Since tomorrow is Easter, here’s a cross shaped flower — Epimedium x rubrum. If you’re looking for an interesting and different ground cover, this would be a good choice, although not really evergreen in our climate, it’s got beautiful leaves with red highlights and lovely flowers, although they are sometimes hidden by the foliage. There are also white and yellow varieties (see Extras for the white).
Tagged With: Hardy Perennial
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.
We have this orange Asclepias tuberosa as well as a pure-yellow-flowered variety.
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).
Persicaria virginiana ‘Painter’s Palette’ is a slightly invasive perennial but nothing like loosestrife so I don’t mind it so much. It has pretty, variegated foliage and tiny, bright pink (almost red) flowers on long stalks.
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.
In a small pot outside our front door is a tiny little sedum with moss growing around it. This is a surprisingly hardy little plant, being able to take single digit (Fahrenheit) temperatures in an above ground container without any significant problems. We aren’t sure which sedum it is, but Cathy’s guess was that it’s “Red dragon” which seems quite reasonable. The moss in this photo, with its two calyptrae (the spore bearing capsules), is a volunteer, but mosses are generally welcome here. The only places the grow that I would prefer they didn’t is between the shingles on the roof of our garage. I like them otherwise and would happily have a garden devoted to them, if I had the time and space.
After church today we had a nice lunch with some friends. It’s good to have friends and these are among the best. It was a nice day so when we left them, we decided to to to Lake Frank and take a walk. We started at the south end of the lake and walked across the dam. From there we went through the woods on the Parilla Path to the Gude Trail, which we walked to where it hits a parking lot on Gude Drive. The round trip was a little short of three miles and it was quite pleasant. Walking west (outbound) we had the sun in our eyes, so the return journey was nicer, I think. But these tassels on some ornamental grass were nice, backlit by the afternoon sun.
It was a pretty normal, overcast, somewhat dreary, winter’s day today. No rain or snow but cool and damp. The ground is completely saturated and there is some leftover snow scattered around. It’s warmer than it’s been and forecast to be in the 60s this week. This is the remains of a black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species). We leave them through the winter for the birds, although most of them don’t get eaten by the spring. Sometimes we’ll see goldfinches (Spinus tristis) or dark-eyed juncos (Junco hyemalis up in them, but food is never really scarce around here.
The snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) along the edge of the woods near my office have been in bloom for a week or more. Those in our yard are in a more sheltered spot and tend to bloom later but they are coming out now. Early this afternoon I decided to take some pictures of them with snow all around them. I got a few like that but decided I like this close up better, even though it doesn’t show the snow. They’re not really open in this picture but they open up on warm days before closing up at night. With yesterday’s snowfall, they have gone back into winter mode but it won’t be long before they are open for good. The daffodils are also coming up and showing signs of buds in amongst the leaves. It’s still winter here, but spring is coming.
It’s Lenten rose time again. With the recent snow and heavy rain, they are looking decidedly unhappy, but the blooms are coming and should soon be out in full. This one, a Helleborus called ‘Mango Magic’, it the furthest along of those in the yard. There is a very large one with deep burgundy flowers that’s doing well, also and probably needs to be divided up into three or four plants. I do love the deep color of that one but the brightness of this one and a few others we have are quite nice, as well.
I know I posted a picture of snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) on Saturday, March 02, 2019 but the flowers were not really open then and they are now. Our yard is fairly shady and the spring blooms seem to be a week or so behind those that get full sun. We have a few clmps of snow drops in the yard. Those I photographed last time are by the sidewalk. These are in the back yard. They are certainly a welcome sign of spring, often blooming when there is still snow on the ground (thus the name, I assume). I love the little touch of green on the central part of the flower. Green is fairly uncommon as a flower color, I assume because it’s so common on the leaves themselves. But it makes a nice change.
The snow drops are generally followed by the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) and the Lenten rose (Helleborus species). One Lenten rose is already blooming but the others are just starting to come out. I suspect I’ll have more pictures of them soon.
As mentioned a few days ago, the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is coming into bloom. It’s a very hardy little plant, growing from a small, sort of misshapen tuber, native to the northern Mediterranean coast from southern France, across northern Italy, and down the eastern coast of the Adriatic and east to the western shores of the Black Sea. It’s very slow growing and the few that survived from my initial planting are only still only producing a handful of flowers. I should probably plant more, but last year was mostly a write-off in terms of gardening. We’re hoping to do quite a bit more this year.
After church we walked over to the Stadtman Preserve, where hundreds of daffodils are coming up and a few blooming. There were also huge drifts of winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) although they were almost entirely past their bloom. There were also a very few of these Chionodoxa forbesii flowers. With the common name glory of the snow, it’s no surprise that they bloom early and they are definitely one of my favorite flowers, especially among the spring ephemerals. It is native to western Turkey and is hardy as far north as USDA zone 3. Those growing in my garden are considerably behind, but I’m looking forward to having them bloom in a few weeks.
This is, I think, my new favorite Lenten rose. I have two of them, bought from McClure and Zimmerman in the fall of 2014 but this is the first year the blooms have been what I might describe as fully formed. They are a variety called Red Racer but they don’t seem to be listed on the mzbulb web site any longer. Other outlets seem to have them, though. I really love flowers (and leaves) of this sort of color, especially when back lit. These aren’t in the best location it terms of the sun shining on them from behind, but it was just filtering through the shrubbery behind them this evening.
The so-called Dutch crocus (Crocus vernus and its cultivars) is native to the mountains of Europe, the Pyrenees, Alps and Carpathians. The name crocus comes from krokos (κρόκος) the ancient Greek name for saffron (Crocus sativus). While crocuses prefer gritty, well-drained soils they do amazingly well in our heavy, clay soil that is totally water logged all winter most years. This one is growing in a bed of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) and Vinca minor in our back yard. There are also some daffodils and hyacinths that are starting to come up bu those won’t be in bloom for a little while yet.
I hope you won’t mind one more Hellebore. This one is called ‘Rose Quartz’ and like the crocus pictured yesterday, it is in the bed out back with lily of the valley and Vinca minor. This is only its second year blooming and while there are more flowers this year, it’s still not a huge, robust plant yet. Lenten rose is a long-lived perennial and although they take a while to get established, they take very little care and are quite sturdy. The Latin name for the genus, Helleborus, comes from the Greek helein (ἑλεῖν), meaning “to injure”, and bora (βορά), meaning “food” because the leaves, stems, and roots are poisonous to humans.
Last Sunday after church we walked to the Stadtman Preserve and I posted a picture of three little Chionodoxa forbesii blossoms. This week we went there again. The daffodils are starting to bloom and there are lots more Chionodoxa flowers opening up throughout the property. It was this little windflower (Anemone blanda) that really caught my eye. It’s such a pretty little thing. I’ve had a few of them in our garden but they never really amounted to much. I need to make a note to myself to buy a bunch of them and put them in. Interestingly, the flower is apetalous (it has no petals) and what look like petals are actually sepals.
I try not to repeat subject too often and too close together but sometimes I just have to. The Sunday before last I posted a pictures of three Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) blossoms, taken at the Stadtman Preserve on Mill Run, in Derwood (see Sunday, March 17, 2019). Two weeks later they are out in our garden and I couldn’t resist another picture. This little clump of flowers is at the south end of our house and it’s so lovely. I promise, I’m done with this flower for the year (although there’s a pink variety in another part of our garden).
These little flowers, Scilla siberica (Siberian squill) are similar to the blue Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow) that I photographed a few days ago but can be differentiated by their downward facing appearance. They are also deeper blue, in general. In my yard they bloom just a little later, but not much. These are in a bed right by the driveway so I get to see them every time I leave or get home, which is nice. S. siberica is native to southern Russia and is hardy up to USDA Zone 2.
I also have some Scilla mischtschenkoana, (commonly called simply squill) the flowers of which are almost white with just a hint of blue. They are native to northern Iran and the Caucasus and not quite as hardy as S. siberica but still plenty hardy for us here. I really should mark where all my spring ephemerals are and plant more around them this fall. I’m not sure I could ever have too many of them.
Cathy bought two columbine plants (Aquilegia) on Sunday and this is one of them. It’s not the standard, native Aquilegia canadensis with its drooping flowers and distinctive spurs. The label had no information on it beyond Aquilegia so I don’t know what the variety name is or anything. It’s quite pretty and I photographed it in the late afternoon sun, to help light up the delicate pink petals. We have a fair amount of columbine in the yard, although most of it is self-seeded volunteers and is a dark, maroon color. I doubt the seeds from this will be anything like it is, but you never know, maybe we’ll start getting some new varieties around the yard.
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is starting to bloom. This is a great, little ground cover once it gets itself established. That can take a little while and they aren’t cheap when you buy them from the garden center a few pips at a time. They also have a tendency to “migrate” in the garden. In our back yard they are around the two smaller maple trees that we still have. Over the time we’ve been here they have expanded and died out in the central part of the bed. I wish you could make it “turn around” and head in the other direction but short of digging it up and physically turning it around, that’s not really possible.
The flowers don’t last very long but while they are blooming they are really pretty. Note that all parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cardiac glycosides, so don’t try to use them as a salad green. I don’t think that’s something I’d have thought to try anyway.
The columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) is really coming into bloom now in our garden. We have a few different varieties and I won’t swear that they are all this species (in fact I don’t think they are). But this one, I think probably is. It’s one of two that have flowers with a fuchsia or slightly purple color in their flowers. The other one is darker, almost tending towards a brownish red. It also has slightly more double white parts. They are both nice in their own way, and I’m pretty happy with this self seeding through out the garden. It doesn’t go out of control, like some self-seeders tend to do, so I don’t really mind.
This is one of three peonies that I planted in 2014, named ‘Coral Sunset’ that are growing will in the back garden. I’m a big fan of peonies and if I had a lot of space I might devote and entire garden room to them. There are both herbaceous and woody stemmed peonies and the are both worth growing. They do take a while to get established but they don’t really require much care. The reward in the huge, brightly colored flowers every spring. There is a nice peony garden at Seneca Creek State Park, if you are interested. I haven’t had a chance to go this year and it isn’t looking like I will, but it’s worth a peek, if you can get there when they are in bloom.
Allium moly, commonly known as golden garlic, is a pretty, ornamental flowering onion with bright yellow flowers. I have this growing long side our front walk, although it has been surrounded by other plants so it isn’t as prominent as it was when it was first planted. I really should have more of this. It blooms after the majority of bulbs are done, so helps fill a gap in the blooming cycle. It’s also a lovely, bright yellow, which is hard to miss. I have it growing next to a small Siberian iris called ‘Eric the Red’ and the two go very well together, with purple and yellowing being a really good combination. They are also on the small side for their respective genuses. Highly recommended.
I’ve posted pictures of this fern before and I’ll probably do so again. It’s a pretty fern and worth growing, if you have any interest in ferns. I actually have it in a less than ideal spot that gets pretty much full sun from about noon onwards. It would be happier in full shade. The Missouri Botanical Garden page on this plant says, “High summer heat may cause fronds to brown by mid to late summer, particularly if good soil moisture is not maintained and/or plants are grown in too much sun.” Yep, that happens here. I really need to move it, or at least take a piece or two of it to grow in a better location. It does amazingly well in the sun, but it could be so much happier.
We’ve had coral bells (Heuchera sanguinea) growing in our garden and in containers pretty much since we have been able to have a garden. It’s not the sturdiest of plants and we’ve had to replace them from time to time. I may be forgetting something but I think this is currently our only plant, growing in a container in the driveway. It’s fairly happy, probably because the containers get watered more regularly throughout the summer than the in-ground plantings. Also, although this gets a bit of direct morning sun, it’s in bright, open shade by early afternoon so it doesn’t bake. It seems to be happy and it blooms quite freely, which is nice.
We have some Asiatic lilies in the bed where there used to be an oak tree in front of our house. The oak has been gone for long enough that I don’t remember when it was cut down (and I don’t feel like searching through my journal to find out). The lilies are doing quite well and they are surrounded by other plants which seems to have kept the deer and rabbits from eating them, which is nice. As you can see, they are a very hot orange and are quite spectacular. The tiger lilies, which won’t bloom for a while yet, are much taller and more obvious. These blooms are only about 18 inches from the ground and face upwards, which is terrific.
I planted a few of these years ago at our old house, after having taken a few bulblets from the top of some growing in a garden we visited. A few years ago I decided to get rid of them, but that’s easier said than done. This one is growing in the grass outside the fenced herb garden that I made a while back. I think we need to be a bit more ruthless in pulling them up. They are interesting, though, and if we had a lot of space, I’d have a bunch. The stems, which are really tubular leaves, have flower clusters at the top. Then bulblets form and sometimes there are flower clusters growing from those bulblets. When the top becomes heavy from the size of the bulblets, the whole plant falls on its side, those bulblets take root and new plants spring up. It’s that spreading action that gives rise to the “walking” part of their name. Anyway, if you’d like some, feel free to ask and I’ll give you a few bulblets and you can start your own colony.
The day lilies are coming into bloom. These are great plants and easy to grow. They like full sun but are quite tolerant of a bit of shade (with a bit of reduced blooming, though). You often see them growing in ditches along road sites in the country. Those that we have are from a very small town that no longer exists in rural Pennsylvania. The houses are all gone, except for a few stone basements slowly being filled by the passing of time. around one of them is a huge patch of day lilies. They are in fairly deep shade, so don’t bloom profusely, but they are happy and continue spreading their roots. I dug up a few many years ago and they really responded to the sun and never fail to satisfy.
There are quite a few really amazing coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) varieties now and if I had the space and the time and the money, I’d consider a collection of the as one aspect of a large garden. They vary in color from the “standard” pinkish-purple bracts and with orange spikes, as seen here, to all sort of oranges, yellow, and darker purples. They flower shapes vary, as well, and they are all lovely. Sadly, there are enough plant-eating insects that enjoy them that they don’t often last in pristine condition. Photographing them in their prime means getting them when the flowers first open, because the bracts get holes in them almost immediately. Still, they provide color in a time when not a lot is blooming.
We’re in that in between time, after the spring and early summer bloomers have finished up but before the late summer flowers have really started in earnest. There are a few things in bloom, including the day lilies and the buddleia are starting to bloom and attract bees and butterflies. The gooseneck loosestrife (Lysimachia clethroides) has been blooming but doesn’t add a lot of color, having white flowers. Also, I don’t care how desperate you are for blooms, I don’t recommend you put this anywhere near your garden, unless that’s all you want. Pretty soon these buds will begin to open. They are Iris domestica, the blackberry lily, which until recently also went by the name Belamcanda chinensis and sometimes known as leopard lily. These have self-seeded around the yard but are well within the limits of what’s easy to control, if they come up where you don’t want them. I highly recommend them for any sunny garden.
The blackberry lilies (Iris domestica and formerly Belamcanda chinensis) have started to bloom in the garden. We originally got this when I collected some seeds and planted them at our old house. We brought some here with us in 2006 and they have really taken hold. We sprinkle the seeds around and let them grow where they will. They aren’t nearly so aggressive as to be a problem and they are so pretty. I had a picture of the buds recently but this is the flower. They open in the morning and each individual flower only lasts a day, but they are born in profusion and soon we’ll have dozens of them in bloom, scattered around the yard.
The tiger lilies are blooming and they are really spectacular this year. My dad had these growing in his garden and from time to time we would take the little bulbils that form in the angle between the leaves and stem on these plants and we’d put them in our garden. We continued that process, with bulbils from our own plants and now we have a pretty good number of them around the yard. These are growing in the small bed where an oak tree once grew. That tree was dying when we bought the house and has since been removed. There are daffodils there and Cathy often puts annuals in the center of the bed, but these lilies are growing towards the back (the house side). They are over six feet tall and quite striking, with racimes of large, orange, downward-facing flowers.
With my back still bothering me, I stayed home today. I did put in a little time at work, mostly a long phone call to discuss a proposal that is being written for a project that includes a web site. When Cathy got home from work I asked if I could take her picture for my photo of the day. She agreed and I took almost two dozen shots of het with her flowers. Most obvious are the Rudbekia (the Black-eyed Susans). There is also orange and yellow butterfly weed Asclepius tuberosa) on the right. In front of that is the pale pink spider flower (Cleome). There are other annuals in pots and there is the red teapot lower down.
This red Lobelia cardinalis is growing under the cherry tree at the north end of our yard. It’s really bright and I thought it was worth getting a picture of. With my back still bothering me I wanted to be really careful getting behind it so I could get the picture without having to bend over and with the trunk of the cherry tree available for me to brace the camera against. I was very carefully watching where I was stepping so I wouldn’t trip but about half way back, all of a sudden, I whacked my head against a ceramic wren nesting box hanging from a branch of the tree. I didn’t quite fall but it did my back no favors. Still, I got the picture. Coming back out I was even more careful where I walked and I kept an eye on that nesting box.
By the time I got home this evening I didn’t feel like going out looking for something to photograph. Later in the evening, as is usually the case, I wished I had, because it meant I had to find something indoors to photograph. If finding something new and interesting to photograph in the yard is a challenge, how much more so is that true in the house. Fortunately there was a vase of flowers on the dining room table and in it were the blue and grey balls of Eryngium planum, better known as sea holly. These are interesting flowers. We had some in our garden in Gaithersburg and I should plant some here. The blue would be especially nice as a contrast to all the yellow-orange of the black-eyed Susan flowers.
This is a really nice plant. Blue cardinal flower, Lobelia siphilitica, is an easily grown, herbaceous perennial, native to eastern North America and hardy to USDA zone 4. It needs fairly moist soil and does better here in part shade, where the ground doesn’t dry out so much, or in full sun in pots where it gets regular watering. It blooms over a fairly long period, which is always appreciated. One thing I didn’t know about it is that the species name of siphilitica is from “a prior medicinal use of the plant in the treatment of venereal disease.”
It does well in our garden and we have it scattered around. This particular plant is growing in a container on the driveway with black-eyed Susans behind it. Blue and yellow is always a good combination in the garden and with yellow being so prominent in ours, adding that touch of blue is great.
The flowers on this plant, Iris domestica, the blackberry lily, don’t really give much clue to their common name. When they go to fruit, however, it’s a little clearer where that comes from. They do have a certain blackberry-like look to them. The flowers are a bright orange and are really lovely. The leaves are very iris-like and are beautiful, sculptural fans of varying shades of green. In fact, I’d be tempted to grow these even if they leaves were all they provided. But the flowers are welcome and I like the fruit, as well. We scatter these fairly liberally around the garden and they are now coming up in various places. They aren’t so aggressive that we worry about them taking over, either, which is nice.
The black-eyed Susans in the yard are mostly finished now. The petals are drying up and falling off. Soon there will be nothing left but the stalks and seed heads. We generally leave those for the birds to eat during the winter. They seem to be pretty popular with the gold finches, in particular. This isn’t as good a picture as I hoped it would be. It was fairly late in the day and I didn’t bother to get my tripod, so I wasn’t able to get the depth of field that I should have. Still, I like the colors quite well. This is what autumn is about.
I took some photos of the obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) blooms in the back garden this evening. They are quite pretty when back lit by the sun, as they are here. I was hoping to find some insects to photograph but for whatever reason, there weren’t many this time. There were occasional bees and skippers but I wasn’t able to get close enough to them to photograph. I did manage to get some photos of a sweat bee on the Asclepias but they were not very sharp, so I’ll pass on sharing them.
I know I posted a photo of this Japanese anemone recently but they’re so pretty I thought I’d post another. I got a few pictures with an American hover fly (Eupeodes americanus) on it, but I’ve posted a picture of one of those recently, too, and didn’t see a need to repeat that. We haven’t had much success with anemones in the past but we’re hoping this will do well. It certainly has beautiful flowers and is just the right height for along side our front walk. We really should get a half dozen of them, but one thing at a time.
I took photos of various seeds in the yard this afternoon. First I took pictures of seeds of the Euonymus japonicus. From there I moved on to these Rudbeckia seed heads. I think their form and subtle brown colors. I took photos of blackberry lily Iris domestica fruit, which do have a pretty blackberry-like appearance. I also took a few photos of the tops of Monarda and of the feathery seeds of the Clematis terniflora. None of the photos were wonderful but this one is my favorite. I also took a photo of a robin in the holly tree by the driveway.
I left work a little early today and stopped at Redgate Park on the way home. If you’re familiar with Redgate Golf Course, then you now know about Redgate Park. I played this course back in the day—not a lot, only a couple times out of the one or two dozen golf outings of my sporting career—and but it has now been closed and is a park. According to The Sentinel, management of the course was transferred to Billy Casper Golf, a golf-course management company headquartered in Reston, Virginia. I can confirm that the state of the grounds it pretty pitiful.
I walked around a bit and took photos of Asiatic bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus) as well as these broadleaf cattails (Typha latifolia). I also saw a nearly frozen snake. I’m pretty sure it was alive but it could barely move in the cold weather. Kind of creepy, actually.
As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the snow drops (Galanthus nivalis) are coming up in our yard. I remembered that the snow drops in the woods around my office are generally two or three weeks ahead of those in our yard. I went out with my camera this afternoon and sure enough, they are in bloom. There are two large areas, one in the back amidst fallen logs and the other on a steep bank leading down to a stream on the front side of the building. They really are lovely flowers, so simple and yet elegant, especially at a time of year when the ground and most of the things on it are brown.
Our oldest Lenten rose, with its deep maroon colored flowers, has been in bloom for a while. We had such warm weather that a lot of things have been coming up early. We had a cold spell. Not terribly cold but with nighttime temperatures in the 20s. That damaged some of the tender leaves that were just coming up and also some of the buds that were starting to open. This Lenten rose, a variety called ‘Mango Magic’, was not quite as far along so was less damaged, although even here the petals of a few flowers were burned by the frost. Hopefully we’ll have more flowers to come, as it’s warmed up again.
The wild violets (Viola sororia) are up in the lawn. They’re pretty difficult to get rid of but our lawn is not particularly weed free in general, so they are among the least of our worries. The flowers range in color from nearly all white to nearly all bluish purple. This one is about half way in between. We actually have a few yellow violets and I’m assuming those are a different species, possibly Viola pubescens, but I don’t actually know that. They look very similar to these, except for the flower color.
I think this is my absolute favorite of the spring ephemerals. It’s called glory of the snow in honor of it’s generally very early blooming time, sometimes when there is still snow on the ground. The genus Chionodoxa comes from the Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory. I think it’s the color that I like best about it, along with its dainty habit and it’s remarkably easy care. It is hardy as far north as USDA zone 3. In a few short weeks it will be done and gone for the year, sleeping away both the heat of summer and the cold of next winter.
One nice thing about being home as we all are is that it means I can get out into the yard during the day. That’s offset by the fact that we can’t go a lot of other places, of course, but we are fortunate to have a pretty nice yard. There’s a huge amount that needs to be done but right now, with the daffodils blooming, it’s quite nice. This little daffodil, one of the Tazetta types, has multiple fragrant flowers on each stem. They were planted in 2014 and are on the edge of the bed that used to surround the spruce tree, which is gone, so they will get a lot more sun now.
Blooming shortly after the beautiful, blue Chionodoxa forbesii (glory of the snow), the Scilla siberica (Siberian squill) are starting to come out. They are a darker blue with down-turned flowers but quite similar. In fact, “some experts have merged Chionodoxa into the genus Scilla under the belief that the differences are not significant enough to warrant separate genus status.” (Missouri Botanical Garden, Plant Finder). I don’t really care one way or the other and just enjoy them both as spring ephemerals. I look forward to their bloom every year and don’t think I could have too many of either.
This is a daffodil called ‘Actaea’, which is in the poeticus division (division 9), which are distinguished by their large white petals and small, dainty cups in contrasting colors. I think they are fairly posh, compared to their more boisterous cousins but they are similar in their hardiness. They are a bit slower to produce large clumps, though, so if you want a lot of them in a hurry, you’ll want to plant more of them up front. The stems on these are a little less rigid than the others, as well, and they have a tendency to droop even more when it rains but in the sun, they are hard to beat.
Like most folks, we’re mostly confined to our house and to walks in the neighborhood. We figured that we could go for a drive so yesterday we went out and about. One place we went was the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park on Muncaster Road. I didn’t take my camera with me, which is pretty unusual, so we went back there today with my camera this time. There were a few others there but everyone kept their distance from one another.
They have a small, woodland garden that is particularly nice right now, with mostly early spring blooms. These Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are just starting to open and are so lovely.
Another photo from our trip to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park on Muncaster Road. Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) has very pretty, pure white flowers that don’t last very long. I love them as a true sign of spring. There are some places where you see this native plant in the woods one day as you drive by and then it’s gone the next. The plant is still there, obviously, but not so obvious without it’s bright blooms. The leaves are quite interesting, being deeply-scalloped. The leaves continue growing after the blooms are gone, and are present until mid to late summer when the plant goes dormant.
The third and final photo I’ll post from our visit to the Montgomery County Agricultural History Farm Park today. This is trillium and someone more in the know than I am could probably tell you which one. I’ll guess Trillium cuneatum, “the largest and most vigorous of the sessile trilliums that are native to the eastern U. S.” but I stress, that’s just a guess without much research behind it. Whichever it is, it’s a pretty little plant that should be in any woodland garden in our region. They don’t transplant well but it seems to me they would be worth the effort.
With Easter in two days, as Lent comes to an end, the Lenten roses are finishing up a very spectacular year. They are pretty reliable, once established, but this year has been particularly good for them in our neck of the woods. This one is either ‘Red Racer’ or ‘Rose Quartz’ and I’d have to check my notes to know which. They were both planted in the fall of 2014 and are near each other but I don’t remember which is which. Regardless, it’s got a really nice color, even as the flowers age.
It was a lovely day today and Cathy and I went for a longish walk (about four miles) near Lake Frank. We saw one of the two bald eagles nesting there, who was by the nest, then flew off and around for a while before landing in another tree near the nest. We saw lots of wildflowers, including this star chickweed (Stellaria pubera), spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), and yellow trout-lily (Erythronium americanum). The ferns were coming up and we saw some jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum). All in all, a very nice time in the woods.
This will start blooming in a week or so, but even before it’s in bloom, sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum, also known as sweetscented bedstraw) is quit pretty. In fact, I’d say this photo doesn’t do it justice. The shades of green are just lovely and it makes a really nice groundcover where you don’t need something evergreen. We have a few patches of this and I really like it where it is. It isn’t too aggressive and it fits in very nicely. When crushed, it gives off a strong odor of freshly mown hay, even more so as the plant dries.
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is starting to bloom. We have it in a few places around the yard and these are at the front corner of our house where they get just a bit more sun than the other places so are a little ahead. It’s a lovely plant and has lovely, sweetly fragrant flowers but all parts of the plant are very poisonous so if that makes you nervous, you might want to avoid it. It contains cardiac glycosides, “a class of organic compounds that increase the output force of the heart and increase its rate of contractions.”
We dug some up in a yard that was being torn up when a road was being widened and it was growing through asphalt paving, so it’s pretty tenacious. We have it in a fairly large bed in the back yard but it is actually being forced outward by Vinca minor which I wouldn’t have thought possible.
Cathy bought a couple hosta plants last year and put them in a container in the front of our house. If we grow them quite close to the house they do reasonably well but the deer and rabbits really seem to like them and if they are farther from the house, they get eaten. Of course the slugs are just about as likely to get them close to the house, but they don’t consume an entire plant over night. This one, called ‘First Frost’, is one of the two that are in this container and it such a pretty little things.
We have a number of different columbines in our yard and garden. This one is growing in a container just outside our front door. This is a relatively simple columbine flower, close to what you’d find in the wild. Some others that we have are much fancier and I’ll probably have photos of them in the days to come. They are a reliable bloomer and well worth adding to your garden, blooming after the bulbs are mostly done and before the summer blooms start, so they fill an important role in the garden plan.
Dusty Miller (Jacobaea maritima, a.k.a. Senecio cineraria) is a marginally hardy, herbaceous perennial. It’s hardy here, anyway. We have it growing in an urn-shaped container near the end of our driveway and it seems happy enough. It does have flowers but they are not particularly ornamental and many people prune them off so as not to distract from the foliage, which is what the plant is generally grown for. It does well in both shade and sun and really takes very little care.
This is purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) although obviously there isn’t any purple color here right now. These are last year’s seeds, which we generally leave up all winter for the birds. They are obviously well fed, because by spring, most of them are still here. It’s just about time we cleared them all out. Most of the black-eyed Susan seed stalks have been cleared, although we’ve left some yet.
I was on the ground taking photos of a columbine (Aquilegia) and happened to notice this coneflower stem next to me, so I rolled over on my back and took a few shots, hoping to get a little detail in the seeds, which were seriously back-lit by the sky. This one turned out pretty well. I would have liked to get a little further away, as well, but I was looking nearly straight up and getting further away would have required that I dig a hole to get into. So, not going to happen.
It’s a week early for Mother’s Day but we’ve been cooped up for too long and we didn’t want to wait until next week. We took our annual trip to Fehr’s Nursery early this afternoon and Cathy bought a load of plants. As usual, I wandered around and took photos of flowers, etc. I got some nice pictures of various hens and chicks (Sempervivum varieties) including some Sempervivum arachnoideum, which have what look like cobwebs on them. I decided to go with this photo, however, of lady’s mantle leaf (Alchemilla mollis ‘Auslese’) with water droplets on it.
In the back of our garden, near the fence where there was a huge rose bush, there is a clematis. For years it’s struggled to be seen among the rose, which was often out of control. Well, the rose is gone now, having mysteriously died last year. I’m sad about that, and wish it hadn’t died but at least this beautiful, white clematis is still there and is doing quite well, now that it’s getting the sun it needs and isn’t overshadowed by the huge plant. We will need something for it to clime on but for now, it’s just happy to be blooming in the sun.
It was quite cool this morning after a soft freeze over night. There was ice in both bird baths this morning, not just the pedestal meaning it got pretty cold. I had covered my recently planted camellias and we moved some pots into the garage, so everything seems fine. We went for a very nice walk in Rock Creek this afternoon and saw lots of pretty things, including this perfoliate bellwort (Uvularia perfoliata), a pretty little wildflower we don’t see very often. The word ‘perfoliate’ means the base of the leaf surrounds or is pierced by the stem.
I know I’ve already had a picture this spring of the lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) from our garden but it’s blooming so well and so long that I thought I’d share another. We’re also in a little lull where there isn’t a lot new coming out, although it’s still changing. So, here’s another view of the little white bells of the lily of the valley, this time from the back garden, near the fence (not that it makes much difference, of course). Soon the flowers will be gone and even the leaves will fade in the coming heat of summer. We are near the southern limit of where it grows well. If you grow it here, it needs some shade to protect it from the heat of the summer sun but further north it does well in full sun.
We also have a terrific crop of Canadian thistle (Cirsium arvense) coming up among it (and many other places, as well) and it really needs to be dealt with. That’s a really problematical weed, having “a deep and wide-spreading root system with a slender taproot and far-creeping lateral roots.” (Source: Fire Effects Information System, US Forest Service). That same document also says that “new plants can also form from root fragments as short as 0.2 inch (6 mm),” which helps explain why it’s so hard to get rid of.
One of our favorite herbaceous perennials is the spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana). It’s a native and is easily grown in our gardens. In addition to the ‘standard’ versions, we have a few named varieties. This is one of the plain species and it’s lovely, of course. This one is right outside our back door and this is the first bloom of the year. I’ll almost certainly return to it later, when it has more flowers, or will post a photo of one of the other, slightly more exotic varieties. But they really don’t need much improving.
I took pictures in the yard earlier today but then Cathy and I went to Meadowside Nature Center and took a walk there. Since most of my pictures this spring have been from the yard, I decided to feature a photo from off-site today. We walked from the nature center down to the creek (North Branch Rock Creek) and from there to the lake. We could see the eagle’s nest and at one point saw one of the juvenile eagles sitting on the edge of it. We stopped and sat by the edge of Lake Frank and I took some photos of these yellow flags (Iris pseudacorus), growing on the shore. They are native to Europe and western Siberia, the Caucasus, and northern Africa. They’re quite lovely and I particularly liked the way these were shown against the grey of the very still water. We enjoyed watching the swifts or swallows skimming around over the lake. We heard a barred owl a few times in the distance.
I’ve had a few fern photos this spring but here’s another. This is a Woodwardia of some type but I’m not sure which. It’s growing in our shade garden at the north end of our front yard and is quite happy there. We went to the garden center today and I bought a royal fern (Osmunda regalis) to plant in this part of the garden. My thought is to move the Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum) to the front of the bed, because it’s too short to be seen well where it is. The royal fern should be plenty tall so that will be nice. It’s something I’ve wanted a while.
In the fall of 2014 I planted three of these peonies, called ‘Coral Sunset’, in our back garden. They have bloomed a bit better each year and I really look forward to seeing them each year. Between the three plants there are seven blooms this year and they are wonderful. There are a lot of peonies I’d be happy to have but I think this one is high on my list. The stems are strong and the flowers not so heavy that they all droop down, which means you really get the full effect of the blooms. Interestingly, they fade to a pale almost-yellow color as they age, which isn’t nearly as striking, but I’m not about to complain.
There is a lot of interest in native plants and in general I don’t mind that. They often thrive in out local conditions. It’s somewhat related to the emphasis on so-called organics (as opposed to synthetics), thinking that they are inherently better and safer. Nevertheless, some natives can easily become weeds. Blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) is a case in point. It’s actually lovely and in its place, worth growing. But be aware that it will come up around your yard and garden and if you don’t want it to take over, you’ll need to be a little ruthless in pulling it out.
I really should plant more of this as well as other ornamental onions. This is Allium moly, often called golden garlic, and it’s a lovely little bulb, blooming later than many of the spring bulbs. Its flowers are smaller than daffodils but it makes up for that by being one of the few things in bloom right now. In theory it spreads and needs to be controlled when growing in ideal conditions. Clearly that’s not what it has here, but it seems happy enough. Another Allium that I’ve had but don’t now is Allium caeruleum, which has pale blue flowers. I think I’ll order some of that, too, this fall, along with a bunch more deffodils.
We have two of these pink spiderworts in the side garden. They really are nice and I took some photos today with this one in the foreground and with the more usual blue flowered variety being it. We don’t remember the name of this variety and it may be a type of Tradescantia ohiensis, the Ohio spiderwort, rather than T. virginiana. There are others, too, of course. Anyway, it’s a really nice flower and lovely in the border. The flowers open in the morning and then close up during the heat of the day, so best appreciated early. This was taken from about the same spot as yesterday’s photo of the wren.
The day lilies are starting to bloom. These are descendants from some we dug up in the woods of Pennsylvania, near our property. They are growing around what used to be a homestead, many years ago. There is a hole in the ground with the remains of stone walls and the base of a chimney. Around that are orange day lilies (Hemerocallis fulva) and periwinkle (Vinca minor) growing in great profusion. It’s in the shade as trees have grown up over it and in consequence the day lilies don’t bloom as well as they might, but we took a few home and planted them in the sun, where they bloomed quite happily. That was at our old house and we dug up and brought some of those with us here, where they continue to give a great show every year.
I took a few more pictures of plants on Cathy’s work table today. This one is a spurge called Euphorbia amygdaloides subsp. robbiae, also known as Robb’s wood spurge. It’s a nice combination of greens and yellows and something nice for the herbaceous border. The Euphorbia genus has something like 2,000 species and they range from small annual plants to trees and there are species from many parts of the world This one isn’t native to North America, but I’m not bothered by that. One thing you want to be careful of with these plants is their milky sap, which is poisonous if ingested and a skin irritant.
Here’s a second photo for the day. After our walk in the park, we went to the Agricultural Farm Park and walked through their demonstration garden. It’s really changed since we were here last, about two months ago. There was one plant in bloom that really caught our collective eye. It’s a Maryland native commonly called Indian pink (Spigelia marilandica). What a beautiful flower. This is something I’d really like to get. I’ve done some searching and it seems like finding seeds will be difficult. There are a few mail order places that have the plant but most of them ship in the fall. Hopefully I’ll remember to order some then.
We’re big fans of Asclepias and have three species growing in our garden. We have a few varieties of Asclepias curassavica, a tender perennial native to the Caribbean and Central and South America often referred to as blood flower. We have several Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, a hardy perennial native to our region. We just bought a few plants of a variety of Asclepias incarnata called ‘Ice Ballet’. The species is generally pale pink but this variety is a creamy white. It’s also a native to the area and is known as swamp milkweed. These will go in a spot that gets very wet when it rains, as these don’t mind that and there are a lot of things that won’t grow there.
I could see a fairly large garden with nothing but varieties of coneflower (Echinacea species and varieties). One problem we have with them is that the rabbits and deer seem to like them and many that come up have their flowering stem bitten off so we don’t get flowers on them. The few that do bloom are great, of course, but then th bugs get to them and the petals get holes in them. They’re still nice, but not as photogenic. Because of that, we hesitate to buy more coneflowers. This one, called ‘Fiery Meadow Mama’, nearly made me make an exception. Wow, what a flower. There was another called ‘Cone-fections Hot Papaya’ that was mostly red and with a larger center that was nice, too. But we restrained ourselves.
The blackberry lily (Iris domestica, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis, has beautiful, bright orange flowers above an attractive fan of sword-shaped leaves. It spreads slowly into clumps but mostly spreads by seed, which are distributed both by birds and by wives who really like it in our garden. I first collected seeds in South Carolina many, many years ago and we’ve had it around ever since. We have quite a few at this point and we may be reaching the time when a few of them need to be pulled up (but I’m not sure Cathy’s ready for that yet). They are native from the Himalayas to the Russian far east but do very well here. I like the lighting in this. The bloom is in full sun and the background is the pavement of our street in shadow.
This is the tip of a mullein stalk growing up close to the front of our house. It’s not really in a place I’d choose to plant it, but I left it there for Cathy. She really likes it and we have a fair amount in the hawthorn bed that has become something of a Mediterranean garden this year. It’s funny to hear so many people praise this plant as something the native Americans used medicinally. It may be true, but that only happened after it was introduced from Europe, as it isn’t a native American itself. It’s quite hardy (USDA Zones 3 to 9) and is quite happy in dry, otherwise barren places. This part of our yard really dries out in the summer and is currently rock hard. But along with the Verbascum we have Verbena bonariensis (tall verbena), Lavandula stoechas (Spanish lavender), and Salvia rosmarinus (rosemary), which all do well in rather severe conditions and in fact don’t like being waterlogged.
Cathy bought a few perennials over the weekend and I planted this one yesterday. It’s a sneezeweed called ‘Mardi Gras’ and it’s really nice. The flowers have a similar look to black-eyed Susans but it’s a different genus (Helenium). I happened to catch it with a little, green-sweat bee on it, which is a bonus. It prefers somewhat barren ground and isn’t supposed to do well in heavy clay, which is probably why I haven’t seen it around here. That’s really all we have. But hopefully it will survive, even if it doesn’t thrive too well.
This won’t be the only photo I post of these, I suspect. They are starting to bloom and are already quite spectacular but when they really get into full bloom, with 20 or more flowers per stem, they are amazing. The seem to deal pretty well with the sweltering heat we’ve had and the occasional downpour. The biggest threat to them, actually, is deer, which will come in and eat them. We’ve been fortunate this year and only a few stems have been cut off (and that may be rabbits). We have them in a few places around the yard but the most conspicuous are in the front, right out near the road, where there used to be a large oak tree (until it died and the county cut it down).
When I posted the close up of the tiger lily a couple days ago, I knew it wouldn’t be the only tiger lily photo I’d post this summer. They’re simply too nice to get just one mention. Dad had these growing in the garden along the driveway. Quite a few years ago we took some of the bulbils that form in the leaf axils on young stems. I find it interesting that they seem to form on young stems and not on the more mature stems. Generally you think of a more mature plant yielding more of this sort of thing. But I suppose the more mature stems produce a lot more seeds, so they don’t need to do this.
Anyway, we have them well established in a few places in the yard and they are magnificent. This is the biggest and most successful bunch, growing in a bed where a dead oak tree was removed a while back, out near the road. As you can see, they’re about eight feet tall and really happy in this sunny location. I recommend them pretty highly. The tiger swallowtails seem to like them, as well.
I probably should have waited a little longer to take a picture of this, since it isn’t really in full bloom yet. But I only got outside for a little while late this afternoon and this is all I took photos of. Cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), is an American native and well worth growing. It really adds a splash of bright color to the garden. The only thing here is that you need to watch it in our dry summer heat that it doesn’t dry out too much. It likes moist soil and can even tolerate a little brief flooding. If you’re in a place that’s not quite so hot in the summer, you could plant it in full sun but for us, it does better with a bit of shade. This one is growing under a largish cherry tree and it a bit protected from the hot, afternoon sun. If you have a stream or pond, this would be great on the banks of that. Ours will have more flowers in a matter of days but you can already see how red the blooms are and why it’s such a nice thing in the border. We should have more than we do.
The coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) is in our back garden near the back fence. In the late afternoon, backlit by the sun it’s quite lovely. The bees, particularly carpenter and bumble bees, seem to really like the coneflowers. We (and by we I mostly mean Cathy) did a lot of work in this part of the garden this summer. It had become quite overgrown with mugwort and goldenrod among the monarda, asclepias, and irises. It’s basically ready for new plants now, so it isn’t finished, but it’s so much better than it was.
Our yard is pretty heavy on the Rudbeckias, (black-eyed Susan) although we’ve actually gotten rid of a few. You probably wouldn’t notice and it’s going to take a bit more work if we’re actually going to cut back on them noticeably. On the other hand, this time of year, they really are wonderful in their great numbers. The insects like them, although perhaps they aren’t the favorite flower. The skippers in particular are to be found on them and that’s where I usually see transverse flower flies (Eristalis transversa).
It wasn’t so hot today, although relative humidity was near 100%. Cathy and I went out for a walk at the former Redgate Golf Course, now Redgate Park. We saw a pair of white-tailed deer (a mother and fawn) as well as a few different wildflowers. This is a pretty common one, an import from the old world, but still a pretty flower. The others that I photographed were also non-natives. There was the Asiatic dayflower (Commelia communis), which has two white petal-like structures above the flower, and moth mullein (Verbascum blattaria), a pretty, little, white flower with a magenta throat and stamens. We also went to Rockville Cemetery, where we saw another fawn, and then Croydon Nature Center before returning home.
Cathy has this hardy begonia (Begonia grandis) growing a few places around the house. It really seems to like the relatively shady area around our front door, which gets a little morning sun but that’s it. And even that is filtered through the foundation planting. It seems particularly happy this year, with the amount of rain we’ve had. It’s just coming into bloom, with its delicate and interestingly shaped, pink flowers. But I think it’s worth having just the leaves. We have a few little seedlings that Cathy has collected and she will try to get a few established in new places.
There’s a lot in bloom right now, but there’s actually less variety than there was earlier in the year. The garden is full of black-eyed Susan and there are other, less showy flowers, like the mountain mint, which attracts so many pollinators. Around on the side of the house, in the shadier part of the garden, we have this cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis), which is absolutely stunning. The red is so pure and bright, especially when the sun is on it. Cathy saw a hummingbird come to this, as well, which is exciting. I suppose I should have posted a photo of the two of us, for our anniversary, but flowers are where it’s at.
We picked up some blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) along with some other plants that were being given to us. It’s spread around the yard and now we have both the normal pale blue, as seen here (it’s more blue than this photo makes it look) and a white sport (or perhaps the blue is the sport). It blooms late in the summer, just starting now, and will be around into the fall. I don’t know that I’d run out an buy any, but it’s not bad to have a late summer bloomer in the garden. The skippers tend to be the most common pollinators on it, but the bees go to it some, too.
We’ve only had this native perennial a few years and this is by far the best it’s done in our garden. We have it in a somewhat shady area. Over time it should spread and form a clump, although not so much that it could be considered invasive (like much of what we have). The snapdragon-like flowers are fairly large and as you can see, they are borne in tight, spike-like terminal racemes. They are actually native to a bit further south than we are but have become naturalized over much of the east coast.
I had a picture of the leaves of this Hardy Begonia (Begonia grandis) earlier this month. Now it’s in bloom and adding a little brightness to the shady spot outside our front door. It’s a great plant to have and looks like it shouldn’t be sturdy enough to survive our winters but it does and it actually does quite well. It won’t grow well too far to our south because of the heat of summer or too far to the north because of the cold winters, but here it’s quite reliable. Highly recommended.
We have a patch of Physostegia virginiana (obedient plant) in the back border. This area of the garden was one of the worst in terms of being out of control and we did a lot of digging there this year. Cathy did most of it, although I did help a bit with some of the deeper digging. It was overrun with goldenrod (Solidago) and mugwort (Artemisia vulgaris), which we wanted to get rid of completely, but even the things we grew on purpose, like the Monarda and this Physostegia, were out of control and needed to be thinned out. So, we still have this, but less than we did. It’s a fairly aggressive perennial, spreading by both rhizomes and by self-seeding. So, grow with caution.
Native to the Himalayas and the Russian far east, the blackberry lily (Iris domestica, formerly known as Belamcanda chinensis), is a lovely and well behaved herbaceous perennial. It self-seeds pretty well and we promote that by distributing the seeds fairly widely. We’re getting to the point where we might actually pull a few up if they aren’t where we want them, but generally we let them go wherever they come up. They have wonderful, bright orange flowers in succession during the early summer and then the fruit ripens in pods that open up to reveal the “blackberries” that give the plant its common name.
This is a weed and we pull it up but it’s actually fairly attractive. It’s called white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) and it’s a fairly common native plant in our area. It’s similar to the blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) that we have in some of our borders but quite a bit taller (it’s three or four feet tall, compared to about about a foot and a half). This one is behind some shrubs so managed to get pretty much full grown before I noticed it. It will be gone shortly but I thought I’d take some pictures, anyway.
I posted a picture of this sneezeweed (Helenium ‘Mardi Gras’) back in mid-July, when we first planted it. Almost immediately, the stems were bitten off by some animal. It was high enough that we suspected the deer but it could have been rabbits. We have a lot of rabbits. Anyway, there have been no flowers since then until just recently, when one stem was left along long enough to bloom. I may need to put some protection around this next year or at least have some deer repelling stuff near by. It’s really nice when it blooms, but if they’re going to eat it, there’s not a lot we can do.
I don’t really recommend growing painter’s palette (Persicaria virginiana) unless you have a lot of space and want a natural garden. It has a tendency to spread and is a bit of work to control. We have more than we need and most of the year I’m just about ready to pull it up. This is the time of year I don’t mind it quite so much. There isn’t a lot else in bloom and it provides some color in the border with it’s tiny, red flowers on wispy stalks. We have a lot of it mixed with Verbena bonariensis in the large, central bed in our front garden and the two of them together are pretty nice. The foliage is also interesting, with green alternating with a very pale green and with a reddish, V shape stripe.
We bought this Japanese anemone last year and it was in a pot over the winter. I planted it this spring and for a while it looked like the rabbits were not going to let it grow or bloom. Eventually I put a fence of hardware cloth around it, which they quickly knocked over. Now it’s staked to the ground with tent pegs and isn’t going anywhere. I’m a little bothered by the background in this, where the hardware cloth gives a regular, if out-of-focus pattern. Anyway, the anemone is quite lovely and I’m pretty happy with it. Hopefully it will get well enough established that we can take down the fence.