If snowdrops signal the end of winter, then crocuses signal the beginning of spring for me. None of the bulbs planted last fall have started to come up yet but that’s usual. Those planted two years ago are coming up and these, which were planted in the fall of 2006, are looking good.
Tagged With: Spring
The First Scilla
The white crocuses and this white squill started blooming yesterday. The binomial is Scilla mischtschenkoana which has to be in the running for the word with the most consecutive consonants. Anyway, it’s a pretty little thing. Some daffodils started blooming today, but I can only post one picture here, so you’ll have to wait. I have a feeling you’ll be getting sick of my flower pictures before too long.
These are tiny flowers, with stamens about a centimeter long. They are the flowers of a maple of some sort (I think) and they were beautiful in the afternoon sun.
The forsythia in our back yard started blooming today. It’s a day or two behind the bushes in our neighbor’s yard because it’s not in as much sun, but it’s still nice and bright when in bloom.
I’m not a big fan of hyacinths in general. They’re pretty enough but they smell quite awful. Some people like it, I guess but it’s too much for me. Anyway, they are pretty cheery in the garden.
I thought I’d try some extreme close-up shots today. I can’t say they are award winning pictures but after all, the challenge was to post a picture a day, not to win any awards. Anyway, Chionodoxa, or glory-of-the-snow, is one of my favorite flowers.
These are the flowers on a small tree. Not sure what. Adds a nice touch of yellow to the otherwise mostly brown woods, though.
I thought I’d post another hyacinth photo, now that they are fully open. Julia, this one’s for you.
We’ve had some little daffodils out for a while but now all the larger varieties are starting to bloom. These were given to my by a good friend and were planted the fall after we moved into our house (2006) so they are well established and thriving.
These newly emerged leaves were beautiful against the blue sky this afternoon. I sure love color.
My dad had a maidenhair fern growing for years and when we bought our first house I dug up a small bit from the edge. When we moved I took some from that and it’s now well established in our yard here. So, this is “dad’s maidenhair fern.” (Adiantum pedatum)
Adiantum pedatum (Northern Maidenhair Fern)
Ages ago my dad planted a maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) in his back yard. I think he dug it up somewhere or other but I’m not 100% sure of that. It grew quite well there and when we had our house in Gaithersburg he let me dig up a piece of it and plant it in our yard. I’m glad we did that because when my parents finally got an air conditioner in their house the condenser unit went where the fern had been. I dug up a piece from our house in Gaithersburg and kept it in a pot until we bought our current house (a year later), when I planted it here. It is thriving in a fairly sunny spot outside our dining room window.
The northern maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum, is one of the prettiest of our native ferns. It is widely spread throughout the eastern half of the United States north of Florida, as well as Ontario and Quebec in Canada. In the spring, reddish brown fiddleheads emerge from the ground and unroll in typical ferny fashion. The stems turn a glossy black providing a dark background to the lush, bright green foliage. The plant I have has had an interesting journey and I enjoy it’s connection to my dad, who had it growing in he back yard. From there a piece made it into our garden at our previous house, then some of that lived in a pot while we rented for a year, and it’s become very well established since we moved here almost ten years ago.
Frond of Maidenhair
I’m quite frond of ferns in general and of the northern maidenhair fern, Adiantum pedatum in particular. As I said less than a week ago, I think it is one of the prettiest of our native ferns. This is the same plant that I photographed then. I usually try not to post pictures of the same thing in the same season of the same year. That is, I might post pictures of daffodils each spring but I try not to repeat the same daffodil variety within one spring. But this photo is different enough that I think it’s justified. The fronds (that’s fern for leaves) are unrolling and the leaflets are starting to expand, opening out from the rachises. Quite dainty.
Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
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.
Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
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.
As mentioned in yesterday’s post, the winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) is blooming here. I only have two small plants but the seem to be growing a small amount each year. Mom has a nice, dense patch of them near the foot of the driveway and I love seeing them at this time of the year. They are in the family Ranunculaceae (the buttercup family) and are very reliable, very long lived little plnts. They are, I’m afraid, fairly slow to get established and I haven’t had huge success with them. Still, thase that did make it are here for the long haul.
Lenten Rose ‘Mango Magic’
The Lenten roses are just starting to bloom. This one, called ‘Mango Magic’, is the earliest of them (this year, at any rate). This one was planted in the fall of 2014 and it doing quite well. Another planted at the same time is taking its time getting going but seems to be doing better than last year. I have a bunch that Brady gave me that were being thrown away after being thinned out when she worked at Brookside Gardens. Those are nearly white. The largest of the Hellebores that I have, the first to be planted shortly after we moved here, is quite massive and has deep, wine-colored flowers in great profusion. I particularly like that one with the sun is shining through the petals.
This is the older Lenten rose I mentioned the other day (see Thursday, March 1, 2018). It was brought in a pot from our yard in Gaithersburg and lived in that pot for a year while we rented and until we moved into our current house. It was one of the first things we planted when we moved here so it’s quite well established. There is some bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) next to it that really needs to be moved so it doesn’t get smothered by this giant thing. This giant thing could also be split into three or four without doing it much harm. The hellebores are tough plants native to the Caucasus.
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
With a specific name like Turdus migratorius, you might thing the American robin is only here part of the year. After all, migratorius implies it migrates. Well, it does. Nevertheless, for the overwhelming part of the 48 contiguous states, the robin is a year-round fixture. Their summer breeding grounds extend from the southern states (and include the mountains of central Mexico) to cover all but the most arctic portions of Canada. In the winter they move south, with their northern limit right around the U.S.-Canadian border. So, if you live in Canada, their arrival is a sure sign of spring. The birds we see in the summer may not be the birds we see in the winter but frankly, they all look pretty much alike. We often see them eating berries on the holly in our front yard. This time of year, as it begins to warm up, they are active pulling up worms, as this one was doing before being so rudely interrupted by me.
Nobody Here But Us Chickens
As I mentioned yesterday, Dorothy is home for spring break and brought four friends with her. Today we drove out to our friends farm in the outskirts of Poolesville. The chicken’s are not really a featured attraction and visitors are not supposed to wander out into the field with the animals. One advantage of being friends with the owners, however, is a little more latitude when it comes to where we are allowed. The kids (and I’m counting Cathy among them) enjoyed catching chickens and putting them back inside the enclosure. Here are John, Cathy, and Grace, each with a chicken.
This is one of my favorite little, spring bulbs. I don’t think I could ever have too many Scilla and Chionodoxa bulbs in my yard. I currently have two species of each. This is the less common of the two Scilla, with the other being the much bluer Scilla siberica. The flowers of the Chionodoxa species are similar but are more upward facing. One of those is pink and the other a really beautiful blue. These are mostly white with just a small amount of blue down the middle of each petal.
Double Lenten Rose
This is the first real flower I’ve had on this Lenten Rose. It sort of bloomed last year but the flower was somewhat deformed and was missing more than half its petals. This year it’s got a serious flower and I think this may become one of my favorites. Off hand I don’t remember the variety name but I should be able to track it down somewhere. As you can see, it’s a double flowered variety and the pink edges to the petals is quite nice. This is under the trees right out back and when it gets a bit larger it will be very obvious this time of year.
Update: I looked up the variety and it’s Helleborus ‘Rose Quartz’ (although the order actually said Rose Quarts).
I took my camera with me to a meeting across campus and then spent a little time taking pictures on the way back. The Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) is starting to leaf out and in spite of the fact that it’s quite likely that we’ll have another freeze, it’s not at all bothered. It’s pretty well suited for cold and a light freeze or two isn’t going to do it any harm. This little insect, however, may be jumping the gun a bit. I don’t know, really. Perhaps it, too, has ways to deal with late freezes. I know some of my followers think it a bit funny that I try to identify all the plants and animals in my posts with their Latin names. You’ll be happy to know that I have no idea what sort of insect this is and I’m going to leave it at that.
Snow in March isn’t that unusual here. Of course, if you listen to the radio this week you might not get that impression. I heard a report that breathlessly told us how long its been since we had a snow like this was forecast to be this late in the year. Well, that’s possible, I suppose. A couple problems. Most importantly, the actual snowfall didn’t live up to the hype. We got maybe four inches of very wet snow. I remember a snowfall on March 18 not that long ago that was two or three times worse. But it’s March 21, which is, as I’m sure you can figure out, later in the year than March 18. Not by a lot, though. Anyway, as usual, much ado about not much. Quite pretty, actually.
Star Magnolia Bud
The house Cathy grew up in has two star magnolias (Magnolia stellata) in the front yard. They bloom early and their petals are quite tender so it’s actually more common for them to be frost damaged than not. The snow and cold we had yesterday has done a little damage to the petals, as you can see on this bud. Nevertheless, if it doesn’t get cold again, this tree could put on a wonderful show in a week or so. But we aren’t out of the woods yet, in terms of frost and there’s plenty of time for these blooms to be wiped out. They’re lovely as they are, of course, but on the rare occasion the trees bloom without any petal burn, they are quite spectacular.
Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’
The Chionodoxa forbesii ‘Pink Giant’ has begun to bloom in the shady northern corner of our yard. It’s more shady later in the year, when the oak that is over it has leaves. This time of year it gets a fair amount of sun from mid morning through early afternoon. This is a pretty little plant, barely showing itself over the Pachysandra terminalis (Japanese pachysandra). There are some others coming up, as well. And our early, small daffodils are in bloom. In spite of the snow we had last week, it’s really starting to look, if not to feel, like spring.
Since last week’s snow, it’s been relatively balmy and spring-like. The daffodils were already coming up when the snow came, with a few already in bloom. Now, a little more than a week later, they are bursting into bloom all over. Shortly we’ll have great drifts of yellow where the highway department has planted them alongside roadways. Front yards will be sporting the beautiful yellow flowers, dancing in the breeze (a la William Wordsworth). This little one is the earliest in our yard, to be followed shortly by the much larger and dare I say quintessential ‘Marieke’, along our front walk.
Depending on which computer I use to look at this picture, these hyacinth flowers sometimes look a lot bluer than they are in real life. Other monitors show them the way they looked. If they look blue to you, take my word for it that they are a very strong, electric purple with just a bit of blue on near the base of the flowers. Nevertheless, they look quite nice as blue flowers, too. I’m not a huge fan of hyacinths, mostly because they are so strongly sweet smelling. I don’t mind them in the garden but I don’t want them brought into the house. Every year I take at least one set of pictures of them, though, and think of our friend who loves them. Here’s one for you, Julia.
Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)
Eight days ago (see Friday, March 23, 2018) I posted a picture of a star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) bud. I commented that the petals were slightly burned by the cold but that in about a week or so the flowers should be open and if there is not another serious frost, they would look wonderful. Well, we haven’t had another significant frost and the tree does, indeed, look great. You can see a little burning on the tip of a petal or two but overall, they don’t look at all bad. It was an absolutely beautiful Saturday with a rich, blue sky and the star magnolia petals, mostly white touched with pink, were lovely.
This isn’t a great picture but I’m pretty pleased with these daffodils. It’s a variety called ‘Arkle’ and I planted them in the fall of 2014, making this their fourth spring in our yard. They are still just getting established, with two or occasionally three blooms per bulb in contrast to those that have been here for ten years or so, which have five of six per bulb. Nevertheless, these are lovely, huge, bright yellow flowers on tall, strong stems and I’m happy to have them. These were bought in 2014 in two orders totaling 535 bulbs, the last, large order I’ve made.
The cherry trees around here often bloom over a fairly wide range of dates, with some finishing up before others even get started. There are trees in full bloom and others that are barely showing any buds. I was at the school today (Dorothy’s high school) and on the way out passed a few that were pretty close to being in full bloom. So, I stopped and took some pictures. It rained off and on today, so the flowers were wet and the sky behind the tree was white, rather than any sort of contrasting blue. Still, the pale pink of the flowers is quite nice. Interestingly, the tree next to this has noticeably darker pink flowers. Close up, it isn’t so obvious but when looking at the trees next to each other, it’s easy to see.
I’ve planted a fair amount of this around the yard but I’m not sure I could ever have too much of it. Chionodoxa forbesii, commonly called glory of the snow, is a beautiful, little early spring bulb. Although the daffodils have started blooming and they overlap with this, these are going to be done well before the daffodils. The Latin genus, Chionodoxa, comes from the Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory. This reflects their very early flowering, often when snow is still on the ground. The specific epithet, forbesii, honors James Forbes (1773-1861), the British botanist who was employed as the gardener for the Duke of Bedford at Woburn Abbey.
I love this beautiful, little bulb. Along with the similar (and related) Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) species, it’s an early, generally blue-flowered bulb. It’s also a very welcome sign of spring. Not as early as the Eranthis or the Galanthus (snow drops, both of which start blooming here in February, it’s still a great thing to see coming up, especially when you have a late snow, as we did this year. Scilla siberica, commonly called Siberian squill, is native to Southern Russia and is hardy as far north as USDA Zone 2. Like Chionodoxa, it has small, mostly blue flowers but they are generally much more thoroughly blue. The other obvious difference is that they open facing downward while Chionodoxa flowers generally face up. If you don’t have any in your yard, I highly recommend them. Buy a bunch this fall and get them in the ground. You’ll be enjoying them for years to come.
This is among the first things I planted when we moved here eleven years ago. These bulbs and a few others were given to me by a good friend as payment for taking some family photos for her. They’ve done very well between our front walk and the house and always give good value. Daffodils have some exceptional qualities. For one thing, they are very reliable, coming up every spring without so much as a peep of complaint. A late freeze or snow fall doesn’t bother them, the deer and rabbits leave them alone, and every year the clumps get larger, eventually growing together into drifts that brighten a rainy spring day. What’s not to like?
Helleborus ‘Red Racer’
One of my favorite things is the color of flower petals (or leaves, for that matter) with the sun shining through them. Even flowers that are beautiful on their own, like this Lenten rose (a Helleborus called ‘Red Racer’) are even more lovely lit from behind. At least that’s my opinion. I bought two of these from McClure & Zimmerman in the fall of 2014 but they no longer list it on their web site. I bought three others at the same time, two ‘Rose Quartz’ and one ‘Mango Magic’. We also have some white or nearly white varieties that we got from Brady when Brookside Gardens was replacing them with something else.
I hope you’re enjoying the spring flowers. I know some of my followers are in the south and your flowers started earlier and your daffodils may be finished by now. Others are to the north and the daffodils are only just getting started. The early dafs are done here but there are quite a few still in full bloom and one or two that are yet to come. This is a large, bright yellow daffodil called ‘Arkle’ that I planted in the fall of 2014. This being only their fourth year here, they are not as well established as the very similar ‘Marieke’ planted five years earlier. Still, they’re putting on quite a show.
The is the other of my unknown daffodil varieties. Like the one pictured three days ago, these bulbs were given to me by a friend and I didn’t make note of the variety name. They were planted in the fall of 2006 and are doing quite well. This particular variety, unfortunately, has a bad habit of not always opening. Also, when they do, as they mostly did this year, if it rains the flowers are too heavy for the stalks and they all droop. But when they are open and upright, they are quite nice. I was happy we got to enjoy them at their best this year.
Thalictrum thalictroides (Rue Anemone)
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.
Narcissus ‘Lemon Beauty’
The daffodils are generally past their peak but there are a few that are still going strong. These pretty, mostly white daffodils, called ‘Lemon Beauty’ are later than some and still look quite good. I planted them in the fall of 2014 and they seem to have settled in well enough. They are on the western side of a bed that is around a nearly dead Colorado spruce (Picea pungens). I need to cut the tree down and replace it with something more ornamental (and what isn’t more ornamental then a mostly dead spruce?). But the daffodils can stay, of course. I bought these bulbs from John Scheepers. Their description of this variety, is:
Lemon Beauty is a rapturous 4″ Lefeber Papillion-type with a bright ivory-white perianth accented by a radiant, star shaped lemon-yellow heart. Narcissus Class: Split-Cup Papillon (Royal Horticultural Society Division 11). Bulb size: 14/16 cm. April. 16″. HZ: 4-8.
This is a little columbine (Aquilegia) plant that Dorothy potted up. It’s a very little thing but has two, beautiful blooms, one of which is shown here. Cathy moved it to the concrete bench outside our front door (which we call the stone table, with apologies to C. S. Lewis). So it greets us as we go out and welcomes us back when we go in. We have a few plants scattered around the yard but those in the ground are not blooming yet.
Our second cherry tree is in full bloom. The two trees are different varieties and are quite different from each other. The first to bloom has small, single, pale pink flowers. This one, which blooms two to four weeks later, has large, frilly, double flowers of a much more vibrant pink. It’s also a healthy tree. The first to bloom is slowly dying. Each year, another branch goes. I’ve planted an apple tree not too far from the dying cherry and that will eventually will take its place. There is a second apple behind this cherry. They are ‘Goldrush’ and ‘Arkansas BLack’, the former a late-maturing yellow apple and the latter a dark red.
Snow Drops (Galanthus nivalis)
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.
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.
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.
Lenten Rose ‘Rose Quartz’
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.
The forsythia is starting to bud. As I write this, a week after the photo was taken, the buds have opened and the flowers are out. Spring can move quickly at times and when we have a warm spell, as we do at some point most years, buds open quickly. We often then have a frost that can kill back some of the more tender plants a bit. The early flowering star magnolia, with its fleshy, succulent petals, is generally one of the hardest hit. Other plants, like most early bulbs, the Lenten rose, and the forsythia, are better able to cope with a little cold, and generally just stop briefly, only to continue once it warms back up.
Windflower (Anemone blanda)
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 had some car trouble today. My van, which has just over 269,000 miles on it, started making a terrible grinding noise when I put on the breaks. I thought, I don’t care, bad breaks aren’t going to stop me! But seriously, there are car repairs you can put off and car repairs you can’t put off. Brakes are in the latter category. After having Cathy meet me at the mechanic’s we stopped at the commuter parking lot near the ICC and I took some pictures of the cherry blossoms.
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).
Cathy and Daffodils
After church this week, for the third week in a row, we walked over to the Stadtman Preserve to see the bulbs. The daffodils are pretty spectacular and entire sections of hillside are yellow with them. The Chionodoxa is still in bloom and there are areas completely dotted with their pretty, blue flowers. I took pictures of Cathy in a few different spots but I had only brought one lens, the 100mm, which wasn’t really idea for that sort of portraiture. This one turned out pretty well, though. Spring it definitely here and we’re loving it.
The hyacinths are in bloom. They aren’t as perfectly formed spikes of flowers as we’ve had some years, but they’re still pretty nice. I don’t care for the sickeningly sweet smell of hyacinths abut they look nice and as long as they’re out in the yard, I don’t mind. There are a few deep, rich, purple hyacinths just starting to bloom, as well, but those are even less full than the pink. Still, they make a nice contrast and look especially good with the yellow of daffodils. Sadly, the daffodils in the back yard are late enough they they won’t bloom at the same time, at least not this year.
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.
More Cherry Blossoms
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.
Cathy and Daffodils
This was our fourth Sunday in a row to enjoy the flowers at the Stadtman Preserve. Don’t be too surprised if we’re there again next week. Since daffodils only last so long, I’m going to continue to post pictures while the do. In addition to hundreds of daffodils of many sorts and shades of yellow and orange, the P.J.M. Rhododendrons are really starting to bloom. We also found one bloodroot plant (Sanguinaria canadensis) with a few blossoms. There were spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) and cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata) and a few mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum).
I’m posting this out of order but I was looking back at the pictures I took on Sunday and decided I should add this one. Remember, just because I say I’ll take at least one picture every day, I’m not limited to posting only one picture per day. After church and our visit to the Stadtman Preserve we went to my mom’s to get one more document with some numbers I needed for her tax return. Before we left Cathy and I walked over to a small grove of saucer magnolias growing near by. The saucer magnolia is a hybrid, known as Magnolia x soulangeana and is a cross between M. denudata and M. liliiflora. According to the Missouri Botanical Garden, the specific epithet “honors Chevalier Etienne Soulange-Bodin (1774-1846), Director of the French Royal Institute, who crossed this hybrid in the early 1800s.”
Azure (Celastrina sp.)
I saw my first butterfly of the year today. I know there are generally some out even earlier than this, but this is the first I’ve spotted. I’m pretty sure it’s an azure (Celastrina sp.) but the various species are difficult to tell apart and I’m not even going to try to figure out which it is. It’s a pretty, little thing, with a wingspan of only a little over an inch. This is a small butterfly and it took a bit of patience to get close enough to get this photo. Still, it was nice to see and the harbinger of things to come. As you know, if you’ve followed my work for any length of time, flowers and insects are two of my favorite subjects for photography and we’re coming into the best time for both.
Narcissus ‘Lemon Beauty’
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.
Rain on Hosta
It rained today and there was water on the the plants in the yard. The forecast was for a chance of rain all through the weekend but (as I write this on Monday) it turned out to be fairly nice. I really love the pattern of water on plant leaves, in any case, and these fresh, young leaves of hosta in a pot on our patio are such a beautiful, vivid green I couldn’t resist them. I also took pictures of water on Columbine flowers and leave and on a really pretty bracket fungus that was growing on the decaying roots of an oak tree that the county removed a few years ago.
Tulip ‘Van Eijk’
In the fall of 2009 and again in 2010 I bought a pretty good number of bulbs from McClure and Zimmerman (https://www.mzbulb.com/). In each of those orders they threw in five tulip of the variety ‘Van Eijk’. There are still ten plants growing where I planted them although we only have six blooms this year. Tulips are not terribly long-lived plants, certainly not in our area, anyway, so the fact that these are still blooming after 8 or nine years is pretty good. They’re quite bright and a sea of them would be more impressive than the six I have, of course. In general, though, I’m more a fan of daffodils, which seem to live forever and form large clumps over time.
There are still a few daffodils blooming at the Stadtman Preserve but most of them are finished. The P.J.M. Rhododendrons are also a little past their peak and are dropping flowers on the ground around them, as you can see here. There are pink and white deciduous azaleas blooming now and there are spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) by the hundreds. There are some trillium coming up and a few with buds but none blooming yet. There are also ferns coming up in a few places. Spring always seems to go by too fast, but it’s sure nice while its here.
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
I took a break and went out into the woods today to take a few pictures. The eastern redbuds (Cercis canadensis) are blooming and they really are something. This is the native eastern redbud, which is similar to but distinct from the Judas tree or Mediterranean redbud (C. siliquastrum), native to the Eastern Mediterranean. They are both admired for their rose-purple flowers which are borne on bare branches in early spring (i.e. now) and before the foliage emerges.
There are trees we generally think of as flowering trees, such as dogwoods, cherries, and crab apples. But of course, most non-coniferous trees bloom, even if that’s not why we grow them. Out neighborhood has street trees planted pretty much throughout with different streets and different sections having different tree species but mostly planted with the neighborhood was developed in the late 1960s. Our area has mostly red oaks and at nearly 50 years old, they are generally pretty good size. Oaks are among those not usually grown for their showy flowers. Nevertheless, when they are in full bloom, particularly on a clear day in contrast with the blue sky, they are quite dramatic. Of course, the pollen is everywhere and if you have allergies, you aren’t enjoying this. But it can be beautiful.
In the front of my office building there are a few flower beds including one raised bed with a bunch of tulips growing in it. They are bright orange and red and really striking. I usually go into the building through the back door so I hadn’t noticed them but my friend, Corina, said I should take a look. I did and she was right. Naturally when she said take a look, she meant take some pictures, so I did that, too. It was late in the day and they were in the shade of the building, making it a little harder, exposure wise, but I really love their colors.
It’s that time of the year when the maple trees let loose thousands upon thousands of “helicopters” (a.k.a. samaras). They’ll be thick on the lawn and patio and front walk. Not as thick as they once were, because we have fewer maple trees than we did, but still quite a lot. Then they will start growing. In the lawn, the first time the grass is cut, they’ll be taken care of. In the garden beds they need to be pulled up.
Myosotis sylvatica (Woodland Forget-me-not)
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.
Double Flowering Cherry
The regular flowering cherries are pretty much finished but there are these double-flowered cherries and they still look wonderful. Not only are they a considerably stronger pink than the single variety but the flowers are much larger, measuring a few inches across. They are somewhat hard to photograph because the best views of the flowers are had looking up at them and when they are backlit by a bright sky, they tend to go quite dark. This one turned out pretty well.
The fireflame tulips (Tulipa acuminata) are coming into bloom. These interesting tulips are listed as species but they are not actually known in the wild and are probably some very old hybrid whose origin is lost in the mists of time. Either way, they are quite beautiful, with the pointed petals. They generally have mostly red petals with yellow towards the base but this variety, from McLure and Zimmerman, are almost entirely yellow with a little green running down the spine of the petals. Every year I wonder if they will come up and so far, they’ve not let me down.
Lily of the Valley
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.
This gooseberry plant (Ribes uva-crispa) was originally put in by Albert in their yard. After he passed away, Brady said I could have it and it’s growing in the back of our garden. It blooms fairly early for a fruit bush and the fruit ripens fairly quickly. I really enjoy gooseberry jam, as I like most things of a tart nature. One thing to watch for when pruning and picking the fruit from a gooseberry bush is the thorns. They are quite sharp and vicious. There used to be a federal ban on growing gooseberry and other Ribes species but that was lifted in 1966. A few states still prohibit the growth of some or all Ribes species but they are all legally grown in Maryland.
We don’t get hail all that often. When we do, the hail is generally small and the storm is generally brief. In today’s storm the hail was pretty large at first, with hail at least a half inch across and some more like three quarters or more. That didn’t last long and then the hail was more pea size, which is what you can see in this photo. That lasted a bit longer and then it was just rain after that, really coming down for a while. I enjoy storms, particularly since we live in relative safety and comfort. I wouldn’t have liked being out in this, though.
We happened to be in northern Virginia this afternoon to meet some friends for brunch. We got there a little early so we walked in a park near the restaurant and I took some pictures of three different plants that are in bloom. First, and seen here, are maple blossoms. I think this is a silver maple (Acer saccharinum) but I didn’t take the time to identify it carefully. I’m pretty sure it isn’t red maple (Acer rubrum) but it could be a sugar maple (Acer saccharum) or a number of other species. It’s a bit early even for the early trees to be blooming but it’s been such a mild winter so far, I’m not terribly surprised. It may get cold yet, of course. It’s still only mid November.
Daffodils are starting to bloom all over. The early varieties, particularly in warm locations, have been in bloom for a week or so. These are our first to get fully out. They are called ‘Tete-A-Tete’ and they are a nice, little, clump-forming variety that I really like. We have them in a few places and they are very happy, blooming as the others are still forming buds. They are only about 8 to 10 inches tall, so not suited for growing in with too much ground cover. So, in the pachysandra we have taller varieties, like ‘Arkle’ which is big and bold but blooms a little later.
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.
As mentioned yesterday, the daffodils are really starting to come out in great numbers. This is one called ‘Arkle’ and it’s a big, bold, beautiful yellow flowered variety. I planted these back in 2014 and they are very well established. Daffodils are long lived and form nice clumps. Where you put one bulb, you will eventually have a group of them, each putting up flowers, so the longer they are in the ground, the better. Others that were planted more recently, a variety called ‘Marieke’ that has similar but slightly larger flowers is still putting up only 3 or 4 blooms per clump. But they should continue to get better each year.
The hyacinths are in bloom. These were planted pretty soon after we moved in and they didn’t really thrive but every year they come up. There are three little clumps of them, one purple, one white, and this pink one. They are growing in a bed of Vinca minor, also known as periwinkle, and lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). You can see a little of the periwinkle color in the background. It’s nice to see them out our kitchen door. I’m not a fan of their fragrance, so I like they more at a distance than close up.
This is one of my unknown daffodils. The fall when we moved into our house I took some family pictures for some friends and they gave me a bunch of bulbs as a thank you present. They either were not marked or, more likely, I didn’t write down the names, but they bloom every year. This is one of them. There is another, very double daffodil as well and the hyacinths that I posted a picture of a couple days ago. The daffodils are between our front walk and the house and put on a really good show.
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.
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.
It’s been really nice weather lately, which is great. Since we’re staying around the house, it’s been good to get outdoors, even if only into the yard. We say hello to all the neighborhood walkers, of which there are quite a lot. Today was a bit dreary by comparison so we spent most of the day indoors. I did get out a bit and took a few pictures of things in front of the house, including this columbine leaf with two large water droplets.
Daffodil Leaves In The Rain
It rained again today and I spent most of the day indoors, working. We’re into our second week of the great coronavirus hunker of 2020 and it’s been a mixed bag. On the one hand, when the weather has been nice, which has been most days, it’s been great to get out into the yard. That’s nicer than just going out into the parking lot at work. But when it’s cool and dreary, and I’ve stayed indoors, it’s gotten a bit old, sitting at my computer. It’s nice to be able to do that in an armchair with the computer on my lap, but it’s still work and I much prefer to be able to go outside.
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.
After a week of mostly beautiful weather, today was grey and rainy. It was nice to be home from the office, meaning I didn’t go into the basement much, but mostly I just read and dozed and did this and that all day. I did go out in the evening to take a few pictures but there wasn’t much to see and I didn’t feel like walking around in the wet to find something more interesting. This is the view to the southeast from the front of our house, looking past a few large oaks to more trees at the end of the block. The maples are mostly in bloom, which accounts for the rusty red shades. The oaks will be out soon, adding a bit of yellow and then everything will be dusted heavily with pollen.
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.
We had another rainy day today, to end March. It’s been so warm and sunny lately that it was a bit of a shock to stay indoors all day. I did get outside long enough to take a handful of pictures, but really not much more than that. These are daylily (Hemerocallis) leaves with rain on them, and the rain continued to fall while I was taking it. I probably should have spent the time to get a tripod and really focus carefully, but I just needed to get a picture. Maybe next time. Sorry.
One thing Cathy and I are thankful for is walks in our neighborhood. It’s a relatively quiet neighborhood, especially now, as traffic in the area is considerably lighter than normal. Foot traffic has always been high with a lot of dog walkers and people out for a stroll but that’s increased significantly during the covidian interval. This shrub, Viburnum carlesii, is scattered through the area and right now, you can often smell it before you see it. The fragrance it strong, spicy, and sweet with a hint to me of vanilla. This and Viburnum × burkwoodii, which is cross with V. utile, are among the best viburnums for fragrance (and it’s possible that the one in this photo is the hybrid rather than the species). In fact, Cathy has requested that I plant one in our yard when we’re able to browse the garden centers once more.
Magnolia × soulangeana
Most of the saucer magnolias (Magnolia × soulangeana) have finished their bloom but there are a few in the neighborhood that are still at their peak. This has been a good year for the magnolias, coming a little early and with no late frost to damage them. The saucer magnolia is a hybrid of M. denudata x M. liliiflora. The first of those, the yulan magnolia, has pure while flowers, which seems like it would be very nice, as well. The second, commonly called the lily magnolia, is a bit more hardy and provides the hybrid with its color. Many of the named varieties of saucer magnolia come from a breeding program at the U. S. National Arboretum. The hybrid epithet comes from Chevalier Etienne Soulange-Bodin (1774–1846), a “disgruntled cavalry officer.”
Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)
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.
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
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.
Photo 175,000 — Maple Samaras
Cathy and I went for a walk in the neighborhood after work this evening. I had hoped to have a photo of a pile of rocks dressed up as a nurse. There is a house a few blocks from us with a stack of rocks, between 4½ and 5 feet tall. Occasionally they “dress” them in something for the occasion, such as with a Santa suit at Christmas. Yesterday, Cathy saw them in a nurses outfit, presumably in honor of health care workers during the covidian interval. Unfortunately, they were back to their bare selves this evening. So, instead, I give you photo number 175,000 from my camera, some maple samaaras, or winged seed capsules on a tree down the street from us.
Technically, this is only photo number 174,983 because the photos are numbered from 1 through 9,999 and then it starts over at 1, meaning there is no photo numbered 10,000, 20,000, etc., so the 175,000th photo will have been taken tomorrow (but I probably won’t post that one).
Myosotis sylvatica (Woodland Forget-me-not)
The woodland forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) is blooming in our back yard. Cathy planted these and they have spread to various places, mostly in the lawn, and they are very pretty little things. Similar to the flowers of the Virginia bluebell (Mertensia virginica) he buds are pinkish purple and the flowers change to blue as they open and mature. Also, the little white “eye ring” around the center change from white to yellow. They are delicate little flowers and although they are not a native species, they are lovely and don’t go to crazy in our yard, so I don’t mind.
The afternoon sun was lighting up the newly opened leaf buds on a small flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) in our back yard. I got my camera and went to take pictures but between the wind moving the stems around and the sun going behind clouds, it kept changing. I think this is my favorite of them, although the light is a bit less strong than it was in others. Our eyes are amazing in terms of their dynamic range and cameras have a much harder time with extremes of light at dark. So, in the one that’s brighter, parts are a bit washed out, although in Real Life™ it was gorgeous. This one, where the light was a bit more subdued, has the right feel. Just imagine it super-bright.
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.
Pink Flowering Dogwood
We had rain overnight and it continued into the day, raining quite hard off and on. In the early afternoon I could hear thunder from my basement office and I lost the remote connection to one of my office computers, although the other stayed connected. I went out front, under the porch, and took a few pictures of the rain. In the few minutes that I was outside, the rain stopped. This photo was taken then, of a pink flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) growing and blooming at the front of our house. I loved the way the drops of water were glistening on the branches. A few minutes later I went out back and half the sky—to the south and west—was blue, while the other half—to the north and east—was still an ominous grey. The thunder faded into the distance as the storm moved on.
The plant this gooseberry flower is on was one that Albert had growing in his yard. Brady left me dig it up before she moved out of that house and it’s done very well against our back fence. Dorothy made little tarts with gooseberries from it last year and it looks to have a pretty good crop again this year, if the number of flowers tells us anything. The flowers are generally considered insignificant, at least from an ornamental standpoint. They are quite small and not particularly showy except from very close but they are actually pretty little things. The gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) is native to Europe, N. Africa, and the Caucasus and is, as you’d guess, primarily grown for it’s wonderfully tart fruit. The leaves of gooseberries contain hydrogen cyanide, a toxin that, in sufficient quantities, is pretty bad for you.
Where there used to be a large oak tree in our front yard (technically in the road right-of-way) there is now a small garden bed. Around the tree was Pachysandra terminalis and that’s still there. Where the tree was Cathy plants annuals and there are some tiger lilies there now, as well, which seem to enjoy the spot. Around the permimeter are daffodils of various types, all different shades of yellow. They look bright yellow until these fireflame tulips (Tulipa acuminata) start to bloom with their really intense yellow flowers.
I had a photo of dogwood leaves coming out of their buds recently (see Thursday, April 09, 2020) and they were pretty well liked on Instagram. That tree is a volunteer seedling that has been growing in a large bed in our back yard there there was once a large silver maple tree. That bed has been left pretty much to itself for quite a few years although we starting taking it back last summer and will do more this year. Along with the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida) there is a small maple seedling coming up. It’s close enough to the dogwood that we cannot really keep them both, but before I cut it out, I thought I’d post a photo of the new leaves coming out on it. It appears to have Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) in it’s makeup. But it’s going. Sorry.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
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.
I recently had a photo of dogwood leaves (see Thursday, April 09, 2020) which got some positive feedback. This is a flower on the same tree, a seedling that’s been growing on the edge of a flower bed in our back yard. I’m of two minds about this tree. On the one hand, any flowering tree has merit. On the other it’s not really where I’d want a flowering tree. There was a large silver maple (Acer saccharinum, not to be confused with Acer saccharum, the sugar maple) here but we had it cut down because it was large enough and leaning towards our house enough that we got very nervous every time there was a storm. We have a perennial bed where it once was, the this tree is right on the edge of that.
Our northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum) is coming up in the back garden. It’s really in much too sunny a spot and I think this year I really will split it and move at least some of it to a shadier, less dry spot. It does surprisingly well here, even so, only getting a bit burned late in the summer, especially in particularly dry years. It’s easily grown and one that should be in more gardens. I also think this is the year I’ll get a royal fern (Osmunda regalis), which has been on my wish list for a long while. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get around to making a water feature and bog garden.
Cathy and I took a break in the early afternoon and took a walk in the neighborhood. We got mail for someone else delivered to us (same house number, different street, happens fairly often) and we wanted to take it to the correct address. I carried my camera, as I usually do on walks, and took pictures of a few azaleas starting to bloom in the neighborhood. There are quite a lot around here, although most are just starting to come out. Soon the neighborhood will be full of color. Actually, it’s already full of color, but there will be more and different colors.
Frond of Ferns
I’ve used the joke before but it’s true, I’m fond of fern fronds. We have a few different ferns in the yard. There is the northern maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum, featured seven times so far, apparently), Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum), ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris), and sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis). This is, I believe, a Dryopteris species, but I need to do some work if I’m going to identify it for sure. The genus is generally known as the wood ferns but some species have particular names, like male fern (D. filix-mas, which is what I suspect this is) or buckler fern.
The other species this might be, and perhaps it’s more likely based on size, is the lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina). Both the male fern and lady fern are native and both are nice for a shady garden. I really should figure out which this is because every time I’m asked, I have to qualify my answer. A fern expert could probably look at my photo and tell me right off, but I need to look up the differences and look more carefully. If and when I do that, I’ll update this post.
The chives (Allium schoenoprasum) are blooming. These are one of the easiest herbs to grow and we have them both in containers on our back patio and in the ground in our herb garden. We have to keep the oregano from suffocating them, but they have managed to survive so far. They bloom this time every year and I like to pick some of the flowers to sprinkle onto food as a seasoning. They add a subtle oniony flavour without being overpowering. Of course, the tubular chive leaves can be used pretty much any time, but I think the flowers are special, because they add color as well as flavour.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
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.
Cathy and I went for a walk in the neighborhood this evening and came across this iris, back lit by the setting sun. It was more purple in real life but I think the photo is pretty nice, anyway. I have a thing for back lighting, particularly of growing things. I love the luminescent quality and amazing colors of leaves and flower petals lit by the sun. I also took photos of our hawthorn, which is in bloom, and the first rose to open on ‘Perle d’Or’ outside our front door. But there will be more chances to photograph those in the days ahead.
We went out for a walk this morning, going somewhere new, but it turned out that W.S.S.C. property requires a paid permit. The signage was very ambiguous, giving regulations for walking on the trails but then with big “No Trespassing” signs, but without an explanation of what constitutes trespassing. We decided to walk to Sandy Spring and enjoyed the walk very much. There is a champion white ash (Fraxinus americana) on the route, as well, which is a very handsome tree. There were other people out but no so many that it really affected our walk. The last time we came here we walked from Woodlawn Manor on the Underground Railroad Trail.
Cathy and I went for a walk near Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon, heading upstream on North Branch Rock Creek. On the west side of the creek, back into the hillside a little, is this spring. I have no idea how long it’s been enclosed in stone but it has the look of something done quite a few years ago. For all we know, it predates the nature center and was built when there were homes or farms along the creek. There wasn’t a lot of water coming out but there was some, possibly enough for a small home if you work it right.
It’s been more than a couple years since I planted any new bulbs but of course, one of the beauties of bulbs is that they come up pretty reliably every year. Tulips aren’t that long lived, but daffodils and some of the smaller, more ephemeral blooms will likely be coming up long after I’m gone. This is one of my very favorite blooms, Chionodoxa forbesii, also known as glory of the snow. I like the fact that it blooms so early but I think my favorite thing about it is the amazing blue color. I really need to plant more of this.
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went up to Pennsylvania today to do a bit of work in the front yard. There is a small garden bed along the front of the cabin and it had become very overgrown. At the work day on March 13 we cut the small trees that were growing in it but today I dug up the roots of some of them. It was hard work and made a little harder because I wanted to avoid killing the peonies, irises, and lilies that were starting to come up among them. I didn’t take many pictures on this visit but I did take a few of the daffodils growing on the dam.
Erythronium americanum (Yellow Trout-Lily)
In our second attempt to reach Bluebell Island, we walked south on the Seneca Bluffs Trail from the parking area on Montevideo Road. Looking at the map, this comes close to the creek just below the island. We found, unfortunately, that when you get to that point, you’re on the top of the eponymous bluffs. We could have worked our way down to the creek but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. We could see that on the far bank of the creek the bluebells (Mertensia virginica) were blooming in great profusion. We saw other wildflowers and the hike was a success, in spite of the fact that we didn’t get to our planned destination. This yellow trout-lily (Erythronium americanum) is one of our prettiest spring flowers, photographed under some large Canadian hemlocks (Tsuga canadensis).
We took a walk in the neighborhood this evening and I took this photo of a clematis growing on a mailbox a few blocks over. Whether you pronounce it KLE-ma-tas or kle-MA-tas, it’s a pretty thing. We have a few of them but none are doing exceptionally well. One doesn’t get enough sun (it was there when we bought the house and we talk about moving it but so far it hasn’t happened). Another was overshadowed by a rose bush. The rose is gone now but the clematis needs a bit more support than it has.
Bleeding Heart and Siberian Bugloss
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?
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis)
The lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is in full bloom right now. We have a large patch of it in the back yard and then smaller patches in a few other places. This is growing near the front corner of our house and it’s very happy. One thing about lily of the valley, at least for us, is that it seems to want to move. That is, the clump or colony spreads and the tail edge dies back, so the whole colony migrates over time. I’m not sure what, if anything, can be done about that.
Rosa davurica (Amur Rose)
Back in April of 2005 I planted 29 species roses in a bed I prepared on our property in Pennsylvania. Sadly, many of them did not survive, but there are a few that are still holding on and two that are actually thriving. This is one of those. It is, I think, Rosa davurica although the garden is in such bad shape, it’s not exactly clear where each rose should be. This rose has formed a small mound of plants about four feet tall and it is very happy. It’s absolutely covered with blooms and is quite lovely.
Early Cherry Blossoms, McCrillis Garden
We picked up Dorothy today and went to McCrillis Garden on Greentree Road this afternoon. It’s a wonderful little garden (five lots totaling about 4.8 acres) that’s especially lovely when the azaleas and rhododendrons are in bloom. But it’s worth a visit at other times of the year, as well, to see the sometimes less spectacular but still lovely plants. At the north end of the property there were a few cherry trees beginning to bloom. We also enjoyed seeing some of the ‘bones’ of the garden, including trees that have interesting shapes and structure even when they don’t have leaves. But seeing the blossoms was particularly nice.
March can be very spring like but can and usually does return to winter conditions again before it’s done. We’ve had some wonderful weather but then we just got a pretty decent snowfall and blustery conditions. Cathy and I went for a walk in the neighborhood and enjoyed the blowing snow and I took a few pictures, including this one of the snow on maple flowers around the corner from our house. It won’t do the tree any harm and it’s actually quite pretty. Within a few days the snow will very likely be gone and we’ll could be back into spring like temperatures.
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
We went for a walk near Rock Creek today and enjoyed the spring flowers. The spring beauties (Claytonia virginica) which are in great profusion. We also saw a few bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) as seen here. The flower petals are the purest white with bright yellow stamens. Although they don’t last long, they are quite lovely for the little time they are blooming each spring. The roots have a red sap, which is where they get both their common name and their genus name. The leaves are palmate and deeply-scalloped and attractive in their own right.
Podophyllum peltatum (Mayapple)
We walked in Meadowside Nature Center this afternoon and saw more bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) as seen in yesterday’s photo. We also saw quite a few mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) coming up. They come out of the ground as cones and then the leaves spread like an opening umbrella. Apparently plants with a single leaf will not flower but those with two will produce a flower stem from the leaf axil (where the two leaf stems branch). While the leaves and roots are poisonous, the fruit, when ripe, can be made into preserves and jellies. I never have, though.
Mertensia virginica (Virginia Bluebells)
Cathy and I went out to Seneca Creek to see the bluebells today. I think they were a few days from their peak but it was still pretty amazing. We walked quite a while and it was a wonderfully beautiful day. We also saw a pair of bald eagles flying overhead and a few common merganser on the creek. One of the cool things about bluebells is the way their color changes from the pink of the buds to the pale blue of the open flowers. The crisp, clear green of their leaves really sets off both colors.
Erythronium americanum (Trout Lily)
On our bluebell walk, we also saw a few trout lilies (Erythronium americanum). They are easy to miss but once you start seeing them, you see them everywhere. The leaves are a sort of mottled green and it’s common to find large patches of them. The flowers are, as you can see here, bright yellow. However, they look downward and the backs of the petals are not so bright, which camouflage them a bit. To get good pictures of them you have to be willing to get down on the ground, which has never been a problem for me.
I happened to have my camera with me at church this morning and I thought the view through the circular window at the front of the sanctuary was really nice today. We normally sit on the left side of the sanctuary but we were late getting to church and attendance was up a bit so we had to go over to the right side to find seats. I was happy that we did because the view was so nice. There are dogwoods on the hillside outside the church, below the upper parking lot. These dogwoods are in bloom and the sun was on them. I purposefully exposed this for the light levels outside, so the nearly white interior walls show up as very dark here. The small amount of green in amongst the white flowers sets them off very nicely. The beautiful weather encouraged us to go outdoors for a while after church, as well, so the next post is from the same day.
As mentioned in my preview post, we wanted to be outdoors today because it was so nice. We went to the Agricultural History Farm Park and after going through the woodland garden and the Master Garder’s Demonstration Garden, we walked around one of the fields adjacent to the central part of the farm. Between two fields there is a line of a dozen or so apple trees and they were in bloom, which was a really nice bonus. I don’t know how much car these trees get but it appears to be the right amount, at least in terms of their flowering. They were absolutely lovely and the bees and other pollinators were a buzz.
Cathy and I went up to Seneca Creek State Park this evening to see the Schwartz Peony Garden. It’s perhaps not quite at peak as of today but there were plenty of blooms. There’s a bit of variety in peony flowers and lately I’ve been drawn to the simpler, single flowers, particularly the pale colors. Of course I also like some of the extremely dark and vibrant colors, so it’s not just one or the other. This one, especially in the light we saw it, really caught my eye. The petals look to me as though they were expertly fashioned out of porcelain. It’s just absolutely lovely. Lovely and fleeting.
Chionodoxa Species (Glory Of The Snow)
We went to the Agricultural History Farm Park briefly today. There are bulbs coming up and some Lenten rose in bloom. The photo I’m posting is of a spring ephemeral commonly called Glory of the Snow. The genus name, Chionodoxa, comes from the Greek words chion meaning snow and doxa meaning glory. It’s definitely one of my favorites and I have a fair number of these around the garden at home, including C. forbesii and C. luciliae (which I think this probably is, but I’m not sure).
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
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.
Mertensia virginica (Virginia ‘Pink’ Bells)
Cathy, Dorothy, and I went out to enjoy the bluebells (Mertensia virginica) today. They were pretty much at their peak and it was really lovely. Although they are called bluebells and that’s the predominate color, the buds generally start out being pink or purple and then the flowers turn blue as they open. We found a handful of them, however, that never made the switch, so we dubbed these Virginia ‘Pink’ Bells. There were also trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) and many, many spring beauties (Claytonia virginica), as well as yellow ‘violets’ (Viola pubescens).
I know I posted a similar picture to this last year, on Sunday, April 24, 2022, titled Dogwood Porthole. I entered this year’s title before looking that up to see what I used and was happy that I came up with something slightly different, even if it’s pretty close to the same. At the front of the church is this circular window and on the hill outside it a flowering dogwood (Cornus florida). This year’s photo is about a week ahead of last year’s and that seems about right for the weather we’ve been having. Everything is slightly earlier, although probably not outside the normal range of dates. Last year we had a fairly hard, killing frost in late April but I think we’re probably in the clear this year. I hope so, anyway.