Hesperantha falcata and more…

Hesperantha falcata 4pm

At this time of year a number of the South African bulbs come to help us anticipate spring.  One of the lovely surprises each spring is Hesperantha falcata.  This little member of the Iris family has a common name of  bontrokkie (little colourful dress) in Afrikaans.  It has the very peculiar ritual of closing up in the daytime and then slowly opening in evening to be fully open at night.  For a couple of years I only saw it in bud until I happened to be in the greenhouse one evening.  When it is fully open it has a marvelous strong and pleasing scent.  The bud has a very distinctive red striping as shown above.  When it opens the flowers are a brilliant white (I’ve also seen references to it as the Evening Star Flower which is a good name).

Hesperantha falcata 6pm

But it’s not until the fully open phase that you get the scent designed to attract moths (and humans as it turns out).

Hesperantha falcata 11pm

Another South African that is blooming in the greenhouse right now is Tulbaghia simmleri

Tulbaghia simmleri

This sometimes called sweet garlic or pink agapanthus and it’s also quite fragrant.  Both of the South Africans came from the Pacific Bulb Society’s exchange program.

Meanwhile in the outside play areas we have the first daffodil – Ta Da!  Clearly a sign of spring.

First daffodil

Can’t be certain of which variety but it is most likely ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’

And the Eranthis are flowering up a storm in the front bed

Winter Aconite galore

They are making a serious attempt to move into the grass this year.

There are number of Hellebores making their presence known.  More and more they remind me of small azaleas with a much longer season of bloom.  One that I like for early bloom is Winter’s Song.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’

It has the nice attribute of looking sideways and upward as opposed to the hanging bells of many hellebores.

Also in the backyard are quite a number of these dwarf Iris.

Iris histroides ‘Major’

Over in the Alpine bed the Draba hispanica that is comfortably nested in tufa is making steady progress to opening its flowers.

Draba hispanica in tufa

This came from the North American Rock Garden Society Seed Exchange Program in 2016.

And nearby to it is a rather special fritillaria coming into bloom

Fritillaria stenathera ‘Cambridge’

And as my grandson would say ‘Very special’, just because you have read to the end of this posting, here is a lovely Hepatica, well ahead of it’s relatives.

Hepatica japonica pink

It’s Adonis Springtime

Adonis ‘Chichibu Beni’

All it took was a lovely 50 degree day to bring lots of flowers into bloom.  Especially lovely is this spectacular Adonis from the Chichibu mountain region of Japan.  The entire six year-old plant keeps slowly expanding and it is worth the wait.

Adonis ‘Chichibu Beni’ in the late afternoon light

And I discovered this year that the seed that I planted from this flower in 2013 has finally yielded a flower as well.

Adonis ‘Chichibu Beni’ Seedling

Of course the yellow flowered Adonis cannot be ignored on a sunny day either

Adonis ‘fukujukai’

These intrepid early flowers had company today.  Even the Jeffersonia, which is way out of correct timing, has flowers appearing.

Jeffersonia dubia

And I discovered as I scraped leaves away that the Helleborus thibetanus was also in flower under the leaves.

Helleborus thibetanus

It was not surprising to see that more of the Eranthis are also in bloom.

Eranthis hyemalis ‘Schwelglanz’

And the alpine bed had the first flowers on the very nice Draba hispanica.

Draba hispanica

Of course, I shouldn’t ignore two little Moraeas that are blooming in the greenhouse.

Moraea macronyx

Moraea ciliata

Altogether it was really nice to follow up the snowfall of yesterday with work in the yard pulling off the leaves and revealing treasures.


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day February 2018

The vegetable garden in winter

I took this picture last week after a particularly pretty ice storm.  It’s very representative of the kind of winter we’ve had and sort of a nice lead into this month’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  At the same time the Adonis, usually my first striking blooms of the season, were tightly held in bud waiting for a warm day.

Adonis ‘fukujukai’ in the snow

But yesterday (what a difference a few days makes) the same Adonis were fully reveling in the sunshine.  Full credit to Beth for catching this colorful image of the Adonis while I was heading back from the west coast.

Adonis ‘fukujukai’

The lesser petaled species Adonis were also out in bloom.

Adonis amurensis

As were some of the winter stalwarts like the snowdrops and witch hazel.

Snowdrop (Galanthus elwesii)

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

This plant continues to show some of the yellowish flowers that I noticed earlier in the season, together with some really fine red flowers.

And just for today the first Winter Aconite have appeared on the scene.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

In the greenhouse one of my favorite plants of the season is in flower.

Hesperantha paucifolia

It’s because of this Hesperantha that I’ve added several Hesperantha to my seed exchange requests.

There is a perfectly lovely compact Oxalis in full flower right now.  Note the red barber pole striping on the unopened buds.

Oxalis densa

And also a very nice new Oxalis that came to me via a Pacific Bulb Exchange distribution last fall.

Oxalis purpurea ‘Garnet’

Oxalis purpurea ‘Garnet’ in bud

Notice the yellow coloring in the unopened bud.  The red leaves are striking.

So with the nice start from the Adonis we are now facing more snow and freezing weather tomorrow.  So winter isn’t done with us yet.


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day January 2018

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

This lonely Christmas Rose is representative of what is going on outside for this January’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  The temperatures got down to 2 degrees after Christmas and have only just begun to recover.  We did get a few days in the fifties but now it’s gotten cold again.  It was just enough to get the first snowdrops to declare the end of winter.

1st snowdrops

But mostly this image of a Camellia flower more accurately states the wintry conditions.

Camellia japonica which was red last month

As usual I retreat into the greenhouse for flowery solace in January.  The Narcissus ‘Silver Palace’ has been blooming for a month.

Narcisus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

And it’s now joined by one of its yellow flowered brethren.

Narcissus ‘Roy Herold Seedling’

There is one peculiarity that I noted in walking the yard today.  The Witch Hazel Diane which normally blooms after the more common Chinese Witch Hazel has already bloomed on some of it’s branches but they are yellow.  This is really strange for a plant known for it’s orange-red flowers.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ with yellow flowers

Other branches are getting ready to bloom red, and I know these yellow branches have been red in the past.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

I am mystified.

I’ll close on this cold January day with the sparkling red of last year’s Arisaema fruit and the promise of Adonis blossoms to come.

Arisaema sikokianum fruit

Adonis buds

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2017

Camelia japonica in the Snow

Well Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day was particularly cold and wintry in Frederick.  Not a whole lot going on outside but I was busy getting my seed exchange order in with the North American Rock Garden Society.  By the end of the day even the Camellia was looking more distressed.  So my better half brought some buds into the house where they have opened up very nicely.

Camellia japonica centerpiece

Outside there were just a few spots of color.  The Cascade Wallflower continued bravely on through the snow.

Cascade wallflower (Eriysimum arenicola)

Everyone should grow this plant if they want to have flowers year-round.

The first of the Hellebores (niger) is putting buds out but still no flowers.

First Hellebore buds

And back by the greenhouse, in the alpine bed, the Lithodora continues to show blue flowers.

Lithrodora ‘Heavenly Blue’

In the greenhouse itself the Oxalis are still in bloom but they don’t open on a cloudy day.  I did go out with sunshine this morning and found another of the Moraeas flowering.

Moraea polystacha

They don’t last long but they keep flowering in succession.

The Daubyena, on the other hand, lasts for 3-4 weeks.

Daubyena stylosa

And the second of the early Narcissus is coming into bloom.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’

You can see the additional buds coming.  These usually end up in the house when they are fully open.

All I can say is thank goodness for the greenhouse when the winter presses in.  Let me close with one of those plants that contributes to the outside landscape even without flowers.

Vitaliana primuliflora

This little alpine shares it’s red and green foliage through the wintertime and then delivers wonderful yellow flowers in April.  Who could ask for more?

A New Flower for December

Oxalis palmifrons

I have been growing Oxalis palmifrons since 2013 without a hint of a flower to be seen.  This year, upon my return from Thanksgiving in Boston, I was surprised and happy to see the first buds on the little Oxalis palmifrons (obtained from Plant Delights).

Oxalis palmifrons

You may remember that Oxalis palmifrons has these delightful little palm-like leaves, and the flowers are just a marvelous bonus!

Oxalis palmifrons

In the greenhouse there are still more Oxalis in bloom.

Oxalis massoniana

Oxalis caprina

And the Daubenya that blooms very reliably for Thanksgiving.

Daubenya stylosa

I remember first seeing it at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden over a Thansgiving holiday.

Also in bloom from the greenhouse (though I’ve brought it into the house to enjoy) is the first of the small Narcissus for this year.

Narcissus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

I actually counted 24 blooms in the pot tonight.

In the house for the winter time is the Amazon Lily.  Characteristically this one flowers every thanksgiving holiday in celebration of the fact that it belonged to Beth’s mother who always used to prepare the thanksgiving meal for the family.  And it flowers again outside in July.  This year it seemed to outdo itself with flowers which carried a wonderful fragrance we had not noticed before.

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Bear in mind that this plant has been in the same pot for about 30 years with only occasional watering.

Something funny happened on the way to the greenhouse to take some of these pictures.  Despite the fact that we have been down to 20 degrees in mid-November, the subsequent weather has only hovered around freezing for the lows.  I noticed a very spritely little wallflower in bloom.

Cascade wallflower (Erysimum arenicola)

And then the first of our nominally spring-blooming camellias.

Camelia japonica red

How’s that for the beginning of December in Maryland…:)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day November 2017

Moraea polystacha

Winter has arrived here just over the last week.  I was in out in California last week.  When I left all was sunshine and glorious fall.  When I returned the flowers almost all frozen off.  Twenty degrees will have that kind of effect.  Especially when we hadn’t had a killing frost yet.  This is well past our normal first frost date, but we have often had flowers lingering on to mid-November.  Not this year.  That’s why i’m leading off with the above greenhouse Moraea for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day this month.  Most of the outside plants that still have glimmer of flower are just barely showing as in the following cases.

Last of the Fall Crocus

Daphne collina x cneorum

Stachys lavandulifolia

Delospermum ‘Gold Nugget’

Anyway, you get the idea.  Most of the flowers have moved south for the winter.  Just a few stragglers.  There’s always the brilliant orange-red of the pyracantha to lend consolation.

Pyrachantha ‘Mohave’

Fortunately there is the greenhouse to provide regular encouragement as we recreate a less temperate springtime.  The lovely little North African Hyacinthoides lingulata is very much in bloom now.

Hyacinthoides lingulata

I find the blue stamens and pistil very striking.

I also grow the Cyclamen hederfolium in the greenhouse, though I think it would be it would be quite hardy outside.

Cyclamen hederifolium

And of course there are the ever-present, ever-blooming oxalis.  I’ll share just a few more of the many species.

Oxalis purpurea ‘Cherry’

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis engleriana

All this serves to remind me that there will be flowers, even if goes to twenty degrees on a regular basis (which I’m not wishing for).  We did get the tractor ready for snow removal today just in case…

Chinese Alpines

Chinese Alpines Order

I’ve been meaning to put in a plug for Chinese Alpines.  For several years I’ve bought seed from Bjørnar Olsen who lives in China.  This spring he sent a letter saying that he was joining together with a friend, August Wu, to form Chinese Alpines.  They plan to sell bulbs and plants as well as the seeds which Bjørnar has provided in the past.  I received the my first order from them last month and everything is as nice as I would have expected.  If bulbs don’t grow I expect it will be my fault, not theirs.  I’m particularly interested in seeing if I can grow Fritillaria Karelinii, which is very showy in this image from the Fritillaria Group of the Alpine Garden Society.

Fritillaria Karelinii (from Fritillaria Group website)