This month’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day falls upon my mother’s birthday — her 100th birthday, something very worth celebrating. She has always loved flowers and we shared many moments of picking flowers and harvesting fruit.
And though her body is slowly losing the capabilities it once had, as recently as 18 month ago (pre-covid) we could still share humor and memories.
So as I look around our garden today, I know that I owe a lot my appreciation for gardens and gardening to my parents and grandparents. Today is also my father’s birthday (though he died more than 20 years ago) and their wedding anniversary. They were married at the start of World War II and this courtship poem that he sent from his barracks is an example of the many poems my father wrote during their life together
Meanwhile back here on the hillside we are harvesting gallons of peas and strawberries. Last night we pitted many of the wild cherries that yield every year without spraying or special care.
We’re thinking we should at least plant the seeds
The birds are happy to help out but they mostly work on the cherries that are beyond our reach.
Meanwhile the blueberries are starting to come in and they combine well with cherry juice.
But wait. There are still flowers worth mentioning. A lot of lilies are making their annual appearance.
But also some special additional items worth noting.
In the herb garden the perennials are making quite a statement as encouragement to the hummingbirds.
In the greenhouse there are many Zephyranthes popping up, but they don’t seem to follow any respect for my attempts at labeling.
I peeked in and saw this Hymenocallis blooming the other day (if you don’t catch it quickly it’s gone)
Before leaving this rather long post I do need to mention the Stewartia malacodendron. We have grown Stewartia japonica for years and it’s a wonderful tree with beautiful flowers and bark. It’s just about to come into bloom. But its cousin S. malacondendron bloomed about two weeks ago and it has truly remarkable flowers, well worth the time invested in getting to grow outside of its North Carolina origins.
I will lead off this very late Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day post with a lovely little anemone that came from the NARGS seed exchange three years ago. It’s not spreading but seems to be holding its own in the Monument bed.
I am always surprised that two of Arisaemas hold off until June. Their colleagues begin back in April. But just when you think that winter has finished them off, the Arisaema candidissimum and Arisaema fargesii come popping up through the ground.
It is also surprising to see the Freesia laxa return every year.
According to the books this little corm is not viable in our climate. Not only has it returned but it’s jumped the tracks and moved to another garden bed as well.
I have it growing now next to the reliable Brodiaea ‘Queen Fabiola’.
That’s a white Callirhoe in the front of the image.
And they all mix together like this.
In the same garden bed we have a bright yellow Butterfly Weed.
This is very popular with all the butterflies and bees. For example this swallowtail was cruising around the yard.
Nearby we find a lovely clematis growing up a trellis.
Also by the garage there is a marvelous foxtail lily that came from Far Reaches.
Back in the monument bed there is the first of the Asiatic lillies coming out.
And a chinese ground orchid that is a little taller than our other ground orchids.
Back in the Camellia bed, emerging through the rapidly growing Japanese Anemones is a very pretty Astrantia.
If we go back to the Alpine bed, as I do several times a day, a very nice dwarf plant in the Campanulaceae is just finishing. I cannot read the label but I suspect it’s an Edraianthus.
Just finished now is also another pasque flower.
Also in the alpine bed is a new gentian that we found at Oliver Nursery this spring.
In the greenhouse there are a few picture-worthy objects as well.
This is a two-foot tall Ornithogalum that came from the PBS bulb exchange.
Another PBS acquisition is this Pine Woods Lily.
I almost forgot to mention the Stewartia. It has been a consistent flowering tree for June 15th. This year it is loaded with flowers but only one is actually open now.
However, life is not flowers alone. It is the peak time for our berries, especially the blueberries.
It’s a joy picking blueberries. We brought in gallons last night. I’m convinced the only reason we can do so is that just behind the garden we have a very large mulberry tree and an equally large Bird Cherry that provide even greater interest for the birds.
Speaking of birds I’ve seen some really nice ones on my early morning bird watching including this Baltimore Oriole yesterday.
Well, that’s a glimpse of our garden right now. What’s happening in your garden?
Wow, a very busy day yesterday in gardenland. I discovered the horned poppy shown above had returned after a year’s absence in flowering as I was catching up with the vegetable garden on an absolutely gorgeous spring day here in Maryland. My cup runneth over with chores at this time of year, but the weather has been most cooperative (at last!). I tilled the garden, finished weeding the strawberries, planted out the veggies started in the basement, seeded much of the rest of the garden, put in more glads and dahlias, and meanwhile Beth and Josh were weeding and pruning like mad.
As usual on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day I will share some of the flowers of interest blooming around the yard. It’s worthwhile to step back from my close-up images to see the wide array of flowering plants right now.
I’ve noticed that some folks tend to think of ‘garden’ as the larger scale perspective, whereas I often get caught up with the specific flowers. This little blossom on the Kalmiopsis leachiana, for example, is almost hidden amidst the surrounding Daphne.
Another small distinctive flower that first bloomed last fall and is repeating already is this little Delphinium.
A constant volunteer for us is this little pink columbine that we inherited from Beth’s mother.
In the garden leading to the greenhouse gateway, there is a floriferous Callirhoe variant.
A quite distinctive plant is this allium which is just finished blooming and looks like it has little onions for seed pods.
The very fragrant Rhododendron ‘Viscosepala’ is also just at the end of its blooming.
By the back porch there is a lovely Bougainvillea that has overwintered in the greenhouse.
Of course, it’s hard not to miss the peonies in May.
We also have yellow flowered peony that has been with us for thirty years.
The name has long since disappeared.
And the old stalwart, Festiva Maxima.
We brought this one with us from Alexandria in 1975 and have planted it in many places around the property. It thrives everywhere, even in the pasture with no real care. The fragrance is wonderful and they make great cut flowers.
Another plant that thrives on neglect is Baptisia.
These grow right by the pasture with no assistance whatsoever.
The various iris species also have a celebration time in May.
At the back of the garage we have very large Black Lace Elderberry that is fully in flower right now.
One of my favorite alpine plants is the Edrianthus pumilo which grows in a nicely formed cushion in the Large Trough by the greenhouse.
Let me leave you with a couple of the birds which have shown up recently in the yard. First a bluebird which is probably nested nearby.
And a Yellow-rumped warbler which is more likely just passing through but is the first instance I’ve seen on our hillside.
Nepal is an incredibly rich and diverse country with a landscape that ranges from the jungles of Chitwan on the Indian border to the highest mountains in the world. In between are all stages of beautiful rivers and terraced hillsides. There are 6000 species of flowering plants, 900 species of birds, and over 600 species of butterflies. But even with all of that diversity it was the wonderfully friendly people that left us with indelible memories. Their small land accommodates a great many cultures and traditions but seems to rank tolerance very high on their scale of values. I’ve put on SmugMug a set of our images from 3 weeks in Nepal. Here are a few samples.
And so the year begins — with a flush of color and many green things poking up through the winter landscape. Our New Years day was in the fifties, following a pretty warm December. The Daffodils are waking up all over the yard and presenting their promise of blooms.
And Trout Lilies have begun to show their tips in the leaves.
The Japanese Quince is covered in blossoms and buds.
The Camellias (both Fall and Spring bloomers) have never really ceased blooming. Our double Flowered Pink is a japonica but seems to be intent on finishing its spring bloom early.
There’s even an Anemone coronaria that is proving why they don’t seem to last here on Ball Rd. It’s way early for this plant.
By the end of New Years Day the sun set in glorious fashion against the horizon leaving a promise of interesting things to come.
But all of this growth seems not to have paid much attention to the weatherman. As I sit today, there have been snow flurries, the daytime max is going to be around 31 degrees with a prediction of 16 degrees for tonight. It’s like a quick slap across the face for the plants that have forgotten about winter and then like a tease the temps should go up to the fifties again by the end of the week.
In a post script I should mention that we had a curious visitor last week. A small Cooper’s Hawk was in the garden sitting on the ground.
When we approached him he was very loath to be disturbed by us. We wondered whether he was sick. Then after posing in very hawk-like fashion he lifted off into the air with all his capabilities seemingly in place.
It did give me a chance to try out my new camera… 🙂
It rained yesterday. It wasn’t as dramatic as the rainbow we saw on July 4th in St. Louis where we basking the afterglow of a wonderful marriage celebration for our ‘third’ son. Nor did it have the news impact of the flash flood that hit Frederick with an inch and a half of rain in 30 minutes on July 8th. Nope. This was just a gentle rain that fell in the morning for long enough for us to notice that it was really raining and to actually penetrate the dry ground and begin to help the plants. And it was particularly satisfying because I had only just finally gotten the peppers, eggplants, squash, cukes, and annual flowers planted. Since this is about 2 months late for them and for the corn that finally got into the ground this morning we shall have to wait and see what the outcome is likely to be.
Once again we have been dealing with really dry weather where it seems like every summer thunderstorm drops its rain on somebody else. However, the constant hand watering has finally caused me to reconsider our approach to watering. For many years (let’s say nearly 40) I have acted under the mistaken impression that on the East Coast it was up to Nature to water my garden. I gave the weather gods the chief responsibility for making certain that all the plants had enough water. This was probably because, compared to California where I was raised, the water seemed abundant here and it actually did fall from the skies a fair amount. When the water didn’t come down however, I complained about dead plants and only reluctantly pulled out the hoses when plants were drooping. We also have the problem that too much watering will dry up our well and that has implications for washing, showering, and drinking.
This year I came to the brilliant conclusion that if I water during the middle of the night in small amounts it should (a) help the plants, (b) not drain the well, and (c) reduce my daytime labor. To this end I’ve rigged up 7 watering stations around the yard and garden with timers set to go off for 15 mins on the hour all night long.
Even though we’ve only been doing this for a short while I can already see that this is going to improve my time and attention to other parts of the gardening process if I don’t have to spend 2 hrs every other day dragging the hose around the yard. Now your may well ask what took me so long to come to this solution and for the life of me I don’t really know. But running a water pipe out to the garden certainly made this easier to do.
As far as brilliant insights go, I am batting two for two this week. We normally keep our compost bucket underneath the kitchen sink. For some reason we let it get pretty full and found that fruit flies were having a sexual orgy down there. At least they produced a lot of babies that were rapidly spreading to the fruit bowl, the wine bottles, the glad and lily flower vases, and any place with sweet or fragrant substances. In the past this kind of infestation has been really hard to eliminate. Basically it involved getting rid of all the attractive things and spraying rooms on a regular basis. However, when I found them on the beautiful gladiolus and lily displays I knew we needed another solution. So here is what I did (and I want full patent rights on this solution). I sprayed the inside of the vacuum cleaner and then vacuumed the little buggers off every surface where they had settled. The vacuum wand can actually pick them right out the air. It took about two days of going back over the same areas and sucking them out of the air until there were no more to be found. I did put a plug on the end of the vacuum while it was not in use to make sure they didn’t appear again from inside the machine. The process worked so well that I didn’t even have any left to take a picture of for this posting.
Speaking of bugs, has anyone noticed that the population of stinkbugs is dramatically decreased from last year. I don’t know of any reason why that would happen but the reduction is most welcome. Last year we would find multiple stinkbugs sitting on the door waiting for it to slide open and this year nary a one. Let’s hope that a natural solution is evolving.
I suppose that one explanation for reduction of all bugs in the area is the little flock of guinea fowl that walked through our yard the other morning.
We had never seen them before but apparently Guinea fowl are widely raised because of their appetite for ticks and other insects. They are welcome to come walking here anytime they like.
I had one major loss when we returned from St. Louis and two successes to report. This year my kids had given me a rare Chinese tree, Emmenopterys henryi, as a gift. I had potted it up and it seemed to be doing well. When I returned it had just up and died. I inspected the corpse and could see no reason – the soil was moist and everything around it was doing fine. I’ll have to give it another try I guess. On the positive side of the ledger, the Oconee Bells (Shortia galacifolia) planted this spring all have developed new leaves and seem to be growing just fine, something I did not see with last year’s attempt at the Shortias.
In somewhat the same vein, I have planted Gloriosa Lilies many times and never managed to get a growing plant, let alone a flower. This time, along with all the other much delayed plantings, I put the Gloriosa in the ground just before we went to St. Louis. This time the effort was rewarded with a little plant that seems to be coming on nicely.
On Wednesday of this week I had been planning to drive to Cape May for an overnight to check out the migrating bird populations. Cape May is a wonderful place for bird watching and general photography. But as I walked around the yard on Wednesday morning the air was cool and the birds were singing loudly — in the end I decided to forego the 4 hour drive and just enjoy the local environment. I went over to the Worthington Farm at Monocacy National Battlefield Park and did some bird watching for a little while. In no time I found an Oriole, a couple of Bluebirds, a Warbling Vireo, and a couple of Indigo Buntings. This was the first time I had seen either the Vireo or the Buntings at Worthington.
When I came back I took at little walk in our woods and spied a Pileated Woodpecker but he refused to pose for the camera. They are big colorful birds but I find them camera shy.
The next morning I was delighted to find that birds are eating at our mulberry tree (Morus rubra) again. At ground level the berries still look green but the birds are finding the riper ones up in the tree. The mulberry tree is absolutely wonderful for attracting all kinds of birds. If nature didn’t give us one at the edge of the forest we would have had to plant one. In the last couple of mornings I’ve seen the Red Bellied Woodpecker, Bluebirds, Mockingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Blackbirds, Goldfinches, an Indigo Bunting, Robins, House Finches, and Catbirds. The Cedar Waxwings, with their perfectly coiffed feathers, come in bunches.
The Mockingbird puts on a singing show for everyone. But as it turns out another accomplish singer is the Indigo Bunting. Although it would not pose directly in the Mulberry tree, it did go to the top of the Pine Tree and put on quite a singing show. This one was fully colored and it’s a shame I couldn’t a closer shot of those beautiful blue feathers.
We’ve reached that time of the year when one can start to look for new and different birds to show up in the garden. Even knowing that I was very surprised to see a Wild Turkey in the pasture last week. It flew off so fast that I only got a blurry picture as it headed for the trees. I had seen him in the woods just a few days earlier so maybe we have a new resident. It is a big bird when you see it take off. However, it’s not as big as the Great Blue Heron that flew across the garden just a about 15 feet off the ground and maybe 25 feet away from me. Think of someone you know turned sideways and slowly moving across your view. It was startling as the bird gained momentum in front of me.
Later in the same day a little Ruby-crowned Kinglet came by to announce that spring was officially well under way.
I also saw a female Twohee which was a first for me.
Today we took a little hike at Worthington Farm in the Monocacy Battlefield National Park to look at the fading Bluebells. My ulterior motive was to see what birds might be out as well. I was rewarded by two Warblers down near the river.
There may be more warblers in that area so I need to return.
The bluebells were pretty much done but we did see Star of Bethlehem and Spring Beauties to extend the hike to the horticultural side as well.