Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2015

Camellia japonica 'April Tryst'

Camellia japonica ‘April Tryst’

Well I have been long overdue for posting.  Seasonal illness, much travel, and many chores have kept me from my recording of events on Ball Rd.  What better way to get into the swing of things again that to take note of what is blooming around here on a cold December day for GBBD.  I was surprised to see that the blooming camellia in the yard is not one of the fall camellias (they are often quite showy right about now) but instead the rather lovely Camellia japonica ‘April Tryst’ that is one of the new cold-hardy varieties from Camellia Forest.

Camellia japonica 'April Tryst'

Camellia japonica ‘April Tryst’

The camellias are all showing a lot of buds that should provide a real show if we have a better winter than last year.

A reliable contributor for this season is the christmas rose, Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’.

Helleborus niger 'Jacob'

Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’

This is the starting point for a hellebore season that will go from now until April-May.  What a marvelous plant!  At some point I will have to cut away the leaves from last year’s growth, but at the moment they are still green and very pretty for December.

Some years ago we were traveling in England and noticed how the aubretia was often cascading over stone walls to great effect.  One of my first thoughts in constructing the alpine bed that is enclosed by a two foot high stone wall was to put some aubretia in and let it cascade over the wall.  Well half of that idea worked in that the aubretia is thriving in the alpine bed and even blooming already for the spring, but it seems to think that the idea of cascading over the wall is foolish when there is a whole bed to spread out in first.

Aubretia

Aubretia

Aubretia spreading in alpine bed

Aubretia spreading in alpine bed

This may take some rethinking after we’ve gotten the springtime bloom.

In the greenhouse we have a few oxalis still blooming, a couple of lachenalia, and some small narcissus.

Oxalis versicolor

Oxalis versicolor

Oxalis luteola glauca

Oxalis luteola glauca

Oxalis luteola glauca

Oxalis luteola glauca detail

Narcissus cantabricus 'Peppermint'

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’

Narcissus cantabricus 'Peppermint'

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’

A loss of power on one night in November took the greenhouse temperature down to 28 degrees.  Most things survived but we did lose some of the oxalis flowers.

The house also has some flowers to contribute to the scene.  In particular the orchids have started their parade.  We take the orchids outside for the summer and then when we bring them in for winter they begin flowering one by one.

Cattleya Orchid

Cattleya Orchid

I am always amazed by the fragrance of the cattleyas.  How can one plant have such incredible beauty and fragrance as well?

Also flowering right now is the amazon lily which seems to thrive on being pot-bound.  I don’t believe we have ever transplanted it and I don’t remember ever adding fertilizer.

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Like the orchids it lives on the shady porch in the summertime and then flowers when it comes in for the winter.  The difference is that it often flowers in July as well.

Lastly, given the season, I want to share the colorado blue spruce which has come inside for the holidays.

Blue Spruce for Christmas

Blue Spruce for Christmas

May your homes and gardens overflow with joy…

A Link to Nepal

View of the mountains from the road between Pokhara and Kathmandu

View of the mountains from the road between Pokhara and Kathmandu

Nepal is an incredibly rich and diverse country with a landscape that ranges from the jungles of Chitwan on the Indian border to the highest mountains in the world.  In between are all stages of beautiful rivers and terraced hillsides.  There are 6000 species of flowering plants, 900 species of birds, and over 600 species of butterflies.  But even with all of that diversity it was the wonderfully friendly people that left us with indelible memories.  Their small land accommodates a great many cultures and traditions but seems to rank tolerance very high on their scale of values.  I’ve put on SmugMug a set of our images from 3 weeks in Nepal.  Here are a few samples.

A young mother who was happy to have me photograph her child

A young mother who was happy to have me photograph her child

Little girl at Boudhanath Stupa

Little girl at Boudhanath Stupa

Green Sapphire, Heliophorus androcles, wings closed

Green Sapphire, Heliophorus androcles, wings closed

Baby Elephant in elephant grass

Baby Elephant in elephant grass

Asian Pied Starlings

Asian Pied Starlings

Osbeckia stellata

Osbeckia stellata

Annapurna South reflection

Annapurna South reflection

Returning from the Heights

Annapurna pano

Annapurna panorama

We returned last week from a trip to Nepal that lasted most of October.  Hard to summarize the adventure except to say that it was a lifetime experience that will provide memories for years to come.  The natural world there is every bit as exceptional as the mountain scenery would promise with butterflies, plants, and birds that stretch the imagination.  But the people were the most wonderful part of the trip.  More about Nepal in a separate posting if I ever get through my several thousand images.

In the meantime we returned to the mid-atlantic to find that autumn season has taken a very relaxed approach this year.  While our typical first frost is around the 20th of October, it hasn’t even come close to that.  Many flowers are still doing quite well thank you.  The pineapple sage which is always a late bloomer has had time to go on and on this year and has put on quite a show in the herb garden.

Pineapple sage has exploded in the herb bed

Pineapple sage has exploded in the herb bed

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)

Pineapple sage (Salvia elegans)

The new Tricyrtis that we put in the monument bed has put out an extravagant array of blossoms, each one of them like little orchids.

Tricyrtis 'Sinonome' overloaded with flowers

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ overloaded with flowers

Tricyrtis 'Sinonome'

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’

Next to the tricyrtis, the Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ has the yellow flowers that you expect from a Mahonia, but without the thorns.

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'

Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’

Surprisingly, a single stalk of an Avalanche Daffodil has decide to raise it’s flag way, way before spring time.  And the insects had practically shredded it by the time we arrived home.

Narcissus 'Avalanche'

Narcissus ‘Avalanche’

Another flower reminiscent of springtime is the fall flowering crocus, which survives nestled up against a tree so it doesn’t get mowed.

Fall Crocus

Fall Crocus

Our usual flowering hero for this time of year would be the red Camellia Sansanqua but last years fluctuating winter has left it without flower buds.  On the other hand a newly planted ‘Survivor’ Camellia is putting out lovely white flowers.

Camellia x 'Survivor'

Camellia x ‘Survivor’

It is a cross between between two very hardy Camellias (C. sasanqua ‘Narumi-gata’ X C. oleifera).

Another few flowers of the white persuasion are two japanese anemones and a wonderful David Austin Rose ‘Crocus Rose’.

Anemone  × hybrida 'Honorine Jobert'

Anemone × hybrida ‘Honorine Jobert’

Anemone × hybrida 'Whirlwind'

Anemone × hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Crocus Rose

Crocus Rose

Next to the greenhouse I found that the Pommegranate Bush that I had set outside for the fall had opened up its fruit for all to see.  They ripened earlier than I expected and the seeds have been delicious.

Pomegranate bursting with flavorful seeds

Pomegranate bursting with flavorful seeds

Inside the greenhouse itself the Oxalis have flowered up a storm.  Many different species are in flower but none is quite so spectacular as the Oxalis bowiei.

Oxalis bowiei in profusion

Oxalis bowiei in profusion

One new plant for me was the Nerine pudica.

Nerine pudica

Nerine pudica

This a lovely little South African native that I got as a bulblet from one of Pacific Bulb Society’s bulb exchanges last year.

However, the most dramatic flower in the greenhouse is a very pretty Cypella.

Cypella peruviana

Cypella peruviana

It is also known as Hesperoxiphion peruvianum, how’s that for a mouthful?  It is supposed to be marginally hardy in our area so I might try of few of the bulbs outside next year.  It seems to be spreading rapidly in the pot.  This is a fairly good size flower — similar to a dutch iris — and a wonderful addition to our flower collections.

It’s Spring All Over Again

Lewisia pygmaea

Lewisia pygmaea

I was surprised to see that a little pot of Lewisia pygmaea seedlings was flowering even though I think of Lewisia as spring flowering plants.  But a little research showed that indeed they can flower again in the fall after being dormant in the summertime.  The odd thing here is that this is the first bloom for these plants.  They only just germinated this spring from seeds distributed by the Alpine Garden Society in 2013.  And there are no such flowers on the plants in the alpine bed which flowered wonderfully this spring.  Anyway I’ll enjoy them as a little bit of spring in the fall.

The greenhouse is producing the other pronounced springtime right now.  All those plants that happily produce wintertime flowers are putting up green shoots like mad and some are even flowering.  The oxalis caught me off-guard with their rapid growth.  I dimly remembered planting them in early September last year, but that is clearly too late.  This is what some of the new acquisitions looked like when I pulled them out of their bag.

Oxalis sprouting

Oxalis sprouting

And the plants that I had moved to basement to spend a dormant summer were growing vigorously, regardless of having neither water or light.  Needless to say I will be more aware next year.  Anyway, I potted the new ones up and brought the old ones from the basement.  And in a little more than two weeks they are growing vigorously.

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina was the first to flower, even though it was just planted from a bulb.  It’s small and a bit scraggly as a plant but like all the oxalis it’s flower is worth looking at closely.  Second on the scene is Oxalis polyphylla v. heptaphylla.

Oxalis polyphylla v. heptaphylla

Oxalis polyphylla v. heptaphylla

In this case it is from one of last year’s pots.  The flowers are somewhat larger than the Oxalis caprina.  Many more varieties are on the way.

Oxalis hirta (pink)

Oxalis hirta (pink)

Oxalis bowiei

Oxalis bowiei

Altogether I count more than 35 different kinds of oxalis at this point, mostly from the Pacific Bulb Society bulb exchange and Telos Rare Bulbs.

The oxalis have lots of friends and neighbors that are sprouting too.  The Ferrarias, Moraeas, Babianas, and Lachenalias are all coming along rapidly.

Ferraria ferrariola

Ferraria ferrariola

So you can see that I am actively contemplating the greenhouse in bloom but the outside is still filled with fall pleasures.  I’ll leave you with an image of Chrysanthemum abundance.

Yellow Chrysanthemum

Yellow Chrysanthemums

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2014

Mammoth Sunflower

Mammoth Sunflower

For September’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day it is only appropriate that we lead off with the late Sunflower that resulted from seed that my granddaughter shipped down from Boston.  She said the squirrels ate the ones she had planted and so could I please plant the seeds in the envelope to see if they would grow.  We did and they did.  The lovely sunflowers grew wonderfully and ended up in a Van Gogh-like vase on the inside of the house.

As the picking garden winds down from its full summer glory the zinnias are decaying and the marigolds getting smaller.  Still brilliant however is the singular Tithonia that self-seeded from last year.

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia)

The sense of fall approaching is helped by the appearance of the Colchicum in the lawn.  Only one species has come back from the previous year but it seems quite vigorous.

Colchicum 'Byzantinum'

Colchicum ‘Byzantinum’

Several of the plants giving pleasure right now are holdovers from previous postings.  They just keep coming and coming and coming.

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Hypericum perforatum

Hypericum perforatum

Alstroemeria 'Casablanca'

Alstroemeria ‘Casablanca’

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

Rose 'Tess of the d'Urbervilles'

Rose ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’

All the Tricyrtis are extended bloomers with exquisite flowers, for example…

Tricyrtis 'Autumn Glow'

Tricyrtis ‘Autumn Glow’

In the Alpine bed the Erodium chrysantha bloomed in the spring and is now blooming in the fall as well.

Erodium chrysanthum

Erodium chrysanthum

And close by in one of the large troughs, a new Erodium that I grew from a NARGS seed exchange planted in 2013 is now producing flowers.

Erodium carvifolium

Erodium carvifolium

In the Green house there is a very pretty little rain lily (Habranthus brachyandrus) that is producing flowers from for the first time.

Habranthus brachyandrus

Habranthus brachyandrus

Habranthus brachyandrus

Habranthus brachyandrus

This one came from seeds distributed by the Pacific Bulb Society back in December 2012.

Lastly let me close with one of the prettiest fall flowers – very reliable and very vigorous (meaning it spreads).

Anemone × hybrida 'Whirlwind'

Anemone × hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is all about recording what is blooming in your garden.  Do you have flowers to share?

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day August 2014

Sea Shells Cosmos with Silver-spotted Skipper

Sea Shells Cosmos with Silver-spotted Skipper

We have much to be grateful for on this mid-August Bloom Day.  This summer has featured remarkably pleasant weather.  Perhaps not quite as much water as we might have chosen but the lower temperatures have compensated nicely.  Perhaps it’s all to make up for the remarkably difficult winter that we went through this past year.  In any case the flowers are doing very nicely thank you.  I won’t go through the various daisies, daylilies, and annuals that are blooming right now, instead featuring some of the flowers that are still a little bit unusual for us.

The Astrantia ‘Moulin Rouge’ came from Far Reaches out in Washington State.  This is a great source for unusual plants of all sorts.

Astrantia 'Moulin Rouge'

Astrantia ‘Moulin Rouge’

It bloomed earlier in the year but has now decided to start all over again.

Now blooming in its second year for us in this Roscoea from Thimble Farms in British Columbia.

Roscoea purpurea 'Spice Island'

Roscoea purpurea ‘Spice Island’

Not only did it survive the winter but it has prospered and has several stems now.

Nearby is this blue Lobelia which came from seed obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed exchange in 2013.

Blue cardinal flower (Lobelia syphilitica)

Blue cardinal flower (Lobelia siphilitica)

This looks to be quite hardy in Maryland and provides wonderful color over an extended period.

Another good plant for color at this season is this summer flowering Allium.

Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'

Allium senescens?

These are always attractive to various bees and other insects.

The Canna Lily ‘Yellow Punch’ is a new addition this year from Plant Delights.

Canna Lily 'Lemon Punch'

Canna Lily ‘Lemon Punch’

Like all the Cannas it’s a constant source of flowers.  I had hoped to see its partner ‘Orange Punch’ which unfortunately didn’t make through the winter.

This little Lily is a Longiflorum-Asiatic Hybrid that is blooming out of season because I planted it very late.

Lilium 'Brindisi'

Lilium ‘Brindisi’

I always like the Toad Lilies for their late and exotic flowers.  They are also very hardy and easily divided.

Toad lily 'Tojen' (Trycirtis)

Toad lily ‘Tojen’ (Trycirtis)

Tricyrtis 'Autumn Glow'

Tricyrtis ‘Autumn Glow’

Some other pieces of color in the yard are shown below.

Hydrangea paniculata 'Limelight'

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

Cyclamen purpurascens

Cyclamen purpurascens

Paeonia mlokosewitschii seeds

Paeonia mlokosewitschii seeds

Note that the viable seeds are the black ones.  The red ones, though beautiful don’t have any purpose at this point.

And even though I dismissed the annuals at the beginning there are a couple of picture worthy items from the cutting garden.

Zinnia (prob from Benarys Giant Mix)

Zinnia (prob from Benarys Giant Mix)

Sea Shells Cosmos

Sea Shells Cosmos

And then lastly one more shot of the ever-present butterflies, this time on the Joe-Pye Weed.

Swallowtail on Joe-Pye Weed

Swallowtail on Joe-Pye Weed

Gentiana paradoxa

Gentiana paradoxa

Gentiana paradoxa

We came back from our latest trip to find that another of the gentians in the alpine bed had started to bloom.  Like many gentians the blue is startling, and in this case a relatively big flower.  I grew this native of the western caucausus from seed distributed by the Alpine Garden Society in 2013.  It has about 6 or 7 such flowers on a plant the size of teacup.  The markings are very intricate and there is a wonderful fringing on the fused part of the corolla that looks almost like tiny feathers.

Gentiana paradoxa

Gentiana paradoxa

Apparently, although it’s not common in the wild this is a widely circulated gentian that easily hybridizes with other forms so it’s not easy to know which is the original species.  Here is another view of the ‘feathers’.

Gentiana paradoxa

Gentiana paradoxa

Seeing this gentian in the alpine bed was a refreshing reminder of the trip that we just took to Mt Rainier.  Hiking at Rainier at this time of year is to immerse yourself in fields of wildflowers.  It’s a reminder of how these plants really want to grow.  Each species stakes out its favorite spot (sometimes heavily overlapping with neighbors).

Mt Rainier with glacier lilies and pasqueflowers

Mt Rainier with glacier lilies and pasqueflowers

We stayed a the Park Sevice’s Paradise Lodge for part of the time.  You can literally walk out the door onto paths up the mountain.

Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) on Mt Rainier

Beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) on Mt Rainier

Far and away the dominant flowers on the hillsides were avalanche lilies (which are really erythroniums).

Sides of the hills dominated by avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum)

Sides of the hills dominated by avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum)

Avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum)

Avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum) and fan-leaved cinquefoil (Potentilla flabellifolia)

Avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum)

Avalanche lilies (Erythronium montanum)

To think of how we have to work at growing these little beasties leaves is only to be amazed at nature’s bounty.

Hard to capture the profusion of Avalanche lilies

Hard to capture the profusion of Avalanche lilies

And then coming home to the east coast again, we were greeted by the rain lilies that had popped up in our absence.

Lycoris squamigera

Lycoris squamigera

Lycoris squamigera

Lycoris squamigera

Pretty nice for a low effort plant that comes like this in August every year.

The Queen Rules the Night

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Epiphyllum oxypetalum struts it’s stuff only at night and then only if you are really paying attention. The last few nights have involved regular checks on the Epiphyllum in the greenhouse.  I could see where I had missed earlier  flowerings and didn’t want to miss the full explosion of flowers.  At about 8pm last night this is what the buds looked like.  The green leaves are Bougainvillea and Guava — the Epiphyllum is the cactus-like stem.

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) at 8pm

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) at 8pm

By 9:15pm it was clear that this was going to be a special night.

The Queen at 9:15pm

The Queen at 9:15pm

And by 10:30pm they were fully in bloom.

Two flowers of the Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Two flowers of the Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum)

Queen flowers at 10:30pm

Queen flowers at 10:30pm

It’s altogether how amazing the bloom phase is.  For most of it’s year this is really a nondescript, even ugly plant, but when those flowers appear they are wonderful to behold.  The fragrance is difficult to describe.  I called it cinnamon, but Beth said that it was simply spicy.  In any case, simple, easy to grow plant with summertime evening reward…