Well real winter has arrived just in time for bloom day. I took a walk around the yard and could not discover a single flower outside. That is very rare. I found one camellia bud that was seriously considering blooming.
But the outside looks to be in for a cold spell. The real flowers are in the greenhouse or in the house at this point. The house spectacular is the red cattleya orchid that blooms every year at about this time.
It has a marvelous fragrance to compliment the exotic flowers. This orchid spends the whole spring, summer,and fall on the porch with zero care, so it’s very nice that it rewards us with these flowers when we bring it inside for the winter.
Another plant that has been sharing it’s flowers with us in the kitchen actually came from the greenhouse. It’s Cyrtanthus mackenii, part of a large genus in the Amaryllis family.
This south african native blooms for a long period with a succession of long tubular flowers and seems to relish being crowded in the pot.
Another greenhouse plant that is very consistently flowering after thanksgiving is Daubenya stylosa.
The beautiful yellow stamens are an absolute magnet for slugs. I didn’t actually know that I had slugs in the greenhouse until the Daubenya started blooming.
There are numerous oxalis still in bloom, such as this purpurea.
The next flowers coming into bloom are the small hoop daffodils. Silver Palace is an example.
I think this is about the third year of blooming and they are starting to fill the pot quite nicely.
I had a little thrilling adventure in the greenhouse last week. I looked at the weather station that I keep in the utility room to monitor the greenhouse temperature and saw, to my dismay, that the temperatures were dipping close to freezing. By 2am the temperature showed to be 33 degrees so I found myself out in the greenhouse checking on the function of the two heaters that I use to keep the temperatures up. They both seemed to be working ok and plants seemed to be handling the cold so I went to bed. In the morning I saw the temperature had dipped to 31 degrees. What then discovered was that I had been looking at the ‘old’ weather station. Last year I put in a new one and moved the ‘old’ sensor to the garage. When I put a new battery in the ‘new’ weather station it dutifully reported temperatures closer to 50 degrees which is more what I had in mind.
Just ask this Gerbera if 50 degrees is more the temperature that it enjoys…
It seems appropriate for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day to give due credit to this little dwarf Daphne which has bloomed on and off in the Alpine bed since April. The flowers (like most Daphnes) are very fragrant and the plant has prospered in the Alpine bed despite my placing it in a spot between two rocks where it seemed to me most appropriate to its small size. And it’s much bigger now, though still very pleasing.
Even the Winter Daphne which I moved into the sunshine this year after torturing it in the deep shade for several years seems to be enjoying its exposure to the elements.
It’s out by the front fence in some of the poorest soil on our hillside. We shall see how it survives. The Edgeworthia, its new neighbor, has put out some fat buds so maybe it’s not as bad a location as I imagined.
Our weather has flirted with frost but we haven’t really had a hard, killing frost yet. That has let some of the hardier plants continue to flower. Here are just a few of them.
The Lantana is one of the feature plants that will tell me when it has gotten really cold, and I should take the citrus to the basement.
As we go back to the Alpine bed, another plant that has bloomed for a long time (essentially nine months) is the Erodium chrysanthum.
It’s close relative, the alpine geranium, is also fond of flowering every day.
What has been particularly surprising this fall is the Delphinium cashmerianum.
Retreating finally into the greenhouse (which will be my refuge before long) I want to share the bright red flowers of the a little Aptenia that I grew from a cutting (thank you Marianne!)
And the tiny little flowers of Polyxena ensifolia which looks much bigger on the web.
Perhaps mine will grow up some day…
Besides myriad Oxalis, there is also a pot of Cyclamen worthy of note.
These are pure white with lovely leaves.
Finally I will finish up with the first Camellia of this season. Beth picked it before I could photograph it in place, but it’s another reminder of what an extended Fall season we have had.
I awoke this morning to find that the world around me was in tears. In no way could I imagine that the U.S. could elect an ignorant charlatan to the highest office in the land. I am profoundly ashamed of the system that takes two years of campaigning at enormous expense to arrive at this terrible state of affairs. I’ll take a parliamentary system any day as a more effective representative government. I have no idea how to fix the cultural divide between those who think that knowledge is a flexible thing to be bent to one’s whims and those who respect education and the country’s historic values.
I can think of nothing more appropriate to the moment than to quote a letter from E.B. White that appears on the wonderful Letters of Note website
North Brooklin, Maine
30 March 1973
Dear Mr. Nadeau:
As long as there is one upright man, as long as there is one compassionate woman, the contagion may spread and the scene is not desolate. Hope is the thing that is left to us, in a bad time. I shall get up Sunday morning and wind the clock, as a contribution to order and steadfastness.
Sailors have an expression about the weather: they say, the weather is a great bluffer. I guess the same is true of our human society—things can look dark, then a break shows in the clouds, and all is changed, sometimes rather suddenly. It is quite obvious that the human race has made a queer mess of life on this planet. But as a people we probably harbor seeds of goodness that have lain for a long time waiting to sprout when the conditions are right. Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.
Hang on to your hat. Hang on to your hope. And wind the clock, for tomorrow is another day.
(Signed, ‘E. B. White’)
I am way behind on reporting on garden developments here on Ball Rd. I walked around last weekend to try to catch up with what has been happening (mostly what persists in growing despite the lack of rain hereabouts). I was quite pleased and surprised to see that the first flowers have appeared on a little delphinium that I had placed in the new Alpine bed (more about that in a future post). I grew this one from seed (obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed exchange) planted last February. As I look at the plant I’m dubious that the name is correct. The leaves are much more narrow than shown in the online pictures of D. cashmerianum.
There are a lot of species of Delphiniums so I’ll have to live with it for a while to see if I can hone in on the correct name.
It’s been so dry that I haven’t had a lot of new flowers for quite some time. I did see that the Mahonia by the front door has it’s yellow flowers showing.
The big question is whether we’ve found a spot where it will successfully survive the winter.
There are many annuals still about in the vegetable garden. I’ve shown the Tithonia many times now. But out front the Gaillardia deserves some commendation for persistence.
And there was a solitary rose in flower next to the garage. It was just about perfect with a wonderful fragrance.
I know longer remember the name, but it seems to me it had something to do with ‘blush’.
There a couple of instances of Bottle Gentians having escaped in the garden behind the garage. I’ve never been that keen on flowers that never open, but they are beginning to win me over with stubborn endurance.
And it you look closely while walking in the back yard you can see crocus blooming in the lawn.
But even as the flowers are waning during this Indian Summer, the greenhouse is abounding with the bright green growth of many bulbs. Daffodils, triteleia, tritonia, ferraria, moraea, freesia, lachenalia, and more are sending up new shoots. And the oxalis are in full bloom now. Here is a sampling. Notice how variable the leaves are from the clover-like bowieii , to the wonderfully textured melanosticta, and to the very narrow hirta.
Lastly a Cyrtanthus hybrid that has been living in the house for two weeks now.
It has been a generally hot and dry (read depressing) summer for our garden). In early August we awoke to find that we had drawn down the well with watering and so had to forego our normal watering plan. So my looks around the garden prior to Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day were fewer than they might otherwise have been. We did still water Beth’s new raised bed and the Nasturtiums and Calendulas have responded by blooming all summer long and into the Fall.
Many of the other flowers in bloom are a testament to how well some species can survive in adversity.
Venturing out onto our ultra-dry hillside which never gets watered at all anymore, I found several champions of the survival school.
Notice the spider on the Lemon Queen and it’s very adaptive coloration.
The butterflies are also very attracted to Lemon Queen.
I also saw a lovely Monarch Butterfly on the Tithonia in the vegetable garden.
One very noteworthy Fall-blooming flower is the Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’. I’m becoming more of a fan every year and it’s a good thing because it keeps spreading of its own volition.
Another fall bloomer was a bit of a surprise. This Sweet Autumn Clematis was something I pulled out three years ago and I was surprised to see it return in two separate places this year.
It’s a lovely flower but can get too aggressive if left to its own devices. I will probably try to transplant it to the woods.
In the alpine beds I have two erodiums that are returning to bloom right now.
In the greenhouse I have just finished restarting all the oxalis. At the same time the Bulbine has come back into flower.
And one of the cyclamens has taken on a very distinctive flowering by simply spilling over the edge of the pot with a great many flowers and no leaves at all.
Lastly just to note that man (or woman) does not live by flowers alone. The raspberries are joining the apples as delectable fruits to be harvested this month.
I find myself at the beach for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, but before leaving I snapped a few shots of the flowering activity around our hillside. The gentian pictured above is a vigorous spreader in the Alpine bed that is a reliable harbinger of fall. The feathery insides of the flower make it one of the prettiest flowers I know.
The rest of the yard is dominated by the hardy annuals and sturdy perennials that can make it through a dry Maryland summer. A great example is the state flower, Black-eyed Susans, that dominates our front bed.
In the vegetable garden we often grow Mexican Sunflower (Sithonia) which are very attractive to butterflies.
There a number of plants that deserve special praise for returning one or more times during the summer.
The salvia is not supposed to be hardy in our area, but it has returned reliably for 5 years now.
The two lobelias, red and blue, are winners for an August garden.
Amongst the shrubs, the Hydrangea ‘Limelight makes a long and lovely showing.
From the greenhouse a number of the formosa lilies are in full flower.
And the small Herbertia texensis is putting out it’s complex flowers.
Let me close, because the beach is calling, with a wildlife image from the garden. I found this remarkably lovely caterpillar on a tree peony leaf.
Well, if you had to pick a theme flower for this month’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day it would the lilies. Despite the dry weather we have been experiencing, they are exploding all over the yard, especially the hybrids between orientals and trumpets (aka orienpets). They are tall, fragrant, floriferous, and individually stunning.
In the house they make quite a display too.
Here are some others of the lily orienpet persuasion.
Of course, even the old-fashioned orientals are pretty spectacular.
And then a new one added to collection this year is Lilium henryii hybrid.
There are course still many annuals and some of the standard perennials, but one of the species that has asked for special recognition is the Crocosmia. These wonderful bulbs from the iris family are durable, productive and beautiful, year after year.
Another new plant for us is the popular anemone ‘Wild Swan’.
It is especially characterized by the purple markings on the back of the petals.
In the greenhouse we have several noteworthy arrivals. First a very unusual Pineapple Lily.
This is only found in the wild between 7000′ and 8000′ in South Africa. At some point I might experiment with growing it outside.
Also from South Africa is member of the Amaryllis family, Cyrtanthus elatus x montanus.
A little Cyclamen is flowering from seed planted in 2013.
And a welcome returnee is this rain lily.
One of the fun things for me is finding the unusual animals that populate the yard, if you take the time to notice them. Last week it was this wonderful dime-sized spider that caught my eye.
We just returned last week from a spectacular trip to Colorado that was focused on the North American Rock Garden Society‘s (NARGS) annual meeting. The theme was ‘A Higher State — Steppe to Alpine’ and it was in two locations, the Denver Botanic Garden and Steamboat Springs over 5 days. It had been a while since we had been to Colorado, so we met with friends and family in Boulder and Golden beforehand. I’ll try to give a brief overview of what was a wonderful and relaxing exploration of mountain wildflowers.
Hiking just outside of Boulder we encountered this lovely Calochortus.
The NARGS meeting began at the Denver Botanic Garden where we got a personalized tour of the rock gardens by Mike Kintgen who oversees the Alpine collection.
Their garden features a crevice garden which has been established for several years now (long enough to see several successful cushions)
They manage to grow the wonderful Devil’s Claw that we first saw in the Dolomites last year.
The Denver Botanic Gardens are not to be missed if you are in Denver. In this season they have a spectacular display of Foxtail Lilies.
On our way to Steamboat Springs we stopped at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail which has newly constructed tufa wall for optimum planting of tiny alpines.
And the outside part of the gardens is quite nice as well.
In Steamboat Springs we visited local gardens including the Yampa River Botanic Park which right along the Yampa River in a very pretty setting. They have built a stunning crevice garden there.
I fell in love with a little Stachys planted in one of the crevice locations.
We also took several hikes in the trails surrounding Steamboat Springs. We drove out through countryside that really summed up what steppes are all about.
Just along the side of the road we saw beautiful Lewisia and Shooting Stars.
One stop near a trailhead into the Zirkel Wilderness area produced a bevy of these very small Ladyslipper Orchids
We stayed a few days past the conference and on the last day of hiking we walked up a ridge near the Rabbit Ears pass area. The views were excellent, but it was remarkable how you had to pay close attention to see that the hillside was covered with wildflower treasures.
And a final sighting on this ridge was a very nice ground orchid.
All in all, a wonderful trip, with a suitcase full of tiny treasures brought back to Maryland from the plant sales at the conference. My thanks to Laporte Avenue Nursery and Sunscapes Rare Plant Nursery.
Also, I should mention that the Denver Botanic Garden has published a very nice book on this region of the world (and similar) entitled ‘Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions‘. Check it out…