Lynn Reid and Allison Menendez joined me today for some garden work. I started out by pulling out my Peterson Field Guide to the Ferns to figure out what a few of the mystery ferns were. Fern identification is based on whether the leaves are "once cut, twice cut, or thrice cut" and what the spores or sori look like. I had the toughest time figuring out if our thrice cut fern was a Lady Fern or Spinulose Wood Fern and finally just took some close-up shots of the soris to figure out at home. Alas, we appear to have both. The photo on top appears to be a Lady Fern, while the one below is a Spinulose Wood Fern.
The Spinulose sori are round and at the end of the veins, while the Lady Fern sori look like eyebrows.
The picture above is of the marginal woodfern, which is twice cut and the sori are dotted along the margins of the leaves (hence the name "marginal"). At Eklund these are the fern growing beautifully out of the stone walls.
The small fern above is a polypody growing over some rocks at the top of the Eklund upper terrace, which is what polypodys do.
We're very lucky to have so many fern species at Eklund. Here's an inventory of our ferns:
Christmas Fern (evergreen) Polypody (up high in the wall on a rock) Maidenhair Fern (purchased, in lower bed) Royal Fern (purchased,- in the goldfish pond) Interrupted Fern (large patch down by the trail, also in lower bed) Ostrich Fern (purchased, in goldfish pond and lower bed) Spinulose Wood Fern (in woodland fern patch near sidewalk) Lady Fern (was growing where the cabin once stood, transplated to lower bed) Marginal Wood Fern (growing in the walls) Hayscented Fern (spread atop the upper terrace and through much of the site, along the pond)
One thing we're running into at Eklund is the naturalization of species that were previously planted in the garden. Sedum, foxglove, pulmonaria, lilac, forsythia, andromeda, lily of the valley, and wisteria come to mind. In a normal garden these plants might be great, but not in a native species garden, because they are all from Europe or Asia. The other day I ran into this unfamiliar plant scattered about the site and transplanted some of it in the hopes it might be something worthwhile.
Alas, it turns out to be a British orchid called Helleborne, and not a very showy one at that.
I'm having a look at any other public native species or "wildflower" gardens in the area I can find, which today included one at the New Canaan Nature Center and another behind the Hurlbutt Street School in Wilton.
For the most part, the "wildflower garden" at the New Canaan Nature Center appears to be a wet meadow that is mowed once a year, and so it is actually appropriate to call these "wildflowers." They say that 90% are native. I was attracted to the Canada Anemone that formed a very attractive border. That's one of the plants on my "must get" list.
I then found the tiny garden behind the Hurlbutt Street School, which is an old one-room schoolhouse from the 1800's. According to a blurb I found on the internet, the plants were rescued when Route 7 when in quite awhile ago, and the Wilton Conservation Commission is working on restoring the garden and getting some labels. In the picture below, that's pretty much the entire garden.
I'm going to keep looking , but so far I haven't found anything in the area quite like what we're doing in Shelton.
I was working in the garden recently when a man with two kids outside the gate asked, "Can we come in and see your garden?" When hikers come through they looked mystified and say, "Um...What IS this place?" Hopefully the new header sign at the main gate will help with that problem. My husband Terry did the woodworking and I painted the letters. After a couple mountain laurel are trimmed along the path people will be able to see it from the road.
The proper name for the garden is actually just "Eklund Garden." I was hoping to have "native species" underneath in smaller letters, but that just was not going to work. So we opted for "Eklund Native Species Garden" just so people would know right off the bat what type of garden it is.
By the way, "Eklund Wildflower Garden" might sound nicer, but it wouldn't at all be accurate. Wildflowers are very, very often not native. By definition, a wildflower is just any flower growing wild, without cultivation or help from people. Dandelions and daisies are wildflowers, but they are not native. Our plants (which often aren't even flowers) are not growing "wild". Most were propagated in a nursery, and they are cared for carefully. So they are not wildflowers.
It's been cloudy and raining for a full week now. Everybody is complaining about the disappearance of the bright round orb that usually appears in the sky during the day. BUT, the new plants loved it! They've been growing and settling in and a few were even in bloom today, including the Sun Drops, Beardtongue and Prairie Phlox.
Carol Jacobson, Lynn Reid, Kelly Walsh (above) and myself worked in the garden today, digging out Black Swallowwort, weeding, raking and transplanting. I moved the last of the 2007 Girl Scout plants from the front of the front wall, where they were not doing well, to the back "low slope" garden, where they will get more shade and moisture. I also planted some Jerusalem Artichoke donated by Allison Menendez. It had been bare-rooted and did not look very happy when we left, but we'll see.
The Mountain Laurel were in full bloom. Here's Carol finishing up for the day. She dug out a ton of Black Swallowwort, which was in bloom (and soon to be setting seeds!)
Here's Lynn weeding out the front bed where the Girl Scout plants used to be. We're not sure what we'll put there. The soil is nice and black, but a bit bony, with part sun.
The Sun Drops are doing great and I think I'll pick up some of those for my garden. For one thing, they are deer resistant. And they are a naturally-occurring Evening Primrose hybrid that does not spread all over your garden. Yay!
I've just received a big box of blank copper plant labels. The steel frame is spanned with removable copper foil. I'm printing out all the plant names using MSWord (Tempest Sans ITC font 18 to 22 pt), taping the name onto the copper, using a ballpoint pen to inscribe the writing through the paper onto the copper, then removing the paper and rescribing with the pen. After that I just go over it with an extra-fine Sharpie. The ink will fade, but the inscription should remain, so I can always go back over it with the Sharpie if needed. The shiny copper will also weather. Finally I reattach the copper foil and put a bend in the steel frame so the labels face upward.
The labels came from www.mountainvalleygrowers.com and were about $100 for a box of 250. Very economical! Another option would be professional inscribed labels at a cost of about $5 per label. But I expect some vandalism and these copper labels will be easy enough to replace.
Reason number one: The Brown-Eyed Susans (Rudbeckia fulgida) that have been growing in my garden for years look like they were hit with a mower this year. I salvaged what I could today by transplanting them at Eklund (photo above), which is protected by a deer fence. Not sure how many will make it - some are mostly just stems.
Reason number two: My native Woodland Phlox at home had most of the blooms neatly nipped off (photo). Phlox spread each year, so I cut away the excess and transplanted that at Eklund today.
Reason number three: The Purple Coneflower in my garden has been nipped off repeatedly the past few years. I took the pathetic remains and transplanted them next to the healthy Purple Coneflower from Earth Tones that was just planted this year at Eklund. Compare the two in the above photo. The one from my garden is the sad thing on the right. It's supposed to look just like the one on the left. Actually it should be bigger since it wasn't a new plant in a pot, but well established in a garden.