Wow, what difficult choices to make this month for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day! While the weather continues to dance between super hot (85 degrees this week) and freeze warning for tonight the plants have been accelerating their flowering to make up for lost time. One of the purposes of this blog is kind of a pictorial record keeping that allows me to go back and compare what was happening in other years at the same point in time. While I can see some plants that are right on time (like the bloodroot or the trout lilies) this is on the whole the latest flowering for many species that I have seen in the past 5 years. During the past two weeks I’ve been able to do a lot of planting of things carried up from North Caroline or ordered in from Washington State. Even the vegetable garden finally got started last week. The ground tilled up really nicely but I’ve never put peas in this late.
I could post many pictures of the beautiful daffodils that are coming up in the yard, pasture and forest, but I’m going to focus on some of the smaller and more unusual flowers. I brought up a hardy orchid from Plant Delights and have put it in the Monolith garden. Here’s hoping it doesn’t freeze tonight.
Nearby is a very hardy little yellow corydalis from the NARGS plant exchange last fall.
It’s fern-like foliage should be well-suited to the new garden which has many bulbs and shade-lovers for when the leaves come out. A couple of the bulbs are species tulips, including this lovely blue-eyed tulip.
Back in the alpine bed there are some more species tulips.
Nearby is a little Primula that I liked the pictures of in the Far Reaches online catalog. In fact, I must have liked that color a lot because it turned out I had bought the same plant last fall as well. Fortunately it is a charmer.
Next to it I’ve put an Oxalis which also looks like a keeper.
The Daphnes were particularly hard hit by this winter’s wicked twists and turns. The normally reliable Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ is a mess. Most of the flowers were frozen off and the shrub looked highly questionable but I am seeing new growth now on what looked like dead wood so it seems like just a one year loss. On the other hand three of the new small Daphne’s bit the dust and only one has survived. Probably the best looking Daphne on the property is the diminutive Lawrence Crocker which is just coming into flower.
A couple of old favorites are showing up this week. The little double flowered anomenella is fully in bloom as is its single-flowered cousin.
The Epimediums are starting to bloom with ‘Lilac Seedling’ leading the way.
Jeffersonia dubia far outdoes its american cousin, not only for beauty of flower, but for length of bloom. The J. diphylla was gone before I even had a chance to photograph it.
My favorite little trillium is Roadrunner.
It’s hard to match the wavy edges to the flowers and the dark foliage.
Other interesting flowers are the Hermodactylus and Pusatilla.
The black on this iris relative is almost like velvet.
One of the troughs has a cute little masque flower that I got from my son.
Let me close this posting with one of many Hellebores so that you don’t think I don’t appreciate the Hellebore flowers in the yard right now.
Even with the weather gods being incredibly fickle there is much to be thankful for in the flowering kingdom.
It seems that all our spring flowers are determined to come at the same time. They are like children at the supper table competing for our attention. At this moment the trout lilies or fawn lilies are jumping up and down with beautiful individual flowers that will be here for all too short a time. This is the first year that the above Tuolumnense fawn lily has bloomed for us. It has been used in hybridizing other Erythroniums, in particular the highly successful ‘Pagoda’, and I can understand why. It’s a brilliant yellow that contrasts with the fallen leaves that cover the ground below it.
We began growing the common trout lily (cf. the mottled leaves similar to trout markings), sometimes called dogtooth violet because of the shape of the bulb, years ago when we were building a raised bed around the deck. The constrained area leads to an annual extravagant annual flowering.
When I planted some of these same plants in the woods they have succeeded dramatically, spreading by underground stolons every year. I have six such patches, but not a single flower. My theory is that since they can make marvelous progress underground they seem to see little reason to flower. Fortunately the new species I’ve planted in the yard are more cooperative. This year we had the first flowers from two species.
Notice the fine drawing on the interior of the E. Japonicum tepals. Almost as if someone were trying to remember that these flowers are related to tulips. There are more Erythroniums to come but I think this may be my new favorite.
Flowering at the same time as trout lilies almost every year are the bloodroot. It’s just like clockwork.
Within two days or so these will have come an gone, followed by lovely and distinctive leaves that get to be be quite large. However, there is a double version that has a much longer stay and it’s exquisitely beautiful as well.
Think of them as miniature peonies that multiply with no care or upkeep…
There is a lot of other activity in the garden right now and no way that I could capture it all. But I should include just a little update on some of those hepaticas that I featured previously. The lovely little Hepatica japonica ‘Wakakusa’ has opened its double petals even further and has lost nothing in the process.
At the same time I found a little seedling from Thimble Farms that has a dark purple coloring that I haven’t had here before.
And I also have the first flowering of a seedling from Hillside Nursery with a very pretty pink and white coloration.
Lastly I have a birthday gift to share. I was given three Arisaemas that are very striking in the new garden.
Marvelous coloration — these are really fun to watch.
I was walking in our woods this week and found this lovely Corydalis that I had planted last year. Anything that has overcome our brutal winter and the voracious deer that thrive in our woods deserves to be celebrated.
There are over 450 species of Corydalis and 150 of those were only discovered after 1980. They range from forests to mountains to meadows and are encountered as tuberous ephemerals, evergreens, and annuals. Though they are found all over the world, the center of this incredible diversity is Western China and that’s where the newer species have come to light. For the avid gardener new hybrids are adding to the mix of growing opportunities. Loosely speaking, most of the Corydalis you will find in commerce are divided into forest plants (woodsy soil) or mountain growers (fast draining rock garden mix).
Last year I ordered in a variety of the tuberous types to populate the new garden beds we’ve made and we’re starting to see the results.
Most of these are beautiful flowers with compact, deeply divided, almost ferny, foliage. The exception is Corydalis ledebouriana which is anything but compact. Growing from a single tuber it has exploded in the Alpine bed. To give a sense of this I took a picture of Corydalis ledebouriana from above. I’ve drawn a yellow line around the C. ledebouriana and blue line around it’s neighbor C. caucasica to contrast the two plants.
Seen from the side it looks like this.
Don’t confuse the Gymnospermium which has similar-looking leaves at the front of the picture. From a single tuber the C. ledebouriana is overwhelming its neighbors, including an Edraianthus and a Saxifraga. I’m sure I will have to move it to someplace that allows it to be rambunctious, but I was curious to see how far this would go. I saw nothing on the web that would leave one to expect this kind of growth.
All the Corydalis I’ve shown above are ephemeral and the foliage will gradually disappear after flowering. Another type of later flowering Corydalis has evergreen foliage, even in our climate zone, and will flower later in the season.
You can see that Corydalis are becoming one of my favorite flowers…
This is a beautiful little Hepatica seedling that I obtained from Thimble Farms last year. The purple stamens offset nicely the light pink in the flowers. Apparently I was not the only one to treasure these flowers. I returned from Boston on Tuesday night and took these pictures. By Wednesday morning they were all gone — every one.
I can only presume rabbits since they have been the main pest in my yard this year. I’ve now sprinkled the hepaticas with anti-rabbit stuff but who was to guess that a member of the ranunculaceae would be eaten. I’ve been growing Hepaticas for ten years and never seen a one bitten by any animal. All the buttercup family members are supposed to be bad tasting if not poisonous to animals. This must be part of my annual test of faith as a gardener.
Other hepaticas have survived the onslaught, so maybe it was an evening binge for the rabbit and he felt sick about it the next day.
This last is one of two very expensive japanese-bred imports that I got last year. Unfortunately its blue companion did not survive the winter. I saw a lot of heaving of the hepaticas out of the ground this year, principally the ones that had just been planted last year. I guess the older stock has deeper roots.
One of the outstanding new acquisitions from Augis Bulbs last year was a beautiful Fritillaria.
I put it in an ideal spot. Unfortunately it was the same ideal spot I used for an Adonis. So I will hope they will share their living space like good companions.
Other spring flowers are arriving on the scene now.
Note the incredible blue stamens on these scilla.
The Peony buds are always striking coming through the soil and nothing more so that the Molly the Witch.
There are many daffodils and corydalis in bloom as well, but I’ll saved them for another posting. Let me finish with the headliner in the greenhouse this week.
The calandrinia were grown from seed last year as part of the North American Rock Garden Society seed distribution. I only just finished dividing the many seedlings this spring.
Crocus are always a sign of springtime. These were planted a few years ago and they continue to multiply each year. I am frequently struck by how nice the singular color looks compared to the easter egg approach that I took for years.
Nearby is the Crocus ‘Ruby Giant’ which has been clipped by the rabbits (I think) in one of the plantings).
A very early bloomer for us every year is the common English Primrose.
We planted a number of these after a trip to England in 2008. Now each of those has become a clump that is easily divided into many plants. I split one into about 15 plants last week. I like the plain species rather than the various hybrids derived from the species.
In the woods we now have our best early Daffodil.
These tiny little guys are very hardy and naturalizing nicely. And they are dependably early. Nearby the Puschkinia continue to make a statement in the woods.
I think it’s also worth sharing the Adonis amurensis ‘Sandansaki’ again as it moves through its multi-stage flowering.
In the greenhouse a newcomer is the Sparaxis grown from seed distributed through the Pacific Bulb Society.
The entire greenhouse is awash in the fragrance of orange blossoms right now.
Our first little Hepatica is in bloom right now (a small white Hepatica japonica) but what I found even more striking was in a visit to my eldest son in Boston, I’ve seen flowers on the Hepaticas in his cold frame. Boston itself is still weeks behind us, but in the cold frame I would say the Hepaticas are at least a week ahead of us. These particular Hepaticas are seedlings of Hepatica japonica cultivars grown from seeds he obtained from Denmark three years ago. They show some of the range of unusual flower color and quality that are rarely offered for sale in the U.S. These are small but beautiful gems that speak for themselves.
My own first year seedlings from the same grower are just now coming up in Maryland so these are sort of surprises I have to look forward to in two more years.
Well, I’m late with posting this month for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, but the flowers have been popping out and I’ve been enjoying the outside for a change. The Iris above is part of hundreds of bulbs that were added to the new Monolith garden last fall. So far this the first one to flower besides the snowdrops and winter aconite. Out in the front yard the winter aconite continue to spread, even creeping into the grass.
These all started with just a handful of bulbs. They individually very pretty but as a mass they are striking. Even the early bees are appreciative.
Anyone who is curious about Eranthis should see the January issue of the International Rock Gardener, which was dedicated to Eranthis. If you are not familiar with the IRG it an online resource on the Scottish Rock Garden Club site with spectacular images and descriptions of unusual flowers.
The crocus are all over the lawn now as evidenced by this lovely example.
A few Hellebores are open but mostly they are in the plump bud stage where they are also beautiful.
In the woods I see that the Puschkinia are lighting up the path.
I always forget how early they are.
In one of the troughs a little Draba is beginning to flower.
I should have mentioned also that the house still has some spectacular flowers, none more striking that this Yellow Clivia.
There is also a new Moraea flowering in the greenhouse that I’ve never seen before. The Moraeas tend to have wonderful detailed coloration when you look at them closely.
This one came from small bulbs distributed by the Pacific Bulb Society last July.
Let me close with some more images of truly unusual flowers that I’ve written about in recent posts.
It’s a great time of year!
Three Ferraria crispas are blooming in the greenhouse right now. Each show the finely curled leaves that characterize the genus with much darker coloring than the ferrariola that bloomed earlier. This one came from Annie’s Annuals marked as Ferraria ferrariola which it clearly is not. Even within the species though there seems to be a fair amount of variation.
This ‘form B’ is from Telos Rare Bulbs and it has both lighter coloring and smaller flowers.
Another South African Bulb blooming in the greenhouse right now is Spiloxene capensis.
It has 2″ plus sized flowers that open during sunshine and last for several days. Of much shorter duration are the small Romulea rosea (grown from seed) where you have to be really observant if you want to see them while the flower is doing it’s thing.
Makes you wonder how that evolved as an evolutionary trait.
There is also a Babiana from seed that has been blooming for a couple of weeks now.
I should note that the Greenhouse has also produced some delightful clementines for us over the past month.
They don’t look like much on the outside but they’ve been very tasty.
It’s been a long cold winter so it was really nice to see that the Gymnospermiums that I planted last September are really hardy. These flower buds have been above the ground for the last 8 weeks during which we’ve had many nights with single digit temperatures . However this particular Gymnospermium come from Uzbekistan and seem not to have noticed the cold weather. This is a herbaceous relative of the Mahonia and you can see the flower similarity with the chain of buds forming. Its neighbor in the Alpine bed is also showing its first flowers.
The flowers on Gymnospermium darwasicum are somewhat smaller but to my eye maybe even prettier. This one comes from Tajikistan and seems equally unfazed by the temperatures.
I’ve just returned from 10 days in North Carolina and Florida (flowers, birds, and spring training). On my way I stopped at Plant Delights and took advantage of their open house again.
When I got home the Washington area was recovering from yet another week of snow and ice.
Since then we’ve had some very nice days in the 50′s and 60′s and the springtime parade is starting. The snowdrops are reaching their peak now with many clumps from previous years getting denser.
And of course the Winter Aconite are always an early contributor to springtime flowers.
These two are pretty dependable regulars. But what caught my eye this week was the little pink exquisite flower from Helleborus thibetanus.
This wonderful little springtime ephemeral was unknown to western gardens until the 1990′s and it’s still pretty unusual. The history of it’s rediscovery is journaled by Graham Rice. It’s much smaller than other Hellebores and the wonderfully fringed leaves will completely disappear after flowering takes place. I bought this one at Pine Knot Farms last spring and I’ve no idea where you would find another this year but It’s well worth looking for.
I was really pleased to see that one bud of my Adonis amurensis ‘Sandansaki’ still remains.
It’s by far my favorite Adonis and because of the multi-petaled character it doesn’t set any seed — so I’m dependent on the plant expanding underground…