Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day April 2018

Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Snow Cone’

It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day time and one of the fun parts of posting the monthly flowers is discovering those things that I had forgotten that I previously planted.  Amongst those is the Snow Cone Bloodroot pictured above.  All Bloodroots are good, this one is just a notch above.

Another newcomer to this blog is the single pink Anemonella from Hillside Nursery.  I went on quest last year for a strong pink Anemonella after seeing one at my son’s house in previous years.  He has since lost that plant which was exceptionally pink compared to the normal ‘Pink Pearl’ as it is now marketed.  In any case the one gracing our flower bed is very nice indeed.

Anemonella thalictroides ‘Single Pink’

Another Anemonella variant that I posted on recently is Green Hurricane.

Anemonella thalictroides ‘Green Hurricane’

Many of the Anemone’s are flowering right now too, including this very complex nemerosa.

Anemone nemorosa ‘bracteata pleniflora’

Close by are the Corydalis.

Corydalis solida ssp. incisa ‘Vermion Snow’

Corydalis turtschaninovii ‘Eric the Red’

This one, as I’ve noted before is named for the leaves, not the beautiful blue flowers.

One cannot pass by the Camellia bed which has many of the spring ephemerals without seeing one of my favorite trilliums.

Trillium pusillum ‘Roadrunner’

And the Leucojum are like snowdrops on steroids

Leucojum vernum

Even this far into April the Hellebores continue to provide wonderful flowers.  One that particularly catches my eye is Amethyst Gem.

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Amethyst Gem’

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Amethyst Gem’

This year I decided to give the Primula kisoana another try.  You have to be cautious with this because it wants to spread, so I put it in with the other thugs.

Primula kisoana

I had a minor revelation this week when I thought I had finally succeeded in bring a Shortia into bloom.  However, it turns out just to be Shortia lookalike, but pretty nonetheless.

Oxalis griffithii – Double Flowered

Back in the Alpine beds we have several returnees from previous years.

Aquilegia flabellata v. nana

Androsace barbulata

Primula allionii ‘Wharfedale Ling’

and a new Iris/potentilla combination

Iris babadaghica and Potentilla neumanniana ‘Orange Flame’

And it’s also worth noting that while I tend to get caught up in the small spring ephemerals, there are many other flowers about.  The early Rhododendron in the front yard is always spectacular.

Rhododendren carolinianum

Rhododendren carolinianum

There are many, many Daffodils, both in the yard and in the woods/pasture.

Narcissus ‘Monte Carlo’ in the woods

And the various fruit trees are mostly just coming into bloom.  The apricot is finished, the cherries and peaches just starting, and the Kieffer Pear is flowering as though there is no tomorrow.

Wild Cherries blooming in the woods

Kieffer pear tree

Kieffer pear tree blossoms

As I close this post, it’s worth noting that this spring is well behind previous years in terms of the number and progress of things in bloom.  But I’m good with that.  It gives more time to appreciate everything as it’s happening. 

Summer Crabapple Delight

Dolgo Crabapples

We have grown crabapples for many years in the front yard without ever making good use of the fruit.  Of course the abundant white flowers in the springtime are delightful and the pretty summertime fruit have always been appreciated but we never harvested them for eating.  Until now that is.  Our youngest son was inspired by the sprightly taste of the fruit.  He picked a bunch of them and made a couple of galettes, one with the crabapples and one with blueberries, apricots, and peaches.  Both were quite good, but the crabapple one was really special.  Think of the best rhubarb pie you’ve ever tasted.

Galettes in prep

Two Galettes

This was so good, that he went out this week and picked another batch of the crabapples.

Dolgo Crabapples

The remarkable thing about these little crabapples is that a very high percentage are without blemish or insect damage and this is without any spraying at all.  This is quite a contrast with our normal apple trees.

This is a very active time outdoors right now.  I thought I would also share another of the interesting spiders that we have run across.

Phidippus johnsoni jumping spider.

I always find the jumping spiders have considerable personality.

And another interesting tidbit is the arrival of the rain lilies.

Pink Rain Lily (Habranthus robustus)

We have grown these very hardy rain lilies for many years and they seem early this year but we had some strong rains and up they came.  I had also moved one of the Zephyranthes from the greenhouse last year and seems to be doing fine, though it is supposed to be a zone 8 plant.

Zephyranthes rosea

I would also note in passing that this is a good time to be gathering seeds for the various seed exchanges.  Some are quite easy to find like the Zephyranthes.

Zephyranthes seeds

Lastly I’ll close this post with one of the prettiest lilies I’ve come across (unnamed at the moment).

Unnamed Pink Lily

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day August 2016

Gentiana paradoxa

Gentiana paradoxa

I find myself at the beach for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, but before leaving I snapped a few shots of the flowering activity around our hillside.  The gentian pictured above is a vigorous spreader in the Alpine bed that is a reliable harbinger of fall.  The feathery insides of the flower make it one of the prettiest flowers I know.

The rest of the yard is dominated by the hardy annuals and sturdy perennials that can make it through a dry Maryland summer.  A great example is the state flower, Black-eyed Susans, that dominates our front bed.

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

Black-eyed Susans (Rudbeckia hirta)

In the vegetable garden we often grow Mexican Sunflower (Sithonia) which are very attractive to butterflies.

Tithonia

Tithonia

There a number of plants that deserve special praise for returning one or more times during the summer.

Clematis 'Roguchi'

Clematis ‘Roguchi’

Asclepias 'Hello Yellow'

Asclepias ‘Hello Yellow’

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

The salvia is not supposed to be hardy in our area, but it has returned reliably for 5 years now.

The two lobelias, red and blue, are winners for an August garden.

Lobelia cardinalis

Lobelia cardinalis

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Great Blue Lobelia (Lobelia siphilitica)

Amongst the shrubs, the Hydrangea ‘Limelight makes a long and lovely showing.

Hydrangea 'Limelight'

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’

From the greenhouse a number of the formosa lilies are in full flower.

lilium formosanum

lilium formosanum

And the small Herbertia texensis is putting out it’s complex flowers.

Herbertia texensis

Herbertia texensis

Let me close, because the beach is calling, with a wildlife image from the garden.  I found this remarkably lovely caterpillar on a tree peony leaf.

Caterpillar (American Dagger Moth?)

Caterpillar (American Dagger Moth?)

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day February 2016

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

A few days ago it looked we were finally overcoming the 40 inches of snow that absolutely clobbered us at the end of January.  You could see finally see little spring delights like the Winter Aconite peeking through.  The first daffodil was unhappy but it was at least about to open up.

First Daffodil (probably Rijnveld's Early Sensation)

First Daffodil (probably Rijnveld’s Early Sensation)

But such was not to be for very long.  We got more snow this weekend and once again the flowers are pretty much hidden.  Even the redoubtable Hellebores are looking pretty shopworn for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

Hellebore in the snow

Hellebore in the snow

Some things look pretty good in the snow like the holly and the witch hazels.

Blue Holly in the snow

Blue Holly in the snow

Hamamelis xintermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

But I can see lots of damage from the volume of snow.  Several small shrubs (camellias and daphnes) have badly broken branches just from the weight of that snowfall.

You can imagine flowers like this snow covered Clematis seedhead.

Clematis 'Waterfall' seedhead

Clematis ‘Waterfall’ seedhead

But once again we turn to pots in the greenhouse for more colorful flowers.  The potted daffodils are continuing to flower and the lachenalias are all coming into bloom right now.

Lachenalia namaquensis

Lachenalia namaquensis

There is a very pretty little star flower that blooms right now.

Ipheion uniflorum 'Charlotte Bishop'

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Charlotte Bishop’

And a wurmbea that I think is flowering for the first time for me.

Wurbea stricta

Wurmbea stricta

And a Tritonia that flowered in February last year as well.

Tritonia dubia

Tritonia dubia

Dubia for those who wonder about such things means ‘doubtful’ as in not conforming to standard.  Anyway, it looks pretty nice to me.  It’s another South African native that looks like a miniature glad.

Lastly, another plant flowering for the first time for us is a little Scilla from Turkey that has the most marvelous dark purple stamens.  It is said to be hardy in Michigan so it will probably go outdoors this year.

Scilla cilicica

Scilla ciicica

All of these five plants from the greenhouse came from seed distributed by the Pacific Bulb Society in 2013.  They constitute a pretty good example of what you can obtain by joining the Pacific Bulb Society.  Despite the name, the society is inhabited by bulb experts from around the world and they are most generous in sharing their seeds, bulbs, and expertise.

C&O Canal at Noland’s Ferry

Trail along the C&O canal

Trail along the C&O canal

We’ve had a wonderful extended Autumn with many clear sunny days.  On one of them last week we took a morning walk along the C&O canal.  This national park is only 15-20 minutes from our house.  The overall park is essentially a biking-hiking-running trail that extends 185 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD.  Noland’s Ferry is at the 45 mile point along the trail and is a broad leaf-strewn walkway in this season.  There are other parts of Frederick County that are lit up with color this time of year, but along the canal it’s mostly greens turning to yellow.  Nonetheless one of the joys of walking is noticing that which is not visible from car or bike.  We walked about 2 miles down the trail towards Washington and then returned, moving at a pace that encouraged observation.  Even at that pace we noticed things on the return part of the trail that we had missed on the outgoing trip.

Some of the most striking elements were fungi.  The Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus looks like a waterfall frozen in time.

Bear's Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum)

Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum)

The Jelly Ear Mushroom is said to be good to eat, but we limit ourselves to puffballs (which we have eaten many times).

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

And then there was this very phallic white mushroom which I’ve not been able to identify.

Pure White Mushroom

Pure White Mushroom

Along the trail was a very tiny snake, about the size of a worm.  It seems likely this this is an Eastern Smooth Earthsnake.  They do have babies in the fall but they are not very big in any case.  It eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects.  On balance that’s the kind of diet I can  appreciate.

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae )

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae )

There were two interesting fruiting plants that we noticed.  Spicebush is a smallish native shrubby tree that is found in wooded lowlands.  It has plants of both the male and female persuasion so it will be interesting to return in spring to see if we can identify them.

Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)

Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)

And the Eastern Wahoo is another small native tree that has what seem like packages of pink candy hanging from its branches.

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

The leaves had not yet turned but like its relative, the Euonymus alatus, the Eastern Wahoo should have strongly colored red leaves.

At one point we looked up and noticed a tree with remarkable orange foliage.  At first I thought sugar maple, but that is not common with us at all.  When I got home and did a little research, it was pretty clear to me that what we saw was Black Maple.  This is a close cousin to the Sugar Maple and as many of the same positive attributes.  It would be worth trying to propagate in our forest.

Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple leaf (note the typical 3 lobes)

Black Maple leaf (note the typical 3 lobes)

A Spectacular Carolina Weekend

Crepe Myrtles define the entrance

Crepe Myrtles define the entrance to JC Raulston

We just spent a marvelous weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina in an escape from the last snowstorm (I hope) to hit Maryland this year.  We had planned this weekend for a visit to the North Carolina nurseries but when a significant snowstorm threatened for last Thursday, we decided to skip town on Wednesday and I’m glad we did.  It gave us an extra day to visit nurseries and gardens in the ‘Triangle’ area.  Even four days is not sufficient to see all that this area offers to plant lovers.  There are three major gardens in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and we went to each.

Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham is what I would characterize as a display garden.  It’s well funded and beautiful and has lots of examples of how to make a dramatic landscape.

Broad Allée with Winterberry on edges

Broad Allée with Winterberry on edges

It had many lovely individual plants including this daphne which illustrated how daphnes want to look in the wintertime as opposed to the burned leaves on ours.

Daphne getting ready for bloom

Daphne getting ready for bloom

The North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill also appears to have a lot of financial backing and it’s focus seems to be well-coupled to the University’s effort to encourage the use of native plants.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina Botanical Garden

It’s set next to woodland trails and seems to get a lot of visitors for that reason.

But our favorite was the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh.  This is a plantsman’s paradise.  Many examples of exotic and unusual plants from all over the world including this dwarf Dawn Redwood.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Schirrmann's Nordlicht'

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Schirrmann’s Nordlicht’

It was still a little early in the season for any of these gardens but the Ralston captured our hearts.

One of the ulterior motives for this particular weekend was to attend an An Evening with the Plant Explorers at the JC Ralston.  This was a wonderful event with 4 1/2 hours of tales of plant exploring mixed in with socializing and plant auctions.  Anyone who thinks Latin is a dead language needs to attend one of these events.  The plant auction was particularly interesting because it was often for plants that had been part of the explorers’ talks.

Plant auction

Plant auction

In particular we were taken by a marvelous Einkianthus, the likes of which we had never encountered.

Einkianthus description

Einkianthus description

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

Well, in the end this was our take-home plant from the auction…

The other main component of the weekend was visiting nurseries.  First and foremost was Plant Delights (which has a bonus of a very nice garden as well).  As usual we found many wonderful plants that jumped into our car.

Plant Delights collection

Plant Delights collection

There were three crates like this one that we brought home including many new hellebores.

And then we went out to Pine Knot Farms where the focus is hellebores.

Pine Knot Farms

Pine Knot Farms

And we came away with even more hellebores as well as multiple cyclamen from John Lonsdale and a Mahonia confuse ‘Narihira’ (which we had seen at Raulson) and Edgeworthia chrysantha from Superior Plants.

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

John Lonsdale says that Edgeworthia survives for him in Pennsylvania so I have high hopes for it in Maryland.

Lastly we stopped at Camellia Forest and picked up four new camellias and two exquisite miniature Rhododendrons.

Rhododendron indicum 'Kokinsai'

Rhododendron indicum ‘Kokinsai’

Altogether a wonderful weekend, and by the time we arrived back home the spring was waiting for us…

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Diane’

Adonis amurensis

Adonis amurensis

Let me close with one more shot of that Einkianthus which I hope will be with us for a long time…

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

A Primula Arrives Early to the Party

Primula allionii 'Wharfdale Ling' peeking out

Primula allionii ‘Wharfdale Ling’ peeking out

I was surprised to see a glint of color in the Alpine bed yesterday.  Indeed it was actually a first flower from the exquisite little Primula allionii ‘Wharfdale Ling’.  This tiny little primula species is relatively rare in the wild but has been widely propagated and hybridized because of the size and beauty of the flowers for such a small plant.  Jim Jermyn has a great write-up on this species and its natural growing conditions.  I’ve just finished my seed order for the Scottish Rock Garden Society seed exchange and I’ve included a different Primula allionii selection on my list.  This one has the honor of being the first plant to flower in the new alpine bed — months ahead of time.

Early blossom on Primula allionii 'Wharfdale Ling'

Early blossom on Primula allionii ‘Wharfdale Ling’

It’s been generally a great week for gardening.  Crisp mornings but sunny afternoons.  I spent this afternoon cleaning the moss off of pots in the greenhouse.  But not before noting that yet another oxalis species had come into flower.

Oxalis densa

Oxalis densa

Notice the little hairy leaves.  The oxalis are all so different.  The buds on these are yet another distinctive image — I need to get a picture.  Back to the moss, it  had really built up on some of the small bulb pots.  As it turns out when you use a gravel top dressing the moss just lifts out taking the some of the old gravel with it and doesn’t disturb the underlying bulbs.  And then you just replace the gravel.

We took off one day on an excursion looking at garden art at Alden Farms and the unusual plants at Susanna Farms.  Many of the items at Susanna Farms were landscaping specimens beyond our price range, but we did come back with two very nice additions.

Rhododendron nakaharai 'Pink ES'

Rhododendron nakaharai ‘Pink ES’

The fall coloring is just great on this prostrate rhodie.  It will be interesting to see how it flowers out in the spring.  It’s said the flowers appear at nearly the end of the rhododendron season which would make them very late indeed.

Crytomeria japonica 'Little Diamond'

Crytomeria japonica ‘Little Diamond’

We have always liked Cryptomeria.  Our biggest one is 30-40 feet high at the back of the yard.  This one should stay within the 2-3 ft range.

The garden art visit was equally fun.  We met David Therriault, stone designer and walked through his sculptures.  He works mostly with salvaged materials and repurposes them into artwork.  We saw several pieces that we liked (it’s Beth’s birthday present), but the one which was our favorite seemed to large for the new garden that we’ve built this fall.  However, when we came home it seemed like it could fit after all.  To check our perceptions I photoshopped a copy of the sculpture into place, and indeed, we think it fits.

Garden without totem

Garden without totem

 

Garden with Totem

Garden with Totem

This is all part of our growing love for stone of all sorts.  We went to the local stone dealer yesterday and came home with some very pretty pieces from their loose rubble.  It’s like buying plants except you don’t have to water them…

Stone with character

Stone with character

Silverlake strip

Silverlake strip

Emmitsburg-Brown

Emmitsburg-Brown

Starting a New Garden

The Pine Succession Garden

The Pine Succession Garden

Every garden has a beginning.  In this case the garden can be traced to a storm — Sandy, to be specific.  A very large Pine Tree came down on our neighbor’s fence line.  Leaving a channel of sunshine and a lot of dead roots in the ground.  We had also opened space in this area last year when we took out an old and dying Cherry tree (with a stump still remaining).  We took the new site as an opportunity and have been considering all year how best to use it.  Watching the sunlight in this area it looks like it’s a mix of sun and shade, in other words, part-sun or part-shade depending on the time of day and time of year.  But the ground was very hard and covered with roots from the cherry and pine.  And I’m pretty sure that the remaining pine and surrounding maple and holly will be sending exploring roots before long.  So we decided to make a raised bed, or berm, to guarantee a fertile and friable garden area.

What started out as a small project got larger each day as we brought pickup truckload after truckload of topsoil and mushroom soil from our special store of said components in the far pasture.  Because we were concerned about driving truck or tractor over the walkway in the backyard it all had to be hauled from truck to the new garden by garden cart.  In the end we decided to tie this new garden into the Peony bed on the one side and the pathway in back of the big American Holly on the other.  We added some rocks hauled in from the leftovers at our local rock dealer to build structure and character into the bed.  Actually I just like rocks.  No other explanation is needed.  I thought hard about how to add a burbling brook in the middle but no matter how I conceived it there is no way that a burbling brook looks natural in our yard (and I would have to decimate too many tree roots to bring water and electricity to that spot.  So in the end we now have a pretty large new garden space just waiting for plants.  This is so unlike me to have the garden space before the plants.

Well, there are a few plants waiting in the wings.  There’s a Hydrangea serrata ‘Blue Billow’ that is already outgrowing it’s pot and is needing a home.  There are two camellias, one fall and one spring, that are perfect for this lighting situation.  When we could see the outlines of this garden begining to take shape we went to the local nursery to see what might still be around.  We came away with some real finds.  Most especially a Mahonia without spiny foliage.

Mahonia eurybracteata 'Soft Caress'

Mahonia eurybracteata ‘Soft Caress’

It’s called Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’ and unlike any other Mahonia I’ve seen.  The leaves are more like a bamboo though the flowers immediately look like classic Mahonia flowers.  Others were a tiny Rhododendron, R. Yakushimanum ‘Crete’, a Toad lily still in flower, and a bush Salvia.

Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Crete'

Rhododendron yakushimanum ‘Crete’

A new Toad Lily

A new Toad Lily (Tricyrtis x ‘Sinonome’)

And I now foresee a lot of opportunities for planting bulbs this fall …