An oak takes a long time to grow from a sprout to a tree. Or so we think. This morning I’m standing below oak trees that I either planted, or spared, when they were just seedlings.
We had been here a few years. Oaks fell in a storm, taking understory trees with them, and leaving a wide, sunny patch in the upper garden. The character of the garden had changed entirely, and eventually I took it in hand and planted the bones of what we have today.
Two little ‘live oaks’ arrived from the Arbor Day Foundation, and I planted them across from one another on either side of the new, gaping hole of a full sun in what had been a shade garden. Then the deer found them and grazed what little new growth they had. I planted deterrent plants and supports around one of them, which has stretched to at least three times my height. The other? Well, It is in a shadier place, without as much protection, and the deer still find it from time to time. It isn’t quite head high.
Oh, and those two ‘live oaks’ apparently weren’t. The still small one has the traditional strappy leaves of a Quercus virginiana. Live oaks are notoriously slow to grow. The other, now tall one? I’m still trying to figure it out. It is a semi-evergreen red oak, but not our Virginia live oak.
The sapling sprouted within the drip line of our remaining double trunked swamp chestnut oak, Quercus michauxii. I was curious about it, and just thrilled to have it after losing so many other trees. I procrastinated on moving it, left it be, and now it stretches to nearly 30 feet tall in not quite 10 years. And curiously, it’s a different oak species altogether. It must have blown in on the wind, or come with a squirrel or a blue jay to rest among the roots of the huge mother tree that now dominates that part of our yard.
It has rained so much this month, and temperatures have remained cool. While I’ve been indoors doing other things, the plants have been racing into summer. Our ‘gardening’ time this week has been spent knocking over bamboo shoots trying to take over the lower 40, chopping back honeysuckle and Akebia vines reaching out to smother every shrub and perennial, giving the old ‘Chelsea Chop’ to Monarda and Solidago, and fiddling around with the Iris.
I ordered two Iris lactea, an Iris species I’d not heard of before browsing the Quackin’ Grass Nursery website this spring. They are one of my ‘go to’ mail order nurseries because they are family owned and operated, have a huge selection of great plants, and take great care with shipping healthy plants well. After finally understanding that this species will bloom in partial shade, I planted both of them in the newest bed I’m working on under a Camellia shrub.
The yellow flag Iris, so prolific when we first moved in, have been in decline in recent years. I finally realized that Akebia vines have overtaken their pond liner and neighboring shrubs have overgrown it. I did a bit of clean up earlier in the spring, and the whole area needs more, now. But I have a single yellow flower promising that a bit more attention will allow the stand to regenerate.
Most of the bearded Iris have finished for the year. Their season is so short. But a new miniature that I planted at the botanical garden where I volunteer bloomed this week. I was thrilled to find it on Wednesday morning, the only one of a half-dozen planted to bloom thus far.
It is raining again this morning, and today’s photos were all taken in the rain, spongy muddy ground beneath my feet. There have been too many good reasons to procrastinate this spring. And the plants are just jumping at a chance to grow. I’d best pull on some gardening gloves, find some waterproof boots, and get on with it, don’t you think?
With appreciation to The Propagator, who hosts Six on Saturday each week.
You might enjoy my new series of posts, Plants I Love That Deer Ignore. Thirteen plants are featured thus far, and the list will continue to grow.