Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2015

Bee on Japanese Quince

Bee on Japanese Quince

Well for this December’s Garden Blogger Bloom Day you would be hard put to find any indication that winter intends to show its face.  Not only is the red Japanese Quince fully in bloom but the bees are all out to take advantage.  I watched them collecting pollen this afternoon and they went mostly into the closed buds.  My guess is that there were so many bees around that they had already cleaned out the open flowers.

Japanese Quince in bloom

Japanese Quince in bloom

There are many other plants that are pushing the season.  The Christmas Rose continues to flower up a storm…

Helleborus niger 'HGC Jacob'

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

And the two early flowering Camellia japonicas are also putting out new flowers every day.

Camellia japonica double flowered pink

Camellia japonica double flowered pink

The first snowdrop is fully open at this point.

Galanthus elwesii

Galanthus elwesii

And the Pineapple Sage continues to hang on with its brilliant red blossoms.

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)

In addition there is a Calendula that won’t give up on the season.

Yellow Calendula

Yellow Calendula

Rather more remarkable right now is the Spirea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ which is showing both lovely rust colored fall leaves combined with the white flowers of spring.

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'

Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’

The first flowers on the aubretia in the alpine bed are also coming out now.

Aubretia 'Blue Beauty'

Aubretia ‘Blue Beauty’

In the greenhouse the little hoop daffodils have been coming out.

Narcissus cantabricus 'Peppermint'

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’

Narcissus cantabricus 'Peppermint'

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’ (note the buds yet to come)

I think I definitely need to divide the bulbs in this pot next year.

I’ll close with the third pot of Daubenya stylosa that has flowered this year.

Daubenya stylosa

Daubenya stylosa

It will be interesting to see what this warm start to the winter portends for January and February…

 

What if Winter Never Came…

Gentiana paradoxa

Gentiana paradoxa

So far this December is looking more like October.  We have yet to experience a real killing frost and many things are still flowering that should definitely be dormant by now, including the lovely gentian pictured above.  Two of the Camellia japonicas are in full flower.

Camellia japonica double flowered pink

Camellia japonica double flowered pink

Camellia japonica 'Spring's Promise'

Camellia japonica ‘Spring’s Promise’

Not surprisingly, the usual harbingers of spring are in flower, both the snowdrops and helleborus niger are blooming.

First Snowdrop

First Snowdrop

Helleborus niger 'HGC Jacob'

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

Nevertheless, I pretended winter was coming and planted another 200 daffodils in anticipation that spring will come with all it’s profusion next March.

Helleborus niger 'HGC Jacob'

A bag of 100 daffodils from Scheepers

Daffodil planter

Daffodil planter

Quick digging

Quick digging

Daffodils in the hole

Daffodils in the hole

From the greenhouse we have freesias and daffodils right now, but I wanted to close with this pretty amaryllis relative

Cyrtanthus mackenii

Cyrtanthus mackenii

The flowers are a wonderful pastel with an almost waxy texture.  I enjoy exploring all the bulbs that come by way of the Pacific Bulb Society‘s exchange program.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day November 2015

Big-Tooth Aspens

Big-Tooth Aspens

It’s been a wonderful fall here in Maryland.  Sunny days, cool nights, and no hard frost yet.  That has allowed some of the flowers to pretend that it is spring.  In particular, one of the Camellia japonica hybrids often gets a jump on the season.

Camellia japonica 'April Tryst'

Camellia japonica ‘Spring’s Promise’

Last year a lot of the Camellias got blasted going through the winter.  I have hopes for a better showing this spring.

Another early showing is the small Daphne at the foot of the garage.

Daphne x 'Lawrence Crocker'

Daphne x ‘Lawrence Crocker’

This one, like many Daphnes, has a wonderful fragrance.

I was surprised to find a Bottle Gentian that had self-seeded in the garden quite about 20 feet away from the nearest source.

Bottle Gentian seedling (Gentiana andrewsii)

Bottle Gentian seedling (Gentiana andrewsii)

I’m not as fond of the Bottle Gentians as I keep waiting for them to open there buds, which never happens.  But most any flower is welcome at this season.

I need to give credit to the little Wallflower that basically blooms the whole year.

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) I think

Western Wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) I think

Tricyrtis also have an extensive bloom time, just about the whole fall season.  Beth found that they also make a nice cut flower.

Tricyrtis 'Sinonome' in Vase

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ in Vase

I was particularly delighted with the Fall Crocus this year.  ‘Conquerer’ is still in bloom for us.

Crocus speciosus 'Conqueror'

Crocus speciosus ‘Conqueror’

Crocus cartwrightianus 'Albus'

Crocus cartwrightianus ‘Albus’

Make a mental note that we need more Fall Crocus next year.  I interplanted them in the grass with Ajuga and Starflowers.  It looks like they all get on fine together.

I can’t resist showing more of the many Oxalis that are blooming in the greenhouse right now.  In this case I’m choosing the semi-folded stage before they fully open for the day.

Oxalis purpurea 'Cherry'

Oxalis purpurea ‘Cherry’

Oxalis versicolor

Oxalis versicolor

Oxalis callosa

Oxalis callosa

So this the state of affairs in mid-November for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  I’ll close with a sunset from the back pasture.

Autumn Sunset on Ball Rd

Autumn Sunset on Ball Rd

 

 

Oxalis in Motion

Oxalis asinia

Oxalis asinia

Oxalis species have wonderful variety in both flowers and foliage.  There are more than 800 species altogether, most from South Africa.  One of the characteristics that I’ve seen in most of the varieties that I’ve grown is a strong responsiveness to light.  Both flowers and leaves can be responsive to light, but the unfolding and refolding of the flowers is particularly lovely to watch.  Rather than just opening and closing they actually twist at the same time so that when closed they take on the aspect of a very tight cylinder.

Oxalis asinia wrapped

Oxalis asinia wrapped

To illustrate the process I made a time-lapse video of Oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’ over a 4 hour period one morning in the dining room.

The flowers come to life as they greet the sun each day.  Notice the untwisting.

Here are some of the other Oxalis that we are enjoying right now.

Oxalis pardalis

Oxalis pardalis

 

Oxalis cathera

Oxalis cathera

 

Oxalis purpea 'Lavender & White'

Oxalis purpea ‘Lavender & White’

 

Oxalis polyphylla var. heptaphylla

Oxalis polyphylla var. heptaphylla

If you are interested in Oxalis I suggest a visit to Telos Rare Bulbs.  Diana Chapman, the proprietor, has an exquisite collection of Oxalis (among many other bulbs).

Another south african that is fully open right now is Polyxena ensifolia.

Polyxena ensifolia

Polyxena ensifolia

So many buds packed into a very tight space.

One other item to mention today is the arrival of Daubyena stylosa.  When we were visitng the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last Thanksgiving I noticed a marvelous Daubyena Stylosa plant in full flower.  It was the first I had ever seen of that species.  However I had just that august planted a few seedlings that I had obtained from a Pacific Bulb Society exchange.  And now the first flowers have arrived on one of those seedlings.

Daubenya stylosa

Daubenya stylosa

 

C&O Canal at Noland’s Ferry

Trail along the C&O canal

Trail along the C&O canal

We’ve had a wonderful extended Autumn with many clear sunny days.  On one of them last week we took a morning walk along the C&O canal.  This national park is only 15-20 minutes from our house.  The overall park is essentially a biking-hiking-running trail that extends 185 miles from Washington, DC to Cumberland, MD.  Noland’s Ferry is at the 45 mile point along the trail and is a broad leaf-strewn walkway in this season.  There are other parts of Frederick County that are lit up with color this time of year, but along the canal it’s mostly greens turning to yellow.  Nonetheless one of the joys of walking is noticing that which is not visible from car or bike.  We walked about 2 miles down the trail towards Washington and then returned, moving at a pace that encouraged observation.  Even at that pace we noticed things on the return part of the trail that we had missed on the outgoing trip.

Some of the most striking elements were fungi.  The Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus looks like a waterfall frozen in time.

Bear's Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum)

Bear’s Head Tooth Fungus (Hericium americanum)

The Jelly Ear Mushroom is said to be good to eat, but we limit ourselves to puffballs (which we have eaten many times).

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

Jelly Ear Mushroom (Auricularia auricula-judae)

And then there was this very phallic white mushroom which I’ve not been able to identify.

Pure White Mushroom

Pure White Mushroom

Along the trail was a very tiny snake, about the size of a worm.  It seems likely this this is an Eastern Smooth Earthsnake.  They do have babies in the fall but they are not very big in any case.  It eats earthworms, slugs, snails, and soft-bodied insects.  On balance that’s the kind of diet I can  appreciate.

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae )

Eastern Smooth Earthsnake (Virginia valeriae )

There were two interesting fruiting plants that we noticed.  Spicebush is a smallish native shrubby tree that is found in wooded lowlands.  It has plants of both the male and female persuasion so it will be interesting to return in spring to see if we can identify them.

Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)

Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin)

And the Eastern Wahoo is another small native tree that has what seem like packages of pink candy hanging from its branches.

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

Eastern Wahoo (Euonymus atropurpureus)

The leaves had not yet turned but like its relative, the Euonymus alatus, the Eastern Wahoo should have strongly colored red leaves.

At one point we looked up and noticed a tree with remarkable orange foliage.  At first I thought sugar maple, but that is not common with us at all.  When I got home and did a little research, it was pretty clear to me that what we saw was Black Maple.  This is a close cousin to the Sugar Maple and as many of the same positive attributes.  It would be worth trying to propagate in our forest.

Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple (Acer nigrum)

Black Maple leaf (note the typical 3 lobes)

Black Maple leaf (note the typical 3 lobes)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2015

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Well it’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and the flowering for October is fairly predictable.  Toad lilies, Japanese Anemone’s, annuals in the garden and the Oxalis are all coming into flower in the greenhouse.  They get planted in late August and they come into flower very rapidly.  And one of the earliest and most prolific is Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg' in quantity

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’ in quantity

Some other Oxalis examples are

Oxalis bowieii

Oxalis bowieii

Oxalis fabifolia

Oxalis fabifolia

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Out in the yard a new Colchicum that we’ve added is ‘Dick Trotter’

Colchicum 'Dick Trotter'

Colchicum ‘Dick Trotter’

For the first time we’ve got flowers on the new Mahonia that we added this spring.

Mahonia confusa ‘Narihira’

Mahonia confusa ‘Narihira’

I’ve got high hopes that this soft foliaged Mahonia will make it over the winter.

Also in the monument bed is a lovely little Saxifrage that I received as a gift this winter.

Saxifraga fortunei 'Select'

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Select’

Also a single flower shows on the St. John’s Wort this week.

Hypericum 'Hidcote'

Hypericum ‘Hidcote’

As I mentioned the toad lilies continue to put on a show.  Especially productive is the Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ in profile

Tricyrtis ‘Sinonome’ in profile

These are some of the highlights in our garden.  I hope yours is also filled with delights.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2015

Japanese Anemone 'Whirwind'

Japanese Anemone ‘Whirwind’

It is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and I am late in posting once again.  I found myself on the road once more but these are photos from the garden reflecting the state of affairs before I left. One of the standout flowers for this time of year is the lovely double flowered Japanese anemone pictured above.  It is both floriferous and singularly beautiful over a long period in the fall.

Another set of flowers that can be counted on for September are the Toad Lilies.

Tricyrtis 'Tojen'

Tricyrtis ‘Tojen’

There are several in the yard now but they are all characterized by orchid like blossoms and delightful green foliage with rampant growth.

One of our favorite dahlias for use in the perennial gardens is Bishop of Llandalf.

Bishop of Llandalf

Bishop of Llandalf

It’s dark foliage contrasts nicely with the other plants and the red flowers are outstanding.

We have several patches of Garlic Chives that are expanding.

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum)

They are especially nice when many other perennial flowers have faded.

In the annual cutting bed the Tithonia continue to dominate.

Tithonia

Tithonia

They are constantly visited by butterflies and bees.

Butterfly on Tithonia

Butterfly on Tithonia

In the wildflower patch in the lawn we have some Colchicum established.

Colchicum 'Byzantium'

Colchicum ‘Byzantium’

One of the nice aspects of species peonies is the rather striking seed pods they can have in the fall.

Peony Seeds

Peony Seeds

This one is Paonia obovata I believe.  The red seeds are not viable but the black ones could easily be harvested.

It’s also worth noting that this year promises a very nice apple crop, probably more than we can eat….

Mutsu Apples

Mutsu Apples

Nice Note from NARGS and an Opportunity

Adonis amurensis 'Chichibu Beni'

Adonis amurensis ‘Chichibu Beni’

I got a nice note today from Malcolm McGregor who is the editor of the North American Rock Garden Society journal the ‘Rock Garden Quarterly’.  His message was that the above picture of an Adonis from last winter was selected as the the Joint Winner of Class 5 (Close up) in their annual photo contest.  At the same time he said that my photo of a Gymnospermium albertii was given a Highly Commended rating in a different class.

Gymnospermium albertii

Gymnospermium albertii

As a class winner, I am entitled to give a free annual membership to NARGS to the person of my choosing.  If you are harboring an interest in rock garden plants but have not yet taken the plunge, let me know, and if it’s not already been given away, I’ll be happy to give you this opportunity.  Personally I have found the whole NARGS experience — growing plants, exchanging seeds, and reading the excellent journal articles — to be very fulfilling.

Meanwhile, here is the latest little Zephyranthes in the greenhouse to usher in the fall season

Zephyranthes smallii

Zephyranthes smallii