A Very Late Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for June 2013

Blackout Asiatic Lily

Blackout Asiatic Lily

Ok, so it’s way too late for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, but my excuse was traveling for over two weeks in Scotland (which should be the subject of another post).  But I use these monthly postings as a way of tracking what is happening in the garden not only from month to month but from year to year.  It helps me track how the garden evolves.  We were lucky for this trip that the weather included ample rainfall so that with the sprinklers I had set up there was none of the loss of plants that can happen with a vacation that lasts that long.  I had been most concerned about the new troughs (see last post) but they seem to have done very well, including the centerpiece Lewisia tweedyi which is notoriously difficult in our climate.  Even the new plants that I started this year in the Tufa rock in the front garden are looking healthy.

Replanting of Tufa with Gentian, Arabis, and Campanula

Replanting of Tufa with Gentian, Arabis, and Campanula

On the other hand the Meconopsis that I planted earlier this spring is showing no real growth in what has been perhaps the best possible Meconopsis (cool and wet) spring for a Maryland garden.  I totally missed the rest of the Spuria Iris (note to self, order more Spuria Iris) and the blooming of the Formosan Lily which I had ordered in from Far Reaches this year before discovering how easy they are from seed (I have lots of seedlings growing in the greenhouse).

The most impressive plants in the yard right now are probably the large stands of Blackout Asiatic Lilies.  They are spreading abundantly and the color is an eye-popping very dark red.

Cluster of Blackout Lilies

Cluster of Blackout Lilies

Another patch of Blackout Lilies with Rozanne Geraniums

Another patch of Blackout Lilies with Rozanne Geraniums

Speaking of eye-popping, the new Echinacea variety that Beth planted in the front garden is stunning and floriferous.

Echinacea purpurea 'PowWow Wild Berry'

Echinacea purpurea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’

But then again it did win the AAS award in 2010.  Also in that front bed the Calandrina that I had order in from California continues have many bright red-pink flowers opening daily.

Calandrinia spectabilis

Calandrinia spectabilis

The Front yard also has the Stewartia in bloom.

Stewartia japonica flower

Stewartia japonica flower

The many flowers open up over an extended period.

Two Iris’s were vying for attention as well.  One is a Japanese Iris that I purchased several years ago from Plant Delights (Agripinella) and the other has no identifying tag but is lovely nonetheless.

Iris ensata 'Agripinella'

Iris ensata ‘Agripinella’

Yellow Iris (unknown)

Yellow Iris (unknown)

I was pleased to see that, although very late to the party, two more Arisaemas had appeared.  One is Arisaema fargesii which has great big glossy green leaves to go with the brown-red pitcher and the other is Arisaema candidissimum, this one with a very white pitcher.

Arisaema candidissimum (White form)

Arisaema candidissimum (White form)

Arisaema candidissimum (White form) front

Arisaema candidissimum (White form) front

The hillside along the drive has it’s normal abundance of wild pea and crown vetch blooming in gay profusion.

Wild Pea (Lathyrus latifolia) and Crownvetch (Coronilla varia L.)

Wild Pea (Lathyrus latifolia) and Crownvetch (Coronilla varia L.)

Weeds struggle to invade their private battleground.  We also have a very nice sedum that has taken hold nicely behind the garage.

Sedum floriferum 'Weihenstephaner Gold'

Sedum floriferum ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’

Nearby is an alternate version of Butterfly Weed that has a matching yellow color going with the sedum and a huge St. John’s Wort.

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’

In the greenhouse I found a cute little South African native with many small yellow flowers.

Albuca aurea flower detail

Albuca aurea flower detail

The growth habit is similar to Ornithogalums.   I need to move this pot out into the herb garden for the summer.

The vegetable garden had done well in our absence.  There are a boatload of peas to pick and the beans are just starting.  And especially relevant the blueberries are just coming into picking time, so we didn’t miss any of those.

Blueberries starting up

Blueberries starting up


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day February 2013

First Crocus is Ard Shenk

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Ard Shenk’

Well, I’m one day late on celebrating Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  But the flowers were there in any case.  Let us begin by celebrating the little white crocus that are splashed about the lawn.  I normally take February 21 as my first crocus date and also when catchers and pitchers report for baseball’s spring training in Florida.  But the baseball is beginning early this year and so are the crocus.  It’s appropriate that this very early crocus is the first of the year.  It’s namesake was one of Holland’s great speed skaters.

I really have to return to one of the standards for this time of year in citing the Witch Hazels.  It seems to me that they are having a great spring.  The long straps seem to be impervious to cold snaps and shine yellow against the blue sky on sunny day.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) from below

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) from below

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) close-up

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) close-up

There’s also the spectacular strong red in Diane, a Witch Hazel hybrid.  This is a small shrub at the moment but it’s growing strongly and I think it will qualify as a tree before long…

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

Out in the front yard our winter aconite continues to thrive.  Since I’ve observed they have spread to the other side of the yard I think I’m going to grab some seeds this year and see if I can aid the process.  Everyone should grow these little droplets of sunshine.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

I was pleased to see that even the Primrose is getting into the act.  The first blossom has come forth from our collection of common English Primrose.

First Primrose (Primrose vulgaris)

First Primrose (Primrose vulgaris)

And of course snowdrops are popping up everywhere.  What’s not to like about a plant that can flower for more than a month at this most unseasonable of times.

Galanthus nivalis 'Floro Pleno'

Galanthus nivalis ‘Floro Pleno’

Oh, and it multiplies too…

Finally the Adonis continue in bloom.  Think of Buttercups on steroids with much prettier foliage to boot…

Many flower buds on Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai'

Many flower buds on Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’

And then there are the Hellebores, but they are worthy of a post all by themselves.  Now what’s blooming in your garden?








A Post-Sandy Posting

50 year-old pine tree uprooted the deer fence

It has been almost 2 weeks since Hurricane Sandy ripped through a good part of the east coast, including our little hillside.  Given the difficulties that many have faced with loss of homes and struggles for power and services our own difficulties pale in comparison.  Nonetheless there has been an impact.  Not the least of which was the loss of internet for 5 days, which slowed my abilities to report on the storm, but it was compounded by viral bronchial infection that hit both of us — hard — for about 10 days.  Fortunately the good folks at Comcast came through in the end and a local contractor repaired the roof damage very quickly.  Also, thanks to Chris and Kevin, the same young guys that installed our deer fence, we have the deer fence intact again.

We were without power for only about 4 1/2 hours when the storm first hit.  And given the way the trees were uprooted along our street it could have been much worse.

About 100 yds along our road a fallen tree in the forest knocked out power and internet cables

We live about 1 mile from the Monocacy River and the state highway bridge across the river was really not far above the water.

Monocacy River was well over its banks

In addition to the 50 year-old pine in our neighbor’s yard that came down in the storm without hitting either house, we lost the 35 year-old sugar maple that has regularly been a feature of our comments on fall color.

Sugar Maple toppled by the storm

Numerous white pines in the forest and pasture were felled or broken off halfway up by the storm.

Fallen Giants

Fallen White Pines in the windbreak

Many breaks were halfway up the tree

Losing these trees along the windbreak gives one a whole different impression about what the descriptor ‘windbreak’ might really mean.  All the white pines were planted back in 1976 from seedling trees from the Maryland Forest Service.

On the good side of the ledger the greenhouse, newly constructed, withstood the storm with flying colors.  We are beginning to feel healthy again.  The repairs have been made.  We have a new semi-shade garden spot where the neighboring pine used to starve other plants for light and water.

Restored Deer Fence

And some more firewood…

Remains of Sugar Maple

The fall, despite the storm, remains remarkably mild.  I have seen viburnum and azaleas beginning to flower.  Even the spring blooming camellias are beginning to put out blossoms.

Double Camellia showing spring bloom

And the Geranium hybrid ‘Rozanne’ is just a non-stop flowering wonder…

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

And with that I will close just counting our blessings, including four more years with president who doesn’t believe that 47% of the population can be dismissed just because they weren’t born into wealth…


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for June 2012

Iris enseta 'Agripinella'

It’s appropriate to begin another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day with another Iris.  They have been really rewarding this year.  We seem to go from one outstanding Iris species to another.  Even the ensatas do not finish the Iris crowd, there’s another nice hybrid waiting in the wings.

Of course what June is really about is the lilies.  The Asiatics have been flowering all around the yard, but now the big guys are starting to weigh in.

Golden Trumpet Lily

I’m not sure which one this is.  I used to think it was Luxor but now I’ve figured out this is not any kind of Asiatic hybrid and I can’t seem to locate it in my records.  It stands at least 7-8 feet tall and has a pure golden hue with many blossoms.

And then there are the pseudo-lilies.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

The Alstroemeria are well represented in our yard by Sweet Laura which not only lives over the winter here but multiplies and competes well with other strong growing perennials.

Some other harbingers of summer are the Rudbeckia and Butterfly weed.

Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun'

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

On the bank near the drive the crownvetch and perennial pea are competing to smother the weeds.

Pennsylvania crownvetch

Perrenial Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)

These guys were intentionally planted but for some people they might constitute weeds.

In addition to the flowers we have moved on from a bumper crop of strawberries to an excess of blueberries.


Finally, I need to take note of the Stewartia which is covered with flowers right now.

Stewartia japonica flower

I think it waits for the early flowering trees to be done so that it can strut its stuff in private.

I hope this blooming day finds your garden growing like ours — always one step ahead but inspiring us to catch up…


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2012

Iris tectorum

The Japanese Roof Iris is actually from China where it is widely distributed.  It is just finishing blooming and GBBD seems an appropriate time to take note of it.  It’s many bearded cousins are in full bloom right now and we have many different varieties — all with that delightful iris fragrance.  We’ve failed to weed them at all this year and they have simply blithely grown up right through the weeds.

One of many bearded Iris

As I noted in my previous post the herbaceous peonies are fully engaged right now.  None more spectacular for us than ‘Honey Gold’ as it recovered from this morning’s rain.

Peony 'Honey Gold'

The other group of flowers that is busting out right now are the roses.  We’ve never had so many happening at once.  The knockout Roses are just that and several of the David Austins are also in gear.

David Austin Rose 'Charlotte'

It was way too long a day for me to note all the flowers in bloom right now (I finally finished planting all the perennials that I had bought in various places) but just a few still worth mentioning.  The Persian Cornflower (Centaurea dealbata) is a delightful strong grower in full sun.  It makes a nice companion to the more common Centaureas.

Persian Corn Flower (Centaurea dealbata)

Years ago we planted Tradescantia that we obtained from White Flower Farm.  It has easily spread to various places in the yard and the flowers are always welcome.  The plants fit well with iris and day lilies and they are very hardy.

Spider Wort (Tradescantia)

Another strongly colored perennial is the Baptisia, in this case ‘Purple Smoke’.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Looking out over the yard the Kousa Dogwood fully claims one’s attention right now — though it’s best seen from above.

Kousa Dogwood

And then finally a couple of wildflowers to wind up this posting.  One of my favorites as a transplanted californian is the lovely California Poppy.  It’s persisted for about 5 years now after an initial wildflower planting.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

And along side the poppies are Mexican Evening Primrose (which look very poppy-like themselves).  They are also a result of the same wildflower mix and at this point, like the California Poppies, simply reseed themselves.

Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

If you have enjoyed these flowers I suggest visiting May Dreams Gardens, the central site for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, to see what other gardens are growing…


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for April 2012

Tree Peony — White with Pink overtones

Well it’s very appropriate that this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day leads off with a blossom that is two to three weeks ahead of schedule.  I went back to look through previous years and April 30 was the earliest I saw the Tree Peonies in bloom before.  Their flower size and wonderful foliage are always amazing if you haven’t encountered them before.  It’s been that kind of year with most plants well in advance of their expected performance date.  It’s been very dry which is the only thing which may retard some of the plant growth.  I know that I’m still waiting for some Arisaema’s to stick their heads up.

It’s always a pleasure when something new shows up on our hill, especially if it’s been here for some time without flowering.  This year I found that Gentiana acaulis ‘Krebs’ has put forth several incredibly blue flowers.  It’s been hidden among the species tulips and may have flowered in the past without me catching it in the act.

Gentian amid the tulips

Gentiana acaulis 'Krebs'

The blue is every bit as outstanding as one might hope for from a Gentian.  The markings inside the trumpet are almost like a digital code.  I can see that several little babies are in the vicinity which makes me suspect that it has bloomed before.  This is one plant that I’ve very happy to have spread.

Another beautiful blue is on the Camassia which is just starting to flower.

Camassia leichtlinii

This a particularly strong blue from a set of mixed Camassias that I purchased a few years back after seeing them for the first time at the Garden in the Woods in Massachusetts.  At the same time I was very taken with the little Iris cristata and came back with violet and white versions.

Iris cristata

They are a very strong and determined spreader with a continually expanding mat of iris plants.

Another choice little item that we brought back from Massachusetts is the common blue Forget-Me-Not.

Myosotis sylvatica

The odd thing about these little beauties is that they grow rampantly on the kids’ property in Boston but when we tried to transplant them here nothing showed up in the garden beds where we put them.  Nada, not a one.  And then this year as I was tending the flower bed I noticed that there were several Forget-Me-Nots growing vigorously in the grass.  Still nothing in the garden beds.  So maybe they just like a little adversity.  No matter.  We are happy to have them competing with the dandelions and buttercups.

Another little plant doing well right now is the Creeping Phlox.

Phlox subulata 'Candy Stripe'

We’ve always liked this little Phlox plants that remind us of the mountains but we couldn’t seem to find the right spot to show them off until last year.  Now they seem happy on the hillside next to the garage in a bright sunny spot that is actually kind of dry.

At the back of the garage the Fothergilla is in bloom.

Fothergilla 'Mt Airy'

I have questioned the garden space given over to this shrub but I have to admit the funny little white flower buttons are growing on me.

The Sieboldii Primroses are starting to bloom now.

Primula sieboldii 'Chubby-One'

This one came from the now unfortunately closed Seneca Hill Nursery.

Next to it sits a nice little spread of Lathyrus vernus.

Lathryus vernum - light pink

A little stroll in the woods produces one of the last of the daffodils to bloom — the wonderful little La Belle is dainty and charming but survives a rugged setting in the woods.

Narcissus 'La Belle'

And the Virginia Bluebells are just about done.

Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia

While the Spanish Bluebells are coming into full stride blooming in many spots in the yard as well as where they have been scattered in the woods.

Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) in the woods

Also in the woods right now are Jack-in-the-Pulpit and Black Haw.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Black Haw (Viburnum prunifolium)

Just a few others to mention in this compendium of April flowering.  I picked up a tiny little Androsace at Stone Crop’s Alpine sale last year and, most wonderfully, it has come into flower for me.

Androsace sarmentosa 'Rock Jasmine'

I’ve put this in a little dry sandy spot that I’ve labeled the stone garden and, at least so far, it seems to be working.

And while not in flower anymore, I wanted to share this image of the Himalayan May apple that I imported from Canada this year (Fraser’s Thimble Farms).  The flower was exotic but the leaves are equally so…  I’m looking forward to the fruit.

Himalayan mayapple (Podophyllum hexandrum)



Welcome Adonis

Adonis amurensis

The first Adonis showed up well ahead of time.  In fact, this picture is from a week ago.  I’ve been on vacation in Florida for the past week and I had been intending to post these images that were taken before I left.  We’re on the plane for home tonight and a thoroughly wintry forecast implies that all the flowers that were showing before we left are going to have to withstand a very cold night.  But getting back to last week, the Adonis is one of our chief harbingers of spring.  Think giant buttercup that is very well behaved.  I don’t know why these are so hard to find but they are.  This particular plant came from Blanchette Gardens near Boston.  And I’ve order two more for this spring from British Columbia (Fraser’s Thimble Farms).  We have two other Adonis in slightly different locations.  One is barely showing (I think it got nipped by cold weather) and the other shows some damage, again probably cold weather because Adonis are not really animal targets.

Adonis fukujukai with bud coming

Even though I see some damage to the tips of the blossoms and stamens I’m very pleased to see that there is another bud coming up beside the first so THEY ARE SPREADING.  This is very good indeed.  Of course we’re a long way from the huge bank of Adonis that they have at Winterthur.

I’m running out of time before the plane comes but here are a few other plants that were blooming nicely before we left last week.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis)

This is a repeat for this very early iris thus confirming what others have said about this being a repeat bloomer.

Helleborus MG Apricot in bud

I’ve also noticed a lot of hellebore seedlings.  There is apparently no problem with propagation in the hellebore camp.

Helleborus seedlings

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Standard Pink Camellia

yellow species crocus

And then finally here’s how the deer fence looked as we finished the garden side.

Deer fence complete next to garden

Next week I hope that the guys are able to enclose the rest… 🙂

The Birds are arriving at the Mulberry Bar and Grill

Pair of Cedar Waxwings

On Wednesday of this week I had been planning to drive to Cape May for an overnight to check out the migrating bird populations.  Cape May is a wonderful place for bird watching and general photography.  But as I walked around the yard on Wednesday morning the air was cool and the birds were singing loudly — in the end I decided to forego the 4 hour drive and just enjoy the local environment.  I went over to the Worthington Farm at Monocacy National Battlefield Park and did some bird watching for a little while.  In no time I found  an Oriole, a couple of Bluebirds, a Warbling Vireo, and a couple of Indigo Buntings.  This was the first time I had seen either the Vireo or the Buntings at Worthington.

Baltimore Oriole at Worthington

Warbler Vireo at Worthington

Indigo Bunting at Worthington

When I came back I took at little walk in our woods and spied a Pileated Woodpecker but he refused to pose for the camera.  They are big colorful birds but I find them camera shy.

The next morning I was delighted to find that birds are eating at our mulberry tree (Morus rubra) again.  At ground level the berries still look green but the birds are finding the riper ones up in the tree.  The mulberry tree is absolutely wonderful for attracting all kinds of birds.  If nature didn’t give us one at the edge of the forest we would have had to plant one.  In the last couple of mornings I’ve seen the Red Bellied Woodpecker, Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, an Indigo Bunting, Robins, House Finches, and Catbirds.  The Cedar Waxwings, with their perfectly coiffed feathers, come in bunches.

Cedar Waxwing family moment - one was feeding the other

Red-bellied Woodpecker


Bluebird in Mulberry Tree

Northern Mockingbird

The Mockingbird puts on a singing show for everyone.  But as it turns out another accomplish singer is the Indigo Bunting.  Although it would not pose directly in the Mulberry tree, it did go to the top of the Pine Tree and put on quite a singing show.  This one was fully colored and it’s a shame I couldn’t a closer shot of those beautiful blue feathers.

Indigo Bunting