August thunderstorms

Gusts from an incoming thunderstorm have dislodged many of the large, seed bearing fruits of the Bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla, below), I suspect before the seed has ripened. It is not unusual for many of the heavy fruit to be torn from the tree in summer storms, and occasionally branch tips are severed to ride along.

Several seedlings of the bigleaf magnolia have been dug, potted, and shared with acquaintances in recent years, but I would be quite happy with more. Certainly, there is not space for another bigleaf in this garden, and hopefully seedlings I’ve shared will be provided adequate room, though the tree will thrive planted in the understory of our tall maples and tulip poplars. I’ve seen bigleaf magnolias in the coastal forests of Alabama and the nearby Virginia mountains, always in filtered shade beneath a tall tree canopy.

An hour of branch clean up is necessary following the storm, but besides the magnolia’s fruit there is no loss of living flora. Long, top heavy stems of a paperbush (Edgeworthia chrysantha, below) close beside a stone path have flopped across the walkway. The branches are quite flexible, but they are unlikely to return to their prior form without assistance, so the entire shrub must be encircled with a soft nylon tie which is then secured to a nearby evergreen magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora).

If the branches do not gain strength to hold this shape the entire shrub must be cut substantially since this is a primary path. Other paperbushes in sunnier spots flop to a lesser degree, but rarely do the leaning branches require any corrective action.

With more rain expected after yesterday’s heavy storm, I have spent much of this warm, humid afternoon digging and transplanting gingers (Zingiber mioga) and Ostrich ferns (Matteuccia struthiopteris) to the damp, lower section of the year garden. The spring that keeps this area continually damp does not bubble above ground in a dry summer, but the soil here remains moist.

There is enough shade for the fern to grow, and given its vigorous nature this could cover much open ground that currently requires continual weeding. The gingers are green, reverted forms of the excellent variegated ‘Dancing Crane’ (above), but in this damp area all I ask is for vigorous growth. Only variegated leaves remain in the clumps in the upper rear garden beside the stream, so two purposes have been served. Perhaps mid August will prove not to be ideal for these transplants, but with damp ground and more rain on the way I expect everything to work for the best.

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