Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Sassafras Story

When we moved here to Fairfield County, Connecticut our woods edge hosted a few sassafras. I'm almost sure of it. These small trees are easy to identify, since they have three different shaped leaves; hand, mitten and glove.

Dunno what ever happened to them, but they're long gone. Did the blankety-blank deer eat them? Did disease wipe them out? Whatever. So I've been searching for a few little ones to get started around the edges of the Backyard Garden. Paul Young has been helping me in this, but those little trees are the devil to transplant.

Earlier this year Florence and Donna Bosworth invited us to come and dig up what I naively believed were sassafras seedlings from the huge specimen in their front yard. Paul & I trotted up there on a damp March day, only to find the "seedlings" were actually root suckers. We dug and potted 5 or 6, nonetheless. They had no roots of their own and we weren't optimistic about their survival. I placed them by my shed, and waited. Lo and behold, they sprouted leaves! So I moved them into more sunlight, and they thrived.

Until August, when they all but one faded, lost their leaves and seemingly croaked.

I waited a month before I took action. When no revival was apparent, and I needed the pots, I yanked out the sticks and tossed them into the brush pile. Then I looked at 'em.

Drat! They all had little white roots...they were alive! At least, they had been until I pulled them from their home.

Above is the sole baby remaining It's still in its original pot (with some volunteer forget-me-not). The fall color is exquisite, don't you think? I'll keep it potted this winter, tipping the pot over once the ground freezes so the roots don't rot. And plant the little guy early next spring. Here's hoping he makes it!

Paul and I have been invited to dig more sassafras come March. Maybe I won't inadvertently murder next year's crop.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Gorgeous Autumn Color

Regular readers here know I'm enamoured of all things hydrangea. The delicate lacecaps of 'Blue Bird', the spectacular purple blooms of 'Glowing Embers', the old-fashioned pink of 'Preziosa', to name but a few of my favorites. Here's another:

Hydrangea paniculata 'Pinky Winky' is one of the large, late-blooming types that decorate our yards in fall. The 12" to 16", conical-shaped flowers start out white, gradually turn pink and end up a deep, resonant rose. The plant stays in bloom for at least two months, and flowers on new wood, so you don't have to worry about winter kill. It produces regardless of climate, soil, pH or pruning. He's hardy to Zone 4.

Pinky is a moderately big fellow, eventually reaching to 6-8 feet. I do protect him with deer repellent, and he's not been bothered by hungry herbivores. Pinky appreciates a spring application of slow-release fertilizer meant for trees and shrubs, and like most of his ilk, does best in 1/2 to 3/4 day sun, at least here in Connecticut.

Grow this guy where you can see him frequently---he's a beaut!