I’m a huge fan of witch hazel (Hamamelis species). They’re small trees well suited to the suburban landscape and wonder of wonder, they bloom in mid-winter! Many years ago my father, Cathy, and I went to Brookside Gardens in Wheaton Regional Park in February and I remember falling in love with witch hazel at that time. Now whenever I see them in bloom, I remember my dad and remind myself that this is a tree I want to plant in my yard. Now that I have a space in the front yard that needs a small tree, this may be the spring when one gets planted. There are varieties with red, orange, and yellow flowers and I think all of them are terrific. The yellow, perhaps, stands out as being the brightest but they’re all worth the effort.
Tagged With: Blooms
I had planned to go out and take some pictures around my office building today. The sky was clear as I came in this morning, which was welcome after the two days of soaking rain we’ve had. By midday, however, the sky had clouded up again. It didn’t rain but was a lot more gloomy than the morning promised. Of course, colors are often more intense under an overcast sky, but I never managed to get outdoors to take advantage of that. By the time I got home, of course, it was dark. That’s one problem with this photo-a-day thing in the winter. I have a lot less opportunity to get pictures outdoors. I can stop on the way to work or go out during the day, but otherwise, I’m confined to pictures in the house (or night-time pictures, which are hard). But we have this orchid in bloom, so I got pictures of it and that will have to do.
It was an absolutely gorgeous day and after church we decided to drive out to Rocklands Farm (http://www.rocklandsfarmmd.com/) and enjoy being outdoors. We walked around and I took some pictures of oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) growing on fence posts. The little fruits were quite lovely in the afternoon sun. I also took some nice pictures of the barn reflected in the pond that’s below it. I decided to post this picture, though, because it’s a little different from the fall colors that have so dominated my posting of late. This is a cosmos flower photographed from behind and I think it’s quite pretty in an understated sort of way.
This spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is growing right outside our kitchen door and although it doesn’t have so many flowers at this time of the year, it still manages to put out a few. They are such beautiful little flowers and I can’t imagine not having them in our garden. The color ranges from blue to purple and it’s not always the same in photographs as it is to the eye. It’s possible that some of the color comes from the physical structure of the flower rather than from a pigment but I don’t actually know for sure. Examples of structural colors include those found in peacock feathers, butterfly wings, and the beautiful iridescence of beetle carapaces. If you are interested in structural colors, you might find this article interesting: Color from Structure in The Scientist.
The Anthurium genus contains about 1000 species—the largest genus in the arum family—but only two of them are grown for their bright red spathes. This is Anthurium andraeanum, a native to Colombia, Ecuador, Venezuelan Antilles, and the Windward Islands. Common names include flamingo lily and painter’s palette, although I’ve only ever known it simply as Anthurium. Like many plants in the Araceae family, Anthurium species contain calcium oxalate crystals (CaC2O4(H2O)x) and are therefore poisonous to humans. They’re pretty, though.
These were given to Margaret for her 92nd birthday and are quite pretty. We have them in a tall, blue vase that we were given as a wedding present and they are photographed here in front of the cherry china cabinet that I’ve used as a backdrop a few times since we moved it to our dining room. Sunflowers are great, not just because they last so long in a vase, but that certainly is a useful trait. Their combination of ray petals and the small flowers that make up the center of the flower head are just really pretty. And the color is nice, too.
We really should plant more of this. The pink flowers in the foreground are Cleome ‘Señorita Rosalita’ and they really are lovely. They also bloom pretty much continuously all summer and well into the fall. We have just a few plants growing in a container on the back patio. They are pretty much overwhelmed by the yellow of the black-eyed Susans that are all around. I think if we had a larger container or two filled with Cleome, it would be pretty nice. I should make a point of buying a few packets of next year and getting them started early.
In the small garden where the county once had an oak tree, down by the road, Cathy has been growing mostly annuals each summer. We got a lot less done in the yard this year but she did manage to get a bunch of zinnia and marigold plants in the ground. There is Pachysandra terminalis already growing around the bed but she has kept the center, where the tree was, clear for her annuals. There is also Conoclinium coelestinum (Blue Mistflower), a slightly invasive herbaceous perennial, but she pulls out enough each year to keep things balanced. The blue of the Conoclinium goes well with the yellow and orange of the zinnias and marigolds.
Ten days ago I posted a picture of purple coneflowers in a blue and white vase against the dark cherry of a china cabinet. I was a little surprised by the relatively warm reception it received. Those same flowers are now a little bit past their prime. This is one of them, drooping and a little faded, but still quite lovely in its own way. Of course, we all want to be the strong, beautiful flower, blooming where we are planted. But that’s fleeting, as it is written, “As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.” (Psalm 103:15-16 ESV) But even his days are not all full bloom. We start as a small sprout (metaphorically speaking), grow, (hopefully) bloom, and (even more hopefully) bear fruit. But then we grow old and begin to fade, like this flower. That, too, can be beautiful. Lord, help me to grow old gracefully.
Cathy brought some coneflowers in this evening to put in a vase in or dining room. Actually, they got knocked over when she was cutting the grass so she figured we might as well enjoy them as they die. I think they look really nice against the rich brown of this china cabinet. As you might be able to tell, the china cabinet is empty. We’ll put things in it but we haven’t gotten around to it yet. For now, the things that could go in it are in boxes and taking up space that could be used in better ways. But finding them and figuring out what we want where is a bit too much for us right now.
We don’t bring flowers in very often but I’m always glad when we do. One of the nicest photos I’ve taken, actually, is a vase of flowers, mostly roses, that Cathy arranged. It was sitting on our kitchen table and the late afternoon sun was coming in and lighting it from the side so the background went fairly dark and the flowers glowed nicely. I’ve made a few prints of that one, taken in 2010, and it’s been fairly popular. I don’t think this one will win any awards but I do like the colors and it’s a relaxing picture, to me.
It’s been a good year for the purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in our yard. Of course, it’s been an even better year for the weeds. With most weekends at least partly devoted to dealing with one or both of our mom’s houses, we’ve spent a lot less time in the garden this year. There is bindweed (Convolvulus species) everywhere and it’s running riot. In particular, along the back fence and the garden along the south end of the house are both totally out of control. There is significant pokeweed, goldenrod, various thistles, and even a few trees (zelkova, elm, maple, and ash). But there are some blooms that were intended, as well, including this coneflower.
My grandmother carried a bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota var. carota) at her wedding. For their 50th anniversary party we gathered bucket loads of the stuff from empty fields and had it all round the room. You are probably familiar with the flowers, as it’s a pretty common plant all across the United States and bordering provinces of Canada as well as Europe and Asia. This is the wild carrot from which our cultivated carrot descended. It is reported to have been first developed in Afghanistan. It is a biennial plant, blooming in their second year.
This is Iris domestica, often called blackberry lily or leopard lily and formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis. It’s a perennial plant that we have in various places in our garden. We gather the seeds most years and spread them in areas we would like it to grow, although I don’t know if we’re doing as well as the birds when it comes to actually spreading it. As you can see, it has vaguely lily-like flowers and they are quite lovely. They each last a day but they are born in clusters, blooming one after the next for quite a while. In case you were wondering, the genus name Iris comes from the Greek goddess of the rainbow.
The genus Hosta has about 70 species native to Japan, Korea, China and eastern Russia. They are shade loving perennials grown mostly for their foliage but they have nice, if somewhat understated flowers, as well. The name Hosta is in honor of of Austrian botanist Nicholas Thomas Host (1761-1834). My parents had these in their garden and growing up I knew it as Funkia. That’s because the genus was renamed to that in 1817 “in honor of botanist Heinrich Christian Funk under the belief at that time that Hosta was an invalid name.” Early in the 20th century the name was switched back but the plants are still referred to as Funkia by some (including my parents, evidently).
This one is growing in a container just outside our front door. There are generally two pests that eat Hosta plants. Slugs can do significant damage to them, eating holes in the leaves. In our garden, that’s generally not so destructive that we worry about it, although it can make the leaves a little less attractive. The other culprit is deer, who really seem to love Hosta leaves. Although we see deer in our yard and often see signs of their presence, they don’t seem to come too close to the house. So, we keep the Hostas close and that seems to be enough. We also put up deer repellent although I don’t actually know how much help that is. It certainly doesn’t do any harm.
Commonly known as spider flower Cleome is a fast-growing, tender perennial grown here as an annual (it’s only hardy in USDA zones 9 and 10). This variety, ‘Señorita Rosalita’, is “noted for having no thorns, no unpleasant aroma, no sticky foliage, no seedpods and better disease resistance” (Missouri Botanical Garden Plant Finder). We love it and it’s been a regular feature in a container on out back patio. We really should plant more of them, as they always perform very well and bloom basically all summer from mid-June well into October or November.
The Asiatic lilies are in bloom around the yard. This one is in a container on the back patio but there are a bunch in the front garden, as well. We worry about them being eaten by rabbits or deer but this time of year, fortunately, there is a lot for them to eat and that means less chance of them finding these. We have a lot of rabbits this year. I’ve seen as many as four at once in our front or back yard. The seem to mostly be eating clover, though, and we have plenty of that to go around.
It was another foray out onto the driveway for pictures this evening after work. Today was relatively quiet, coming home from work and not going out again, which was a treat after the week we’ve had. Things will get busy again tomorrow as William and Beth are driving down from New York and we’ll be going through a few things in the basement at Margaret’s house. I stopped at the store and bought some ground beef and ground pork. When I got home I made some meat sauce to have with tortellini and also made a meat loaf to slice and reheat for meals in upcoming days.
I know I’ve already posted a picture of this plant this spring. In fact, it only four days ago. Nevertheless, The second of the three peonies that I planted in 2014, named ‘Coral Sunset’, was blooming and had the late afternoon sun shining through it. I just couldn’t resist another picture of this wonderful flower. With one bloom per plant, we’re basically done for the year with these three. But they were worth it and I’m already looking forward to a total of four or five flowers on the three plants next year.
A few days ago I mentioned that we had two varieties of large, bearded iris in our garden. The one photographed then was purple and white. This is a detail of the other one, which is mostly yellow with brown falls (as you can see). They are not quite as large as the purple and white flowers but are still quite striking. This one is growing just inside the fence to the back yard. Well, what’s left of the fence. It’s an old post and rail fence and the wood is rotting and it’s falling down. A few weeks ago I took down the better part of it and I’ll probably finish the job before too long.
In the fall of 2014 I bought three peonies called ‘Coral Sunset’ from John Scheepers (https://www.johnscheepers.com/). I planted them amidst the pachysandra along the back of my garden. The first spring there was only evidence of one of them. The next year, two. Now all three are coming up through the pachysandra and each of them bore a single bud. This is the largest and the first of them to bloom. I must say, they are worth the wait. One great thing about peonies is that they are long lived and they continue to grow into larger and larger clumps. These three should eventually grow together into one massive clump that will be wonderful in bloom. For now, I enjoy the solitary flower.
The irises have begun to bloom. We basically have two sets of tall, bearded iris. There are these purple and white type and another that are mostly yellow. They are both quite lovely and we could do worse than have them. That being said, we could do with a little more variety. We also have other types of iris, most notably Siberian iris (Iris sibirica) and English iris (Iris latifolia). Some of these bloom later and they are both much smaller, both in terms of overall height and in size of bloom, than the large, bearded varieties.
Quite a few years ago, my dad happened to see an ad for something called The Seed Guild. If you bought an annual subscription, they would send seeds collected (with permission) from botanical gardens and arboreta around the world. One of the little packets of seeds that I got were labeled as Korean Lilac. At least that’s my memory. If I have it written down somewhere I certainly don’t know where. I also don’t know if it was Syringa meyeri, which is what is usually referred to as Korean Lilac or if it was some other, lesser known species. In any case, I had it growing in a container for many years and then when we moved here I put it into the ground. The deer ate it back one year but it’s doing pretty well now and for the first time has bloomed. The flowers are quite pale, not the lilac that we think of when we think of lilac. Nevertheless, they are a pretty pink, especially from a distance, where the color is more visible.
I’m not sure what happened last year but for some reason, most of my roses died. One of them, a pink flowered R. multiflora hybrid, isn’t quite gone, with one branch left. This R. rugosa named ‘Roseraie De l’Hay’ also has some life left in it. Nevertheless, there’s a fair amount of dead wood to prune out. ‘Blush Noisette’ appears to be completely dead. It was never a very vigorous shrub but for it to simply die completely was unexpected. I lost my ‘New Dawn’ last year, but that I had to dig up because of rose rosette disease, is caused by Emaravirus species of virus.
There are columbine (Aquilegia species) scattered around our yard. Most of them are self-seeded volunteers and most of them are this dark, rather compact-flowering variety that seems to come true from seed. I don’t know what its origin is, whether we brought it here or it’s a natural hybrid from some that we had, but it’s quite successful, coming up year after year. It isn’t the most colorful columbine you’ll find, but it’s nice enough and I’m not going to turn down a zero-effort, flowering perennial like this.
Cathy planted some woodland forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) shortly after we moved here. It is a short-lived perennial but it self-seeds so we’ve had it around in various places since. It has beautiful, powder blue flowers that help fill the gap between the bulbs, which are basically done, and the summer flowers, which are still a ways off. They are also not generally eaten by rabbits and deer, which is important in our yard. It has continued to be a cool spring but the forecast is for very warm weather tomorrow through Friday and I’m not sure if these will be around much after that. The azaleas are starting to bloom, though, so we’ll still have some color.
This is a little columbine (Aquilegia) plant that Dorothy potted up. It’s a very little thing but has two, beautiful blooms, one of which is shown here. Cathy moved it to the concrete bench outside our front door (which we call the stone table, with apologies to C. S. Lewis). So it greets us as we go out and welcomes us back when we go in. We have a few plants scattered around the yard but those in the ground are not blooming yet.
We planted a fair amount of Epimedium at our old house and had at least three different varieties with red, yellow, and white flowers. We only have a little here and all of it, unless I’m forgetting something, is the red Epimedium × rubrum, commonly called bishop’s hat) or red barrenwort, a cross between E. alpinum and E. grandiflorum. It’s easy to grow and the flowers are small but both lovely and borne prolifically and it’s certainly worth growing for the flowers alone. The leaves are quite nice, too, and even when not in bloom, it makes a handsome ground cover. In fact, we first saw it at the National Arboretum serving that purpose in a garden around a patio behind the gift shop.
This little shrub seems to barely make it through each winter but then in late April, it surprises us with stems covered with beautiful, very double flowers of delicate pink. I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to find this plant for my garden if I didn’t already have it, but I’m certainly glad for it, since I already do. It isn’t spectacular and it isn’t large. On the other hand, it takes virtually no care. I just cut off the branches that have died from the previous year and it continues to do its thing. Who could ask for more?
I hope you’re enjoying the spring flowers. I know some of my followers are in the south and your flowers started earlier and your daffodils may be finished by now. Others are to the north and the daffodils are only just getting started. The early dafs are done here but there are quite a few still in full bloom and one or two that are yet to come. This is a large, bright yellow daffodil called ‘Arkle’ that I planted in the fall of 2014. This being only their fourth year here, they are not as well established as the very similar ‘Marieke’ planted five years earlier. Still, they’re putting on quite a show.
One of my favorite things is the color of flower petals (or leaves, for that matter) with the sun shining through them. Even flowers that are beautiful on their own, like this Lenten rose (a Helleborus called ‘Red Racer’) are even more lovely lit from behind. At least that’s my opinion. I bought two of these from McClure & Zimmerman in the fall of 2014 but they no longer list it on their web site. I bought three others at the same time, two ‘Rose Quartz’ and one ‘Mango Magic’. We also have some white or nearly white varieties that we got from Brady when Brookside Gardens was replacing them with something else.
Eight days ago (see Friday, March 23, 2018) I posted a picture of a star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) bud. I commented that the petals were slightly burned by the cold but that in about a week or so the flowers should be open and if there is not another serious frost, they would look wonderful. Well, we haven’t had another significant frost and the tree does, indeed, look great. You can see a little burning on the tip of a petal or two but overall, they don’t look at all bad. It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday with a rich, blue sky and the star magnolia petals, mostly white touched with pink, were lovely.
Since last week’s snow, it’s been relatively balmy and spring-like. The daffodils were already coming up when the snow came, with a few already in bloom. Now, a little more than a week later, they are bursting into bloom all over. Shortly we’ll have great drifts of yellow where the highway department has planted them alongside roadways. Front yards will be sporting the beautiful yellow flowers, dancing in the breeze (a la William Wordsworth). This little one is the earliest in our yard, to be followed shortly by the much larger and dare I say quintessential ‘Marieke’, along our front walk.
The Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’ has begun to bloom in the shady northern corner of our yard. It’s more shady later in the year, when the oak that is over it has leaves. This time of year it gets a fair amount of sun from mid morning through early afternoon. This is a pretty little plant, barely showing itself over the Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese pachysandra). There are some others coming up, as well. And our early, small daffodils are in bloom. In spite of the snow we had last week, it’s really starting to look, if not to feel, like spring.
This is the first real flower I’ve had on this Lenten Rose. It sort of bloomed last year but the flower was somewhat deformed and was missing more than half its petals. This year it’s got a serious flower and I think this may become one of my favorites. Off hand I don’t remember the variety name but I should be able to track it down somewhere. As you can see, it’s a double flowered variety and the pink edges to the petals is quite nice. This is under the trees right out back and when it gets a bit larger it will be very obvious this time of year.
Update: I looked up the variety and it’s Helleborus ‘Rose Quartz’ (although the order actually said Rose Quarts).
If you’re looking for signs of spring, you naturally are on the lookout for the early bulbs. As mentioned, the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) are in bloom. The winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is just starting (although it is a corm rather than a bulb). But if you look higher and in the right place, you might see Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica) in bloom. This is beside the patio at Cathy’s mom’s house and it’s lovely. I grew up with this along the side of our neighbor’s garage, next to our driveway and I have vivid memories of swarms of bees all over it. It’s still a bit early for the bees, but the flowers are starting to open.
Just under two weeks ago (see Thursday, February 08, 2018) I posted a picture of the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) coming up at the edge of the woods around my office building. Now they are pretty much up, even if there haven’t quite reached their peak. When I got to work this morning I figured I’d spend a few minutes with them before heading inside. This time, when I got down on the ground to take the pictures, I thought ahead and got a blanket out of the car to lie on. Last time I got a bit spot of dirt on my shirt and more on my jeans. Today I managed to stay clean. Spring is just around the corner. Not saying we won’t have more snow. That can happen well into March or even occasionally April. But spring is definitely coming.
After taking the picture of the sparrow (see previous post) I headed back toward my van to get the rest of my things and go into the office. As I walked along the edge of the woods, it occurred to me that the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) would be coming up soon, if they have not started already. I looked and sure enough, they are well on their way to blooming. It isn’t spring yet, but it’s coming and I know there are a lot of folks who are ready for warmer weather. I love the early spring ephemerals and this is one of the earliest.
It snowed lightly this morning but by the time we were home from church it had all turned to rain. It was a fairly heavy rain and a fairly gloomy, cool day. Cathy and I decided we’d like to see a little green so we went to Behnke in Beltsville to spend a little time in their greenhouse looking at house plants. There were a few things we were interested in but didn’t actually buy anything this time. These little yellow flowers are on what I think is an Echeveria, although I didn’t actually check and often they are labeled simply “succulent”. It was a nice outing and a nice way to spend a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon.
We’ve had somewhat mixed success with houseplants over the years. We have a few that have lasted really well. I have a snake plant (Sansevieria trifasciata) in my office that Dorothy’s second grade teacher gave me when they moved to Florida. That was 11 or 12 years ago and it’s doing really well. We have a very large Kaffir lily (Clivia miniata) in our kitchen that gets put out into a shady spot in the yard most years. On the other hand, some plant seem to just barely hang on to life. This one, a Kalanchoe (Kalanchoe blossfeldiana), isn’t really doing all that well. It is blooming, however, so it deserves a picture.
For the last few days I’ve noticed this cherry tree in bloom. I’m afraid it’s been terribly confused by the mild fall we’ve been having and it’s going to be mightily disappointed when it gets colder rather than warmer. Well, it won’t actually be conscious of the weather. It’s just a tree. But I think it unlikely any fruit will come of this out-of-season blooming. Nevertheless, it’s a pretty little tree and gives me something to think about on an otherwise unremarkable commute. For a few days I’ve been meaning to stop to take pictures and today I did. Enjoy.
I posted a picture of this same dahlia on Monday, September 18, 2017, so you’ll have to excuse the repetition. Although it’s not particularly large for a dahlia flower, it’s very pretty. Also, the plant has very dark purple, not-quite-black foliage. It’s lovely overall and we definitely need to dig up the tuber and try to keep it for next year. We’ve never actually done that before and I’m not sure how successful we’ll be. They are supposed to be stored in a damp place all winter in temperatures that are between 45°F and 50°F, which is a pretty narrow range and not something we have naturally in our house. Our basement is cool but not that cool and we do our best to make it dry, not humid (it’s currently at 38% relative humidity). So, we’ll see what we can do.
Originally planted in a pot outside our front door, this hardy begonia (Begonia grandis) has been coming up around the front step every year since and getting a little larger each year. It isn’t what I’d call invasive, but it’s certainly found a spot where it is very happy. The leaves have wonderful, red veins and the flowers are a delicate pink. The male flowers have bright yellow stamens and the female flowers are pendulous and pink with less obvious yellow stigmas. Overall it’s less than two feet tall and very welcoming as we come home. The relatively cool and protected spot is probably important to its doing so well.
As I was writing this I got to wondering where the name Begonia comes from. It is in honor of Michel Bégon (1638-1710), a French government official and avid plant collector.
We’ve been wanting to have one of these for a while and last year Cathy finally got one and planted it in the back garden. We’ve only had a few flowers this year and they only last a day, but today I managed to get some pictures of one. Hopefully as it gets better established we’ll have more flowers over the course of the summer. This is related to the rose of Sharon (Hibiscus syriacus), which we’ve had growing for a while, as well as the tropical hibiscus (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis) which has to be brought in for the winter. The flowers on the hardy hibiscus are larger than on either of the other two and quite striking, even from all the way across the yard. Definitely a good choice for the back of the garden.
This dahlia is one of two that Cathy has growing in containers at the top of our driveway. It is one of seven dahlias in the Dark Angel line from the Dutch company Verwer-Dahlias. The seven cultivars in the Dark Angel series are named for what they consider to be edgy films and in addition to ‘Dracula’ are ‘American Pie’, ‘Braveheart’, ‘Pretty Woman’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘Taxi Driver’. I’m not sure those are the edgiest films you could come up with, but the flower themselves are quite beautiful. Of course they have other series, as well, such as Karma, Meloda, Happy Days, and Gallery.
Dahlias are, in general, a bit more work than some flowers, but they sure are beautiful when grown well. The genus name Dahlia is in honor of Dr. Anders Dahl (1751-1789), a Swedish botanist and pupil of Linnaeus.
The skippers are a constant source of attraction pretty much all summer and into the fall in our yard. They may have their favorites but they are generally everywhere, from the black-eye Susans (Rudbekia) as seen here, to the Verbena bonariensis, the mountain mint (Pycnanthemum muticum), and the Buddleia. They are everywhere and it pretty huge numbers. If you walk along the edge of the black-eyed Susans, they fly off en masse and alight again, further along or behind you. It’s enjoyable just to watch them flitting about, sometimes two or even three on a flower, but not usually for long, as they are so often on the move.
This hydrangea has taken a few years to get established. Last year it was eaten back by the deer, which didn’t do it a whole lot of good. We’ve managed to protect it (or have simply been lucky) this year and it’s doing much better. We planted it and another, blue hydrangea a few years ago but the other didn’t make it. This seems happy and the flowers, white and pink, are quite nice against the green of our back border. We’ll need to do a little pruning to keep the forsythia from covering it up, but I think it’s well on its way to being a favorite late summer bloomer.
Lantana is a genus of about 150 species. The mostly commonly grown species is Lantana camara, a tender, woody shrub native to tropical regions of Central and South America. It has become an invasive weed in many parts of the world but here, where winter temperatures are too cold for it, there’s no chance of any real problem and it is grown as an annual. It is toxic to livestock but it does not appear to be toxic to humans (although I don’t think I’ll be doing any experiments on that). The flowers are quite beautiful, changing colors as they progress from bud to open flower, leading to some wonderful color combinations. This one is sitting on our driveway and is quite happily brightening up the place with its yellow and pink blooms.
After being off a week, it’s shaping up to be a very busy week at work. We’re three days in and I’m definitely ready for the weekend. But I’m sure I’ll make it through, as I usually do. After work I went out back and chased a monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) for a while. He wouldn’t let me get close enough for any decent sort of picture. So, I moved on to the blue cardinal flower (Lobelia siphilitica) growing in the back bed. That didn’t have any problem with my presence and I got a few nice pictures. Then I noticed that the monarch was back and I managed to get a few pictures, but the die was cast and I’m going with the Lobelia picture.
This is the so called blackberry lily, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis but now renamed to Iris domestica. It’s a pretty little thing. each individual bloom lasts a day (or a fraction of a day, really) but they come one after the other for a nice, long while. They are, as you can see, very eye-catching. Each year we collect the seeds from them and scatter them around in other parts of the garden. Of course, they get moved by birds, as well. This is a seedling, growing on the edge of a garden bed in the center of our back yard, among the Verbena bonariensis, with which it contrasts very nicely.
These tiny flowers of the American beautyberry Callicarpa americana are, you won’t be surprised to learn, followed by beautiful berries. There will be clusters (called cymes) of the slightly pale, purple berries (called cymes) around the stems at each leaf axil (see December 7, 2013). The flowers are not nearly as showy as the fruit, or maybe it would be called American beautyflower. I still think they are pretty, though. And judging by the proliferation of berries, the insects sure must like them.
I went over to pick up something from Tsai-Hong this afternoon and decided to take a few pictures in the garden. There is a small clump of Eryngium in the front garden, beside the driveway, and that’s what is in this picture. I have no idea what species it is or if it is a hybrid of some sort. We had three or four different Eryngium species in our garden in Gaithersburg and this reminded me that we need to get some for our current garden. They are mostly blue or purple and add such a nice point of interest in a sea of green. They are not really related to the holly (Ilix), of course, but it’s easy to see how they came by their common name, sea holly.
The coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) has started to bloom. I often have a difficult time getting good pictures of this, because the ray florets (the ‘petals’) are often eaten into by some insect or other. They are still pretty from a distance and in mass but individually, they get to look a bit tattered. I also took some pictures of day lilies today but they put out new flowers each day and they fade before the critters have a chance to do them any harm. So, they will be around for more pictures on another day.
Dorothy went to camp this morning so I gave Jonathan a ride to the farm. He plans to stay there for the week and Dorothy will pick him up on Friday. While I was there I took a few pictures of this trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) growing on a post in front of their garage. This is a native honeysuckle to the southeastern United States. The flowers are not fragrant but are quite pretty, with scarlet to orangish red on the outside and yellowish inside. They are attractive to hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
We have a fair amount of Verbena bonariensis growing around the yard. It’s somewhat of a weed but for the most part, we let it go, just keeping it barely within bounds. There are a few reasons for us letting it go. First, of course, is that it’s pretty on its own. I mean, the purple adds a bit of contrast to all the green in the early summer and it’s generally still in bloom when the black-eyed Susans really start to go crazy. But I think the main reason is that the American Goldfinches (Spinus tristis) really seem to like it. Usually I’ve been unable to get close enough to get even a poor photo of them before they fly away but this afternoon I got a reasonable picture showing three finches. They are such lovely birds and we enjoy watching them bounce around on the tall stems of the Verbina.
As I’ve mentioned, Cathy bought a bunch of annuals to go in containers and in a few locations around the house. One that she often gets is sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima), a pretty little thing with masses of small (7 or 8mm) flowers. This variety has a purple tint and it really lovely. I think they are particularly nice up close. On the other hand, I think a lot of things are interesting up close, which is why a significant proportion of my photography is of small things, viewed up close. Anyway, I hope you enjoy these little flowers.
This comes up all around our yard. It isn’t so invasive that it cannot be kept under control by judicious pulling and it certainly adds a bit of interest during a time when there isn’t a huge amount in bloom. The early spring flowers are done and the summer flowers haven’t really gotten going yet. There are Asiatic lilies blooming and the day lilies will be starting pretty soon. The Verbena bonariensis has started but the black-eyed Susans are still a good way off. Feverfew doesn’t have the most striking flowers around but they are certainly pretty enough. And there are plenty of them.
Ralph told me that the other day he noticed a vulture perched on the kids old jungle gym in his back yard. Later he noticed more had gathered. At first he wondered if some animal had died and attracted them. But no, that’s not what it was. It was this plant, a dragon arum, (Dracunculus vulgaris, formerly called Arum dracunculus), a native of the central and eastern Mediterranean. This plant attracts pollinators by mimicking the smell of rotting meat. It does a good job and fooled the turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) which find dead animals primarily with their highly developed sense of smell. Black vultures (Coragyps atratus) find food primarily by sight and by following turkey vultures.
On the Missouri Botanical Garden’s page about Dracunculus vulgaris it says,
Avoid planting this perennial near windows, doors, sidewalks or other frequently populated areas where the brief but overpowering odor from the spadices will be found objectionable.
I’ve mentioned this rose a couple times so I decided that I’d finally get around to posting a picture. This is a miniature rose called ‘Cutie Pie’ and it is, really. I’ve found two roses named ‘Cutie Pie’ listed in commerce. This is WEKruruwel, Bred by Tom Carruth and introduced by Weeks in 2016. So, it’s a new rose. I’ve planted it in the large bed in the middle of our back yard where there used to be two trees. That bed needs a bit more variety and this was my start at that. I plan to add a few more roses, two at least and maybe as many as four. I’m looking at a few of David Austin’s English roses. We’ll see.
This is a very nice Coreopsis (tickseed) growing in a container on our back patio. I like these larger-petaled Coreopsis flowers more than the fine-petaled varieties. I suppose they both have their uses but these are so much bolder and brighter. They certainly make a good show and outside the kitchen door is a nice place for a big splash of yellow. These are reliable blooms and come ahead of the sea of black-eyed Susans that fill our backyard later in the summer. For now, these are the sole source of this color in our garden (there are a few yellow irises but they are a much paler yellow).
Spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is one of my favorite perennials. It’s easy to grow, it does well in sun or shade, it can take fairly dry conditions, and it blooms for a nice, long while. We have one with leaves that are very pale green, almost yellow. We have one with flowers that are much more pink and some that are nearly pure, deep blue. Each bloom lasts for a day only but there are a lot of them, following one after the other.
From the Missouri Botanical Garden page:
Genus name honors John Tradescant (1570-1638) and his son John Tradescant (1608-1662), botanists and successive gardeners to Charles I of England.
Specific epithet means of Virginia.
When the stems of spiderworts are cut, a viscous stem secretion is released which becomes threadlike and silky upon hardening (like a spider’s web), hence the common name.
This little Siberian iris was originally planted in our garden in Gaithersburg. When we were getting ready to move I dug up a portion of it and brought it with us. It’s been doing pretty well in our yard here for ten years. Like most Siberian irises and despite being named ‘Eric The Red’, this flower is purple rather than anything you could describe as red. Some Siberian irises are much bluer, of course, so it has more red in it than those. But it’s purple, not red. Still, it’s a happy little flower and quite content without needing much of any care to do well. In a bit more sun we’d probably get more flowers but it’s happy where it is.
Cathy and I went to Stadler Nursery this afternoon and while Cathy picked out a few perennials, I took a bunch of pictures. Actually, I bought something, as well, a Camellia japonica ‘Kumasaka’. I’m not sure where I’ll plant it but I’m thinking that it might go in front of the house to replace the dogwood that’s much too close to the house and really needs to come out. This photo is of an Asiatic lily called ‘Tiny Sensation’ and it’s a stunner. We have a few Asiatics in the yard and in containers. They mostly have solid colored blooms but all are quite hot.
This is a large and very easily grown rugosa rose that I’ve had in the yard since we first moved here. It’s about 9 feet tall and that’s the only real problem with it. It’s too tall to really be able to appreciate most of the blooms, which are all up at the top. If given more room the branches would arch over and more flowers would be accessible but it’s not sited well enough for that. I may need to move it but it is very happy where it is. Also, the blooms are quite visible from the kitchen, which is certainly a plus. The fragrance, as with most rugosa roses, it wonderful and strong.
We have quite a bit of columbine (Aquilegia) growing in our yard. Many of the plants are seedlings and most look something like this. There are lots of quite fancy and brightly colored columbines among the 60 or 70 species (and many more varieties) but we’re happy enough with the slightly more staid, darker colors. Backlit by the sun the red comes alive and is quite bright. Growing mostly in the shade, however, it rarely gets this treatment. Still, it’s a good plant to have and isn’t generally bothered by rabbits or deer.
The black-eyed Susans are the predominant source of color (except for the color green, of course) in the garden right now. They are holding up their end marvelously, I might add.
Oh, and I passed the 20,000 mark on my camera today. This is photo number 20,004 (since Christmas).
I rarely give this plant any name but bindweed and I spend a lot of time pulling it out of my garden. I do have to say, though, that for colors in the deepest registers, this is just about as good as it gets. The morning glory (along with the lowly petunia) has some of the most beautiful, deep, rich, colors in the world of flowers.
Gladiolus, that is.
My dad had these growing in his garden and was spreading them by planting the bulbils that form in the axils of the leaves. After we moved in 2006 Cathy started collecting bulbils and planting them here, as well. They are doing nicely and add a nice splash of color this time of year.
We have this orange Asclepias tuberosa as well as a pure-yellow-flowered variety.
This is a sweet little blue allium. I think I’ll get a few more of these this fall.
Normally I’d be the last person to suggest that anyone grow a multiflora rose. About them the great plantsman Michael Dirr says, “use this species with the knowledge that none of your gardening friends in the immediate vicinity will ever speak to you again.”
Still, when I came across a bright pink multiflora — it is almost certainly a natural hybrid but it is a multiflora in every way except petal color — I decided I had to have it. I dug up a small piece and it’s thriving on my back fence. The parent plant was destroyed, so I got it just in time.
It’s really a lovely shrub and it is absolutely covered with hundreds of flowers and thousands of buds. Just don’t tell Spencer.
Last summer Kevin helped me build this rose trellis. The roses haven’t had a chance to fill in completely but it’s starting to look pretty good.
On the right is ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’ (Champneys, U.S., 1811). Although it isn’t really a climbing rose the support is helpful, anyway. On the left is ‘Crépuscule’ (Francis Dubreuil, France, 1904). Both of them are Noisette roses and bloom pretty well off and on all summer. ‘Crépuscule’ has the stronger scent but both are nice in that regard.
I wish you could smell this rose. This is a Noisette rose called ‘Jaune Desprez’ (Desprez, France, 1835). The individual blooms are not the most beautifully shaped in all creation but it blooms reliably and grows pretty vigorously.
You know when the really big fireworks explosions go off, they produce lines of light radiating out from the center with smaller explosions at the end of each ray? That’s what this reminds me of. It’s one of the large Alliums (gigantium or cristophii, I’d guess) growing in Ralph and Tsai-Hong’s garden.
The irises are starting to bloom all over. This is a purple and yellow variety outside our dining room window. I think yellow and purple are a terrific color combination.
This is a nice rugosa hybrid that booms all summer long. The flowers have an intense clove scent that I really love. The only downside is that the shrub is so tall and most of the roses are on the top so you usually see them from below. Still, it will have a lot of blooms shortly and will be something to see.
This is the first bloom on our Tradescantia (spiderwort) out front in the shade garden. This one is lighter purple than most but still quite pretty. I especially like the deep purple stamen hairs and the yellow anthers. Apparently, when the stamen hairs are exposed to ionizing radiation they turn pink. Looks like were safe, for now.
I love these little bells. We brought lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) with us from George Street only to buy a house where there was a significant amount already planted. I’ve seen it forcing its way up through pavement, so it’s quite tenacious once it gets established. I could only wish the flowers lasted longer.
We planted this flowering almond when we first moved into the house. It was given to Cathy by a friend. It never gets more than about three feet tall and dies back almost to the ground every other year. Still, when it’s in bloom, it’s pretty nice. And it doesn’t need any pruning.
I know I’ve already done dogwood flowers but a) I never said I wouldn’t repeat and b) I like this picture. In the Extras gallery there’s a pink dogwood flower, as well.
Getting close again today after a few days of not. The forget-me-nots are starting to bloom so I’m posting one now before I forget.