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.
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.
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.
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.
Well I have very mixed feelings for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day. There are a few flowers like the beautiful gentians in the alpine bed. But it is also the dog days of August with over a week since the last rain and no rain in the immediate future. On top of that we returned from vacationing on Cape Cod to find that the water pump had stopped a week ago and all the elaborate water timing I had set up was a total fail. It was bad enough for the outdoor plants surviving the drought-like conditions, but the worst casualty was the greenhouse. With no water the greenhouse becomes an oven. I can’t even bear posting the picture of what the greenhouse looks like. The bulb things will survive but the alpine seedlings that were painstakingly started this year were devastated. Focusing on the positive, there is a splendid Cyrtanthus hybrid which found the desert-like conditions just to its liking.
Another little bulb in flower right now is a Barnardia from Japan.
Out in the very dry yard, the first thing that strikes you as it hangs over the porch is a lovely Limelight Hydrangea.
In the perennial beds there are two very striking lobelias that capture one’s attention.
This one was brought up from Plant Delights this spring.
There is also a cute little Rosularia from Wrightman Alpines that I noticed flowering on one of the pieces of tufa.
There are lots of annuals that give us picking flowers for inside the house. I noticed a clearwing moth hanging on one of the verbenas.
For the annual flowers in the garden the Mexican Sunflowers have totally dominated over the zinnias, marigolds, cosmos, etc.
Last year we replanted strawberries after disease had taken hold in our old row. I first put in 25 Jewel strawberries in a double row 18″ apart with pinebark mulch. Those 25 were allowed to expand and expand they did. I would say that the mesh of strawberries is about three foot wide and so dense as to exclude most weeds.
They have been extraordinarily productive. We’ve been bringing in a very large bowel of strawberries every night and predominantly from this patch. Later on last year, near the end of June I added another 50 plants (Allstar & Cavendish) and those have been contributing too, but not nearly so many as the jewel plants. Somehow in my unreasonable fear that we would not have enough strawberries, I added another 25 strawberry plants this spring (Cabot). I think we will need help picking next year.
Meanwhile on the flower front much has been happening. I was really pleased to see the Martagon lily ‘Arabian Knight’ flowering for the first time.
I love the way the Martagons have a completely different profile from the normal lily hybrids. The foliage itself makes a statement. We’ve also have the first flower on a small Chinese lily that I got from Far Reaches this year.
This is said to spread underground so that should be fun. I wouldn’t mind a clump of these little guys.
I was more than pleased to see that a couple of my favorite Arisaemas (fargesii and candidissimum) have finally decided to emerge. Take a note for future years that I should not expect or dig in these areas until June.
There are a number of little rain lilies popping out in the greenhouse right now. They are all a bit tender for this area, but I may give them a shot at outside exposure when I have enough of them in hand. For the moment I just take out to sit on the back porch.
You can see from the pictures that these little bulbs are multiplying in there pots, but it’s hard to compete with the oxalis which REALLY multiply in the pots. I started separating out the oxalis from 2013 plantings this year as they went dormant and the original 1-3 bulbs have expanded a lot.
They can be kept in a bag until August when they will be ready to go again for fall/winter blooming in the greenhouse. As a reminder the Oxalis in the greenhouse are nothing like the little pests you find in the garden.
Thinking of the greenhouse, there is a South American bulb with gorgeous deep blue flowers that has been blooming steadily for the last two weeks.
I always enjoy seeing these new bulbs or seeds bloom for the first time. I recently planted out several Anemone multifida ‘Rubra’ that I grew from the NARGS seed exchange in 2014.
Similarly this little Dianthus that I planted in tufa was grown from the NARGS 2014 seed exchange.
Speaking of seed exchanges, now is the time to be gathering seed from the early flowering plants. For many of them, like the Jeffersonia, you have to watching carefully to see that you get the seeds before the wind and the insects do…
Identifying the seeds for these large seeded plants is pretty straightforward but many plants are pretty tricky. Helps you appreciated what goes on for a more wide-ranging seed collector like BotanyCA.
I had a perfectly wonderful time at the NARGS annual meeting, but that deserves a posting in itself. I will say that I brought back a number of exotic plants including this little Conandron that I’ve put in the alpine bed.
The alpine bed continues to be very successful. I’ve added another Lewisia since they seem to like it so much.
And the alpine aster has returned from last year.
Out in the main garden beds the astrantia is coming into bloom, along with the horned poppies.
There is one little garden mystery. Somehow a european spotted orchid has appeared on the opposite side of the yard from where it bloomed last year (and where it has no flower buds this year). I have no memory of having planted one in this spot. But nonetheless it seems to be happily blooming away.
Let me close with the first thing I check in the morning — the spuria iris.
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.
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.
A longer lasting springtime favorite is the Roadrunner trillium.
In the orchard and the woods the cherries are in bloom.
And alpine bed and troughs feature some distinctive flowers that are not usually part of the Maryland landscape.
Inside the house, the clivia is trying hard to make us focus on indoor flowers.
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.
Beth and son Josh dyed Easter eggs yesterday to continue a tradition going back many years. No little kids around this weekend but we can pretend.
The first week of April is a great time for the spring ephemerals. It seems like everything wants to come out the ground at once following the winter doldrums. I am especially fond of hepaticas and they are in the midst of their bloom cycle right now.
This is a particularly large flowered hepatica that I got several years ago from Seneca Hill Perennials (now closed).
Also in flower is a lovely pink seedling from Hillside Nursery.
A few years ago I got a pink seedling from Thimble Farms that has lovely purple stamens. It’s very hard to photograph because the slightest breeze will set it to vibrating.
I’ve also noticed that one of the american hepaticas has a very nice pink cast to it.
There are more hepaticas still emerging. Meanwhile their friends the corydalis are popping up around the yard.
One of Janis Ruksan’s best corydalis is Gunite, named after his wife.
A rather special flower is the Fritillaria stenanthera.
It is unlike any other Fritillaria that we have.
The flowers point outward and are individually quite lovely. It seems to be thriving outside.
Right beside it is a very nice adonis. This was apparently a spot that I thought was exceptional because I put two rather nice plants in about the same place. We will let them work it out.
Of course my go-to Adonis for distinctive variety is always Adonis ‘Sandansaki’.
In it’s early stage it has only a small green bud in the midst of a yellow flower. By the end, it’s pretty much all green lion’s mane.
It has three buds this year, the most ever.
Other yellow highlights are in the troughs and the alpine beds.
This one sits in the small trough by the back door.
The Draba acaulis is in one of the large troughs by the door to the greenhouse. Nearby is a pasque flower getting ready to emerge.
Reliably scattered around the yard are Primula vulgaris to reflect the way they are found in the wild in England.
And of course I’ve not mentioned the daffodils all over the place or the Hellebores that are everywhere — but that’s another story…
It’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and what better way to welcome in the spring than seeing our first orange adonis for the year. The plain vanilla yellow adonis are seldom seen but this diminutive beauty is even rarer. This has been such a long cold winter that the flowers are grateful to finally see a little sunshine warming things up. The Adonis are always among the first plants to call for attention in the springtime. The yellow ones are also up and waiting to smile at the sunshine.
Notice all the flower buds in this clump.
Out in the front yard the winter aconite have finally popped and show the evidence of the many years they have been colonizing the front bed.
I think this was originally ten small tubers.
Of course snowdrops are everywhere right now. The Viridapice are particularly nice.
The surprise entry for the day was the first of the corydalis. These have popped up in the alpine bed.
Other than these there are some crocus, the witch hazels, and a lot of wannabe flowers. I think are right on the verge of seeing many more flowers.
In the greenhouse there are a few special items worth highlighting. For the first time we have Tulbaghia from a 2013 bulb planting.
There is a very nice small ornithogalum species that derives from Jane McGary by way of Pacific Bulb Society distribution.
And a freesia with many flowering stalks.
The Lachenalia mutabilis is nice enough that we brought it into the house.
That’s it for March 15th. What’s growing in your garden?
We just spent a marvelous weekend in Raleigh, North Carolina in an escape from the last snowstorm (I hope) to hit Maryland this year. We had planned this weekend for a visit to the North Carolina nurseries but when a significant snowstorm threatened for last Thursday, we decided to skip town on Wednesday and I’m glad we did. It gave us an extra day to visit nurseries and gardens in the ‘Triangle’ area. Even four days is not sufficient to see all that this area offers to plant lovers. There are three major gardens in Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill and we went to each.
Sarah P. Duke Gardens at Duke University in Durham is what I would characterize as a display garden. It’s well funded and beautiful and has lots of examples of how to make a dramatic landscape.
It had many lovely individual plants including this daphne which illustrated how daphnes want to look in the wintertime as opposed to the burned leaves on ours.
The North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill also appears to have a lot of financial backing and it’s focus seems to be well-coupled to the University’s effort to encourage the use of native plants.
It’s set next to woodland trails and seems to get a lot of visitors for that reason.
But our favorite was the JC Raulston Arboretum in Raleigh. This is a plantsman’s paradise. Many examples of exotic and unusual plants from all over the world including this dwarf Dawn Redwood.
It was still a little early in the season for any of these gardens but the Ralston captured our hearts.
One of the ulterior motives for this particular weekend was to attend an An Evening with the Plant Explorers at the JC Ralston. This was a wonderful event with 4 1/2 hours of tales of plant exploring mixed in with socializing and plant auctions. Anyone who thinks Latin is a dead language needs to attend one of these events. The plant auction was particularly interesting because it was often for plants that had been part of the explorers’ talks.
In particular we were taken by a marvelous Einkianthus, the likes of which we had never encountered.
Well, in the end this was our take-home plant from the auction…
The other main component of the weekend was visiting nurseries. First and foremost was Plant Delights (which has a bonus of a very nice garden as well). As usual we found many wonderful plants that jumped into our car.
There were three crates like this one that we brought home including many new hellebores.
And then we went out to Pine Knot Farms where the focus is hellebores.
And we came away with even more hellebores as well as multiple cyclamen from John Lonsdale and a Mahonia confuse ‘Narihira’ (which we had seen at Raulson) and Edgeworthia chrysantha from Superior Plants.
John Lonsdale says that Edgeworthia survives for him in Pennsylvania so I have high hopes for it in Maryland.
Lastly we stopped at Camellia Forest and picked up four new camellias and two exquisite miniature Rhododendrons.
Altogether a wonderful weekend, and by the time we arrived back home the spring was waiting for us…
Let me close with one more shot of that Einkianthus which I hope will be with us for a long time…
Besides being beautiful flowers, what do the above lewisia, lobelia, erodium, lily, gentian, and calandrinia have in common? All were grown from seed distributed through the various plant societies. Specifically I participate in seed exchanges that are conducted by The North American Rock Gardening Society, The Alpine Garden Society, The Scottish Rock Garden Club, the Pacific Bulb Society, and the Species Iris Group of North America. Each of these organizations brings access to seeds that are otherwise very difficult to come by. This year I’ve already received my NARGS distribution of 35 seed packets and many choice elements are going to get planted this week. It includes Linum elegans, Bukiniczia cabulica, Eranthis pinnatifida, and many other items that you probably won’t find in the average seed catalog. I’m still waiting for my packages from the Alpine Garden Society to see which items I succeeded in getting. You get to choose from thousands of varieties of seeds but which ones you get depends upon when you sent in your request and whether you were a donor or not. In the past I’ve gotten over half of my first choice varieties even though I am not a donor for the overseas societies.
Besides the wealth of interesting seeds from the seed exchanges there are also other interesting sources of unusual seeds. We subscribed this past year to Chris Chadwell’s 29th expedition to the Himalayas in search of seeds. Our distribution arrived this month with 50 different seed packets gathered in Nepal.
In order to bring in seeds from overseas you need to apply to the USDA for permit for a small lots of seed import permit. And you need to be cognizant of which seeds are restricted. I’ve found the USDA folks to be very helpful and cooperative. I got a phone call on the day after New Year’s asking for clarification on the shipping address for my shipment from Chris Chadwell.
There are also some other wonderful sources of seeds gathered in the wild. I think in particular of Allen Bradshaw at Alplains who specializes in seeds gathered in the western U.S. Or Bjørnar Olsen from Norway who gathers seeds in China. There are a number of famous collectors in the Czech Republic. One I’ve used is Vojtech Holubec who has the most amazing pictures of his travels in asia.
More recently I was researching a Delphinium (Delphinium tatsienense to be precise) that is in my NARGS seeds for this year and I came across a very nice website in Canada (BotanyCa) that specializes in wild-collected seeds. She has choice list of seeds for sale and a lot of information about propagation and plant lore. Highly recommended.
The bottom line for all these ramblings is that now is the time for acquiring and planting all those unusual plants that you have been meaning to grow.