It’s been a wonderful fall here in Maryland. Sunny days, cool nights, and no hard frost yet. That has allowed some of the flowers to pretend that it is spring. In particular, one of the Camellia japonica hybrids often gets a jump on the season.
Last year a lot of the Camellias got blasted going through the winter. I have hopes for a better showing this spring.
Another early showing is the small Daphne at the foot of the garage.
This one, like many Daphnes, has a wonderful fragrance.
I was surprised to find a Bottle Gentian that had self-seeded in the garden quite about 20 feet away from the nearest source.
I’m not as fond of the Bottle Gentians as I keep waiting for them to open there buds, which never happens. But most any flower is welcome at this season.
I need to give credit to the little Wallflower that basically blooms the whole year.
Tricyrtis also have an extensive bloom time, just about the whole fall season. Beth found that they also make a nice cut flower.
I was particularly delighted with the Fall Crocus this year. ‘Conquerer’ is still in bloom for us.
Make a mental note that we need more Fall Crocus next year. I interplanted them in the grass with Ajuga and Starflowers. It looks like they all get on fine together.
I can’t resist showing more of the many Oxalis that are blooming in the greenhouse right now. In this case I’m choosing the semi-folded stage before they fully open for the day.
So this the state of affairs in mid-November for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. I’ll close with a sunset from the back pasture.
Oxalis species have wonderful variety in both flowers and foliage. There are more than 800 species altogether, most from South Africa. One of the characteristics that I’ve seen in most of the varieties that I’ve grown is a strong responsiveness to light. Both flowers and leaves can be responsive to light, but the unfolding and refolding of the flowers is particularly lovely to watch. Rather than just opening and closing they actually twist at the same time so that when closed they take on the aspect of a very tight cylinder.
To illustrate the process I made a time-lapse video of Oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’ over a 4 hour period one morning in the dining room.
The flowers come to life as they greet the sun each day. Notice the untwisting.
Here are some of the other Oxalis that we are enjoying right now.
If you are interested in Oxalis I suggest a visit to Telos Rare Bulbs. Diana Chapman, the proprietor, has an exquisite collection of Oxalis (among many other bulbs).
Another south african that is fully open right now is Polyxena ensifolia.
So many buds packed into a very tight space.
One other item to mention today is the arrival of Daubyena stylosa. When we were visitng the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last Thanksgiving I noticed a marvelous Daubyena Stylosa plant in full flower. It was the first I had ever seen of that species. However I had just that august planted a few seedlings that I had obtained from a Pacific Bulb Society exchange. And now the first flowers have arrived on one of those seedlings.
We’ve had a wonderful extended Autumn with many clear sunny days. On one of them last week we took a morning walk along the C&O canal. This national park is only 15-20 minutes from our house. The overall park is essentially a biking-hiking-running trail that extends 185 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD. Noland’s Ferry is at the 45 mile point along the trail and is a broad leaf-strewn walkway in this season. There are other parts of Frederick County that are lit up with color this time of year, but along the canal it’s mostly greens turning to yellow. Nonetheless one of the joys of walking is noticing that which is not visible from car or bike. We walked about 2 miles down the trail towards Washington and then returned, moving at a pace that encouraged observation. Even at that pace we noticed things on the return part of the trail that we had missed on the outgoing trip.
Some of the most striking elements were fungi. The Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus looks like a waterfall frozen in time.
The Jelly Ear Mushroom is said to be good to eat, but we limit ourselves to puffballs (which we have eaten many times).
And then there was this very phallic white mushroom which I’ve not been able to identify.
Along the trail was a very tiny snake, about the size of a worm. It seems likely this this is an Eastern Smooth Earthsnake. They do have babies in the fall but they are not very big in any case. It eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects. On balance that’s the kind of diet I can appreciate.
There were two interesting fruiting plants that we noticed. Spicebush is a smallish native shrubby tree that is found in wooded lowlands. It has plants of both the male and female persuasion so it will be interesting to return in spring to see if we can identify them.
And the Eastern Wahoo is another small native tree that has what seem like packages of pink candy hanging from its branches.
The leaves had not yet turned but like its relative, the Euonymus alatus, the Eastern Wahoo should have strongly colored red leaves.
At one point we looked up and noticed a tree with remarkable orange foliage. At first I thought sugar maple, but that is not common with us at all. When I got home and did a little research, it was pretty clear to me that what we saw was Black Maple. This is a close cousin to the Sugar Maple and as many of the same positive attributes. It would be worth trying to propagate in our forest.
Well it’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and the flowering for October is fairly predictable. Toad lilies, Japanese Anemone’s, annuals in the garden and the Oxalis are all coming into flower in the greenhouse. They get planted in late August and they come into flower very rapidly. And one of the earliest and most prolific is Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’
Some other Oxalis examples are
Out in the yard a new Colchicum that we’ve added is ‘Dick Trotter’
For the first time we’ve got flowers on the new Mahonia that we added this spring.
I’ve got high hopes that this soft foliaged Mahonia will make it over the winter.
Also in the monument bed is a lovely little Saxifrage that I received as a gift this winter.
Also a single flower shows on the St. John’s Wort this week.
As I mentioned the toad lilies continue to put on a show. Especially productive is the Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’
These are some of the highlights in our garden. I hope yours is also filled with delights.
It is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and I am late in posting once again. I found myself on the road once more but these are photos from the garden reflecting the state of affairs before I left. One of the standout flowers for this time of year is the lovely double flowered Japanese anemone pictured above. It is both floriferous and singularly beautiful over a long period in the fall.
Another set of flowers that can be counted on for September are the Toad Lilies.
There are several in the yard now but they are all characterized by orchid like blossoms and delightful green foliage with rampant growth.
One of our favorite dahlias for use in the perennial gardens is Bishop of Llandalf.
It’s dark foliage contrasts nicely with the other plants and the red flowers are outstanding.
We have several patches of Garlic Chives that are expanding.
They are especially nice when many other perennial flowers have faded.
In the annual cutting bed the Tithonia continue to dominate.
They are constantly visited by butterflies and bees.
In the wildflower patch in the lawn we have some Colchicum established.
One of the nice aspects of species peonies is the rather striking seed pods they can have in the fall.
This one is Paonia obovata I believe. The red seeds are not viable but the black ones could easily be harvested.
It’s also worth noting that this year promises a very nice apple crop, probably more than we can eat….
I got a nice note today from Malcolm McGregor who is the editor of the North American Rock Garden Society journal the ‘Rock Garden Quarterly’. His message was that the above picture of an Adonis from last winter was selected as the the Joint Winner of Class 5 (Close up) in their annual photo contest. At the same time he said that my photo of a Gymnospermium albertii was given a Highly Commended rating in a different class.
As a class winner, I am entitled to give a free annual membership to NARGS to the person of my choosing. If you are harboring an interest in rock garden plants but have not yet taken the plunge, let me know, and if it’s not already been given away, I’ll be happy to give you this opportunity. Personally I have found the whole NARGS experience — growing plants, exchanging seeds, and reading the excellent journal articles — to be very fulfilling.
Meanwhile, here is the latest little Zephyranthes in the greenhouse to usher in the fall season
Well I have very mixed feelings for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. There are a few flowers like the beautiful gentians in the alpine bed. But it is also the dog days of August with over a week since the last rain and no rain in the immediate future. On top of that we returned from vacationing on Cape Cod to find that the water pump had stopped a week ago and all the elaborate water timing I had set up was a total fail. It was bad enough for the outdoor plants surviving the drought-like conditions, but the worst casualty was the greenhouse. With no water the greenhouse becomes an oven. I can’t even bear posting the picture of what the greenhouse looks like. The bulb things will survive but the alpine seedlings that were painstakingly started this year were devastated. Focusing on the positive, there is a splendid Cyrtanthus hybrid which found the desert-like conditions just to its liking.
Another little bulb in flower right now is a Barnardia from Japan.
Out in the very dry yard, the first thing that strikes you as it hangs over the porch is a lovely Limelight Hydrangea.
In the perennial beds there are two very striking lobelias that capture one’s attention.
This one was brought up from Plant Delights this spring.
There is also a cute little Rosularia from Wrightman Alpines that I noticed flowering on one of the pieces of tufa.
There are lots of annuals that give us picking flowers for inside the house. I noticed a clearwing moth hanging on one of the verbenas.
For the annual flowers in the garden the Mexican Sunflowers have totally dominated over the zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, etc.
We returned from our trip to the Dolomites to find that there had been pretty constant rainfall while we were gone (and that has continued). The temperatures have also stayed 5-10 degrees below normal. This meant that we had a LOT of mowing a weed pulling to do, but we also didn’t have to waste a lot of time dragging hoses around the yard. The lilies were in full bloom. It is marvelous to walk out in the yard and get knocked over by the lily fragrance.
Besides other lily varieties there are also the day lilies blooming in gay profusion right now.
Many annuals are also happening right now but of a couple of perennial standouts are as follows:
Yes, the ‘Blue Billow’ is very pink.
From the greenhouse we have a couple of little cuties.
And lastly though the Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is mostly about the flowers, I think it’s worth noting a couple of beneficial insects that I saw on the flowers.
The Tachinid fly parasitizes caterpillars, including monarch larvae, but on balance it’s a very useful contributor to the garden. The Widow Skimmer Dragonfly grabs small flying insects out of the air and it’s like having your localized air force to guard the space over your garden.