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Little Trees, Part I

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This year, I added an assortment of little trees to the garden. They will lend some additional height to the perennial beds and add a feeling of permanence as they mature. That’s the idea, anyway. Most of these little trees are commonly grown as shrubs, but have been grafted onto standards for a ‘shrub on stick’ look. I have always admired dappled willow shrubs, but they can get quite large. When I found that they are available in standard form, I was interested in trying one, and this was my first little tree purchase this year. I carried the potted tree around the yard and tried it in different places. I finally settled on a spot down the yard from the front door of the house. On sunny summer mornings, the sun lights up its dappled leaves and it positively glows, an invitation to enter the garden for a stroll. That’s Salix integra ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ standard in the photo above, taken in September. To the fore is the phlox ‘Nora Leigh’, which always puts on a great late-summer display.

Flamingo Willow std.  Salix integra 'Flamingo'

I was so pleased with ‘Hakuro-nishiki’ that I bought a second dappled willow standard. This one is a different variety, Salix integra ‘Flamingo’. The picture above, and the remaining photographs here, were taken today, so many of the little trees are losing their leaves, or are already completely bare. I wanted to record their addition to the garden before the end of the season.

Weeping pussy willow std. 'Salix Caprea 'pendula''

Here’s another willow variety. This one is a weeping pussy willow, Salix caprea ‘pendula’. I’m looking forward to seeing its fuzzy catkins next spring.

Weeping Peashrub std.  Caragana arborescens pendula std.

My very first little tree wasn’t a willow, but this peashrub, Caragana arborescens pendula std. I bought it last year and it came through the winter well, encouraging me to consider further additions. However, as I acquired more trees, I rethought the location of this caragana and moved it to another bed. The poor little tree! It had been doing so well. It was shocked by this brutal treatment, and lost its leaves early. I hope that it will be okay and will return again in the spring.

Walker Weeping Peashrub (Caragana arborescens penula 'Walker'

Here’s another caragana. This one, Caragana arborescens ‘Walker’, has very fine, ferny, threadleaf foliage. It has a very delicate look, but it is rated as hardy to Zone 2 or 3 (depending on your source).

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This third caragana has already lost it leaves, which is too bad because they are different again from the above two peashrubs. Caragana microphylla ‘Mongolian Silver Spires’ has silvery, ferny foliage. It is also rated as very hardy.

Weeping mulberry Morus alba 'Pendula'

When I purchased this weeping mulberry, morus alba ‘pendula’, it already had purple, raspberry-like fruit on its branches. Before I even got the tree planted in the ground, I spotted a pair of Cedar Waxwings harvesting the fruit! This was enough to convince me I should purchase a couple more of these trees. The Connon Nursery site carries this endorsement:

This shrub performs well in both full sun and full shade. It is very adaptable to both dry and moist locations, and should do just fine under average home landscape conditions. It is considered to be drought-tolerant, and thus makes an ideal choice for xeriscaping or the moisture-conserving landscape. It is not particular as to soil type or pH, and is able to handle environmental salt. It is highly tolerant of urban pollution and will even thrive in inner city environments.

It sounds like an ideal little tree, but some people object to the ‘messy’ fruit. Fruiting weeping mulberry trees are female. You can also get non-fruiting male trees, but what would be the point of that?

Red Jade Weeping Crabtree (Malus 'red jade')

Seen here is another fruiting tree, a Red Jade weeping crabtree, Malus × scheideckeri ‘Red Jade’. Its small red crab apples are said to also be attractive to Cedar Waxwings, and of course, it produces white or pale pink apple blossoms in the spring. You can hardly pick out the spindly whip against the rusty leaves of an oak tree in the photo above. It looked rather disheartened when it was first planted. However, it never changed across the season, neither declining nor improving, so perhaps that is its natural demeanor. I have four upright crabtrees that do well here, so I hope Red Jade will thrive.

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Late in the summer, I added 3 hydrangea standards. This one is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Pink Diamond’. These trees are grown for their colourful display of flowers in late summer. Pink Diamond has white flowers that quickly mature to deep pink.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

This is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’,which, as the name suggests, produces panicles of soft greenish flowers. The flowers then gradually mature to a rose shade.

And finally, here is Hydrangea paniculata ‘Phantom’, which produces panicles of white flowers that mature to light pink. Unfortunately, these photos don’t show these little trees off very well. For that, we’ll have to hope they all winter well and wait for next year’s display.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Phantom'

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Hughson Street, 1959

Today’s Sunday Snapshot features the work of Guest Photographer Jack Whorwood. Thanks, Jack! I always loved this photo.

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Our three daughters and their partners were all able to attend our Thanksgiving weekend get-together this year and we enjoyed their company from Friday night through Sunday. Here we are, assembled for a group portrait on Saturday afternoon. We had the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, potatoes, Brussels sprouts and rutabaga, with pumpkin and grape pies for dessert. It has been a perfect fall weekend, with brisk, bright, sunny weather to set off the pleasure of spending time together.

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Once all our visitors headed for home on Sunday afternoon, the house felt quiet and empty. We decided to take Pookie the corgi for a walk at Baxter Conservation Area to top off the weekend and soak up some more sun on this perfect fall day.

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Baxter Conservation Area is located along the Rideau River, just north and east of the town of Kemptville, Ontario. The 68 hectare site offers five kilometers of trails through forest and wetland and peaceful views of the Rideau River.

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It was a lovely spot to appreciate the last of the autumn leaves, now past their height and beginning to fall from the trees, but still colourful.

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A boardwalk and elevated lookout viewing stand allow a closeup look at the marsh and wetlands.

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The park was quiet, with just a few late-flying meadowhawk dragonflies to be seen. The walk was a perfect a way to wind down from a busy weekend, for both us and the dog! I hope you have been enjoying a pleasant Thanksgiving or Columbus day weekend too.

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October Day

outstanding

Outstanding

Dog Stinkhorn

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I was strolling through the garden yesterday, thinking about laying down winter mulch, when a flash of bright colour caught my eye. I leaned in closer to examine the source and found the weirdest fungus ever! A lot of mushrooms can be difficult for the casual observer to identify, but this one was easy. A quick look through my Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada guide by George Barron revealed it to be Dog Stinkhorn (Mutinus ravenelii).

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Dog Stinkhorn is a member of the puffball family. At their outset, the egg stage, stinkhorns resemble their puffball relatives. The spherical fruitbodies contain a gelatinous layer surrounding an olive-green spore-mass that covers the head of the stinkhorn. At maturity, the egg wall cracks and a column expands to form a support stalk.

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The gelatinous layer mixes with the spore-mass to form a malodorous, sugary goo. The odour attracts flies, who arrive to feed on the sweet substance and subsequently carry away the sticky goo, including spores, to other likely sites. At the end of the day, the stalks wilt.

This was my first experience with Dog Stinkhorn, but it is listed as common and widespread. It fruits in rich soil in gardens and woods.

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Boxed In

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Our local grocery store makes boxes available to customers to carry home their purchases. I always keep an eye out for cat-size containers because nothing pleases a feline like a box. This recent acquisition, which formerly held peppers, was a hit. That’s Capone (left) and his younger brother Arthur, sharing their new favorite box.

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