summer 2013

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Went on a nature walk in the  Catoctin Mountains this morning.  This walk had been scheduled for many months, but happened to coincide with the G8 Summit that had been rescheduled from Chicago to our own small town. Our community had just 8 weeks to prepare for any contingency that may have occurred.  There were actually PROTESTERS in Thurmont.   Thurmont!

A few roads were closed because this area is very close to the Camp David retreat used by our Presidents dating back to Dwight Eisenhour. No problem, we found back roads. This was private land so we had little concern of the police or military being worried about us.

I love doing walks like these because I always see things I have never seen before and always learn so much.
Part of the group

Started out in a fenced garden that used to be a vegetable garden many decades ago.  It is fenced to prevent deer and rabbits from invading.  Over the years, the owners have added many beautiful flowers and trees.  Some native, some from other continents.



Pink Poppies

Tulip Poplar Blossoms

We then moved into the woods.  Since this is private, the woodlands are pristine.  Trails are maintained, but there is an abundance of moss on the paths that surely would have been worn away in the public park.

Cinnamon Ferns

Close up of moss


Meadow Rue

Skunk cabbage

Small Fern

Squaw root - a parasitic plant that doesn't produce chlorophyll

Holes from Yellow Bellied Sap Sucker

Whole tree is affected

Evidence of Witch Hazel Leaf Roller

There are many springs, ponds and streams in these mountains:

Old Log Home

Willow trees

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Welcome to Peru, Venezuela, Hong Kong, Morocco and Serbia.  That makes  63 countries!

In my yard, I am slowly losing sunlight because of  my maturing trees.  It has been a struggle growing grass the past few years, lots of shade, not a lot of moisture.  3 large pine trees sit in a triangular pattern so the pine needles can act as mulch as they fall.  I have not raked them up in about 3 years.

So I gave up last year and decided to reduce my lawn size by turning this area into a shade garden.  I took small areas and covered them with newspaper and/or large pieces of cardboard when available.  I then threw leaves, grass clippings, mulch, and  pine needles on top of the cardboard to cover it.  This helped to kill the remaining grass so it wouldn't grow through the mulch.

The newer area I started working on still had grass breaking through.  My husband and I bought some artwork this year and saved the HUGE cardboard boxes they came in.

Grass still poking through

Large pieces of cardboard

I have been slowly adding small shrubs, trees and perennials as I run across them.  I did plant about 4 or 5 native ferns last fall, but the bunnies must have eaten them to the ground so severely they could not recover.  I also lost a small dogwood tree. And the Bayberry and hydrangea are oddly shaped due to bunny pruning.

Rabbit damage on small dogwood tree - RIP

In the older part of the garden I have a hemlock tree, a young Paw Paw tree, pee wee hydrangea (native), and a bayberry.

bayberry is the strange shrub on the left.

pee wee hydrangea

For plants:  hosta, columbine, painted fern, helleborus, wood aster, and a mystery plant bought from a sale  table at a local nursery for 50% off.

Japanese painted fern

 Since the rabbits decimated all the ferns I planted,  I was shocked to see this fern emerge in the middle of the garden, far away from where they were planted.

mystery fern

wood aster - another rabbit favorite


Below is Aguilegia canadensis a native columbine.  It will reseed and spread.  This is the end blossom this year.

Native Columbine

On the other side of the fence is the same shade, but I have plants in an old raised bed that used to hold vegetables about 20 years ago when there was sun.


Black Cohosh - Racemosa

Heuchera - Coral Bells

Dicentrra - Bleeding Heart

Spicebush - lindera benzoin
Above is the Spicebush - the host plant of the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly.  The larva has the appearance of large eyes to scare off predators.  I will be checking for these caterpillars this summer.

Below is the Virginia Creeper.  The leaves turn a brilliant red in the fall.  The berries are an important food source for birds in the winter.

Virginia Creeper
Weighing down cardboard with mulch
I will be picking up some mulch this week to finish covering up the cardboard.  Next fall, all the leaves not mowed will be thrown onto this garden.

My neighbors must think I am nuts!