Thursday, October 24, 2019

Roadside Attractions

Ditch lily - Hemerocallis fulva

Those of us old enough to remember when cars didn’t have air-conditioners recall the welcome sights of roadside attractions. They weren’t our final vacation destinations, but their oddly unique appearances piqued our curiosities, and provided occasional relief from our sweat-boxes on wheels. Of course, we usually left with a few souvenirs.
I still have the urge to pull off the road sometimes to “see a man about a dog” or something that catches my eye, or both at once. More than likely, some interesting plants provide the excuse.
Here are a few that often attract my attention. Better yet, you can grow them at home as mementos.

Gelsemium sempervirens

Carolina Jessamine

Our native Carolina Jessamine is a spectacular vine that is well-known throughout the South. Its range is from Virginia to Texas and southward through Mexico. Motorists are sure to notice it as they travel along our highways as Jessamine festoons trees and shrubs in early spring. Read more about Carolina Jessamine.

Rudbeckia species

Black-Eye Susan

Black-Eye Susan (Rudbeckia spp.) is one of my summer favorites, and not mine only. I often pass cars parked beside highways, the driver and passengers strolling among bright-flowered patches to pluck bouquets. Read more about Black-Eye Susan.

Campsis radicans

Trumpet Vine

Trumpet Vine is a very familiar vine native to the southern United States, but can be grown as far north as New York. Travelers will noticed it growing up and over fences and signposts along the highway. Large, bright yellow, orange to red trumpet-shaped flowers appear from midsummer to fall. Read more about Trumpet Vine.

Coreopsis species
Coreopsis - also known as Tickseed - brightens roadsides and median strips in sunny yellow throughout the summer. It's one of my favorites from childhood that has stuck with me all these years.
Read more about Coreopsis.

Hemerocallis fulva

Ditch Lily

Ditch Lily is a species of daylily (Hemerocallis fulva) that is so common you’ll think it’s native, but it’s not. This naturalized beauty is spectacular en masse where you’ll often find it growing … you guessed it … in ditches. There is even a double-flowered ditch lily. Read more about daylilies.

With these roadside attractions popping up every so often, you’ll be tempted to stop and take a stroll, even if your car does have air-conditioning!

Monday, October 21, 2019

How Can Hurricanes Effect Your Garden?

hurricane forecast models

Lord of the winds! I feel thee nigh,
I know thy breath in the burning sky!
And I wait, with a thrill in every vein,
For the coming of the hurricane!
From The Hurricane - Poem by William Cullen Bryant

Okay. Let's be honest. Those of us near the coast are not that thrilled about hurricanes. We prepare as best we can, study the forecasters' spaghetti models, pray that the mega-storm won't affect us personally, but will make landfall elsewhere. 
While I was waiting on the last one, I started thinking about how hurricanes can impact gardeners, even if it's a glancing blow. Here are some observations.

Hurricanes may bring different pests

When Hurricane Irma blew through the Southeast in 2017, the region’s agriculture was affected in various ways. Ayanava Majumdar, Extension entomologist for the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, pointed out that the storm could have surprising consequences with insect populations in our gardens.
Hear Dr. Majumdar speak about it.
Read more about hurricanes and pests.

The effects of salty soil

Salt is good, right? We say someone is “salt of the earth” if they are virtuous. Salt is a valuable commodity, sometimes used for barter or as money. Roman soldiers received part of their salary – salarium – in salt. A worthless soldier (or slave) wasn't "worth his salt." But, salt can be a bad thing. Just ask any coastal gardener. Storm surges from hurricanes - even minor flooding - increase salt content in the soil.

Why, and so what? 

Effects on pollinators and pollination

The two obvious characteristics of hurricanes are very strong winds and heavy rainfall. Gardeners affected by direct hits are immediately concerned with the devastating impact upon their gardens. But there are other less obvious but important consequences – pollinator injury or displacement, and pollination degradation.
What happens to pollinators such as butterflies and bees during hurricanes? And what happens with the pollination? 
Read more about storms and pollinators.

Unique birding opportunities

As much as we hate them, hurricanes can make a bird-watcher’s dream come true. Powerful winds send birds from distant locations far north along coastlines, or even inland. You might even find some rare species from Africa or the Caribbean in your own backyard. 
Read more about storms and birds.

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