I challenge you

Maackia amurensis on the lane to the Rock GardenYesterday, the Rockettes and I were walking back to the greenhouse from planting teeny poppies and blue woodruff in the Rock Garden and I finally saw a tree that my eyes must have bounced off of nearly every day since I started working here. The tree has beautiful peeling bark that would have been a perfect feature in a Winter Interest post (maybe next winter I’ll write one of those…) and according to the AHS A-Z it has midsummer flowers (insignificant according to Julie) followed by pea-like seed pods. But this is what the Maackia amurensis has now and what my eyes finally lit on and saw:


Maackia amurensis - new leavesMaackia amurensis - new leaves - I couldn’t stop taking pictures!

From a distance the emerging leaves looked almost purple/blue and up close they were sterling silver busting out of an 18k greengold wrap! The thing that I can’t get over is not that it was one of the most incredible color combos I’ve ever noticed in nature but that I simply hadn’t registered the tree before. My challenge for you, if you choose to accept it, is to look at something new that you see everyday. You might find a surprise every bit as sublime and stunning and knock you off your rocker gorgeous (like these Red maple samaras).

Red maple (Acer rubrum ‘Red Sunset’) samaras

Cedar-apple rustThere are other things we’re noticing in the gardens that aren’t so wonderful but are just as important to keep an eye out for. Gail and I spotted Cedar-apple rust (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginiani) on a Juniper near the greenhouse. These alien orange gelatinous globs of disgusting goo appear in April/May usually after a rain on the host plant – Junipers (Juniperus virginiana) a.k.a Eastern Red Cedars – and then spread by spore to infect apples and native crabapples (most non-natives are resistant). Damage on apples appears as leaf spots, poor quality fruit and repeated infection can eventually cause the tree to die. Take a look at your junipers – if you see an orange Martian with horns, cut it off and throw it out (but not in the compost).

pupa and grubToday we moved some perennials from the North Garden to the Rose Garden and as I was digging my planting holes I came across these critters. The larger brown-orange one I think is a Gypsy Moth pupa (anyone know for sure?) Lavender and Fritillaria meleagris in the Rose Gardenand when I suggested putting the wriggling guy on the pavement for the birds to find both Gail and Julie said “Awww…” and the Mom in Gail said “We don’t harm nature, Kris.” So I rolled my eyes and buried it again. I squarshed the other one though and several of its siblings. And I would pay any child a penny a pinch to do the same because it was a Japanese beetle grub and future rose devour-er. I had half a mind to keep digging up the Rose Garden to try and find them all… Instead I did something much more pleasant – I nipped and pinched and groomed our lavenders. Older specimens often open up in the middle and pinching can help keep them young at heart.

Daffodil Days are still going strong although the daffodil show is beginning to go by. It’s a good thing the parade of (other) blooms has only just begun!

Daff cam 5-1-08

8 thoughts on “I challenge you

  1. BOO!…hope I didn’t scare you, Kris. So, are there any death cabs over at B-wold? I heard of some others that may be a-poppin’ right around May 9th! (unrbvklujhszdrfuj) Thanks for the tip on the Red Cedars. I’l be pokin’ around over here for the culprits. I should find myself over at the grounds before too much more time goes by. See, me, Ize a ben studeeein a whole bunch. So, enough ramblin’. See ya soon.

    Brendan, No but there are Cuties here and lots and lots of trees for you to studee up close and personal. Plus the bamboo will be shooting up soon – you like it! -kris

  2. What a nice post, Kris. It’s a good time of year to reopen our eyes, our ears, our minds to the wonder of the world around us, and to surprise ourselves with new wonders.

    Thanks, Jodi. There’s so much to notice I’m exhausted from sensory overload by the end of the day! -kris

  3. The emerging foliage is indeed a surprise of colors! I did a LOL at the bug comments of your co-workers! I would have put them on the fence post! Check out David Perry’s post on his rats but don’t let Gail see it! He is linked from my site. Beautiful photographs and great writing. I will have to check my red cedars for the ‘bloom’.

    Thanks for the David Perry link – I’ve got him bookmarked now – and his rat post is a little disturbing and fascinating in a train-wreck sort of way – it’s not for everyone! -kris

  4. “alien orange gelatinous globs of disgusting goo” and you want me to get close enough to cut it off? I think you might have better luck feeding me the grubs.

    I’ve been keeping my eyes on the side of the roads. If I catch a hint of something I’ll stop to catch a photo. If I keep it up I should have a nice chronological record of wildflower bloom times in the area.

    eeu. I don’t think I’ll try to feed grubs to anyone but the robins, no siree. And if you don’t want to come close to the orange goo then that’s fine too. (wuss.) *ahem* Who said that?! I like your wildflower idea – you’ll have to get a bumpersticker for your car though – “I brake for pussytoes” or something. -kris

  5. Wow, I was eating salsa for lunch and began reading this post. Appetite lost right after the apple rust picture. Yucky!

    Sorry, Susan! Good thing salsa keeps – hope your appetite’s back by now! I should post a warning probably… -kris

  6. I like a challenge but this one is easy as I am constantly in awe about what I see in the garden. I’m very glad that I am still able to look at things with *new* eyes (like a child) and marvel at what I see. Lovely post Kris, the daffs are gorgeous!

    YE, I’m glad to hear it! I have blinders on sometimes and am much happier when I remember to take them off! -kris

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