I am sure that I am not the only one that is fascinated with parking lot and strip mall landscaping. For the most part, there is a lot of sameness to it–Knockout roses and Stella D’Oro daylilies. There’s a reason for that–it works because those are very tough plants.
I’ve had this photo on my blog before, a few years ago, in the middle of a drought after a very cold winter. At that point, these river birches (betula nigra) looked dead. I am delighted to see that they have recovered but I still find them an odd choice for an island bed in the middle of asphalt because, as a general rule, they are a somewhat thirsty plant.
Nevertheless, they do seem to be thriving.
This planting is in the same general area. Yes, there are daylilies, but no Stella D’Oros in sight. And the coneflowers are a delight. I walked over for a closer look, expecting them to be devoid of life, but I found several types of bees on them.
It may be a little hard to see but this flower in the foreground actually has two big bumblebees on it! What I hope that means is that these beds aren’t pesticided to within an inch of their lives. It’s quite refreshing.
So every so often even commercial planting can surprise me–in a good way.
April in Connecticut was nasty! It was the 5th or 6th coldest April on record (and our records go back into the late 1800s, so that’s a good bit of weather to compare with!)
We got almost 2″ of rain above average–you won’t ever hear me complaining too much about rain, but when it’s so cold, extra rain is extra ugly.
And we had over 6″ of snow above average. That I will complain about!
But so far the beginning of May is making up for it–or as I always say, we only have two seasons here in this state, winter and July. We haven’t had much temperate weather–it’s either been below average (or much below) or much above. I presume that’s how averages are made.
Still, when I got back from Oklahoma, I found all this in bloom!
Azaleas were everywhere ( as were forsythia, but I don’t have those)
Magnolias similarly were everywhere. I have a star magnolia, but I am a bit concerned that it somehow died over the winter. I see no signs of life–either blossoms or leaves. This is a 30 year old tree. I hate when that happens!
My yellow magnolia is doing fine and will be in bloom shortly.
Bulbs are popping up in places where I planted them–and where I didn’t. More about that in another post.
My weeping cherry–which is always later than the magnolia–is spectacular.
And this funny plant–petasites japonica–is doing quite well because of all the moisture. It will do well as long as it’s moist. If it becomes hot and dry, it will get ratty and I cut it back.
So I was very pleased to see spring at last on my return.
On Monday I talked about damage from a winter nor’easter that occurred on March 7 in my yard.
But the damage wasn’t limited just to my house, of course. Just about every neighbor on my street had had damage. The arborists are going to be busy for months cleaning up from this storm.
And when I went to our local historical society recently I was shocked to find 4 large eastern white pines down on its property (I am not sure why I was shocked. I guess I thought that maybe being in Hartford might have shielded them somewhat. I was very mistaken.)
The most dramatic damage was to this pine at the entrance to the parking lot. Fortunately it seems to have fallen away from the street and away from the parking lot–it didn’t seen to have been moved there in any way (although with the size of this tree, if it were going to have been moved, I think they would have just had to remove it!)
Over a week later, the air was still fragrant with the smell of fresh pine. That was kind of amazing to me.
As I examined these trees a little closer (and it wasn’t possible to get too close because of a combination of wet snow and soggy ground) I realized what they had in common. Here’s a photo below.
Notice this thicket of brambles? All the tree trunks were also covered with these same vines. It was probably the weight of these vines (in addition to the extremely high winds–and the fact that pines are known to do this) that caused this issue
In 2011–our last storm that caused dramatic tree damage–foresters and arborists claimed that the weight of invasive vines in the tree canopy contributed to the damage. You can dispute that–or not–but all of the tree trunks that fell on this property were covered with these vines. Here is another photo.
The takeaway of course is that invasive vines should be managed. That’s always easier to say than it is to do. I know that from my own property.
And of course none of my trees had the vines on them and they fell anyway. So try as you might, sometimes nature just wins.
We here in the Northeast have had to put up with a bit much lately. Three “nor’easters” in 3 weeks.
For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of a “nor-easter,” it is a storm that most often occurs in the winter with winds that primarily blow from the north east (hence its name). It can bring rain or snow or a combination of both. It can bring blizzard conditions. It is most often known for its devastating winds, so folks along the coast often call them “winter hurricanes.” And, if they occur at times of high tides, they can often lead to very destructive coastal flooding as well.
Each one of our nor’easters has been personally different for me and I’ve fared very, very well compared to most of New England and the mid-Atlantic. But I’ll give you a little taste of the personal destruction we’ve had at our house from nor’easter #2, the one I’ve dubbed “arbor-geddon.”
The first problem was the attack upon my car. Yes, there is a car underneath all this tangled foliage. The top of a Japanese maple came down on top of my Subaru. Notice my wheel in the lower left corner of the photo.
Luckily the car emerged with just a small scratch. The maple is not so lucky. Here’s what that looks like.
Here’s the branch that was on the car, as well as a look at the now mangled tree. I planted this as a sapling 23 years ago. I will try pruning to see what it looks like “after.” Despite its attack on my car, I am fond of it. And the birds love to nest there.
And of course there are the Eastern white pines. They shed some large limbs in every heavy snow or ice storm. Honestly, it’s a miracle we have any branches left. Notice the three distinct places where they fell. Not sure what that’s about.
What’s a little more discouraging is what’s happened to this juniper. It was a big overgrown thing but I let it go because it produced masses of berries for the birds, particularly over-wintering robins or those that came back very early in the spring. It’s been significantly damaged. I am not sure if we can prune it into shape or if it has to come out. We’ll see a little later this spring.
And we lost this large branch off our Japanese black pine. This is mostly cosmetic damage–sad but not terrible.
On Friday I will show some damage that occurred elsewhere–on the grounds of a nearby museum–and the reasons for it.