Dolomitic Joy

King of the Alps (Eritrichium nanum)

King of the Alps (Eritrichium nanum)

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.

View into Austria

View into Austria

Silene exscapa

Silene exscapa

Geum montanum

Geum montanum

Alpine Toadflax (Linaria alpina)

Alpine Toadflax (Linaria alpina)

Phyteuma hemisphaericum

Phyteuma hemisphaericum

Alpine Poppy (Papaver aurantiacum)

Alpine Poppy (Papaver aurantiacum)

Juncus jacquinii

Juncus jacquinii

Pedicularis verticillata

Pedicularis verticillata

Soldanella alpina

Soldanella alpina

Ranunculus glacialis

Ranunculus glacialis

Vitaliana primuliflora

Vitaliana primuliflora

Potentilla nitida

Potentilla nitida

Potentilla nitida detail

Potentilla nitida detail (note the green stamens)

Saxifraga paniculate on rock outcropping

Saxifraga paniculate on rock outcropping

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.

Gentiana brachyphylla

Gentiana brachyphylla

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 2015

Stewartia japonica

Stewartia japonica

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.

Iris x pseudata 'Kimboshi'

Iris x pseudata ‘Kimboshi’

Another iris that keeps expanding its space every year is the Japanese Iris, Agripinella.

Iris ensata 'Agripinella'

Iris ensata ‘Agripinella’

Another flower from the Iris family that is blooming right now is the Prairie Iris.

Alophia drummondii

Alophia drummondii

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

Cyrtanthus mackenii

Cyrtanthus mackenii

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.

Ismene 'Sulfur Queen'

Ismene ‘Sulfur Queen’

A very special little Astilbe that I picked up at Oliver Nurseries this spring has come into bloom.

Astilbe 'Cobblewood Fireworks'

Astilbe ‘Cobblewood Fireworks’

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.

Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla

Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla

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’.

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

Asclepias tuberosa ‘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.

Red Monarda

Jacob Cline Monarda

Calendula hybrid

Calendula hybrid

Stokesia laevis 'Honeysong Purple'

Stokesia laevis ‘Honeysong Purple’

Delosperma basuticum

Delosperma basuticum

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.

Scarlet Tanager

Scarlet Tanager

Enjoy!

Strawberry Jewels & More

Strawberry jewels

Strawberry jewels

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.

Double row of Jewel Strawberries

Double row of Jewel Strawberries

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.

3 nights of strawberry picking

3 nights of strawberry picking

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.

Martagon Lily 'Arabian Knight'

Martagon Lily ‘Arabian Knight’

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.

Lilium duchartrei

Lilium duchartrei

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.

Arisaema fargesii

Arisaema fargesii

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.

Habranthus brachyandrus

Habranthus brachyandrus

Zephyranthes rosea

Zephyranthes rosea

Habranthus tubispathus var. texensis

Habranthus tubispathus var. texensis

Zephyranthes dichromantha

Zephyranthes dichromantha

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.

Oxalis flava 'Yellow'

Oxalis flava ‘Yellow’

Oxalis flava 'Yellow' yield

Oxalis flava ‘Yellow’ yield

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.

Oxalis flava - yellow

Oxalis flava – yellow

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.

Gelasine elongata

Gelasine elongata

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.

Anemone multifida 'Rubra'

Anemone multifida ‘Rubra’

Similarly this little Dianthus that I planted in tufa was grown from the NARGS 2014 seed exchange.

Dianthus spiculifolius

Dianthus spiculifolius

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…

Harvesting Jeffersonia dubia seeds

Harvesting Jeffersonia dubia seeds

Jeffersonia dubia seeds

Jeffersonia dubia seeds

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.

Conandron ramondioides

Conandron ramondioides

The alpine bed continues to be very successful.  I’ve added another Lewisia since they seem to like it so much.

Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Peach’

Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Peach’

And the alpine aster has returned from last year.

Aster alpina

Aster alpina

Out in the main garden beds the astrantia is coming into bloom, along with the horned poppies.

Astrantia 'Moulin Rouge'

Astrantia ‘Moulin Rouge’

Yellow Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

Yellow Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

Orange Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum)

Orange Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum var. aurantiacum)

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.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Let me close with the first thing I check in the morning — the spuria iris.

Spuria Iris 'Cinnebar Red'

Spuria Iris ‘Cinnebar Red’

Spuria iris 'Stella Irene'

Spuria iris ‘Stella Irene’

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2015

White-Pink Tree Peony

White-Pink Tree Peony

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.

Yellow tree peony up close

Yellow tree peony up close

Paeonia x 'Morning Lilac' single flower

Paeonia x ‘Morning Lilac’ single flower

Paeonia x 'Morning Lilac'

Paeonia x ‘Morning Lilac’

Paeonia x 'Scarlet Ohara'

Paeonia x ‘Scarlet Ohara’

Many of the garden standards like Azaleas, Rhododendrons, Bearded Iris, Roses, and Clematis are starting up.

Rhododendron chionoides

Rhododendron chionoides

Black and Blue Bearded Iris

Black and Blue Bearded Iris

Yellow Bearded Iris

Yellow Bearded Iris

Knockout Rose Red

Knockout Rose Red

Azalea Exbury Hybrid 'Klondyke'

Azalea Exbury Hybrid ‘Klondyke’

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.

Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)

Hydrophyllum virginianum

Hydrophyllum virginianum

Right behind the waterleaf is an Enkianthus which holds myriad little bells at the moment.

Enkianthus campanulatus

Enkianthus campanulatus

Also a bit uncommon and quite nice is the Indian Aster.

Indian aster (Kalimeris indica)

Indian aster (Kalimeris indica)

In the alpine bed and troughs there are lots of saxifrage and androsace in bloom.

Androsace, saxifrage, campanula, aubretia, and oxalis all blooming in the alpine bed

Androsace, saxifrage, campanula, aubretia, and oxalis all blooming in the alpine bed

But I continue to find the Lewisia particularly attractive.

Lewisia pygmaea

Lewisia pygmaea

Lewisia cotyledon

Lewisia cotyledon

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.

Silvery dwarf harebell (Edrianthus pumillo)

Silvery dwarf harebell (Edrianthus pumillo)

Well that’s it for this month given that I am already a day late.  What a glorious time of year!

May magic

Lewisia longipetala 'Little Plum'

Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Plum’

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

Lewisia longipetala 'Little Plum'

Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Plum’

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.

Hepatica seeds

Hepatica seeds

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.

Looks like a big strawberry crop this year

Looks like a big strawberry crop this year

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.

Arisaema taiwanese returns

Arisaema taiwanese returns

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.

Gentiana acaulis in tufa

Gentiana acaulis in tufa

Gentiana acaulis in tufa

Gentiana acaulis in tufa

There are a lot of other special happenings in the garden right now, like the double flowered trillium

Double-flowered Trillium

Double-flowered Trillium

and the new Callirhoe

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba 'Logan Calhoun'

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba ‘Logan Calhoun’

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.

Paeonia obovata ssp. obovata var. willmottiae

Paeonia obovata ssp. obovata var. willmottiae

Paeonia veitchii

Paeonia veitchii

Paeonia suffricosa ssp. rockii

Paeonia suffricosa ssp. rockii

This last one is the first time for flowering for us.  It’s a real beauty…

Bluebells on the River

A sea of bluebells

A sea of bluebells

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).

The path through the spring beauties requires looking closely at the ground

The path through the spring beauties requires looking closely at the ground

The spring beauties come in white or pink versions

The spring beauties come in white or pink versions

Note the pink stamens.

These delicate little flowers are really tough as nails in the right conditions.

These delicate little flowers are really tough as nails in the right conditions.

The path to the bluebells also has many star of Bethlehem

Ornithogalum nutans

Ornithogalum nutans

When you get to the river the annual explosion of bluebells is very difficult to capture in the camera lens.

Bluebells along the path

Bluebells along the path

Note how high the river is after a thunderstorm in the mountains the night before.

Bluebells against the river background

Bluebells against the river background

Individually the bluebells usually have pink buds that turn to blue, but they can be pink or even white.

The bluebells can be pink

The bluebells can be pink

White bluebells

White bluebells

In any case it’s a great time to go out a see the wildflowers, in addition to growing your own…:)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – April 2015

Daffodil bouquet

Daffodil bouquet

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.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Kingston Cardinal'

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Kingston Cardinal’

Helleborus x hybridus 'Cotton Candy'

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Cotton Candy’

Helleborus x hybridus 'Peppermint Ice'

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Peppermint Ice’

Helleborus hybrid ‘MG Apricot’

Helleborus hybrid ‘MG Apricot’

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.

Anemonella thalictroides

Anemonella thalictroides

Anemonella thalictroides 'Shoaf's Double Pink'

Anemonella thalictroides ‘Shoaf’s Double Pink’

Corydalis solida 'Cantata'

Corydalis solida ‘Cantata’

Jeffersonia dubia

Jeffersonia dubia

Jeffersonia dubia (light colored)

Jeffersonia dubia (light colored)

Hepatica nobilis 'Lithuanian Blues'

Hepatica nobilis ‘Lithuanian Blues’

Erythronium dens-canis 'Rose Queen'

Erythronium dens-canis ‘Rose Queen’

Erythronium americanum in abundance

Erythronium americanum in abundance

Bloodroot colony (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Bloodroot colony (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Sanguinaria canadensis Multiplex

Sanguinaria canadensis Multiplex

A longer lasting springtime favorite is the Roadrunner trillium.

Trillium pusillum 'Roadrunner'

Trillium pusillum ‘Roadrunner’

In the orchard and the woods the cherries are in bloom.

Sweet Cherry blossoms

Sweet Cherry blossoms

And alpine bed and troughs feature some distinctive flowers that are not usually part of the Maryland landscape.

A host of Aubretia

A host of Aubretia

Saxifraga apiculata alba

Saxifraga apiculata alba

Vitaliana primuliflora

Vitaliana primuliflora

Inside the house, the clivia is trying hard to make us focus on indoor flowers.

Clivia miniata makes a statement

Clivia miniata makes a statement

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.

Cypripedium 'Emil'

Cypripedium ‘Emil’

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

Happy Easter

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.

Hepatica nobilis large form blue shade

Hepatica nobilis large form blue shade

This is a particularly large flowered hepatica that I got several years ago from Seneca Hill Perennials (now closed).

Hepatica nobilis large form blue shade (single flower)

Hepatica nobilis large form blue shade (single flower)

Also in flower is a lovely pink seedling from Hillside Nursery.

Hepatica japonica Hillside seedling

Hepatica japonica Hillside seedling

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.

Hepatica japonica seedling

Hepatica japonica seedling

I’ve also noticed that one of the american hepaticas has a very nice pink cast to it.

Hepatica acutiloba 'pink'

Hepatica acutiloba ‘pink’

There are more hepaticas still emerging.  Meanwhile their friends the corydalis are popping up around the yard.

Corydalis solida 'Beth Evans'

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’

One of Janis Ruksan’s best corydalis is Gunite, named after his wife.

Corydalis solida 'Gunite'

Corydalis solida ‘Gunite’

A rather special flower is the Fritillaria stenanthera.

Fritillaria stenanthera

Fritillaria stenanthera

It is unlike any other Fritillaria that we have.

Fritillaria stenanthera

Fritillaria stenanthera

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.

Adonis amurensis 'Beni Nadeshiko'

Adonis amurensis ‘Beni Nadeshiko’

Of course my go-to Adonis for distinctive variety is always Adonis ‘Sandansaki’.

Adonis amurensis 'Sandansaki' early stage

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandansaki’ middle stage’

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.

Adonis amurensis 'Sandansaki'

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandansaki’

It has three buds this year, the most ever.

Other yellow highlights are in the troughs and the alpine beds.

Draba aizoides

Draba aizoides

This one sits in the small trough by the back door.

Draba acaulis

Draba acaulis

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.

Pulsatilla halleri slavica

Pulsatilla halleri slavica

Reliably scattered around the yard are Primula vulgaris to reflect the way they are found in the wild in England.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris

And of course I’ve not mentioned the daffodils all over the place or the Hellebores that are everywhere — but that’s another story…

Hellebores galore

Hellebores galore