Sunday, August 23, 2009

Pond Life

We have two ponds on our property. One is out in the field and serves as water reserve in case of fire as we do not have fire hydrants out here in the country.
The other one is smaller, not as deep, and closer to the house so it is more a part of our garden.
The first couple of years we just left it alone, but the cattail (Typha latifolia) growing in a neighbouring swamp just invaded the pond. We decided to introduce some "desired" native water plants and last year we purchased the following from Acorus Restauration:
Blue-flag Iris (Iris versicolor) was one of the first plants to bloom in the pond early June this year.
The Sweet-scented White Water Lily (Nymphaea odorata, N. tuberosa) has spread beautifully with lots of lily pads floating on the water and new blooms appearing all summer.

The Pickerel Weed (Pontederia condata) didn't disappoint with lots of beautiful blue flowers attracting a variety of insects for a few weeks now.
The flowers of Arrowhead (Sagittaria latifolia) have also been a delight along with it's beautiful "arrowhead" leaves.
The leaves of the Broad leaf Water Plantain (Alisma plantago-aquatica) resemble the well known (annoying weed) plantain, just much larger, but the flowers are quite different. Tiny, white flowers on a large, very "bushy" stem. Really not that spectacular.
Around the edge of the pond there's a variety of sedges and rushes, some of which we have planted and some just appeared. And then there's the residents and visitors:
We have lots of frogs in and around the pond - green, brown and leopard frogs - but they usually jump into the pond as we get closer. A "frog" noise and a splash, but one day, when the water level was lower, I was lucky to get a glimpse of this guy.
The dragon flies are amazing. We have green, blue, yellow-ish ones in all sizes.
I would have liked to capture one of the big ones flying - they are just like tiny helicopters!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Salix 'Americana'

In the spring of 2007 I decided to grow willows as I had an idea of building fences from willow-rods - and this will be the first of a series about my willows. (More about willow fences later).
Salix 'Americana' was introduced to Britain and Europe from North America where it is extensively grown for basketry and it was one of the five varieties I planted that year.
My first rows of Salix purpurea 'Streamco' and S. 'Americana'. 'Americana' is growing taller and 'Streamco' has somewhat finer rods. Both varieties are very flexible and grow long slender rods, most of which have no branching, and they are some of the willow varieties most willow weavers in North America and Europe know and use.
'Streamco' throws lots of rods from the base of the coppiced plants.
In 2008 'Streamco" produced from 10 to over 30 rods per plant - which I thought was a lot for their second year. All rods were dried as I decided not to plant new stock of that variety this year - so the coming winter I will be experimenting with some weaving.
My harvest of 'Americana' on the other hand, was all cut up for propagation and I planted 1500 new plants.
I am quite happy with the new plants in the field as most are growing well. 'Americana' is not the most vigorous variety the first year - but they are not the slowest either!
A shoot showing off the beautiful bluish, grey leaf colour of the 'Americana'.