Articles for the Month of March 2012

Blasting through Spring

Rhododendron carolianum

Our weather has been so anomalously warm this year that we have blasted through springtime.  Many things are two to three weeks ahead of time, and worse yet, going so fast that it’s hard to fully relish them.  The daffodils are declining and the Rhododendron shown above is already finished.  We usually expect many weeks of daffodils from start to finish but this year we are getting them all at once.  We have been picking baskets of daffodils from the woods and hillside and bringing them inside for close enjoyment.

Hillside daffodils

Daffodil trio

Once inside the daffodils are providing the mainstay of flowers for inside viewing and fragrance.  Beth spends a good deal of time arranging the flowers all over the house.

Dining room table


Piano room


Camellia in the Kitchen

Orchid in the kitchen


On the Mantel

On the Divider

Downstairs Bath

Upstairs bath

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March 2012

Magnolia stellata 'Star Magnolia'

For this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day it’s hard not to lead off with the star magnolia which presents not only it’s wonderful blossoms fluttering in the wind but an equally charming scent for anyone who takes the time to sample.  This is a very reliable early bloomer for us but in terms of timing it seems to be lagging compared to all the other plants competing for attention right now.  The temperature climbed to 82 degrees and almost everything is off and running.  Although I like seeing everything blooming I don’t like to blast our way through spring.  I’m praying for a little more cold weather.

A real star performer this spring has been the lowly Primula vulgaris which started blooming on January 27th.  It is still looking wonderful despite all the heat.

Primula vulgaris

Primula vulgaris and friends (Narcissus 'Rapture' for one)

We have at least a dozen of these primrose clumps and the plan is to start dividing since they all seem to do really well here.

The Hellebores continue to be at the top of their game.  Ivory Prince is particularly noticeable for the quantity of flowers and their variable appearance on the plant.

Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'

I just planted another six hellebores today that were brought up from Plant Delights in North Carolina.

Another couple of choice plants that jumped in the car in North Carolina were a false freesia

Anomatheca laxa 'False Freesia'

And a particularly pretty Corydalis

Corydalis leucanthemum 'Silver Spectre'

Our Spirea ‘Ogon’ is fully in bloom now — a solid blast of small white flowers.

Spirea 'Ogon'

The Pulmonaria has a particularly vivid blue when the flowers first open.  Then they gradually shift to red.  They also have a very extended flowering season.

Pulmonaria (Lungwort)

And the violet variant of the blue chilean crocus (check out Telos Rare Bulbs) that I shared a few days ago had its first flower today.

Tecophilaea cyanocrocus var. violacea

And of course it’s really daffodil time.  They are flowering outside in the hundreds.  We fill the house with them to absorb their fragrance day and night.  And they definitely are proceeding much too fast thanks to the heat.  Here are a couple to close this posting with.

Daffodil with pink cup (Pink Silk maybe?)

Narcissus 'Cassata'

I must confess that GBBD sort of crept up on me this month.  I’ve been so busy planting and transplanting since I got back from the south.  And there are so many other plants in flower right now.  Step on over to Carol’s post to see what other flowers people are seeing in their gardens.

The Little Things That Start the Spring

Chilean Blue Crocus (Tecophilaea cyanocrocus 'Leichtlinii')

This is the third year we’ve grown the Chilean Blue Crocus and it’s still exciting to see it pop up.  Judging from last year it’s about 10 days earlier this year though each species seems to be reacting differently to the warmer weather.

I’ve been gone to North Carolina and Florida for the past week.  Making my annual trek to Plant Delights and spring training.  I brought back three boxes of garden treasures from the Plant Delights open house including this new Hellebore

Helleborus x hybridus 'Berry Swirl'

When I returned I was pleased to see that the season had advanced but I hadn’t really missed any flowerings.  Especially wonderful at this time of year are the tiny Hepaticas.

Hepatica nobilis 'Deep Red-Pink'

and it’s somewhat larger american relative

Hepatica acutiloba 'Large-form Pale Blue'

Speaking of tiny, this diminutive Alpine Draba came from a seeding that my son planted in Boston last year.  I tried putting two into a tufa stone (unsuccessfully) but the one which grew was planted in the garden on a slightly dry modest slope.  It seems to be very happy next to the Adonis and a dwarf daphne.

Alpine Draba (Draba alzoides)

Another gift from my kids at Christmas last year seems to have successfully returned.  It’s foliage is easily recognized as different than your normal hellebore.

Helleborus Thibetanus

Apparently this takes a few years to reach the flowering stage, but judging from the online pictures it’s worth waiting for.  In the meantime the leaves are quite pretty.

And after waiting a few years, the first buds are visible on one of the Molly the Witch Peonies.

Paeonia mlokosewitschii 'Molly the witch'

There are so many things blooming in the yard right now it’s hard to give them all appropriate appreciation.  Certainly all the crocus in the grass are worthy of more individual attention than they often get.

Crocus versus with almost tulip-like proportions

And the Glory of the Snow (chionodoxa) are popping up everywhere, often far from where they were planted.Glory of the snow (Chionodoxa)

Of course it would not fair imply that the only thing I look at are the little guys.  For instance the big Pink Camellia is covered with blossoms and hard not to notice.  Our camellia plantings are in for an expansion this year now that we have a deer-free zone…:)

Pink Camellia japonica



It’s That Time of Year

Hepaticas emerging

Every day now is an opportunity to walk around the garden (maybe more than once a day) and see what it stirring from winter slumber.  It has to be my favorite time of year.  Each of the little spring ephemerals has it’s own way of surprising as it sends up the first exploratory shoots.  The hepaticas with their hairy stems are especially charming to see.  The first off the mark is one of the very tiny Hepatica nobilis.

Hepatica nobilis 'Deep Red-Pink'

The startlingly red color more than compensates for the small size.

Trillium and trout lilies are putting up shoots and in the woods the little striped squalls are in full flower.

Puschkinia scilloides var libanotica

Also in the woods the wonderful early Daffodil ‘Little Gem’ is brightening up the forest path.

Daffodil 'Little Gem'

The Hellebores are continuing to amaze.  I plan to be shopping for more this week.  A very strong grower is Ivory Prince.

Helleborus Ivory Prince flower

Helleborus Ivory Prince Plant

Surprisingly the Fritillaria raddeana is blooming almost as it’s coming out of the ground this year.  I remember it usually being much taller before the flowers come out.

Fritillaria raddeana

And one of my favorite plants, the variegated winter daphne, is opening up its flowers.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata'

This is a flower that I have never satisfactorily photographed.  I think it’s partly because I ‘see’ it also with my nose and that fragrance makes it beautiful beyond compare.  The plant is large enough to create a cloud of incense as you walk by.

Daphne odora 'Aureomarginata' plant

Fragrance, flowers, and winter-hardy evergreen plant.  What more could one ask for?