Five years ago I had the notion of building a 3 foot by 14 foot raised bed on the side of the greenhouse that would simulate alpine conditions with a well draining stony soil that was over 2 feet deep. You have to work at it to convince alpines to be happy in the Maryland climate. The construction was long and hard. Just moving 84 cubic feet of soil is a chore. But I was more that pleased with the result (think of it as a giant trough). Things which were difficult to grow now became rambunctious. Although the bed was fast draining, it also retained moisture well so that watering was not a big issue. I built the bed on the shady side of the greenhouse and discovered that while that worked well for some things my notion of the Aubreita cascading over the wall didn’t work because, strangely enough, it grew towards the sun which was on the other side of the greenhouse. So I have begun to tailor the planting on that side to things which were happy with a bit of shade, such as a couple of nice dwarf Rhododendrons.
Meanwhile there a number of plants like the dwarf Aruncus and two Daphnes that seem to be very happy.
In the meantime I decided to build a second Alpine Bed on the other side of the greenhouse which have a sunnier outlook. I finished that construction project last year and this is the second growing season for the sunny side. There have been a number of successes for that side and the latest is seeing the little Alpine Poppy for the first time yesterday.
This came from seed obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Society‘s annual seed exchange in 2017. I got only this single plant from the seeding and it sat quite tiny and unmoving through the 2017 season. But I had read that it wants a cold winter before flowering and indeed this seems to be the case. From the Poppy’s point of view it’s in a very appropriate mountain environment.
Overall the sunny Alpine Bed looks really nice as spring begins.
The Stachys and the Aubreita show every sign of diving over the wall the way I had hoped.
Hidden amidst the Aubreita is a fabulous eye-catching group of ice plants
This is from the highest part of the Drakensberg mountains of South Africa and despite it’s succulent nature it is complete hardy here.
Other happy residents of the sunny Alpine Bed are growing out of the tufa rock.
Suffice it to say I really enjoy the Alpine Beds!
Around the corner, at the front of the greenhouse is the first of my troughs with a now six year-old planting of Vitaliana, another alpine native.
Of course there is life outside of the Alpine beds, and I should share the posting on jewels in our garden from Dan Weil. He spent last Saturday on his stomach crawling around the yard taking some very nice images of the little spring ephemerals in our yard. Dan is an artist (paint and photography) with considerable talent and looking at other parts of his website is also rewarding.
In closing, the Kwanzan Cherry came into bloom yesterday, always a lovely milestone for the season.
It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day time and one of the fun parts of posting the monthly flowers is discovering those things that I had forgotten that I previously planted. Amongst those is the Snow Cone Bloodroot pictured above. All Bloodroots are good, this one is just a notch above.
Another newcomer to this blog is the single pink Anemonella from Hillside Nursery. I went on quest last year for a strong pink Anemonella after seeing one at my son’s house in previous years. He has since lost that plant which was exceptionally pink compared to the normal ‘Pink Pearl’ as it is now marketed. In any case the one gracing our flower bed is very nice indeed.
Another Anemonella variant that I posted on recently is Green Hurricane.
Many of the Anemone’s are flowering right now too, including this very complex nemerosa.
Close by are the Corydalis.
This one, as I’ve noted before is named for the leaves, not the beautiful blue flowers.
One cannot pass by the Camellia bed which has many of the spring ephemerals without seeing one of my favorite trilliums.
And the Leucojum are like snowdrops on steroids
Even this far into April the Hellebores continue to provide wonderful flowers. One that particularly catches my eye is Amethyst Gem.
This year I decided to give the Primula kisoana another try. You have to be cautious with this because it wants to spread, so I put it in with the other thugs.
I had a minor revelation this week when I thought I had finally succeeded in bring a Shortia into bloom. However, it turns out just to be Shortia lookalike, but pretty nonetheless.
Back in the Alpine beds we have several returnees from previous years.
and a new Iris/potentilla combination
And it’s also worth noting that while I tend to get caught up in the small spring ephemerals, there are many other flowers about. The early Rhododendron in the front yard is always spectacular.
There are many, many Daffodils, both in the yard and in the woods/pasture.
And the various fruit trees are mostly just coming into bloom. The apricot is finished, the cherries and peaches just starting, and the Kieffer Pear is flowering as though there is no tomorrow.
As I close this post, it’s worth noting that this spring is well behind previous years in terms of the number and progress of things in bloom. But I’m good with that. It gives more time to appreciate everything as it’s happening.
This Camellia has been flirting with blooming all winter long but now it’s buds have finally gotten clearance to bloom and they are blooming abundantly.
We were in Boston for Easter and it was delightful to return to a flower-filled garden. The Corydalis and Chionodoxa are instant scene stealers.
There are many other nice Corydalis but here are two that I like in particular.
Many of the Scilla are of a similar hue to the Chionodoxa but quite different in detail. Look at the anthers in particular.
Once again I can’t say enough good things about Primula vulgaris. It’s very self-sufficient and flowers for a long time.
A particularly nice Anemone is ‘Green Hurricane’. The contrast between the early leaves and flowers is stunning.
While most of the Adonis are finishing two of the special ones are just starting.
Meanwhile in the alpine bed, the Pulsatilla have justified all the effort it took to make them a comfortable home.
The little Draba rigida comes three weeks after the hispanica.
Meanwhile I notice that I have a bud on the Alpine Poppy grown from seed last year. This should be fun.
In the greenhouse there’s a bright red Tulip on display (from tiny bulblets planted last year)
And some spectacular Tritonia including this one.
And a really nice Gladiolia hybrid
Also a nice little Ixia that has many, many blooms.
(All four of these bulbs from the Pacific Bulb Society).
Of course the greenhouse also contributed to the inside of the house where we have some magnificent Clivia on display.
And the many Daffodils and Forsythia that Beth has been harvesting.
And given the date can the bluebells be far behind…