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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

THERE MAY BE GLOBAL WARMING SOMEWHERE, BUT NOT IN BAYFIELD

 FIRST PORCH BASKETS ARE UP



FIRST HUMINGBIRD OF SPRING ARRIVED TODAY(Google pohoto)
LAST FORSYTHIA BLOSSOMS AND LAST DAFFODILS
LAST TULIPS
Wednesday, 8:30 AM.  45 degrees F at the ferry dock, 45  on the back porch.  Wind ENE, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is cloudy with some overcast, the humidity 87%. The barometer is falling gently, now at 29.83".  Skies will be mixed and temperatures will rise into the the 60's by the weekend, then cool down again, with rain on Friday and Monday.  There may be Global Warming somewhere, but not in Bayfield.
   This has been a very late but long spring, first proclaimed by the daffodils which have lasted a full month but are about over, followed by the tulips that will go with the first warm days.  But there are always more firsts to usher in the latter stages of spring, such as putting up the porch baskets, and of course the arrival of the male hummingbirds. 
   I saw my first hummingbird of the year yesterday afternoon, flitting around one of the geranium baskets.  He almost bumped my nose, and he was either twittering, or his teeth were chattering.
   I don't know if I have ever been quick enough to take a photo of a hummingbird.  I sure couldn't find one in my digital archives, thus the Google photo.
   The boys are exactly a week late, their usual arrival in Bayfield is the 15th of May,  and is just as predictable as the return of the swallows to the California mission of San Juan Capistrano, . Perhaps they arrived on time and I missed them, but I doubt it.

A PRAYER TO GOD IN SPRING
   Robert Frost 
 
Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers to-day; 
And give us not to think so far away 
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here 
All simply in the springing of the year. 

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night; 
And make us happy in the happy bees, 
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees. 

And make us happy in the darting bird 
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill, 
And off a blossom in mid air stands still. 

For this is love and nothing else is love, 
The which it is reserved for God above 
To sanctify to what far ends He will,
But which it only needs that we fulfil. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

T'WAS JUST A GARDEN IN THE RAIN


A GORGEOUS REDBUD


TOUR BUS...
...FULL OF GARDEN LOVERS
Tuesday, 9:00 AM   48 degrees F at the ferry dock, 47 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the sky overcast.  The humidity is 87%, the barometer 29.88" and steady.  We may get a shower this afternoon, and the next few days will have mixed skies with high temperatures around fifty degrees, with yet another chance of rain by Friday.
   The continual rain hasn't dampened the spirits of gardeners touring Bayfield; witness the photos of gardeners enjoying "Martha's Fantastic Garden" (use the search engine for more info on Martha's garden).
   I like visiting gardens in the rain.  The colors are more vibrant, the plants at their best. Some of our best garden visits have been in the rain.


                                                   Garden In The Rain

T'was just a garden in the rain 
Close to a little leafy lane 
A touch of color 'neath skies of gray 
The raindrops kissed the flowerbeds 
The blossoms raised their leafy heads 
A perfumed thank you 
They seemed to say 

Surely here was charm beyond 
Compare to view 
Maybe it was just that 
I was there with you 

T'was just a garden in the rain 
But then the sun came out again 
And sent us happily on our way

  

Monday, May 22, 2017

PAPER BIRCH TREES ARE FLOWERING

PAPER BIRCH MALE CATKINS

PAPER BIRCH FEMALE CATKIN

RED ELDERBERRY IN A BAYFIELD RAVINE
Monday, 8:00 AM,  48 degrees F at the ferry dock, 47 on the back porch.  Wind SW, calm with light gusts.  The sky is overcast, the humidity 87%.  The barometer stands at 29.80".
   The paper birch, Betula papyrifera, in the Birch Family, is a tree of the far north, native in North America from the Great Lakes north to the Tundra and all across Canada and Alaska. It is in flower now, the trees bearing both male and female flowers. The small, wafer-like seeds will mature by fall, and will be gradually dispersed over many months, often seen freshly deposited on new snow and ice in winter, and they will be taken everywhere by wind and the waters of melting snow.
   Used as an ornamental, paper birch trees are usually planted in locations too hot and dry for them to thrive.  The natural habitats of paper birch are stream banks, the edges of swamps, rocky hillsides and wet sands, although they will grow on drier sites in a cool climate.
   The paper birch was, and still is, an important element in traditional American Indian life. The exfoliating bark (skillful removal does little to harm a mature tree) provides a light and durable material for canoes and for wigwams, and is an excellent fire starter. Birch Bark makes good drinking cups and baskets.  Birch wood is light and easily worked, and it makes excellent firewood.
   Native Americans had a number of medicinal uses for paper birch, and in many northern countries birch species are taped like maple trees and the sap fermented to make a birch beer, or boiled down to make sugar, although it is inferior to sugar maple sap in that regard.
   Even in nature, paper birch are short-lived trees, seldom lasting more than forty or fifty years, if that.  They are a pioneer species, requiring full sun, and in nature are shaded out by oaks, maples and fir trees.  Paper birch trees will often stand dead, held together by their bark, until a strong wind or other disturbance sends them crashing in a pile of lumpy sawdust.
   The bronze birch borer often kills whole groves of paper birch trees, even in the best native habitat, and it sneaks up on ornamental plantings and kills trees often before it is detected.  Trying to control the borer in the wild is pretty much impossible, and although it is possible to combat it in the home landscape the effort may not be worth it for what is necessarily an ephemeral tree.
   The bronze birch borer is the larvae of a beetle that inserts its eggs under the bark of the host tree, where the borers feed on the cambium of branches and trunks, eventually girdling and killing the tree.  Their presence is indicated by raised areas on branches that trace their tunneling. If the bark is peeled back with a sharp knife the tunnels and grubs can be seen.  Systemic insecticides can be effective if applied soon enough, but are expensive to use and may not be worth the trouble and environmental hazard.
   To help a paper birch tree live as long as possible in the landscape, it should be planted in good topsoil that is on the sandy side, and it must have good drainage but also adequate moisture, and an acid soil.  The roots must be kept as cool as possible, which means mulching (use oak leaves or conifer needles if possible), or at least not mowing the grass beneath the tree.  Under-planting with compatible native shrubs, grasses and wildflowers is also an option.
   There have been a number of hybrids of the paper birch with the European white birch (the birch genus is circumpolar in the far north) or the eastern gray birch that are more adaptable, and are resistant to borer.  Also, the river birch, B. nigra, has a very ornamental, exfoliating  orange-white bark when young and sometimes is used in place of the paper birch, although it becomes a much larger tree and its bark becomes less attractive with maturity.
   Like many things in life, paper birch trees are a fleeting presence, and are probably best enjoyed when and where nature placed them.
  

Sunday, May 21, 2017

THE CHERRY ORCHARD

A GHOST SHIP SAILS THE FOG BOUND LAKE
APPLE HILL ORCHARD CHERRY TREES IN FULL BLOOM

Sunday, 9:00 AM.  42 degrees F at the ferry dock,  41 on the back porch.  Wind NE, calm with light gusts.  The sky is overcast and foggy and it Is raining lightly.  The humidity is 96%, the barometer 29.81" and still falling, predicting continuing rain today, overcast skies tomorrow and rain again on Tuesday, with temperatures warming into the mid-fifties by the end of the week.
    Sweet cherry trees are selections of the European wild sweet cherry, Prunus avium, in the Rose Family;  sour cherries of the European Prunus cerasus. There are a number of edible wild native cherries but the fruits are small, generally tart,  and not usually grown commercially.  They do make excellent jams and jellies.
   The trunks and large branches of cherry trees are often whitewashed to protect the thin bark from damage in the late winter, when the sun's  strengthening rays reflect upward off the snow. 
    Cherry trees can grow quite large if not controlled by pruning, or  if not grown on dwarfing root stocks. They can be difficult to grow but the rewards are great, Bayfield sweet cherries selling last year for $4.00 per pound.

A cherry orchard by the house
(
"Sadok vyshnevyi kolo khaty")

A cherry orchard by the house.
Above the cherries beetles hum.
The plowmen plow the fertile ground
And girls sing songs as they pass by.
It’s evening—mother calls them home.

A family sups by the house.
A star shines in the evening chill.
A daughter serves the evening meal.
Time to give lessons—mother tries,
But can’t. She blames the nightingale.

It’s getting dark, and by the house,
A mother lays her young to sleep;
Beside them she too fell asleep.
All now went still, and just the girls
And nightingale their vigil keep.


Taras Shevchenko
"
Sadok vyshnevyi kolo khaty"
("Садок вишневий коло хати")
1847, Sankt-Peterburg (Санкт-Петербург)

Translated by Boris Dralyuk and Roman Koropeckyj 

Saturday, May 20, 2017

NAURE WEARS A SMILE, DESPITE THE WEATHER

A GARDEN IN THE RAIN

LICHEN ENCRUSTED RED OAK
Saturday, 9:00 AM.  41 degrees F at the ferry dock, 40 on the back porch.  Wind NE, calm with light gusts.  The sky is overcast and cloudy, the humidity down to 73%.  The barometer is plummeting from its  recent high of 30.29",  and rain is predicted for later today and thunderstorms for tomorrow.
   We have gotten over six inches of rain this past week, and it has left its damp fingerprints on the landscape, from rushing ditches and flood-stage streams, to freshened spring gardens and lichen covered oaks that look as though they have been painted to match the weather.
   No matter how sullen the weather, nature wears a smile, if we but look for it.

Lichen
Parasite lichen
Lies grey on the years;
Lily buries herself
When winter appears.

Bright rose burns away,
Leaving lichen alone—
Fellow of frost,
Suckling of stone.

I am for lily,
I am for rose—
Delicate beauty
Trembles and goes.
Mary Eliza Fullerton

Nota Bene: Lichens are not parasites but saprophites, merely growing on  the surface of things and normally causing little harm.  

Friday, May 19, 2017

WILD PIN CHERRIES ARE BLOOMING

LARGE PIN CHERRY SHRUB ON STAR ROUTE

PIN CHERRY FLOWERS AND BARK
Friday, 8:30 AM.  41 degrees F at the ferry dock, 40 on the back porch.  The wind has changed from NE to SW, and is mostly calm with light gusts (the Nor'easter again lasted three days),  The sky is partly cloudy, the humidity 84%.  The barometer is steady, at 30.34" but will plummet on Saturday, bringing a weekend of rain with highs remaining in the 40's.  Creeks and rivers are at flood stage  already.
   Pin cherry is a shrub or small tree native to most of Canada and the Great Lakes region and mountainous areas in the northern United States.  It bears white flowers in loose umbels, which are followed by sour but edible bright red cherries.  The bark is smooth and gray, distinguishing it from other native cherries.  It is a major wildlife food, both the fruit and as browse, and was an important Native American food and medicinal plant.  It is far too aggressive and short lived for landscaping except for naturalizing.  It is an important reforestation species after a forest fire, as the seeds can lay dormant in the soil for as long as a century and still sprout after a forest fire.  Burned over areas are often revegitated with blooming, fruiting native pin cherries.
   I only have a few recorded blooming dates: 5/03/13; 5/18/09.  Pin cherries are great for jellies and jams, and usually easy to find in  abundance in burned or cut over areas.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

RED ELDERBERRY HAS JUST BEGUN TO BLOOM

STORMY ASHLAND LAKEFRONT
BAYFIELD DITCHES ARE RUNNING FULL
RED MULBERRY PANICLE OF BLOOMS

Thursday, 8:30 AM.  41 degreesF at the ferry dock, 38 on the back porch.  Wind NE, light to moderate.  The sky is overcast and cloudy, and it is still raining lightly after torrentia rains again last night  The humidity is 93%, the barometer rising, now at 29.63". It will clear later in the day and tomorrow should be dry, but rain is forecast again for Saturday.  Ditches are running full in the city, and local creeks and rivers will be close to flood stage.
   The red elderberry Sambucus pubens, in the Honeysuckle Family, is not nearly as well known as the common American elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, as it is a more northern species (it also is an important part of the western montane flora).  It is almost as attractive in flower as the American elderberry, the minute flowers occurring in more compact, cone-shaped umbels than the umbrella-like compound flowers of American elderberry.  And whereas the fruit of the latter species is blue-black and edible, the fruit of the former is bright red and it is quite acid to the taste and reported to be mildly poisonous to human uinless cooked, although I eat them without any obvious ill effects, Both species are good for jams and jellies and are also important wildlife plants, both for browse and for their fruits. The red elderberry prefers wet locations but will grow on drier sites, and on a variety of soils.  It is fairly shade tolerant but prefers full sun.
    There is some evidence that leaves, stems and roots of both species can be poisonous to humans, but I doubt people would eat those parts so it is not much of a concern, but it might be best not to put leaves or stems in one's mouth without some experimentation.     Elderberry plants have medicinal properties, and were used in a variety of ways by both Native Americans and European settlers.  The central pith of stems and branches is very soft and can easily be removed to make whistles and other useful objects and were so used in the past.  
   Both American and red elderberry are attractive in flower and fruit, as are their pinnately compound leaves.  The feather-compound leaf of the American elderberry has seven leaflets, that of the red elderberry five. Both species spread by root suckers and are hard to control in the smaller landscape.  My rule of thumb is, appreciate them in nature and where they can be controlled, but be careful introducing them into the landscape.   A case in point is the red elderberry that I have in the backyard.  It grew up between the crevices of a small rock wall and it was so persistent I finally decided that I would let it grow and make use of it rather than to unsuccessfully try to eliminate it.  For a further discussion of elderberries, use the blog search engine.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

SWEET CHERRIES COMING INTO BOOM: AND, JOHN'S MOTTO

JOHN VOIGHT, FIRST  DIRECTOR OF THE BOERNER BOTANICAL GARDENS
BAYFIELD'S SWEET CHERRIES ARE JUST COMING INTO FLOWER
Wednesday, 8:00 AM.  45 degrees F at the ferry dock downtown and on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm.  The sky is overcast, the humidity 97%.  The Barometer stands at 29.61".  Temperatures today will be around 50, with more rain possible.  We had a thunderstorm yesterday evening with heavy rain and wind, that left at least an inch of rain.  There are flash flood watches for area streams.
   The cherry trees at Apple Hill Orchard on Hwy. J are beginning to  bloom and will be a lovely, if ephemeral, sight.  They grow the cultivars 'Cavalier' (early) and 'Lapin' (late). both of which are vegetatively hardy  but can loose buds or blooms, and therefore a whole crop of sweet cherries, due to a late frost, which will occur every so often.
    Failure of the bees to pollinate the blossoms can have the same result, but I am told a good crop can more than make up for a previous year's loss economically.  So far so good this year, as long as the honey bee pollinators don't shirk their duty.
   My recorded blooming dates are as follows: 5/12/15; 5/05/15; 5/29/13.  I wish I had more data, but that's it; seems pretty consistent, though, as the late date could be earlier as we don't drive the back roads every day.
OFF THE CUFF
   When I was a young man, not long out of college, my first really professional job was as an assistant to John Voight, the first Director of Milwaukee's Boerner Botanical Gardens.  John was an intrepid, straight-forward man who operated on principle, and expected others to do so as well.  Consequently, he was always on the hot seat with the union, with higher administration,  with the politicians and ward heelers and sometimes the public as well.  Everything I ever was, or had hoped to be, as a public servant I owe to John.
   Anyway, given his indomitable nature, he was constantly embattled, and somewhere along life's pathway he was given  an engraved plaque, which he kept prominently displayed on his desk.  I wish he had willed it to me, but he didn't, and I am sure it no longer exists.  It was inscribed, in a sort-of Latin:
    "Illegitimi non carborundum" which  quite loosely translated, reads:  
 
 Don't let the bastards wear you down. 
  
   If John's motto were in my possession today, I would send it to President Donald Trump, who certainly needs that admonishment more than John or I ever did.  
   May God Bless the America I once new, and that is disappearing fast. May He deliver us from the leftists, the anarchists, the snowflakes, the self-serving hacks and all the other devils that assault us and try to wear us down.  John, gone now these twenty and more years, would be out in front in this fight, waving the flag, and refusing to be worn down.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

FORGET-ME-NOTS ARE BLOOMING

FORGET-ME-NOT
Tuesday, 9:00 AM.  44 degrees F at the ferry dock, 46 on the back porch (discrepancy caused by the ENE wind off the lake).  The sky is overcast and it rained much of yesterday and again some last night, for a total of perhaps an inch.  The barometer is still dropping, now at 29.73", predicting cool and rainy weather for the week ahead, and clearing by Monday.  The weather has not been very pleasant of late, but it is a perfect spring for transplanting.
  The common forget-me-not, Myosotis scorpioides, in the Borage family, is a  plant of European origin that is much naturalized  in wet places and on damp ground.  It is weedy in the garden but can be very beautiful when occurring spontaneously.  It is considered a perennial but  is pretty much an annual that reseeds itself.  There are several native North American species but I am not familiar with them and most of what one encounters is, I think, the European species.  There are other naturalized species as well. A species native to Alaska is the state flower.  The Greek genus name refers to to the mouse-ear-like  blue petals of the flower.
   The forget-me-not has a rich history in literature and folklore.  This grouping is along a retaining wall on a property fronting Hwy. 13 on the north side of Bayfield, but they grow everywhere the conditions are appropriate, and they often are a beautiful display in one location one year, and absent the next. 
   My recorded dates for first blooming of forget-me-nots are: 5/12/16; 5/05/15; 5/28/14; 6/05/13; 5/09/12; 5/25/11; 4/27/10. Pretty much all over the spring calendar, but since they are primarily annuals, I would expect them to be erratic.

Monday, May 15, 2017

PJM RHODODENDRON IS BLOOMING

WHITE PINE AFTER THE RAIN
RHODODENDRON ON WASHINGTON AVENUE AND 6TH. ST.
Monday, 8:00 AM.  46 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the sky darkly cloudy, the radar showing more rain clouds approaching the Bayfield peninsula after a trace of wind driven rain earlier.  The barometer is more or less steady, at 29.99" of mercury.  Temperatures should reach the high fifties with rainy weather through Wednesday, then cool into the 40's with no rain.  The rainfall and cool conditions are great for establishing the extensive rock gardens we just planted on Chequamegon Road at the lake front.
    There are a number of cold hardy species, varieties and hybrids of rhododendrons and azaleas.  My recorded blooming dates for the hybrid  PJM Rhododendron are as follows: 5/10/16; 5/07/15; 5/03/12. Pretty consistent and right about  on time this year.
   Both rhododendrons and azaleas are members of the genus Rhododendron, the main difference is that the former are are evergreen, retaining their leaves in the winter, and the latter are deciduous.  Wisconsin has only one native species of Rhododendron, and that a very rare relict of glaciation that grows in small, isolated populations north of Madison in the Dells of the Wisconsin River. and on the cliffs of the Kickapoo River.  R. lapponicum, the Lapland rhododendron, is a disjunct, far out of its native range a thousand miles north. It was left there millennia ago by the retreating glaciers (thank heavens for global warming).
   The University of Minnesota has introduced cold hardy azalea hybrids, the Northern Lights series, that can withstand northern Wisconsin winters, but as do all Rhododendrons they require an acid soil and some care in location and planting. Being near the insulating waters of Lake Superior is of course most helpful.  A few other species and hybrids are also hardy, including PJM, a selection of the Korean rhododendron. There are also some hardy introductions from Canada and Finland.
   I have a protected location where I am growing some of the Northern Lights hybrids and other Rhododendrons. Both 'Golden Lights' and 'Rosy Lights' have established well and bloomed every spring, but they need some acidifying fertilizer.  Also, this far north Rhododendrons should probably be planted in full sun, whereas further south they should be in a shady location.
   For more information on hardy Rhododendron, see Azaleas and Rhododendrons for Minnesota, by Michael Zins, University of Minnesota Extension.
  

Sunday, May 14, 2017

JUNEBERRIES ARE BLOOMING, AND A GREAT SPRING FOR MARSH MARIGOLDS

MARSH MARIGOLDS...

...EVERY WET ROADSIDE DITCH AND SWAMP ARE FULL OF THEM

JUNEBERRIES ARE JUST BEGINNING TO BLOOM
Sunday, 9:00 AM.  46 degrees F at both the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind NE, mostly calm with light to moderate gusts.  The sky is partly cloudy with some haze, the barometer dropping slightly but around 30.0".  High temperatures will be in the mid-fifties today and during the week, with chances of thunderstorms and serious rainfall. 
   I mentioned the marsh marigold, Calth palustris, a few days ago and since then they have popoped up everywhere in roadside ditches and swampy areas, more than I think I have ever seen before.  Every spring is unique, favoring different blooming plants. This is one for the marsh marigolds.
  A true harbinger of a northern spring are the Juneberries, one of the first noticeably decorative native trees to bloom. The Juneberries, or serviceberries (shadblow is their name out East, as they bloom about the time the shad run up the streams to spawn) are the most prominent of the northern native trees and shrubs to bloom in spring.
   The most notably tree-like species, Amalanchier arboreum, in the Rose Family, haa suddenly popped into bloom in city and countryside.  There are a number of shrubby Juneberries as well, both wild and cultivated, most of which are quite similar in bloom, but the truly tree-like are usually arboreum, as well as the hybrid grandifloria of the nursery trade 
   The delicate flowers of Juneberries only last a few days, especially if the weather turns warm.  Many of the species interbreed, and are difficult to sort out, so visit the Freckman Herbarium web site, University of Wisconsin Stevens Point, for a list of Wisconsin species.   My recorded blooming dates for the genus in the Bayfield area are 5/09/16; 5/07;15; 5/27/13; 4/19/12; 5/20/11; 5/25/08. Not very consistent.  I should have picked one specific tree and followed it.  In general, Mother's Day is about on average, and I think I can say that, as a native genus, Amelancheirs  only bloom when there is very little chance of frost left.
   Soon the wild cherries will also flower, and from a distance they all rather blend together in the landscape.  But the Juneberries are the first, and I think they are as significant in the northern landscape as the flowering dogwoods are in the southern and eastern US.  They will be loaded with red to black apple-like fruits about the size of a large pea that are very good to eat if you can get to them before the birds, bears and the other critters.  In fact, Juneberry trees are best not planted where bears are likely to find them, as the bears will simply swat down a young tree to get at the ripe fruits.
   If you wish to plant a Juneberry tree, either obtain a good tree form from a reliable northern nursery or find a wild sapling growing near a tree form mother tree; they should get full sun to be at their best, but as woods edge and understory plants they will tolerate quite a bit of shade.  A good woodland loam is best for soil, nut they will tolerate less desirable soils.  Adequate moisture and decent drainage are a plus.  Be sure to mulch them, as they are woodland trees.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A VERY GOOD DAY

FOURTH GRADE CLASS AND THE ARBOR DAY FLAG

KIDS HELP PLANT THE ARBOR DAY TREE

A GOOD CROWD CAME TO THE TREE P;LANTING IN MEMORY OF JAY
Saturday, 47 degrees F at the ferry dock, 43 on the back porch.  Wind NE, mostly calm with light gusts.  The sky is partly cloudy, the barometer steady at 29.44". The highs will be in the fifties for the weekend, with chances of thunderstorms early in the coming week.  Absolutely everything spring will be blooming within days now.  Another sign of spring: I removed a tick from my shoulder yesterday.  Hate those things!
   The annual Bayfield in Bloom kickoff was a great success.  The Arbor Day Tree was planted with the help of a very attentive fourth grade class, and several dozen folks attended the dedication of the tree to the memory of Jay Cablk, of Jay's Tree Care, who was crushed to death in January by a hazardous tree he was removing.
   The Garden Talk Radio Show drew a large crowd of several hundred people, and their were many exhibitors.  As usual, the show, with call-in questions from throughout Wisconsin and beyond, was interesting and a lot of fun.
   There is always at least one question that stumps the three of us "experts,' and one that I managed to answer yesterday, I think correctly, is rather interesting.  A small town Wisconsinite called in and said he had a tree that had been identified as a lime tree growing in his yard, but it only bore hard little fruits. What could he do so it would produce edible limes?  The audience laughed, and we tried not to snicker, as a lime tree is a tropical citrus and doesn't grow in a Wisconsin yard.
   Then I thought, Linden trees, Tillia species, are called lime trees in Great Britain.  We grow both the native linden, or basswood, and the European little leaf linden in Wisconsin.  Lindens are also very fragrant when they bloom, and bear little winged nutlets, further confusing the issue.  Someone with a British background identified his basswood as a lime tree and he took it literally (and quite mistakenly).

Thursday, May 11, 2017

BAYFIELD IN BLOOM KICKOFF TODAY!

BAYFIELD'S DAFFODILS ALL READY FOR BAYFIELD IN BLOOM
Friday, 8:00 AM.  45 degrees F at the ferry dock, 44 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm at present.  The sky is mostly clear, with some haze.  The barometer is falling gently, currently at 30.69" of mercury.  The forecast predicts mostly clear skies with temperatures in the 60's and 50's today through Monday, with chances of thunderstorms by Wednesday and Thursday.
   Friday is the Bayfield In Bloom kickoff at the Bayfield Pavilion on the city dock.  The day starts with an Arbor Day tree planting at lakefront Memorial Park at 9:00 AM, with Bayfield fourth graders helping to plant the tree.
   The Arbor Day tree, an Autumn Blaze hybrid red maple, will be dedicated to arborist Jay Cablk, owner of Jay's Tree Care, who died tragically in January while taking down a hazardous tree.  Jay did much of the city's tree work, and is sadly missed.
   There will be displays by local green industry businesses and environmental groups and agencies at the Pavilion in the morning, and the popular  Garden Talk Radio Show, hosted by Larry Meiller, will be broadcast live, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.
   If you can't make it in person, tune in to the garden show on Wisconsin Public Radio, it is always interesting and a lot of fun.

ROCK ON: THE ACCIDENTAL ROCK GARDENS OF BAYFIELD

ROCK WALL ONE

ROCK WALL TWO

ROCK WALL THREE

ROCK WALL FOUR

PLANTING ROCK GARDEN PLANTS

FIVE YARDS OF TOPSOIL FOR THE ROCK WALLS
Thursday, 8:30 AM.  46 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch as well.  Wind ENE, calm with occasional light gusts  The sky is mostly cloud covered but may clear later in the day.  Today will be cooler, with highs in the mid fifties.  Tomorrow will warm a bit, then cool off to the around fifty with mixed skies through the weekend and chances of rain early next week, with thunderstorms by Wednesday.
   Tomorrow is the annual Bayfied in Bloom kickoff, with  the Arbor Day tree planting in Memorial Park and its  dedication to Jay Cablk at 9:00 AM,  and Garden Talk Radio Show live at 11:30 at the Pavilion.  Come if you can,  or tune in.
   I and my crew have just competed a huge rock garden planting at the lake shore, four rock walls totaling several hundred feet in length, and varying from several feet to twelve feet in height. Hundred of plants were used, mostly obtained from Hauser's Farms in Bayfield.  The plants were freshly dug, and hardly out of the ground but a few hours.
   There was an enormous amount of preparation involved, as the rock walls were full of weeds and grass and the planting crevices needed to be filled with decent soil.  It is hard to photograph the completed job, as the creeping rock garden plants are  small and won't stand out much until they are established and begin to flower.
   Bayfield is mostly ancient beach shore and glacial till deposits, and when a foundation is dug for a residence or other structure glacial rocks and boulders of every size and description are unearthed and used in some way, and most hillside and lakefront properties have retaining walls of boulders, usually rolled into place by machine and individual rocks not really placed in any considered way.  As you would expect, this leads to a lot of accidental rock gardens, and some, as these, much, much larger than anyone would otherwise construct. More often than not these poorly designed, constructed and planted rock walls end up being a hodgepodge of garden perennials, rock garden plants, and weeds.
   We tried to make these walls  pleasant and reasonably functional rock gardens.  They will need maintenance when established but at least there will be a rationale to them, and they should be quite beautiful eventually.
   The original concept behind classical rock gardens was that they were to be collections of rare plants that grew in mountainous regions, and at their best would mimic landscapes that the average person might not ever be able to visit; a sort of living museum of rare plants. Great gardens with rockeries still have that purpose, among them those at the Denver Botanical Garden and New York Botanical Gardens.
    Over the centuries rock gardens became less scientific collections,  and more simply colorful  spots in the  ordinary home landscape.  I would say the rationale with these rock wall gardens is to solve some obvious landscape problems and turn the dubious into the pleasant, and hopefully the beautiful.
More about the project in tomorrow's post.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

BAYFIELD TULIPS ARE BLOOMING




BAYFIELD TULIPS IN BLOOM

DUTCH TULIP FIELDS (Google photo)
17th CENTURY TULIP (Google photo)



Wednesday, 7:30 AM.  54 degrees F at the ferry dock, 51 on the back porch.  Wind WSW with light to moderate gusts. The sky is partly cloudy with some haze on the eastern horizon.  The barometer is steady at 29.88".  Today will be warm, around 70 degrees.  The balance of the week will be in the high 50's with mixed skies, and a chance of rain by early next week.
   Blooming dates for tulips can be all over the place, with many different species and varieties, some early, some later, so unless one is tracking a particular species or variety, or even a specific planting, about all I can say about when tulips bloom is that they are sometime after the first daffodils, and in Bayfield may last several weeks, blooming along with the last daffodils.  Cool, long springs here along the big lake are perfect for bulbs.  A caveat: deer love tulip bulbs, and if they get into a tulip bed they will root it up as though it had been roto-tilled.
   The genus Tulipa, in the Lily Family, is native to the Mideast and North Africa. The first tulip was introduced to Europe in 1554 from Turkey, and quickly became a  major economic product of Holland, where the climate was particularly amenable to growing the bulbs.  Different varieties and color patterns of blooms became prized for their beauty and actually became speculative items, whole fortunes being won and lost on the basis of the demand for a particular clone of the tulip bulb, and by 1637 the market for tulip bulbs had become a "bubble," which summarily burst, ruining many investors and gravely damaging the Dutch economy.
   That event, which became known as Tulipomania, was one of the first, if not the first, of modern speculative economic bubbles.   The story of Tulipomania reads like a modern account of commodity speculation, with terms like speculator,  futures contracts and short selling easily recognizable.  Bulbs were often bought and sold  many times over without the actual bulbs ever physically changing hands (while they were still in the ground).
   The tulip market fell but eventually came back at a more modest level, and bulbs and other flowering plants can even now be very valuable commodities, and buying and selling bulbs in quantity can still be a risky business for the unwary.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

STAR MAGNOLIAS ARE IN BLOOM

,

STAR MAGNOLIA IN BLOOM ON MANYPENNY AVE. IN BAYFIELD...

...LOOKS GOOD THIS SPRING: NOT ALWAYS THE CASE



   

Tuesday, 9:00 AM.  42 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the sky overcast, the pavement damp.  The barometer is falling, now at 29.94".  The forecast is for mixed skies and temperatures in the fifties for the next seven days,
   Star Magnolias, Magnolia stellata, in the Magnolia Family have begun to bloom in Bayfield, I am guessing the one pictured is the hybrid 'Dr. Merrill' but there are some other hybrids and cultivars around as well.  My recorded blooming dates for the species are as follows: 5/07/16; 4/30/15; 5/27/14; 4/10/13; 4/23/12/; 4/27/10; 5/11/09.  The dates seem to be pretty inconsistent, which could be either due to the fact that I missed recording an early bloom date on a late spring, or it could be related to the fact that the Magnolia genus is way north of its natural range here and really does exhibit great sensitivity to temperature (I suspect the later to be the case). Ignoring the 5/27/14 date, the blooming dates can be as much as two weeks different in given years, about what i would expect.
   Several species and cultivars  of Magnolias will grow in the Bayfield climate.  The star magnolia pictured is located on Manypenny Ave. and 4th St.  There are a number of others around town.  They are pretty hardy vegetatively, but the flowers sometimes freeze out since they bloom quite early in spring.  When they do so, the blooms hang on the tree, looking for all the world like wet paper bags.  I remember the look well from working at the Cox Arboretum in Dayton, Ohio, where that routinely happened.  I doubt that fully equates the two climates; more likely it says that the star magnolia, Magnolia stellata, which is native to China and Japan, is not a very reliable bloomer in the upper Midwest.  The tree pictured is probably the cultivar 'Dr. Merril'.  Anyway, exotic, erratic bloomers are fine to have around if one has the interest and the space.

Monday, May 8, 2017

EVERYONE'S GOIN' A COURTIN'

FROGGY GOES A COURTIN'
...STRUMMIN' ON HIS OLD BANJO
WHILE A RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD PROCLAIMS HIS TERRITORY


Monday, 8:00 AM.  40 degrees F at the ferry dock, 37 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm.  Teh sky is clear the barometer 30,17" and falling.  Today will be on the cool side, then it will warm to the 50's during the week, with mixed skies and no precipitation predicted until next week.  It will be a good week for doing the rock wall planting on the lake, an interesting job that I will report on as it goes along.
   The rivers and marshes are all at their high water mark, the marsh at the beach is no exception, and it is filled with red-winged blackbirds proclaiming their nesting territory and bullfrogs proclaiming theirs, both sounds otherwise not much heard there.  I communicated with a quite vociferous frog for some time, but he stayed hidden in the reeds and I never saw him.
   Life at the beach is good this year, and everyone's goin' a courtin'.
  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

PLANTING PANSIES

A FLAT OF PANSIES...

...THE FIRST  PLANTING OF SPRING
Sunday, 8:30 AM.  38 degrees F at the ferry dock and on the back porch.  Wind ENE, with light breezes.  The sky is clear, the humidity a low 66%.  Today will be cool, with highs in the mid-forties, then it will warm some midweek with mixed skies, then cooler with a chance of rain by next weekend.  This will be a spring when everything is in bloom at once.
   The flat of pansies we brought back from Milwaukee were aching to be planted in the herb garden yesterday, and we did so, on a cool but otherwise very nice afternoon.  It will all will look fine when the tulips bloom in a few days.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

BAYFIELD DAFFODILS

KEUKENHOF GARDENS, HOLLAND
BAYFIED'S DAFFODILS

Saturday, 7:00 AM.  38 degrees F at the ferry dock, 36 on the back porch.  Wind variable and calm, the skies overcast and the humidity 94%.  The barometer is rising, now at 30.03".  Mixed skies and temperatures around 50 are predicted for the next seven days.  It is a cool, slow spring.
   This is perfect spring weather for bulbs; cool, humid, with adequate moisture and no blasting hot days.  With weather like this bulbs can bloom for a month or more, which makes them a poor subject for analyzing so-called "climate change."  They indicate what the weather of a particular spring is like, but not much else.  My first-bloom dates for Bayfield's daffodils are as follows: 4/14/17; 4/26/16; 5/08/14; 4/14/11; 4/15/10. Pretty consistent, all things considered, but the length of the display speaks to the weather of spring,
   In any case, this appears to be a lengthy daffodil season, and they should be absolutely at their peak for the Bayfield In Bloom kickoff next Friday, May 12.
   Holland is the center of bulb hybridization, production and display, and its weather is cool, damp and humid.  If you can't make it to the great Dutch bulb displays at Keukenhof, come on up to Bayfield for the daffodils.
  

Friday, May 5, 2017

CREEPING PHLOX ARE BLOOMING

HEAVY FOG ON THE LAKE THISMORNING

CREEPING PHLOX, JUST BEGINNING TO BLOOM
VIOLETS ARE ALSO BLOOMING

Friday, 9:00 AM.  37 degrees F at the ferry dock, 37 on the back porch.  Wind N, calm.  The sky has a low overcast with heavy fog over the lake, and the humidity 94%, but the sun is beginning to shine through.  We may get some rain late this afternoon.  The forecast for the next seven days calls for mixed skies, no precipitation, and temperatures around 50.
   Our trip to Northwoods Nursery yesterday was pleasant, uneventful and productive.  The Arbor Day tree has been unloaded at the city shop.  It will be planted on May 12, as part of Bayfied In Bloom, and will be dedicated to Jay Cablk of Jay's Tree Care, who was killed by a falling tree in January.
   Creeping phlox, Phlox subulata, has just begun to bloom in the garden.  My recorded blooming dates are 5/04/16, 5/03/15, 5/31/14, 4/25/12, 5/17/11, and 4/19/10.  The late May date is probably late in the bloom cycle, as creeping phlox can bloom for several weeks.   The April dates seem to indicate  early springs, but it looks like this year is right about on average.
   Creeping phlox, in the Polemoneaceae family, are native to the eastern and southeastern United States, and are also found on the dunes of Lake Michigan and some of the other Great Lakes.  The species has been much planted and hybridized in the nursery trade.  There are many cultivars and color shades, from pink to white to blue.  Its native habitat is sand dunes and rocky ledges, and it does well in a rock garden.  It is an evergreen perennial and grows as a creeping mat, seldom taller than 6". 
   Creeping phlox can naturalize in sandy and less well cared for lawns, where it will withstand careful mowing.  One is fortunate indeed to have creeping phlox invade and persist in a mowed lawn, where it is very beautiful, but difficult if not impossible to introduce.
   There is an old cemetery on Hwy. 2 just a few miles east of Hurley, WI, that is an unbelievable sight when the phlox bloom, but they were not yet in bloom there yesterday.  Bayfield's Catholic cemetery also has a nice display of phlox but they are not in bloom as yet either.