Tag Archives: River Birch

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – August 2015

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Betula nigra (River Birch)

Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides hosts GBFD on the 22nd of each month to highlight the importance of foliage in our gardens. The past week has been unusually busy with little time for the garden so Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) sneaked up on me this month.

In a side garden along the front drive Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed ) has formed long okra-like seed pods. There are two other Asclepius tuberosa in the main garden, but neither has formed the pods.  I cannot find a label for the shrub in the background—some kind of slow-grower, a juniper I think. Visible in the upper left corner is a Betula nigra (River Birch) that grows at the street just on the edge of our property.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

I like the river birch. It began dropping leaves very early this summer because of the drought. The shaggy cinnamon-red bark is characteristic of this native tree.

Bark of native tree Betula nigra (River Birch)

Bark of native tree Betula nigra (River Birch)

By the way a week ago in another part of the garden I saw my first Monarch(s) of the year. I usually see them in October here. Without a camera on two consecutive days, I watched one nectaring on remnant flowers of a Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’ There is something special about seeing the Monarchs that raises a feeling of gladness and appreciation.

I was recently complaining about how that Rudbeckia had been knocked over in a storm and needed to be cut back, but now I think I will leave it a bit longer.  A child of that one, the ‘Irish Eyes’ below is in the side garden just at the gate. It splayed over also after the same storm, but I managed to tie it up. It is not blooming much now but the foliage is still looking healthy. It received some extra water this summer because I was filling a nearby bird bath almost daily. In the background the river birch is visible again.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Silvery Dusty Miller has spread with wild abandon in the western border. It is easy to pull out when I finally decide “Enough,” so I let it roam this summer. It is not as attractive when it flowers so it is time to clip it back. Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ is new this year. Fresh new leaves of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) add softness to this area.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Dusty Miller

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Dusty Miller

Thanks to Christina for hosting. Be sure to visit her to see her featured foliage and find links to other foliage highlights of other GBFD bloggers.

Surprises Along The Southern Side Path

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

I have not shown the garden along the southern side of the house in a long time. The Southern Side Path is a narrow border with a winding stone walkway, that provides access from the driveway down to the main garden in the back yard. If you walk down the path, turn around and look back up toward the street, this is the view you will see.

Clematis 'Jackmanii' In Southern Side Garden

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ In Southern Side Garden

(Be careful not to turn your head to the right or you’ll see the neighbors’ house looming large.)

Standing in the distance near the street and not really part of the border, a Betula nigra (River Birch) is visible. This tree began losing lots of its leaves several weeks ago, but after some heavy rains came it decided to hold on to the rest of its foliage a while longer.

In the foreground, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ usually has a few flowers this time of year, but the weather has been especially encouraging to it this autumn. Behind and underneath the clematis is Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass). In front (not visible) are planted Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris).

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

In between the clematis and the river birch are a host of odds and ends. A few are:

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)
Lavender
Iris germanica (Bearded iris)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Amazingly, these and other plants that grow here are all ignored by the deer which make their way between the two houses quite often.

Sitting along the path just in front of the dark green Wintergreen boxwood shrub, (Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’), is the current star of the Southern Side Garden. It is the fragrant Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) .

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Last winter was exceedingly cold so when spring arrived I was concerned whether the Ginger lily had even survived. Fortunately by mid-May a few stalks had emerged. Through summer it never grew as full nor tall as it had during the previous two years, but finally today a flower opened.

I had been eagerly watching this tender perennial for quite a few weeks, hoping it would bloom before a frost could wilt it back to the ground. I was curious when it bloomed last year. In checking my photo records I noticed the set of dates when I took pictures of the flowering ginger lily. An unscientific but interesting observation is that for the previous two years the ginger lily had flowered much earlier than usual and for an extended period of time.

Dates Of Photographing Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) Blooms In My Garden
October 18, 2008
September 24, 2009 – October 25, 2009
2010 – ?
October 13, 2011
September 2 – November 2, 2012
August 10 – November 7, 2013
October 17, 2014

Leaving the Southern Side Path, turn around and come inside the main garden. Here yesterday, I again attempted to capture the elusive monarchs. This time a couple of the butterflies were nectaring on the Zinnias, which made it easier for me to get close and get a picture from the back with the wings open.

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

Monarch Nectaring On Zinnia

I particularly liked this image which not only captured the eyes clearly, but recorded pink reflections cast from the flower onto the underside of the wing and thorax of the butterfly.

Pink Reflections On Monarch Wings

Pink Reflections On Monarch Wings

A Close-up Texture Study

The garden is losing a sense of overall structure as autumn progresses, something I had planned to remedy when I started a renovation project last winter. Indeed there have been enhancements toward this end. The additions of a screening hedge of five ‘Blue Point’ junipers, a white picket fence enclosing the garden and a meditation circle with a labyrinth are all happy improvements. Still, the overall garden framework is and will be a work-in-progress.

Today I have set aside that larger view to concentrate on the textures that reveal themselves when one closely examines individual elements in the garden. With their leaves puddled around their bases or scattered into the neighbors’s yards, a river birch, a pair of crape myrtles and a Chinese elm prominently display interesting bark surfaces.

Chinese Elm


Chinese Elm


Chinese Elm


Chinese Elm


Crape Myrtle


River Birch

The rich green color and fern-like quality of tansy and yarrow leaves are lovely and welcome this time of year.

Tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)


Pink Yarrow

With mild temperatures in the seventies the yarrow continues to set buds, set off by the silvery narrow leaves of a nearby lavender.

Pink Yarrow and Lavender

Eastern red columbine adds garden interest year round. Though the colorful leaves are drying now they add contrast to the burgeoning hellebores leaves underneath.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)