Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2017

Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

Wow, a very busy day yesterday in gardenland.  I discovered the horned poppy shown above had returned after a year’s absence in flowering as I was catching up with the vegetable garden on an absolutely gorgeous spring day here in Maryland.  My cup runneth over with chores at this time of year, but the weather has been most cooperative (at last!).  I tilled the garden, finished weeding the strawberries, planted out the veggies started in the basement, seeded much of the rest of the garden, put in more glads and dahlias, and meanwhile Beth and Josh were weeding and pruning like mad.

Getting the garden planted

As usual on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day I will share some of the flowers of interest blooming around the yard.  It’s worthwhile to step back from my close-up images to see the wide array of flowering plants right now.

Front Garden Circle

I’ve noticed that some folks tend to think of ‘garden’ as the larger scale perspective, whereas I often get caught up with the specific flowers.  This little blossom on the Kalmiopsis leachiana, for example, is almost hidden amidst the surrounding Daphne.

Kalmiopsis leachiana amid daphne spent flowers

Another small distinctive flower that first bloomed last fall and is repeating already is this little Delphinium.

Delphinium cashmerianum

A constant volunteer for us is this little pink columbine that we inherited from Beth’s mother.

Aquilegia light pink

In the garden leading to the greenhouse gateway, there is a floriferous Callirhoe variant.

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba ‘Logan Calhoun’

A quite distinctive plant is this allium which is just finished blooming and looks like it has little onions for seed pods.

Allium (nectaroscordum) tripedale

The very fragrant Rhododendron ‘Viscosepala’ is also just at the end of its blooming.

Rhododendron ‘Viscosepala’

By the back porch there is a lovely Bougainvillea that has overwintered in the greenhouse.

Bougainvillea pink and white

Of course, it’s hard not to miss the peonies in May.

Paonia ‘Sweet Shelly’

We also have yellow flowered peony that has been with us for thirty years.

Yellow Shrub Peony

The name has long since disappeared.

And the old stalwart, Festiva Maxima.

Paonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

We brought this one with us from Alexandria in 1975 and have planted it in many places around the property.  It thrives everywhere, even in the pasture with no real care.  The fragrance is wonderful and they make great cut flowers.

Paonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Another plant that thrives on neglect is Baptisia.

Baptisia x variicolor ‘Twilite Prairieblues’

These grow right by the pasture with no assistance whatsoever.

The various iris species also have a celebration time in May.

Bearded Iris pink cultivar

Iris tectorum

At the back of the garage we have very large Black Lace Elderberry that is fully in flower right now.

Black Lace Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

One of my favorite alpine plants is the Edrianthus pumilo which grows in a nicely formed cushion in the Large Trough by the greenhouse.

Edrianthus pumilo

Let me leave you with a couple of the birds which have shown up recently in the yard.  First a bluebird which is probably nested nearby.

Bluebird salute

And a Yellow-rumped warbler which is more likely just passing through but is the first instance I’ve seen on our hillside.

Yellow -rumped Warbler


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March 2017

Pulsatilla grandis

We’ve just had messy snowfall that has undone a lot of the progress that we had made toward Springtime.  However, I will share a some of the flowers as they were before the snow, including the above lovely Pasque Flower which is about to show its purple flower in the new alpine bed.

Next to the Pulsatilla is this cute little Ornithogalum that flowers completely flat to the surface of the ground.

Ornithogalum fimbriatum

Ornithogalum fimbriatum

Also in the alpine bed is a new Corydalis

Corydalis shanginii ssp, ainae compact form

The hepaticas have continued to appear.  Small little jewels.

Hepatica nobilis v. pyrenaica

Hepatica nobilis pink

Hepatica americana

Hepatica japonica red/white

Meanwhile the Adonis is still providing interest.

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandanzaki’ backside

And we planted the wonderful Primula vulgaris after visiting England in 2008.  They are prospering in various parts of the yard.

Primula vulgaris under the apple tree

Meanwhile the first of the Glory of the Snow is starting to flower.

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa)

These are happily growing in the yard and the pasture.

Finally in the yard and the woods the scilla are growing now.

Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’

The stamens are a wonderful shade of blue.

It’s hard to ignore some of the lovely things happening in the greenhouse as well.  In particular the ferrarias are now starting to flower.

Ferraria crispa

And some of the other south africans

Babiana rubrocyanea

Freesia ‘Red River’

Gladiolus sp.?

Sparaxis in a basket

Sparaxis hadeco hybrid pink

Spring is happening both outside and in the greenhouse.  What can you contribute to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.


Catching up

Adonis amurensis Chichibu Beni

We returned from traveling last week to find that the plants had been growing without us.  I need to do just a little catch up on what we found on our return because some of the plants are truly special.  The Adonis shown above is one of the best special varieties that you can buy for only a second mortgage on your garage.  Some of the others might require selling your garage.  This is the first year when it is clear that the clump is establishing itself and flourishing.

Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu Beni’

It is truly spectacular.

Meanwhile the Adonis fujukaki is easily the most vigorous and visible of the Adonis clan.  At least around here.

Adonis ‘Fukujukai’

Meanwhile another that I have been calling garden variety Adonis amurensis has impressed me once again with the brilliant shiny petals.

Adonis ‘Shiny Petal’

I’m not sure that it is the standard species at all.  Note how it does not possess a normal number of stamens.  I’ve got a couple of seedlings coming along and I think they were from this plant.  We’ll see what happens.

Of course the one Adonis that originally caught my eye was Adonis amurensis ‘Sandanzaki’ which has this incredible lion’s mane of green feathers around the third series of petals.  Totally unique.

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandansaki’

Lest I am accused of Adonis mania, I will also note that we have a Jeffersonia that blooms well in advance of its colleagues.  And it is a standard Jeffersonia dubia with the violet petals, yellow stamens, and green ovary.

Jeffersonia dubia

But last year, my son gave me a special new Jeffersonia from Garden Visions that Darryl Probst brought back from Korea.  It has dark stamens and a purple ovary.

Jeffersonia dubia ‘Dark Centers’

It’s quite different and seems to be lasting quite well.

Another plant that is early for its kinfolk is the Hepatica nobilis pink.  Note the cute little stamens on these guys as well.

Hepatica nobilis pink

A pretty plant that shows up this time of year but never quite fulfills its potential is Helleborus thibetanus

Helleborus thibetanus

I have yet to get it to fully open to the camera.

Next to the greenhouse in a trough is a pretty little clump of Draba acaulis that seem to have suffered from last summer’s dryness.

Draba acaulis

And inside the greenhouse is another plant with remarkable colored stamens.

Scilla cilicica

Scilla cilicica stamens

These should be hardy outside and I need to give them a trial.

I had also promised more Moraeas and this is one.

Moraea vegeta

I also have an image to share of the fully open Enkianthus quinqueflorus.

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

Finally in the Alpine bed there was beautiful Fritillaria that was a distinctive showpiece.

Fritillaria stenanthera ‘Karatau’

Fritillaria stenanthera ‘Karatau’

Collecting Rocks

Pink Marble Rock showing lots of white

One thing that a rock garden needs is rocks, so I am always in the market for interesting rocks.  When the local chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society said it was planning a trip to a local quarry to harvest rocks, I was all for it.  Especially on Inauguration Day when I wanted some productive distraction.

It was a rainy overcast day which didn’t help the aspect of driving into the quarry which is almost canyon-like after years of harvesting rock.  Despite the mud and wet, cold weather it’s actually a very beautiful place which you would never see unless you were part of a similar expedition.

Entering the Quarry

The slope was steep enough that having my wheelbarrow was less use than I expected, unless you are accustomed to pushing up 30 degree slopes.

Lot’s of Rocks but on a steep hill for getting them out

The most desirable rock was (of course) at the bottom of the hill.

The beautiful pink marble was near the bottom of the hill

By the time I got each individual rock up to the truck I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine.  Nonetheless they were worth the effort.

Pink Marble Rock

I had two concerns that limited my collecting efforts.  One, the sheer physical difficulty, and then two, the fact that the truck was parked on a steep muddy hill and whether I would be able to get it out again.

Cars were parked at the bottom of a muddy road.

Truck wishing it was 4-wheel drive

Turn-around spot was a mud-hole

However, I did manage to get out with only a mild amount of wheel spinning.

Some of the rocks had beautiful crystalline structure.

Rock showing lots of calcite crystals

And one very special rock up at the office illustrated what limestone can do.

Complex limestone formation

In the end I only brought home about a dozen rocks but they are beautiful and I’m sure they will find a place in our gardens.

Rock harvest

If the club runs a similar field trip in the future I am ready to sign up for a repeat visit.


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day November 2016

Daphne collina x cneorum

Daphne collina x cneorum

It seems appropriate for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day to give due credit to this little dwarf Daphne which has bloomed on and off in the Alpine bed since April.  The flowers (like most Daphnes) are very fragrant and the plant has prospered in the Alpine bed despite my placing it in a spot between two rocks where it seemed to me most appropriate to its small size.  And it’s much bigger now, though still very pleasing.

Even the Winter Daphne which I moved into the sunshine this year after torturing it in the deep shade for several years seems to be enjoying its exposure to the elements.

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)

Winter Daphne (Daphne odora)

It’s out by the front fence in some of the poorest soil on our hillside.  We shall see how it survives.  The Edgeworthia, its new neighbor, has put out some fat buds so maybe it’s not as bad a location as I imagined.

Our weather has flirted with frost but we haven’t really had a hard, killing frost yet.  That has let some of the hardier plants continue to flower.  Here are just a few of them.





Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage

A few remaining Fall Crocus

A few remaining Fall Crocus



The Lantana is one of the feature plants that will tell me when it has gotten really cold, and I should take the citrus to the basement.

As we go back to the Alpine bed, another plant that has bloomed for a long time (essentially nine months) is the Erodium chrysanthum.

Erodium chrysanthum

Erodium chrysanthum

It’s close relative, the alpine geranium, is also fond of flowering every day.

Alpine Geranium (Erodium  reichardii 'Roseum')

Alpine Geranium (Erodium reichardii ‘Roseum’)

What has been particularly surprising this fall is the Delphinium cashmerianum.

Delphinium cashmerianum

Delphinium cashmerianum

Delphinium cashmerianum full plant

Delphinium cashmerianum full plant

Retreating finally into the greenhouse (which will be my refuge before long) I want to share the bright red flowers of the a little Aptenia that I grew from a cutting (thank you Marianne!)

Aptenia cordifolia 'Red Apple'

Aptenia cordifolia ‘Red Apple’

And the tiny little flowers of Polyxena ensifolia which looks much bigger on the web.

Polyxena ensifolia

Polyxena ensifolia

Perhaps mine will grow up some day…

Besides myriad Oxalis, there is also a pot of Cyclamen worthy of note.

Cyclamen hederifolium 'Perlenteppich'

Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Perlenteppich’

These are pure white with lovely leaves.

Finally I will finish up with the first Camellia of this season.  Beth picked it before I could photograph it in place, but it’s another reminder of what an extended Fall season we have had.

Camellia japonica

Camellia japonica



Gaillardia in Tears

Gaillardia in Tears

I awoke this morning to find that the world around me was in tears.  In no way could I imagine that the U.S. could elect an ignorant charlatan to the highest office in the land.  I am profoundly ashamed of the system that takes two years of campaigning at enormous expense to arrive at this terrible state of affairs.  I’ll take a parliamentary system any day as a more effective representative government.  I have no idea how to fix the cultural divide between those who think that knowledge is a flexible thing to be bent to one’s whims and those who respect education and the country’s historic values.

I can think of nothing more appropriate to the moment than to quote a letter from E.B. White that appears on the wonderful Letters of Note website

North Brooklin, Maine

30 March 1973

Dear Mr. Nadeau:

As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.

Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.

Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.


(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2016



It has been a generally hot and dry (read depressing) summer for our garden).  In early August we awoke to find that we had drawn down the well with watering and so had to forego our normal watering plan.  So my looks around the garden prior to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day were fewer than they might otherwise have been.  We did still water Beth’s new raised bed and the Nasturtiums and Calendulas have responded by blooming all summer long and into the Fall.



Many of the other flowers in bloom are a testament to how well some species can survive in adversity.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Venturing out onto our ultra-dry hillside which never gets watered at all anymore, I found several champions of the survival school.



Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Notice the spider on the Lemon Queen and it’s very adaptive coloration.

Spider on Lemon Queen

Spider on Lemon Queen

The butterflies are also very attracted to Lemon Queen.

butterfly on Lemon Queen

butterfly on Lemon Queen

I also saw a lovely Monarch Butterfly on the Tithonia in the vegetable garden.

Monarch on Tithonia

Monarch on Tithonia

One very noteworthy Fall-blooming flower is the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  I’m becoming more of a fan every year and it’s a good thing because it keeps spreading of its own volition.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Another fall bloomer was a bit of a surprise.  This Sweet Autumn Clematis was something I pulled out three years ago and I was surprised to see it return in two separate places this year.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

It’s a lovely flower but can get too aggressive if left to its own devices.  I will probably try to transplant it to the woods.

In the alpine beds I have two erodiums that are returning to bloom right now.

Erodium chrysantha

Erodium chrysantha



In the greenhouse I have just finished restarting all the oxalis.  At the same time the Bulbine has come back into flower.

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine frutescens

And one of the cyclamens has taken on a very distinctive flowering by simply spilling over the edge of the pot with a great many flowers and no leaves at all.

Cyclamen graecum

Cyclamen graecum

Lastly just to note that man (or woman) does not live by flowers alone.  The raspberries are joining the apples as delectable fruits to be harvested this month.

raspberries ready for harvest again

raspberries ready for harvest again

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day July 2016

Orienpet Lily 'Anastasia'

Orienpet Lily ‘Anastasia’

Well, if you had to pick a theme flower for this month’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day it would the lilies.  Despite the dry weather we have been experiencing, they are exploding all over the yard, especially the hybrids between orientals and trumpets (aka orienpets).  They are tall, fragrant, floriferous, and individually stunning.

Orienpet Lily 'Anastasia' single bloom

Orienpet Lily ‘Anastasia’ single bloom

In the house they make quite a display too.

Orienpet Lily 'Anastasia' in the house

Orienpet Lily ‘Anastasia’ in the house

Here are some others of the lily orienpet persuasion.

Orienpet Lily 'Scheherazade'

Orienpet Lily ‘Scheherazade’

Orienpet Lily 'Scheherazade' single flower

Orienpet Lily ‘Scheherazade’ single flower

Orienpet Lily 'Pretty Woman'

Orienpet Lily ‘Pretty Woman’

Of course, even the old-fashioned orientals are pretty spectacular.

Oriental lily ‘Time Out’

Oriental lily ‘Time Out’

Oriental Lily 'Casablanca'

Oriental Lily ‘Casablanca’

Oriental Lily 'Muscadet'

Oriental Lily ‘Muscadet’

And then a new one added to collection this year is Lilium henryii hybrid.

Lilium henryi hybrid 'Madame Butterfly'

Lilium henryi hybrid ‘Madame Butterfly’

There are course still many annuals and some of the standard perennials, but one of the species that has asked for special recognition is the Crocosmia.  These wonderful bulbs from the iris family are durable, productive and beautiful, year after year.

Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Crocosmia × crocosmiflora 'George Davison'

Crocosmia × crocosmiflora ‘George Davison’

Another new plant for us is the popular anemone ‘Wild Swan’.

Anemone 'Wild Swan' front

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ front

It is especially characterized by the purple markings on the back of the petals.

Anemone 'Wild Swan' back

Anemone ‘Wild Swan’ back

In the greenhouse we have several noteworthy arrivals.  First a very unusual Pineapple Lily.

Eucomis vandermerwei

Eucomis vandermerwei

This is only found in the wild between 7000′ and 8000′ in South Africa.   At some point I might experiment with growing it outside.

Also from South Africa is member of the Amaryllis family, Cyrtanthus elatus x montanus.

Cytanthus elatus x montanus

Cytanthus elatus x montanus

A little Cyclamen is flowering from seed planted in 2013.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Cyclamen hederifolium

And a welcome returnee is this rain lily.

Habranthus brachyandrus

Habranthus brachyandrus

One of the fun things for me is finding the unusual animals that populate the yard, if you take the time to notice them.  Last week it was this wonderful dime-sized spider that caught my eye.

Jumping spider from the greenhouse

Jumping spider from the greenhouse