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.


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…


Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day May 2012

Iris tectorum

The Japanese Roof Iris is actually from China where it is widely distributed.  It is just finishing blooming and GBBD seems an appropriate time to take note of it.  It’s many bearded cousins are in full bloom right now and we have many different varieties — all with that delightful iris fragrance.  We’ve failed to weed them at all this year and they have simply blithely grown up right through the weeds.

One of many bearded Iris

As I noted in my previous post the herbaceous peonies are fully engaged right now.  None more spectacular for us than ‘Honey Gold’ as it recovered from this morning’s rain.

Peony 'Honey Gold'

The other group of flowers that is busting out right now are the roses.  We’ve never had so many happening at once.  The knockout Roses are just that and several of the David Austins are also in gear.

David Austin Rose 'Charlotte'

It was way too long a day for me to note all the flowers in bloom right now (I finally finished planting all the perennials that I had bought in various places) but just a few still worth mentioning.  The Persian Cornflower (Centaurea dealbata) is a delightful strong grower in full sun.  It makes a nice companion to the more common Centaureas.

Persian Corn Flower (Centaurea dealbata)

Years ago we planted Tradescantia that we obtained from White Flower Farm.  It has easily spread to various places in the yard and the flowers are always welcome.  The plants fit well with iris and day lilies and they are very hardy.

Spider Wort (Tradescantia)

Another strongly colored perennial is the Baptisia, in this case ‘Purple Smoke’.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Looking out over the yard the Kousa Dogwood fully claims one’s attention right now — though it’s best seen from above.

Kousa Dogwood

And then finally a couple of wildflowers to wind up this posting.  One of my favorites as a transplanted californian is the lovely California Poppy.  It’s persisted for about 5 years now after an initial wildflower planting.

California Poppy (Eschscholzia californica)

And along side the poppies are Mexican Evening Primrose (which look very poppy-like themselves).  They are also a result of the same wildflower mix and at this point, like the California Poppies, simply reseed themselves.

Evening Primrose (Oenothera speciosa)

If you have enjoyed these flowers I suggest visiting May Dreams Gardens, the central site for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, to see what other gardens are growing…


Welcome Adonis

Adonis amurensis

The first Adonis showed up well ahead of time.  In fact, this picture is from a week ago.  I’ve been on vacation in Florida for the past week and I had been intending to post these images that were taken before I left.  We’re on the plane for home tonight and a thoroughly wintry forecast implies that all the flowers that were showing before we left are going to have to withstand a very cold night.  But getting back to last week, the Adonis is one of our chief harbingers of spring.  Think giant buttercup that is very well behaved.  I don’t know why these are so hard to find but they are.  This particular plant came from Blanchette Gardens near Boston.  And I’ve order two more for this spring from British Columbia (Fraser’s Thimble Farms).  We have two other Adonis in slightly different locations.  One is barely showing (I think it got nipped by cold weather) and the other shows some damage, again probably cold weather because Adonis are not really animal targets.

Adonis fukujukai with bud coming

Even though I see some damage to the tips of the blossoms and stamens I’m very pleased to see that there is another bud coming up beside the first so THEY ARE SPREADING.  This is very good indeed.  Of course we’re a long way from the huge bank of Adonis that they have at Winterthur.

I’m running out of time before the plane comes but here are a few other plants that were blooming nicely before we left last week.

Lungwort (Pulmonaria)

Algerian Iris (Iris unguicularis)

This is a repeat for this very early iris thus confirming what others have said about this being a repeat bloomer.

Helleborus MG Apricot in bud

I’ve also noticed a lot of hellebore seedlings.  There is apparently no problem with propagation in the hellebore camp.

Helleborus seedlings

Witch hazel (Hamamelis mollis)

Standard Pink Camellia

yellow species crocus

And then finally here’s how the deer fence looked as we finished the garden side.

Deer fence complete next to garden

Next week I hope that the guys are able to enclose the rest… 🙂

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for April 2011

Hepatica nobilis 'Lithuanian blue'

Well it is an April Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day and as you might expect there are a plethora of flowers to choose from in reporting what is blooming.  This is the crossover point between the smaller spring ephemerals, the bulk of the Tulips and Daffodils, and the major flowering trees and shrubs.  There is no way that I’m going to enumerate everything that is blooming today and I’m not going to repeat some of beauties I’ve reported on recently.  Instead I’m going to single out some of the most photogenic of the lot and that is, of course, a very subjective filtering.

The little gems are well represented, not only by the Hepatica above but by the following.

Jeffersonia dubia

Anemone lipsiensis

Rue Anemone (Anemonella thalictroides)

First Epimedium in flower

Trillium pusillum ‘Roadrunner’

That is my absolute favorite Trillium.

A particularly rewarding little guy is the White Trout Lily which we had never succeeded with before.

Erythronium 'White Beauty'

I don’t want to ignore the Daffodils and Tulips.

Tulip 'Portland'

This one sits just outside the backdoor.  And out in the front yard is a wonderful display of Tulip tarda.

Tulip Tarda display

Tulip tarda

Daffodil cluster in the front yard

A particularly nice double daffodil

Two of the classic flowering trees have started — our double white cherry and the volunteer dogwood by the front porch.

Double Flowering Cherry

Flowering Dogwood

And for shrubs it’s hard not to mention the Spirea at the back of the garage or the Flowering Quince beside the garage.

Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’

Chaenomeles 'Toyo Nishiki'

It’s also true that some things look almost as good before the buds open.

Viburnum carlesi

Glaucidium palmatum

Virginia Bluebell in bud

And as a final mention I should note that some of the Camellia flowers are getting full enjoyment in the house including this giant single.

Big single pink Camellia

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day for November 2010

The fall leaves dominate the backyard and flowers are scarce

Well this November Bloom Day finds us with a limited number of flowers and a powerful number of brilliant fall leaves.  We have had an extended sunny autumn with many of the plants making a comeback as they (falsely) assume that the cold weather will never get any worse than the 28 degrees that we’ve seen now and then this fall.  It’s been altogether a great time for fall bulb planting (all completed this week), garden chores (never complete), and photography.

The few flowers that let us still claim this as bloom day are the Gallardia, some random snapdragons, a few bedraggled salvia, and some very nice little Calendula.

Gallardia grandiflora 'Arizona Sun'

There are a few other sources of flowers besides the perennials though.  In the pasture the dandelions have had a rebirth and I’ve also seen the Yellow Toadflax showing it’s cute little butter and eggs flowers.

Yellow Toadflax (Linaria vulgaris)

Another plant that persists in flowering beyond all reasonable expectations is the Loropetalum.  I first saw this plant in a posting from Les at A Tidewater Gardener.  It has already grown rapidly from 1 gallon plant this spring to a fairly decent sized shrub with pretty fuschia flowers that have strap-like petals.  The question will be how it survives our winters.   Stay tuned…


Strap-like flowers on the Loropetalum

One other source of flowers are the plants we’ve brought inside in pots.  A particularly lovely violet shade is on the bougainvillea which is happily flowering (or what passes for flowering on a bougainvillea) in the basement.

Violet Bougainvillea

The various grasses have yielded their seed heads, some more colorful than others.  I couldn’t help noticing the fine scale of the pink muhly grass since Beth has brought several stalks into the house.

Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris)

But the real color of the season is the leaves.  Everywhere you look there are various shades of leaves doing their thing.  The gigantic Red Maple in the backyard has turned a vivid yellow this year.  And it contrasts nicely with the other maples.

Red Maple with yellow fall leaves

Depending upon the light in the morning or evening the outline of the Japanese Maple leaves against the sky can also be quite artistic.

Japanese maple leaves in outline

The japanese maple leaves are also quite persistent as we move toward winter.

Speaking of persistency, one of my favorite trees in the forest is the American Beech.  The leaves turn from golden to a warm brown shade and last well into the winter.

Beech leaves

Although they stand out even in a mixed forest, if you can find them in a grove setting it can be perfectly wonderful.   We have one such grove along one of the trails at the Worthington Farm, a part of the Monocacy National Park.  It is a delightful, almost mythic place, at any time of year.  But in the fall it really comes alive with golden yellow-brown.  Seek such a grove out and treasure it.

American Beech (Fagus grandiflora) in forest grove

Go to May Dreams Gardens for other Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts…

Flirting with Frost

Cosmos bipinnatus 'Sensation'

We’ve been just missing predicted frost the last few nights but I think this may well have been the last of the frost-free nights.  It’s hard to complain because the average date for first frost in our area is October 25th but I thought that nature was trying to make amends for the disastrous summer growing season with high temps and no rainfall.  We’ve had a lovely October and the vegetables that I, with only the faintest of hope of success, planted in the dregs of early August has been yielding in abundance.

Late Fall harvest

Everything is growing as though the parched summer was only a distant memory and it does help rekindle my enthusiasm.

Fall lettuce

It’s quite unusual for us to have squash this time of year because it’s usually long gone to the squash borers by now.

Summer Squash

In addition to the green beans which are doing nicely, the original planting of Swiss Chard went right through the drought as though it were no problem at all and the small patch has been flourishing this fall.

Swiss Chard

This wonderful fall weather has brought out the color for some of the trees and shrubs.  It’s always amazing to see the variety of colors and forms that jump to the camera at this time of year.  Let’s start with the Amur Maple that provides the backdrop for the MacGardens header.

Amur Maple (Acer ginnala)

This is a reliable treasure with consistent strong reds and golds on small leaves that flutter in the wind.

Another really strong red is the Sour Gum that grows wild in the second pasture.

Sour Gum (Nyssa sylvatica)

It always colors up pretty early compared to a lot of the trees.

Sour Gum leaves

We also have a lot of wild sassafras that has pretty nice oranges and yellows in trees that line the pasture.


In the same area we have a lot of Bigtooth Aspen that not only color up nicely but flutter their leaves in the wind in a gentle whispering characteristic of the Aspens.

Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata)

Of course you can’t go anywhere on our property without noticing the dogwoods, both wild and planted, that have to be one of the all time best four-season plants.

Dogwood (Cornus florida)

A couple of standout favorites for fall leaves are the Sweet Gum and the Sugar Maple.

Backlit Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)

The Sweet Gum is one of the first trees that we planted when we moved here 35 years ago.  Followed only shortly afterwards by the Sugar Maple.

Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum)

Finally a treasure at the bottom of the pasture is a pair of Pecans that color up very nicely in a good year.  They always look very nice against the backdrop of White Pines that form that part of our boundary.

Pecan (Carya illinoinensis)

Of course they look pretty nice with just the sky as a backdrop as well…

Top of Pecan

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for July 2010

Oriental Lily 'Time Out'

Well it is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day once again where thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens we are called upon to describe what is blooming right now.  For us it is lillies, lillies, and more lillies.  The problem is that because of the drought we have been through all the flowers are much smaller than normal.  More about that later.  First let me share some of the flower pictures.

Oriental Lily 'Salmon Star'

Oriental Lily 'Marco Polo'

Trumpet Lily 'Scheherazade'

Lilies provide the added benefit of striking fragrance on a summer night and their smell permeates the house if you bring them inside.

Even the daylilies are getting into the act.

Red Daylily

Yes, there a lot of other players in the yard right now — the Shasta Daisies, the Black-eyed Susans, Yarrow, Gaura, Heliopsis, and Joe Pye Weed.

Joe-Pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum)

And our favorite Glad is out in bloom.

Princess Margaret Rose Gladiolius is the first one out again

And let us not forget a cute little annual Celosia.

Celosia 'Flamingo Feather'

But the biggest feature of the garden has been the lack of water.

We went on vacation at the end of June.  June was a very dry month before we left.  But I had watered everything I could before departing.  For the full month of June this is what we got for rainfall.

Weather for June

Note the record heat.  In addition during the two weeks we were gone there was zero rain and the heat got worse. Through the first 8 days of July not a drop fell at our house and the temperature went to a 106 degrees.  I had counted on getting at least one little rainstorm and hadn’t expected desert-like temperatures.

I still haven’t finished toting up the damage.

The dead and dying on the Maple Allee

This is the sight I faced on the evening I returned.  A lot of labor and years of growth on the little Maples — wasted.

The newly planted Coral Bark Maple is toast...

Garden disasters - note shrunken water-starved corn

Potted plants on evening of our return home

The positive on this last picture is that with water our thirty year-old Grapefruit has opened it’s leaves again.

I’m sure there is some lesson here about abandoning your garden while hiking through the wildflowers in Colorado, but I don’t want to hear it.  Maryland is supposed to have better weather than Nevada…

A Maple Allee with Evergreen Enhancements

The new growth on one of our hundreds (thousands) of Maples

One of the key elements of our property are the two green Japanese Maples that I grew from seedlings.  They are now glorious 25 foot tall trees on either side of the house with multi-season interest.

One of the Japanese Maple seedlings frames the deck

The other Japanese Maple seedling marks the entrance to the side yard

We have many other Japanese Maples but none of the others produce the prodigious crop of seedlings that come from these two trees.  For years the kids potted up some of the seedlings and we passed them on to friends.  At one point I put some of the potted trees into the garden just to hold them over during periods of limited water and then for overwintering.  Well season passed into season and they have gotten quite large.  It was getting to the now or never point for these lovely little trees so I dug them out this week (digging is the term since the roots had gone well beyond their pots).

Potted Maples looking for a home

With this many little trees it seemed appropriate to create a little Maple Allee in the lower pasture.  So I took the mower and cut an S-shaped avenue in the high grass with the end point at the two most recent Christmas trees which had been planted at the far side of the pasture.

An S-shaped path in the lower pasture

With the help of the tractor I dug holes on either side of the swath and planted the little Maple trees.  This is a lousy time to be transplanting trees but I decided that the task could not wait for another season.

Maples laid out on the boundary of the path

At the mid point of the path I placed an Amur Cherry (Prunus Mackii) that I had grown similarly in the garden (beginning with a tiny internet purchase that was now 6 foot high).  However there were still more plants that I had placed (temporarily, several years ago) into the potting row.  These included two Redwoods, a Twisted White Pine, and an Italian Stone Pine.

Giant Redwood (Sequoiadendron giganteum) in the garden

The Giant Redwood deserves special mention because I have a history of planting Sequoias on the East Coast.  When we lived in an Alexandria suburb I planted a Giant Redwood about 15 feet from the front porch.  This was 35 years ago.  The last time we drove by the tree was still there but instead of the little 8 inch high plant I had put in, it’s now a huge tree — utterly inappropriate for the location.  Why, you ask, would I do such a thing.  Well it was directly inspired by Wendall Berry’s Mad Farmer Liberation Front where he says

“Ask the questions that have no answers.

Invest in the millenium. Plant sequoias.

Say that your main crop is the forest

that you did not plant,

that you will not live to harvest.”

And so, once again, I began here with a little Sequoia sprout that, after growing in the garden for years, is ready for the millennia.

The Sequoiadendron giganteum is actually reasonably hardy in Maryland.  The Coastal Redwood and the Italian Stone Pine are more of a stretch.  But each has a special place in my memory from growing up in California.  They have persisted for a number of years in the sheltered environment of the vegetable garden and now we shall set them free…

Evergreens added to the 'Allee'

Coastal Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens)