This was the first snow we’ve had this year and indeed the first really cold weather.
This was definitely a different and unusual Christmas. One to regret the things we missed and to be thankful for the things we still have. Our youngest son ended up spending the Fall with us and then on through Christmas. He has sparked the rediscovery of the many things that we associate with the holiday season around Ball Rd. There are many large and small things that connect us with past shared memories.
In addition we jointly watched the Christmas Revels celebration in Cambridge. It was great fun and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to move forward into the new year with contemplation of the way the human community has moved from the dark to the light over centuries. On the night before Christmas we tuned into the Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington, MA where the Reverend Claire Feingold Thoryn delivered a marvelous sermon discussing the Christmas Weed Tree of Toledo, Ohio and what that means for the rest of us.
Finally I should mention that I had a chance before Christmas to preview a new book written by a good friend.
Tropical Plants and How to Love Them will be available in March but it can be ordered now on Amazon. It is a wonderful exploration of tropical plants for the temperate gardener and I think a great many people will enjoy both the authoritative descriptions and Marianne’s always entertaining writing style. Highly recommended!
Well there are many flowers blooming for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, but the lilies have captured my attention. These are just the first of the lilies coming down the pike but they capture the eye when you walk about the yard. Besides ‘Netty’s Pride’, another contender for attention is this additional Asiatic hybrid.
In Beth’s herb bed we have a brilliant yellow whose name has long since passed.
Then there also the Martagon lilies with their clustered flowers.
This last one is a striking red. So much so even in the catalog that I have already ordered more for planting this fall even before I saw this one in bloom. We are beginning to attribute such actions to covid-brain around here…
A lily-wannabe that is pretty in its own right is the Alstromeria ‘Sweet Laura’.
Among the other highlights are two gentians with lovely blue flowers
And then there is this Asclepias cultivar with stunning clusters of bright yellow flowers.
Nearby is Hypericum having one of its most floriferous years ever.
In many places we have triteleia showing up from plantings that go back many years.
And for a spot of orange we added a little calceolaria this year from Sequim Rare Plants out in Washington State. I’m sure it’s not hardy here, but worth the experiment.
A delightful surprise was to see the pointy little head of the arisaema candidissimum finally show up.
Every year I am at the point of giving up on this plant given that many other arisaemas have long since put up there leaves. And then lo and behold, up it comes. And it’s relative in lateness arisaema fargesii arose the next day. Both are stunning arisaemas and well worth the wait.
Of course it’s important to add that around here fruit and vegetables are dominating the gardening scene. We’ve been picking strawberries for three weeks and now the raspberries and blueberries are bursting forth.
We also have cherries from the wild trees in the forest.
We figure these are seedling planted by the birds from our original orchard trees (and they are now 30-40 ft tall). I picked some from the best tree today.
Well here we are in mid-May for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day in what will be a memorable year for everyone. Gardening supplies are selling out everywhere as people to turn to something they can do at home. At the same time the season has numerous variable weather days ranging from a very early springtime to an actual freeze on May 9th, something I’ve never seen here before.
We covered the raised bed with tarps and when it rained overnight we found sheets of ice on the tarps in the morning. Oddly enough not a single plant was harmed in the process.
There are so many flowers everywhere it is hard to know where to start. The front circle bed abounds with allium that have been spreading all around the garden in between penstemon and centaurea.
Also in the front yard we have a self-expanding garden of wood poppies.
And near by are their white-colored friends.
Both are willing to spread everywhere but I try to limit them to the front yard where the deer will occasionally browse.
In the back yard the tree peonies have been magnificent.
Even one of the species peonies is still blooming.
We are beginning to see the first of the Itoh and herbaceous peonies.
In addition to the bearded Iris at the beginning of this post there is the regular blooming of the Japanese Roof Iris and a delightful new small yellow Pacific Coast Hybrid that I got this year from Sequim Rare Plants.
The Rhododendrons are making their annual appearance.
This last one is a particular favorite. The glorious scent wafts onto the deck all day long. It has a wonderful history going back to the mid-1800’s (see this detailed write-up from the American Rhododendron Society.
This is also the time of year when the various podophyllums are putting out their flowers.
Then there are various treasures to be found around the yard. These are things I would be sure to point out if we touring together.
Normally this Scilla is very iffy for us outside but we had such a mild winter it has come out flowering as if were at home in the mediterranean.
Looking back through the monument bed we see a fully flowering Delaware Valley White
and a special aquilegia
Ending back at the Alpine bed we see a very robust flowering of one of the clumps of dianthus
Finally I will close with a new Edraianthus in a trough at the end of the greenhouse.
Stay healthy and garden well…
Spring has been rapidly moving onward in the mid-Atlantic. Bringing us, for one thing, the first flowering of a lovely peony above that we acquired from John Lonsdale two years ago.
We like the rest of society have been dutifully staying at home and, in our case, appreciating all the horticultural bounty that nature has to offer. This year many of the plants are well in advance of the norm. Although our nominal last frost date is 2-3 weeks from now the flowering fruit trees (even apples) are already in bloom. Especially bountiful are the blossoms on the Asian Pear.
Even the Kwanzan Cherry is fully in flower, fully two weeks ahead of last year.
I had the intent to track the progress of the garden a bit closer than usual, but I find myself jumping from one object to another as the plants keep popping up. Erythroniums are especially lovely in the spring, sort of a precursor to the larger lilies to follow. We have a raised bed by the deck that is crammed full of trout lilies (Erythronium americanum). This is what it looked like a week ago.
Many years I ago I dug some of these and moved them out to forest in multiple locations. Although the plants have succeeded marvelously in the woods, despite deer and other animals, they do not flower. They spread like mad but they seem to have no interest in flowering. So last year I thought I would inspire them by planting in their midst some horticultural cultivars which have always flowered in the yard (Erythronium ‘Pagoda’). And, indeed, they shot up lovely looking buds which the deer promptly chopped off. Perhaps the E. americanum are simply wiser than me and know that it would be foolish to flower in the forest.
In any case we still have Erythronium to enjoy in the yard.
Another spectacular genus to enjoy right now are the Epimediums. Beth was gifted with two Epimediums years ago that established large and lovely clumps at the back fence. Not only are the flowers lovely, but the leaves are beautiful in the own right.
Other Epimediums are well established in other parts of our garden.
Some more traditional parts of the garden probably include this very hardy and early azalea.
A spectacular little primrose hybrid.
Multiple trilliums such as the T. grandiflorum
Daphne at the front fence
And a new japanese quince that I received as a father’s day gift last year.
But gardens are not made with flowers alone. There are some special green things on their way right now. The little Pteridophyllum has the glossiest green, fern-like foliage at the start of the year.
Peltoboykinia comes from the high mountains of Japan but seems to be happy here in Maryland.
Multiple variants to may-apples are on their way.
And the first of the Arisaemas is on its way.
While i’m in the yard, I still need to mention the star flowers that have been a real pleasure this year. This little Ipheion has been flowering for weeks now.
As we go back to the Alpine bed there are a lot of flowers calling for attention
Two that always stand out are the Pulsatilla and the Armeria.
And at the greenhouse entrance is a trough with a delightful little Androsace that has been a regular participant in our springtimes.
But before I leave off posting for today, let’s take a walk to the forest, through the garden gate and past the very large wild cherry trees.
Our trail leads us past many clumps of daffodils that have been planted over the years, past scilla, toothwort, hepatica, anemone, muscari and bluebells
To a very special clump of daffodils with haunting green eyes.
Arguros is the Greek word for silver and seems appropriate for this treasure.
May this posting find you healthy and able to enjoy the world around you.
This is a wonderful time of year to watch the Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) emerge from their slumber. They spread every year — into the grass and other parts of the garden. But it’s a nice kind of spreading. Hardly any other plants are doing anything at this time of year and in six weeks from now they will have disappeared till next year. There are some other color forms of the winter aconite, either paler yellow or orange shades, but one of my strong desires has been to grow the white species, Eranthis Pinnatifida. I got one flowering a few years ago, but it didn’t stay with us. Nevertheless, the flower is so intriguing that I keep persisting. I ordered one from Japan last fall and got it planted out in December. I noticed on my daily stroll about the garden that It is growing but it looks like no flowers this year.
At the same time, and almost so small that i nearly missed it, I found a flowering Eranthis pinnatifida in a seeding pot that I had started in 2016 from seeds obtained from the NARGS seed exchange.
Not only was this little jewel growing but there was another little Eranthis in the same pot. So hope spring eternal someone once said.
The seed exchanges are a wonderful introduction to new plants that you will never see in a commercial catalog. My package from the Alpine Garden society arrived just this week.
But I have already started many seeds obtained from NARGS, the SRGC, and individual seed vendors.
Also in the greenhouse is the first of the Ferrarias to bloom this year.
Ferrarias are very easy to grow and easily one of the most unusual flowers you will ever set eyes on. The curls around the edge have a fractal quality to them.
I also just brought the first of many Scilla peruviana into the house to enjoy.
But getting back to the daily walkabout, I would be remiss not to note that many crocus and snowdrops are appearing around the yard.
And the first Primula is showing it’s flowers as well.
Like the Winter Aconite, these are happy to spread into the lawn.
A more unusual spotting from the walkabout was to see the first pink color in one of the Saxifrages in a trough.
This little jewel flowered in April last year.
And I also noticed in the alpine bed that one of the Callianthemums from Japan that I planted in December has a bud on it!
These plants are really hard to find in the U.S. and my thanks to Yuzawa Engei for the wonderful packing to get it here.
It’s been a strange winter so far for this Garden Bloggers report. No real snowfall and temperatures that have fallen to 20 degrees on occasion but have mostly been well above normal, even near records for some days. Total precipitation is about 50% above normal. The result is that many flowers are up earlier than usual but get blasted in between glorious flowerings. A case in point is the camellias which have had many flowers but then get browned off when the temperature dips.
On the whole we are just enjoying some our early spring flowers earlier than usual.
The Hellebores are particularly resilient at this time of year.
This is one of the nicest new hybrids.
Of course one also expects to see snowdrops at this time of year, but they are spreading nicely.
The first full flowering in the alpine bed is the Draba hispanica.
In the greenhouse the Cyrtanthus breviflorus and mackenii are flowering.
And our only Geissorhiza is in flower too.
Finally we made two trips to Gettysburg Gardens where I discovered some lovely examples of Veldtheimia bracteata.
These are magnificent plants, sometime called forest lilies, that can easily grow to 2 ft tall with long lasting flowers.
Ok, I’ve just counted and I’ve done 400 posts already. That’s a lot of flowers no matter how I add it up.
It’s hard not to lead off this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day with this stunning Camellia Japonica which has been flowering since November. It probably has 20 blooms on it at this point. Although I expect they will get burnt off with the next hard freeze, it has been a pleasure to see this one flowering on a daily basis with the very mild winter we have had thus far.
Similarly the red Japanese quince is getting ahead of itself.
The Hellebores are less surprising. The niger types are often in flower during any warm spell.
What was a surprise was to see this new pink hybrid also in flower.
This was new acquisition from Plant Delights. It’s been flowering for almost 2 weeks now.
The various snowdrops are up and doing what snowdrops are meant to do.
The yellow witch hazel (Arnold’s Promise) is also in flower but it was too windy to get good photos today. The Adonis are popping up and getting ready to bloom.
The biggest surprise from the outdoor flowers is this little Lewisia in the Alpine bed.
In the greenhouse we have many oxalis and narcissus blooming.
A little more surprising is this Silene that I grew from seed obtained through the North American Rock Garden Society’s seed exchange last year.
It really wanted to be outside but I forgot to plant it out last year.
We made a visit to Gettysburg Gardens last weekend and I brought back a number of treasures including this ground cover
And finally let me close with this lovely hybrid cyrtanthus that I found there.
There are so many things happening in the yard right now that it is difficult to keep track of them all. I feel light the perennial puppy dog jumping from one delightful surprise to the other. To begin with the daffodils are exploding in the yard, on the hillside, and in the forest. It seems like a particularly bountiful year for these stellar performers that get ignored by browsing animals.
And the big Magnolia Stellata is fully in bloom
The Hellebores are everywhere with their spectacular but mostly downward facing blooms
But what really engages me in the spring are the smaller ephemerals that mostly have short but lovely blooming cycle.
One of my favorite Corydalis is ‘Beth Evans’
It was delightful to see that not only has this Corydalis seeded itself into the neighboring pathway but it’s also 15 feet away under the holly tree.
I was somewhat surprised that a couple of the Adonis are coming up much later than their brethren.
And my favorite, Adonis amurensis Sandanzaki, is only just now coming into bud.
The alpine beds and troughs also have some early spring flowers in bloom.
This little Burnt Candytuft was planted in tufa, but has jumped ship and is appearing in various places in the alpine bed.
Nearby is a really nice little sea thrift obligingly staying put on the tufa.
Nearby is a very early blooming Lewisia
Two years ago I acquired a nice little Draba from Oliver nurseries that is forming a nice compact mound.
A surprise to me this year was a little Saxifrage that came from Wrightman’s Alpines two years ago.
It’s growing in a very protected location on the shady side of an eastern-facing trough and if it flowered last year I totally missed it.
I shouldn’t ignore the greenhouse which continues to produces some South African gem every week. The latest is a 2 1/2 foot tall Ixia that came from the Pacific Bulb Society last fall.
I would be remiss if I did not mention the Edgeworthia by the front road.
It seems they are much hardier in Maryland than I expected.
Finally I need to share an example of the Camellias which also prove to be much hardier than one should really anticipate.
Now it’s time to go out into the yard and see what else is blooming.