Turning the Corner to Spring

Double Pink Camellia japonica

This Camellia has been flirting with blooming all winter long but now it’s buds have finally gotten clearance to bloom and they are blooming abundantly.

We were in Boston for Easter and it was delightful to return to a flower-filled garden.  The Corydalis and Chionodoxa are instant scene stealers.

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’

Chionodoxa forbesii

There are many other nice Corydalis but here are two that I like in particular.

Corydalis solida ‘Decipiens’

Corydalis kusnetzovii x C.solida ‘Cherry Lady’

Many of the Scilla are of a similar hue to the Chionodoxa but quite different in detail. Look at the anthers in particular.

Scilla biflora

Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’ anther detail

Once again I can’t say enough good things about Primula vulgaris.  It’s very self-sufficient and flowers for a long time.

Primula vulgaris

A particularly nice Anemone is ‘Green Hurricane’.  The contrast between the early leaves and flowers is stunning.

Anemonella thalictroides ‘Green Hurricane’

While most of the Adonis are finishing two of the special ones are just starting.

Adonis amurensis ‘Pleniflora’

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandanzaki’

Meanwhile in the alpine bed, the Pulsatilla have justified all the effort it took to make them a comfortable home.

Pulsatilla grandis

Pulsatilla campanella

The little Draba rigida comes three weeks after the hispanica.

Draba rigida

Meanwhile I notice that I have a bud on the Alpine Poppy grown from seed last year.  This should be fun.

Papaver alpinum

In the greenhouse there’s a bright red Tulip on display (from tiny bulblets planted last year)

Tulipa linifolia

And some spectacular Tritonia including this one.

Tritonia crocata

And a really nice Gladiolia hybrid

Gladiolus huttonii × tristis hybrid

Also a nice little Ixia that has many, many blooms.

Ixia flexuosa

(All four of these bulbs from the Pacific Bulb Society).

Of course the greenhouse also contributed to the inside of the house where we have some magnificent Clivia on display.

Yellow Clivia

Orange Clivia

And the many Daffodils and Forsythia that Beth has been harvesting.

Daffodils galore

Forsythia in bloom

And given the date can the bluebells be far behind…

Bluebells close to blooming


A New Flower for December

Oxalis palmifrons

I have been growing Oxalis palmifrons since 2013 without a hint of a flower to be seen.  This year, upon my return from Thanksgiving in Boston, I was surprised and happy to see the first buds on the little Oxalis palmifrons (obtained from Plant Delights).

Oxalis palmifrons

You may remember that Oxalis palmifrons has these delightful little palm-like leaves, and the flowers are just a marvelous bonus!

Oxalis palmifrons

In the greenhouse there are still more Oxalis in bloom.

Oxalis massoniana

Oxalis caprina

And the Daubenya that blooms very reliably for Thanksgiving.

Daubenya stylosa

I remember first seeing it at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden over a Thansgiving holiday.

Also in bloom from the greenhouse (though I’ve brought it into the house to enjoy) is the first of the small Narcissus for this year.

Narcissus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

I actually counted 24 blooms in the pot tonight.

In the house for the winter time is the Amazon Lily.  Characteristically this one flowers every thanksgiving holiday in celebration of the fact that it belonged to Beth’s mother who always used to prepare the thanksgiving meal for the family.  And it flowers again outside in July.  This year it seemed to outdo itself with flowers which carried a wonderful fragrance we had not noticed before.

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Bear in mind that this plant has been in the same pot for about 30 years with only occasional watering.

Something funny happened on the way to the greenhouse to take some of these pictures.  Despite the fact that we have been down to 20 degrees in mid-November, the subsequent weather has only hovered around freezing for the lows.  I noticed a very spritely little wallflower in bloom.

Cascade wallflower (Erysimum arenicola)

And then the first of our nominally spring-blooming camellias.

Camelia japonica red

How’s that for the beginning of December in Maryland…:)

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

Almost Missed Them

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

With so much happening out of doors right now it would be easy to pass by some of the things happening in the greenhouse.  At the back of the greenhouse I almost missed seeing the flowers of this lovely evergreen Einkianthus.  I’m usually looking at the pots, especially when for what is just popping up from seed and I had already concluded there were no flower buds on this Einkianthus.  Imagine my surprise when I saw this shrub has many flowers on it (the first time for us).  Apparently the flowers follow the leaves.  The drooping bells are much larger and prettier than the normal Einkianthus alatus, but the plant is probably not hardy here.  We put the pot in the ground after last frost.

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

It is especially easy to miss the Moraeas since the flowers have very short duration.  But the colors are marvelous from these little plants from the iris family.

Moraea macronyx

I don’t know if the torn petals were from normal wear and tear or some critter.  But what was left is lovely.  Wait till next year.

Two more stunning Moraeas follow.

Moraea tripetala ssp. tripetala

Moraea elegans

I should have more Moraeas over the next few weeks.

There are also several lachenalias in bloom.

Lachenalia unicolor

And a marvelous little ornithogalum.

Ornithogalum sp. (ex McGary PBS)

This one may be worth a try outside.

And another almost missed is this lovely hesperantha.

Hesperantha falcata showing unopened bud as well

On a hunch I went out to the greenhouse after supper and found the hesperantha was blooming although all the buds had been tightly closed at 3pm.  Apparently this hesperantha specializes in serving the nighttime insects.  How many of those we have in Maryland right now I’m not sure.  I first grew this plant several years ago and then lost the parent but I had saved the seed and this is the first child of that mother plant.  By the way all of these plants except the Einkianthus came from the Pacific Bulb Society‘s seed and bulb exchanges.  It’s a marvelous source of botanical marvels.  Besides opening at the night the Hesperantha falcata exudes a lovely scent to attract all of us late night flower hunters…

Hesperantha falcata

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day January 2017

Algerian Clementine (Citrus clementina)

As you might imagine the lead photo from this month’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is not growing outside.  In fact all these flowers came out while the little Clementine was living in the basement.  I find the citrus do quite well in the basement with minimal light and hardly any watering.  But once it started to flower like this (it is covered with flowers) I decided I better make room for it in the greenhouse where it might actually get some light.  And who knows maybe it will get pollinated as well as I don’t exclude insects from the greenhouse.  I had put the citrus in the greenhouse originally and they had lots of disease and insect problems that I now attribute to too much watering.  I’ve since slowed my greenhouse watering schedule in the wintertime and perhaps it will work out better this time.

Meanwhile, as the song says ‘The weather outside is frightful’, or at least it’s been cold enough that not much is happening.  That’s probably good for the plants in the long run but I can’t help looking at the few things that are starting to grow, as in snowdrops.

Galanthus nivalis

Just as regular as can be, the snowdrops are back again and right on schedule.

We also have a red camellia japonica that always wants to be first off the mark.

Red Camellia opening

Meanwhile the Adonis are very close to blooming.

Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’ in bud

Just a couple more 50 degree days will see these guys opening up with their bright yellow flowers.  And then they will stay in bloom until April.

Another flower that is on the verge (stay tuned) is the new crocus that’s been planted in the new alpine bed.

Crocus korolkowii ‘Marble Tiger’

These were in the collection that I ordered from Augis’ Bulbs this year.  They have a wonderful selection and you can order by personal check.

The other flowers are in the greenhouse.  In addition to the oxalis, the hoop daffodils are still making a show.

Narcissus ‘Taffeta’

Narcissus seedling ex Roy Herold

I also wanted to share the planting of our Christmas tree.  We’ve had a family tradition of purchasing a live tree and then planting it outside after Christmas.  The first tree was a white pine that was planted 40 years ago in the middle of the backyard.  It is probably 40 ft tall at this point.  The trees have been moving further from the house by necessity.  Most recently we’ve started a little grove at the bottom of the pasture.

Kubota with extensions on bucket to move the Christmas tree

Hollowing out a hole for the Christmas tree

Son Josh helps get this year’s tree (a Douglas Fir) in place

Well, that’s the state of gardening on our hillside today.  Let me close with a shot of the Heavenly Bamboo taken this morning after an overnight rain.

Heavenly Bamboo (Nandina domestica)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2016

Red Cattleya Orchid

Well real winter has arrived just in time for bloom day.  I took a walk around the yard and could not discover a single flower outside.  That is very rare.  I found one camellia bud that was seriously considering blooming.

Red Camellia Bud

But the outside looks to be in for a cold spell.  The real flowers are in the greenhouse or in the house at this point.  The house spectacular is the red cattleya orchid that blooms every year at about this time.

Red Cattleya Orchid

It has a marvelous fragrance to compliment the exotic flowers.  This orchid spends the whole spring, summer,and fall on the  porch with zero care, so it’s very nice that it rewards us with these flowers when we bring it inside for the winter.

Another plant that has been sharing it’s flowers with us in the kitchen actually came from the greenhouse. It’s Cyrtanthus mackenii, part of a large genus in the Amaryllis family.

Cyrtanthus mackenii

This south african native blooms for a long period with a succession of long tubular flowers and seems to relish being crowded in the pot.

Cyrtanthus mackenii close-up

Another greenhouse plant that is very consistently flowering after thanksgiving is Daubenya stylosa.

Daubenya stylosa

The beautiful yellow stamens are an absolute magnet for slugs.  I didn’t actually know that I had slugs in the greenhouse until the Daubenya started blooming.

There are numerous oxalis still in bloom, such as this purpurea.

Oxalis purpurea ‘Cherry’

The next flowers coming into bloom are the small hoop daffodils.  Silver Palace is an example.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

I think this is about the third year of blooming and they are starting to fill the pot quite nicely.

I had a little thrilling adventure in the greenhouse last week.  I looked at the weather station that I keep in the utility room to monitor the greenhouse temperature and saw, to my dismay, that the temperatures were dipping close to freezing.  By 2am the temperature showed to be 33 degrees so I found myself out in the greenhouse checking on the function of the two heaters that I use to keep the temperatures up.  They both seemed to be working ok and plants seemed to be handling the cold so I went to bed.  In the morning I saw the temperature had dipped to 31 degrees.  What then discovered was that I had been looking at the ‘old’ weather station.  Last year I put in a new one and moved the ‘old’ sensor to the garage.  When I put a new battery in the ‘new’ weather station it dutifully reported temperatures closer to 50 degrees which is more what I had in mind.

Just ask this Gerbera if 50 degrees is more the temperature that it enjoys…

Red Gerbera

Catching up with the Fall

Delphineum cashmerianum

Delphinium cashmerianum

I am way behind on reporting on garden developments here on Ball Rd.  I walked around last weekend to try to catch up with what has been happening (mostly what persists in growing despite the lack of rain hereabouts).  I was quite pleased and surprised to see that the first flowers have appeared on a little delphinium that I had placed in the new Alpine bed (more about that in a future post).  I grew this one from seed (obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed exchange) planted last February.  As I look at the plant I’m dubious that the name is correct.  The leaves are much more narrow than shown in the online pictures of D. cashmerianum.

Delphinium cashmerianum

Delphinium cashmerianum

There are a lot of species of Delphiniums so I’ll have to live with it for a while to see if I can hone in on the correct name.

It’s been so dry that I haven’t had a lot of new flowers for quite some time.  I did see that the Mahonia by the front door has it’s yellow flowers showing.

Mahonia 'Soft Caress'

Mahonia ‘Soft Caress’

The big question is whether we’ve found a spot where it will successfully survive the winter.

There are many annuals still about in the vegetable garden.  I’ve shown the Tithonia many times now.  But out front the Gaillardia deserves some commendation for persistence.

Gaillardia 'Arizona Sun'

Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’

And there was a solitary rose in flower next to the garage.  It was just about perfect with a wonderful fragrance.

Blush pink Rose

Blush pink Rose

I know longer remember the name, but it seems to me it had something to do with ‘blush’.

There a couple of instances of Bottle Gentians having escaped in the garden behind the garage.  I’ve never been that keen on flowers that never  open, but they are beginning to win me over with stubborn endurance.

Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)

Bottle Gentian (Gentiana andrewsii)

And it you look closely while walking in the back yard you can see crocus blooming in the lawn.

Crocus speciosus 'Conqueror'

Crocus speciosus ‘Conqueror’

Crocus cartwrightianus alba

Crocus cartwrightianus alba

But even as the flowers are waning during this Indian Summer, the greenhouse is abounding with the bright green growth of many bulbs.  Daffodils, triteleia, tritonia, ferraria, moraea, freesia, lachenalia, and more are sending up new shoots.  And the oxalis are in full bloom now.  Here is a sampling. Notice how variable the leaves are from the clover-like bowieii , to the wonderfully textured melanosticta, and to the very narrow hirta.

Oxalis bowieii

Oxalis bowieii

Oxalis luteola glauca

Oxalis luteola glauca

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis melanosticta 'Ken Aslet'

Oxalis melanosticta ‘Ken Aslet’

Oxalis pardalis

Oxalis pardalis

Oxalis bench with O. pardalis and O. luteum glauca

Oxalis bench with O. pardalis and O. luteum glauca

Oxalis flava yellow next to O. hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis flava yellow next to O. hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Lastly a Cyrtanthus hybrid that has been living in the house for two weeks now.

Cyrtanthus elatus x montanus

Cyrtanthus elatus x montanus

Hello Springtime!

Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai'

Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’

Is it just me or has spring been incredibly slow in arriving this year…

Anyway, with a few warm days it looks like all the normal players are contributing to the daily walk around interest in the yard.  Key for me are always the Adonis which got a little bedraggled from the back and forth of snowstorms and freezing ground.  But even the special Sandanzaki is beginning to bud out.

Adonis amurensis 'Sandanzaki' just opening

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandanzaki’ just opening

The little species crocus have been popping out in the lawn where I scattered them years ago

Small mixed species crocus in the lawn

Small mixed species crocus in the lawn

And there is an especially nice tommassinianus that I would recommend to anyone.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Roseus'

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Roseus’

Just today the little histroides iris that has been threatening to bloom since December has finally opened up.

Iris histrioides 'George'

Iris histrioides ‘George’

Another standard for the early garden is the primrose that dots the spring pastures in England.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris

With things starting to pop outdoors it is ironic that some of the most fascinating flowers right now are in the greenhouse.  There’s a spectacular Moraea that opened up today.

Moraea elegans in bud

Moraea elegans in bud

Moraea elegans

Moraea elegans

And a little Romulea that is the first of its clan to flower this year.

Romulea monticola

Romulea monticola

A couple of years ago (thanks Dick) a friend gave me some peruvian scilla bulbs that I potted up for the greenhouse.  Mine were in the outside garden and have since perished from two really cold winters in succession.  Anyway these squill have chosen to flower out of the pots this year and they are spectacular.  There are 5 bulbs in each pot and this what just one of them looks like.

Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana

There’s a another Oxalis that I got from Brent&Becky last fall.

Oxalis adenophylla

Oxalis adenophylla

It has lovely crinkled foliage and is said to be hardy as well (I put a few in the flower bed so we shall see).

We have three good sized Clivia and they are flowering now as well.  Nice enough that they earned a spot in the house.

Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata

Everyone should have clivia, they are so carefree and reliable.

And last but surely not least the first of my Ferrarias has come into bloom.

Labeled as Ferraria uncinata but I think it is more likely one of the crispa forms

Labeled as Ferraria uncinata but I think it is more likely one of the crispa forms

Starfish lily is another of the names that the Ferrarias go by.  It is hard to imagine a more complex curling of the flower petals (claws) than on the Ferraria.  This was another acquisition from the Pacific Bulb Society’s Bulb Exchange.  I don’t know of any other way to get these little jewels.  Can you picture what a field of these looks like in South Africa?