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Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day April 2021

Rhododendron carolinianum

All the usual suspects are in bloom now for this April Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Daffodils everywhere, first azaleas, dogwoods, peonies opening up, and spring bulbs of every sort.  I’ll focus on some of the things that catch my attention on a morning walk.

It’s hard not to notice the Kwansan double-flowered Cherry when you walk out the back door.

Kwanzan Cherry in first bloom

In the backyard the Epimediums are special right now.  There are two in particular that came as mother’s day gifts from Garden Visions years ago and are now quite substantial in size.

Epimedium x rubrum ‘Sweetheart’

Epimedium x rubrum ‘Sweetheart’

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilac Seedling’

Epimedium grandiflorum ‘Lilac Seedling’

Another Epimedium that I like a lot is the Wushanense variety with its red leaves and white flowers.

Epimedium wushanense ‘Sandy Claws’

There are also several instances of Erythronium cultivars that add to the explosion of Trout lilies that surround the deck.

Erythronium californicum ‘White Beauty’

There are several spots where we have lovely clumps of star flowers

Ipheion uniflorum ‘Tessa’

In addition to the Peonies that are imitating being in flower because of the falling quince flowers, there are other Peonies almost in flower.

Peony with imitation red flowers

Paeonia caucasica

The first of the Arisaema and Podophyllum are poking through the ground.

Flower buds on Podophyllum delavayii

Especially nice was to see a return of the very rare Podophyllum x inexpectatum which I thought we had lost to animals.

Podophyllum x inexpectatum

The Camellias continue to dominate the flowering landscape

Red/white camellia

So many camellias

A new addition is the Loropetalum (marginally hardy for our area)

Loropetalum newly added to herb bed

I should not forget the Adonis vernalis which wraps up our Adonis flowering

Adonis vernalis

And the Iris tuberosa which has a nice flowering this year

Iris tuberosa

One of my favorite small troughs features a very nice dwarf Daphne

Daphne in one of the small troughs

Daphne detail

If we go back to the alpine bed the reliable Armeria is nearing peak bloom growing out of tufa rock

Armeria maritima ‘Victor Reiter’

And back in the forest there are many daffodils and the first of the Jack-in-a-Pulpit

Narcissus ‘Chromacolor’ in the woods

First jack-in-a-pulpit in the woods

In the greenhouse it is Spring in South Africa

Tritoma crocata

Ferraria divaricata

It’s also worth mentioning that because we made an early start on the season in the basement this year we have been eating green salads for the last 6 weeks and the plants are even happier now that they can come outside.

Salad greens brought from the basement

We’ve also put the first tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants in the garden

Tomatoes from basement

There are flowers on the fruit trees, strawberries, and blueberries.  Life is good…

Flowers on the blueberries

 

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day March 2021

Helleborus in profusion

Well there has been an explosion of flowers over the last two weeks.  We are back to a more wintry cold and windy day today, but we have had some stunning sunny days which have moved us well into Spring.  Perhaps nothing captures the change for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day so much as the Hellebores.  The variety of shapes, sizes, and colors is remarkable.  Here are a few examples

Helleborus ‘Kingston Cardinal’

Helleborus Ice N’ Roses Red

Hellebore white/pink double

Helleborus x lemonnierae ‘Walberton’s Rosemary’

A little plant of Helleborus thibetanus is not to be missed.

Helleborus thibetanus

The Camellias are all in fat bud or flowering at the moment.

Double Pink Camellia japonica

It’s also the time for the daffodils to begin all over our hillside.  One of the pleasures of each year are the small clumps in the woods.

Narcissus ‘Little Gem’

Also in the woods are couple nice Scilla that are fun to come upon.

White Squill in the woods

Scilla bifolia ‘Rosea’

Like the Daffodils they are not bothered by the animals and are gradually expanding.

There are a number of Iris histroides in flower now.

Iris histroides ‘Major’

Iris histroides ‘Finio’

This last is a new addition from Odyssey Bulbs.

The cyclamen coum have been a real pleasure this year.  We had never had spring cyclamen before.

Cyclamen coum

The first of the Hepaticas is out in bloom.

Hepatica x media

The first Glory of the Snow are also making their appearance

Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’

They run wild in our pasture and there will be many more on the way.

Back in the alpine area I was pleased to see the Dionysia make a very early appearance

Dionysia involucrata

In the same trough is a Saxifrage that is not far behind.

Saxifraga ‘Valerie Keevil’

On the sunny side of the alpine beds the Draba hispanica is moving rapidly through flowering

Draba hispanica

Right next to the Draba the Aubrieta is beginning to flower with many buds visible as well.

Aubrieta ‘Royal Red’

And the small Asphodelus that I acquired from John Lonsdale is coming into flower as well.

Asphodelus acaulis

And in the greenhouse there are rampant pleasures as the plants imagine that we live in the tropics.Amaryllis Green-Red

Scilla peruviana

Lachenalia unicolor

And then finally a spectacular Ferraria

Ferraria crispa

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Spring — Finally!

Adonis ‘Fukujukai’ in the snow

Last Monday the sun finally broke through and the temperatures started rising.  And the Adonis needed only the slightest hint to start opening their flowers.  By Wednesday they were fully on display — at last!

Adonis ‘Fukujukai’

Adonis ‘Fukujukai’

The thing about the Adonis is that they are not easy to find and take forever to spread.  Since they are sterile you can’t rely on seeds for them to spread and the slow propagation seems to make them unappealing to nurserymen.  So if you find them, buy them.  They are the first reward for the end of winter.

Of course there are other good signs that we are moving into springtime.  Winter Aconite are another of my favorites steps to springtime and the first to show up this year are the slightly paler German version

Eranthis hyemalis ‘Schwefelglanz’

I was also please to see that a more another Winter Aconite cultivar was also appearing already.

Eranthis hyemalis ‘Orange Glow’

But even more special was a little flower poking up in the cold frame.

Eranthis pinnatifida

This is particularly stunning little flower that I had outside a few years ago and it disappeared.  I’m not sure I have the confidence to take this one outside of the cold frame yet.

There are also several crocus popping out.

First Crocus

In addition I’m pleased to see that the snowdrops are moving into the lawn.

Snowdrops moving into the lawn

Of course the witch hazels are happy to tell you that it is springtime also.

Hamamalis x intermedia ‘Diane’

More surprising is to see the first flower on the primula vulgaris.

Primula vulgaris

I also saw a Northern Flicker at the bird feeder and that never happens in wintertime for us

Northern Flicker at the feeder

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day January 2021

Camellia sasanqua red

Well the fall camellia next to the garage continues to be our most reliable bloomer for Garden Blogger Bloom Day and the wintertime.  It’s hard not to imagine the backyard without the camellias.  They are such a continuing delight.  The hybrid that I picked up from the camellia society a couple of years ago has been blooming all winter long as well, but the flowers are starting to decrease in size.

Camellia hybrid white/pink

Meanwhile the first of the spring camellias is blooming again.

Camellia japonica red

Some of the other flowers around the yard are pretty reliable participants in the late winter/early spring bloom.

1st Snowdrops

Japanese Quince

Helleborus niger HGC® ‘Jacob’

But it’s worth noting that we have never seen this red heather blooming persistently over the winter.

Krarmer’s Rote Heather (Erica x darleyensis)

It’s also worth noting that I’ve never seen flower buds on the Cyclamen coum in January.

Cyclamen coum flower buds

I wanted to include a picture of the buds on one of the other Hellebores as well.  This is a particularly dark foliaged plant with dark red flowers as well.  It looks like it wont’ be long till this one is in bloom.

Helleborus ‘Ice and Roses Red’

In the greenhouse we have more Narcissus showing up.  This is a particularly nice one (note the buds yet to open)

Narcissus romieuxii ‘Atlas Gold’

We have also decided (in response to Covid) to upgrade our basement lighting and get an early start on the planting year.

New LED light added for starting seeds

And as a result here are the little plants from the seeds that I planted last week on my birthday…

First seedlings for 2021

Our 2020 Christmas

Snow came in mid-December for us and lasted on the ground until Christmas

This was the first snow we’ve had this year and indeed the first really cold weather.

The snow was the first we’ve had in quite some time and led to good opportunities for sledding

We have about a 600 foot run down the pasture which gives a long walk up the slope for exercise

This was definitely a different and unusual Christmas.  One to regret the things we missed and to be thankful for the things we still have.  Our youngest son ended up spending the Fall with us and then on through Christmas.  He has sparked the rediscovery of the many things that we associate with the holiday season around Ball Rd.  There are many large and small things that connect us with past shared memories.

An ancient nativity set

The potted rosemary has lights in the front hallway

A good friend gave us this small Christmas tree which comes out before Christmas

Two friends who miss the grandkids

Greens and Reds await Christmas

Stuffed animals and the greens

A cardinal and wreath

Pewter mice from Malaysia

The mantle dressed in green

Cuttings from the Japanese Quince

Christmas tree at night

Nerine x ‘Pink Triumph’ comes in from the greenhouse

Sunflower seed cookies

Christmas tree on Christmas morning

Enjoying Christmas morning with the rest of the family in Massachusetts

An Exhausted Christmas Elf

In addition we jointly watched the Christmas Revels celebration in Cambridge.  It was great fun and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to move forward into the new year with contemplation of the way the human community has moved from the dark to the light over centuries.  On the night before Christmas we tuned into the Follen Unitarian Church in Lexington, MA where the Reverend Claire Feingold Thoryn delivered a marvelous sermon discussing the Christmas Weed Tree of Toledo, Ohio and what that means for the rest of us.

Finally I should mention that I had a chance before Christmas to preview a new book written by a good friend.

Tropical Plants

Tropical Plants and How to Love Them will be available in March but it can be ordered now on Amazon.  It is a wonderful exploration of tropical plants for the temperate gardener and I think a great many people will enjoy both the authoritative descriptions and Marianne’s always entertaining writing style.  Highly recommended!

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2020

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

Well it is December so it’s not surprising that the first Hellebore is blooming for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  Helleborus Niger is always well ahead of it’s compatriots in providing winter bloom.  Nonetheless it’s still the camellias that are providing the most stunning flowers around our hillside.

Hybrid Fall Camellia

Hybrid Fall Camellia detail

Red Camellia sasanqua

Red Camellia japonica

The camellias are pretty consistently with us for the fall and then on again off again until into the springtime.  More surprising is the heather that is blooming right now.

Kramer’s Rote Heather (Erica x darleyensis)

And there is also a little ice plant that is flowering way out of season.

Delosperma cooperi

You can see white tips on the snowdrops and the adonis are also coming into bud.

Adonis buds

But we are expecting 10 inches of snow tomorrow (the first real snow we’ve had this year), and that means the plants are likely to slow down for awhile.

In the greenhouse we have a number of early daffodils in bloom.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Silver Palace’

And there is also the beautiful wavy-flowered Nerine undulata still flowering after more than a month of bloom.

Nerine undulata

We have put up our traditional live Christmas tree, this time a Canaan Fir.

Canaan Fir Christmas Tree

This will be planted out in the pasture after the holidays.

December 15th is also the first day for choosing seeds from the North American Rock Garden Society’s Seed Exchange.  I was up early this morning (late last night) putting in my request for my 35 1st choice seed packets on the list.  This is great fun and I would encourage everyone to get involved.  There are 2480 taxa available including many rare and unusual varieties that you will not find from commercial sources.

NARGS Seed Exchange

 

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day November 2020

Fall Camellia white hybrid

We are still in an extended Fall season that has been remarkably temperate.  The weatherman says we could have frost any day now, but meanwhile we (and the plants) have been enjoying the mild weather.  The prettiest flowers for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day are the Fall Camellias.  Not only do they have the wonderful evergreen leaves, but the flowers are lovely and pickable for further reflection in the house.

Fall Camellia red

This particular camellia is particularly rewarding because I cut it way back and was ready to remove it after a hard freeze when I noticed a little green shoot coming out.  It’s now almost to the size it was originally and is covered with buds.

A bit more surprising is to see a flower on one of the Spring camellias.

Camellia japonica pink

This will get blasted when that frost comes along.

As you go about the yard it’s hard not to notice the wonderful color of the Japanese maples this year.

Japanese Maple in color

Dwarf Japanese Maple in fall color

And the green patterns on the cyclamen are also very striking.

Cyclamen hederifolium

In the front yard the yellow corydalis has continued its unabated flowering.

Corydalis lutea

Back in the vegetable garden the annuals are still flowering, though running out of steam.

Marigold

Most striking by far are the calendulas.

Calendulas

Calendula

And the greenhouse has offered up a South African native Nerine.

Nerine undulata

As a side note, I tried growing Leonotis this year after seeing it in flower just last year for the first time.  I was looking forward to that mane of orange yellow flowers that you can see in the catalogs.  Unfortunately it looks as though, even with our long season this year, we may not have enough time to see the flowers before frost.

Leonotis leonuris

So my plan is to see if this South African native will grow back from the roots next spring and maybe get an earlier start.  Stay tuned.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2020

Very Decorative Dahlia

Dahlias seem to be taking center stage for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  I start each year with the intention of posting up the large dahlias in the garden but at first they seem to be supporting themselves just fine.  However, by this point in the season I find that they are mostly lying on the ground with their enormous flowers and it’s hard to prop them up without snapping the stems.  So perhaps next year I will get them propped up (but probably not…).

Dahlia in the garden

But my favorite dahlia is one stemming from a Welsh hybridizer in the 1920’s.  The contrast of the bright red flower with the dark foliage is always noteworthy.

Dahlia ‘Bishop of Llandaff’

Elsewhere we find the roses making a comeback as they always do for a second bloom.

Rose ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles’

Nearby is a perennial bloomer that was said to be marginal in our area but we find this striking salvia comes back every year and is actually increasing it’s stand.

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Next to the salvia is a remarkable perennial that dies down to the ground for the winter in Maryland and then comes back vigorously in the springtime.  It’s been flowering all summer long and shows no sign of stopping.

Cestrum x ‘Orange Peel’

Also in this garden bed are several instances of Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’.  Talk about a low maintenance plant — I hardly notice that its there until it starts flowering.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

Behind this garden is a very large crepe myrtle which is blooming quite happily at the moment

Crepe Myrtle

Out in the pasture is a butterfly bush that is having a lot winged visitors right now.

Buddleia

One of the really nice sights in the yard at the moment is the Limelight hydrangea framed by a pyracantha.

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ with Pyracatha ‘Mojave’

I noticed while walking about the yard that the arisaema fruit is almost as showy as a flower.

Arisaema ringens

And as we turn to fall, the greenhouse is already putting out some showy flowers.

Sinninglia sp.

Habranthus magnoi

Nerine masoniorum

and finally the first of the many oxalis that will run through December.

Oxalis bowiei

We feel blessed to have wonderful fall weather in Maryland compared to the horrific fires in the west and torrential rains in the south.  Stay safe.