Catching up with Spring

Paeonia caucasica

Spring has been rapidly moving onward in the mid-Atlantic.  Bringing us, for one thing, the first flowering of a lovely peony above that we acquired from John Lonsdale two years ago.

We like the rest of society have been dutifully staying at home and, in our case, appreciating all the horticultural bounty that nature has to offer.  This year many of the plants are well in advance of the norm.  Although our nominal last frost date is 2-3 weeks from now the flowering fruit trees (even apples) are already in bloom.  Especially bountiful are the blossoms on the Asian Pear.

20th Century Asian Pear (Nijisseiki)

20th Century Asian Pear blossoms

Even the Kwanzan Cherry is fully in flower, fully two weeks ahead of last year.

Kwanzan Cherry

I had the intent to track the progress of the garden a bit closer than usual, but I find myself jumping from one object to another as the plants keep popping up.  Erythroniums are especially lovely in the spring, sort of a precursor to the larger lilies to follow.  We have a raised bed by the deck that is crammed full of trout lilies (Erythronium americanum).  This is what it looked like a week ago.

Erythronium americanum

Many years I ago I dug some of these and moved them out to forest in multiple locations.  Although the plants have succeeded marvelously in the woods, despite deer and other animals, they do not flower.  They spread like mad but they seem to have no interest in flowering.  So last year I thought I would inspire them by planting in their midst some horticultural cultivars which have always flowered in the yard (Erythronium ‘Pagoda’).  And, indeed, they shot up lovely looking buds which the deer promptly chopped off.  Perhaps the E. americanum are simply wiser than me and know that it would be foolish to flower in the forest.

In any case we still have Erythronium to enjoy in the yard.

Erythronium ‘Pagoda’

Erythronium revolutum ‘White Beauty’

Another spectacular genus to enjoy right now are the Epimediums.  Beth was gifted with two Epimediums years ago that established large and lovely clumps at the back fence.  Not only are the flowers lovely, but the leaves are beautiful in the own right.

Epimedium x rubrum ‘Sweetheart

Epimedium x rubrum ‘Sweetheart’ flowers

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilac Seedling’

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilac Seedling’ flowers

Other Epimediums are well established in other parts of our garden.

Epimedium ‘Pretty in Pink’

Queen Esta Epimedium

Some more traditional parts of the garden probably include this very hardy and early azalea.

Hardy pink Azalea

A spectacular little primrose hybrid.

Magnificent little primula

Multiple trilliums such as the T. grandiflorum

Trillium grandiflorum

Daphne at the front fence

Daphne x transatalantica

And a new japanese quince that I received as a father’s day gift last year.

Chaemoneles speciosa ‘Double-take Scarlet’

But gardens are not made with flowers alone.  There are some special green things on their way right now.  The little Pteridophyllum has the glossiest green, fern-like foliage at the start of the year.

Pteridophyllum racemosum

Peltoboykinia comes from the high mountains of Japan but seems to be happy here in Maryland.

Peltoboykinia watanabei

Multiple variants to may-apples are on their way.

Podophyllum delavayi

And the first of the Arisaemas is on its way.

Arisaema ringens

While i’m in the yard, I still need to mention the star flowers that have been a real pleasure this year.  This little Ipheion has been flowering for weeks now.

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Tessa’

As we go back to the Alpine bed there are a lot of flowers calling for attention

Alpine bed, south side

Two that always stand out are the Pulsatilla and the Armeria.

Pulsatilla campanella

Armeria maritima ‘Victor Reiter’

And at the greenhouse entrance is a trough with a delightful little Androsace that has been a regular participant in our springtimes.

Androsace barbulata

But before I leave off posting for today, let’s take a walk to the forest, through the garden gate and past the very large wild cherry trees.

Wild Cherries

Our trail leads us past many clumps of daffodils that have been planted over the years, past scilla, toothwort, hepatica, anemone, muscari and bluebells

Mertensia virginica

To a very special clump of daffodils with haunting green eyes.

Narcissus ‘Arguros’

Arguros is the Greek word for silver and seems appropriate for this treasure.

May this posting find you healthy and able to enjoy the world around you.

 

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 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.

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

Jewels of Spring

Hepatica americana pink

It’s that time of year when I wish each day would linger so that we can enjoy all the jewels of springtime that are popping up day by day.  I’m so busy outside that I’ve not kept up with recording all the flowers coming into bloom right now.  The spring ephemerals are always at the top of my enjoyment list.  Many of them are small, transitory, and wonderfully beautiful.  Hepaticas come to mind with their small hairy leaves and colorful stamens.

Hepatica japonica purple

Hepatica japonica red and white

But there are many competitors for my eye.  Here are a few that have come in the last few weeks.

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue Giant’

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

Pulsatilla grandis

Primula allionii ‘Wharfefdale Ling’

Geum reptans

This is a new plant grown from seed obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed exchange last year.

Corydalis kusnetzovii x C.solida ‘Cherry Lady’

A new addition from Augis Bulbs last summer.

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’

Erythronium dens-canis ‘Rose Queen’

Jeffersonia diphylla

Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’

Arisaema ringens

Anemone blanda ‘Violet Star’

Spring Beauty ‘Clatonia virginica’

Fessia hohenackeri (note the stamens)

A favorite combo – Chionodoxa and Anemone blanda

Of course, even in springtime the greenhouse is contributing it’s part.

Ferraria ferrariola

Moraea sp. MM 03-04a blue

Tritonia ‘Bermuda Sands’

Scilla peruviana

A wonderful plant.  I have some outside as well and last year they managed to flower.

Paradisea lusitanica

This comes on a 3 1/2 foot stalk.  I’m going to try putting it outside this year.  It’s marginally hardy in our area and it would be wonderful if it succeeds.

And then lastly the greenhouse provided a lot of color to the house

Clivia in the Entryway

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…

Why Alpines Inspire

A sea of buttercups

A sea of buttercups

We’ve been back a little more than a week now from a wonderful exploration of the Dolomites with Greentours.  We spent our days walking through meadows or scrambling up rocky cliffs finding hundreds of species of wildflowers in bloom.

Botanizing in the Dolomites

Botanizing in the Dolomites

The whole experience was a reminder of why alpines are so captivating for gardeners all over the world.  Their relatively short growing season and difficult exposed conditions has produced adaptations characterized by rapid abundant flowering from compact plants that are often nestled in or on rocks where many other plants cannot grow.  Of course it doesn’t hurt that the scenery is glorious whenever you take the time to look up from the plants.

The trick is to learn where to look for the different species.  Meadows are often filled with various small ground orchids in the same way we would expect to see dandelions in Maryland.  Potentilla, Sage, Thyme, and Ranunculus are abundant.

Meadows filled with flowers

Meadows filled with flowers

Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii)

Dactylorhiza majalis

Dactylorhiza majalis

Bird's Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis)

Bird’s Nest Orchid (Neottia nidus-avis)

Orobanche gracilis (Growing parasitically on Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculata)

Orobanche gracilis (Growing parasitically on Birdsfoot Trefoil (Lotus corniculata)

The interplay with the rocks mean that you often seek out rocks in a field to see what has colonized the rocks.  Of course Saxifrages are particularly good at this.

Saxifraga paniculata

Saxifraga paniculata

Saxifraga paniculata hugs the rocks

Saxifraga paniculata hugs the rocks

But in between you find other treasures like the famous Edelweiss.

delweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) amid Bird's Foot Trefoil and other smaller flowers

delweiss (Leontopodium alpinum) amid Bird’s Foot Trefoil and other smaller flowers

The Rampions were a particular favorite of mine.  The Round-headed Rampion was found in many locations.

Round-headed Rampion (Phyteuma obiculare)

Round-headed Rampion (Phyteuma obiculare)

And on three occasions we came upon the famous Devil’s Claw in flower.  This alpine flower is found only in Italy, Austria, and Slovenia and we were fortunate to actually be there when it was flowering.

Devil's Claw (Physoplexis comosa)

Devil’s Claw (Physoplexis comosa)

The Physoplexis seemed happiest when growing on a cliff face.  It immediately produced a question in our group which apparently has been a serious question for botanists.  Namely, how does the Devil’s Claw get pollinated?

Another particularly beautiful flower, like the Rampions, is also in the Campanula family.

Bearded Bellflower (Campanula barbata)

Bearded Bellflower (Campanula barbata)

Mostly we explored the areas around the mountain passes, but we also got to higher elevations on two occasions.  One I wrote about on the previous posting and the other was on the next to the last day when we took a ski lift up to the shoulder of Marmolada at 8500 ft.  The ground at the top is all scree below the snowline and at first you would conclude there is nothing gowing there.

Barren looking landscape on Marmolada at 8500 ft.

Barren looking landscape on Marmolada at 8500 ft.

But on closer inspection you see that many things thrive in the scree.

Purple saxifrage (saxifraga oppositifolia)

Purple saxifrage (saxifraga oppositifolia)

Vitaliana primuliflora

Vitaliana primuliflora

Saxifraga androsace

Saxifraga androsace

Especially prevalent was the Round-leaved Pennycress which seemingly colonizes every spot where someone else is not…

Thlapsi rotundifolium

Thlapsi rotundifolium

 

Dolomitic Joy

King of the Alps (Eritrichium nanum)

King of the Alps (Eritrichium nanum)

We are experiencing a wonderful surplus of wildflowers this week on a tour of Dolomites with Greentours.  I hadn’t intended on reporting on this journey until we returned home but today was such a wonderful experience I just had to share some of what we have been seeing.  Every day has been a discovery of new plants that we had never seen, with hundreds of species recorded so far, but today was just over the top for anyone interested in alpines.

We spent the day walking at over 7000 feet looking over majestic scenery and crawling up crags to get close to cushions of alpine plants or walking next to meadows where flowers and butterflies were abundant.  I’m just going to share a few of the images at this point to give a sampling of what we are seeing but for anyone who is interested Greentours does a phenomenal job of giving you a rich and thorough exploration of the landscape.  We’re on the trail from about 9 to 5 every day and each day seems to exceed the last in wonderful experiences.  I expect to provide a more complete sampling of the wildflowers in the future but this is a sampling of today’s encounters.

View into Austria

View into Austria

Silene exscapa

Silene exscapa

Geum montanum

Geum montanum

Alpine Toadflax (Linaria alpina)

Alpine Toadflax (Linaria alpina)

Phyteuma hemisphaericum

Phyteuma hemisphaericum

Alpine Poppy (Papaver aurantiacum)

Alpine Poppy (Papaver aurantiacum)

Juncus jacquinii

Juncus jacquinii

Pedicularis verticillata

Pedicularis verticillata

Soldanella alpina

Soldanella minima

Ranunculus glacialis

Ranunculus glacialis

Vitaliana primuliflora

Vitaliana primuliflora

Potentilla nitida

Potentilla nitida

Potentilla nitida detail

Potentilla nitida detail (note the green stamens)

Saxifraga paniculate on rock outcropping

Saxifraga paniculata on rock outcropping

Last, but not least, we have encountered a number of Gentians and several have the stunning blue color that Gentians are famous for.  It seems appropriate to begin with the blue Eritrichium and end with a Gentian.

Gentiana brachyphylla

Gentiana brachyphylla

Amidst the Rain

I returned this afternoon from another short trip with the rain coming in spurts for the rest of the afternoon.  We had had a bird bath full of rain while I was gone and the Hepatica and Shooting Stars that we planted in the woods this past weekend seem to be doing fine.  What I did find in the front yard were some Fritillaria that seemed to be enjoying the rain.

Fritillaria meleagris

I also noticed quite a number of flowers appearing on the little Rue Anemone.

Anemonella thalictroides (Rue Anemone)

And the violet version of the Chilean Crocus has finally shown it’s face.

Chilean Crocus (Tecophilaea cyanocrocus v. violaceae)

In between rain showers I also went down into the woods to check on the Bellworts.

Large Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflorum)

I keep being nervous the deer will find these little beauties, but so far, so good.

While in the woods I discovered a particularly nice set of daffodils growing next to the old bench.

Narcissus by the old bench

As it turns out these are tazetas that are not even supposed to be hardy here.

Narcissus 'Grand Soleil d'Or'

Usually these are grown in the south or for forcing.

Here’s my harvest from the walk through the daffodils that are coming in right now.

The Daily Pickings

We bring in a batch like this every other day and there are still many more outside.