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.
Tagged With: White
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.
I went out to the empty lot next to my building this afternoon. I started by going through the woods on the lower part but then crossed the stream on a tree that conveniently fell across it. That saves me a bit of underbrush getting to the open, higher ground of the northeastern part of the lot. This part has only a few trees, so far, and is mostly filled with a thick covering of ragweed with milkweed and goldenrod scattered throughout. I happened to see this little moth, mostly white with a little orange on the leading edge of its wings. It is a delicate cycnia (Cycnia tenera) and is fairly shy. In the other two Cycnia species found in North America the orange or yellow on the wings is either absent (C. oregonensis) or is darker but doesnot extend to apex (C. collaris).
We had the first snowfall of the winter today and it was quite nice. We got at least two inches although it never really amounted to anything on pavement, which was warm enough to melt all of it. That includes driveways and sidewalks as well as roads, so driving was not a problem. That’s just as well because I had to go get a few things for the bathroom and Cathy went to a bridal shower for a friend. The snow was pretty on bushes and trees and this arborvitae (Thuja) looked really nice with fluffy white snow held in its branches.
It was a mostly grey day today. It’s still cool but it’s supposed to warm up for a few days. It’s also supposed to rain, so we’ll finally have temperatures above 60°F but wet. On the way home, I was sitting at the light and the large American flag at the Ourisman Rockmont Chevrolet car lot was blowing in the wind. The wind was coming out of the southeast, which is a little unusual so it was blowing farther behind the trees. Usually it’s blowing to the right, out from the trees.
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.
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.
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.
After church Cathy said I should go into the woods because there were some wildflowers that I might like to photograph. There were, indeed. They are rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), a native to eastern North America and a pretty little spring flower. As you might guess from the common name, the plant is quite similar to the meadow rue (in leaf form) and to the anemone (in flower form). It’s a pretty little woodland flower and would be a nice addition to a shade garden.
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is starting to bloom. This is a beautiful little plant and quite tough. It does take quite some time to get established and it’s fairly expensive to buy but it’s worth having. When we lived in our old house, we dug up a bunch (with permission) from a yard that was being bulldozed in order to widen a road. There were places it was growing up through asphalt. One thing about it, though, is that it seems to want to ‘move’ through the garden. That is, as it expands in one direction, it dies off where it was. So we have this mass of lily of the valley but as a unit, the whole mass is moving. In our case, it’s moving out into the yard and leaving an empty space behind. I’m not sure how to reverse that.
I walked around a little at lunch time today, taking pictures of a few local flowering plants. I started with photos of black locust (Robinia pseudoacacia) flowers. They are blooming everywhere right now and they produce a heady, sweet fragrance. They also are, I believe, one of our biggest sources of nectar for honey. I took some photos of honeysuckle vine (Lonicera japonica, which is also blooming now. I went across the street behind my building and came across these little wildflowers. Like the honeysuckle, they are non-native and invasive (they are listed as a noxious weed in Alabama although they are not anything near as invasive as the Japanese honeysuckle). They are star of Bethlehem flowers (Ornithogalum umbellatum) and they are pretty little things.
We spent much of the day working in Cathy’s mom’s house, mostly going through things in the store room in the basement. Where many people have attics that are used to keep things that are never touched but which they don’t want to throw away, this house has a large room in the basement with shelves on both sides. The near end, while somewhat claustrophobic, is at least accessible and the Christmas decorations, at least, are moved in and out annually. The rear half, however, is more of a mystery. There are trucks and barrels, some of which probably haven’t been opened since they were put there, as many as fifty years ago. It turns out that some of them were infiltrated by mice while others were not. Those that were are nearly or entirely a lost cause. Others, though, seem to have protected their contents which are still in virtually the same condition as when they were stored.
Rather than show you any of that, however, I’d decided to post this photo of a portion of the clouds that were forming as we drove home at about twenty to six.
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.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went for a drive this afternoon, going to a pond near Sunset Beach where we’ve seen alligators (Alligator mississippiensis). There was one close to the shore and I got a few pictures of it along with some water turtles. Then we drove back onto the island and to the east end, where I got some nice pictures of this great egret (Ardea alba) wading in the tidal marsh and finding fish in the shallows. We also walked on the beach at that end of the island and enjoyed the wind and the deeply colored, wine dark sea.
We had our first real snow of 2019 starting early yesterday afternoon. It showed a bit earlier in the week but didn’t accumulate at all. This time we ended up with about six inches on the ground this morning. It was a few degrees below freezing and the snow was quite pretty, although it was fairly heavy when I shoveled it off of the walk and driveway. This is a view up into the trees in our neighborhood and I really love the lines of dark bark and the white snow. We were out yesterday evening driving in it, which wasn’t a lot of fun, but it meant that we got to see our good friend, Karlee, so it was well worth it. Today we’re pretty much sticking around the house. Hopefully the roads will be clear by tomorrow, when Dorothy plans to leave for school. There wasn’t much snow north of here, so the majority of her trip shouldn’t be affected, in any case.
We got about six inches from late Saturday until midday Sunday. At that point I shoveled the walk and driveway and the picture from yesterday was taken about that time. Then it started snowing and was still coming down until about 11:00 PM. This morning we got up at about 5:30 and Dorothy planned to leave at 6:00 to drive back to school. There was an additional six to eight inches on the sidewalk ramp, so we got between 12 and 14 inches, I’d say. I got everything shoveled and the snow off of Dorothy’s car. In the end she waited until the sun had come up and left at about 8:00. Happily there was not much snow to our north and she had no problems getting back to Massachusetts. The sun came out later in the morning and it was quite beautiful out.
We’ve had a fair amount of rain lately. In fact, we had a really wet fall and winter so far. It normally rains more here in the winter months but, and I haven’t actually checked the specifics, this year seems worse than normal. There is still some snow, although the temperature has been above freezing. These two brass deer are in among Cathy’s potted plants at the top of our driveway. I like the way they are standing in the snow, looking out at the cleared portion of the drive. They seem pretty unconcerned by the cold. The forecast has a cold front moving in late tomorrow, with temperatures predicted to drop into the single digits tomorrow night.
We had a little snow squall today, starting a little after noon. The temperature was above freezing when it started and when this photo was taken from my office window. The issue wasn’t really with the amount of snow that we were forecast to get, which ranged from two to four inches. The problem was that the temperature was supposed to drop to about 15°F (-9°C) and all the water and slush on the roads would freeze. When it snows at those temperatures, the snow isn’t nearly as slick as snow just below freezing. But ice is pretty slick regardless. Anyway, we’ll see what this does to tomorrows school closings. Not that we care so much about those now. The main effect they have on us is the reduction in traffic for our commute.
The forecast was for snow and freezing rain overnight and the local school systems had already cancelled classes for today as early as yesterday evening. Nothing was coming down when we went to bed, just after midnight. When I got up this morning there was maybe as much as half an inch on the ground. I took a few pictures then out the front door. A little later, just before 9:00 AM, I took more pictures out the back door, including this one. By that point there was maybe a little more than two inches on the ground. By the time I’m actually posting this, about 2:00 PM, the snow has stopped falling and there is about five inches. I’m fortunate in that I can work from home without any trouble. I’d much rather take a day off and go for a walk in the snow, but they like me to work for my pay, so I work.
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.
There was snow in the forecast for this afternoon and this evening and we got it. Someone had said that we’d be getting two feet of snow, but nothing approaching that was ever in any official forecast that I saw. We got somewhere under a half inch and that only on grassy areas. The roadways we were on never had any accumulation. It’s also supposed to be colder this week, with temperatures in the mid 20s or even down into the teens one or two nights this week. The forecasters on the radio are breathlessly telling us about the “bitter cold“ weather we can expect. I’m sorry but I can’t get too exercised about temperatures around 20°F. I wouldn’t describe that as warm, of course. It’s cold, but definitely not “bitter cold.“ I’m happy with anything below zero being described as bitter. I might even grant “bitter“ status to single digit temperatures. But not low to mid twenties. Sorry.
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.
The cherry blossoms have really come out in force this week and my understanding is that the trees around the tidal basin downtown are in full bloom. They’re worth a visit but it can be quite an ordeal to get down there. Parking is generally impossible anywhere near the tidal basin so it’s much better to take the subway and just resign yourself to the fact that you’re going to do a bit of walking. They really are worth it. We haven’t been in quite a few years and this photo was taken beside one of the buildings on our company’s campus, rather than down town. As you can see, the flowers are white and there is only a hint of pink in the buds. Some have a little more pink than this but the cherries are not nearly as colorful as the crab apples, which I actually prefer by a wide margin.
The daffodils are about at their peak right now and will soon begin to fade. We have a few that are still getting ready to bloom for for the most part, they are open. These ‘Lemon Beauty’ daffodils were planted in the fall of 2014 so this is their fifth spring and they are doing quite well. They were planted in the bed around the Colorado spruce and were somewhat shaded by that but now that it’s gone, they’ll get more early spring sun, which they will appreciate, I suspect. The stump of the spruce is still there and I need to finish getting that up and then decide what to plan in its place. I’ve narrowed it down to a half dozen flowering trees but making the final decision is hard.
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.
On Sunday, as I mentioned, we went to Stadler Nursery in Laytonsville. Cathy bought a few things, including two Cleome plants, one white and one very pale pink. The white one, shown here, is called ‘Senorita Blanca’ and the other is ‘Senorita Mi Amor’. We’ve had Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ in the past and these are (I assume) related plants with different coloration. My understanding is that they are sterile and will not self-seed, which is both good and bad. Annuals that do self-seed can become a real nuisance and get out of control. But some, if they only just manage to hold on, are really nice. Nigela is a good example of the latter. In our experience, it just self-seeds enough that we have it for a few years before needing to plant more. Other annuals, of course, go totally native and sterile plants are a real boon.
I took a few pictures of butterfly weed flowers this evening and I might have posted one of them. A little later I noticed this white leafhopper and got a few pictures of it, including this reasonably sharp image. Getting a good picture was made more difficult by the breeze, which was moving the stem the planthopper was on, but this one turned out pretty well. It was sharp enough for it to be identified as a northern flatid planthopper (Flatormenis proxima), one of our more common planthoppers. They do little damage and I left him alone to get what he needed from this plant.
My back was up to a full day’s work today. Although there were a few rough spots I made it through, trying to get up now and then to move around (because “Motion is Lotion” as they say). When I got home I took pictures of various flowers in the back yard. I really thought it would be pushing it to get down on the ground for photography. I did for the caterpillar photo yesterday but getting back up was a chore. So, I sat in a chair and photographed what was all around, including blue Lobelia, butterfly weed, Lantana, and a few other flowers. I like the Cleome with the black-eyed Susan flowers behind it.
It’s turned cold, with morning temperatures in the mid 20s. We had our first hard freeze yesterday and today there was frost on the windscreen of my car. So, naturally I pulled out my camera and took a few pictures. These little ice crystals are pretty delicate and once I turned on the car, they melted pretty quickly (and I ran the windshield washer, which took care of them completely). As many of you know, I don’t mind cold weather too much. I wore a jacket a few times during our ten days in Juneau but that was as much for the rain as anything else. I’ll generally not bother unless it’s below about 15°F or I’m going to be outdoors for an extended period.
There was a heavy frost this morning and I took the time before going to work to get some photos. That meant lying on the ground which was a bit cold and decidedly damp, but I knew I’d dry out before I got to work, so I wasn’t worried. I think ice crystals are pretty cool (no pun intended) and these are pretty nice. I’d like to have gotten closer but I didn’t have the time to get out the ultra-close-up equipment, so this was about as good as I could get.
After yesterday’s snowfall, today promised to be quite nice. Cool but clear. There were still some clouds when we left for work today but between them, the sun was shining and making all the show quite dazzling this morning. I really like snow on branches and took quite a few photos this morning before we left for work. As mentioned yesterday, local schools were on a two hour delay so we didn’t have any problems with traffic. The roads were all clear and mostly dry, although it’s my understanding that in the northern and western parts of the county it was a bit icier. This wasn’t the sort of snow storm that paralyzes the region. We still have plenty of time this winter for something like that, though.
The star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) is a really nice flowering tree, relatively slow growing but eventually getting up to about 20 feet tall and nearly as wide. It flowers rather early in the spring and it’s not uncommon, at least here, for the blooms to be killed by a late frost. We’ve been spared that this year and they are blooming all over right now. The generally later saucer magnolia (Magnolia × soulangeana) is starting to bloom around the neighborhood, also. There are some cherries blooming and the daffodils are coming out in great numbers. It’s a pretty time of year.
Our spiraea is in bloom and it’s really pretty as a background plant. It’s flowers are small but borne in a profusion of white. There are little bits of green in the flowers, but that can really only be seen close up. Spiraea prunifolia, bridal wreath spiraea, is a native of China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan and has been introduced in much of eastern North America. Interestingly, this double-flowered plant has the species name while the single-flowered variety, discovered later, is classified as a variety or form of the species. The name of the genus Spiraea comes from the Greek word speira meaning wreath.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
It’s kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa) time in the neighborhood. These trees bloom later than the native flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) and in general have fewer problems here. They make quite handsome trees of a good size for a suburban yard. They flowers are followed by interesting fruit so they have two seasons of interest, which is nice. They also have interesting bark. The main thing, though, is that they aren’t killed by dogwood anthracnose, which is pretty hard on the C. florida trees. C. kousa is also a bit hardier, although that’s not a real issue here. But the disease problem really is.
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 suppose you could say these are late summer flowers, rather than fall flowers, but there’s no hard line between summer and fall. The black-eyed Susans are summer flowers and are just finishing up. There are still quite a few of them blooming but not nearly so many as there were. The autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is just about in full bloom, as is the blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum). The blackberry lily (Iris domestica), which blooms in early summer, is nearly in seed. All together, it makes a pretty nice combination of colors and textures.