Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day January 2018

Helleborus niger ‘HGC Jacob’

This lonely Christmas Rose is representative of what is going on outside for this January’s Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.  The temperatures got down to 2 degrees after Christmas and have only just begun to recover.  We did get a few days in the fifties but now it’s gotten cold again.  It was just enough to get the first snowdrops to declare the end of winter.

1st snowdrops

But mostly this image of a Camellia flower more accurately states the wintry conditions.

Camellia japonica which was red last month

As usual I retreat into the greenhouse for flowery solace in January.  The Narcissus ‘Silver Palace’ has been blooming for a month.

Narcisus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

And it’s now joined by one of its yellow flowered brethren.

Narcissus ‘Roy Herold Seedling’

There is one peculiarity that I noted in walking the yard today.  The Witch Hazel Diane which normally blooms after the more common Chinese Witch Hazel has already bloomed on some of it’s branches but they are yellow.  This is really strange for a plant known for it’s orange-red flowers.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’ with yellow flowers

Other branches are getting ready to bloom red, and I know these yellow branches have been red in the past.

Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’

I am mystified.

I’ll close on this cold January day with the sparkling red of last year’s Arisaema fruit and the promise of Adonis blossoms to come.

Arisaema sikokianum fruit

Adonis buds

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day December 2017

Camelia japonica in the Snow

Well Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day was particularly cold and wintry in Frederick.  Not a whole lot going on outside but I was busy getting my seed exchange order in with the North American Rock Garden Society.  By the end of the day even the Camellia was looking more distressed.  So my better half brought some buds into the house where they have opened up very nicely.

Camellia japonica centerpiece

Outside there were just a few spots of color.  The Cascade Wallflower continued bravely on through the snow.

Cascade wallflower (Eriysimum arenicola)

Everyone should grow this plant if they want to have flowers year-round.

The first of the Hellebores (niger) is putting buds out but still no flowers.

First Hellebore buds

And back by the greenhouse, in the alpine bed, the Lithodora continues to show blue flowers.

Lithrodora ‘Heavenly Blue’

In the greenhouse itself the Oxalis are still in bloom but they don’t open on a cloudy day.  I did go out with sunshine this morning and found another of the Moraeas flowering.

Moraea polystacha

They don’t last long but they keep flowering in succession.

The Daubyena, on the other hand, lasts for 3-4 weeks.

Daubyena stylosa

And the second of the early Narcissus is coming into bloom.

Narcissus cantabricus ‘Peppermint’

You can see the additional buds coming.  These usually end up in the house when they are fully open.

All I can say is thank goodness for the greenhouse when the winter presses in.  Let me close with one of those plants that contributes to the outside landscape even without flowers.

Vitaliana primuliflora

This little alpine shares it’s red and green foliage through the wintertime and then delivers wonderful yellow flowers in April.  Who could ask for more?

A New Flower for December

Oxalis palmifrons

I have been growing Oxalis palmifrons since 2013 without a hint of a flower to be seen.  This year, upon my return from Thanksgiving in Boston, I was surprised and happy to see the first buds on the little Oxalis palmifrons (obtained from Plant Delights).

Oxalis palmifrons

You may remember that Oxalis palmifrons has these delightful little palm-like leaves, and the flowers are just a marvelous bonus!

Oxalis palmifrons

In the greenhouse there are still more Oxalis in bloom.

Oxalis massoniana

Oxalis caprina

And the Daubenya that blooms very reliably for Thanksgiving.

Daubenya stylosa

I remember first seeing it at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden over a Thansgiving holiday.

Also in bloom from the greenhouse (though I’ve brought it into the house to enjoy) is the first of the small Narcissus for this year.

Narcissus catabricus ‘Silver Palace’

I actually counted 24 blooms in the pot tonight.

In the house for the winter time is the Amazon Lily.  Characteristically this one flowers every thanksgiving holiday in celebration of the fact that it belonged to Beth’s mother who always used to prepare the thanksgiving meal for the family.  And it flowers again outside in July.  This year it seemed to outdo itself with flowers which carried a wonderful fragrance we had not noticed before.

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Amazon Lily (Eucharis x grandiflora)

Bear in mind that this plant has been in the same pot for about 30 years with only occasional watering.

Something funny happened on the way to the greenhouse to take some of these pictures.  Despite the fact that we have been down to 20 degrees in mid-November, the subsequent weather has only hovered around freezing for the lows.  I noticed a very spritely little wallflower in bloom.

Cascade wallflower (Erysimum arenicola)

And then the first of our nominally spring-blooming camellias.

Camelia japonica red

How’s that for the beginning of December in Maryland…:)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day November 2017

Moraea polystacha

Winter has arrived here just over the last week.  I was in out in California last week.  When I left all was sunshine and glorious fall.  When I returned the flowers almost all frozen off.  Twenty degrees will have that kind of effect.  Especially when we hadn’t had a killing frost yet.  This is well past our normal first frost date, but we have often had flowers lingering on to mid-November.  Not this year.  That’s why i’m leading off with the above greenhouse Moraea for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day this month.  Most of the outside plants that still have glimmer of flower are just barely showing as in the following cases.

Last of the Fall Crocus

Daphne collina x cneorum

Stachys lavandulifolia

Delospermum ‘Gold Nugget’

Anyway, you get the idea.  Most of the flowers have moved south for the winter.  Just a few stragglers.  There’s always the brilliant orange-red of the pyracantha to lend consolation.

Pyrachantha ‘Mohave’

Fortunately there is the greenhouse to provide regular encouragement as we recreate a less temperate springtime.  The lovely little North African Hyacinthoides lingulata is very much in bloom now.

Hyacinthoides lingulata

I find the blue stamens and pistil very striking.

I also grow the Cyclamen hederfolium in the greenhouse, though I think it would be it would be quite hardy outside.

Cyclamen hederifolium

And of course there are the ever-present, ever-blooming oxalis.  I’ll share just a few more of the many species.

Oxalis purpurea ‘Cherry’

Oxalis caprina

Oxalis engleriana

All this serves to remind me that there will be flowers, even if goes to twenty degrees on a regular basis (which I’m not wishing for).  We did get the tractor ready for snow removal today just in case…

Chinese Alpines

Chinese Alpines Order

I’ve been meaning to put in a plug for Chinese Alpines.  For several years I’ve bought seed from Bjørnar Olsen who lives in China.  This spring he sent a letter saying that he was joining together with a friend, August Wu, to form Chinese Alpines.  They plan to sell bulbs and plants as well as the seeds which Bjørnar has provided in the past.  I received the my first order from them last month and everything is as nice as I would have expected.  If bulbs don’t grow I expect it will be my fault, not theirs.  I’m particularly interested in seeing if I can grow Fritillaria Karelinii, which is very showy in this image from the Fritillaria Group of the Alpine Garden Society.

Fritillaria Karelinii (from Fritillaria Group website)

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day October 2017

Crabapple in bloom

Well this is a very unusual flower to see in October.  In fact, I can never remember seeing crabapples blooming in the Fall.  Not only the crabapples but the apples themselves are blooming right now.  So for this Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day let’s just note that climate change is not just affecting icebergs and glaciers.

It’s been very dry for us with unseasonably warm weather to go with it.  Many of the flowers that were in bloom in September are still blooming now, like the lovely Japanese Anemone.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

And the Toadlilies

Toadlily (Trycyrtis ‘Sinonome’

So I’m going to focus on some of the more unusual individuals flowering around the yard and greenhouse, beginning with a little saxifrage from Far Reaches.

Saxifraga fortunei ‘Select’

Back in the alpine bed is a planting of Lithodora that has been expanding it’s living space since we planted it this spring (from Oliver Nurseries).

Lithodora diffusa ‘Grace Ward’

Lithodora has never overwintered with us but this clump seems most likely to do so.

Nearby is the Stachys that we planted this spring.

Stachys lavandulifolia?

Although this was sold to us as lavandulifolia, it looks nothing like what we had seen in Colorado.  It could be cultural or it could also be that this is a different plant.

Also in the alpine bed, I should give some credit to the little clump of Erodium that has been flowering continually since spring.

Alpine geranium (Erodium reichardii ‘Roseum’)

It is hard to go into the greenhouse right now without noticing the large Pomegranate which has become a centerpiece.  And it’s fruit are starting to literally crack open.

Pomegranate opening up

One of the little treasures in the greenhouse is a small scilla relative from North Africa that was just started as a bulb this year.

Hyacinthoides lingulata

It’s just starting to open up and promises to be very nice at this time of year.  Thank you Pacific Bulb Society bulb exchange.

There is also a very nice little Viola that I grew from seed obtained from the Scottish Rock Garden Society seed exchange.

Viola chaerophylloides ‘Benizuru’

I think this one can probably go outside but I may propagate it first.

There is a very nice Cyrtanthus in full bloom and many wonderful Oxalis celebrating their rebirth after a dry summer.

Cyrthanthus branchyandrus

Oxalis hirta ‘Gothenburg’

Oxalis purpurea ‘Lavender & White’

And the last item of the day is a new acquisition from the PBS bulb exchange in June.

Seemania Namatanthodes in bud

Seemania Namatanthodes in pot

This South American plant (Argentina/Bolivia) looks to be a real winner.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day September 2017

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Well, it’s fall here in Maryland and some of the usual suspects are providing our flowers for Bloom Day.  Japanese anemone are robust and reliable, as well as incredibly beautiful.

Anemone x hybrida ‘Whirlwind’

Some of the other regulars are in the following pictures.

Trycyrtis ‘Autumn Glow’

Alstroemeria ‘Sweet Laura’

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’

St. John’s Wort ‘Hidcote’

In the wildflower patch, the wild asters are currently the star of the show, attracting insects of all sorts.

Wild Aster

In the cutting garden the standouts are the Tithonia.

Tithonia

Beth has shown they look really nice next to the Salvia ‘Black and Blue’.  They are also quite tall so it’s easy to see them from underneath as well.

Tithonia from underside

A similar color comes with the Atlantic Poppy which took forever to start blooming but now has a new flower every day.

Papaver atlanticum ‘Flore Pleno’

Inside the greenhouse we have blooming for the first time the Scilla maderensis.  It seems to open just a few of the flower elements per day so that it’s never completely in flower for us.

Scilla maderensis

It is nevertheless interesting and exotic which goes a long way to getting space in the greenhouse.

Looking down on Scilla Maderensis

The first of the Oxalis are coming into bloom now.

Oxalis melanostica ‘Ken Aslet’

There are three species blooming now, but the rest will extend the blooming season into January at least.

It’s worth noting that one does not live by flowers alone.  The garden fruits and vegetables have been abundant this year, pushing us to new recipes and uses for the crops…

Vegetable garden production

Kieffer Pears

Collecting Seeds

Blackberry Lily (Iris domestica) seeds

Seeing some of the fall seeds is a good reminder that it’s a good time to pack up all those seeds you’ve been carefully collecting all season long to share with the various seed exchanges.  You did remember to do that right?  If you didn’t it’s still not too late.  Many flowers hold their seeds well through the summer and into the fall.  They are not always so easy to see and harvest as the blackberry lily (which by the way is a bit too common for most seed exchanges).  Some of the species Peonies are still carrying their seeds right now.

Paonia obovata alba seeds

Generally, however, it takes a bit more effort to select and harvest seeds.

As an example I picked a few handfuls of Primula sieboldii back in June and put them in an uncovered plastic bowl.  This week I put these primula seeds through my seed strainers.  You don’t have to have seed strainers but it makes the process a lot easier.  Mine were designed for sifting for gold but the process is the same.  They stack one on top of the other and the gold (seed) sifts down to the bottom tray.  Here are a few pictures showing the process.

Screen 1

Primula sieboldii with seed pod highlighted

Screen 2

Screen 3

Screen 4

The resulting Primula sieboldii seeds from screen 4

As inspiration here are the original Primula sieboldii which I obtained the seeds from.

Primula sieboldii in April

As a word to the wise, which I wasn’t with some very nice Allium seeds, don’t put seeds that are still moist in a sealed container, or they will just rot over the summer.

In the end I sent off 22 packs of seeds to the Alpine Garden Society, the Scottish Rock Garden Society, and the North American Rock Garden Society.  Besides sharing with others this will give the donor first pick privileges when the seeds are distributed this winter.