Friday, February 26, 2010

Weird Tomato

I was looking forward to eating this tomato in a salad. When I cut it I was shocked to see the seeds inside this tomato had sprouted. Yes inside the tomato and as you can see the seedlings are green. I watered it for a couple of days feeling sorry for these sproutlings. I don't start my seeds until the first week of March so I wasn't going to bother trying to save them. I guess if seeds inside of a tomato can sprout Spring must be around the corner. In fact 22 more days!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Lenten Rose ......

By any other name, would be called Hellebores. It is one of the first flowers to bloom here in the WildWoods. The buds begin to appear in February and by the time that Lent arrives, the buds will have begun to open or maybe even be in full bloom. The foliage is green year round and provides nice coverage under the trees during the winter months. Hellebores like moist but well-drained soil in light shade. They are deer resistant and can be divided quite easily.

Hellebores is believed to help summon demons in witchcraft. It is thought that Alexander the Great was poisoned using Hellebores. And it is said that the species, Hellebores Niger, aka Christmas Rose, (a white Lenten Rose that blooms closer to the Yule Season), was to have sprung from the tears of a young girl who had no gift to give to the Christ child.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hiding in the

Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall are these two follies, the first one is called 'The Mud Maid' -isn't she just lovely - and the second one is the 'Giant's Head'. This garden belonged to the Tremayne family for more than 400 years - It was almost completely lost in the 1990's - but has now been restored. The garden has an interesting history, you can read more about it here.

I am planning a trip to Cornwall this November, if this garden is open, I will definitely be there for a visit.

Aren't they both just magical looking. :D

Friday, February 19, 2010

In the dead of winter

one of my favorite plants is Edgeworthia Chrysantha. (Oriental Paper Bush), although native to China, it grows well in the Northwest climate. It likes part shade (in the NW our lack of sun, makes that is important feature) it blooms in the winter and smells heavenly. Several of my other gardening friends have it and I have always wanted one, but up until this last weekend when I attended our local garden and patio show, I did not own one myself.

The girls told me that it was time I stopped coveting their plants and get my own. In the past I shy away from it because of its lack of foliage, but as my friends reminded me....a plant that looks dead most of the time is kinda creepy and perfect for your decor! Why did I not see that before!!! :D So I broke down and purchased my very own. It is just now starting to open and it smells fantastic.

Anyway, this weekend I will be planting mine in one of the beds on the back side of the house, next to the Hellebore that are also blooming....looks like I am starting a winter garden....just need to put a skull in there somewhere and I am set :D

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What is that?

This is one of the most famous example of what is known as a garden folly. The skeleton that is in my garden is an example of such a folly. The item severs no purpose in the garden except to entertain the gardener. Garden follies are one of my favorite garden features. I have a long list of things that I would love to put in the yard, if I get to have them all, I will need a bigger yard :D

This particular one is in Scotland near Falkirk (between Edinburgh and Glasgow) and although I have been there and have taken pictures....this is not my photo. I can build Halloween props and garden....but I am not a talented photographer :) The pineapple is carved on the top of what was a garden pavilion, but can now be rented for holidays (vacations.)

Here is a little background on this particular folly.

The Pineapple (photograph by Ronnie Blackadder)

The Pineapple is one of Scotland's most famous follies. It is a huge stone replica of the fruit, beautifully carved to reproduce all the features of the real thing. It sits on top of a garden pavilion erected in 1761 by John Murray the 4th Earl of Dunmore, and stands some 45 feet above ground level on the south slope and 37 feet on the north. The pineapple part was probably added around 1777 when the Earl returned to Scotland after serving as Governor of the colonies of New York and Virginia. On the east coast of the American colonies the pineapple was a symbol of welcome and often the planters from the West Indies, who had big mansions in New York and New England, would place a real pineapple on their gate post as a sign that they were home and ready to receive visitors. Murray returned to the Americas after the War of Independence as Governor of the Bahamas where pineapples were a major product. It is just possible that the stone Pineapple was erected during or after his time there which would place it in the late 1780s or early 90s.

This is not a particularly creepy example, but it is one of the better examples, I will be sharing some more creepy follies in the coming posts.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

VooDoo Lily

Since today is Mardi Gras, I thought it would be appropriate to write a bit about the VooDoo Lily. (See the connection ... Mardi Gras, New Orleans, VooDoo?)

The VooDoo Lily is a common name given to a wide range of species belonging to the Amorphophallus genus of the Arum famliy. It is a tuberous, herbaceous plant native to tropical and subtropical climates from West Africa to the Pacific Islands. There is no native species in the Americas. Even many Arum species have acquired the name of VooDoo Lily or Dragon Lily.

The VooDoo Lily can range in size from fairly small to well over 7ft. ! The plant will produce a single leaf and leaf stalk on a 'trunk'. The leaf may have smaller leaflets. This leaf will only last one growing season.

All VooDoo Lilies are distinguished by the unique flower produced upon maturity. The flower will consist of a sheathing bract which envelopes a flower spike. Both male and female flowers will be born on this flower spike but the plant is not self-pollinating. It produces an odor similar to that of rotting flesh which attracts insects that pollinate it. The flower will last only one day. Pollinated flowers will produce berries along the stalk.

All parts of the VooDoo Lily are poisonous. And skin irritation can occur when handling the leaf or flower.

With proper care, a VooDoo Lily can be grown in a flower pot but they prefer a moist shady flower bed.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Bleeding Hearts(Dicentra Spectabilis) can be used in all kinds of love magic. I love these heart shaped spring wonders. Wishing everyone much love on this Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

What could be

creepier than heading out to check your garden at night and catch the glimpse of a bat in midflight? Bats are great for reducing the insect population in your garden and there are several scented plants that will attract the insects that bats love:

Evening Primrose (a beautiful yellow flowered North American native biennial plant)
Night-Scented Stock
Nicotiana (many to chose from and one of my favorite annual plants)
Moonflowers (easy to grow vine with a lovely scent that opens at night)
Night Phlox
herbs like: Lemon Balm, Mint, Marjoram,Lavender,Thyme,and Sage

Bat also like a shelter or home, if they can get in the eaves of your house can take refuse in your attic, so give them someplace to harbor in your garden. Bat houses are available from many birdhouse shops. Be patient with your bat house, sometimes it will take several years for the bats to take up residence.

They will also reside in tree and sometimes in ivy or other vines. Dead trees provide plenty of insects for food and roosting spots for the bats.

You will also need some type of water source, larger than a bird bath, a small pond is best, although fountains can work, bats (and insects) prefer the still water.

Leave a light on to attract insects, I have several solar lights that come on at night out in my garden and it seems to do the trick.

If you have bats and other natural insect predators, you will have less need for pesticides. If you want to attract bats to your garden, do not use pesticides as many of them are harmful to bats and most other wildlife.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Spreading the word

for those of you that want to help promote this blog I finally got my act together and created this button that links directly to the blog. It is currently gracing both of the Frog Queen's blogs! :)
I started with this rectangle button, but if anyone would like another size, just leave us a comment and I will get a some additional sizes created.

Happy Haunted Gardening everyone!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Instead of a dozen roses

another gift for the gardener in your life would be an actual rose bush or something clever like that. But do that one better you can give your love one the gift of saving a plant species.

A few years back the Kew Garden (absolute heaven for any gardener, stunning beautiful and an amazing collection of plants) started a program called the Millennium Seed Bank Project, where they are trying to save as many plants as they can. It is sad and alarming the amount of plant species we lose every year. Many of these are plants that we do not fully in the Medicine Man movie, these plants could hold the cure to cancer or other diseases, we could be destroying our own future.

So part of Kew Garden's plan to save the plants is to offer people the chance to sponsor a plant species or a seed. The cost to sponsor a species runs from £1,000 to £2,000 ($1,600 to $3,200)but for only £25 ($40) you can sponsor a seed. Here are the details directly from their site

Adopt a Seed
Here's a selection of plants which are incredibly useful to humans, limited to only one habitat, endangered - or a combination of the three. Take them to your heart. Adopt them and find out more about the seeds and the work of the Millennium Seed Bank over the year. We'll thank you by sending an adoption pack which also makes a great gift. It includes an adoption certificate, a photograph of your plant or the habitat it survives in and more information about the Millennium Seed Bank partnership.

And if that isn't enough, you'll be helping to fund one of the most exciting and vital conservation projects the world has ever known.

They offer gift adoptions so that you can buy one for your favorite gardener as a gift and they will get this nifty "adoption" packet with information on the plant they have adopted. I would much rather have that then a dozen roses that will die in a week.....doing this I am helping keep a plant species alive for future generations, and I don't have to yell at my cats for trying to eat the leaves off my roses :D

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Downy Yellow Violets

Yes a Yellow Violet can you believe! Downy Yellow Violet or (Viola Pubescens) is a native violet and is found in a rich woodland habitat. I think most people know of the common Blue Violet which spreads easily. The Downy Yellow Violet doesn't spread as easily and is very well behaved! The common Blue Violet is not a weed! Many butterflies use this plant in their larva stage as a host. Adult butterflies often visit Violets for nectar! So if you have them leave them they really do brighten up my woodland garden flowering in early April through May.

With Valentine's Day fast approaching I thought you'd all love to know Violets were used as an Aphrodisiac and for Love Spells! They were also used in amulets for good luck. Folklore says in the Spring you should pick the first Violet you see. Then you make a wish and your wish will come true! At my home the first Violets to appear are the Yellow Downy Violets. I'll let you know if my wish is granted.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another Vampire Of The Plant World

This benign looking vertical pinecone, as it is sometimes called, is actually a Conopholis americana, or Squaw Root, or Cancer Root.  A member of the Orobanchacae, or Broomrape family, it is another chlorophyll free plant that feeds off of Oak Tree roots.  And because it really takes so little nutrients, it doesn't harm or weaken the tree.

Because the word "squaw" is such a derogitory term, I hate using it, but the plant got its name from Native women boilng the roots to make an astringent, that they then applied during their cycles.  The astringent caused the skin to pucker, and was also found useful in the treatment of hemorroids.

The other common name, Cancer Root was given because it was believed to be beneficial in the topical treatment of cancerous ulcers. It's cousin the Beech Drop also carries this common name for the same reason. 

To ingest its bitter taste, will cause extreme nausea.  I feel sorry for the people who found out the hard way.

Like the Indian Pipe, this plant comes up on its own, and is a poor transplant. It shows its first pale, cream colored, hairless spikes in late Spring, and will bloom soon after, into early Summer.  Tubular flowers begin opening from the bottom up, and will take 3 weeks to complete blooming.  They have no noticeable scent, and will begin wilting and turning brown after pollination. It self seeds, and also depends upon bears digesting it, to spread the seed.

It isn't particular about light sources, growing just as well in the semi dappled shade of its host tree, or under the darker canopy of a forest.  And while this specific species favors the Northeast corner of the United States, it can be found as far West as Iowa, and North, far up into Canada.  Of the 90 species, and 2000 genera of the Broomrape family, they've got the whole continent covered from coast to coast.

So when you are out enjoying those first warm days of Spring, look around the perimeters of trees in Oak or Beech forests for these unique, leafless plants! If you find a colony, you have been given a special gift! Enjoy the moment!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

So, should probably

explain the masthead picture. :) Not something you see in your everyday garden...unless you work for a CSI team or something :)

Every year I like to create something creepy that is not part of the yard display ... one of my larks I like to call Frog Queen follies.

I have two raised vegetable beds in my garden and last year I got so distracted with Halloween that I did not make time to plant any vegetables. (I really missed the fresh tomatoes) Anyway, while I am looking out my upstairs window at the garden below I get this idea to put a skeleton in one of the beds and pose it like it is pushing its way out of the ground, and think I should plant some vines that look like they are trying to pull him back down. Better yet, pumpkin vines!

I purchase two small pumpkin plants and start another 6 plants in my garden window.

Then I head out to the shop and grab a spare Bart and do some hardware removal and do my best to hide the remaining hardware with Fix-it to get him ready for the yard. I use a small piece of rebar to hold his head up and prop him in the bed.

I sprinkled two large bags of organic mulch over the skeleton to give him that half buried look. I knew going into this project that I was doing all this work for the sole purpose of taking pictures, I started too late in the summer for the vines to actually produce pumpkins by October. So, to get the dense foliage I wanted I had to over plant.

I started with two 4 week old Jack O' Lantern pumpkins planted in the bed around him. Over the next few weeks I continue to plant the pumpkin seeds I started in the house, so the vines are in various stages of growth. As the vines continue to grow I head out in the yard and train them through the mouth of the skeleton and through and around the ribcage and legs.

I purchased a few small Sugar Pumpkins to put in the bed to add to the look, I tried to lay the stems under existing vines to make it look like they had grown on the vines. I placed a fake crow on his rib cage and headed for the camera!

I took some decent pictures, but then my friend Marci Brandt (the person who photographs the Davis Graveyard - who also takes great garden photos) came over and took these amazing photos.

Yeah, when I see her stuff I wonder why I even bother :)

The plan is to permanently pose this skeleton in that vegetable bed and grow pumpkins or other vines around him each year - definitely a garden folly. He currently has a new friend....the scarecrow, but that is a story for another day.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Witch Hazel

Witch Hazel was the last blooming shrub in my yard before Jack Frost and Grandmother Winter showed up. This Autumn bloomer has wonderful spidery yellow flowers. Also known as Winter bloom for that reason.

So how did Witch Hazel get it's name? No not from the cartoon character. It has been associated with Witches and Magic for centuries. It's branches can be used as divining rods. Folklore states you can find enchanted underground wells and even buried treasure. I haven't tried this yet but I'll let you know if it works! Parts of this shrub were also used in healing and protection spells.
The astringent Witch Hazel does indeed come from this shrub.

I'm lucky to have many native Witch Hazel's growing in our surrounding woods. I do know Native plant nurseries carry Witch Hazel. The species I have is Hamamelis Virginiana. Witch Hazel is bound to enchant your Garden!