This spring I invested in two small and ridiculously beautiful double flowered Japanese Hepaticas from Thimble Farms in Canada.
They are the result of years of breeding in Japan. But even the less specialized Hepaticas are delightful to look at for their short flowering season in the spring.
And they are also sufficient reason to look into propagating them from seed. It turns out that Hepatica seed is best sown very soon after harvesting so that now is the time to be seeking it from whatever source you use. Or, alternatively, harvest your own Hepatica seed and pot it up now. I found some very good references online for harvesting Hepatica seed but I wasn’t quite sure what I was looking for. I had never actually observed them to fall in the garden. But this week I noticed the seed heads hanging over the neighboring pots were dropping little seeds on the gravel. As I fished them out with my knife, I knocked some more seeds loose and pretty soon I had a handful.
For the outside plants I ordered some paper tea bags with drawstrings that I could put around the seed heads and thereby catch them if I wasn’t there when they came loose.
While I was going through this process around the yard with some other interesting plants like the Adonis, I noticed a little seedling in the pathway.
In the over thirty years that those Tree Peonies have been in place this is the first time I’ve seen a seedling. Peonies are slow to develop from seed so this little guy is precious indeed.
One of the features of posting regularly on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is that you can look back and see what was happening on other years. I was surprised to see that despite 3 days in the 80’s-90’s a week ago we are still behind most years and way behind last year. That sounds good to me as I would like Spring to stick around a while.
As usual there are so many things flowering right now that one can afford to be choosy and I’ll ignore the hundreds of daffodils pouring in right now
and the many Hellebores that continue their display both inside and outside.
Instead I’ll focus on some of the more unusual gems to be found around the yard and greenhouse.
First up is a Kalmiopsis leachiana. This is a rarity that I received as a gift this Christmas. It’s a small relative of the Mountain Laurel that was not discovered until 1930 in a remote part of Oregon. It’s now the centerpiece for the Kalmiopsis Wilderness in southwestern Oregon.
We will do our best to keep it happy in Maryland, but I suspect it will not appreciate our hot, humid summers.
Another small delightful evergreen his the Dahphne ‘Lawrence Crocker’. It flowered last fall but seems quite happy to flower again for springtime.
Another small gem showing the last of its flowers is the dark blue Hepatica. This was obtain from Seneca Hill Perennials (now closed) and for a time was carried by Plant Delights but I’ve no idea how to find it now.
The standard trout lilies (Erythronium americana) are just about finished but the more unusual ones are just coming into bloom.
The Erythronium Pagodas are mixed with a few Trillium luteum which flower at exactly the same time with their matching yellow petals.
One of the flowers that I associate with the trout lilies is the bloodroot which always flowers at just about the same time. Just afterward comes the multiflowered bloodroot which is more spectacular and also lasts longer.
A reliable yellow flower, reflecting the sunshine, is the Tulip tarda. Those are flowering in the front rock garden at the moment.
I was quite taken by the leaves and flowers of the corydalis last year and so we have quite a number of them that are new to us this spring. One is Corydalis ‘Abant Wine’, another of the solida hybrids.
Our Camellias are mostly flowering now. Especially nice is Nuccio’s Gem which was added last year.
The epimedia are all beginning to flower now. One of our first was gift from the kids and it has masses of flowers at the moment.
I need to give some praise to the little Primula kisoana. Despite the fact that I’ve discovered it’s a bit of a thug in the garden and I had to evict to one of the more diffcult garden areas under the neighbor’s pine tree, when it actually comes into flower it is startlingly colorful.
I’ve moved some out to the woods and it’s flowering in a spot where many a previous plant has failed.
I need to share also of couple of shots from the greenhouse where some early forcing of bulbs has been going on.
The Adonis continues it’s remarkable season of flowering…
And I will close with the scene that greets me on the way to pick up the paper from the mailbox in the morning.
So, as we are nearing the end of the period where frost is a threat for the outdoor plants, it’s worth asking what’s happening in the greenhouse. Despite fears from some quarters that this would be just an expensive folly, it was merely expensive but not a folly at all. At least in my plant-centric view of the universe. I had originally pictured the greenhouse as an opportunity to reproduce the climate of my Southern California upbringing on the east coast. While it has done that (I kept the minimum temperature at 40 degrees this winter), it has also opened up the whole world of seed exchanges for planting unusual species from around the world. I’ve joined the North American Rock Garden Society, the Alpine Garden Society, the Scottish Rock Garden Society, the Pacific Bulb Society, and the Species Iris Group of North America, all of which have wonderful seed exchanges for an opportunity to obtain seeds that are not only inexpensive but not generally available in common seed catalogs. In addition I’ve ordered seed from the Göteborg Botanical Garden in Sweden, Silverhill Seeds in South Africa and from the plant explorer Vojtech Holubec in the Czech Republic. A total of 155 seed packets have been planted from December through April. Nearly 70 have germinated so far and just the process has been very interesting. With the automatic watering and fan with window ventilation, the greenhouse has stayed pretty disease and insect free (I think I sprayed a branch of aphids on the citrus and bougainvillea twice). Given that it’s open to the outdoors it seems to be less prone to runaway insect problems like I used to get in the basement. Here’s what the benches look like in a little more detail.
And then some of the seedlings that are making progress.
In addition the greenhouse has been used for holding over plants bought for outside planting and some that are indoor plants. In the latter category was a Babiana that I bought in January from Annie’s Annuals.
Interestingly the Babiana that I’ve grown from seed are not all that much smaller than the purchased plant that is now flowering.
Some of the other purchased plants are awaiting planting outdoors including a Spring Pasque Flower from Evermay in Maine.
A Chinese May Apple and an exquisite Ranuculus from Far Reaches Farm
And a brilliant Cana from Plant Delights
There is also a tray full plants from Thimble Farms in British Columbia, but I can’t show everything 🙂
The other really valuable purpose of the greenhouse is to enable frutiing of some of the tropical plants that we’ve had for years. The Fig has fruit appearing on it now.
And the citrus are all growing better than they ever have. The blossoms on the Naval Orange would seem to predict a goodly number of Oranges next year.
Temperatures today are predicted to hit 90 degrees and although the watering system is nominally automatic I’ve found that I need to up the duration of watering as the temperatures rise. In mid-winter I was watering 10 min every 4 days. Now it’s 20 min in the morning and 10 min in the late afternoon.
Time to get out to the greenhouse and see what popped up today…
It looks like the weather girl is finally going to cease her romance with old man winter. Just less than two weeks ago we had snow covering everything and freezing nighttime temperatures.
But now all the usual suspects and then some are emerging from hibernation. And with temperatures going to the 80’s this week we are going to zip through some of the spring ephemerals that I would like to see linger. I can’t complain about zipping through the Adonis though. The first blooms appeared in January and now the first offset runner from the original Adonis has put forth three buds that are in the various states of bloom that illustrate the richness of Adonis amurensis ‘Sandansaki’.
The new offset is in the lower left of the picture above.
Ok, so it will disappear by May but what a nice four months of bloom!
One of the first things I look for in this season is the Hepaticas with their hairy little buds rising above the soil before opening to bloom.
There are many variations in Hepaticas, some not so easy to find. Seneca Hills nursery had some beauties when they were in existence.
And I got a nice pink form from Hillside nursery two years ago.
Just at the same time as the Hepaticas we see the Jeffersonia dubia. I have two plants one a deeper violet than the other.
Of course the lighting for the photo also influences how dark the coloring is.
In terms of dark coloring it is hard to beat Scilla siberica ‘Spring Beauty’. The cobalt blue on the outside is matched by the blue color on the stamens.
Almost in the same blue realm is the Scillia bifolia which is a charmer in its own right.
Every day in the Springtime is worth lingering over…