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 February 2017

Mixed Hellebores

The first Hellebores are coming into bloom for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  That striking green contrast is provided by Helleborus viridis.

Our weather is flirting with winter and spring as the days go by.  The snowdrops don’t seem to mind either choice as illustrated by the the exotic Blewbury Tart.

Galanthus nivalis ‘Blewbury Tart’

In addition to it’s multiple tepals the flower is outward facing, not doing the normal droop of snowdrops.  See these Galanthus nivalis for comparison.

Galanthus nivalis

The other interesting flowers at this point are the Adonis.  They open only in the sunshine and by late afternoon are already closing.

Adonis ‘Fukujukai’ in shadow

There still only just a couple of open buds on the Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu beni’.

Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu Beni’

Eranthis are abundantly open at this point, including the soft butter yellow Eranthis hyemalis ‘Scwefelglanz’.

Eranthis hyemalis ‘Schwefelglanz’

There is one plant of Jeffersonia dubia that is way ahead of the other Jeffersonia.  It has a ton of buds just opening.

Many Jeffersonia dubia buds

And one plant of Cyclamen coum is cautiously opening.

Cyclamen coum

In the new alpine bed, we have the first buds showing on a little draba that I put into Tufa last fall.

Draba hispanica in tufa

It seems to be quite happy growing in the rock.  The plant was from seed planted last January (2016) as part of the NARGS seed exchange.

And the Fritillaria stenanthera Karatau that I shared recently is putting out its first blossoms.

Fritillaria stenanthera Karatau

In the greenhouse many Oxalis continue in bloom.  One that I like especially is O. obtusa.

Oxalis obtusa MV6341

Notice the striping from the rear.

Oxalis obtusa MV6341 from the back

And an absoute charmer is this bulb from the PBS exchanges.  Actually that’s where the Oxalis came from too.

Hesperantha paucifolia

Hesperantha paucifolia

Unlike many of its kin, the flowers seem to be hanging around. It’s been in flower like this for more than a week.


More on the Verge of Springtime

Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu Beni’

Another of the Adonis is making the first steps toward Springtime.  It’s not as big and showy as the yellows but somehow that orange color is arresting at this time of year.

The yellow Adonis ‘Fukujukai’ continues to be the big attention getter in the yard with its near perfectly shaped flowers.

Adonis ‘Fukujukai’

But we also have the Winter Aconite stepping forward, in fact creeping forward into the lawn.

Eranthis hyemalis spreading into the lawn

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis )

I’ve even seen the first crocus showing up in the lawn.

First crocus in the lawn

What could be a better sign of spring.  Unless perhaps it’s the Jeffersonia about to open its first bud.

Jeffersonia dubia in bud

The korolkowii crocuses continue to flower in the Alpine bed.

Crocus korolkowii ‘Agalik’

This fine weather (except for a minor reversion to colder weather today) has allowed me to get loads of compost in from the local landfill and begin top dressing the gardens.

Compost from our landfill operation

It’s so good to work in the soil again.

Meanwhile in the greenhouse the little Thlaspi rotundifolia has been spreading a honey sweet fragrance way beyond the size of the flowers.

Thlapsi rotundifolia

And a splendid Hesperantha that came from last year’s Pacific Bulb Society distributions is just coming into bloom.

Hesperantha paucifolia

What a great start to the year!

Collecting Rocks

Pink Marble Rock showing lots of white

One thing that a rock garden needs is rocks, so I am always in the market for interesting rocks.  When the local chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society said it was planning a trip to a local quarry to harvest rocks, I was all for it.  Especially on Inauguration Day when I wanted some productive distraction.

It was a rainy overcast day which didn’t help the aspect of driving into the quarry which is almost canyon-like after years of harvesting rock.  Despite the mud and wet, cold weather it’s actually a very beautiful place which you would never see unless you were part of a similar expedition.

Entering the Quarry

The slope was steep enough that having my wheelbarrow was less use than I expected, unless you are accustomed to pushing up 30 degree slopes.

Lot’s of Rocks but on a steep hill for getting them out

The most desirable rock was (of course) at the bottom of the hill.

The beautiful pink marble was near the bottom of the hill

By the time I got each individual rock up to the truck I was huffing and puffing like a steam engine.  Nonetheless they were worth the effort.

Pink Marble Rock

I had two concerns that limited my collecting efforts.  One, the sheer physical difficulty, and then two, the fact that the truck was parked on a steep muddy hill and whether I would be able to get it out again.

Cars were parked at the bottom of a muddy road.

Truck wishing it was 4-wheel drive

Turn-around spot was a mud-hole

However, I did manage to get out with only a mild amount of wheel spinning.

Some of the rocks had beautiful crystalline structure.

Rock showing lots of calcite crystals

And one very special rock up at the office illustrated what limestone can do.

Complex limestone formation

In the end I only brought home about a dozen rocks but they are beautiful and I’m sure they will find a place in our gardens.

Rock harvest

If the club runs a similar field trip in the future I am ready to sign up for a repeat visit.


First Crocus for 2017

Crocus korolkowii ‘Agalik’

Well the first crocus for this year popped out on a 53 degree day today.  Although it gives the illusion of being a double crocus it’s really just double-nosed if such a descriptor can be applied to a crocus.  In other words it’s two separate flowers but beautiful nonetheless.  Apparently this is not unusual for the species.  Rukšans in his marvelous reference ‘Buried Treasures‘ says that as many as 20 flowers can be found coming out of a single corm.  I mentioned in an earlier post that you can get these little early blooming gems Augis’ Bulbs in Lithuania but they can also be obtained from Odyssey Bulbs in Massachusetts.  How we missed growing this crocus all these years is beyond me.

And close by, just starting to open in the new alpine bed, is the related variety Crocus korokowii ‘Marble Tiger’ with distinct markings on the outside of the petals.

Crocus korolkowii ‘Marble Tiger’

Crocus korolkowii ‘Marble Tiger’

Ironically, in the greenhouse, we have star flower which almost has a similar appearance.

Tristagma sellowianum

Another spot of yellow in the greenhouse is one of the small narcissus.

Narcissus romieuxi ‘Julia Jane’

I noticed today that the first flowers are appearing on an alpine plant that I started from seed last January.

Round-leaved Pennycress (Thlaspi rotundifolium)

This is distinctly unimpressive thus far, though in the Dolomites it had tons of flowers covering the plants, almost like a cushion.  I’ll put it outside this spring and maybe it will be more floriferous with a cold winter.

Also blooming in the greenhouse (still) is the South African Cyrtanthus that first came into bloom over a month ago.  This is a winner.

Cyrtanthus mackenii




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 June 2016

Lilium asiatic 'Netty's Pride'

Lilium asiatic ‘Netty’s Pride’

Ok, this is way late for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  No Excuses.  Everyone has gardens to build, weed, water, and harvest.  But what really slows me down in posting is when I find a lovely flower that I acquired years ago and can’t figure out what the name is.  And that leads me to the internet and well, you know how that goes.  One thing leads to another and pretty soon you are buying another few plants instead of posting about the ones you have.

Anyway here are some of the flowers that I should have been sharing.  Lillies and Iris are foremost.  The Spuria Iris are some of my favorites.

Spuria Iris 'Cinnebar Red'

Spuria Iris ‘Cinnebar Red’

Spuria Iris 'Shelford Giant'

Spuria Iris ‘Shelford Giant’

The Spuria are generally pretty tall, but Shelford Giant is especially high up before it flowers.

Spuria Iris 'Shelford Giant' showing height

Spuria Iris ‘Shelford Giant’ showing height

I used to focus on the bearded Iris but I’ve found that many of the other species Iris are more reliable and enjoyable.  I’ve never had the Iris borers focus on the other species the way they can on the bearded hybrids.  In particular the Japanese Iris have a way of making nice clumps in the perennial gardens.

Iris ensata ' Agripinella'

Iris ensata ‘ Agripinella’

A new Japanese Iris for us this year is this four-foot tall specimen from Plant Delights.

Iris ensata 'Flashing Koi'

Iris ensata ‘Flashing Koi’

The Blackout Lillies are creating their normal smashing display of vibrant dark red.

Lilium 'Blackout'

Lilium ‘Blackout’

And in anticipation of setting a new height record for us the Trumpet Hybrid Pink Perfection is now higher than the 8 foot piece of granite in our Monument Bed.

Pink Perfection Lily next to Monument

Pink Perfection Lily next to Monument

Our potted lily wanna-be from the Amazon is in full flower at the moment.

Hymenocallis 'Sulphur Queen'

Hymenocallis ‘Sulphur Queen’

I need to single out the last of the Arisaemas now in fully display. Both A. fargesii and A. candidssum took until June 4th before they showed their first pointed tips coming out of the soil.  I especially love the pink of the A. candidissums.

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema candidissimum

Arisaema fargesii

Arisaema fargesii

Just a few other shots from around the yard before I go…

Knockout roses 'Pink'

Knockout roses ‘Pink’

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’

Mix of wine cups, spotted orchid, Brodiaea 'Queen Fabiola', and Gladiolus elata.

Mix of wine cups, spotted orchid, Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’, and Gladiolus alatus.

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Dactylorhiza fuchsii

Stewartia japonica

Stewartia japonica

Bulbine frutescens

Bulbine frutescens





And let me close with another gem from the greenhouse…

Habranthus tubispathus

Habranthus tubispathus (sometimes called copper lily)

Seed Tales

Labeled Tulipa sprengeri, (Zephyranthes dicrhomata?)

Labeled Tulipa sprengeri, (Zephyranthes dicrhomata?)

I was pleased to see a bud coming out of my planting of Tulipa sprengeri this past week.  But what emerged is very likely Zephyranthes dichromata.  That’s pretty much par for the course on starting some of these unusual plants from seed.  You can wait years for a seedling to emerge and then discover that it was either a mislabeled package or some friendly neighboring pot contributed some viable seed.  It’s likely that the Zephyranthes jumped from a neighboring pot because they do seed freely.  But then there are the successful outcomes like the big Paradisea that is just finishing in the greenhouse right now.

Paradisea lusitanica

Paradisea lusitanica

This is a beautiful lily-like plant more than 2 feet high that came from seed distributed by the Pacific Bulb Society in the spring of 2013. It grows wild in the mountains of Portugal and might be barely hardy here.  Another successful seed sowing from the PBS in 2013 was Dichelostemma multiflorum which grows wild in California.

Dichelostemma multiflorum

Dichelostemma multiflorum

I’ve planted a lot of seeds over the past few years and managed to lose of lot of my seedlings last year when the water timer failed while we were on vacation.  I’ve kept all those pots just in case, but decided last week to go through the hundreds of pots and reclaim the soil and pots.

Hundreds of pots to be reclaimed

Hundreds of pots to be reclaimed

I was delighted to find that some of those pots had seedlings just starting.

Brimeura amethystina seedling

Brimeura amethystina seedling starting 3 years later


Fritillaria meleagris seedling

Fritillaria meleagris seedling

This all serves as a reminder that you have to patient to allow good things to happen.  Another sort of patience comes with waiting for the first flowers.  Four years ago I bought a tiny little seedling of Paeonia rockii from Wrightman Alpines.  It has taken until this year to produce it’s first flowers.  I think you will agree that it was worth the wait.

Paeonia rockii

Paeonia rockii

Another delightful species Peony that is flowering right now was obtained from Plant Delights

Paeonia obovata ssp. obovata var. willmottiae

Paeonia obovata ssp. obovata var. willmottiae

So returning to topic of planting seeds I should note that many of the seeds come up in abundance.  They are often very cute as they so immediately resemble the plants that they will eventually become.

Draba parnassica

Draba parnassica


Antennaria rosea ssp pulvinata seedlings

Antennaria rosea ssp pulvinata seedlings


Phyteuma scheuchzeri seedlings

Phyteuma scheuchzeri seedlings (BotanyCa)


Silene acaulis seedlings

Silene acaulis seedlings


Gentiana dahurica seedlings

Gentiana dahurica seedlings (BotanyCa)

Altogether, looking at the three alpine seed exchanges that I participate in, the results are just short of 50% of the seeds successfully started so far.  In other words, so far, so good.

The other part of the seed topic is collecting the ones that are appearing right now.  Many of the spring ephemerals are putting out seeds in quantity now.

Eranthis hyemalis 'Schwefelglanz' seeds

Eranthis hyemalis ‘Schwefelglanz’ seeds


Hepatica seeds

Hepatica seeds

Often the spring emphemerals have elaiosomes on the seeds that make them attractive to ants.  So there is a brief 3-5 day window when you can just knock off the seeds to collect them.  Otherwise, if they fall, the ants will gather them up and take them home for planting.

Ant carrying Hepatica seed

Ant carrying Hepatica seed

And, of course, every seed is not only a potential new plant, but also acts as currency if you are involved in seed exchanges.

Let me close with a few more of the flowers that have bloomed over the past two weeks.

Tulipa humilis 'Alba Caerulea Oculata'

Tulipa humilis ‘Alba Caerulea Oculata’


Corydalis turtschaninovii 'Eric the Red'

Corydalis turtschaninovii ‘Eric the Red’




And lastly a beautiful new Allium from Odyssey Bulbs

Allium (nectaroscordum) tripedale

Allium (nectaroscordum) tripedale