Friday, April 26, 2013

Is Spring of 2013 FINALLY, FINALLY springing? (PART ONE of FIVE) ASK THE SHRUBS!




Because thirty-six days have passed since spring's hesitant arrival, I'm "due" to make a progress report re the comings and goings in my terrace (roof extension) garden thus far this season. I'll do those over a series of five posts so that I can focus on a couple of "stories" within a given entry, and I'll be taking a look back at how things are doing as of a couple of days ago, Wednesday, April the 24th, when Juan V worked with me in my garden for the the third time since we de-winterized on March 9th 2013 (which means we have already worked together four times this growing season)!
Before Juan left after our work the other day, he took a few aerial photo-ops of my garden for me, including the one posted above. One of the "structural" changes we made was making room for two orange bistro chairs whose "presence" was made possible by a former neighbor.

They can be seen to the right of this image and are chairs which replaced wooden ones that I had given to Michael for his courtyard garden; and you may recall what they looked like from previous posts (and images) here on blogger, including one that was part of my year-end review series, which you may refer to by clicking here. The entry that I've just referred to also has the "back story" of my bouncer, the green chair which is across from the orange chairs as seen in the lefthand side of this image. 

And aside from the replacement /placement of bird feeders, the so-far unsuccessful attempt to add a com-poster, the paint touch-ups of my 2012 "Lucas" style urban hedge, and finally devising a way to have access to a hose*, these orange chairs have been the only structural changes Juan V and I have made in my garden so far this growing season.

*The hose can be seen in the image below — 



and for those who have gardens where a source for watering is not "an issue," this might seem like mundane news. But let me tell you, when you have a roof extension container garden (with full sun), where you grow 80++ thirsty "things;" and, you also have an array of visiting birds, it is difficult to rely on having to water what you grow (and clean up after the feathered friends have had their feast) by hand! Even though it is not a task I mind as it allows me to get a close look at what's happening; going in and out of my studio to my garden — with (an often leaky) watering can — has not always been the path to least resistance as I discussed in a 2011 entry here on Blogger.

However, every trip in and out of my place to procure water for the "things" I grow and to nourish what visits them has been rewarded more than one hundred fold; much more than I can describe.

And speaking of a "water source," I devised a way to make sure my birds have a water supply, a bird bath, and it can be seen within the red circle to the right of another one of Juan V's images, which is posted below.




The circle to the left of the image indicates my Cotoneaster apiculatus (AKA Thom-Thumb shrub). It is one eight shrubs that I have in my garden and for the remainder of today's blog post I will be discussing these shrubs' progress for the 2013 growing season.

I have had my Thom-Thumb for many years (2005 or 2006), but have written very little about him except an occasional entry here on Blogger); however, I did include its foliage in one of my garden-themed Virtual Stories (mini-movies) titled 50+ Shades of Green, which is in my Vimeo Library, and may be viewed by clicking here

In any event, prior to yesterday, the last time Juan V had been here was April the 10th, when he gave my Thom-Thumb an extraordinary haircut, which can be seen below in an image that I took at that time.



The fact that Juan V trimmed my Thom-Thumb was a "happy accident" as there was no intention to do so; however, it had toppled over whilst he was working and the result was him giving it a much needed haircut, plus, now I have more chard! 

In terms of showing you this shrub's former shape, the most recent images I have of my Thom-Thumb are from 2011 and 2010 and they are posted (respectively) below.





As you can see, this shrub's color changes with the seasons, which is quite evident in the second image of this series (an image that I took in November of 2010).

But, getting back to the happenings with the shrubs in my garden for the 2013 season, another one of  them, my Corylus avellana 'Contorta' (AKA Contorted Hazel Nut or Harry's Walking Stick), has had a first time feature this 2013 season!

You may recall that this shrub is revered for its branches due to their twisting and turning, which is something that has not been lost on me, for as you may recall, they were the inspiration for my 2011 Christmas card, that can be seen below.



The intricate twisting and turning feature of the contorted hazelnut's awesome branches was also cited by my one of my two kiwi vines, the Actinida kolomikta, when he narrated my first garden-themed Virtual Story, The Kiwi Speaks! Fifteen Minutes of Fame . . . almost, which may be viewed in my Vimeo Library by clicking here

Please keep in mind that the true intricacy of this shrub's branches is most evident in the early to late winter, when it has lost its leaves, as you can surmise from the image on my Christmas card, as well as from the snow-filled branches seen in the image below,



which was taken in February of 2013. The kiwi vine and I are not the only ones who appreciate the contorted hazelnut's branches: a number of my visiting birds appreciate them too, including the male house finch, as evidenced by the image posted below.



But as I said at the onset of my discussing this contorted hazelnut, it "had a first time feature this 2013 season!" And that feature, dear reader, for the first time since I've had this shrub (which is seven or eight years), is that it flowered, as I discussed in a previous post here on Blogger (which was "published" on 4-4-13)!

If you have read that particular entry, you might recall just how unusual those flowers are, but, for your convenience, I've posted other photo-ops of them below. 






And, like me, the birds (especially the house finch) appreciated these flowers, as you might imagine upon seeing the image posted below.



However, in spite of the attention I give the contorted hazelnut (including procuring new "digs" AKA an "artsy" container for her in 2012), and in spite of the notoriety she received from being in my first garden themed movie, she still has an inferiority complex; and she is convinced that the only reason for which various birds alight on her branches is their proximity to some of my feeders, as seen in an image taken by Juan V on 3-21-13, an image which I included in a post here on Blogger on 3-23-13.



I'm not certain why my contorted hazelnut feels so slighted — we all have our issues – because the one who "should" feel slighted is my Blue Shag shrub, who (in the image above) is sitting directly in front of my contorted hazelnut, and who has rarely been blogged about by yours truly! In fact, I only have one post about him on Blogger, whereas I have seventeen posts about the contorted hazelnut!

Additionally, I have fewer than fifty pictures of my blue shag (the last one was taken in September) and is more about Cam (my lone female cardinal) who is hiding behind the blue shag's name-tag as you can see in the image below.



On the other hand, I have over two hundred pictures of the contorted hazelnut! I guess my blue shag knows that confidence comes from within, as he is most content with life as it has presented itself to him in my garden, even though he has yet to be featured in my cyber-spce venues!

Another shrub that I have had in my garden for the same duration as my blue shag, contorted hazelnut and Thom-Thumb is my Paeonia suffruiticosa (AKA Tree Peony). It has been featured in a number (35+) of posts here on Blogger as well as in a couple of entries on tumblr, and its flower was "showcased" in my downloadable brochure for my communication materials (greeting cards, invitations and event program covers).

[The aforementioned materials are available for purchase in a "Storefront" via my web-site, Patricia Youngquist Photo-Art]

But as for my  tree peony's relationship to my 2013 growing season update, some of its many 2013 buds can be seen in the images below





This growing season, it has taken my tree peony longer to arrive at this stage than it took her last year when spring began much earlier, following a shorter than "usual" winter. And, I certainly hope the flowers it ultimately produces will be with me longer than they were in 2012, for in that growing season, the tree peony bloomed on a sunny saturday morning, April the 21st of 2012, and was a morning which was followed by heavy rains (nor'easter style), which knocked all its petals off, and I had no peony flowers after that! However, if you know the tree peony, its flowers look lovely even after they are "spent!" This is something that even my film-narrating-kiwi-vine agreed upon as he concluded his "monologue" in The Kiwi Speaks Fifteen Minutes  of Fame . . . almost.

Moreover, the tree peony's beauty is not only appreciated by me and my "prolific" kiwi vine, another one of my shrubs, the Continus Coggygria (AKA Smoke Bush or "Royal Purple' or 'Grace') adores it too!

One of the ways in which this is apparent is the manner that the smoke bush uses her leaves to welcome the peonies' buds! The smoke bush gently "strokes" the petals of the tree peony's buds with its strikingly-colored burgundy leaves as seen in the images below.




I've had my sweet unassuming smoke bush for one or two years longer than the aforementioned shrubs, and it even provided the inspiration for one of my greeting card designs as you can see in the image posted below.




This card can be found in the card-shoppe on my web-site. The foliage on my smoke bush changes color all throughout the year; at this time it is a deep burgundy and the shrub is filled with little buds that "should" produce yellow flowers. The flower's buds can be seen in the image below.



The remaining shrubs which I have in my garden are my three rose shrubs (one for orange roses, one for red roses and one for yellow roses). The foliage on all of them is healthy and when they begin to produce their flowers, I'll post about them; for now I'll refer you to their "stories" (from bygone years) here on Blogger as well as tumblr and if you'd like to see how their "antics" were featured in one of my garden-themed Virtual Stories, please click here.

This brings me my conclusion of part one (of five) re my series re answering the question (of Is spring finally, finally springing?). This is what my shrubs had to say; tomorrow I'll "talk" with my trees to see how they feel about the question.

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