Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March 2018 (very late!)

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Golden Lotus’

A very belated GBBD posting.  I returned from a week in Florida to find that the spring had not really moved along very far in my absence.  There were a number of the regulars in flower, but since the weather has now delivered one of the heaviest snowstorms of the winter, it’s probably just as well that some of the plants waited a little longer.  The Hellebore pictured above is one of many of it’s clan in bloom, but it’s one of my favorites.

The crocus are fully in bloom now.

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’

This particular clump under the cherry tree expands every year.  Unlike some of the species crocus which seem to lag from competition with each other.

Another spectacular tommy that I’ve lost the name of is this striped variety.

Crocus tommasinianus

The early Iris have persisted for quite awhile now and they seem to be expanding as well.

Iris histrioides ‘Major’

It’s interesting to note that the Fritillaria stenanthera ‘Cambridge’ which is very compact and close to the ground in the Alpine bed is taller and quite lovely in one of the humus-filled garden beds.

Fritillaria stenanthera ‘Cambridge’

Nearby is is the beautiful Jeffersonia dubia ‘Dark Centers’ that I acquired from Garden Visions.

Jeffersonia dubia ‘Dark Centers’

Also making an early spring entry are the little Hacquetia.  The noticable parts are the big bracts whereas the flowers are the little tiny yellow guys.

Hacquetia epipactis

One of my favorite plants for early spring are the Primrose vulgaris.  There is nothing common or vulgar about these little yellow/white flowers spreading every year.

Primula vulgaris

Most of the Daffodils are still in the bud stage but the little Jack Snipe in the woods are fully engaged.

Narcissus ‘Jack Snipe’

I also noticed along the woodland trail the tiny Scilla biflora are not only flowering but they are spreading as well.

Scilla biflora ‘Roseus’

In the alpine bed the aubretia are just starting to spill over the rock wall, showing what is likely to come this year.

Aubretia ‘Blue Beauty’

And the one of the Pasque flowers in the same bed is ready to explode into bloom.

Pulsatilla grandiflora

In the greenhouse we continue to see a succession of the South African delights, for example this glorious Freesia.

Freesia ‘Red River’

Then there are Sparaxis, Moraea, Ornithagalum, Lachenalia, etc.

Sparaxis Hadeco Hybrid

Moraea sp. MM 03-04a blue

Ornithogalum sp. (ex McGary PBS)

Lachenalia unicolor

One of the greenhouse plants we can’t overlook is the Portuguese Squill.  It’s a real enjoyment to watch it go through it’s flowering.

Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana flower detail

And finally I would be remiss not to note the first of the Ferrarias to come into bloom.

Ferraria crispa v. nortieri

For all there exotic beauty these are remarkable easy to grow.  Check out the Pacific Bulb Society.


Hesperantha falcata and more…

Hesperantha falcata 4pm

At this time of year a number of the South African bulbs come to help us anticipate spring.  One of the lovely surprises each spring is Hesperantha falcata.  This little member of the Iris family has a common name of  bontrokkie (little colourful dress) in Afrikaans.  It has the very peculiar ritual of closing up in the daytime and then slowly opening in evening to be fully open at night.  For a couple of years I only saw it in bud until I happened to be in the greenhouse one evening.  When it is fully open it has a marvelous strong and pleasing scent.  The bud has a very distinctive red striping as shown above.  When it opens the flowers are a brilliant white (I’ve also seen references to it as the Evening Star Flower which is a good name).

Hesperantha falcata 6pm

But it’s not until the fully open phase that you get the scent designed to attract moths (and humans as it turns out).

Hesperantha falcata 11pm

Another South African that is blooming in the greenhouse right now is Tulbaghia simmleri

Tulbaghia simmleri

This sometimes called sweet garlic or pink agapanthus and it’s also quite fragrant.  Both of the South Africans came from the Pacific Bulb Society’s exchange program.

Meanwhile in the outside play areas we have the first daffodil – Ta Da!  Clearly a sign of spring.

First daffodil

Can’t be certain of which variety but it is most likely ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation’

And the Eranthis are flowering up a storm in the front bed

Winter Aconite galore

They are making a serious attempt to move into the grass this year.

There are number of Hellebores making their presence known.  More and more they remind me of small azaleas with a much longer season of bloom.  One that I like for early bloom is Winter’s Song.

Helleborus x ericsmithii ‘Winter’s Song’

It has the nice attribute of looking sideways and upward as opposed to the hanging bells of many hellebores.

Also in the backyard are quite a number of these dwarf Iris.

Iris histroides ‘Major’

Over in the Alpine bed the Draba hispanica that is comfortably nested in tufa is making steady progress to opening its flowers.

Draba hispanica in tufa

This came from the North American Rock Garden Society Seed Exchange Program in 2016.

And nearby to it is a rather special fritillaria coming into bloom

Fritillaria stenathera ‘Cambridge’

And as my grandson would say ‘Very special’, just because you have read to the end of this posting, here is a lovely Hepatica, well ahead of it’s relatives.

Hepatica japonica pink

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…:)

Chinese Alpines

Chinese Alpines Order

I’ve been meaning to put in a plug for Chinese Alpines.  For several years I’ve bought seed from Bjørnar Olsen who lives in China.  This spring he sent a letter saying that he was joining together with a friend, August Wu, to form Chinese Alpines.  They plan to sell bulbs and plants as well as the seeds which Bjørnar has provided in the past.  I received the my first order from them last month and everything is as nice as I would have expected.  If bulbs don’t grow I expect it will be my fault, not theirs.  I’m particularly interested in seeing if I can grow Fritillaria Karelinii, which is very showy in this image from the Fritillaria Group of the Alpine Garden Society.

Fritillaria Karelinii (from Fritillaria Group website)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2017

Crabapple in bloom

Well this is a very unusual flower to see in October.  In fact, I can never remember seeing crabapples blooming in the Fall.  Not only the crabapples but the apples themselves are blooming right now.  So for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day let’s just note that climate change is not just affecting icebergs and glaciers.

It’s been very dry for us with unseasonably warm weather to go with it.  Many of the flowers that were in bloom in September are still blooming now, like the lovely Japanese Anemone.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

And the Toadlilies

Toadlily (Trycyrtis ‘Sinonome’

So I’m going to focus on some of the more unusual individuals flowering around the yard and greenhouse, beginning with a little saxifrage from Far Reaches.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Select’

Back in the alpine bed is a planting of Lithodora that has been expanding it’s living space since we planted it this spring (from Oliver Nurseries).

Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’

Lithodora has never overwintered with us but this clump seems most likely to do so.

Nearby is the Stachys that we planted this spring.

Stachys lavandulifolia?

Although this was sold to us as lavandulifolia, it looks nothing like what we had seen in Colorado.  It could be cultural or it could also be that this is a different plant.

Also in the alpine bed, I should give some credit to the little clump of Erodium that has been flowering continually since spring.

Alpine geranium (Erodium reichardii ‘Roseum’)

It is hard to go into the greenhouse right now without noticing the large Pomegranate which has become a centerpiece.  And it’s fruit are starting to literally crack open.

Pomegranate opening up

One of the little treasures in the greenhouse is a small scilla relative from North Africa that was just started as a bulb this year.

Hyacinthoides lingulata

It’s just starting to open up and promises to be very nice at this time of year.  Thank you Pacific Bulb Society bulb exchange.

There is also a very nice little Viola that I grew from seed obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Society seed exchange.

Viola chaerophylloides ‘Benizuru’

I think this one can probably go outside but I may propagate it first.

There is a very nice Cyrtanthus in full bloom and many wonderful Oxalis celebrating their rebirth after a dry summer.

Cyrthanthus branchyandrus

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis purpurea ‘Lavender & White’

And the last item of the day is a new acquisition from the PBS bulb exchange in June.

Seemania Namatanthodes in bud

Seemania Namatanthodes in pot

This South American plant (Argentina/Bolivia) looks to be a real winner.

A Lesson in Patience

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis in bud

I have been growing Haemanthus humilis sap. humilis since 2013.  The seeds were obtained from a contribution from Jim Shields to the Pacific Bulb Society as part of their bulb and seed exchange program.  The plants came pretty quickly the next year but I have waited and waited for any indication that they would like to flower.  And then, as luck would have it this bud appeared the day before we were scheduled to leave on a ten day trip to Colorado.  And as I looked more closely I saw that other pots were also in bud.

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis budding

Fortunately my son was able to get a couple of shots later in the week showing their progress and it looks likely that they will still be in bloom when we return home.

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis in flower

Haemanthus humilis ssp. humilis

This is all a testament to patience as you wait for plants to reach their potential.  These pots were full of plant with no indication of flowering, so I was beginning to wonder if they were worth repotting.  It’s also another endorsement for the Pacific Bulb Society which is a wonderful resource for bulbs from all over the world, not just via the bulb exchange which they carry out but for the comprehensive information that is provided by members.

As another example of a plant obtained from the PBS this Eucomis was in flower when I left.

Eucomis vandermerwei

Eucomis vandermerwei

This was obtained from small bulbs distributed by the PBS (also in 2013).

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?

Traveling in the Springtime

Paonia ostii

We were gone for a week in mid-April and as might be expected you will miss some things at this time of year as part of price of traveling.  We bought the above Osti’s Peony from Wrightman’s Alpines as a very small plant in 2015 so this was first time we were to see it in bloom, and we almost missed it.  Similarly  a very dwarf yellow Rhododendron that we got just last year from McCue Gardens was already past its peak in flowering when we got back.

Rhododendron ‘Wren’

Another one we missed was the first of the Molly the witch peonies.  However, the second one still had a flower bud opening.  I keep planting them in the hopes that I will end up the yellow flowers the Mollys are famous for.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii

Similarly, but more unfortunate, the Dryas octopetala that had three buds had already finished blooming by the time we returned.  We had planted seeds of the Dryas last year after enjoying them when we went to the Dolomites.  Fortunately there were still a lot of flowers to enjoy upon our return.  Especially a few more Peonies.

Paeonia obovata var. ‘Willmottiae’

Paonia perigrina

Tree Peony Light Pink

Another of Arisaemas has popped up.

Arisaema sikokianum

It is particularly striking with the bright white spadix.

Various of the Euphorbias are lighting up the garden as well as several dwarf Iris flowers.

Euphorbia polychroma

Dwarf Iris orange

In a couple of spots we have lovely little blue Corydalis flowers.

Corydalis ‘Eric the Red’ (named for the leaves)

Back in alpine bed, the Kidney Vetch that I started from seed obtained from BotanyCa is growing very strongly.

Astragalus vulneria v. coccoina

Nearby is a lovely white Pasque Flower that my son grew from seed obtained from the AGS seed exchange in 2012.

Pulsatilla hallerii slavica

And one last flower is the first Clematis of the season.

Clematis ‘Niobe’

And let me close out this post with the note that if you focus on foliage you are never disappointed by missing the flowers.

Acer palmatum dissectum ‘Viridis’