Articles for the Month of June 2012

Glorious Gloriosa (finally!)

Gloriosa Lily (Gloriosa superba 'Rothchildiana')

I have tried planting a Gloriosa Lily a number of times.  Each time was an abject failure.  Last year I managed to get one to poke it’s head above the ground but that was it.  I had resolved that I was going to try just growing them in pots.  But this year I planted the elongated tuber as soon as it arrived from Brent and Becky’s.  I was rewarded with a strong growing plant that I gave substantial iron trellis too because I’ve seen in son Jonathan’s garden how this exotic vine wants to twist and turn.  It was interesting to watch the flower evolve with it’s distinctively shaped petals.

Gloriosa Lily opening

It has put out two flowers so far (hooray!) but as those are fading I can see more buds developing.  It’s a nice sunny location so we shall how extensive this gets by fall.  One of the difficult choices will be whether to harvest the tuber and bring it inside (like a dahlia) or to let it try to winter over which it might possibly do with a lot of mulch in zone 7.

Another exotic flower that came into bloom this week is the Peruvian Daffodil.

Peruvian Daffodil (Hymenocallis festalis)

This one is in a pot.  In fact it is in the same pot that I put it in back in 2009.  And then left it in the basement by accident for all of 2011.  I put it in the pile of pots to be recycled in the garage this spring until I noticed this amaryllis like green spike coming out of the pot.  As it turns out it must have been busy propagating in the basement because there are now multiple shoots and it flowered just fine despite the year off.  So in addition to being another of the more dramatic flowers you will see with the spider-like petals it’s also one of the hardier subtropicals around.

And while we are talking about Peru, the Peruvian Lily (Alstroemeria) has become not just a survivor around here but a robust and beautiful spreader in our gardens.  All due to a hybrid cultivar, Sweet Laura, that seems to be very comfortable with out climate.

Alstroemeria (Sweet Laura) surrounded by ponytail grass

The Alstroemeria is not really from Peru but then again a rose by any other name…

Another of my planting experiments that has fully succeeded this year is the Crinum.  I’ve tried Crinum several times and was never much impressed with the results.  Last year it put up a pathetic little flower in the rose garden but this year seems to have acquired its dancing shoes.

Crinum powelli

Seeing just how pretty it can be I wish I had chosen a better spot.  It’s in with lilies that are easily twice as tall and it’s a bit overshadowed.  But when you focus on just the Crinum it’s a very pretty plant.  Apparently it takes a bit to get established so I’m not anxious to move it.

I guess as long as I have focussed on exotics in this post I should mention one of the Arisaemas that I planted this year.  The Chinese Cobra Lily came from Plant Delights.

Chinese cobra lily (Arisaema engleri)

Standing back it looks a little bit like a palm tree on a deserted tropical island.  As you get closer you can see how really pretty the spadix is.

Arisaema engleri

It’s nearing the end of June and although it’s been dry the weather has been generally superb.  I suspect that won’t last and we have all the hoses spread out for the oncoming dry weather.  Meanwhile we are bringing in bowls of squash, beans and blueberries every night…

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for June 2012

Iris enseta 'Agripinella'

It’s appropriate to begin another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day with another Iris.  They have been really rewarding this year.  We seem to go from one outstanding Iris species to another.  Even the ensatas do not finish the Iris crowd, there’s another nice hybrid waiting in the wings.

Of course what June is really about is the lilies.  The Asiatics have been flowering all around the yard, but now the big guys are starting to weigh in.

Golden Trumpet Lily

I’m not sure which one this is.  I used to think it was Luxor but now I’ve figured out this is not any kind of Asiatic hybrid and I can’t seem to locate it in my records.  It stands at least 7-8 feet tall and has a pure golden hue with many blossoms.

And then there are the pseudo-lilies.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

The Alstroemeria are well represented in our yard by Sweet Laura which not only lives over the winter here but multiplies and competes well with other strong growing perennials.

Some other harbingers of summer are the Rudbeckia and Butterfly weed.

Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun'

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

On the bank near the drive the crownvetch and perennial pea are competing to smother the weeds.

Pennsylvania crownvetch

Perrenial Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)

These guys were intentionally planted but for some people they might constitute weeds.

In addition to the flowers we have moved on from a bumper crop of strawberries to an excess of blueberries.


Finally, I need to take note of the Stewartia which is covered with flowers right now.

Stewartia japonica flower

I think it waits for the early flowering trees to be done so that it can strut its stuff in private.

I hope this blooming day finds your garden growing like ours — always one step ahead but inspiring us to catch up…


The Exquisite Spuria Iris

Spuria Iris 'Hocka Hoona'

Last year, inspired by several visits to Chanticleer, I decided to give Spuria Iris a try.  The Spurias are the result of hybridizing a number of species, including Iris spuria, mostly found around the Mediterranean region.  They are strikingly tall (3-4′) with flowers that look a bit like Dutch Iris on steroids and they have graceful foliage that looks much nicer in a garden bed than the bearded types.  They also flower after the bearded types thereby extending the iris season.  They eventually form a fair sized clump which offers the opportunity to bring them inside where they make good cut flowers.  An excellent background and description on the Spurias can be found at

For someone who has grown bearded Iris for years the tubers were not impressive when they arrived last September.  There was barely a patch of green showing on each.  The website for the Spuria Iris society says not to expect flowers the first year after transplanting (they don’t like to be moved).  But two of ours did bloom and we are very glad we made room for the Spurias.

Spuria Iris 'Cinnebar Red'

In fact, I think we will be ordering more…

Another new flower for us is Astrantia.

Astrantia 'Sunningdale variegated'

I ordered Astrantia after reading an enthusiastic post on Garden Shoots and I am not disappointed.  An interesting flower, in this case variegated, that plays well with the other plants in our Camellia garden.

We are otherwise looking at the lilies budding up like mad and in some cases already overflowing with flowers.  Especially the Blackout lilies that have dozens of blooms.

Blackout Lilies in quantity

There is a also a push for yellow flowers in other parts of the garden.  The St. John’s Wort is putting on an impressive show now that we have given it some sunlight.

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

St John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum)

The Troillus ‘Golden Queen’ is ruling over a portion of the side yard.

Trollius chinensis ‘Golden Queen’

And finally a new one for us is the Horned Poppy with bright yellow flowers against gray-green foliage.

Horned Poppy (Glaucium flavum)

However, all is not just flowers on our hilly kingdom.  We have had a record crop of strawberries where the plants are so thick as to exclude most of the weeds.  We just had a wonderful memorial day weekend where we cooked up the rhubarb and strawberries into a luscious cobbler.

Strawberry & Rhubarb ingredients

Strawberry & Rhubarb cobbler

More strawberries and rhubarb have been planted for next year.  Can’t have too much of a really good thing…