Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Squirrel Battle update and more flowers.

The squirrel count is now 15. I still see maybe 5 more. I think I've rid the neighborhood of squirrels within a 2 block radius. I've even taken to spraying the sunflower seeds with Dave's Insanity sauce mixed with water and it slows them down a bit but doesn't seem to help much. This sauce is so hot even a whiff will bring tears to your eyes...on to more pleasant things.

Crocus are still blooming but the leaves are getting long. These are some the squirrels didn't get probably because they were surrounded by rocks which makes a nice backdrop for the flowers.

I didn't realize we bought some blue and white Chionodoxas. They are just starting to flower while the pinks ones have been up for several weeks now and are starting to fade.

More pictures of the early blooming tulip fully opened now. The petals will start falling off very soon but it was a spectacular show while it lasted.

Puschkinia scilloides. These came up last year too but I don't ever remember buying them. They may have been a gift since we bought so many bulbs. There are many little leaves around the two mother plants so I guess we'll eventually have a patch of these. The number of flowers have also increased quite a bit.

The Virginia Bluebells, Mertensia virginica are just starting to open. I thought the unopened buds looked interesting with their purple/pink color.

I mentioned I don't like hyacinths very much but they sort of look neat in the bud stage. The colors are much different than the open flowers and the color of the tip differs from the part closer to the stem making for some interesting color combinations - like exotic birds.

The Magnolia 'Butterflies' is about ready to open. If we don't get anymore frost damage this should be a spectacular year for this tree.

We bought this red flowered Magnolia about 3 or 4 years ago and this is the first time it will bloom. I can't remember the name of it, something like Vulcan comes to mind but that's probably not it. Anyway, it was touted to be the reddest Magnolia available at the time so I'm very interested to see the open blossom. It is a tall, skinny tree so does not take up very much space. Ideal for a small space needing a tall element.

Apparently for once my memory didn't fail me. This is the bud of the 'Vulcan'. Here's a description from the Greer Gardens website: "Magnolia ‘Vulcan’ — (-10°F, USDA Zones 6-9) Jury hybrid of M. cambellii var. mollicomata ‘Lanarth’ x M. liliiflora. A truly magnificent Magnolia with 10", cup-shaped flowers of the deepest rose-red. They are of heavy texture, and the red color is on both surfaces of the tepals, very rich! Flowers with a rosebud shape open in spring, showing a large number of tepals with softly waved margins. Though it blooms at an early age, flowers on young plants show lighter coloration. The tree is deciduous, erect in habit, open branched, and narrowly rounded, growing to a height of about 20'. Stunning, young or old!"

Apparently there may be two different clones of this magnolia - a light colored almost pink flower and a redder dark pink. I thought it would be a true red. Oh well, I'll just have to wait and see for myself if I have the light or dark or a true red.

Here's another photo of the 'Vulcan' from the Cambridge2000 website and another from the site.

Leaves of the Japanese maple 'Beni kawa' (red skin) just about to open. This is one of the coral bark maples. We also have a 'Katsura' and I noticed the bark was quite red even if it doesn't match the bright red of 'Sango kaku' or the 'Beni kawa'. Yet it isn't considered a coral bark maple. I wonder why the discrepancy?

I promised myself we wouldn't buy a saucer magnolia, Magnolia Soulangeana because the trees I've seen are so covered with flowers they seem overly extravagant. I saw this tree labeled 'Rustica Rubra'. We had the perfect spot for yet another magnolia because we had to remove an ailing golden rain tree, Koelreuteria paniculata. I didn't realize this was a M. Soulangeana until I read the small type under the prominent 'Rustica Rubra' by then the tree had been in the ground for more than a month. So we have a saucer magnolia which already has quite a few flowers for such a small tree ;(

More Scillas are coming up. I think we'll plant Scillas and Chionodoxas where the squirrels have dug up the crocus. The squirrels don't seem to like them very much and they seem to last a bit longer than crocus.


Blogger kate smudges said...

I'm glad to hear that the squirrel battle is being won. These squirrels don't seem to have any taste buds. The Japanese maple is a wonderful colour and I am awaiting the view of Magnolia 'Butterflies' when it unfurls those lovely petals. The bud on the Vulcan Magnolia is huge!

I like the photograph of the hyacinth in bud and also the Virginia bluebells - I saw some on Entangled's blog last night and was amazed at how far along your spring is from here.

And the Puschkinia are cute ...

10:43 AM  
Blogger joey said...

You are far ahead of me in the garden, Ki. This was a lovely post and photographed beautifully.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Kate. Indeed the battle is being won but for how long? At least there's some peace at the feeders during most of the day and the birds actually get to feed!

Some of the Japanese maples are 3 and even 4 season plants. I can't say enough good about them.

The 'Butterflies' magnolia is really taking its time opening the blossoms. We had temps in the 60's F today so I thought the flowers would pop but not so. Tomorrow is supposed to be in the 70's followed by a couple of days in the 60's so I hope to have some pictures to show for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Thanks for your comment.


Hi Joey,
You folks in the Midwest had a tough winter besides being in a colder zone but I can't believe how fast things are coming up when I skim the Midwesterner's blogs. You'll soon catch up to me. It'll be great to see your wonderful pictures of outdoor plants.

Thanks for the kind words.

6:27 PM  
Blogger Entangled said...

It looks like your flowers are catching up to ours, but the scillas here are just about finished. They're one of my favorite flowers, if only I could find a way to hide the foliage when it starts to die down.

I'm eager to see more of the magnolias. So far, I've only planted a sweet bay magnolia, but I'd like to add to that. The saucer magnolias grow well here, but the flowers frequently get caught by late frosts.

You found a use for the Dave's Insanity Sauce! ;-) I wonder if the squirrels will turn into chileheads, demanding chile-spiked bird seed?

5:29 AM  
Blogger Annie in Austin said...

Lovely, lovely spring you're having there, Ki! The mertensia photos make me remember them with nostalgia.

My neighbors have a huge saucer magnolia near the fence line so we see and appreciate the flowers, but even down here they're frequently caught by late frosts ... that happened this year so it was a short show. The freeze didn't completely brown the flower, just the edges but it was a disappointment. Is there anywhere in the US where the saucer magnolia is dependable?

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

2:10 PM  
Blogger Ki said...

Hi Entangled,
The temperature spiked up to 75 degrees today and will be the same tomorrow so I think that will be the end of many early blooming bulbs.

The "Butterflies" are half open now and there are a couple of "Vulcan" flowers open way at the top of the tree which is prob. about 15 feet tall now. The flowers are a dark pink rather than red ;( Also most of the flowers of the Soulangeana and 'Jane' are open. I'll take some pictures tomorrow and post them soon so you can see if you'd like to buy any of these magnolias.

I think the squirrels are beginning to like the Dave's sauce! :( Hey maybe they'll move to Texas :)

Hi Annie,
Boy, you guys really threw a nice shindig down in Austin.

I guess magnolia bloom time is triggered by temperature. Unfortunately the early bloomers are often caught by late frosts. In some of the more mature and sheltered neighborhoods I see tremendous displays of Soulangeana fully covered with flowers. They don't appear to be burnt by the frost but I'm whizzing by in my car so don't really get a good look to see any frost damage. We live on a small hill in a fairly new neighborhood so the trees are still small and don't give much protection from the wind. Our little tree's flowers got burnt when the temperature dropped into the high twenties one night. Interestingly only the earlier blooming stellatas and Merrill also got damaged but the second batch just blooming now with the Soulangeana were not affected.

I'm of two minds about the Virginia bluebells. The flowers look nice but the big floppy leaves look rather clunky and they spread readily. I guess like the hyacinths and bleeding heart they are in my indifferent plant category.

4:15 PM  

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