Tuesday, September 28, 2021

November Hill farm journal, 138

 A break in the plant series today, though of course some of what’s going on is me planting things. Today we got the arrowwood viburnum in, and I watered everything in the bird haven area since we had a hot day today. The stones are placed, and we need another load, so that’s on the list.

The butterfly bush in the grassy front “yard” was removed today in advance of a new/small bed that will angle the corner on that side of the grassy yard area. Its blooms had finished so it was time to get rid of it. Mowing that small grassy area will be a lot easier, I’ll have room for this new/small bed, and I planted a grouping of butterfly weed in the walkway strip to offer something next year in its place. 

We still have a number of new shrubs to put in, a couple of sassafras trees, and two new climbing vines. I’ll feature all these over the next week or so.

A few photos from today, starting with the wetter end of the bird haven area. We’ll fill in the rock, spread it further toward the inner fence line, and maybe wrap it around the bed of dwarf crested irises. The rock area is where most of the rainwater ends up when we get a lot of rain, and the rocks slow it down some. Unfortunately we can’t dig in the area to create a proper rain garden because telephone and internet lines go through here. Why they didn’t follow the fence line up the hill I do not know. If they ever put in fiber optic they’re going to run those lines up the side of the driveway and to that side of the house, which will be so much easier to deal with if any repairs are ever needed. 

This is just a photo to document the new colors of roof and house, and how things look at this moment in time from this angle. It also gives me a moment to just stop and appreciate some of the work we’ve had done this year. The upstairs front windows are FINALLY getting replaced next week, after 7 months of waiting. Pella does great work and they have great products, but they are SLOW.

Next, the view up toward the drier area of the bird haven. In the foreground are the southern shield ferns, behind them the hearts a bustin’, and behind that the arrowwood viburnum. Outside the fence are the southern bayberries. My aim with the shrubs is twofold - feed wildlife including pollinator insects, and screen this corner from the gravel lane. 

To the left of this space, outside the photo’s frame, are the winterberry hollies, and to the right a huge old oak tree and more southern bayberries. In the upper corner also outside this photo’s frame and outside this fence to the right, is a lovely redbud. I hope in the end to have four layers of height and a sun-dappled haven for birds and pollinators. For now, it’s a work in progress.

And finally, the view from the broken down chair I was sitting in, perusing the staging area for my plants waiting to be put in, and the autumn-blooming plants across the driveway. In another week or so the huge butterfly bush will be removed and a new native bush put in. I admit that I’ve put off removing the butterfly bushes because they were beloved by our cats early on when we moved to November Hill. The one at the corner of the bed and house is huge and a sort of fixture there by the back door. It’s going to feel very empty without it. Once I get it out, I’m going to also remove all the goldenrod in the lower terraced bed, as it has just taken over and I’d like something different in there. The goldenrod I moved last spring can stay, though I’m going to have to be truly tough on myself about pulling it out as it tries to move forward. That’s the thing about all this - it is not static! Which is part of why I love it.

In other news, Keil’s primary vet is going on maternity leave at the end of this week and she’s coming one more time to do his acupuncture before we switch to the interim vet. Keil Bay and I have a surprise for her. She’s been such a great support for both him and for me through this EPM year. 

And on Thursday we are closing on the new house. I’m excited and also a bit overwhelmed with the furnishing side of things. But as is always the case, I had to notch myself down some and remind myself that everything does not have to happen overnight. It’s a process. Slow down and let it unfold. The key to a more peaceful life, for sure!

Sunday, September 26, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 74: arrowwood viburnum

 Doug Tallamy mentioned this as a highly beneficial plant to put in if you’re wanting to help insects, birds, and other wildlife. It’s native in many states and offers year round interest in the garden. I was happy to find one at this year’s NCBG plant sale, though I wasn’t sure if it would go in Poplar Folly or the bird haven garden area.

After being in the bird haven space yesterday I decided that this will go in the very corner of that area where it will have room to round out and create both a screen and mid-height layer in this garden space. From the street side it will be behind the southern bayberries that are outside our front fence, and to the right of a lovely redbud that sits just outside the corner. 

From inside the bird haven area, it will be at the top corner, with hearts a bustin’ and southern shield ferns in front of it. In my mind’s eye, it will be perfect. Sometimes my mind’s eye is accurate, and sometimes I don’t quite nail it, but I’m going to give this a try. 

More on this lovely shrub:

Viburnum dentatum (Southern arrowwood)
Cressler, Alan 

Viburnum dentatum

Viburnum dentatum L.

Southern Arrowwood

Caprifoliaceae (Honeysuckle Family)


USDA Symbol: vide

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A 6-8 ft. shrub, sometimes taller, with multiple, erect-arching stems in a loose, round habit. White, flat-topped flower clusters are followed by dark blue berries. Lustrous, dark-green foliage turns yellow to wine-red in fall. A shrub with downy twigs, coarsely toothedleaves, and flat-topped clusters of small, white flowers. Some botanists recognize two separate species for this highly variable plant, the other being northern Arrowwood (V. recognitum) with smooth twigs. 


Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial 
Habit: Shrub 
Leaf Retention: Deciduous 
Leaf Arrangement: Opposite 
Leaf Complexity: Simple 
Leaf Shape: Elliptic , Ovate 
Leaf Margin: Serrate 
Size Notes: Many branced shrub to 10 feet. 
Leaf: Shiny dark green above, pale below. 
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower: Flowers 2-4 inches across. 
Fruit: Black, Purple 1/3 inch long. 
Size Class: 6-12 ft. 

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White 
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul 
Bloom Notes: Yellow stamens 


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WI , WV 
Canada: NB , ON 
Native Distribution: FL to e. TX, n., especially on the Coastal Plain to MA & OH 
Native Habitat: Stream banks; moist woods 

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade 
Soil Moisture: Moist 
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8) 
Soil Description: Dry to wet, acid soils and sands. 
Conditions Comments: Flood, insect and disease tolerant. Suckers freely from base and transplants well. Most soil-adaptable of the viburnums. Pest free. 


Use Wildlife: Gamebirds, songbirds and small mammals. Attracts Eastern Bluebird, Northern Flicker, Gray Catbird, and American Robin. 
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies 
Larval Host: Spring Azure 

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees 
Special Value to Bumble Bees 
Supports Conservation Biological Control 

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Spring Azure
(Celastrina "ladon" )

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 73: equisetum or horsetail

 You can guess why I love this plant, maybe, and I’ve been thinking about how to bring it to November Hill. I learned that it is very invasive and not something I want where equines can eat it, so I’ve put it in with the water garden container with the pitcher plants. We’ll see how it does there. 

It’s a very appealing and unusual plant, and I’m curious to see how it looks through the entire year.

More from Missouri Botanical Garden’s website:

Species Native to Missouri
Common Name: scouringrush horsetail  
Type: Rush or Sedge
Family: Equisetaceae
Native Range: Eurasia, North America
Zone: 4 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 4.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Water Plant, Naturalize, Rain Garden
Flower: Insignificant
Tolerate: Heavy Shade


Best grown in medium to wet soils in full sun to part shade. Tolerates an extremely wide range of soils, however. Will grow in up to 4” of standing water. Spreads to form large colonies in the wild. Homeowners are often more interested in learning how to eradicate this plant from the landscape than how to grow it. It is a very aggressive plant which, if not preemptively restrained, will spread aggressively by branched, creeping rhizomes. Once established, it can be extremely difficult to remove by digging because its rhizomes spread wide and deep, and any small section of rhizome left behind can sprout a new plant. Consider using soil barriers to restrict growth. In water gardens or tub gardens, plant in pots at water bottom to contain growth (both height and spread).

Noteworthy Characteristics

Equisetum hyemale, commonly called scouring rush or rough horsetail, is a non-flowering, rush-like, rhizomatous, evergreen perennial which typically grows 3-5’ tall and is native to large portions of Eurasia, Canada and the U.S., including Missouri. It typically occurs in wet woods, moist hillsides and peripheries of water bodies (lakes, rivers, ponds). This species features rigid, rough, hollow, vertically-ridged, jointed-and-segmented, bamboo-like, dark green stems (to 1/2” diameter at the base) which rise up from the plant rhizomes. Each stem node (joint) is effectively marked by a whorl of tiny, stem-clasping, scale-like leaves which are fused into an ash-gray sheath (1/4” long) ending in a fringe of teeth. Teeth are usually shed during the growing season. Each sheath is set off and accentuated, both above and below, by thin, stem-ringing, black bands. Photosynthesis is basically carried on by the stems of this plant. Vegetative and fertile stems are alike in this species, with some vegetative stems bearing, at the stem tips, pine cone-like fruiting heads (to 1” long) which contain numerous spores. The evergreen stems are particularly noticeable in winter and can provide significant interest to the landscape. Stems have a high silica content and were used by early Americans for polishing pots and pans, hence the common name of scouring rush. Equisetum is not a rush however. Nor is it a fern. Equisetum is the single surviving genus of a class of primitive vascular plants that dates back to the mid-Devonian period (350 + million years ago). Today, the equisetums are categorized as fern allies in large part because they, like the ferns, are non-flowering, seedless plants which reproduce by spores.

Genus name comes from the Latin words equus meaning a horse and seta meaning a bristle.

Specific epithet means of winter or flowering is winter. Most probably for its winter interest as Equisetum is not a flowering plant.


No serious insect or disease problems. Very aggressive spreader.


Water gardens. Japanese gardens. Bog gardens. Stream or pond peripheries. Good plant for covering a wet low spot where nothing else will grow. Interesting plant for large patio containers. Provides strong vertical accent to any planting.

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 72: mountain Indian-physic

 I admit that I selected this plant totally for its name. I don’t know why but it seems mysterious and a bit exotic for a native plant!

It’s very delicate and pretty and I had a spot in the bluebird bed that needed something special, so this is where I planted it this morning.

I also took the chance to clear the bluebird boxes out.

More on the mountain Indian-physic here, from NC State’s plant site:

Gillenia trifoliata 

Previously known as:

  • Porteranthus trifoliatus
Phonetic Spelling
gil-le-nee-ah try-foh-lee-AY-tuh

Bowman’s root or Indian physic, is a perennial flowering plant in the Rosaceae or rose family. It is native to the eastern United States and Canada and spans from southern Ontario to Georgia. Bowman’s root can also be found west to Kentucky, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Its native habitat is in the woody mountainous regions where it enjoys partial sun, dry to moist conditions, and rocky soil.

This deciduous herbaceous plant that blooms with five-petaled white flowers on wiry red stems from late spring to early summer. The airy look of the flowers is effective in mass plantings or borders. The serrated green leaves turn red in fall.  This plant may benefit from support.

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 71: southern shield fern

 On Friday evening we brought home the next batch of natives and yesterday planted those going into the bird haven garden space. 

There was a great spot for the grouping of southern shield ferns, and they’re now in the ground. I chose these because the light they’ll get in the bird haven is perfect for their needs, and also because they get quite large and turn a bronze color in the fall, which I think will be quite stunning in that area.

I weeded a few things out of the space and we also put in the dwarf crested irises and the hearts a bustin’ shrubs. I have another thing going in that space today and then more coming Monday. My plan to create layers of height and foliage in that area is definitely coming to fruition this fall. I’m very excited to see how it grows into maturity. 

Several of the southern bayberries that I planted inside the fence along the back of the bird haven space have died - they’re all in close proximity to large oaks and I’m not sure if that has something to do with it or if they just don’t like that area. I have come replacements coming Monday but am now wondering if another shrub or two would do better in this space. 

For some reason I ordered two new species of native shrubs, two of each, and those will be here Monday as well, so I may switch out my plan a bit. I’ve learned that if a plant dies it is likely true that I didn’t place it in the right spot, or what I think fits in terms of light/soil isn’t quite the right match for it. There seems to be a spectrum where a thing grows and thrives to the point of spreading hugely, grows and thrives, but not so much that it takes over, and doesn’t thrive and gradually peters out. 

It’s worth experimenting and also moving a plant to a new location before it dies. For these few bayberries (out of the 30+ we planted) I think I’ll try a different shrub. It’s very possible they didn’t like the wetness of their location during big rain events, and the new species I have coming very much do like wet feet, so hopefully I’ll solve the dilemma.

More on southern shield fern from NC State’s plant site:

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Thelypteris normalis 

Previously known as:

  • Thelypteris kunthi
Phonetic Spelling
theh-LIP-ter-iss KUN-thee-eye

Sun to partial shade; prefers average to humus-rich, moist soil but tolerates drought; short to long creeping rhizomes; spreads quickly to form colonies rather than clumps; easy to grow. This plant is seldom damaged by deer.

Long arching, triangular, bright sea green fronds; pinnate pinnatified blade; very hairy on upper and lower surface; sori have rounded indusia and are borne along the midvien of pinna lobes,

Thursday, September 23, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 70: coral honeysuckle

 This is the plant I’ve putting in our potager on a trellis along the perimeter fence as part of my “wall of climbing pollinators.” I’m excited to see how this looks once I have the entire strip of trellises planted and the plants have matured to full blooming.

Coral honeysuckle is a native, unlike the Japanese honeysuckle that is not native and very invasive. We just had to remove a small stand of that from our Poplar Folly fence this year. The native coral honeysuckle is not invasive and in some zones keeps its leaves throughout the year. That would be a nice benefit for screening. 

More info from the NC State plant site:


Lonicera sempervirens, commonly called Trumpet Honeysuckle, is a vigorous twining vine that is primarily native to the southeastern U.S. but has naturalized in many other areas of the eastern U.S.

Trumpet Honeysuckle is easily grown in average, medium moisture, well-drained, neutral to acidic soils in full sun. It will grow in some shade, but best flowering is in full sun and does best in humusy, organically rich soils with good drainage. This plant flowers in mid-spring, and is often non-fragrant. Flowers are always terminal and never axillary as in L. japonica. There is a significant variation in leaf shapes over the growing season. This is a twining vine that needs a support structure and is an excellent choice for a trellis, arbor, or fence. It can also be allowed to sprawl as a ground cover. The plant flowers on new growth, so pruning should be restricted until after flowering.

High nitrogen fertilizer will produce foliage at the expense of flowers. This plant is noninvasive, and it is excellent for natural, low-maintenance areas. This vine is evergreen in the warm winter climates of the deep South.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: There are no serious pest or disease problems, but powdery mildew and leaf spots may occur, particularly in hot and humid summer climates. Watch for aphids.

Fire Risk: This plant has an extreme flammability rating and should not be planted within the defensible space of your home.  Plants with a low flammability rating should be chosen for areas closest to the house.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 69: hearts a bustin’

 I have a couple of these going into the bird haven space this week. A note - they are beloved by deer so be aware of that when planting. Since these will be inside our perimeter fencing and I’ve not seen deer jumping in since we added the boards with no-climb wire, I think they will be safe. 

More info from NCSU website:

Euonymus americanus 

 This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below

Strawberry Bush is a low maintenance deciduous suckering shrub native to the southeastern and southern states. Its common name derives from the showy warty capsules that split open to reveal red-orange seeds in the fall. Spring flowers are small and non-showy but fall leaf color is a showy red. It has a sprawling form when young but matures to a more upright growth pattern.

It is native to wooded slopes, moist woodland and creek or river areas, and is found in a variety of soil conditions ranging from sandy to clay. The typical range is from New York coast all the way south and across Texas and inland to the midwest from all those points.  

The shrub can be grown in a wide variety of soils, including clay, and tolerates both drought and wet soils to a degree. It tolerates being planted near black walnut trees. It frequently sustains damage from deer that eat the foliage and twigs. Fruits and seeds are eaten by birds and small mammals. Plant in a woodland naturalized area for best results.   

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What’s Coming Up In The Garden, 68: dwarf crested iris

 Yesterday I put extra plantings of white wood aster and wild ginger in the shade bed. These have previously been featured in my series, so I won’t add them in again today. I have a few more things to add to this shade bed this year and can’t wait to see the layers these new plants will create in this area.

Today when we get a break in the rain, I’ll be carting a nice grouping of dwarf crested iris down the hill to the bird haven bed. 

When I start thinking about a new garden space I usually do some kind of sketch like this to get a visual of what I’m trying to do.

I sometimes deviate from the original sketch, but it’s always a useful endeavor to think about what I envision eventually being in the space.

More on dwarf crested iris, from NCSU’s plant site:

Iris cristata 

Previously known as:

  • Evansia cristata
  • Iris glumacea
  • Iris odorata
Phonetic Spelling
EYE-riss kris-TAY-tah
 This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below

Dwarf Crested Iris is a native species of Iris that grows in North Carolina. It reaches only 4-9 inches tall and spreads to form a groundcover in its native peaty woodland habitat. It offers an early perennial spring bloom in partly shady areas and grows well in rock gardens and woodland sites.  Following the blooms, the foliage is useful as a ground cover in the woodland shade.

This plant grows best in partial sun to partial shade, preferring rich, well-drained soil. A too rich soil will encourage foliage growth and no blooms. It can tolerate full sun but needs more moisture. Use this plant for a ground cover in partly shady areas of rock gardens, woodland sites or in a perennial border.  It is resistant to damage by deer.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Slugs and snails.