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 September 2017

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Well, it’s fall here in Maryland and some of the usual suspects are providing our flowers for Bloom Day.  Japanese anemone are robust and reliable, as well as incredibly beautiful.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Some of the other regulars are in the following pictures.

Trycyrtis ‘Autumn Glow’

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

St. John’s Wort ‘Hidcote’

In the wildflower patch, the wild asters are currently the star of the show, attracting insects of all sorts.

Wild Aster

In the cutting garden the standouts are the Tithonia.


Beth has shown they look really nice next to the Salvia ‘Black and Blue’.  They are also quite tall so it’s easy to see them from underneath as well.

Tithonia from underside

A similar color comes with the Atlantic Poppy which took forever to start blooming but now has a new flower every day.

Papaver atlanticum ‘Flore Pleno’

Inside the greenhouse we have blooming for the first time the Scilla maderensis.  It seems to open just a few of the flower elements per day so that it’s never completely in flower for us.

Scilla maderensis

It is nevertheless interesting and exotic which goes a long way to getting space in the greenhouse.

Looking down on Scilla Maderensis

The first of the Oxalis are coming into bloom now.

Oxalis melanostica ‘Ken Aslet’

There are three species blooming now, but the rest will extend the blooming season into January at least.

It’s worth noting that one does not live by flowers alone.  The garden fruits and vegetables have been abundant this year, pushing us to new recipes and uses for the crops…

Vegetable garden production

Kieffer Pears

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day July 2017

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis

Let me lead off with this lovely South African native that I featured in my last post.  It is still fully flowering following our recent travels and you can see how lovely it is.  Like many of the South African bulbs it is growing in our greenhouse (probably would go to zone 8, but that’s not us).  It’s well worth the wait to finally see this in flower.

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis

Outside we have many flowers in bloom right now, as do most gardens I suspect.  The staggering fragrance of lilies calls for first attention.

Lilium ‘Anastastia’

Every year the lilies seem to come back and dominate the summer.  Anastastia is a particularly tall and strong Oriental/Trumpet hybrid.

Lily Oriental-Trumpet ‘Anastasia’

Another reliable Orienpet is ‘Scherezade’.

Lilium Oriental/Trumpet Scheherazade

It makes for a spectacular display in the house.

Lilium ‘Scheherezade’ arrangment

Other lilies of note follow

Orienpet Lily ‘Pretty Woman’

Lilium ‘Casablanca’

And then there are the daylilies, a different genus but similar in many ways.

Red Daylily

Outrageously golden daylily

And let us not forget the iris family.  Several types of Crocosmia are in bloom right now too.

Crocosmia – x crocosmiiflora ‘George Davison’

And our winter was gentle enough that the gladiolas that I failed to dig last year all came back in abundance.  It’s the best crop of glads we have ever had.  They’ve been blooming for a month now.

Glads in abundance, including ‘Margaret Rose’ and ‘Jester’

The Echinacea in the front bed are putting on a fine show right now.

Echinacea in the front bed

And the sunflowers are abundantly flowering in the vegetable garden in many sizes and colors.


Burnt-colored Sunflower

In the alpine bed the first flowers are showing on the Gentian paradoxa, and this earlier than I ever remember seeing them in bloom.

Gentian paradoxa

Altogether it’s a fine showing for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, as evident by Beth’s flower vase arrangement.

Some of Beth’s flower pickings for today in the late afternoon sunlight


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.