The Watering Can - 5/29/2023

The first in a series of weekly updates on the plants I'm caring for in our yard

For a while now, I've been making the habit of watering plants on Mondays. I'm not actually 100% sure why, now that I think about it, though I believe there are some astrological or magical implications.

I was taking notes on the plants condition during today's watering, and was thinking about how I might keep track of their growth over the summer when I realized that the watering can that I was carrying around itself would be a great reference point for photos. And so the Watering Can was born.

I aim to update you every Monday on the plants that I've planted and am actively caring for in the yard, including getting their weekly bath as part of the Monday waterings. I'll include the watering can photos, so we can all follow along and see how things change together.

This first one will probably be a little longer as I introduce some of these friends, but we'll see how it goes.

Here's where we are at the end of this May, after a couple of pretty dry weeks:

Pawpaws (Asimina triloba)

We'll start with one of my favorites and two trees that are really having a great spring and early summer so far: the common Pawpaws (Asimina triloba).

Pawpaw 1 is recovering very well from a slow start this year. I realized a couple of months ago that some of the roots were a lot more exposed than they should have been. After covering the roots with some planting mix, the tree has had a sudden surge of growth lower on the plant, with bunches of big new leaves on either side and new life in the two existing branches that appeared to be dead. The top of the tree did not survive the winter.

A small common Pawpaw tree with a watering can at the base of it. The tree has a few large leaves on the lower half. Pawpaw 1 with its huge new leaves on the new growth lower on the tree. The existing branches have some new growth, with only one small leaf so far on the right branch. The top has been lopped off as it was dead.

The amazing Pawpaw 2 still has its two fruit, and so far they are coming along well. All in all it looks healthy.

The Pawpaws are probably one of my best plantings yet, as far as picking a great site for the species. This is a nice shady spot under the edge of a big Magnolia, along a bit of a natural drainage in the yard. If these two thrive this year, I'll be looking to plant a couple more in this same spot and starting a little Pawpaw grove.

A small common Pawpaw tree with a watering can at the base. The tree has two small fruit hanging from the lowest branch on the right side, and has several small branches with large leaves on the end. Pawpaw 2 with its two fruit peeking out on the lowest branch on the right. It's just been growing very steadily, and flowered nearly all over the tree this spring. Still amazed we have some fruit and hoping they make it through the summer.

Red Mulberries (Morus rubra)

Mulberry 1, which I somehow forgot to take a picture of, is doing its usual summer thing so far -- hanging in, growing a bit, but the leaves are pretty brown-tipped all over. Not thriving, at least not yet. It may need some nutrients in a very clay part of the yard.

Mulberry 2 is doing better than its sibling, as usual. A lot greener leaves, other than a couple of spots, and just a generally slightly healthier looking specimen.

A small Red Mulberry tree with a watering can at the base. There is also a small concrete statue of a pelican near the base of the tree. Mulberry 2 with its new Pelican companion and its signature Y look, at least for now. It likes this spot near the Big House, growing over the roots of an old tree that was removed two years ago.

Mulberry 3 was a gift from my mom, and I think this will be a great spot for it eventually. But we're just not getting enough rain to keep it happy here, I think, or maybe it's not shady enough yet for it being so young. I'm going to try to increase my watering of this little one this summer and see if it shows some signs of new growth.

A small Red Mulberry tree growing in the shade of some large pine trees. A watering can is next to it, standing on the pine mulch that surrounds its base Mulberry 3 with a nice full, round growth pattern, growing in the circle of the driveway. I think it will be really beautiful here one day.

Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)

Sad, sad, sad little tree. It's hanging in there, but it really just does not like it in this spot. I think it might be getting too much sun this far down South. I'm planning now to try to move it to a shadier spot this winter.

A very small, struggling Eastern Redbud with only a few unhealthy leaves growing out of small new branches, close to the ground The sad little Redbud, barely taller than the watering can at this point. Most of it died during the winter and particularly after our late freeze in March.

Mayhaws (Crataegus aestivalis)

Two of the newer trees, I planted these behind the Big House in an open area that used to have a few trees, and so far they really seem to be happy there. They get lots of good sun while being somewhat protected in the afternoon, and I really hope we can get some fruit someday.

Mayhaw 1 has a really lovely crown spread and look so far, and though it's had a bit of an aphid problem so far this year it's improving a bunch and looking really good.

Mayhaw 2 is a bit smaller and bushier, but it's growing well and I hope it'll get some more height throughout this summer, reaching for its sunlight.

A small Mayhaw tree with a metal watering can next to it Mayhaw 1 with its nice wide crown for a young tree. It looks really nice in this spot already, and I think it'll work out really nicely here.
A small Mayhaw tree with a metal watering can next to it The bushier Mayhaw 2, though it has lots of nice healthy leaves on there and some good new growth.

Black Willows (Salix nigra)

The two Black Willow volunteers that I transplanted to the pond last September are absolutely thriving after being eaten down to twigs over the winter. They've both added a ton of new growth this year already and I can't even imagine what they'll look like by the fall. I'll want to protect them from the deer, but they shouldn't be nearly as threatened this year.

They love the water and growing on the pond's edge has been the perfect spot for them.

A small black willow growing next to a pond. A metal watering can is next to it, about a third as tall Willow 1 growing tall, probably nearly four feet tall already after maybe a 12-18 inch tall twig in February. My first ever transplant.
A small black willow growing next to a pond. A metal watering can is next to it, about a half as tall Willow 2, a smaller and rounder growth pattern which I think will be a nice contrast with Willow 1 in this corner of the pond.

Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)

The two Buttonbush got zapped really badly by the late frost, losing all of their great early growth, but they are recovering nicely so far this year. I don't think I'll get blooms this year, which is a bummer, but there should be a lot of nice new growth that will hopefully support some next year. And I'll be a bit more diligent about covering them if it looks like another late freeze!

A small Buttonbush growing on the edge of a pond, tucked into the edge of an Iris bed and their long, slender leaves Buttonbush 1 is sending up a lot of new growth from the bottom -- not sure why. I think I need to try to prune back the Iris a bit to give it just a *little* more sun.
A small Buttonbush growing on the edge of a pond, tucked into the edge of an Iris bed and their long, slender leaves Taller and lankier Buttonbush 2; not as much new growth, but it also had quite a bit of leaves eaten by sawfly larvae that were hanging out on it for a while.

Titi, or Swamp Cyrilla (Cyrilla racemiflora)

The newest larger tree/shrub planting in the yard, the water-loving Titi (pronounced tie-tie) produce bunches of long racemes full of little white flowers that are loved by all kinds of pollinators. Both of these new guys are flowering so far, and seem to want keep flowering through the transplanting process, which I'm really excited about.

De loves these so much she really wants me to get a couple more to fill in some more of the gaps between Iris beds along the East side of the pond. I think that's a lovely idea.

Titi 1 is a more upright plant, growing nearer to the existing Bald Cypress trees where a more upright, tree-like posture will suit it, I think. It also leaves room to add some more on either side if we find more water-loving plants! We really hope to fill in this Northeast corner of the pond nearest to us.

A small Titi growing near a pond with a metal watering can resting next to it Titi 1 growing upright in the very Northeast corner of the pond's banks. It wasn't blooming when I got it, but it's started to bud out since planting which makes me really happy.

Titi 2 has a really cool shape, and I planted it so that it will hopefully sort of hang over the water as it grows and provide some really unique habitat for our location. I'm hoping that I can find similarly-shaped specimens to fill in the other two spots!

Img 5722 Titi 2, planted to grow out toward the water. It was already blooming when I got it and so far seems to want to continue after planting.

Pond Maples (Acer rubrum)

Three of the larger and healthier specimens from the second batch of Red Maple volunteers that my mom gifted me this month ended up planted on the South end of the pond. My main hope with adding Red Maple in general is to get more and more Fall color all around the property, as well as it just being a lovely tree year-round.

Pond Maple 2 is the only one that looks pretty good still, with mostly green leaves and even the newest growth holding on so far. Numbers 1 and 3 aren't doing so great. Number 1 was the largest volunteer by far, and is showing some new green growth since planting, which is encouraging even though it has mostly died back so far. Number 3 is just fried. I'm not sure if it's alive, honestly, but I didn't have a knife on me to scrape the bark and check. My mom has plenty more volunteers where that came from, though, so if it doesn't survive I can try again.

I'm going to keep watering these guys consistently and I think they'll be able to make it. Hopefully the summer rains will be here soon and help them out a bunch.

A Red Maple sapling growing next to a pond with a watering can next to it Pond Maple 1, showing a tiny bit of new growth since planting and sort of hanging on to its existing growth, though it's mostly died back. I think it will be OK with consistent watering.
A Red Maple sapling growing next to a pond with a watering can next to it Pond Maple 2 wasn't the biggest volunteer but it was nice and green even after a couple of days in the bag with exposed roots, and it's proven to be a strong specimen so far. It's stayed pretty nice and green since planting.
A Red Maple sapling growing next to a pond with a watering can next to it Pond Maple 3 a.k.a Fried Twig. Going to keep watering it for now... but we'll see. Not a ton of hope, other than the fact that I've been surprised by some of the other little maple transplants recently.

South Prairie - Dry Patch

Some of the newest plantings, just put in last Tuesday (May 23rd); the Dry Patch of the new South Prairie area is looking good so far. It's an arrangement of seven plants from Beaver's Abundance: two Purple Coneflower, three Black-eyed Susans, and two Lance-leaf Coreopsis. They're all responding well to the transplant so far, and I'll just keep an eye on them this year as they'll all be working on growing their root systems and not doing any flowering in 2023.

A watering can sitting in a small area marked off with orange tape, with a few plants recently planted in the ground nearby The Dry Patch with the Watering Can in the middle. The Purple Coneflower are in the top corners, Black-eyed Susan in the middle, and Lance-leaf Coreopsis in the bottom corners.

South Prairie - Wet Patch

The other newest planting in the yard, the Wet Patch of the South Prairie includes nine individuals in a mix of Stokes' Aster, Swamp Milkweed, Butterfly Weed, and Beeblossom. So far they all seem to be doing good, though I'm wondering if the Butterfly Weed might have been a little too young to go in the ground just yet. We shall see.

The watering can sitting in the wet patch of prairie, surrounded by small plants and clover The Wet Patch with the Watering Can in the middle. All but the Beeblossom in the top corners are still very small.
A watering can looming over a small Butterfly Weed seedling that has been recently planted A tiny Butterfly Weed with the Watering Can looming over it. I don't know if this little one was quite ready to plant, but it's hanging in there so far.

Black Elderberries (Sambucus canadensis)

Another favorite of mine, and one that I've found several volunteers around this year after struggling to find any evidence of it on the property all of last year. I bought these two from Clegg's in Denham Springs, both a different named cultivar, to try to add a little variety in addition to our local ecotype which I'm hoping will take off a bit from the volunteers. From what I've learned so far it seems to be helpful to have as many different lines of a fruiting species as possible to help with pollination.

Elderberry 1 is the taller and so far healthier of the two, though neither really started growing this year's new growth until just the last couple of weeks. This is an "Oklahoma John" variety, but I'm not sure what that means because I can't find any references to it anywhere on the Internet. Go figure.

Elderberry 2 is smaller, a bit lankier, and still doesn't have much new growth on it so far this year, though it does appear it's been nibbled a bit by the deer. This is the "Ranch" cultivar. It's in what I thought would be a decently sunny spot for it, but I'm not sure if this will be its forever home. Still early days though, as it seems both of these purchased Elderberries are later-starting and maybe even later-blooming than our local ecotype, which is already well on its way with huge umbels of white blooms all along the roadsides.

A young Elderberry with a watering can next to it Elderberry 1, just really starting to take off for the year. Some decent new growth, particularly since planting, which is encouraging.

South Maples & Trail Maples (Acer rubrum)

The first batch of seven Red Maple volunteers that I got from my mom got planted along the Upper Trail and in various places around the Burn Pile area and beyond. As I mentioned before, I'm really just hoping to bring in more Fall color around the property. Most of these transplants are not doing well, but a couple are hanging in there.

  • Trail Maple 1 is pretty much dead. Just a twig at this point with no since of new life yet.

  • Trail Maple 2 has been pretty dead but just in the last week or so sprouted some new growth! So who knows?

  • Trail Maple 3 is pretty dead.

  • South Maple 1, north of the Burn Pile is hanging in there, and started to put out some new growth which has since started to wilt. Hoping it hangs in.

  • South Maple 2 is easily the best-performing of all the transplants so far. It's at the base of a big Loblolly and is just loving life.

  • South Maple 3 got dug up a bit by the wildlife, and is now just a dried-out twig.

  • South Maple 4 is pretty dead too.

A Red Maple seedling next to the watering can South Maple 2, the best-looking Red Maple transplant I've got so far. Really loves it at this base of this big Loblolly Pine. Have barely had to water it. We'll see how it goes!
The delicate new leaves of a Red Maple sapling Trail Maple 2's new growth. I was so surprised to see it doing this, and it's the only Trail Maple hanging in there so far, so I really hope it can find a happy place there.

Aquatic Milkweed (Asclepias perennis)

The last of the new natives from Beaver's Abundance that I planted last week, this Aquatic Milkweed seems to be absolutely loving it back in the very wet Old Pond area in the South side of the property. There are several water-loving plants thriving there, so it seemed like the perfect spot for this addition, and so far it seems to be going very well.

A watering can next to an Aquatic Milkweed, surrounded by long green grasses and sedges Aquatic Milkweed 1 looking very happy next to the Watering Can, and surrounded by some of the native grasses and sedges in the area

Blueberries (Vaccinium)

Last but not least are some natives that I didn't plant but I need to do a better job of caring for while I'm looking after all these others. My in-laws got these four blueberry plants from some dear friends of theirs a few years ago, whose blueberries they love, but this is maybe not the best spot for them. Only one of the four (the one that looks like it was already pretty well established) seems to be doing very well so far.

Blueberry 1 is pretty healthy, but bushy, and not producing much fruit in its current form. I might try splitting a piece of it off this winter and seeing if it will grow better near some pines, which is where I think blueberries tend to grow in the wild.

Blueberry 2 is pretty happy. Seems to like it's spot, grow pretty consistently, and puts out a good amount of nice fruit. We actually ate our first two blueberries from it just yesterday!

Blueberry 3 is doing ok, a few fruit here and there and generally healthy, with some fairly significant new growth already this year.

Finally, Blueberry 4 is really struggling. It's the furthest from the pond, and the cypress trees, and I think it is just that little bit more exposed to the afternoon sun because it isn't in the shade of the cypress trees, and it is really struggling. I might try to move this entire plant to a new spot this winter.

A blueberry bush with a watering can in front of it Blueberry 1, the bushiest of the bushes. I might try to split one of the smaller, more "separate" pieces of growth into its own plant/area over the winter.
A blueberry bush, though not very bushy, with a watering can in front of it. Two more smaller bushes can be seen behind it Blueberry 3, the happiest of the blueberries, full of fruit. Blueberries 3 and 4 can be seen behind it, significantly smaller.