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Archive for June, 2017

The Ghost

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On a cloudy day, the pale white-splashed foliage of this statuesque plant gives it a ghostly appearance, and I have come to think of it as The Ghost Plant. It is actually Fallopia japonica ‘Variegata’, a variegated form of Japanese Knotweed. Knotweed is a notorious invasive species with a wide-spread reputation for its aggressive growth habit. However, the variegated form is well-behaved, and makes an interesting addition to a perennial garden.

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It is attention-grabbing across the seasons. In spring, the early sprouts poke through the soil in peach spears. The long stems have the segmented appearance of bamboo, though in fact it is not related to bamboo at all. I keep a watch for renegade runners, but in the 4 or 5 years it has been in the garden, it has made no move to expand its territory and requires little attention. It has taken on the appearance of an airy shrub, with the tallest stems reaching about 7 feet.

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Slime Mould

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When working around the barn recently, I noticed a white patch of…something. When I bent down to take a closer look, I found that it was a sort of crusty white pocket, with something black within. I wondered if it might be some sort of egg sack, but upon further investigation, I learned that it was a slime mould, Mucilago crustacea. Or more specifically, this was the fruit body, or aethalium, of M. crustacea.

Slime moulds are composed mostly of a mass of slimy protoplasm that spend most of their lives hidden away inside well-rotted logs or leaf litter. When it is time to fruit, they migrate to a more advantageous location for spore dispersal, and may travel several feet or climb walls or trees.

Mucilago crustacea

The fruitbody of M. crustacea has an outside wall of a chalky material that gives it a crusty texture. The spore-mass within is black. After a few days, I noticed that the crusty surface had cracked, releasing the powdery dark spores.

Many mushrooms are hard for the casual amateur to identify, even with a guide book, but a helpful source is George Barron’s Mushrooms of Ontario and Eastern Canada. Quite highly recommended.

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A Wren Story

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I have a few birdhouses placed around the garden to encourage would-be parents to raise their family in my yard. House wrens are the most common residents, although chickadees also use the boxes periodically. I love the little wrens. They are very vociferous, with a busy song that belies their small size. I usually look for sturdy nest boxes, with good ventilation and easy access for cleaning, but sometimes a more whimsical bird house tempts me. I bought this feline-faced box at a local craft store a couple of years ago.

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It was spurned by all comers last year, and I was pleased when a pair of wrens took up residence this spring. The insistent peeping now rising from the house is evidence of a successful brooding season and the two parents are busy keeping their nestlings fed. Here’s one parent, giving me the evil eye, before dropping off her/his offering to the chicks.

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Gay Paree

Gay Paree

Peonies, undisputed monarchs of the early summer garden, seem to attract jeolous rain, bent on bowing their noble heads. Nevertheless, we enjoyed some beautiful blooms this year, before the rain was able to subdue the heavy royal heads. Most of my peonies are just a few years old, except for that which I have labeled ‘Acton’. I brought a division of this peony from our previous home, where the old peony clumps were probably 50 years old or more.

Honey Gold

Honey Gold

Bowl of Beauty

Bowl of Beauty

Whopper

Whopper

Acton

Acton

Cora Louise

Cora Louise

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Sword Dance

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From March to June

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Here’s a photo of the garden taken on March 25th. The following photos were taken today, June 26th, three months later. The transformation is amazing. No matter how many times I experience the flow of seasons from winter to summer, I remain astounded by this annual miracle.

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Baltimore Oriole female

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Giant Swallowtail in flight (Papilio cresphontes)

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Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus/canadensis)

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