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…

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day July 2014

Hydrangea serrate 'Blue billow'

Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue billow’

Another belated GBBD posting for me celebrating the flowers that are in bloom right now.   The hydrangea pictured above is a striking array of complex flowers right now and not at all the blue coloring we were expecting.  I think that says something about our soil.  Over time I expect that acid rainfall will take care of redressing the soil acidity.  In the meantime our ‘Pink Billow’ is marvelously colored.

Mostly the garden is all about lilies right now.  The oriental lilies are peaking, both in terms of production and height.  The Oriental/Trumpet cross ‘Anastasia’ was headed toward 10′ tall before a storm caused the whole clump to slump against the fence.

Abundant lilies

Abundant lilies

Orienpet Lily 'Anastasia'

Orienpet Lily ‘Anastasia’

Oriental lily 'Time Out'

Oriental lily ‘Time Out’

Oriental lily 'Casablanca'

Oriental lily ‘Casablanca’

And then there are the lily relatives that are flowering around the yard too…

Red daylily

Red daylily

First Glads

First Glads

All of these end up in various displays that Beth makes in the house…

Lilies and glads

Lilies and glads

A real surprise for me was the Gloriosa Lily.  I was very late in planting the summer bulbs this year.  This and several other non-hardy bulbs didn’t go in the ground until a little over a month ago.  I’ve had difficulty growing the Gloriosa Lily over the years, only finally succeeding in getting flowers in 2012.  Imagine my surprise when this one literally leapt out of the ground and started climbing its frame.

Gloriosa superba 'rothschildiana'

Gloriosa superba ‘rothschildiana’

I think the lesson is that it really is a tropical vine and does not want to be planted until the soil is really warmed up.

Another surprise for me this week was to find the remnants of a flower on the Queen of the Night in the greenhouse.

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) after flowering

Queen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) after flowering

Since these night blooming plants only come out after sundown I need to do evening inspections if I’m going to catch one of these buds actually flowering.

ueen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) in bud

ueen of the Night (Epiphyllum oxypetalum) in bud

Other interesting tidbits from around the yard are the first flowering of the Great Blue Lobelia.

Lobelia siphilitica

Lobelia siphilitica

And the Culver Root which is almost as high as some of the lilies.

Culver Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)

Culver Root (Veronicastrum virginicum)

And in the front bed the Shasta Daisies and Black-eyed Susans are in fully glory now.

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky'

Shasta daisies (Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’

Black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Well that’s a wrap for today.  What’s blooming in your garden?

The British are Coming

British Soldiers

British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

Well I meant to get this posted for the Fourth of July, but you can move the clock back for a day to imagine my patriotic alert about the British Redcoats.  This is a fruiting lichen that has taken hold of a fence post in the yard.  It’s quite small (think of miniature match sticks) but within this tiny world is incredible complexity.  The lichen is a marriage between an alga and fungus that succeeds through cooperation at the most basic level.  Both are required before you see the little red caps that release the fungus spores.  You can see how the brilliant red gave them their nickname harking back to the american revolution. They are also known as matchstick moss or red crested lichen.  I’ve been wrestling with how to photograph all the detail at this level and this is best I’ve come up with so far.

British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

We have had wonderful weather for the fourth of July holiday, almost unprecedented.  It’s inspired some really lovely flowering around the yard.

Bletilla 'Kate'

Bletilla ‘Kate’

Stewartia japonica

Stewartia japonica

Astrantia 'Sunningdale variegated'

Astrantia ‘Sunningdale variegated’

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

Gentian scabra

Gentian scabra

We get seedlings now from Prairie Sun that seem to have no trouble from year to year.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’

And a new daylily from Oakes.

Apollodorus Daylily

Apollodorus Daylily

And we have new seedling Corydalis in the greenhouse derived from Dufu Temple that is flowering from seeds planted in January.

Corydalis sp ex Dufu Temple

Corydalis sp ex Dufu Temple

Of course one does not live simply by photographing flowers.  We have been harvesting gallons of blueberries (about 8 gallons frozen so far this year).  This is yesterday’s pickings.

Gallons of Blueberries

Gallons of Blueberries

And we made blueberry ice cream for the fourth of July.

Blueberry ice cream

Blueberry ice cream

Yum…

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 2014

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema candidissimum

Well, it’s late but I thought it would still be worthwhile for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day to catch up on some of the interesting flowers still appearing.  We’ve had a wonderfully extended spring.  There is been regular and prodigious rainfall with no really serious heat waves.  The peas and lettuce have yielded wonderfully.

Banner year for salad crops

Banner year for salad crops

And the flowers have responded similarly.  There are roses and lilies all about the yard with some very special Iris making their impact as well.

Iris 'Stella Irene' (Spuria) fall

Iris ‘Stella Irene’ (Spuria) fall

There rainfall has been also good for the the pitcher plant which is a long way from the bog that it would like to live in.

Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)

Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea)

I noticed that the Ninebark has an almost flower -like seed head.

Ninebark seedheads

Ninebark seedheads

and the Tritelia are making a nice little stand in the garden after several years.

Triteleia laxa 'Queen Fabiola'

Triteleia laxa ‘Queen Fabiola’

A very unusual Lysimachia is in the shade garden by the garage.

Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla

Lysimachia paridiformis var. stenophylla

This was obtained from Far Reaches and looks to be a winner.  Even if it never flowered the foliages itself would be interesting.  But now the clustered yellow flowers are starting to appear as well.

In the large trough we have a very small potentilla relative that has complex little yellow flowers.

Dasiphora fruticosa 'Mount Townsend'

Dasiphora fruticosa ‘Mount Townsend’

And nearby, in the Alpine bed, is a wonderful Edraianthus.

Edrianthus tennuifolius

Edrianthus tennuifolius

So, what is growing in your garden…

 

Spuria – Iris in Excelsis

Iris 'Stella Irene' (Spuria)

Iris ‘Stella Irene’ (Spuria)

Although it’s hard to pick favorites in the Iris family, the Spuria Iris are certainly near the top of my list.  The flowers are exquisite, the foliage fits well in the garden, and they are slowly multiplying each year.  In excelsis translates to the highest degree and the Spurias are literally the highest Iris.  I took a tape measure to Shelford Giant this week and it is over 5 feet tall.

5 foot high Spuria Iris in back bed

5 foot high Spuria Iris in back bed

Iris 'Shelford Giant' (Spuria)

Iris ‘Shelford Giant’ (Spuria)

We missed the Spuria last year because we were traveling.  It’s only about a week for the bloom period but it follows the bearded Iris by a couple of weeks so they are very welcome for that reason as well.

Iris 'Highline Coral' (Spuria)

Iris ‘Highline Coral’ (Spuria)

Iris 'Hocka Hoona' (Spuria)

Iris ‘Hocka Hoona’ (Spuria)

If you haven’t grown Spuria, you should give them a try…

Assessing the Damages

Dactylorhiza fuchsii 'Bressingham Bonus'

Dactylorhiza fuchsii ‘Bressingham Bonus’

This past winter was probably not the coldest winter on record here in Maryland but it was definitely one of the coldest in recent memory.  In addition it featured drastic swings in temperature that have to have been difficult on plants.  Since I tend to push the climate zone with planting (nothing ventured, nothing gained), it would be natural to expect some casualties from the winter.  And there were.  On the other hand there were plants that exceeded my expectations.  So with every survivor that returns to the garden by putting up a shoot or flowering as normal, I take note and give them a little badge of honor as a veteran in my record book.  That includes the little European Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsia) that came into flower this week.  The gladiolus, which I normally dig in the fall, spent the winter underground and have come back without much difficulty.  Cypella coelestis has emerged from hiding and the Roscoea have emerged again with their delightful tubes.

Roscoea purpurea 'Spice Island'

Roscoea purpurea ‘Spice Island’

I was delighted today to find that the Arisaemas, which (with the exception of one plant) had been total no-shows in the garden, all decided to pop-up on the same day.  I  guess the interoffice growth memo was received on the Arisaema network today.

However, as I said, there were losses.  Here is a list of the fallen.

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis)

All the Rosemarys bit the dust.

Loropetalum

Loropetalum

The Loropetalum, with its delightful hot pink flowers, was always living on the edge here in Maryland.  I’ve already put in a replacement.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird'

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’

One of the two Euphorbia martinii hybrids died completely and the other was cut down to the ground.  The completely herbaceous Euphorbias all did fine.

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'

Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’

The lovely new Mahonia that we had planted last fall died completely.  It is on the edge of its zonal range, but it also didn’t have much time to get established before winter.

Crocosmia 'Walcroy'

Crocosmia ‘Walcroy’

This lovely Crocosmia completely disappeared from the front garden, although the ‘Lucifer’ cultivar is still going strong by the back gate.

So I think that was it.  Really not so bad all things considered.  I had fears that things like the 20 foot high Crepe Myrtle would get knocked back to the ground (which happened once before when it was very young).  But such was not the case.  A few branches lost but that’s all quite tolerable.

Now we will get back to enjoying what is showing up day by day.  The Peonies are almost done.  Two of the herbaceous types were spectacular.

Paeonia lactiflora 'Krinkled White'

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Krinkled White’

Paeonia lactiflora 'Scarlet Ohara'

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Scarlet Ohara’

Both came from visits to Plant Delights in North Carolina.  I can’t wait to see what Tony Avent, who is the heart and soul of the company, has for me next year…