Tag Archives: trees

Some Snow

snow in firelane Monday night and Tuesday we got about 14-15 inches of snow. Enough for a snow day, hooray! Coffee by the woodstove, lots of shoveling and car clearing, then cross country skiing out the kitchen door and down the unplowed back roads of West Kingston. Life is good…

greenhouse and drifted snowThe Botanical Garden fared well in this storm. The snow is deeply drifted (3-4 feet) in areas, but no broken trees despite fierce winds. I have a theory that we lost so many trees in Hurricane Irene, Hurricane Sandy, and the Blizzard of 2013 that the ones left after those storms are in pretty good shape. Once again lots of rabbit trails through the garden and evidence of human visitors too. With classes cancelled two days in a row, there’s been plenty of time to play in the snow.

metasequoia trunk

snow in garden

Our water garden is under there, somewhere.

icicles on greenhouse

The warmth of the greenhouses always creates a great display of icicles.


I had the good fortune this weekend to be in a very beautiful place:yawgoo pondyawgoo pondIt looks like Maine, but is actually close to home here in Rhode Island.

There were some fantastic looking mushrooms which popped up after the late afternoon squall on Friday:cortinarius iodescortinarius iodes

I am pretty sure it is Cortinarius iodes, the Viscid Violet Cort (!) Cortinarius iodes forms mycorrhizal associations with deciduous  trees, particularly oaks.

Other plants caught my eye–moss growing among the tree roots like a landscape:


A fuzzy/spiny white caterpillar on the bayberry near the edge of the water:

hickory tussock mothI think it is Lophocampa caryae, the hickory tussock moth. Plenty of hickory around the pond, as well as oak, white pine, and swamp maple.

deer printsDeer left footprints on the sandy edge of the pond, although I did not see them. I heard barred owls in the night, and coyotes.

“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

Winter Blues

broken tree

The view from February…

More than halfway through winter, and here it is. I am completely uninspired. I’m sure the weather has something to do with this. It’s 40 degrees F and raining, with half-melted dirty snow banks slowly disappearing under the deluge, and plenty of mud. (I don’t mind April mud, it’s different in April!) End-of February rain holds no promise for me. No thoughts of seedlings, buds, sprouts, sunshine, or warmth. A walk through the Botanical Gardens yesterday confirmed that Kingston is indeed the land of broken trees, due to the blizzard. We have a big clean up coming, as soon as rain, mud and snow let up.

Although the Conservatory has some beautiful flowers blooming right now, (you can see them here) I think it is simply Springtime that I am longing for. There is something about  the feel of the sun on my face, and the smell of the soil, that isn’t the same in the greenhouse. The greenhouse got me through December, January, and almost all of February, and I appreciate that! But I am ready to get outside.

In a few more weeks, I’ll be starting seeds. Around here gardeners plant peas on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th. With transplants like tomato and pepper seeds, I aim for April Fool’s Day (April1st), so that they don’t get too big before it’s warm enough to set them out. Starting seeds brings back the optimist in me, daydreaming about the wonderful garden I will have. Just a few weeks to go…what will YOU do to get yourself to Spring?

Iris, winter aconite

The view from March!

Blizzard of 2013

The Ericaceous Garden Monday morning after the blizzard. URI Botanical Gardens

The Ericaceous Garden, Monday morning after the blizzard. URI Botanical Gardens

Lots of snow, many sadly broken trees on campus as well as all over South County. White pines and arborvitae seems to have taken the worst hit.

broken trees


broken arborvitae


And around town:

tree down

White pine across road, in wires, West Kingston. (2/9/13)

tree down

And yet another… (2/9/13)

utility pole

Unstable utility pole, Dale Carlia corner, Wakefield. photo courtesy of South County Independent

The greenhouses did not lose heat or electricity! (Electricity was turned off for a few hours in order to make repairs to other lines.) At one point, it became really warm in the greenhouses when the vents couldn’t open and the heat was still going but overall we came out of the blizzard unharmed.

greenhouse in snow

Horridge Conservatory, Monday 2/11. URI Botanical Gardens

Anxiously awaiting the return of electricity (and running water) at home!

snow on branches

Here Comes Sunshine

It’s a January thaw and that means time to get outside and prune, or even cut down trees. Back in August I wrote about taking down trees along the shady firelane adjacent to the greenhouses. Now it’s time for the trees behind those to be removed — this will truly improve the amount of sunlight getting into the greenhouses. Our Tree Guy/Greenhouse Manager, Nick, was kind enough to wait until I had moved the more delicate shade plants  and until the ground was frozen before he started trampling all over the garden!

cutting tree

First, cut….

January 9 2013 006

Then PULL….



Although there is a beautiful shade garden there,  I am not sorry to see the trees go. The perennials will be moved to new homes in other parts of the Garden, and the more adaptable ones may be just fine with more sun. After all, it will still be on the north/shady side of some VERY impressive Rhododendrons.  What I will miss is the tunnel effect of the trees over this little stone walkway between the firelane and the rose garden, which always looked to me like something from a fairy tale.

July 2012 046

January 9 2013 013

January 9 2013 014

Looking out across the newly opened view of the garden from the greenhouses, I think the garden appears  smaller now. Having a hidden area tucked away to discover, on the other side of the trees, made it seem like it might be much bigger. (It’s actually not very big — about 4 ½ acres.)

But in the spring…there will be the fun of putting in a new garden, or at least planting a few new things!  Maybe a Viburnum carlesii,  with delicious sweet flowers to brush by. Maybe a trellis to frame the walkway,  or some sculptural Garden Art…maybe a garden designed by a student….stay tuned!

Cool ‘n’ Shady

evening primrose

We’ve been very busy playing catch-up at the Botanical Gardens, but now it’s looking good! Tuesday Tours have started — come any Tuesday evening at 5 PM (meet at the Gazebo) and learn all about about our beautiful plants and gardens on a guided tour with yours truly.

little circle bench

Weather update: very hot! Often on a hot day I prefer to be outside in the shade rather than inside with air-conditioning. The Botanical Gardens has lots of shady nooks with benches for those of us who use this strategy to beat the heat. I love the beach, but isn’t it better after 3 pm anyway?

shady side benchsunny side bench

white garden bench

Season of Change

maple leavesIt’s that time of year:  Fall is a season of renewed energy in the garden with crisp clear weather and bright sunshine. It’s a great time to plant without fear of heat or drought killing off new transplants. Comfortable temperatures inspire us to tackle bigger projects than we would consider in the heat of summer or in the crazy-busy rush of spring.

So, down come two trees! The snow and ice storm on October 30th just barely grazed this part of Rhode Island, but did result in a little sprinkle of snow, a killing frost, and some broken  branches. One of the two Styrax japonica in the main garden broke in half, giving us a great excuse to remove both. Don’t get me wrong, these are beautiful little trees, absolutely loaded with flowers in the spring. But they have been a maintenance nightmare, as every pretty white flower becomes a seed, and every seed sprouts into a little seedling with a big taproot! Removing these seedlings before they overran everything around them took hours of labor. They needed to come out and the storm made the final decision for us.

styrax japonica flowersWhat will they be replaced with?                                                                                         Any suggestions?

logs and chainsaw

moving brush pileOn another note: The autumn color has been much less vibrant this year, warm wet weather and hurricane salt spray taking their toll. Many leaves are still a dull, tired green. I laughed out loud when Doug Norris of The South County Independent referred to the trees as zombies, “the deciduous undead”!