Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March 2020

Camellia japonica double pink

Well, I’m super late at posting this month for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day but I’m sure everyone on the planet is aware of all the extraneous forces gobbling up our time and attention.  We returned from a botany tour in Spain and Portugal just under the wire from the border closings and we’re now under self-imposed quarantine while we enjoy the flowering bounty that we found here in Maryland.  The camellia’s are particularly abundant.  I’ve never seen all five of our japonicas blooming at the same time before and with so many flowers!

Camellia japonica double pink

Camellia japonica double pink

Camellia japonica double white

Likewise the Hellebores are enthusiastically greeting the spring.

Hellebore double pink

Helleborus double white

Some of the Helleborus flowers are really exceptional.

Helleborus ‘Peppermint Ice’

Helleborus x hybridus PDN double bicolor

The daffodils are the other mainstay for this season, though it seems like they are all coming at once.

Narcissus ‘Little Gem’

40 year-old planting of King Alfred’s

Narcissus ‘Edinburgh’ on orchard hill

Narcissus ‘Tropical Sunset’

The daffodils on our hillside number into the thousands by now and they are seem to be having a great year.

The star magnolia is always a sign that springtime is here and it’s almost two weeks ahead of last year’s blooming.

Magnolia stellata

As I walk about the yard there are lots of smaller joys of springtime as well.

Iris unguicularis

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Tessa’

Mukdenia rossii ‘Karasuba’

Jeffersonia dubia

Primula vulgaris

Corydalis solida ‘Gunite’

Haquetia

The glory of the snow has its little blue flowers all over our pasture and woods at this point.  But I planted a few of the selected cultivar in the perennial garden and they are quite showy.

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue Giant’

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

And a very special little Fritillaria always garners my attention.

Fritillaria stenanthera ‘Cambridge’

Fritillaria stenanthera ‘Cambridge’

When I look at the alpine beds and troughs there are some really special things showing up. Dionysia are happier in Turkey and usually our winters don’t work for them outside on the East Coast, but this one came through just fine.

Dionysia aretioides

Saxifraga ‘Valerie Keevil’

Armeria maritima ‘Victor Reiter’

This is a new tulip for me obtained from Odyssey Bulbs last year.  Notice the very crinkled foliage.

Tulipa vvedenskyi

And from John Lonsdale I got a marvelous compact Asphodelus.

Asphodelus acaulis

Paradoxically, even as the springtime is bursting forth with flowers we are getting an outpouring of flowers in the greenhouse, some of which just have to be brought inside.

Green Amaryllis

Clivia in the House

Yellow Clivia in the House

But there are also many other little items in the greenhouse.

Scilla peruviana white

Freesia ‘Red River’

Sparaxis Hadeco hybrid

Babiana rubrocyanea

Babiana purpurea

But probably the most unusual flowers in the greenhouse are the various Ferrarias.  They are the appropriate end to this extra-long posting.

Ferraria ferrariola

Ferraria punctata

Ferraria divaricata

 

 

Eranthis and the Daily Walkabout

Eranthis hyemalis

This is a wonderful time of year to watch the Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) emerge from their slumber.  They spread every year — into the grass and other parts of the garden.  But it’s a nice kind of spreading.  Hardly any other plants are doing anything at this time of year and in six weeks from now they will have disappeared till next year.  There are some other color forms of the winter aconite, either paler yellow or orange shades, but one of my strong desires has been to grow the white species, Eranthis Pinnatifida.  I got one flowering a few years ago, but it didn’t stay with us.  Nevertheless, the flower is so intriguing that I keep persisting.  I ordered one from Japan last fall and got it planted out in December.  I noticed on my daily stroll about the garden that It is growing but it looks like no flowers this year.

Eranthis pinnatifida from Japan

At the same time, and almost so small that i nearly missed it, I found a flowering Eranthis pinnatifida in a seeding pot that I had started in 2016 from seeds obtained from the NARGS seed exchange.

Eranthis pinnatifida

Not only was this little jewel growing but there was another little Eranthis in the same pot.  So hope spring eternal someone once said.

The seed exchanges are a wonderful introduction to new plants that you will never see in a commercial catalog.  My package from the Alpine Garden society arrived just this week.

Seed Exchange package from the AGS

But I have already started many seeds obtained from NARGS, the SRGC, and individual seed vendors.

Seed Exchange plantings

Also in the greenhouse is the first of the Ferrarias to bloom this year.

Ferraria crispa

Ferrarias are very easy to grow and easily one of the most unusual flowers you will ever set eyes on.  The curls around the edge have a fractal quality to them.

I also just brought the first of many Scilla peruviana into the house to enjoy.

Scilla peruviana

But getting back to the daily walkabout, I would be remiss not to note that many crocus and snowdrops are appearing around the yard.

Crocus tommasinianus

And the first Primula is showing it’s flowers as well.

Primula vulgaris

Like the Winter Aconite, these are happy to spread into the lawn.

A more unusual spotting from the walkabout was to see the first pink color in one of the Saxifrages in a trough.

Saxifraga ‘Valerie Keevil’

This little jewel flowered in April last year.

And I also noticed in the alpine bed that one of the Callianthemums from Japan that I planted in December has a bud on it!

Callianthemum miyabeanum

These plants are really hard to find in the U.S. and my thanks to Yuzawa Engei for the wonderful packing to get it here.

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2019

Camellia sasanqua hybrid

Well this GBBD posting is almost like an advertisement for camellias.  The winter has been very mild so far and not only are the fall camellias doing what they are supposed to do, but the spring camellias are getting into the act too.

Fall Camellia white

Red Fall Camellia

Red Spring Camellia starting to bloom

In addition I found this morning, for the first time, a bloom on a camellia japonica x sasanqua hybrid that we have been growing for several years.

Camellia x ‘Yume’

There aren’t a lot of other flowers out for December so the camellias really steal the show.  Here are few things I noticed.

Euphorbia still in bloom

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’

Japanese Quince

The greenhouse has a few things to put forward besides the oxalis which continue to bloom

Freesia fucata

And the very first narcissus of the season

Narcissus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2019

Lycoris radiata

A total surprise for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is this lovely Lycoris.  It started blooming last week and I almost missed it because it’s been terribly dry and not very rewarding to check out the growing things.  In general it’s been more a case of survival with less than a 1/4 inch of rain in September and only just now getting a few drops.

We can still count on the annual zinnias, marigolds, and cosmos, but we’re definitely on the light side for flowers right now.  

The Nasturtium in Beth’s raised bed have been putting on quite a show.

Very happy Nasturtium

A couple of the perennials that reliably show up, even with drought are shown below.

Japanese anemone ‘Whirlwind’

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’

And a first time plant for us that may or not be perennial is the Cestrum.

Cestrum x ‘Orange Peel’

This flowers all during the growing season in our area.  And it just keeps getting bigger.

There are also some lovely flowers still hanging on the Hydrangea by the back porch.

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

One of the troughs that I inherited from a member of the Potomac Valley Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society has a delectable little Sedum growing in it.

Sedum cauticola (?)

I noticed in the alpine bed several flowers on one of the Daphnes, and that seems quite out of season.

Daphne collina x cneorum

Also in the alpine bed the Sculletaria continues to flower, as it has all year long.

Scutellaria resinosa

In the greenhouse itself, there is a marvelous little gloxinia-looking plant from Bolivia.

Seemannia nematanthodes

The color on this little beauty is really remarkable.

And just outside the greenhouse is a little Zephyranthes that has jumped ship into the alpine bed.

Zephyranthes sp. escapee

Speaking of escapees the grass in the orchard has all of a sudden become Japanese stiltgrass.  This is an almost total takeover in one year.  It’s quite beautiful, but definitely invasive.

Japanese stiltgrass

I did mow it after taking pictures.  Ideally one does this before it sets seeds for next year.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2019

Eastern Swallowtail (Dark Form) on Zinnia

It’s appropriate to feature a zinnia for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post because they are all over the place — in vegetable garden, by the driveway, and in the orchard.  It’s hard to disagree with a flower that comes from seed so easily and lasts all season long.  In fact zinnias were the first flower we planted when we got inspired to start gardening fifty years ago.  We read a book by Jeanne Darlington (Grow Your Own) that led us to scratch a little garden plot next to our student housing.  There have been a lot more flowers since …

Typically we have Dahlias and Glads in the vegetable garden just for picking.

Dahlia ‘Bodacious’

And son Josh planted a lot of wildflowers around the property this spring.

California Poppy reblooming

Including especially zinnias and sage in the orchard, but also this particularly pretty variety of basil.

Basil in flower

My eye tends to get distracted by the perennials, especially those that are giving a bonus rebloom.

Daphne x susannae ‘Tage Lundell’

Delosperma congestum ‘Gold Nugget’

There is also a nice little patch of Colchicum in with the wildflowers in the backyard.

Colchicum ‘Byzantium’

As you walk down the driveway it’s hard not to notice the Viburnum with it’s berries hanging out into the drive.

Viburnum wrightii

In the greenhouse I found the Scilla maderensis budding up a few days ago.

Scilla maderensis

And now the flowers are opening up.

Scilla maderensis opening up

This is also the oxalis time of the year.

Oxalis bowiei

One after another, the Oxalis break into bloom from early September into February.

I’ve also found myself reading up about Zephyranthes and their close relatives Habranthus.  These are both part of the Amaryllis family and they are spectacularly easy to grow.   They are often called rain lilies because the rapid appearance of the flowers in late summer.  I’ve had the yellow forms (like Zephyranthes smalli and Z. jonesi, or Habranthus texensis) for a number of years, but what I’m discovering is that the pink and red forms of the family are really special.

This little Habranthus has white flowers that are tinged pink on the outside.

Habranthus magnoi

And these two Zephyranthes are both of the pink persuasion mixed with white.

Zephyranthes miradorensis

Zephyranthes labuffarosea

This last one is especially large for a Zephyranthes.  It was found in Mexico on a red mountain, therefore it’s name.  Most of the Zephyranthes prefer a southern climate (say zone 8), but they are easy to overwinter in a pot.  They make abundant seeds which will start popping up in other pots if you don’t pay attention.  I’ve got a number of pots that I thought were tritoma or babiana or some other bulb, only to realize that they were actually Zephyranthes volunteering to use an empty pot.

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day July 2019

Deep Red Daylily

Well the middle of July Bloom Day update is always highlighted by lilies, daylilies, and sunflowers.  They are the strength of the season.  We’ve just returned from a vacation and they are the first flowers I see.

Rich Golden Daylily

Light pink Lily

Lily ‘Stargazer’

Lily ‘Scheherazade’

Lily ‘Anastasia’

Anastasia is an Orienpet (cross between Oriental and Trumpet lilies) and it’s one of our favorites but it’s season is nearly done.  Two week ago it was sprawling across the fence row.

Lily ‘Anastasia’ coming into bloom at the end of June

Nearby are the crocosmia that are a long-lasting flower for July.

Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’

Out in the vegetable garden the sunflowers are reaching for the sky.

First Big Sunflower

Hybrid Sunflower

Also from the vegetable garden are the gladiolas that are now part of the inside decor.

Harvesting glads from the garden

A really unusual flower for July comes from the greenhouse.

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis detail

This is a South African flower that I obtained from the Pacific Bulb Society.

I had this plant growing for 5 years before I got the first flower, but it is delightful.  During the 1-2 month dormant period it does a good imitation of a dead plant, so you have to have some patience.

Outside the world of flowers the redhaven peach is covered with peaches right now

Red-haven peaches

And the Kingbird is in command of the mulberry tree in the mornings.

Kingbird eating mulberries

That’s it for quick look at Ball Rd.  What is blooming in your garden?

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 2019

Lily ‘Forever Susan’

In June the lilies begin to make their statement for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  They are exploding around the yard and they provide excellent cutting flowers as well.

Lilium ‘Forever Susan’ inside the house

One of my favorites is in the monument bed

Lilium ‘Netty’s Pride’ group

Lilium ‘Netty’s Pride’

In addition to the lilies another regular for this season is a very extravagant japanese iris

Iris ensata ‘Flashing Koi’

The bletilla continue with their orchid-like flowers.

Bletilla ‘Brigantes’

And nearby is a new Roscoea that we got from Far Reaches this year.

Roscoea purpurea f. alba NAPE 239

We have several clematis that have been trailing on fences and trellis including this one that runs up the sambuccus.

Clematis ‘Krakowiak’

A very long-lasting flower is one of the gentians in the alpine bed.

Gentiana dahurica

Walking in the front yard you discover there are many white flowers on the grass and then you look up in the tree and see the source.

Stewartia japonica

There are many, many flower buds on the tree.

With all the rain that we continue to have it’s not surprising that the green leafy plants are doing well.

Pinellia ‘Polly Spout’

Arisaema farghesii

Arisaema candidissum

In the greenhouse there are multiple habranthus in bloom (they seed around abundantly).

Habranthus robustus

The habranthus are much bigger than their zephyranthus cousins.

We were in the orchard this week bagging apples (basically to ward off insects).  The really odd thing is that we have a much smaller crop than normal because many of the trees flowered last fall in response to our tremendous rainfall.  It turns out that one the few trees to have a few apples worth protecting is our Spitzenburg.  I don’t know if you have tried Spitzenburg but it is one of the best apples ever.  In our case this is the one survivor of a row of Spizenburgs and it is barely hanging on as a tree.

Spitzenburg trunk

Nonetheless the apples on it are looking very nice.

Apple ‘Spitzenburg’

This is usually a tree that is very hard hit by pests.  So it’s very strange to see it outyielding much bigger stronger trees.

By the front of the second pasture is a volunteer adam’s needle that is flowering by its lonesome.

Adam’s Needle (Yucca filamentosa)

And nearby are various meadow plantings of wildflowers that son Josh put in this year. They are prospering.

Wildflower mix

And of course the wildlife are enjoying Josh’s efforts.

Cosmos in wildfire mix

Worth noting in the first week of June

Stewartia malacodendron

Last year at Stonecrop’s alpine sale I purchased this small tree from Don Dembowski with the hope of someday seeing the beautiful flowers that websites described.  I was amazed this year when several flowers appeared in its first year on our rocky hillside.  This is multiple weeks ahead of it’s neighbor, Stewartia japonica.  Not to take anything away from Stewartia japonica with its lovely bark and many flowers, but the S. malacondendron has much larger and absolutely gorgeous flowers.

Stewartia malacodendron flower

So far the deer have chosen to ignore this wonderful addition to our front yard.  It seems happy within the shade of surrounding trees.  Inspired by this success I’ve purchased Stewartia monadelpha as well and I’m looking for where to place what will eventually be a pretty large tree.

The remarkably consistent event on the first of June is the appearance of the Arisaema fargessi and Arisaema candidissum

Arisaema fargessi emerging

Each year I wonder if they have disappeared over the winter and each year they check the calendar and stick up their cone on June 1st (A. fargessi was a day early this year, but A. candidissum was right on schedule.  Meanwhile many of their Arisaema brethren have been up and about for many weeks.  The most striking at the moment is a new Arisaema ringens cultivar.

Arisaema ringens ‘Black Mamba’

The Arisaema ringens are big plants with leaves that extend over a couple of feet.  Here is the normal A. ringens in its third year.

Arisaema ringens

This is also the time of year for the martagon lilies to share their elegance.

Lilium x martagon ‘Claude Shride’

This one looked particularly nice when we put it in the middle stones that had been painted at a garden party last week.

Martagon lily with stones

In the front yard right now we have white daphne that is covered with fragrant blossoms.

Daphne x transatalantica ‘Eternal Fragrance’

And an azalea with some of the largest azalea blossoms I have ever seen.

White azalea

A focal point of the center garden is a large spuria iris with striking purple blossoms.

Spuria Iris ‘Stella Irene’

And in the monument bed a very pretty bletilla is in full bloom.

Bletilla ‘Brigantes’

The greenhouse still has a few contributions as well.  A pine woods lily that has appeared in other years at this time.

Alophia drummondi (Pine Woods Lily)

And a flower from Brazil that I don’t recalled having flowered before.

Neomarica candida

It’s very exotic, but you have to pay attention because the flower is only there for a day.