Our 2020 Christmas

Snow came in mid-December for us and lasted on the ground until Christmas

This was the first snow we’ve had this year and indeed the first really cold weather.

The snow was the first we’ve had in quite some time and led to good opportunities for sledding

We have about a 600 foot run down the pasture which gives a long walk up the slope for exercise

This was definitely a different and unusual Christmas.  One to regret the things we missed and to be thankful for the things we still have.  Our youngest son ended up spending the Fall with us and then on through Christmas.  He has sparked the rediscovery of the many things that we associate with the holiday season around Ball Rd.  There are many large and small things that connect us with past shared memories.

An ancient nativity set

The potted rosemary has lights in the front hallway

A good friend gave us this small Christmas tree which comes out before Christmas

Two friends who miss the grandkids

Greens and Reds await Christmas

Stuffed animals and the greens

A cardinal and wreath

Pewter mice from Malaysia

The mantle dressed in green

Cuttings from the Japanese Quince

Christmas tree at night

Nerine x ‘Pink Triumph’ comes in from the greenhouse

Sunflower seed cookies

Christmas tree on Christmas morning

Enjoying Christmas morning with the rest of the family in Massachusetts

An Exhausted Christmas Elf

In addition we jointly watched the Christmas Revels celebration in Cambridge.  It was great fun and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to move forward into the new year with contemplation of the way the human community has moved from the dark to the light over centuries.  On the night before Christmas we tuned into the Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington, MA where the Reverend Claire Feingold Thoryn delivered a marvelous sermon discussing the Christmas Weed Tree of Toledo, Ohio and what that means for the rest of us.

Finally I should mention that I had a chance before Christmas to preview a new book written by a good friend.

Tropical Plants

Tropical Plants and How to Love Them will be available in March but it can be ordered now on Amazon.  It is a wonderful exploration of tropical plants for the temperate gardener and I think a great many people will enjoy both the authoritative descriptions and Marianne’s always entertaining writing style.  Highly recommended!

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2020

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

Well it is December so it’s not surprising that the first Hellebore is blooming for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Helleborus Niger is always well ahead of it’s compatriots in providing winter bloom.  Nonetheless it’s still the camellias that are providing the most stunning flowers around our hillside.

Hybrid Fall Camellia

Hybrid Fall Camellia detail

Red Camellia sasanqua

Red Camellia japonica

The camellias are pretty consistently with us for the fall and then on again off again until into the springtime.  More surprising is the heather that is blooming right now.

Kramer’s Rote Heather (Erica x darleyensis)

And there is also a little ice plant that is flowering way out of season.

Delosperma cooperi

You can see white tips on the snowdrops and the adonis are also coming into bud.

Adonis buds

But we are expecting 10 inches of snow tomorrow (the first real snow we’ve had this year), and that means the plants are likely to slow down for awhile.

In the greenhouse we have a number of early daffodils in bloom.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

And there is also the beautiful wavy-flowered Nerine undulata still flowering after more than a month of bloom.

Nerine undulata

We have put up our traditional live Christmas tree, this time a Canaan Fir.

Canaan Fir Christmas Tree

This will be planted out in the pasture after the holidays.

December 15th is also the first day for choosing seeds from the North American Rock Garden Society’s Seed Exchange.  I was up early this morning (late last night) putting in my request for my 35 1st choice seed packets on the list.  This is great fun and I would encourage everyone to get involved.  There are 2480 taxa available including many rare and unusual varieties that you will not find from commercial sources.

NARGS Seed Exchange

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2020

Colchicum autumnale ‘Pleniflorum’

I’ll lead off this GBBD posting with colchicum which has been spectacular this fall. They are hardy, reliable, and beautiful — the sort of qualities that beg for planting more.  So I did…

It’s been all in all a marvelous fall here in Maryland.  Mostly bright sunny fall days with just enough rain to keep everything going well.  Altogether we are 8 inches ahead of the usual rainfall here.  The annuals have continued to bloom and I noticed that the cosmos along the fence line have decided on a fall renewal of their blooms.

Cosmos fall rebirth

And the calendulas in the raised bed are bright and beautiful.

Calendula (Alpha from Johnny’s Seeds)

Under the cherry tree in the back yard a clump of cyclamen hederifolium is putting up flowers before the leaves are showing.

Cyclamen hederifolium

Japanese windflowers are spectacular as usual for this time of year.

Japanese anemone ‘Whirlwind’

And they are joined by various instances of toad lilies (such a strange name for exotically beautiful flowers).

Trycyrtis ‘Sinonome’

The canna lily that returned from last year is soldiering on in a very crowded garden bed.

Canna ‘Lemon Punch’

And month by month the cestrum continues a flowerful statement at the back gate.

Cestrum ‘Orange Peel’

I noticed that the beautyberry bush is covered with its distinctive purple berries right now.

Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)

In the alpine bed by the greenhouse there is a rather striking little saxifrage from Japan.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Beni Zakura’

In the greenhouse itself the oxalis are dominating the show.

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

But there is also a rather special scilla that I brought into the house.

Scilla madeirensis

These are not easy to find, but they seem to be quite reliable bloomers.

While I was out in the vegetable garden I found many more dahlias still in bloom

Decorative Dahlia

and lots of monarch butterflies visiting the many tithonia.

Monarchs in the garden

In addition I found a very distinctive moth that I had never seen before.

Ailanthus Webworm Moth (Atteva aurea)

Of course, it’s important to note that at this time of year, one does not live on flowers alone.

Raspberries yielding fall crop

Raspberries in abundance

We have been bringing in bowl after bowl of raspberries for the last 6 weeks.

And finally to cap it off here is the apple pie that we made for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day…

An Apple Pie from the orchard

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day April 2020

Paonia macrophylla (?)

It is a very flower-filled time for the GBBD post.  Like everyone, we have flowers blooming everywhere and part of my dilemma is always where to focus my time and attention.  The species peony shown above led me down an internet road trying to untangle the details of peonies with glabrous styles, purple anthers, and smooth undersides of leaves.  On top of that it was just a lovely little peony that I cannot recall acquiring.  

There are many other peonies, either flowering or about to flower.  I have to admit that I am partial to the species peonies.

Paonia daurica

Paeonia ostii

Nearby the Iris japonica are taking over their region of the garden.

Iris japonica ‘Eco Easter’

Iris japonica ‘Wuhan Angel’

These are definitely spreaders so you want to choose their location with care.  

Similarly I’ve noticed how some of the anemones and primroses are happy to spread each year.

Primula sieboldii ‘Chubby One’

Thinking of spreaders, I have tried to move the Cascadian Wallflower from parts of the garden each year and it always finds a new place to make an appearance.  But it’s so lovely it’s hard to not just appreciate it.

Erysimum arenicola (?)

In addition an orange flowered wallflower reappeared from a wildflower mix that went in last year.

Wallflower as perennial

Common but beautiful orange wallflower (Erysimum)

The yard as a whole is blessed by the things which happen in the mid-Atlantic April, like azaleas, viburnums, dogwood, and flowering fruit trees.

Back bed springtime

Coral Bells Azalea under Viburnum carcephalum (Fragrant Snowball)

While out in the orchard, things are in extravagant bloom this year.

Granny Smith Apples in bloom

Flowers galore on Spitzenburg apple

The Spitzenburg is one of the finest apples you will ever taste, but when you look at the trunk of this little guy you have to be grateful that it is producing any apples at all.

Trunk of Spitzenburg

Hidden around the yard are still some smaller gems that i look forward to each year.

Hylomecon japonicum

Anomonella thalictrum single pink

Trillium pusillum ‘Roadrunner’

Arisaema ringens

And when we go back to the troughs, the first Gentiana is showing up.

Gentiana acaulis

The alpine beds themselves are both chock full of interesting things like daphnes, stonecress, iris, poppies and the like.

Alpine bed north side

Alpine bed south side

Particularly noteworthy is a little Lewisia returning to claim its space.

Lewisia longipetala ‘Little Raspberry’

and an Androsace which is always welcome.

Androsace sarmentosa ‘Rock Jasmine’

As well as the always striking Bird’s Foot Violet.

Viola pedata

In the greenhouse itself are still things which worth sharing or bringing into the house.  The Ferrarias have been blooming since February.

Ferraria ferrariola

Other South Africans include two Ixias, tritonias, and Ornithogalums.

Ixia dubia (?)

Ixia hybrid on a 30″ stem

Tritonia crocata ‘Princess Beatrix’

Ornithogalum dubium

And, of course, we continue to harvest daffodils from our years of planting.

Arguros and other daffodils

Hoping this post finds the reader healthy and able to enjoy the spring.

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day November 2019

Camellia sasanqua

Let me open this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post with the Fall Camellia shown above.  We’ve had a few frosts so most of the outdoor flowers are gone, but the camellias persist and will take any few days of sunshine to blossom some more buds.  There even buds on the red Fall Camellia which has not flowered for five years, ever since I cut it way back after what I mistakenly thought was a killing freeze.

Red Fall Camellia

There are only a couple of other outside plants in flower including a remnant Fall Crocus which is arriving way after its brethren.

Fall Crocus

Note to file — plant more Fall Crocus next year.

In one of the troughs that I inherited from Terry Partridge has a sedum that sends up a vertical spike that starts out white and then turns red after the frost hits it.

Sedum in trough before frost

Sedum in trough after frost

Still attractively in flower in either case.

For other flowers we need to go inside.

The Amazon Lily is flowering again which it does at least twice a year for us.

Amazon Lily

It’s been in the same pot with minimal care for decades.  We really should give it a transplant.

Another star of the show came in from the greenhouse.

Nerine undulata

I really like the Nerines in general, but this one has a particularly attractive flower that has been with us for at least 2 weeks now.

I’ve also brought in a little cyclamen that is expanding out of its current pot.

Cyclamen hederifolium ‘Perlenteppich’

The leaves are just remarkable.

Also in the greenhouse is the usual assortment of oxalis and this coloful Bulbine.

Bulbine frutescens

Finally a Moraea to round out the show.

Moraea polystachys

 

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March 2019

Ferraria ferrariola in the greenhouse

Well, I guess it’s a typical March Bloom Day.  The weather has oscillated from snowfall to 60 degrees of beautiful.  The last snow we had was last week and it disappeared almost as fast as it came.  With 70 degrees yesterday.

March 9 snow

Heather in the snow (Kramer’s Rote Heather)

But this week we are back to spring bulbs in abundance.

Winter Aconite in abundance

The Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) are spreading vigorously and my thought is take some of the seed that appears this year and help things along by spreading it other places.

The first Iris has popped up in the front yard beneath the Stewartia

First Iris

And the first Scilla are flowering in the woods.

Puschkinia scilloides

A very special Hellebore is preceeding its brethren with charming striped flowers.

Helleborus thibetanus

And the Adonis are still flowering in various parts of the yard.  Especially nice is the orange variant, Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu Beni’

Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu Beni’

In the alpine bed the Draba is the first to appear

Draba hispanica growing in a piece of tufa rock

And beside it the first flowers are appearing on the Aubretia.

Aubretia

In the greenhouse, where I tend to think of it as South African spring, the exotic Ferrarias are capturing a lot interest at the moment.

Ferraria sp.

There a number of other unusual flowers at the moment that make nice indoor treats

Babiana purpurea

Geissorhiza inaequalis

Moraea vegetata

But for the indoors I have to give the most credit to the Clivias which have been spectacular this year.

Spectacular Yellow Clivia

Hall of Clivia at the front door

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2018

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’

Well, it’s very cold and wet at mid-December and though I searched around I could find nothing in the way of flowers outside.  I won’t count the weeds even though a scraggly dandelion tried to rise up to greet me.  Instead we turn to the greenhouse where some reliable December flowers are happening.  

The hoop-petticoat daffodils with their little megaphone shaped flowers are the earliest of the daffodils that we grow, typically flowering in early December in the greenhouse.  They are native to Spain and are widely spread around the iberian peninsula and Morocco.  I received mine from the Pacific Bulb Society in one of their many bulb exchanges.  In fact most of the flowers I am about to share came from the PBS.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’
Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

A favorite for it’s early blooming is a South African plant, Daubenya stylosa.

Daubenya stylosa

It’s bright color is an attractor for humans and it is also a magnet for slugs.

This fall I planted a few more Hyacinthoides which are striking for the blue interior flower parts.

Hyacinthoides lingulata
Hyacinthoides lingulata

An old reliable flower for this season is the first of our freesias to bloom.

Freesia alba

As it turns out we have one more flower contributor for this season.  The Amazon lily, which lives in the house for the cold weather, is putting out flowers.

Amazon lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

So that about wraps it up for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Here are the newly planted seeds and bulbs from the PBS that will show up on this blog in the future.

Future flowers from the Pacific Bulb Society

And outside the closest we come to flowering are the big fat buds on the camellia which asks only for mid-winter thaw…

Camellia in bud

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day August 2018

Sunflower glory

It’s been hot but with enough rain to grow the weeds and sunflowers to magnificence.  So I will dedicate this belated Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day posting to the many sunflowers in the garden.

Sunflowers reaching for the sky

Some of them are easily ten feet tall.

Sunflowers way high up

But they are all wonderful for birds, bees, and humans alike.

Sunflower

Sunflower

A close namesake is the Mexican Sunflower

Tithonia rotundifolia with Bee

Tithonia are also very popular with bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds.

The vegetable garden also features gladiolus in quantity.

Gladiolus ‘Black Cherry’

The glads get displayed in the house.

Glads in the house

Along with several kinds of Cyrtanthus from the greenhouse.

Cyrtanthus sanguineus

Think of Cyrtanthus as smaller, more refined Amaryllis.

Also in the greenhouse right now are the little scilla relatives from Japan

Barnardia japonica

In the Alpine bed we find the most recent Gentian to come into bloom.

Gentiana paradoxa

The gentians, with the various species, span spring to fall with flowers, and all of them have delightful complex flowers.

Another little tidbit in flower right now is the anemonopsis

Anemonopsis macrophylla

I have been trying to flower one of these for years and this is the first one to share it’s dainty little waxy flowers.

Out in the orchard there are zinnias around the new apple trees.

Zinnias in the orchard

Of course gardeners do not survive on flowers alone.

Early August harvest basket

Japanese Pear ‘Nijiseiki’

Raspberries ripening again

That’s about it on a hot summer day.  We are running 15 inches over normal for rain to this point.  I’m wondering what the fall will bring…