Spring Before Frost

It's been a little warm around here. Maybe your place, too? Near and at record-setting highs in this and other areas. Given the harshness of the past winter, it has been a welcome relief...but I fear for my plants--the weather is a changing...!

Haven't given you many pictures lately, so here's a bunch. Everything is trying to pop out into true spring, but tomorrow night we have a freeze warning in effect, so who knows what will survive the weekend.

At the top of the post is one of last year's big additions-- a Forest Pansy


. Naturally, this is a cultivar of the native--the native having the habit of seeding itself all over the place (at least in sandy soil). This is among those flowering trees that are important to honeybees, since it is a native that they "recognize." Furthermore, the Forest Pansy has beautiful purple leaves. It was love at first sight. So this year we get to see the buds popping all over the older growth--at least momentarily!

The second image is a


, just barely sticking some new leaves out there among the old, along with some flower stalks. This plant we hope to encourage to the status of "ground cover" in a shady spot in the yard. Its one of those more intimate plants, that you have to be looking for to discover. The


are delicate in appearance and charming among ferns.

Number three is a voracious weed known as


that I happen to adore. Around its edges you can probably make out some


Both of these have been wildly successful for us in Western North Carolina. Both attract lots of butterflies. The yarrow is a truly reliable nectar plant and has rebounded from the snow with alacrity. The violet serves as a larval host plant for

Great Spangled Fritillaries


Variegated Fritillaries

. We are letting the violets take over what portions of the lawn they would like, along with some clover and something that looks like a sedum that I haven't identified, yet. Suggests are welcome!

Next up is the

red chokeberry

.  This one is a


with brilliant red leaves in fall. The berries are cherished by any number of birds, including chickadees (a personal favorite). The chokeberry is something you reserve for a space where you don't mind growing an entire thicket. That's a warning. You can also control the growth with pruning, if you prefer. :) Here in the heavy clay, we are overjoyed to have such a virulent performer.

Number five, growing up a section of gridwall panel hanging on the south wall of the shed is what some call red honeysuckle--I've given up using a common name on this one because the vines are all too similar in flower structure. "Trumpet Honeysuckle" refers to something else altogether, though these flowers also resemble red trumpets. This one is

lonicera sempervirens


Our lonicera was brought with us from Georgia as a six-inch puny-looking thing when we stuck it in the raised bed that camouflages the exposed foundation. Within the first year it grew to the roof line of the shed and attracted hummingbirds. Along with number six!

Number six is

monarda didyma

. We also have

monarda fistulosa

thriving in another spot in the yard, and both of these flowers are huge pollinator attractors. We had had success with fistulosa in South Georgia, but were never able to keep didyma happy--just a little too hot! North Carolina is another story. And the hummingbird consistently stuck up its beak at the nectar feeder if there were any, repeat any blooms--no matter how puny--available on the monarda didyma.

I suspect that this year, with its feet in very loose, well-drained soil, that our red monarda with be stupendous. Last year was spent on a clay bank under the black walnut. So it left the two-star hotel and moved up to five!

Finally, there is the


. This is just a wonderful landscape shrub, with exfoliating bark for winter interest, wonderfully textured leaves and a lovely growth habit. It does attract butterflies, and provides food and cover to songbirds. We like this shrub so much we have three of them.

I've enjoyed seeing all the new growth--I'll be getting out the frost cloth tomorrow! Hope your gardens are progressing well out there!

Thanks for reading--

Resource Improvement!

It's Raining Again and the Water Runneth Down the Street, Carrying Who Knows What