Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day August 2022

Gordlinia grandiflora flower closeup

Well, I missed last month’s posting to GBBD (first time in ten years) and I feel somewhat guilty so I have a couple of special items for this posting.  Back in April I received as a gift one of the largest plants I’ve ever gotten in a box in the mail (from ForestFarm).  

Gordlinia grandiflora arrival

It was a Gordlinia grandiflora, a relatively rare hybrid derived from a cross between Franklinia alatamaha and Gordonia lasianthus in 2003.  It’s a relatively small tree with absolutely gorgeous camellia-like flowers.

Gordlinia grandiflora

It’s begun flowering now and should continue through September…

Another special item for us this year is the Princess Flower.  I started this from a small 4 inch pot from Putnam Hill Nursery last year and it didn’t flower.  So I carried it over in the greenhouse and repotted it at the beginning of the season.  It has taken off over the last two months and it’s now 5 foot tall and still growing.  In the meantime I found another specimen growing in a pot twice as big as mine and just coming into flower.  Nonestop flowering is what it yields.

Princess Flower (Tibouchina Urvilleana)

Princess Flower (Tibouchina Urvilleana)

It will need to go into the greenhouse again but wow, what flowering!

Otherwise it’s pretty normal summer flowering for us.

The Allium are flowering in a couple of places

Allium ‘Millenium’

The Crepe Myrtle is finally in flower for the season

Crepe myrtle white

the Cestrum has recovered from its winter dieback

Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’

And the Crinum is showing its numerous hanging flowers

Crinum powellii

In the vegetable/cutting garden the Glads have yielded abundantly

Gladiolus

Picking Glads

and the Tithonia and Sunflowers are ten foot tall at least.

Tithonia (Mexican Sunflower)

Sunflower

In the greenhouse there are multiple pots of Cyrtanthus in flower

Cyrtanthus elatus

as well as a particularly nice Sinningia

Sinningia eumorpha

If we weren’t so busy picking fruits and vegetables I might actually finish weeding the greenhouse:)

Crispie Pears (these are very sweet)

Oh, I should mention that my excuse for missing last month’s posting was a trip to California where we relived our youth by driving down the California Coast.

Drake’s Beach Point Reyes

It was a wonderful trip…

 

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2022

Pileated Woodpecker

This bird has been a frequent visitor to our garden this last week so I thought you might want to join him in perusing the flowers at Ball Road for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

Azalea Exbury Hybrid ‘Gibraltar’

It’s very much the Azalea time of year hereabouts.  What is especially nice this year is that we dug four layered offspring from this plant last year and they are now to be found in other parts of the yard.

New Azalea ‘Gibraltar’ from layering

One of our favorite Azaleas is beside the deck.  Azalea ‘Visco Sepala’ came from White Flower Farm many years ago, though it’s originally from England.  It has a spectacular fragrance.

Azalea ‘Visco sepala’

Naturally at the same time the tree peonies are stepping up to the plate.

Tree Peonies in Bloom

Yellow Tree Peony

Nearby is another very nice perennial.

Glaucidium palmatum

And a very distinctive Japanese Maple that is worth building a garden around

Golden Full Moon Maple (Acer Shirasawanum)

We also have a reliable showing of Lamium by the garage where it outcompetes the weeds.

Lamium orbala

One could easily get lost with trying to account for all the things in bloom right now.  If we go back to the Alpine bed there are some special repeat performances.

Dianthus petraeus ssp. petraeus

Aubretia ‘Blue Beauty’

Ornithogalum exscapum

Papaver atlanticum (Moroccan Poppy)

Lewisia cotyledon ‘Rainbow mix’

I want to take a few minutes out to share our meadow-like pasture.  Last year son Josh, cut the pasture ultrashort and then seeded the area with crimson clover and wildflowers from Wildseed in Texas.  The result has been wonderful.  It’s easy to get lost in just the crimson clover.

Wildflower meadow

Crimson Clover Flower

But amidst the clover are wallflowers, peas, flax, sweet william and POPPIES.

Poppy from wildflower mix

Pink Poppy

White Poppy

We also have for the first time Five Spot

Five Spot (Nemophila maculata)

As an ending point for this already long posting let me share the Viburnum on the hillside that overlooks these wildflowers.

Viburnum on the hillside

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day April 2022

One of many, many daffodils

It’s hard not to give credit to the daffodils for giving this spring a wonderful start on this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day

Daffodils everywhere

There are flowers literally everywhere on our property right now.  Spring bulbs, flowering trees and wildflowers are making it a joy to walk about the yard.  The hellebores, like the daffodils are in full display-mode.

Helleborus ‘Double Flowered White’

The various Erythroniums are displaying their hanging flowers from pink to yellow to white.

Erythrronium revolutum ‘White Beauty’

The standard trout lilies have been fully in flower the past two weeks in the raised bed by the deck.

Erythronium americanum

However, the same plants in the woods have never flowered.  I transferred them years ago and they have propagated like mad but do not flower.  Apparently I’m not alone in this observation.

The main thing blooming in the woods at this point are the bluebells (Mertensia virginica)

Bluebells in the woods

Another wild flower is the Star of Bethlehem that is popping up in the lawn right now.  I should probably plan to move it to the woods where it can spread freely.

Ornithogalum nutans

Among the other things flowering right now are the double-flowered Japanese Quince, much bigger than normal quince flowers.

Double Flowered Japanese Quince

I noticed that the miracle pear tree is covered by flowers this year.

Pear ‘Twentieth Century’

Pear ‘Twentieth Century’ up close

We call it the miracle pear tree because it was completely flattened by a teenager’s car when it was young.  I was able to stake it up in place and it miraculously recovered.

A number of the plants flowering now stem from Illahe Nursery in Oregon.  Several Freesias, Watsonias, a Babiana, and the Iris shown below have been really strong growing beautiful plants.

Iris ‘Golden Beauty’

The Babiana has an unbelievable number of buds.

Babiana stricta ‘Dark Purple’

Well that’s a sampling from our hill on Ball Road.  Enjoy the Spring!

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2021

Christmas tree is ready (Concolor Fir)

Well another Bloom Day and another year has come to pass.  Today’s flowers include some very unusual participants for a December flower show.  First and foremost is a Gentiana acaulis which would normally be waiting for spring to share its vivid blue colors.  Instead a single flower has challenged the season.

Gentiana acaulis

As I went around the yard I saw several other features that illustrate just how warm it’s been this Fall.  The Mahonia which is lucky to even be surviving here in Maryland has decided to put up some yellow flowers.

Mahonia ‘Sweet Caress’

I even see color on the first of the spring cyclamen.  And the Adonis and Snowdrops are budding up.

Snowdrops on their way

The heather which flowered most of last winter has it’s first blooms showing.

Kramer’s Rote Heather

We have two spring flowering Camellia japonicas that are putting out lovely flowers and of course the fall flowering Camellia sasanquas are putting out many flowers.  

Camellia japonica red

Camellia japonica double flowered pink

Fall Camellia in bloom

Camellia sasanqua Red

Camellia sasanqua ‘October Magic’

And in the greenhouse the first of the Narcissus ‘Silver Palace’ are filling the pot.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

Of course the flowers are one thing, but one of the items that really sparks the Christmas show is the hollies.  Between the very large American Holly and the supporting cast of English Holly and Blue Holly we have more berries than you can possibly imagine.

Holly Berries

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day August 2021

Naked Ladies in the Garden

It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for the middle of the summer.  Our garden is like many at this time of year.  Mostly annuals, crepe myrtles, and the last of the lilies dominate.

There are a few flowers worth noting.  The Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’ has returned from it’s winter dormancy and will bloom until late fall.

Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’

We have a lot of annuals in the picking garden as well as the glads and dahlias.

Annuals in the cutting garden especially Tithonia

Dahilia’s still abundant in the cutting garden

The annuals and shrub flowers are great for attracting insects and birds, many of them very photogenic.  I was struck by this little bluebird overlooking the garden.

Bluebird baby with attitude

The butterflies and other insects are striking.

Monarch on Tithonia

Bee on Tithonia

Swallowtail on Buddleia

Clearwing moth on Buddleia

August is also prime time for harvesting 

Music Garlic

Contender Peach

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day February 2021

Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’

Well it’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and the picture above is NOT what our garden looks like.  The picture is from the same day last year.  This year you have to search really hard to find flowers amid the ice and snow.  We are probably 2 weeks behind last year in flowers.  Here is the same set of Adonis this year.

Adonis in bud

February has been super dreary with low temperatures, cloudy days, and intermittent snow.  What follows is my attempts to find some flowers for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  First of all we must give credit to the snowdrops which persist no matter what.

Snowdrops continue in blooming

And then there is that first hybrid Hellebore which started flowering in December.

Helleborus niger HGC® ‘Jacob’

Likewise the Heather hybrid that started flowering in November just continues to ignore the crummy weather.

Krarmer’s Rote Heather still blooming

The Camellia’s have hung in there too, although I know they would like warmer weather.

Camellia sasanqua red still in bloom

A glimpse of Camellia japonica red flower

Double-Pink Camellia japonica wants to bloom

Usually I would expect to see the first witch hazel blossoms by now, but I must say they are much smaller and more beaten back than usual

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ (Witch Hazel)

Aside from those instances in the outside world we have to turn to the greenhouse plants.  This Lachenalia came from Gettysburg Gardens last year.

Lachenalia aloides

It is multiplying rapidly in the greenhouse.

There is also another Cyrtanthus which I think I have identified based on descriptions on the Pacific Bulb Socity site.

Cyrtanthus flanaganii Baker

And then lastly, a very cute little false yellow crocus which provides it’s own grassy leaves and bright yellow flowers for multiple weeks.

Nothoscordum sellowianum

Our 2020 Christmas

Snow came in mid-December for us and lasted on the ground until Christmas

This was the first snow we’ve had this year and indeed the first really cold weather.

The snow was the first we’ve had in quite some time and led to good opportunities for sledding

We have about a 600 foot run down the pasture which gives a long walk up the slope for exercise

This was definitely a different and unusual Christmas.  One to regret the things we missed and to be thankful for the things we still have.  Our youngest son ended up spending the Fall with us and then on through Christmas.  He has sparked the rediscovery of the many things that we associate with the holiday season around Ball Rd.  There are many large and small things that connect us with past shared memories.

An ancient nativity set

The potted rosemary has lights in the front hallway

A good friend gave us this small Christmas tree which comes out before Christmas

Two friends who miss the grandkids

Greens and Reds await Christmas

Stuffed animals and the greens

A cardinal and wreath

Pewter mice from Malaysia

The mantle dressed in green

Cuttings from the Japanese Quince

Christmas tree at night

Nerine x ‘Pink Triumph’ comes in from the greenhouse

Sunflower seed cookies

Christmas tree on Christmas morning

Enjoying Christmas morning with the rest of the family in Massachusetts

An Exhausted Christmas Elf

In addition we jointly watched the Christmas Revels celebration in Cambridge.  It was great fun and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to move forward into the new year with contemplation of the way the human community has moved from the dark to the light over centuries.  On the night before Christmas we tuned into the Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington, MA where the Reverend Claire Feingold Thoryn delivered a marvelous sermon discussing the Christmas Weed Tree of Toledo, Ohio and what that means for the rest of us.

Finally I should mention that I had a chance before Christmas to preview a new book written by a good friend.

Tropical Plants

Tropical Plants and How to Love Them will be available in March but it can be ordered now on Amazon.  It is a wonderful exploration of tropical plants for the temperate gardener and I think a great many people will enjoy both the authoritative descriptions and Marianne’s always entertaining writing style.  Highly recommended!

Returning to Spain and Portugal

Map of our journey

Last year, which now seems like ages ago, we joined an Alpine Garden Tour of Spain and Portugal that was focussed on the various Narcissi that grow naturally there.  For us it was intended to be little bit earlier taste of Spring than we would normally get here in Maryland.  We began with several wonderful days in Porto getting a sense of the culture and the cuisine.  Then we met up with our guide and headed out to our first destination in the hills near the Serra da Estrela National Park

Hotel Rural Quinta da Geia near the Serra da Estrela National Park

As you can see from the citrus, the climate is indeed a notch warmer than our Maryland zone 7a.  But, as it turned out, the first couple of days were definitely on the cool side and we were bundled up with our warmest clothes.  This short movie clip will give you a sense of what it was like to go plant exploring those first two days.

At the end of the day we came back to the warm farmhouse for a lovely meal and after dinner drinks.

Fig Leaf Liqueur

After two days in the mountains we drove down the coast past Lisbon. Along the way we encountered lovely rock rose on the hillsides.

Rock Rose (Cistus albidus)

These are widespread in Portugal but are apparently zone 8-10 in the U.S.

We ended up at Cape Espichel.  The weather was warmer but still not what one would call spring-like.  

Botanizing at Cape Espichel, Portugal

The flowers were incredible though.

Giant Fennel ‘Ferula communis’

It was here where we began to realize that as nice as the Narcissi were the really special aspect of the trip was the display of terrestrial orchids.  These are plants we just don’t get in the U.S.

Sawfly Orchid ‘Ophrys tenthredinifera’

Bee Orchid ‘Ophrys lutea’

Naked Man Orchid ‘Orchis italica’

For the balance of the trip we were located near Ronda, Spain in lovely farmhouse that dates back to Roman times.  The couple managing the hotel were a wonderful source of information about the area.  For four days we traveled out into the surrounding hills looking for flowers.

Hotel Cortijo las Piletas near Ronda, Spain

The picture below gives a good sense as the environment with a sense of discovery around every corner.

Erodium all over the hillsides

Iris planifolia

One morning found us out in a pasture that was full of beautiful little white Narcissi

Botanizing near Ronda Spain

Narcissus panizzianus

But also the characteristic Fritillaria of the area.

Iberian Fritillary ‘Fritillaria lusitanica’

Another day took us to top of a local peak where we could look out across the Asphodelus to the surrounding countryside.

Asphodelus fistulosus on hillside above Ardales, Spain

It turns out that the animals really don’t like Asphodelus (Onionweed) so it is everywhere.

Some of the towns we went through are very picturesque white villages hanging on the mountainside.

Grazelima, Spain

And with more orchids nearby.

Orchis olbiensis

Orchis olbiensis

This was, ironically, near the time when the covid-19 was beginning to spread rapidly around the world.  It was striking to see this image in one of the villages.

Júzcar, Spain

As it turns out we left Spain on one of the last flights before all travel shut down.  Nonetheless we will keep in our thoughts this lovely part of the world with beautiful flowers and remarkable scenery.  I leave this post with this image of Ronda as a place to be returned to someday.

Ronda, Spain