Monday, April 11, 2011

A Gift from Hail and other Garden Miscellany

A hail storm on Saturday littered the yard with torn leaves and debris. Fortunately there was no structural or car damage, but it's messy around here for sure. Checking things out the morning after the storm, I found dozens of these little cone bouquets. Normally you wouldn't see them because they are at least 30 or 40 feet up in a shortleaf pine tree (Pinus echinata). I love the colors, don't you? These are the male cones -- they will be releasing tons of yellow pollen soon.

Mushroom ID?  Is this what I think it is ?! on Twitpic
Look what else I found and tell me if you know how to tell the difference between yellow morels and false morels. Or are these something else entirely?  If they are morels, I can't believe they were only feet from my patio! I haven't found any others, so it isn't exactly a gourmet meal at this point. I hope nothing ruins them, though,  -- like the dog plowing over them -- until they are of good size.

I worked in the streetside gardens at Wing Haven for a little while this week.  We deadheaded beautiful pink pansies (Elizabeth Clarkson's favorite color), dug weeds out, and planted a few new things. There is a nice mix there -- wallflowers, tulips, summer snowflake, rosemary and other herbs, roses, and of course the pansies.  Pinks, purples, whites and the gray-green of herbs is so pretty together, and the fragrances are so pleasant.  Wing Haven's plant sale starts for members tomorrow and for the public on Wednesday.

Here's some of what's waiting for us at our house -- a dozen phlox.  Some are 'Blue Moon' a cultivar of native Phlox divaricata, and  'Chattahoochee,'  a more deer resistant hybrid of P. divaricata and P. pilosa. There will be lots of planting to do, in general, because we have added beds since last year.  There are a few Euphorbia 'Ruby Glow' there, a creeping, pink-flowered sedum, and some culinary herbs.  I'll be looking for native shrubs at the nurseries and plant sales in the next few weeks.

I also had another class this week as part of UNC Charlotte's Native Plant Studies program.  I learned some horticulture, propagated a viburnum, planted some seeds and did a seed depth experiment.  During the break, I learned even more by picking the brain of a master gardener in the class.  If you're close to Charlotte, consider taking the program.  It's a lot of fun.

Afterwards I went to the gardens and greenhouse to take photos.  Wildflowers are blooming all over the Glen.

Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

Roundleaf Ragwort (Senecio obovatus).  Maybe.  I think.

Pinxterbloom Azalea (Rhododendron periclymenoides)

Across the gravel walkway from the Glen, where there are mostly native plants,  to the Susie Harwood Garden where there are plants from all over the world that do well in Piedmont gardens.

Azaleas and native columbine.

Pretty blue Woodland Phlox.

Tree peony

A bigleaf magnolia just leafing out.

Bigleaf magnolias are beautiful trees with lemony-scented flowers and leaves larger than any other trees outside the tropics.  They are shade/part sun-loving natives from Gaston County, North Carolina.  A few are usually available at UNC Charlotte's plant sales, but get there early.  The next sale will be April 22 and 23.

Plants for the sale.


  1. You know, we prepared, we went home early, and then we sat and weighted for this storm (100% chance) which never came! Not a drop of rain. Glad it didn't mess things up for you.

    Your phlox divaricata is awesome, I have some and its a favorite, but the powdery mildew gets it bad and it dies to the ground!!

  2. jess, i have some trouble with powdery mildew, too, but mostly i am worried about deer. they are so frustrating! we were expecting rain the other night but not hail. it was the most ive ever seen here. some people do have dents in their cars and broken windshields from it.

  3. I hope the hail did not damage you garden too severely. I also hope you get a positive ID on the mushrooms before eating them.

  4. You should ask Eliza about the mushrooms. The plant sale I went to was the one in Greenville.
    We didn't get that hail, sorry you did. What wild weather!

  5. Im a student at UNCC and just happened to encounter your blog.. I am an amateur mycologist and cannot believe you found morels in your yard! They are true yellow morels and they should be absolutely delecious, and are an extremely sought after delicacy! I would pick them in a few days and saute them with butter or olive oil, as they grow pretty fast! Maybe after 3-4 more days pick them and tap them over an indoor potted plant then water the plant and maybe a few will grow! (very very unlikely though!) consider yourself lucky I have never seen yellow morels in NC before :)

  6. les, believe me, i am way too much of a wuss to eat them now...probably even after i get a positive ID. one thing i still remember from a mycology class i took years ago was how decidedly unpleasant (deadly) it is to make an ID mistake!

    janet, i got lots of info about morels from elizas blog. just havent had any luck getting her by email. thought she might stop by, though. i am sure she would know, youre right.

  7. josh, thanks for the note! do you have any ID books or other sources you could recommend? i do feel pretty lucky...just to find these, if not consume them.

  8. Beautiful post. You've been busy!

  9. You can tell they're edible morels because the base of the sponge cap is attached to the stem. You could also cut them in half to confirm that the stem is solid vs. hollow.

    False (i.e. half-cap) morels attach to the stem only at the tip of the cap and hang loose around the stem like a hula skirt or collapsed umbrella. The stem is also hollow.

    If you do pick them, be sure not to pull the base from the ground and maybe they'll grow back next year.

  10. i appreciate the info, kelly. i checked them today and they are shriveling instead of growing -- not very appetizing. but, i'll still pick one to see if it's hollow or solid. thanks for the tip about not pulling the base out of the ground. i'm hoping some more show up eventually.