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Summer Crabapple Delight

Dolgo Crabapples

We have grown crabapples for many years in the front yard without ever making good use of the fruit.  Of course the abundant white flowers in the springtime are delightful and the pretty summertime fruit have always been appreciated but we never harvested them for eating.  Until now that is.  Our youngest son was inspired by the sprightly taste of the fruit.  He picked a bunch of them and made a couple of galettes, one with the crabapples and one with blueberries, apricots, and peaches.  Both were quite good, but the crabapple one was really special.  Think of the best rhubarb pie you’ve ever tasted.

Galettes in prep

Two Galettes

This was so good, that he went out this week and picked another batch of the crabapples.

Dolgo Crabapples

The remarkable thing about these little crabapples is that a very high percentage are without blemish or insect damage and this is without any spraying at all.  This is quite a contrast with our normal apple trees.

This is a very active time outdoors right now.  I thought I would also share another of the interesting spiders that we have run across.

Phidippus johnsoni jumping spider.

I always find the jumping spiders have considerable personality.

And another interesting tidbit is the arrival of the rain lilies.

Pink Rain Lily (Habranthus robustus)

We have grown these very hardy rain lilies for many years and they seem early this year but we had some strong rains and up they came.  I had also moved one of the Zephyranthes from the greenhouse last year and seems to be doing fine, though it is supposed to be a zone 8 plant.

Zephyranthes rosea

I would also note in passing that this is a good time to be gathering seeds for the various seed exchanges.  Some are quite easy to find like the Zephyranthes.

Zephyranthes seeds

Lastly I’ll close this post with one of the prettiest lilies I’ve come across (unnamed at the moment).

Unnamed Pink Lily

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day February 2016

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

A few days ago it looked we were finally overcoming the 40 inches of snow that absolutely clobbered us at the end of January.  You could see finally see little spring delights like the Winter Aconite peeking through.  The first daffodil was unhappy but it was at least about to open up.

First Daffodil (probably Rijnveld's Early Sensation)

First Daffodil (probably Rijnveld’s Early Sensation)

But such was not to be for very long.  We got more snow this weekend and once again the flowers are pretty much hidden.  Even the redoubtable Hellebores are looking pretty shopworn for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

Hellebore in the snow

Hellebore in the snow

Some things look pretty good in the snow like the holly and the witch hazels.

Blue Holly in the snow

Blue Holly in the snow

Hamamelis xintermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

But I can see lots of damage from the volume of snow.  Several small shrubs (camellias and daphnes) have badly broken branches just from the weight of that snowfall.

You can imagine flowers like this snow covered Clematis seedhead.

Clematis 'Waterfall' seedhead

Clematis ‘Waterfall’ seedhead

But once again we turn to pots in the greenhouse for more colorful flowers.  The potted daffodils are continuing to flower and the lachenalias are all coming into bloom right now.

Lachenalia namaquensis

Lachenalia namaquensis

There is a very pretty little star flower that blooms right now.

Ipheion uniflorum 'Charlotte Bishop'

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Charlotte Bishop’

And a wurmbea that I think is flowering for the first time for me.

Wurbea stricta

Wurmbea stricta

And a Tritonia that flowered in February last year as well.

Tritonia dubia

Tritonia dubia

Dubia for those who wonder about such things means ‘doubtful’ as in not conforming to standard.  Anyway, it looks pretty nice to me.  It’s another South African native that looks like a miniature glad.

Lastly, another plant flowering for the first time for us is a little Scilla from Turkey that has the most marvelous dark purple stamens.  It is said to be hardy in Michigan so it will probably go outdoors this year.

Scilla cilicica

Scilla ciicica

All of these five plants from the greenhouse came from seed distributed by the Pacific Bulb Society in 2013.  They constitute a pretty good example of what you can obtain by joining the Pacific Bulb Society.  Despite the name, the society is inhabited by bulb experts from around the world and they are most generous in sharing their seeds, bulbs, and expertise.

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)

A Spectacular Carolina Weekend

Crepe Myrtles define the entrance

Crepe Myrtles define the entrance to JC Raulston

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.

Broad Allée with Winterberry on edges

Broad Allée with Winterberry on edges

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.

Daphne getting ready for bloom

Daphne getting ready for bloom

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.

North Carolina Botanical Garden

North Carolina Botanical Garden

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.

Metasequoia glyptostroboides 'Schirrmann's Nordlicht'

Metasequoia glyptostroboides ‘Schirrmann’s Nordlicht’

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.

Plant auction

Plant auction

In particular we were taken by a marvelous Einkianthus, the likes of which we had never encountered.

Einkianthus description

Einkianthus description

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

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.

Plant Delights collection

Plant Delights collection

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.

Pine Knot Farms

Pine Knot Farms

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.

Edgeworthia chrysantha

Edgeworthia chrysantha

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.

Rhododendron indicum 'Kokinsai'

Rhododendron indicum ‘Kokinsai’

Altogether a wonderful weekend, and by the time we arrived back home the spring was waiting for us…

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Chinese Witch Hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Hamamelis × intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Diane’

Adonis amurensis

Adonis amurensis

Let me close with one more shot of that Einkianthus which I hope will be with us for a long time…

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

Einkianthus quinqueflorus

A Very Late Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for June 2013

Blackout Asiatic Lily

Blackout Asiatic Lily

Ok, so it’s way too late for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, but my excuse was traveling for over two weeks in Scotland (which should be the subject of another post).  But I use these monthly postings as a way of tracking what is happening in the garden not only from month to month but from year to year.  It helps me track how the garden evolves.  We were lucky for this trip that the weather included ample rainfall so that with the sprinklers I had set up there was none of the loss of plants that can happen with a vacation that lasts that long.  I had been most concerned about the new troughs (see last post) but they seem to have done very well, including the centerpiece Lewisia tweedyi which is notoriously difficult in our climate.  Even the new plants that I started this year in the Tufa rock in the front garden are looking healthy.

Replanting of Tufa with Gentian, Arabis, and Campanula

Replanting of Tufa with Gentian, Arabis, and Campanula

On the other hand the Meconopsis that I planted earlier this spring is showing no real growth in what has been perhaps the best possible Meconopsis (cool and wet) spring for a Maryland garden.  I totally missed the rest of the Spuria Iris (note to self, order more Spuria Iris) and the blooming of the Formosan Lily which I had ordered in from Far Reaches this year before discovering how easy they are from seed (I have lots of seedlings growing in the greenhouse).

The most impressive plants in the yard right now are probably the large stands of Blackout Asiatic Lilies.  They are spreading abundantly and the color is an eye-popping very dark red.

Cluster of Blackout Lilies

Cluster of Blackout Lilies

Another patch of Blackout Lilies with Rozanne Geraniums

Another patch of Blackout Lilies with Rozanne Geraniums

Speaking of eye-popping, the new Echinacea variety that Beth planted in the front garden is stunning and floriferous.

Echinacea purpurea 'PowWow Wild Berry'

Echinacea purpurea ‘PowWow Wild Berry’

But then again it did win the AAS award in 2010.  Also in that front bed the Calandrina that I had order in from California continues have many bright red-pink flowers opening daily.

Calandrinia spectabilis

Calandrinia spectabilis

The Front yard also has the Stewartia in bloom.

Stewartia japonica flower

Stewartia japonica flower

The many flowers open up over an extended period.

Two Iris’s were vying for attention as well.  One is a Japanese Iris that I purchased several years ago from Plant Delights (Agripinella) and the other has no identifying tag but is lovely nonetheless.

Iris ensata 'Agripinella'

Iris ensata ‘Agripinella’

Yellow Iris (unknown)

Yellow Iris (unknown)

I was pleased to see that, although very late to the party, two more Arisaemas had appeared.  One is Arisaema fargesii which has great big glossy green leaves to go with the brown-red pitcher and the other is Arisaema candidissimum, this one with a very white pitcher.

Arisaema candidissimum (White form)

Arisaema candidissimum (White form)

Arisaema candidissimum (White form) front

Arisaema candidissimum (White form) front

The hillside along the drive has it’s normal abundance of wild pea and crown vetch blooming in gay profusion.

Wild Pea (Lathyrus latifolia) and Crownvetch (Coronilla varia L.)

Wild Pea (Lathyrus latifolia) and Crownvetch (Coronilla varia L.)

Weeds struggle to invade their private battleground.  We also have a very nice sedum that has taken hold nicely behind the garage.

Sedum floriferum 'Weihenstephaner Gold'

Sedum floriferum ‘Weihenstephaner Gold’

Nearby is an alternate version of Butterfly Weed that has a matching yellow color going with the sedum and a huge St. John’s Wort.

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

Asclepias tuberosa ‘Hello Yellow’

In the greenhouse I found a cute little South African native with many small yellow flowers.

Albuca aurea flower detail

Albuca aurea flower detail

The growth habit is similar to Ornithogalums.   I need to move this pot out into the herb garden for the summer.

The vegetable garden had done well in our absence.  There are a boatload of peas to pick and the beans are just starting.  And especially relevant the blueberries are just coming into picking time, so we didn’t miss any of those.

Blueberries starting up

Blueberries starting up

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day February 2013

First Crocus is Ard Shenk

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Ard Shenk’

Well, I’m one day late on celebrating Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  But the flowers were there in any case.  Let us begin by celebrating the little white crocus that are splashed about the lawn.  I normally take February 21 as my first crocus date and also when catchers and pitchers report for baseball’s spring training in Florida.  But the baseball is beginning early this year and so are the crocus.  It’s appropriate that this very early crocus is the first of the year.  It’s namesake was one of Holland’s great speed skaters.

I really have to return to one of the standards for this time of year in citing the Witch Hazels.  It seems to me that they are having a great spring.  The long straps seem to be impervious to cold snaps and shine yellow against the blue sky on sunny day.

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) from below

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) from below

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) close-up

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis) close-up

There’s also the spectacular strong red in Diane, a Witch Hazel hybrid.  This is a small shrub at the moment but it’s growing strongly and I think it will qualify as a tree before long…

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Diane'

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

Out in the front yard our winter aconite continues to thrive.  Since I’ve observed they have spread to the other side of the yard I think I’m going to grab some seeds this year and see if I can aid the process.  Everyone should grow these little droplets of sunshine.

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis)

I was pleased to see that even the Primrose is getting into the act.  The first blossom has come forth from our collection of common English Primrose.

First Primrose (Primrose vulgaris)

First Primrose (Primrose vulgaris)

And of course snowdrops are popping up everywhere.  What’s not to like about a plant that can flower for more than a month at this most unseasonable of times.

Galanthus nivalis 'Floro Pleno'

Galanthus nivalis ‘Floro Pleno’

Oh, and it multiplies too…

Finally the Adonis continue in bloom.  Think of Buttercups on steroids with much prettier foliage to boot…

Many flower buds on Adonis amurensis 'Fukujukai'

Many flower buds on Adonis amurensis ‘Fukujukai’

And then there are the Hellebores, but they are worthy of a post all by themselves.  Now what’s blooming in your garden?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Post-Sandy Posting

50 year-old pine tree uprooted the deer fence

It has been almost 2 weeks since Hurricane Sandy ripped through a good part of the east coast, including our little hillside.  Given the difficulties that many have faced with loss of homes and struggles for power and services our own difficulties pale in comparison.  Nonetheless there has been an impact.  Not the least of which was the loss of internet for 5 days, which slowed my abilities to report on the storm, but it was compounded by viral bronchial infection that hit both of us — hard — for about 10 days.  Fortunately the good folks at Comcast came through in the end and a local contractor repaired the roof damage very quickly.  Also, thanks to Chris and Kevin, the same young guys that installed our deer fence, we have the deer fence intact again.

We were without power for only about 4 1/2 hours when the storm first hit.  And given the way the trees were uprooted along our street it could have been much worse.

About 100 yds along our road a fallen tree in the forest knocked out power and internet cables

We live about 1 mile from the Monocacy River and the state highway bridge across the river was really not far above the water.

Monocacy River was well over its banks

In addition to the 50 year-old pine in our neighbor’s yard that came down in the storm without hitting either house, we lost the 35 year-old sugar maple that has regularly been a feature of our comments on fall color.

Sugar Maple toppled by the storm

Numerous white pines in the forest and pasture were felled or broken off halfway up by the storm.

Fallen Giants

Fallen White Pines in the windbreak

Many breaks were halfway up the tree

Losing these trees along the windbreak gives one a whole different impression about what the descriptor ‘windbreak’ might really mean.  All the white pines were planted back in 1976 from seedling trees from the Maryland Forest Service.

On the good side of the ledger the greenhouse, newly constructed, withstood the storm with flying colors.  We are beginning to feel healthy again.  The repairs have been made.  We have a new semi-shade garden spot where the neighboring pine used to starve other plants for light and water.

Restored Deer Fence

And some more firewood…

Remains of Sugar Maple

The fall, despite the storm, remains remarkably mild.  I have seen viburnum and azaleas beginning to flower.  Even the spring blooming camellias are beginning to put out blossoms.

Double Camellia showing spring bloom

And the Geranium hybrid ‘Rozanne’ is just a non-stop flowering wonder…

Geranium ‘Rozanne’

And with that I will close just counting our blessings, including four more years with president who doesn’t believe that 47% of the population can be dismissed just because they weren’t born into wealth…

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for June 2012

Iris enseta 'Agripinella'

It’s appropriate to begin another Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day with another Iris.  They have been really rewarding this year.  We seem to go from one outstanding Iris species to another.  Even the ensatas do not finish the Iris crowd, there’s another nice hybrid waiting in the wings.

Of course what June is really about is the lilies.  The Asiatics have been flowering all around the yard, but now the big guys are starting to weigh in.

Golden Trumpet Lily

I’m not sure which one this is.  I used to think it was Luxor but now I’ve figured out this is not any kind of Asiatic hybrid and I can’t seem to locate it in my records.  It stands at least 7-8 feet tall and has a pure golden hue with many blossoms.

And then there are the pseudo-lilies.

Alstroemeria 'Sweet Laura'

The Alstroemeria are well represented in our yard by Sweet Laura which not only lives over the winter here but multiplies and competes well with other strong growing perennials.

Some other harbingers of summer are the Rudbeckia and Butterfly weed.

Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun'

Asclepias tuberosa 'Hello Yellow'

On the bank near the drive the crownvetch and perennial pea are competing to smother the weeds.

Pennsylvania crownvetch

Perrenial Pea (Lathyrus latifolius)

These guys were intentionally planted but for some people they might constitute weeds.

In addition to the flowers we have moved on from a bumper crop of strawberries to an excess of blueberries.

Blueberries

Finally, I need to take note of the Stewartia which is covered with flowers right now.

Stewartia japonica flower

I think it waits for the early flowering trees to be done so that it can strut its stuff in private.

I hope this blooming day finds your garden growing like ours — always one step ahead but inspiring us to catch up…