Friday, September 28, 2012

Fog, Blooms, and 'Shrooms

As usual, my camera has a few random pictures on it from the week.  Enjoy.

The fog lifting off the pond on a cool morning at Welkinweir is really quite beautiful, especially when the sun peeks over the ridge to lighten the scene.

On this particular morning, the pond reflected a really deep blue through the mist.  It was like looking at a watercolor painting, instead of an actual scene.

Another kind of toad lily is blooming in front of the estate house.  This kind has the flowers beautifully displayed in a line on the top side of the arching stems.  It is a great choice for shade, and should be planted where the flowers can easily be viewed and appreciated.

Another interesting plant, Kirengeshoma palmata, also known as yellow wax-bells, is blooming in the Barn Ruins.  It does well in part shade.

And finally, the 'shrooms.  A circle of these interesting yellow beauties popped up over the last week.  I don't know enough about mushrooms to tell you anything else about them, but they are fun to photograph.

Come visit Welkinweir! The dogwoods are starting to turn, and the Children's Garden and Barn Ruins still have many blooms.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


I only had one picture on the camera, so this brief post will be devoted to a great shrub for fall.  Meet Callilcarpa dichotoma 'Issai', also known as purple beautyberry.  There are undoubtedly other great cultivars of this species available. 'Issai' just happens to be the one we have planted at Welkinweir.  You can see this planted along the drive above the stone wall lining the west lawn.  The characteristic of the cultivar 'Issai' is that it fruits heavily as a young plant, according to Dirr.  Ours have a great fruit display.

Dirr also considers C. dichotoma the best garden form compared to other Callicarpa species. The branches arch beautifully, nearly reaching the ground at the tips.  The fruit is displayed openly on the upperside of the stem and is a striking purple which stands out against the yellowish green leaves below.  The fruits show up in August and will continue to look great through October.  They are probably best planted in mass, rather than as a single specimen shrub.  In gardens further north, this shrub may die back each winter, but here at Welkinweir it has never been cut back.

Callicarpa, beautyberry

Visit Welkinweir to see what other plants put on an interesting front for fall.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Season Transition

Fall is in the air at Welkinweir.  The mornings are cooler, and leaves are drifting down from the trees at a faster rate than before.

The fall crocus are happily displaying their delicate purple faces.

The honeybees were too busy investigating the sedum to pose for a photo.

Fall blooming lespedeza is brightening up the west estate lawn.

A new addition to our plant collection, Appalachian mountain mint, is all a-fuzz nearby.

Seven-son flower has been in bloom for weeks and is covered in a variety of insect life.

The east meadow glows with goldenrod blooms. If you look closely, there is also a monarch in this photo.

This beauty had just emerged from its cocoon. I saw it while mowing and was able to avoid shredding those perfect new wings.  I returned later to coax it to open up those wings...

Male or female?  Based on the width of the black veins, this monarch is a male.

Come visit Welkinweir! You never know what you'll find.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Welkinweir's Meadows

Welkinweir has a variety of habitats throughout the 197 acres.  Pond, wetland, stream, forest, and meadow each cater to the needs of different species.  Over the last few weeks, I took a few pictures of interesting plants blooming in the meadow areas.  We leave about 25 acres to grow into meadow, only mowing these areas once or twice a year.  This practice cuts down on the soil compaction, which in turn cuts down on stormwater runoff, with the added bonus of saving time and money that would have been spent on the fuel to run the mowing equipment.  Also, by leaving these areas undisturbed, different plant species are allowed to grow and flower, attracting a variety of insect life.  Certain species of birds that like to hunt in the open soon come to visit.  Species diversity abounds when meadows are present.

Clover is a nectar source for bees and butterflies, and being in the pea family, it can also take nitrogen from the atmosphere and fix it into the soil where it can be used by the clover and the surrounding plants.

Some people think this plant is the cause of hay fever, but in fact the culprit is ragweed, which blooms about the same time but is not nearly as pretty as goldenrod.  Goldenrod is a nectar source for many different species.  This one was covered in all sorts of insects.  

I think this beauty is a primrose of sorts.  Apparently they used to be grown in vegetable gardens since the shoots and maybe even the roots and seeds of some species are edible when cooked.
L: Asclepias tuberosa, orange milkweed. R: Asclepias syriaca, common milkweed  
Orange milkweed is a larval host plants for monarch butterflies, as well as queen and grey hairstreak.  Orange milkweed, despite its name, has no milky sap like common milkweed.  Native Americans used to chew the root to cure pleurisy and other pulmonary ailments such as bronchitis.  However, the sap and roots are poisonous if eaten in large quantities, so I'm not sure I would chew on it myself.  Common milkweed is a host only for monarch butterflies, and apparently you can cook and eat those firm, other worldly looking seed pods.  Again, the sap is toxic, so I don't think I would ever be hungry enough to try that.  All of these fun facts were found on

And finally, thistle.  I love thistle flowers, and so do the swallowtail butterflies.  Interestingly enough, many of the plants we consider weeds have a history of medicinal uses and many of their parts are edible.  I love the meadows at Welkinweir this time of year where the "weeds" are allowed to just be themselves.  To me, the meadows are much more beautiful than perfectly mowed green lawn, because the meadows are filled with color and with life.

Come visit Welkinweir!