The forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) are in full bloom in our garden. They self-seed and many of them are growing out in the grass. Cathy has dug a few up to replant in the garden beds where they won’t get mowed over. We both really love the powder blue of the forget-me-nots and are happy when the start to bloom. The buds are purple and the flowers, as they start to open, turn from a pinkish purple to the pure blue of the fully-formed flowers. You can see one transitioning at the right in this photo. The yellow “eye” in the center of each bloom turns white as the flower ages.
Tagged With: Herbaceous Perennial
Weeds are incredible. They grow so fast, are hard to get rid of, and can easily take over your yard. I’ve mentioned that last year we didn’t do a lot of gardening and the weeds got the upper hand. This spring they are coming up in force. In the big patch of lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) the Canada thistle Cirsium arvense was so thick you could barely see the lily of the valley. I spent the morning pulling it up and it looks so much better. I also dug up some pokeweed (Phytolacca americana). That’s what is photographed here, leaves and root of pokeweed (and you can see a little Canada thistle at the top). This huge root was a bit of work to get out. I’m not naive enough to believe it won’t come back from the small amount of root left in the ground, but getting this huge root out is a necessary first step.
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.
This butterfly weed, Asclepias curassavica, is also known as blood flower. Cathy recently bought a few plants in both orange (this one) and all yellow. Sadly, it is not hardy enough for in-ground planting as a perennial here, but it should do well in containers and brighten up the back patio. This one is in a container right outside our kitchen door and looks great against the green backdrop of Rudbekia growing around the patio. I especially like the bi-color nature of this one, although the all-yellow variety is nice, too.
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.
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.
Cathy, Margaret, and I went to Brookside Gardens this afternoon. It was such a wonderfully beautiful day we were not surprised by the number of people there. Nevertheless, we were able to find a parking spot and wonder around the garden for a while. We often go there in the spring, when early flowers are in bloom. I would recommend that highly but this was a different experience. We rarely come in August because it’s so brutally hot. Today was in the mid-70s, though, and absolutely lovely. The summer flowering plants were at their best and we really enjoyed the gardens. The conservatory is always nice, of course, and this photo of a bird of paradise flower (Strelitzia reginae) was taken there. I’ve often thought about growing one of these but never got around to it. They are, apparently, fairly easy to grow, although they couldn’t take our winters and would need to come inside when it gets cold.
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.
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.
This is Ficaria verna, formerly known as Ranunculus ficaria, commonly called the fig buttercup or lesser celandine. It is a weed and is listed as a noxious weed by a bunch of states and banned in at least two. It’s growing wild in the area around the pond next to my building. I’ve had enough experience with invasive weeds that I understand the desire to keep them out so I wouldn’t ever plant this. Nevertheless, I can appreciate the beautiful, bright yellow flowers. It is a tuberous rooted, herbaceous perennial native to western and central Asia and Europe. After flowering, the leaves die back by early summer and the plant goes dormant until the next spring.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last year, after getting rid of the stump from the Colorado spruce that I cut down, we planted a hawthorn to one side of the bed and Cathy planted some perennials as well. Two of them are a variety of Spanish lavender (Lavandula stoechas) called ‘Anouk Supreme’. They are blooming now and they are quite lovely.
Each individual inflorescence is nice, as you can see here, and overall the entire plant is really nice, with lots of blooms. The individual flowers are a very deep purple and the bracts at the top are only slightly less intense. Both the leaves and the flowers give off that wonderful lavender aroma that we’re all so familiar with.
We haven’t done terribly well with plants like this in the past but I think this is a good location for them. If they do well, I’d be happy to get a couple more. We also have a rosemary that we might put here with them. This species of lavender is native to the Mediterranean countries including France, Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.
One of the plants Cathy bought on our annual Mother’s Day trip to the nursery (a week early this year) was this blood flower, Asclepias curassavica ‘Silky Red’. As you can see, the colors are pretty intense. This species of butterfly weed is native to the Caribbean and Central and South America and is only winter hardy to USDA zones 9 to 11, so we grow it as an annual here but it’s worth it. The butterflies and other insects love it and even without that, it’s just a beautiful flower. If you have a very bright indoor location (or a heated greenhouse!) then you could bring it in for the winter, but we just start new each year.
Here’s another of the plants we bought a while back from Fehr’s Nursery. It’s a strawflower called ‘Basket Yellow’. Also known as everlasting flower, the official binomial is Xerochrysum bracteatum although it was formerly included in the genus Helichrysum or Bracteantha. It’s a tender, short-lived perennial native to Australia and treated as an annual here and we have two. This one is pure yellow and the other is red and orange, which is pretty nice. We’ll put them in pots on the back patio and they’ll give us color right through the summer. The flowers, not surprisingly, last a long time. I wonder if that’s where they get their name?
This is yet another tender perennial grown here as an annual. It’s a non-vining, morning glory-like plant native to Brazil. It’s a member of the convolvulus family (a.k.a. the bindweed or morning glory family, Convolvulaceae) but it doesn’t twine and the genus, Evolvulus, means to untwist or unravel. This variety, ‘Blue My Mind’, has beautiful, pale, sky-blue flowers about an inch across. This does really well in hanging baskets or other containers and that’s where this is destined to go, but so far it’s among the plants waiting to be potted up.
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.
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.
We’ve had strawflower (Xerochrysum bracteatum) each of the last few years and I really like it quite a lot. Also known as everlasting flower, it provides color over a really long period. The central part of the flower turns dark but the almost woody bracts keep their color. This year, we happened to come across this bright red variety. I have to say, it’s really a stunner. The yellow one is nice, but this one is just amazing. I think maybe next year I’ll get more than one. I don’t know that I could get tired of this color.
This bellflower (Campanula latifolia) has been coming up in our back garden for quite a few years. It’s on the edge of the central bed that we’ve been trying to rejuvenate and it seems to be doing well enough. I think we should encourage it because it’s a really lovely flower. As it is, we get four or five stems and I certainly wouldn’t mind a couple dozen. The Missouri Botanical Garden says it “spreads freely and agressively by both rhizomes and self-seeding under optimum growing conditions.” I’d say our growing conditions are not optimum, then, because it’s keeping itself to itself.
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.
Over the years I’ve thought about selling photos as stock but I never really got into it. I’m not really sure if I’d actually make any money at it. I sort of doubt it, honestly. I know that now and then I get a reasonably good photo and I certainly enjoy both taking and looking at them. But whether they are actually suitable for stock is another matter. And of course it isn’t just that. They would have to be found among the hundreds of thousands of other stock photos. I’m sure there are ways to increase your chances but I’m not sure I care enough. So, I’ll just stick to what I do and occasionally post a photo with an attempt at a clever title. This is stock, Matthiola incana.
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).
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.
I took Dorothy to the airport this morning. It was raining so the traffic was a bit slow but other wise no problem. It continued to rain the rest of the day and I only got out for a little while to take pictures. These are canna leaves with water droplets on them. The canna is (her the Missouri Botanical Garden’s Plant Finder):
a genus of around 10 species of rhizomatous, tropical and subtropical, herbaceous perennials that produce flower spikes in summer atop erect stems sheathed in large paddle-shaped leaves. Cultivars are available with colorful foliage and flowers in a range of warm colors including red, orange, yellow, pink, and creamy white.
Cathy planted two canna lilies this spring in a container on the back patio. Our patio is generally nice in the summer, with a collection of plants in containers as well as the black-eyed Susans that surround it. This year is, I think, the best it’s ever been. This canna lily is part of the reason. It’s so bright and especially when back-lit, the dark leaves add an additional contrast. The patio is a riot of colors, with the Pelargonium right behind the canna and with all sorts of other flowers of a wide variety of colors. Definitely nice to have. We’re so fortunate.
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.
This yellow Asclepias has been blooming pretty must constantly all summer. It’s really quite amazing. Others bloomed for a while and then went to seed, which is what you sort of expect, but this one just keeps putting out new buds, which open into these lovely, pure, yellow flowers. As you can see, it also has seeds. This in on our back patio and it won’t make it through the winter (unless it’s exceptionally mild, of course). It’s only really hardy to USDA Zone 9. But growing it as an annual is really worth it. Highly recommended.
Dorothy, Cathy, and I walked on the Seneca Greenway Trail this afternoon, parking where MD 28 crosses Seneca Creek and walking downstream. We only saw a few other people and it was a very pleasant walk. It’s relatively flat, with only a few ups and downs to deal with. The birds were out in force and we heard them all around, although we weren’t stopping to see them so much and didn’t really get very close to any. I did stop to take a few photos, including of this fig buttercup, also known as lesser celandine. It was formerly classified as Ranunculus ficaria but is now Ficaria verna. It’s an invasive, non-native species that grows in many of our wetlands.
After going to Fehr’s Nursery in Burtonsville, we stopped for lunch as a Cuban place on the way home. We could have picked a better day for it, as it was jammed for Mothers Day and it took us over an hour to get sandwiches. We’ll probably give them another try on a less busy day, but it was a bit off-putting. We drove to Woodlawn Manor and ate our sandwiches in the shade of one of their lovely trees. Then we walked around and I took a few photos, including a couple of the bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) and Siberian bugloss (Brunnera macrophylla, similar to forget-me-not) growing together under an America holly (Ilex opaca). Quite pretty, don’t you think?
A few weeks ago we went to Stadler’s with our friend Yvette to buy a few plants for her. She wanted to plant something in memory of her nephew and wanted something blue. She settled on a balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus), which is actually more blue to the eye than it appears here. It’s a really pretty perennial that should do well as long as it’s got the right amount of water. We bought one, too, and have it in a container outside our front door, greeting us with these big, sky blue flowers, and reminding us of Jack, as well. It’s native to the northern far-east and is quite hardy and easily grown. The only thing to watch out for is wet or poorly-drained soils (which is why growing it in a container is easier for us).
I stopped at the Croyden Creek Nature Center on the way home, figuring there might be something to photograph there. The swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) was just starting to bloom and I took a few pictures of that with bees on it. Around the other side of the nature center there was some Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum) coming up. It’s a native, herbaceous perennial and I find it sort of humorous that garden centers actually are able to sell it, since it grows wild around here. I don’t know who Joe Pye was but I’ve seen one story that he was a Native American medicine man who used the plant for various treatments. Anyway, I was attracted to the symmetry of the leaves and the way the light was shining on them at the top of the stem.
While not a native, common yarrow (Achillea millefolium) was introduced to North America in colonial times, and has since naturalized throughout the United States. It’s considered by some to be an invasive weed, although we’ve never had a lot of luck with it surviving in our garden. This specimen is a cultivar being grown in the Master Gardener’s demonstration garden at the Agricultural History Farm Park and it’s a lovely color. It certainly makes me interested in giving it another try. There are paler versions, as well and some really nice yellows. We have plenty of yellows, though, so I think I might go for something like this.
Cathy and I were out in Poolesville today, to drop something off for someone. After that we decided to see if the bluebells have started blooming along Seneca Creek. It is definitely a bit early for the full show, but there was enough to see that we were glad we went. In addition to bluebells, which I’d say were somewhere around 5% open, there were trout lilies (Erythronium americanum), spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), and possibly my favorite spring ephemeral, bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis). They bloom very briefly and the flowers are very delicate, so seeing them at their peak is a real treat. Outside their short blooming period they are easily identified by their deeply-scalloped, palmate leaves, but you have to keep your eyes open, because they aren’t very flashy. The flowers are pure white, as you can see here, with beautiful, yellow stamens.
Cathy and I went to the airport this morning to pick up Dorothy and then dropped her off in Bethesda, where she had left her car. Although it’s a little early for most azaleas, we decided to visit McCrillis Gardens, since we were near by. A few azaleas and rhododendrons were in bloom and there were other things to see. Fern fiddleheads were unrolling, there was quite a bit of Solomon seal (Polygonatum species). In the middle of the yard, under a large tree, there is a huge mound of bleeding heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis). It’s quite pretty and we probably should plant some, if for no other reason than that it would fill in some of the gap between the early bulbs and the later spring blooms.
We came to Juneau expecting rain. The weather for the last few weeks has been rain for about six days out of every seven. We woke up this morning to a clear, blue sky. After breakfast, we headed out with Brian, Lisa, and the dogs to the airport flats. This is the delta of the Mendenhall River, which has basically silted up most of the channel separating Douglas Island from the mainland. There is still a small channel that’s still got water in it, even at low tide, although an annual ‘Mud Run’ crosses the channel, so it’s not terribly deep. The flats are a good place to walk the dogs and we enjoyed being out. I got a nice photo of a savannah sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) and we saw lots of lupine as well as many chocolate lilies (Fritillaria camschatcensis). They are pretty, in a brown sort of way, although I can’t recommend their fragrance, in particular. They are native to eastern Asia, Alaska, Yukon Territory, British Columbia and the far northwestern contiguous United States.
We’re back home from our grand Alaska adventure (or whatever you like to call it) and I thought I’d photograph the various things blooming in the yard. One of the best is this Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. There are something like 7 species in the genus Crocosmia that come from the South African grasslands. The variety named ‘Lucifer’ is a hybrid by Alan Bloom (Crocosmia x Curtonus) which has flowers and foliage that are similar to gladiolus. As you can see, it has scarlet red, tubular, one-sided flowers borne along arching flower scapes. It’s one of our favorite summer blooms and every year I mean to do a little better at giving them support, although they only barely need it. We started with one or two plants and I’ve added a few more over time, so we have a nice clump of them in our front bed. We’re glad we got home while they were blooming. They attract hummingbirds, as well as the more common pollinators, which is an added treat.