscape architect Andrea Mains. The gardens are open year-round and provide seasonal interest with a blend of native plants, ornamental grasses and artistic elements. In 2007 the Garden Club received the American Horticulture Society's "Urban Beautification Award".

We started our walk in the Spring Falls Garden which was an incredibly serene place with towering trees and a golden canopy of autumn leaves.

Walking down tree roots littered with fallen leaves which served as natural steps

revealed pools of water swirling with fallen leaves


and an assortment of ferns and hellebores.

We lingered in the woods but our curiosity kept pushing us along to see what was up ahead. We emerged onto The Meadow Garden which was filled with ornamental grasses and a wonderful grassy knoll to sit and just take everything in.

The Cascade Garden was a wonderful mix of Yucca and ornamental grasses planted amongst the rocks to form a framework for the creek as it merged into the main river.

On our stroll to the River Terrace, near the Furman Overlook was this amazing tree with exposed roots running down the embankment. I choose this photograph to illustrate just how large the roots and tree actually are.

We spent a rather long time enjoying the River Terrace as my children dipped their feet into the water and had a great time catching the leaves as they floated down the river and before they tumbled down the falls.

They collected lots of enormous leaves which we took home to press and preserve to commemorate the fun we had that day.

A little wet but full of enthusiasm we walked through the Main Garden which was a collection of roses, hydrangea, yucca and annuals.

Then we arrived at the grand finale...The Liberty Bridge which was designed by architect Miguel Rosales. It is 355 feet long and 12 feet wide.

The 90 foot towers lean at a 15 degree angle and weight 26 tons each!

A walk across the bridge reveals some impressive views of the falls.

A view toward historic downtown

and some magnificent maples completed our tour of the park.

A beautiful sky ended our spectacular visit.

The beauty that mother nature provides on a daily basis is one of many things that I am always thankful for. She is continuously full of surprises and adventures which makes life just that much more enjoyable. Happy Thanksgiving y'all!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

My new helpers

This week we got two new family Sasha and Biscuit.

They are 9 week old Golden Retrievers (brother and sister) who came from a farm and are accustom to being outside. They are a great fit because we are a family that spends much of our time pursuing activities outdoors. They spent a lot of time this weekend in the garden assisting me with all the fall cleanup.

picking up sticks...



Checking the rain gauge...

keeping the other helpers in line...

And after a hard days work they were just worn out (like the rest of us)...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Look out! Look out! Jack Frost is about!

The first frost of the season arrived this weekend! I am not quite ready for this cold weather but it has to come sometime. So, I bundled up and put on my nice warm boots and took a walk around my garden. The crisp weather really woke me up as I looked at the beautiful frost crystals on the garden flowers and leaves.

Blanket Flower 'Oranges and Lemons'

Creeping Raspberry 'Rubus calycinoides'

Knock Out Rose

Brown Turkey Fig 'Ficus carica'

My fingers were starting to go numb making it difficult to take any more photographs so I headed indoors for a steaming cup of coffee. Just the thing to warm my fingers. Looking forward to the week ahead we will be back up in the 70's by mid-week. Good news since I haven't put my bulbs in the ground yet.