We are experiencing a wonderful surplus of wildflowers this week on a tour of Dolomites with Greentours. I hadn’t intended on reporting on this journey until we returned home but today was such a wonderful experience I just had to share some of what we have been seeing. Every day has been a discovery of new plants that we had never seen, with hundreds of species recorded so far, but today was just over the top for anyone interested in alpines.
We spent the day walking at over 7000 feet looking over majestic scenery and crawling up crags to get close to cushions of alpine plants or walking next to meadows where flowers and butterflies were abundant. I’m just going to share a few of the images at this point to give a sampling of what we are seeing but for anyone who is interested Greentours does a phenomenal job of giving you a rich and thorough exploration of the landscape. We’re on the trail from about 9 to 5 every day and each day seems to exceed the last in wonderful experiences. I expect to provide a more complete sampling of the wildflowers in the future but this is a sampling of today’s encounters.
Last, but not least, we have encountered a number of Gentians and several have the stunning blue color that Gentians are famous for. It seems appropriate to begin with the blue Eritrichium and end with a Gentian.
Hello to Summer. It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and the Stewartia decided it was an appropriate time to open its flowers for the occasion. It always astounds me that a tree with such beautiful bark manages to have exquisite flowers as well. Unlike other years we have yet to put out all the hose sprinklers because we seem to be getting thunderstorms every other night. The peonies and maincrop irises are all passed now but some of the iris are just happening now. One that has pretty much taken hold of a spot in the garden is a hybrid, Kimboshi.
Another iris that keeps expanding its space every year is the Japanese Iris, Agripinella.
Another flower from the Iris family that is blooming right now is the Prairie Iris.
This one I grew from seed obtained from the SIGNA (Species Iris Group of North America) seed exchange in 2013. There are several of the Zephyranthes, Herbertia, and Moraeas that seem to want to bloom about this time of the year in the greenhouse. This one is said to be zone 8, but I might give it a try outside when I have enough of them.
Another greenhouse item right now is from the Amaryllis family
Like many of its kin, this comes from South Africa.
We also have a number of Ismene and Hymnocallis in bloom. They are easily grown in pots that can be overwintered completely dry and then brought outside for the growing season. My favorite at the moment is Sulfur Queen, which is a hybrid between two Ismene species.
A very special little Astilbe that I picked up at Oliver Nurseries this spring has come into bloom.
This is a very dwarf astilbe with thick shiny green leaves and lovely pink flowers that was originated by Darryl Probst.
Another rather special plant coming into bloom is a Lysimachia with a very tropical aspect.
It withstood a difficult winter with flying colors.
If you are looking to feed the butterflies and bees while satisfying your lust for flower color I would recommend a very nice butterfly weed, ‘Hello Yellow’.
This is very vigorous and covered with dazzling yellow flowers. I saw a large, bright orange butterfly on the plant at one point and it was an OMG moment, but I couldn’t get the camera in time.
Many other flowers are blooming. I’ll let some of them speak for themselves.
While this post is about the flowers blooming today, I would be remiss in my reporting duties if I didn’t observe that it is also maximum fruit day where the strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are all flowing into the house. And it is also when the birds are having their mulberry/wild cherry festival just beyond the garden fence.
Last year we replanted strawberries after disease had taken hold in our old row. I first put in 25 Jewel strawberries in a double row 18″ apart with pinebark mulch. Those 25 were allowed to expand and expand they did. I would say that the mesh of strawberries is about three foot wide and so dense as to exclude most weeds.
They have been extraordinarily productive. We’ve been bringing in a very large bowel of strawberries every night and predominantly from this patch. Later on last year, near the end of June I added another 50 plants (Allstar & Cavendish) and those have been contributing too, but not nearly so many as the jewel plants. Somehow in my unreasonable fear that we would not have enough strawberries, I added another 25 strawberry plants this spring (Cabot). I think we will need help picking next year.
Meanwhile on the flower front much has been happening. I was really pleased to see the Martagon lily ‘Arabian Knight’ flowering for the first time.
I love the way the Martagons have a completely different profile from the normal lily hybrids. The foliage itself makes a statement. We’ve also have the first flower on a small Chinese lily that I got from Far Reaches this year.
This is said to spread underground so that should be fun. I wouldn’t mind a clump of these little guys.
I was more than pleased to see that a couple of my favorite Arisaemas (fargesii and candidissimum) have finally decided to emerge. Take a note for future years that I should not expect or dig in these areas until June.
There are a number of little rain lilies popping out in the greenhouse right now. They are all a bit tender for this area, but I may give them a shot at outside exposure when I have enough of them in hand. For the moment I just take out to sit on the back porch.
You can see from the pictures that these little bulbs are multiplying in there pots, but it’s hard to compete with the oxalis which REALLY multiply in the pots. I started separating out the oxalis from 2013 plantings this year as they went dormant and the original 1-3 bulbs have expanded a lot.
They can be kept in a bag until August when they will be ready to go again for fall/winter blooming in the greenhouse. As a reminder the Oxalis in the greenhouse are nothing like the little pests you find in the garden.
Thinking of the greenhouse, there is a South American bulb with gorgeous deep blue flowers that has been blooming steadily for the last two weeks.
I always enjoy seeing these new bulbs or seeds bloom for the first time. I recently planted out several Anemone multifida ‘Rubra’ that I grew from the NARGS seed exchange in 2014.
Similarly this little Dianthus that I planted in tufa was grown from the NARGS 2014 seed exchange.
Speaking of seed exchanges, now is the time to be gathering seed from the early flowering plants. For many of them, like the Jeffersonia, you have to watching carefully to see that you get the seeds before the wind and the insects do…
Identifying the seeds for these large seeded plants is pretty straightforward but many plants are pretty tricky. Helps you appreciated what goes on for a more wide-ranging seed collector like BotanyCA.
I had a perfectly wonderful time at the NARGS annual meeting, but that deserves a posting in itself. I will say that I brought back a number of exotic plants including this little Conandron that I’ve put in the alpine bed.
The alpine bed continues to be very successful. I’ve added another Lewisia since they seem to like it so much.
And the alpine aster has returned from last year.
Out in the main garden beds the astrantia is coming into bloom, along with the horned poppies.
There is one little garden mystery. Somehow a european spotted orchid has appeared on the opposite side of the yard from where it bloomed last year (and where it has no flower buds this year). I have no memory of having planted one in this spot. But nonetheless it seems to be happily blooming away.
Let me close with the first thing I check in the morning — the spuria iris.
Well, I can’t believe that I completely missed the date for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. Especially given that May is one of the most flower-filled months of the year. So given that I am so late I will just hit the highlights without a lot of reflection. The Peonies are well into their cycle with the species peonies and tree peonies just finishing up and the intersectionals (Itohs) just starting.
Many of the garden standards like Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Bearded Iris, Roses, and Clematis are starting up.
One strong growing plant with wonderful foliage in the monument bed is Virginia Waterleaf. Based on last year’s aggressive spreading, I’m planning to cut this back after flowering and before seeds set.
Right behind the waterleaf is an Enkianthus which holds myriad little bells at the moment.
Also a bit uncommon and quite nice is the Indian Aster.
In the alpine bed and troughs there are lots of saxifrage and androsace in bloom.
But I continue to find the Lewisia particularly attractive.
My favorite flower in one of the large troughs right now is a very compact silvery dwarf harebell from Croatia that naturally forms a cushion of flowers.
Well that’s it for this month given that I am already a day late. What a glorious time of year!
The first week of May seems to represent some kind of trifecta of garden flowers, garden chores, and garden harvests. It is at this point where we get to see the fruition of some of the things that we labored on on last year and meanwhile we are tasked to prepare for the coming season. While admiring the Lewisia
which have come through the winter beyond my wildest dreams, I noticed that the hepatica are already seeding like mad and if you don’t grab those seeds now, then you never will.
This week has also involved tilling and planting the garden, mowing multiple times, hauling in more mulch and compost, and extending garden beds to accommodate our ongoing plant lust.
The strawberries look great but we added another 25 plants just in case.
I was happy to see the emergence of one of our Arisaema taiswanense.
The Arisaemas are typically very late in emerging but I was getting concerned that these had not survived the winter.
One thing that was an especially nice happening this spring is the first flower on a Gentiana acaulis that I’ve managed to root in tufa.
There are a lot of other special happenings in the garden right now, like the double flowered trillium
and the new Callirhoe
but I’m leaving for the NARGS annual meeting in Ann Arbor in the morning, so I need to finish packing up.
Let me just share some species peonies photos before I depart.
This last one is the first time for flowering for us. It’s a real beauty…
At this time of year you can go to most places along the potomac watershed and see hosts of bluebells (Mertensia virginica). Our favorite bluebell hot spot is the Worthington Farm, a part of the Monocacy National Battlefield, that is about 2 miles from our house. The trail down to the river runs through a woodland that is covered with spring beauties (Claytonia virginica).
Note the pink stamens.
The path to the bluebells also has many star of Bethlehem
When you get to the river the annual explosion of bluebells is very difficult to capture in the camera lens.
Note how high the river is after a thunderstorm in the mountains the night before.
Individually the bluebells usually have pink buds that turn to blue, but they can be pink or even white.
In any case it’s a great time to go out a see the wildflowers, in addition to growing your own…:)
As I was gathering up pictures for this post, I found it hard to stay focussed on the task. Each image I came across seemed to lead me down a path of ‘what was the name of that flower?’. I clearly need a garden elf who goes around checking on labels. Anyway, let me begin by saying April is, as always, a time of flower abundance so that Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is necessarily a picking and choosing of which flowers to display. The daffodils are everywhere and their fragrance dominates the inside of the house and all of the gardens. But it is also a time to revel in the Hellebores who, though they started much earlier, have not gone away at all.
In contrast, it is worth noting that this is the peak time for the spring ephemerals which clamor to be appreciated for their very short time on the stage. They are generally around for just a few days at most and require getting down on your hands and knees to see the wonderful details.
A longer lasting springtime favorite is the Roadrunner trillium.
In the orchard and the woods the cherries are in bloom.
And alpine bed and troughs feature some distinctive flowers that are not usually part of the Maryland landscape.
Inside the house, the clivia is trying hard to make us focus on indoor flowers.
And lastly, since I am well past the normal posting time, let me close with the latest Cypripedium that we added from this year’s visit to Plant Delights. It’s a ahead of it’s season because I’ve just taken it from the greenhouse.
Beth and son Josh dyed Easter eggs yesterday to continue a tradition going back many years. No little kids around this weekend but we can pretend.
The first week of April is a great time for the spring ephemerals. It seems like everything wants to come out the ground at once following the winter doldrums. I am especially fond of hepaticas and they are in the midst of their bloom cycle right now.
This is a particularly large flowered hepatica that I got several years ago from Seneca Hill Perennials (now closed).
Also in flower is a lovely pink seedling from Hillside Nursery.
A few years ago I got a pink seedling from Thimble Farms that has lovely purple stamens. It’s very hard to photograph because the slightest breeze will set it to vibrating.
I’ve also noticed that one of the american hepaticas has a very nice pink cast to it.
There are more hepaticas still emerging. Meanwhile their friends the corydalis are popping up around the yard.
One of Janis Ruksan’s best corydalis is Gunite, named after his wife.
A rather special flower is the Fritillaria stenanthera.
It is unlike any other Fritillaria that we have.
The flowers point outward and are individually quite lovely. It seems to be thriving outside.
Right beside it is a very nice adonis. This was apparently a spot that I thought was exceptional because I put two rather nice plants in about the same place. We will let them work it out.
Of course my go-to Adonis for distinctive variety is always Adonis ‘Sandansaki’.
In it’s early stage it has only a small green bud in the midst of a yellow flower. By the end, it’s pretty much all green lion’s mane.
It has three buds this year, the most ever.
Other yellow highlights are in the troughs and the alpine beds.
This one sits in the small trough by the back door.
The Draba acaulis is in one of the large troughs by the door to the greenhouse. Nearby is a pasque flower getting ready to emerge.
Reliably scattered around the yard are Primula vulgaris to reflect the way they are found in the wild in England.
And of course I’ve not mentioned the daffodils all over the place or the Hellebores that are everywhere — but that’s another story…