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…

 

 

 

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day January 2018

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

This lonely Christmas Rose is representative of what is going on outside for this January’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  The temperatures got down to 2 degrees after Christmas and have only just begun to recover.  We did get a few days in the fifties but now it’s gotten cold again.  It was just enough to get the first snowdrops to declare the end of winter.

1st snowdrops

But mostly this image of a Camellia flower more accurately states the wintry conditions.

Camellia japonica which was red last month

As usual I retreat into the greenhouse for flowery solace in January.  The Narcissus ‘Silver Palace’ has been blooming for a month.

Narcisus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

And it’s now joined by one of its yellow flowered brethren.

Narcissus ‘Roy Herold Seedling’

There is one peculiarity that I noted in walking the yard today.  The Witch Hazel Diane which normally blooms after the more common Chinese Witch Hazel has already bloomed on some of it’s branches but they are yellow.  This is really strange for a plant known for it’s orange-red flowers.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ with yellow flowers

Other branches are getting ready to bloom red, and I know these yellow branches have been red in the past.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

I am mystified.

I’ll close on this cold January day with the sparkling red of last year’s Arisaema fruit and the promise of Adonis blossoms to come.

Arisaema sikokianum fruit

Adonis buds

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day June 2017

Anemone multifida ‘Rubra’

I will lead off this very late Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post with a lovely little anemone that came from the NARGS seed exchange three years ago.  It’s not spreading but seems to be holding its own in the Monument bed.

I am always surprised that two of Arisaemas hold off until June.  Their colleagues begin back in April.  But just when you think that winter has finished them off, the Arisaema candidissimum and Arisaema fargesii come popping up through the ground.

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema fargesii

It is also surprising to see the Freesia laxa return every year.

Freesia laxa

According to the books this little corm is not viable in our climate.  Not only has it returned but it’s jumped the tracks and moved to another garden bed as well.

I have it growing now next to the reliable Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’.

Brodiaea Queen Fabiola

That’s a white Callirhoe in the front of the image.

Callirhoe involucrata var. lineariloba ‘Logan Calhoun’

And they all mix together like this.

Star flowers, wine cups and Fressia.

In the same garden bed we have a bright yellow Butterfly Weed.

Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’

This is very popular with all the butterflies and bees.  For example this swallowtail was cruising around the yard.

Zebra Swallowtail

Nearby we find a lovely clematis growing up a trellis.

Clematis ‘Krakowiak’

Also by the garage there is a marvelous foxtail lily that came from Far Reaches.

Eremurus stenophyllus

Back in the monument bed there is the first of the Asiatic lillies coming out.

Asiatic Lily ‘Netty’s Pride’

And a chinese ground orchid that is a little taller than our other ground orchids.

Bletilla ‘Brigantes’

Back in the Camellia bed, emerging through the rapidly growing Japanese Anemones is a very pretty Astrantia.

Astrantia ‘Sunningdale variegated’

If we go back to the Alpine bed, as I do several times a day, a very nice dwarf plant in the Campanulaceae is just finishing.  I cannot read the label but I suspect it’s an Edraianthus.

Edraianthus sp?

Just finished now is also another pasque flower.

Pulsatilla campanella

Also in the alpine bed is a new gentian that we found at Oliver Nursery this spring.

Gentiana cachemirica

In the greenhouse there are a few picture-worthy objects as well.

Ornithogalum fimbrimarginatum

This is a two-foot tall Ornithogalum that came from the PBS bulb exchange.

Another PBS acquisition is this Pine Woods Lily.

Alophia drummondi (Pine Woods Lily)

I almost forgot to mention the Stewartia.  It has been a consistent flowering tree for June 15th.  This year it is loaded with flowers but only one is actually open now.

Stewartia japonica

However, life is not flowers alone.  It is the peak time for our berries, especially the blueberries.

Blueberries at their peak

It’s a joy picking blueberries.  We brought in gallons last night.  I’m convinced the only reason we can do so is that just behind the garden we have a very large mulberry tree and an equally large Bird Cherry that provide even greater interest for the birds.

Wild Cherry (Prunus avium)

Speaking of birds I’ve seen some really nice ones on my early morning bird watching including this Baltimore Oriole yesterday.

Baltimore Oriole eating cherries

Well, that’s a glimpse of our garden right now.  What’s happening in your garden?

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2016

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

It has been a generally hot and dry (read depressing) summer for our garden).  In early August we awoke to find that we had drawn down the well with watering and so had to forego our normal watering plan.  So my looks around the garden prior to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day were fewer than they might otherwise have been.  We did still water Beth’s new raised bed and the Nasturtiums and Calendulas have responded by blooming all summer long and into the Fall.

Calendula

Calendula

Many of the other flowers in bloom are a testament to how well some species can survive in adversity.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Venturing out onto our ultra-dry hillside which never gets watered at all anymore, I found several champions of the survival school.

Buddleia

Buddleia

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)

Crepe Myrtle

Crepe Myrtle

Helianthus 'Lemon Queen'

Helianthus ‘Lemon Queen’

Notice the spider on the Lemon Queen and it’s very adaptive coloration.

Spider on Lemon Queen

Spider on Lemon Queen

The butterflies are also very attracted to Lemon Queen.

butterfly on Lemon Queen

butterfly on Lemon Queen

I also saw a lovely Monarch Butterfly on the Tithonia in the vegetable garden.

Monarch on Tithonia

Monarch on Tithonia

One very noteworthy Fall-blooming flower is the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  I’m becoming more of a fan every year and it’s a good thing because it keeps spreading of its own volition.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Another fall bloomer was a bit of a surprise.  This Sweet Autumn Clematis was something I pulled out three years ago and I was surprised to see it return in two separate places this year.

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis terniflora)

It’s a lovely flower but can get too aggressive if left to its own devices.  I will probably try to transplant it to the woods.

In the alpine beds I have two erodiums that are returning to bloom right now.

Erodium chrysantha

Erodium chrysantha

Erodium

Erodium

In the greenhouse I have just finished restarting all the oxalis.  At the same time the Bulbine has come back into flower.

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine frutescens

And one of the cyclamens has taken on a very distinctive flowering by simply spilling over the edge of the pot with a great many flowers and no leaves at all.

Cyclamen graecum

Cyclamen graecum

Lastly just to note that man (or woman) does not live by flowers alone.  The raspberries are joining the apples as delectable fruits to be harvested this month.

raspberries ready for harvest again

raspberries ready for harvest again

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)

The British are Coming

British Soldiers

British Soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

Well I meant to get this posted for the Fourth of July, but you can move the clock back for a day to imagine my patriotic alert about the British Redcoats.  This is a fruiting lichen that has taken hold of a fence post in the yard.  It’s quite small (think of miniature match sticks) but within this tiny world is incredible complexity.  The lichen is a marriage between an alga and fungus that succeeds through cooperation at the most basic level.  Both are required before you see the little red caps that release the fungus spores.  You can see how the brilliant red gave them their nickname harking back to the american revolution. They are also known as matchstick moss or red crested lichen.  I’ve been wrestling with how to photograph all the detail at this level and this is best I’ve come up with so far.

British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

British soldiers (Cladonia cristatella)

We have had wonderful weather for the fourth of July holiday, almost unprecedented.  It’s inspired some really lovely flowering around the yard.

Bletilla 'Kate'

Bletilla ‘Kate’

Stewartia japonica

Stewartia japonica

Astrantia 'Sunningdale variegated'

Astrantia ‘Sunningdale variegated’

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John’s Wort (Hypericum ‘Hidcote’)

Gentian scabra

Gentian septemfida

We get seedlings now from Prairie Sun that seem to have no trouble from year to year.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Prairie Sun'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Prairie Sun’

And a new daylily from Oakes.

Apollodorus Daylily

Apollodorus Daylily

And we have new seedling Corydalis in the greenhouse derived from Dufu Temple that is flowering from seeds planted in January.

Corydalis sp ex Dufu Temple

Corydalis sp ex Dufu Temple

Of course one does not live simply by photographing flowers.  We have been harvesting gallons of blueberries (about 8 gallons frozen so far this year).  This is yesterday’s pickings.

Gallons of Blueberries

Gallons of Blueberries

And we made blueberry ice cream for the fourth of July.

Blueberry ice cream

Blueberry ice cream

Yum…

What a weekend!

Callirhoe involucrata

Callirhoe involucrata (first bloom today!)

We just had a spectacular Memorial Day weekend. The family was down for a long weekend and the weather got better every day.  The sunshine and the rain gave a boost to all the flowers that we’ve been growing.  There was a lot of time spent out of doors.  In between gardening activities we played baseball and picked strawberries.

Picking strawberries

Picking strawberries

My granddaughter and youngest son completely weeded and mulched the blueberries.

Weeding blueberries

Weeding blueberries

Blueberries all weeded and mulched

Blueberries all weeded and mulched

And while that was happening my eldest and I put up the trough which they had gifted me for Christmas.  I had picked it out at Oliver’s three weeks ago.

Preparing the Large Trough

Preparing the Large Trough

For a planting mix we used equal parts of Miracle gro, chicken grit, topsoil, and sand.  I hope the plants recognize the care that went into this decision.

Trough Mix

Trough Mix

Trough mounted on blocks

Trough mounted on blocks

The fun part comes when you start to lay out the candidate plants (which I had been storing up for months).

Planting the trough

Planting the trough

The finished Large Trough

The finished Large Trough

Here is a completely annotated version of the trough.

Large Trough w- names

Large Trough w- names

It will be interesting to see how many of these alpines survive our sometime brutal summer.

I got so enthused with this process that after the kids left I planted a second, smaller trough that I had brought back from Stonecrop this year.

Preparing the Small Trough

Preparing the Small Trough

Small Trough in process

Small Trough in process

Finished Small Trough

Finished Small Trough

And here’s the annotated version of this trough which sits just outside our backdoor for daily inspection.

Small Trough w- names

Small Trough w- names

Well, this gives some idea of what I’ve been up to but I need to share a few special flowers as well.

Persian cornflower

Persian cornflower

Phlomis russeliana (Sticky Jerusalem sage)

Phlomis russeliana (Sticky Jerusalem sage)

 

Calochortus venustus

Calochortus venustus

 

Conandron ramondioides (very tiny but cute)

Conandron ramondioides (very tiny but cute)

 

Bartzella Itoh Peony

Bartzella Itoh Peony

 

Spuria Iris 'Highland Coral', the first spuria to bloom this year

Spuria Iris ‘Highland Coral’, the first spuria to bloom this year

And last but not least a wonderful Arisaema.

Arisaema candidissimum (Pink-flowered White Stripe Cobra Lily)

Arisaema candidissimum (Pink-flowered White Stripe Cobra Lily)

 

Is it too early for Spring?

Daphne ‘Lawrence Crocker’ flower

I’m seeing some unexpected spring flowers already and it’s tempting to just skip winter altogether and move on to spring.  We had almost no snow last year and nothing on the horizon for this year.  This tiny little Daphne with bright pink (and very fragrant) flowers would love to be in a real rock garden but it will have to settle for a spot in the garden next to the garage while it slowly grows to shrub size.

Daphne ‘Lawrence Crocker’

Another surprise this week was the first flower on Primula kisoana

Primula kisoana

Another flower this week that was more or less expected (but fully appreciated nonetheless) was the first snowdrop of the year.

First Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Lest we get totally carried away by these first harbingers of spring, I’m still willing to celebrate the remains of the autumn.  The spirea at the back of the garage is a multi-season plant and at the moment is in it’s full fall color.

Spirea thubergii Ogon fall color

All around the yard the various hollies have been having a field day.  For some reason they decided to really ‘berry-up’ this year.

English Holly

And the Heavenly Bamboo beside the garage is doing what that plant’s designer intended.  Beautiful foliage and then berries as an extra special reward.

Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica)