Articles

Jewels of Spring

Hepatica americana pink

It’s that time of year when I wish each day would linger so that we can enjoy all the jewels of springtime that are popping up day by day.  I’m so busy outside that I’ve not kept up with recording all the flowers coming into bloom right now.  The spring ephemerals are always at the top of my enjoyment list.  Many of them are small, transitory, and wonderfully beautiful.  Hepaticas come to mind with their small hairy leaves and colorful stamens.

Hepatica japonica purple

Hepatica japonica red and white

But there are many competitors for my eye.  Here are a few that have come in the last few weeks.

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Blue Giant’

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

Pulsatilla grandis

Primula allionii ‘Wharfefdale Ling’

Geum reptans

This is a new plant grown from seed obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Club seed exchange last year.

Corydalis kusnetzovii x C.solida ‘Cherry Lady’

A new addition from Augis Bulbs last summer.

Corydalis solida ‘Beth Evans’

Erythronium dens-canis ‘Rose Queen’

Jeffersonia diphylla

Sanguinaria canadensis ‘Multiplex’

Arisaema ringens

Anemone blanda ‘Violet Star’

Spring Beauty ‘Clatonia virginica’

Fessia hohenackeri (note the stamens)

A favorite combo – Chionodoxa and Anemone blanda

Of course, even in springtime the greenhouse is contributing it’s part.

Ferraria ferrariola

Moraea sp. MM 03-04a blue

Tritonia ‘Bermuda Sands’

Scilla peruviana

A wonderful plant.  I have some outside as well and last year they managed to flower.

Paradisea lusitanica

This comes on a 3 1/2 foot stalk.  I’m going to try putting it outside this year.  It’s marginally hardy in our area and it would be wonderful if it succeeds.

And then lastly the greenhouse provided a lot of color to the house

Clivia in the Entryway

Almost Missed Them

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

With so much happening out of doors right now it would be easy to pass by some of the things happening in the greenhouse.  At the back of the greenhouse I almost missed seeing the flowers of this lovely evergreen Einkianthus.  I’m usually looking at the pots, especially when for what is just popping up from seed and I had already concluded there were no flower buds on this Einkianthus.  Imagine my surprise when I saw this shrub has many flowers on it (the first time for us).  Apparently the flowers follow the leaves.  The drooping bells are much larger and prettier than the normal Einkianthus alatus, but the plant is probably not hardy here.  We put the pot in the ground after last frost.

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

It is especially easy to miss the Moraeas since the flowers have very short duration.  But the colors are marvelous from these little plants from the iris family.

Moraea macronyx

I don’t know if the torn petals were from normal wear and tear or some critter.  But what was left is lovely.  Wait till next year.

Two more stunning Moraeas follow.

Moraea tripetala ssp. tripetala

Moraea elegans

I should have more Moraeas over the next few weeks.

There are also several lachenalias in bloom.

Lachenalia unicolor

And a marvelous little ornithogalum.

Ornithogalum sp. (ex McGary PBS)

This one may be worth a try outside.

And another almost missed is this lovely hesperantha.

Hesperantha falcata showing unopened bud as well

On a hunch I went out to the greenhouse after supper and found the hesperantha was blooming although all the buds had been tightly closed at 3pm.  Apparently this hesperantha specializes in serving the nighttime insects.  How many of those we have in Maryland right now I’m not sure.  I first grew this plant several years ago and then lost the parent but I had saved the seed and this is the first child of that mother plant.  By the way all of these plants except the Einkianthus came from the Pacific Bulb Society‘s seed and bulb exchanges.  It’s a marvelous source of botanical marvels.  Besides opening at the night the Hesperantha falcata exudes a lovely scent to attract all of us late night flower hunters…

Hesperantha falcata

Hello Springtime!

Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai'

Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’

Is it just me or has spring been incredibly slow in arriving this year…

Anyway, with a few warm days it looks like all the normal players are contributing to the daily walk around interest in the yard.  Key for me are always the Adonis which got a little bedraggled from the back and forth of snowstorms and freezing ground.  But even the special Sandanzaki is beginning to bud out.

Adonis amurensis 'Sandanzaki' just opening

Adonis amurensis ‘Sandanzaki’ just opening

The little species crocus have been popping out in the lawn where I scattered them years ago

Small mixed species crocus in the lawn

Small mixed species crocus in the lawn

And there is an especially nice tommassinianus that I would recommend to anyone.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Roseus'

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Roseus’

Just today the little histroides iris that has been threatening to bloom since December has finally opened up.

Iris histrioides 'George'

Iris histrioides ‘George’

Another standard for the early garden is the primrose that dots the spring pastures in England.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris

With things starting to pop outdoors it is ironic that some of the most fascinating flowers right now are in the greenhouse.  There’s a spectacular Moraea that opened up today.

Moraea elegans in bud

Moraea elegans in bud

Moraea elegans

Moraea elegans

And a little Romulea that is the first of its clan to flower this year.

Romulea monticola

Romulea monticola

A couple of years ago (thanks Dick) a friend gave me some peruvian scilla bulbs that I potted up for the greenhouse.  Mine were in the outside garden and have since perished from two really cold winters in succession.  Anyway these squill have chosen to flower out of the pots this year and they are spectacular.  There are 5 bulbs in each pot and this what just one of them looks like.

Scilla peruviana

Scilla peruviana

There’s a another Oxalis that I got from Brent&Becky last fall.

Oxalis adenophylla

Oxalis adenophylla

It has lovely crinkled foliage and is said to be hardy as well (I put a few in the flower bed so we shall see).

We have three good sized Clivia and they are flowering now as well.  Nice enough that they earned a spot in the house.

Clivia miniata

Clivia miniata

Everyone should have clivia, they are so carefree and reliable.

And last but surely not least the first of my Ferrarias has come into bloom.

Labeled as Ferraria uncinata but I think it is more likely one of the crispa forms

Labeled as Ferraria uncinata but I think it is more likely one of the crispa forms

Starfish lily is another of the names that the Ferrarias go by.  It is hard to imagine a more complex curling of the flower petals (claws) than on the Ferraria.  This was another acquisition from the Pacific Bulb Society’s Bulb Exchange.  I don’t know of any other way to get these little jewels.  Can you picture what a field of these looks like in South Africa?

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day – April 2015

Daffodil bouquet

Daffodil bouquet

As I was gathering up pictures for this post, I found it hard to stay focussed on the task.  Each image I came across seemed to lead me down a path of ‘what was the name of that flower?’.  I clearly need a garden elf who goes around checking on labels.  Anyway, let me begin by saying April is, as always, a time of flower abundance so that Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is necessarily a picking and choosing of which flowers to display.  The daffodils are everywhere and their fragrance dominates the inside of the house and all of the gardens.  But it is also a time to revel in the Hellebores who, though they started much earlier, have not gone away at all.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Kingston Cardinal'

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Kingston Cardinal’

Helleborus x hybridus 'Cotton Candy'

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Cotton Candy’

Helleborus x hybridus 'Peppermint Ice'

Helleborus x hybridus ‘Peppermint Ice’

Helleborus hybrid ‘MG Apricot’

Helleborus hybrid ‘MG Apricot’

In contrast, it is worth noting that this is the peak time for the spring ephemerals which clamor to be appreciated for their very short time on the stage.  They are generally around for just a few days at most and require getting down on your hands and knees to see the wonderful details.

Anemonella thalictroides

Anemonella thalictroides

Anemonella thalictroides 'Shoaf's Double Pink'

Anemonella thalictroides ‘Shoaf’s Double Pink’

Corydalis solida 'Cantata'

Corydalis solida ‘Cantata’

Jeffersonia dubia

Jeffersonia dubia

Jeffersonia dubia (light colored)

Jeffersonia dubia (light colored)

Hepatica nobilis 'Lithuanian Blues'

Hepatica nobilis ‘Lithuanian Blues’

Erythronium dens-canis 'Rose Queen'

Erythronium dens-canis ‘Rose Queen’

Erythronium americanum in abundance

Erythronium americanum in abundance

Bloodroot colony (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Bloodroot colony (Sanguinaria canadensis)

Sanguinaria canadensis Multiplex

Sanguinaria canadensis Multiplex

A longer lasting springtime favorite is the Roadrunner trillium.

Trillium pusillum 'Roadrunner'

Trillium pusillum ‘Roadrunner’

In the orchard and the woods the cherries are in bloom.

Sweet Cherry blossoms

Sweet Cherry blossoms

And alpine bed and troughs feature some distinctive flowers that are not usually part of the Maryland landscape.

A host of Aubretia

A host of Aubretia

Saxifraga apiculata alba

Saxifraga apiculata alba

Vitaliana primuliflora

Vitaliana primuliflora

Inside the house, the clivia is trying hard to make us focus on indoor flowers.

Clivia miniata makes a statement

Clivia miniata makes a statement

And lastly, since I am well past the normal posting time, let me close with the latest Cypripedium that we added from this year’s visit to Plant Delights.  It’s a ahead of it’s season because I’ve just taken it from the greenhouse.

Cypripedium 'Emil'

Cypripedium ‘Emil’

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day January 2015

Aubretia overcoming the winter cold

Aubretia overcoming the winter cold

I think this little aubretia blossom aptly describes the effects of winter snowstorms and frozen ground for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  We had a couple of nights with single digit temperatures where I added another heater for the greenhouse just to make sure.  We’re now back to the twenties at night and thirties-forties daytime which is more of our typical wintertime. The flowers outside are still scarce to find though.  There’s a few violas that Beth planted last fall that are remarkably resilient despite being smashed by the snow.

Fall planted viola

Fall planted viola

Similarly the Jacob hellebores have been smashed to the ground but are still sharing their flowers with us.

Helleborus niger 'Jacob'

Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’

It’s not too hard to look around and find evidence that there are flowers ready to burst forth if they are given the slightest excuse.  Even the Cyclamen Coum which seems quite out of season has several buds showing.

Bud on Cyclamen coum 'Lake Effect'

Bud on Cyclamen coum ‘Lake Effect’

I have the slavonia pasque flower growing in one of the large troughs.  It has the most intricately hairy buds showing above the ground.

The hairy buds of Pulsatilla halleri sup. slavica

The hairy buds of Pulsatilla halleri sup. slavica

For more flowers we have to go into the greenhouse where the oxalis are still holding forth.

Oxalis purpurea 'Skar' bud opening

Oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’ bud opening

Oxalis purpurea 'Skar'

Oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’

The Oxalis purpurea have been blooming since October.  More recently a lovely little Oxalis obtusa has popped up.

Oxalis obtusa 'Peaches and Cream'

Oxalis obtusa ‘Peaches and Cream’

I’ve taken to bringing one of the oxalis into the kitchen to enjoy the unwrapping and folding of their blossoms each day.

In the house we have just one orchid in bloom.

Moth orchid

Moth orchid

That’s it from a cold Maryland hill.  I figure we are less than two weeks from January 21 which I shall now designate officially as post-Solstice.  This is roughly the ground temperature analog to the December Solstice that marks the shortest day of the year.  I figure that from January 21 onward the ground temperature should get warmer and warmer.  I don’t want to say that I can’t wait because I actually enjoy each and every day of the march toward springtime ephemerals.  Bud by bud, shoot by shoot, and flower by flower the world will be coming alive again…

It’s Spring All Over Again

Lewisia pygmaea

Lewisia pygmaea

I was surprised to see that a little pot of Lewisia pygmaea seedlings was flowering even though I think of Lewisia as spring flowering plants.  But a little research showed that indeed they can flower again in the fall after being dormant in the summertime.  The odd thing here is that this is the first bloom for these plants.  They only just germinated this spring from seeds distributed by the Alpine Garden Society in 2013.  And there are no such flowers on the plants in the alpine bed which flowered wonderfully this spring.  Anyway I’ll enjoy them as a little bit of spring in the fall.

The greenhouse is producing the other pronounced springtime right now.  All those plants that happily produce wintertime flowers are putting up green shoots like mad and some are even flowering.  The oxalis caught me off-guard with their rapid growth.  I dimly remembered planting them in early September last year, but that is clearly too late.  This is what some of the new acquisitions looked like when I pulled them out of their bag.

Oxalis sprouting

Oxalis sprouting

And the plants that I had moved to basement to spend a dormant summer were growing vigorously, regardless of having neither water or light.  Needless to say I will be more aware next year.  Anyway, I potted the new ones up and brought the old ones from the basement.  And in a little more than two weeks they are growing vigorously.

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis caprina was the first to flower, even though it was just planted from a bulb.  It’s small and a bit scraggly as a plant but like all the oxalis it’s flower is worth looking at closely.  Second on the scene is Oxalis polyphylla v. heptaphylla.

Oxalis polyphylla v. heptaphylla

Oxalis polyphylla v. heptaphylla

In this case it is from one of last year’s pots.  The flowers are somewhat larger than the Oxalis caprina.  Many more varieties are on the way.

Oxalis hirta (pink)

Oxalis hirta (pink)

Oxalis bowiei

Oxalis bowiei

Altogether I count more than 35 different kinds of oxalis at this point, mostly from the Pacific Bulb Society bulb exchange and Telos Rare Bulbs.

The oxalis have lots of friends and neighbors that are sprouting too.  The Ferrarias, Moraeas, Babianas, and Lachenalias are all coming along rapidly.

Ferraria ferrariola

Ferraria ferrariola

So you can see that I am actively contemplating the greenhouse in bloom but the outside is still filled with fall pleasures.  I’ll leave you with an image of Chrysanthemum abundance.

Yellow Chrysanthemum

Yellow Chrysanthemums

Post-Thanksgiving Delights

Oxalis densa

Oxalis densa

We came back from a wonderful Thanksgiving in NY to find some more special flowers to celebrate the end of 2013 with.  In particular, the oxalis remain delightful with each variety taking it’s turn on stage.  The oxalis densa is remarkably compact with very large flowers for the size of the very hairy stems.  The back sides of the petals are streaked red so the when the bud is rolled up it’s a bit like an abstract painting.

Oxalis densa

Oxalis densa showing rolled up bud

Next to it we have the oxalis adenodes which has a wonderful sheen to the petals in the late afternoon light.

Oxalis adenodes

Oxalis adenodes

And I cannot shake a fascination with the oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’ which looks so well-formed and colorful in it’s tight little hairy bud.

Oxalis purpurea 'Skar'

Oxalis purpurea ‘Skar’

I had two surprises in the greenhouse when I got back from Thanksgiving.  Both were from bulb distributions from the Pacific Bulb Society which has a wonderful online database and a very active mailing list.  One was Freesia fucata, a cheery white african flower with yellow markings.  It’s a small plant overall which makes the flowers that much more remarkable.

Freesia fucata

Freesia fucata

The second addition to the blooming category was a small Narcissus that would survive outside but would be lost amid all the other flowers of spring time.

Narcissus cantabricus 'Silver Palace'

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

In the Greenhouse it gets a full portion of daily appreciation.

At the same time the house had an explosion of Orchid to share with us.  Our prettiest cattleya was fully in bloom and it’s scent every bit as good as the velvety texture of the flower.

Cattaleya in full glory

Cattaleya in full glory

Meanwhile, the outside garden had it’s own surprise.  The crocus specious, which I had thought might not even join the bloom party this year, had popped fully open.  It is truly a very pretty flower with the stamens having a signature bright orange that contrasts vividly with the purple flower.

Crocus speciosus

Crocus speciosus

Of course that was the first week of December.  Since then we’ve had two snows and the back yard looks like this.

After December winter storm

After December winter storm

Ever the optimist, I can’t help but wonder what is going on underneath that snow…:)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2013

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

It’s mid-October and time to take stock of what is flowering on the hill.  As always, we have to thank Carol at May Dreams Gardens for having initiated this tradition.  The regular posting allows me to see from year to year how the flowering changes and gives pause to think about what is going on in the gardens.

When you drive up to our house right now an eye-catching plant is the Plectranthus that Beth received as a Mother’s Day gift.

Plectranthus 'Mona Lavender'

Plectranthus ‘Mona Lavender’

This is not a hardy plant for us (I think it may be a zone 10 item) but it looks like it will be well worth trying to carry over.  Not only did it flower this spring, but it’s repeating the process now for the fall.  Also in the front yard is the vivid pink Allium that is a fall staple.

Allium thunbergii 'Ozawa'

Allium thunbergii ‘Ozawa’

It has a long flowering period and seems to be holding it’s own with the sedum and the coreopsis.

Another long-time resident of the front yard is the Japanese Anemone ‘ September Charm’.

Anemone × hybrida 'September Charm'

Anemone × hybrida ‘September Charm’

Although the Azaleas and Pieris generally outgrow this vigorous anemone, by late fall it still manages to raise it’s stems enough to be seen.

As we move around to the backyard, I have to note once again our striking red Fall Camellia that, if past is any indicator, will be in flower for the next several months.

Red Camellia sasanqua with bud opening

Red Camellia sasanqua with bud opening

Red Camellia sasanqua

Red Camellia sasanqua

Behind the garage, the Canna are still holding forth.

Canna 'Orange Punch'

Canna ‘Orange Punch’

I’ve watered there the whole year and they have taken full advantage.  This particular Canna came from Plant Delights in March and has never stopped flowering.

In the vegetable garden there is one very nice Dahlia growing amid the annual Zinnias, Marigolds, Tithonia, and Cosmos.

Dahlia 'Karma Prospero'

Dahlia ‘Karma Prospero’

At the door to the greenhouse I’ve put a large round pot of Nasturtiums and they are still flowering up a storm.

Nasturtium

Nasturtium

In the greenhouse itself there are still new Oxalis unveiling themselves with each day.  Today it was Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’ and Oxalis obliquifolia in a beautiful white form from Telos Rare Bulbs.

Oxalis hirta 'Gothenburg'

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis obliquifolia

Oxalis obliquifolia

Well, that’s a sampling of what is happening around here for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  What’s growing in your garden?