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.

Snapdragons

Snapdragons

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Pineapple Sage

Pineapple Sage

A few remaining Fall Crocus

A few remaining Fall Crocus

Lantana

Lantana

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

 

Post-Election

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.

Sincerely, 

(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2016

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

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.

Calendula

Calendula

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.

Buddleia

Buddleia

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

Erodium

Erodium

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

 

A Higher State (Steppe to Alpine)

Steamboat Lake and Mule's Ears (Wyethia mollis)

Steamboat Lake and Mule’s Ears (Wyethia mollis)

We just returned last week from a spectacular trip to Colorado that was focused on the North American Rock Garden Society‘s (NARGS) annual meeting.  The theme was ‘A Higher State — Steppe to Alpine’ and it was in two locations, the Denver Botanic Garden and Steamboat Springs over 5 days.  It had been a while since we had been to Colorado, so we met with friends and family in Boulder and Golden beforehand.  I’ll try to give a brief overview of what was a wonderful and relaxing exploration of mountain wildflowers.

Hiking just outside of Boulder we encountered this lovely Calochortus.

Calochortus gunnisonii

Calochortus gunnisonii

The NARGS meeting began at the Denver Botanic Garden where we got a personalized tour of the rock gardens by Mike Kintgen who oversees the Alpine collection.

Mike Kintgen at DBG

Mike Kintgen at DBG

Their garden features a crevice garden which has been established for several years now (long enough to see several successful cushions)

Crevice garden at the DBG

Crevice garden at the DBG

They manage to grow the wonderful Devil’s Claw that we first saw in the Dolomites last year.

Physoplexis comosa in a trough at DBG

Physoplexis comosa in a trough at DBG

The Denver Botanic Gardens are not to be missed if you are in Denver.  In this season they have a spectacular display of Foxtail Lilies.

Through the looking glass

Through the looking glass

A Sea of Foxtail lilies

A Sea of Foxtail lilies

On our way to Steamboat Springs we stopped at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail which has newly constructed tufa wall for optimum planting of tiny alpines.

New Tufa bed at Vail

New Tufa bed at Vail

And the outside part of the gardens is quite nice as well.

Betty Ford Alpine Garden

Betty Ford Alpine Garden

In Steamboat Springs we visited local gardens including the Yampa River Botanic Park which right along the Yampa River in a very pretty setting.  They have built a stunning crevice garden there.

Crevice Garden at the Yampa River Botanic Garden

Crevice Garden at the Yampa River Botanic Park

Another view of the Crevice Garden at the Yampa River Botanic Garden

Another view of the Crevice Garden

Panorama of the Crevice Garden at the Yampa River Botanic Garden

Panorama of the Crevice Garden at the Yampa River Botanic Park

I fell in love with a little Stachys planted in one of the crevice locations.

Stachys lavandulafolia

Stachys lavandulafolia

We also took several hikes in the trails surrounding Steamboat Springs.  We drove out through countryside that really summed up what steppes are all about.

Steppes near North Park

Steppes near North Park

Just along the side of the road we saw beautiful Lewisia and Shooting Stars.

Lewisia rediviva

Lewisia rediviva

A sea of Shooting Stars

A sea of Shooting Stars

Dodecahedron puchellum

Shooting Star (Dodecahedron puchellum)

One stop near a trailhead into the Zirkel Wilderness area produced a bevy of these very small Ladyslipper Orchids

Ladyslipper Orchid (Cypripedium fasciculatum)

Ladyslipper Orchid (Cypripedium fasciculatum)

We stayed a few days past the conference and on the last day of hiking we walked up a ridge near the Rabbit Ears pass area.  The views were excellent, but it was remarkable how you had to pay close attention to see that the hillside was covered with wildflower treasures.

Windy Ridge rich with wild flowers

Windy Ridge rich with wild flowers, especially Glacier Lilies, Lewisia, and Larkspur.

Erythroniums galore

Erythroniums galore

Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)

Glacier Lily (Erythronium grandiflorum)

 

Lewisia pygmaea

Lewisia pygmaea

Lewisia pygmaea (White form?)

Lewisia pygmaea (White form?)

Delphinium nuttallianum

Delphinium nuttallianum

And a final sighting on this ridge was a very nice ground orchid.

Spotted Coralroot

Spotted Coralroot (Corallorhiza maculata)

All in all, a wonderful trip, with a suitcase full of tiny treasures brought back to Maryland from the plant sales at the conference.  My thanks to Laporte Avenue Nursery and Sunscapes Rare Plant Nursery.

Also, I should mention that the Denver Botanic Garden has published a very nice book on this region of the world (and similar) entitled ‘Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions‘.  Check it out…

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 2016

Lilium asiatic 'Netty's Pride'

Lilium asiatic ‘Netty’s Pride’

Ok, this is way late for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  No Excuses.  Everyone has gardens to build, weed, water, and harvest.  But what really slows me down in posting is when I find a lovely flower that I acquired years ago and can’t figure out what the name is.  And that leads me to the internet and well, you know how that goes.  One thing leads to another and pretty soon you are buying another few plants instead of posting about the ones you have.

Anyway here are some of the flowers that I should have been sharing.  Lillies and Iris are foremost.  The Spuria Iris are some of my favorites.

Spuria Iris 'Cinnebar Red'

Spuria Iris ‘Cinnebar Red’

Spuria Iris 'Shelford Giant'

Spuria Iris ‘Shelford Giant’

The Spuria are generally pretty tall, but Shelford Giant is especially high up before it flowers.

Spuria Iris 'Shelford Giant' showing height

Spuria Iris ‘Shelford Giant’ showing height

I used to focus on the bearded Iris but I’ve found that many of the other species Iris are more reliable and enjoyable.  I’ve never had the Iris borers focus on the other species the way they can on the bearded hybrids.  In particular the Japanese Iris have a way of making nice clumps in the perennial gardens.

Iris ensata ' Agripinella'

Iris ensata ‘ Agripinella’

A new Japanese Iris for us this year is this four-foot tall specimen from Plant Delights.

Iris ensata 'Flashing Koi'

Iris ensata ‘Flashing Koi’

The Blackout Lillies are creating their normal smashing display of vibrant dark red.

Lilium 'Blackout'

Lilium ‘Blackout’

And in anticipation of setting a new height record for us the Trumpet Hybrid Pink Perfection is now higher than the 8 foot piece of granite in our Monument Bed.

Pink Perfection Lily next to Monument

Pink Perfection Lily next to Monument

Our potted lily wanna-be from the Amazon is in full flower at the moment.

Hymenocallis 'Sulphur Queen'

Hymenocallis ‘Sulphur Queen’

I need to single out the last of the Arisaemas now in fully display. Both A. fargesii and A. candidssum took until June 4th before they showed their first pointed tips coming out of the soil.  I especially love the pink of the A. candidissums.

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema fargesii

Arisaema fargesii

Just a few other shots from around the yard before I go…

Knockout roses 'Pink'

Knockout roses ‘Pink’

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’

Mix of wine cups, spotted orchid, Brodiaea 'Queen Fabiola', and Gladiolus elata.

Mix of wine cups, spotted orchid, Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’, and Gladiolus alatus.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Stewartia japonica

Stewartia japonica

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine frutescens

Raspberries

Raspberries

Blueberries

Blueberries

And let me close with another gem from the greenhouse…

Habranthus tubispathus

Habranthus tubispathus (sometimes called copper lily)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day April 2016

Panorama of Front Yard

Panorama of Front Yard

Well for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day there is no difficulty with finding things in flower.  April is a fantastic time for a Maryland gardener.  Just a few days ago we were assessing the damage from killing frosts (Toad lilies and the asian Disporum are surprisingly vulnerable), but right now we are relishing the blooms.  Daffodils and Tulips headline the show.  For example, there is this new addition to the woods.

Narcissus 'Precocious'

Narcissus ‘Precocious’

And old favorites in the front bed.

Tulipa 'Monte Carlo'

Tulipa ‘Monte Carlo’

A naturalized tulip for woodland areas.

Tulipa sylvestris

Tulipa sylvestris

And this new addition from Odyssey Bulbs last year.

Tulipa 'Goldmine'

Tulipa ‘Goldmine’

But the various smaller plants always capture my attention.

Erythroniums are at their peak right now.

Erythronium 'Pagoda'

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’

Erythronium multiscapideum

Erythronium multiscapideum

Erythronium dens-canis 'White Splendor'

Erythronium dens-canis ‘White Splendor’

Close by is a new Scilla relative that we added this past year (also from Odyssey Bulbs).

Fessia hohenackeri

Fessia hohenackeri

Note the lovely blue anthers.

There are also the epimediums, seemingly delicate plants that are oh-so-hardy.

Flowers on Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilac Seedling'

Flowers on Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilac Seedling’

In this case the leaves are as special as the flowers.

Leaves on Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilac Seedling'

Leaves on Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilac Seedling’

An aquilegia that my eldest son grew from a Scottish Rock Garden Society seed distribution begs for attention right now (very dwarf).

Aquilegia flabellata 'Nana'

Aquilegia flabellata ‘Nana’

And there is a Muscari that I got from Brent and becky last year that is growing in very difficult place between maple roots and an American Holly.

Muscari latifolium

Muscari latifolium

In the camellia bed we find a lovely little corydalis that has lasted for several season now (hard to do with the blue ones).

Corydalis turtschaninovii 'Eric The Red'

Corydalis turtschaninovii ‘Eric The Red’

The name comes from the leaves, not the flowers.

Nearby is one of my favorite trilliums.

Trillium 'Roadrunner'

Trillium ‘Roadrunner’

Also in the Camellia bed is one of the tiniest Hepaticas I have seen, the result of several seedlings I planted from Hillside Nursery.

Hepatica japonica  seedling

Hepatica japonica seedling

The Alpine bed features a very nice Daphne, that has all the fragrance that you expect from a Daphne.

Daphne collina x cneorum

Daphne collina x cneorum

And in small trough #2, there is the most beautiful little phlox that is doing alll that you expect from a phlox.

Phlox sileniflora

Phlox sileniflora

And from the greenhouse there are a couple of plants that have come into the house recently.

Hippeastrum striata

Hippeastrum striata

This small Amaryllis-want-to-be is also called the Barbados Striped Lily though it is actually from Brazil and it is multiplying in it’s small pot like mad.

And a south african plant originally purchased from Annie’s Annuals.

Ixia 'Buttercup'

Ixia ‘Buttercup’

This is at the tip of two-foot long stalks this year.

Finally, I should mention the various flowering trees.  This is right now the peak of the crossover between the various fruit trees, crabapples and cherries, giving way to the dogwoods.

Crabapple (variety long forgotten)

Crabapple (variety long forgotten)

The apple trees in the orchard are in the midst of one of the finest bloom cycles I have seen.

Mutsu Apple covered with blossoms

Mutsu Apple covered with blossoms

These are the highlights on Ball Rd.  What is growing in your garden?