Shortly after posting the item on an amazing tree that clings to life from the cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan, I got to thinking about another aspect of persistent plants: the invasives. These, too, find homes on the sandstone cliffs off of the south shore of Lake Superior — and once they’re established they don’t want to go away.
Miner's Castle on Lake Superior
While visiting Miner’s Castle (photo below), we admired the pretty forget-me-nots (Myosotis spp.), blanketing the forest floor nearby. It turns out these are not natives to the area, but a very aggressive plant that is displacing trout lilies and other plants of the region. Since this is a rare ecosystem, the National Parks Service is taking some steps to remove (or at least reduce) the forget-me-nots and other invasives such as garlic mustard and spotted knapweed from the area. We also saw what I think is Clintonia borealis (yellow corn lily), which is native to the Upper Penninsula.
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Posted in Garden Travel, Nature on June 19, 2009 |
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The ground fell out from around its root, but the tree keeps growing.
The tenacity of plants always amazes me. Faced with poor soil, too much sun, too much shade, competition from other plants–whatever the obstacle, many plants will continue to send out roots, sprout flowers or produce seeds. For a case in point, consider this photograph taken earlier this week at the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, Mich. My husband and I took a short vacation there this week, enjoying the cool breezes off of Lake Superior, the incredible rock formations, doing some gentle hiking, and talking with the friendly folks at the Falling Rock Cafe and Bookstore, where we heard a soulful and fun performance of Cole Porter music by six opera singers performing as part of the Pine Mountain Music Festival.
But as we took the long drive home yesterday, I kept thinking about this tree. The sandstone that connected it to the mainland here fell away some years ago. Still, the tree grows, hanging onto the soil and its nutrients by this single exposed root. Now that is persistence.
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I enjoy visiting gardens while on vacation, but you can visit many gardens from the comfort of home through books, web sites, and DVDs. This Christmas, the man in my life gave me a trip to the gardens of Jane Austen through a just-released book by Wisconsin writer Kim Wilson. I’m a minor Jane-ite (as Austen fans are called) and really enjoyed Wilson’s Tea with Jane Austen.
From Jones Books
In the Garden with Jane Austen takes readers to gardens that Austen and her family would have cared for — mostly cottage type gardens that mixed vegetables, flowers, and herbs — as well as the grander gardens she might have visited. Wilson does a great job of connecting the gardens to Austen’s novels and letters as well as to the types of gardens that were popular in the Regency and Georgian periods in which Austen wrote. For instance, when Austen says in Pride and Prejudice that the drive around Mr. Darcy’s impressive park at Pemberley is 10 miles, she’s putting it in the same class as Blenheim Palace. Wilson also covers garden trends of the time that are mentioned in Austen’s books, from the need for “shrubberies,” graveled paths surrounded by trees and shrubs, to the fad of installing a hermitage, sometimes with a hermit in residence. It’s a wonderful blend of cultural and literary connections and garden history.
Wilson has photos of most of the gardens and provides contact information for the sites that are open to visitors. She also has a list of the gardens filmed in the many movies of Jane Austen novels. If you were planning a real trip to England, this book would be an informative guide.
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Since envy is one of the seven deadly sins, is zone envy a particularly egregious offense for gardeners? If so, I am guilty after a trip to Chicago this weekend. I went to help my daughter, a student at Loyola University, move home for the summer. Early Friday morning, I left Minnesota amid wind, cold, and threats of snow showers. Traveling across Wisconsin, I was pelted by heavy rain. But on Loyola’s pleasant urban campus, there were azaleas in bloom, tulips filling the planters, flowering crabapples, and near the shore of Lake Michigan, a planter filled with blooming (blooming!!!) roses. Chicago is in zone 5, according to the USDA map, only one zone lower than Minnesota, but the lake may moderate temperatures even more on the campus. Fortunately, I was able to ease my suffering with a bit of retail therapy at Ferraro’s Garden Spot, a small garden store near the hotel we stayed in. Ferraro’s had a good selection of Jackson and Perkins roses, so I bought two: ‘Purple Passion’ and, not surprisingly, ‘Iceberg.’
UPDATE and ADDITION: After I wrote this post, we were back on campus, and what should appear but this fox. My daughter had a startling late-night encounter with a fox several weeks ago. Apparently, the fox is a regular on campus. (Keep in mind, these photos were taken near a building overlooking Lake Michigan and less than a block from North Sheridan Road, a very busy intersection.)
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Posted in Garden Travel, tagged img_0732.jpg on January 24, 2008 |
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This past week in Minnesota was bone-chilling, but I missed most of it, thanks to a long-planned trip to visit my parents, who spend the winter in Naples, Florida. The weather in Naples was great, especially compared to the sub-zero temperatures at home. On our first day there, my mom and I visited the Naples Botanic Garden which showcases the flowers and trees of southwestern Florida.
Last winter, my mom bought two tiny Crown of Thorns plants in Florida, brought them home to Minnesota, where they grew to about 24 inches tall. (I’m trying to keep them alive through the winter for her with mixed results.) We were shocked to see a Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia splendens) up to my waist when we walked through the gates at the garden. It just shows what a tropical climate will do. Naples is zone 10, compared to zone 4 in Minnesota.
One of the prettiest displays in the garden is the Tropical Mosaic Garden. With a brilliant blue and green mosaic background that reflects the colors of the Gulf of Mexico, the garden is home to date palms, giant bromeliads, and a grotto covered in maidenhair ferns. Some paperwhites (Narcissus papyraceaus) were in bloom along with a fabulous orchid tree. The bloom period for these trees is coming to an end, but even as they faded, the hot pink, orchid-like flowers were impressive.
We happened to be there on the opening day of the garden’s new Wings of Brazil exhibit, which runs through May 2008. Inside the garden’s three-room butterfly house are an array of Brazilian birds. The birds included a Banana Quit named for its yellow back, a marvelous green bird called the honeycreeper, a fascinating red-capped cardinal and several friendly parrots. The garden also features a one-mile walking path through a 30-acre native pine and oak scrub habitat.
The garden is an exchange garden with the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, so if you are an arboretum member, you can visit the Naples garden for free. It’s not large, but for a northerner looking for some heat, humidity, and flowers, the Naples Botanic is worth a stop.
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November is my least favorite month: dark, wet, and nothing but winter in sight for the next six months. But gardeners can find ways to brighten November–or at least work with its palette. Yesterday and today, I’m on a road trip to the Chicago area. En route to Chicago, I stopped at the Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison, Wis. Olbrich is a city garden, nestled in a large park along Lake Monona. Its executive director is Roberta Sladky, formerly of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park in St. Paul.
Like Madison itself, Olbrich is big enough to be interesting, but not so big it overwhelms visitors. I toured Olbrich on a hot, sunny day in the summer of 2006 and loved the garden’s bright colors, especially its rose garden. This time, fall and a persistent drizzle gave the place a pleasant but muted feel.
Visiting public gardens is a great way to get ideas for your own garden. Public garden designers really know how to frame vistas and outlooks. This view is not far from the entrance to the garden and it clearly tells visitors they are entering a special place. That tower in the distance overlooks the rose garden.
Olbrich uses grasses, fruiting trees, and ground covers to provide interest and color in the fall garden. The gardeners there also leave many of their perennials standing, rather than clearing them out for the winter.
I love the rich purple color of this Ajuga ‘Burgandy Glow’ which is underplanted in a bed of shrubs and perennials. Planted nearby are several crabapple trees with their bright red fruits dangling down. Other highlights of Olbrich are its Thai garden and its use of grasses. More on those in future posts.
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