Monday, April 07, 2014

Beauty is underfoot in our Kentucky Woodlands!

This past Sunday afternoon was the perfect day for a walk in the woods with my family.  As cold as it has been my expectations were not great that we would see a whole lot of spring color.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that the color came in many forms, shapes. and hues. 

Our first lesson was pointed out by my daughter when she noticed a mass of chartreuse green  hanging from an otherwise barren tree.  this turned out to be a honeysuckle vine holding on to the leaves it had from last fall.  This was very eye-catching because of the stark difference between its display and everything else in its surroundings.  The trees all wore fine coats of grays, blacks, and brown hues.   The many textures of the bark provided an ever-changing show no matter the size or perspective of the person.   Sometimes the perspective is better the lower you are to the ground as was evident from the many "What's this Daddy?" I received from my 5 year old throughout the walk.  His unique perspective allowed him to quickly pick up the colors and flowers that weren't as readily visible to myself.  We discovered stark whites in the large shelf mushrooms,  Bloodroot flowers, and Twinleaf.  Green hues were in great abundance with the many mosses, the emerging Bluebell foliage, and the unique unfolding of the Buckeye leaves. 

My oldest son loves nature and all it has to offer but on this day his hunt was to discover the perfect place to read the next of a long line of books and to let nature happen around him.  He must of pointed out twenty places where he could recline and read.

For two hours we walked and talked about the complexities and simplicities of an awakening spring forest.  With our heads down, (not to look at a screen) trying to one up the other on the next colorful find and to keep from trampling Mother Natures carpet we enjoyed a day of beauty and togetherness.  Get out to the woodlands and enjoy the beautiful show that Mother will be unveiling all season long in a slow and steady cadence, much like the "What's this Daddy?" that I heard on our walk. 

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Why do my broadleaf evergreens look so bad this spring?

Winter Drying on Boxwood
Broadleaved evergreens like hollies, magnolias, boxwoods, and rhododendrons have been beaten up this past winter and are looking pretty ragged coming into spring.  Winter drying is the culprit and was expected based upon what kind of winter we just went through.  The discoloration occurs because of the plants leaves dry out during frozen ground conditions.  This means that the soil around the roots remained frozen for an extended period of time and the plant could not take up needed moisture to maintain the foliage.  While the soil was frozen and no uptake of water was taking place the winds were still evaporating moisture from the foliage resulting in the burnt or scorched appearance.

Winter Drying on Magnolia
Winter Drying on Holly
The unfortunate thing is there is not a lot of options for dealing with the problem after it happens.  We generally see very little long term effects from this problem.  Usually the worse case is some twig die-back and an un-thrifty appearance to the plant for awhile.  Generally they will put new leaves back on and resume normal appearance as the spring continues to improve.   Patience will be the order of the spring to get back to a more lush landscape.  To read more about how to manage this problem next winter read the following:  Leaf Scorch and Winter Drying of Woody Plants