Thursday, July 21, 2011

An Orchid Surprise

      Andrew took the buggy (my motorized wheelbarrow) up through a few trails in the neighbourhood last week.  He promptly became stuck in an area that use to be an old woods road.  When I went up to help him to get out we found that the old road is now impassible (especially this spring with all the rain).  It was located near a natural bog that we went to every fall to find a few cups of cranberries.  It seemed the bog was expanding and claiming new territory.

      The cranberry vines were everywhere (we found some great cranberries there last year),  and just finishing blooming.  It should be a good crop this year.  The Bog laurel (Kalmia) was also in bloom as well as cinnamon fern.  Among all this was a pink plant I had never seen before.  Upon closer inspection, I realized it was an orchid.  I had never seen them in that area before but we may not have been in the area at the right time of year.

      After getting my sneakers soaked and Andrew out of the mud (not much damage, to the bog, I mean), we went home and got our boots and camera.  After taking some pictures of the orchid (2 in fact) we came home and I did some research (love the Internet).

Calopogon pulchellus
Grass Pink

Grass Pink is actually quite common in Nova Scotia.  It is usually found in lightly shaded sphagnum moss bogs and swampy areas.  In this case it was more of an open bog.  They get their name for a long, grass-like leaf that comes up from the base.  The flowers are on a single stem with 2 or more magenta to pink blooms present. 

The lip of Calopogon is on the top of the flower, not the bottom, as is common with most other Orchids. The  yellow feelers are designed to attract pollinators, when the insect lands the flower then snaps shut and the insect has to crawl out between the lip and the reproductive parts in order to escape, hopefully pollinating the flower in the process

Cypripedium reginae
Showy Ladyslipper

We were fortunate to see the Showy Ladyslipper last year just around July 1st at Smiley's Provincial Park just outside of Windsor NS.  I really know very little about Orchids and had a  gentleman who is an authority on the subject come to my nursery late June of last year.  He was the one who told me of these orchids. We asked at the gate where to see them.  The park attendant told us and if it was not for her we would not have known where to look.  The ones I am familiar with are the Pink Ladyslipper, they were in abundance where I grew up.  The Showy Ladyslipper grows in completely different conditions.

The Showy Ladyslipper grows in a boggy, sweet (limestone) soil.  Cryripedium acaule (Pink Ladyslipper) is more common in slightly drier soils under Oaks or Pines (more acidic soils).  Both are difficult to propagate as the require  a microbial association with the soil.  Crypripedium pubescens (Yellow Ladyslipper) is also a native that likes moist soil even boggy areas and is not as fussy in requiring sweet or sour soil.  This one is more adaptable to garden soils.  It is the only one that I sell and I acquire it from a reputable dealer.  There are other sellers of orchids out there but you should do your research before purchasing.

Getting back to the Grass Pink Orchids I found, this one was also present only in a few numbers.  It did not strike me as a Grass Pink but I could be wrong.  This is where I bow to an expert in the field.  Anyone recognise this one??  There are more orchids out there, and they are sparking my interest.  It is just fabulous when you find something you haven't seen before.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

From the Perspective of a Bench

     I started to write this blog last week on Hosta.  I guess I wasn't overly inspired because it just sat there a while.

     Andrew brought home this bench last week.  He has been wanting a bench for the garden for a year now.  There was no where to sit and enjoy the garden.  But I think the reason we were slow in getting one is that  we just haven't seen the one we wanted.  They are either to plastic-key (not sure if that is even a word but you know what I mean), too big or too park bench like.  We wanted something to blend in.  Well blend in it does, since it is black wrought iron (looks-like) it really does blend in.  If you are not looking for it you could miss it.

     I thought I would take a picture of what I could see if I sat on the bench.  Directly in front is the new hosta bed that  replace the grass bed last spring (2010).  We can also look up the driveway and if we sit just right see cars going by the driveway.  We can not see the cars from the house (not that there are many where we live) anymore because the trees have filled in so much.  We even had to have our satellite dish relocated on the house last week.

     Back to the hosta bed.  I was nicely spaced last year, there was plenty of room between the hosta to show them off nicely.  But that just shows you how fast these guys can grow especially with all the rain we had this spring. There will be some little ones like Golden Tiara and Orange Marmalade that will be moved to a different spot.  Even though they are good sized hosta they are being dwarfed by the larger ones.  I will be making a map and taking pictures and planning which ones go where next spring.

     When the spruce tree came down this spring, I moved all the miniature hosta into pots for safe keeping until the bog garden was done and I figured out where to put them.  This bed, along where the shade plants are for sale, contained Pulmonaria (lungwort) and ferns.  We moved them to the back of the bog garden.  The miniatures went in there a few weeks ago.  I have two I have no names for.  I need to go back in my records in the past few years to try to figure out who they are.  Any hosta collector out there who wants to identify them for me is welcome.

     Getting back to that bench.  Some times things happen for a reason.  Andrew was in A J Walkers (Truro local Hardware Store)  two weeks ago and saw this bench in the window.  It had a sold sign on it so he asked if there were anymore.  There were not and at the price of $39, I can see why not.  The lady who put it on hold never came to pick it up so Andrew got it on Monday.  It was meant to be.