Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2016

Clematis 'Niobe'

Clematis ‘Niobe’

Ok, it’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for May and I’m already late (again).  Everything is flowering (or so it seems).  The peonies, iris, azaleas, rhododendrons, alliums, and so on.  Let me share some of the main headliners and then get to some of the more unusual flowers.

Rhododendrons are represented by three of our standards.  First the ultra-reliable R. chionoides which spends more and more of its time lying on the ground with various prostrate branches.

Rhododendron chionoides

Rhododendron chionoides

Then a scintillating pink that we have mixed into our camellia bed.

Camellia Garden Rhododendron

Camellia Garden Rhododendron

And I always have to share one of my favorites, R. ‘Viscosepala’, which has a magnificent fragrance.

Rhododendron 'Viscosepala'

Rhododendron ‘Viscosepala’

This was the happy result of crossing R. molle and R. viscosum in 1844 at the famous Waterer nursery at Knaphill in England.  I think it deserves more recognition.  You can sit on the deck in the evening and smell this honeysuckle-like fragrance surrounding you.

The peonies always go through a progression of tree peonies to species to Itoh hyrids to herbaceous.  The tree peonies and species types are just finishing now after serveral weeks of simply splendid flowers.

Tree peony just finishing

Tree peony just finishing

And the Itoh hybrids are lovely to look at right now.

Itoh Peony 'Morning Lilac'

Itoh Peony ‘Morning Lilac’

The unopened bud of the Itoh hybrid ‘Sequestered Sunshine’ looks like a giant rose.

Itoh Peony 'Sequestered Sunshine' opening a bud like a giant rose.

Itoh Peony ‘Sequestered Sunshine’

The first large bearded Iris are in bloom now and I just noticed a number of flowers on the Japanese Roof Iris yesterday.

Japanese Roof Iris (Iris tectorum)

Japanese Roof Iris (Iris tectorum)

Now let’s explore some of the less common flowers around the yard.

The Lamium orvala never fails to elicit comments when I point out the orchid-like flowers hidden under its leaves.

Lamium orvala

Lamium orvala

In one of the shade beds I see that one instance of the Rue Anemone has semi-double flowers that also seem to be bigger than its relatives.

Semi-double white Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides)

Semi-double white Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides)

In the front bed my planting of Dianthus spiculifolius in the large tufa rock seems to have taken hold.

Dianthus spiculifolius

Dianthus spiculifolius

Also in the front yard I had planted a Snow Poppy several years ago.  It has spread but I had never seen it flower.  Until this year.

Eomecon chionantha

Eomecon chionantha

The Snow Poppies are in a shady area near where the Woods Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum) have long since taken over, and where the large Japanese Maple limits the sun and moisture in the summer time.  I’m happy to have them spread at a reasonable pace.

Snow poppy colony

Snow poppy colony (the curly leaves are the Woods Poppy mixed in)

At the GreenSprings Garden Plant Sale on Saturday I picked up a very nice little Calanthe hybrid orchid for the monument bed.

Calanthe hybrid hardy orchid

Calanthe hybrid hardy orchid

As we walk back to the Alpine garden I discovered a little ornithogalum growing with the little alpines and I couldn’t imagine how it got there until I reread my bulb order from last year.  Ornitogalum exscapum is described as compact and flowering from the base and indeed that seems to be the case so far.

Ornithogalum exscapum

Ornithogalum exscapum

Nearby two of the Lewisia are in bloom.

Lewisia ‘Little Plum’ (Lewisia longipetala x cotyledon)

Lewisia ‘Little Plum’ (Lewisia longipetala x cotyledon)

Pygmy bitterroot (Lewisia pymaea)

Pygmy bitterroot (Lewisia pymaea)

And in the trough in front of the greenhouse one of my favorite campanula relatives  is just coming into flower.

Edraianthus pumilio

Edraianthus pumilio

This makes a compact little cushion that is a wonderful example of why I like growing alpines.  That’s a little Dianthus alpina that is showing nearby.

And in the Greenhouse I was delighted to discover last week that two of the three rare Scillas that I planted last January are starting to grow.

Scilla madeirensis in leaf

Scilla madeirensis in leaf

These are very beautiful plants and I’m hoping to see flowers before they go dormant for the summer.

Let me close with an Iris relative, Gelasine elongata, also growing in the greenhouse.

Gelasine elongata

Gelasine elongata

This flowers at the end of a 2 ft. long stalk.  It is said to be marginally hardy here so I may give it a try outside.

4 comments on “Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2016

  1. Joshua Willis

    Gah! Beautiful post, I especially enjoyed seeing the alive Lewisias. I’ve killed too many, I’m beginning to think they’re ephemeral annuals. Have you kept yours alive for many years?

    1. jw

      Hi Josh, the Lewisias have stayed with us since I built the Alpine Bed in 2013. I also find they can survive in the deep troughs. Before that we killed them on an annual basis…

  2. Chavli

    The Edraianthus pumilio “cushion” is just adorable!
    The bloom pattern is interesting. Is it always starting with the outside ‘ring’?

    1. jw

      That’s a good observation. They do seem to flower from the ground up, so to speak. They are so compact they’ve become one of my favorite alpines.