Friday, April 16, 2010

The Many Plants of Chateaus de Lop-her

A while back I mentioned that one of my goals this year was to turn my black thumb into a green one. Since then, I've cultivated a 10'x20' section of my yard into a raised-bed vegetable garden, I've started some seedlings, and perhaps most pertinent to this post, for the first time in the 6+ years I've lived in my house I'm finally appreciating the vast array of plants and flowers that a previous owner so dedicatedly planted years and years ago. 

I've always said my house sits on fertile soil - we almost can't keep up with the removal of tree seedlings from our flowerbeds. I pulled 9 Japanese Maple seedlings out two weeks ago, and last night I found 4 more. We also get seedlings of cypress fir, maple, and holly, to name the others I recognize. My yard is off the hook. The land my house sits on used to be an orchard. Our neighbors tell us that our house was the first on the block, and it was built for the eldest daughter of the man who owned the farm. Consequently, we have both a pear tree and a cherry tree (both of which still bear fruit) in our back yard, which is not big by any stretch of the imagination. The entire lot is 50'x150'.

For years I complained that I wish we had bought a condo in a high-rise instead, but luckily I had enough foresight (laziness) to leave well enough alone, because this spring I'm in heaven tending to my yard and flowerbeds. I'm currently trying to cultivate the old plants and flowers so that they replace the weeds in the flowerbeds. The main problem now is that I don't know what half the shit growing on our property actually IS, so I thought I'd post some pics of the foliage and see if y'all can help me identify some of it:

The North Lawn:

Bush with red berries in early spring.

Unknown climbing vine #1.

Unknown climbing vine #2 (it's not weed).

Close-up of unknown young climbing vine #2.

Plant or weed? Some kind of clover maybe?

I don't think this flowers. It's cool looking, but I don't know what it is.

Purple flowers on tall stems come out of this thing in the summer.

Some kind of clover ground cover that us underneath a ginormous pine tree?

Tiny purple flowering semi-ground cover that's on one edge of what I think might be clover?

The last of the teeny tiny white flower brigade that are up and down sinewy stalks of what might be a bush, also under the pine tree - near the tiny purple flowering semi ground cover (confused yet?)

The West Lawn:

This crimson flowering bush is new - it was growing in the bushes lining our yard. Cool flowers!

Close-up of a crimson flower from the new unknown bush.

Finally, one I know! This was a Japanese Maple seedling that took root and I deemed the "proper" size to try and cultivate into a bush. I hope it works.

A small azalea (don't know exact kind) amongst a plethora of tallish (8") unknown ground cover. 

Close-up of the tallish (8") unknown ground cover.

Unknown climbing vine #1 or a 3rd unknown climbing vine?

The East Lawn:

This looks exactly like the plant on the N that the purple flowers grow out of, but I don't think purple flowers (or any flowers) grow out of this. It's a mystery...

I call these the Cabbage Patch Kids, because they remind me of them for some reason. They stay low like this and don't flower.

Classic case of "plant or weed?" - I have no idea what this is. At all.

Larger "plant or weed?" (in the back, I know the ones in the very front and to the left are weeds...)

Elderly tulip growing amongst unknown plant or weed - possibly some kind of clover (bottom center)?

The South Lawn:

The cherry tree! Someone asked me the other day what kind it was. I don't know. It has white flowers and bears fruit (and could use a pruning - it's kind of like a mangy dog).

This is the pear tree (another mangy dog). I don't know what type of pears it bears, but they're about the size of a tennis ball, mature, and they're all green.

Cool close-up of the pear tree. What's that? You want to be pruned? I know, hang in there, buddy...

Climbing vine #1 or #3 on a stump!

Some sort of moss??? This area is damp and dark - no real sunlight during the day.

Crazy-ass ground covering. There's like three different things going on here that are more visible in the next photo, which is a close up. I like the little purple flowered bits that are very visible here...

Perhaps vine #1 or #3, some sort of clover, and the purple flowering lovelies - all ground covering.

The Woman-Made: 

I couldn't let you go without seeing my veggie garden! It will be fully populated by the end of May. Right now you can see collards and lettuce in the bed to the left (beets are also there, but you can't see them), tomatoes that were an impulse purchase and planted too early in the center, and onions in the back. There's also a prematurely-planted eggplant planted to the far right. The red round thing is a spice planter.

The spice planter has (starting clockwise at the top) lavender, rosemary, Italian parsley, and dill. I have a second planter I want to grow mint in, but my mint seeds are the only seeds that didn't germinate. I don't know what's wrong. I'm thinking of just planting some right in the planter and seeing if they take that way...

The babies!!! Don't leave us with the babies!!! Just kidding. these are my seedlings - they're a month old. The tall one in the back is a black-eyed pea bush that I swear to you popped out of the soil and grew to that size in three days - it was one of the last to germinate! I'm hoping I can keep some of these alive, so I can plant them in my garden. I've been watering them and petting them and keeping them at the right temperature, so we'll see... 

I'll post updates!

Please comment if you know what any of these little buggers are - I'd love to know what I have growing so I can research it and give it the care it needs :)


Poke A. Dot said...

"I don't think this flowers. It's cool looking, but I don't know what it is."==> hosta

"Purple flowers on tall stems come out of this thing in the summer."==> another variety of hosta

"This looks exactly like the plant on the N that the purple flowers grow out of, but I don't think purple flowers (or any flowers) grow out of this. It's a mystery..." ==> you're right, also a hosta

"I call these the Cabbage Patch Kids, because they remind me of them for some reason. They stay low like this and don't flower."==> sedum

Geekk 300 said...

I've got a bunch of them for you. A bunch of them i have but don't know the name, but they are super common in plant stores, so walk around and look!
By the way, don't plant your mint in the ground, keep it in a pot or you'll have a mint garden and nothing else!
3.cleome, probably, it's hard to tell in the photo, but it looks like pot!
4. cleome
7.another type of hosta
9.vinca minor
10.? 11.? 12?
13. Japanese maples like to be pruned heavily.
14.? 15.?
16. ivy
18. type of euphorbia, i have a bunch but don't remember the name. Super poisonous.
20. michealmas daisy, super aggressive1
21.? 22.? 23.? 24.?
26. moss
28 ivy and maybe wild geranium?

Carin said...

Its so fun to try to figure out the random stuff that was already there when you are in a new place!
I can help on a few:
In your North section, photos #6 & 7 (I don't think this flowers and this has purple flowers) are hostas. different varieties.
also in North section, photo #9 (green vining groundcover with little purple flowers) is vinca. Depending on your climate, it can take over. (it was terrible when I lived in OR)

In the East, #1 is another hosta.
#2 is maybe some type of sedum?

the climbing vine on the stump is english ivy (which was also invasive in Oregon, not sure about your climate).

misstrish said...

wow, I actually know some of these.

unknown climbing vine #1 and #3 are the same, but different variations of ivy (it will grow anywhere, up, down, across and will take over)

unknown climbing vine 2 doesn't really look like a vine at all but a very young japanese cutleaf maple. but this one I am not confident on.

the kind of cool flower you don't think flowers actually does. It's the same kind of plant (different cultivar) as the other ones that have purple flowers on long stems. These be hostas. There are literally hundreds of different kinds of different sizes and colours, flowering times etc. The one in the East Lawn is a hosta as well.

tiny purple flowering semi groundcover is periwinkle. I love periwinkle!

the tallish groundcover is (i think) japanese spurge.

the moss is essentially a weed where it is. all that moss means is that there is moisture in that spot. it probably won't spread very well and probably started out as a full planting, but there wasn't enough moisture in the whole area to maintain it.

those are the only ones I can identify off the bat - I'm terrible with weeds because I normally just let them grow until I decide if they're pretty or not. If they're ugly, then they become a weed.

your veggie garden is going to be bitchin'. have you read about companion planting at all? some planties do better growing next to other planties like tomatoes with asparagus and carrots.

zoom said...

The smaller plants like the cool varg one and the one u said shoots a purple stem is a type of hosta.then you have some reg. Ivy and the vine with the large purple flowers is a travling vinca.

Anonymous said...

rule of thumb for weeds vs. non-weeds...if when you pull it out, the root is straight (as opposed to crazy roots everywhere) then its a weed...unknown climbing vine #2 looks like it might be a small oak sapling, cool plant with white & green leaves & the one under it are hostas...the tiny purple flowered ground cover is called gets crazy if you dont keep it sure I can think of more looking back through my own plant logs (i dig gardens hehe get it?) hope this helps! xo Aidee Dee

Anonymous said...

Hey wow, that's a lot of plant photos, which might make my referencing them difficult, but here goes.

The parallel veined leaves on the north and west sides (the varigated one doesn't seem to flower, the solid one has purple flowers) are hostas. They like shade! There's lots of varieties of hostas, so once you recognize their general appearance and the fact that they like shade you might spot more of them. People get really into their hosta collections.

The little low spreading ground cover with purple flowers on the south lawn and in other places is called ground ivy. It is in the mint family, and it is edible/medicinal. In the last photo of it there are some violets mixed in. Their leaves are heart shaped and they are larger overall relative to the ground ivy. Ground ivy is just something that grows. I don't know of anyone planting it or cultivating it. From an herbalist standpoint I am reluctant to call it a weed, but I think most gardeners (and the TruGreen chemlawn folks) would disagree. I don't see any reason to pull it unless it is really in the way of something you're trying to encourage.

Also, I think the thing you call Cabbage Patch Kids are sedum.

Good luck! You've got an amazing lawn

Cindy Lop-her said...

Thank you ALL for your help - I've already taken all the plant names you've given me and looked them up to find out more about them :) Whomever initially planted all this did an amazing job - I have the potential to have one of the best looking yards on the block (if I can get the good plants to come back and the weeds to stay away).

I'm still trying to find out what the plants on the S w/the ginormous leaves are. I suspect they are the leaves of something edible - a root vegetable, perhaps.

I have read SOME about companion gardening, but I'm still very new at gardening in general, so I've retained very little. I'm still just trying not to kill things at this point. Any you should see my veggie-garden spreadsheet - all my friends make fun of me for it. It's 6 pages of paper taped together to form a chart of everything I'm planting and all if those plants' needs. Perhaps I'm a bit over prepared... I just don't want things to die!

girl said...

I think the bush with red berries might be acuba (I'm not sure of the spelling, and normally the plant is a paler green). It's not native but bushes out nicely if you like that kind of thing.

The first ground cover (not vinca/periwinkle) is an invasive weed (no idea what, but it likes to take over in our yard). I agree that the five-leaved one looks more like a Japanese maple sprout, but the other possibility is Virginia creeper (very invasive weed). If you're getting lots of seedlings, you could probably find neighbors who'd be interested in them (especially the Japanese maples, those tend to be popular and expensive to buy from the store). If you have a community park, they are sometimes good recipients for native shade tree seedlings (oaks in particular). And, offering them is a good way to get connected to gardeners and get donated plants in return. :>

The tallish ground cover is pachysandra, which is also not native but less invasive than English ivy and sends up little flower shoots.

The other ground covers (that look kind of like cilantro) look like mint or wild strawberry or more English ivy, all of which are nasty invasive weeds (in my opinion).

The pear might be Anjou, those are small and stay green. Lucky to have fruit trees, that's great!

Your plot is almost exactly the same size as ours, but it seems like you had more landscaping intact; we had to eradicate English ivy from all over the side beds along with liriope (a terribly invasive grass that is the bane of my existence!).

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Hi!! Did anyone ever identify the crimson flowers on your west lawn?

My mom had that shrub in our yard when I was a child and it unfortunately was dug up.

We have never been able to find another or identify it. =(

Cindy Lop-her said...

I have not been able to identify the crimson flower, but the bark smells really unique, so I plan on taking a piece of it with me to the nursery when I remember to hopefully have them identify. When I find out, I'll post here!

Missy said...

The crimson flowering bush is called a "Sweet Betsy" and also in some areas it is called "Carolina Allspice."
You have a beautiful garden!

Anonymous said...

OMG!!!Thank you! thank you! Thank you!!!My gram had the bush with the small red flowers could never find out what it was till now...... the flowers smell really, really good. my gram would pick them and put in a little cloth sack and put it in her "unmentionables drawer"

Anonymous said...

The botanical name for the Crimson flowering bush is Calycanthus occidentalis. I only discovered it myself a few weeks ago when I saw it at Palmers in Hamilton. I had to have one and it cost me a small fortune! Hope you get a lot of pleasure from your garden in the future. :-).

Anonymous said...

Th crimson flower is also called a 'Bubby Bush', I have three (3) of them. My Grandmother had one too.

Nurwahidah Hasan said...

#2 Cantella asiatica

Nurwahidah Hasan said...

#2 Cantella asiatica