Thursday, March 29, 2012
Things are really happening quickly this year.
In some circles this is regarded as a bit of a trophy plant, but I've got to say that the first time I saw one in bloom in my garden it reminded me of some sort of bistort or clover.
Friday, March 16, 2012
That's the periwinkle Vinca minor in the image above. There are some houses on the other side of the creek with steep front yards, and some of them are planted to periwinkle. As I was driving by the other day the mass of blue color caught my eye. I came back the next day to get some photos.
Here and there I've seen periwinkle used as a companion plant for daffodils - it's an appealing combination, especially with white-flowered daffodils.
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The temperature reached 80 degrees F this afternoon - and it's been very dry. The remaining crocuses will probably go in the rain. With that in mind I went up to my crocus plots and took some more pictures. The main purpose of these photographs is to help me keep straight what I've got - and to give me a good idea of the colors after the flowers are gone.
In the top row, left to right, are Crocus etruscus 'Zwanenburg' two samples, Crocus minimus (the false C. biflorus isauricus 'Spring Beauty'), Crocus 'Prins Claus', Crocus 'Lady Killer' and Crocus 'Blue Pearl'.
In the lower row, left to right, are Crocus 'Ard Schenk', Crocus sieberi 'Tricolor', Crocus 'Advance', Crocus 'Cream Beauty', Crocus 'Romance' and Crocus olivieri balansae 'Zwanenburg' two samples.
When the flowers of 'Prins Claus' are fully developed they have the outline of a broad, shallow, rounded goblet. 'Lady Killer' has somewhat pointed tepals which are not so broad and the fully developed flower is not so bowl like. Both are well worth having.
Also especially well worth having is 'Blue Pearl': this is an exceptionally lovely crocus in the hand but is wasted in the garden, where it becomes just another nondescript little white crocus.
All of these little crocuses belong in pots where they can be closely examined under congenial, comfortable conditions.
The first wave of color to wash over the garden each year - the wave of snowdrops, little bulb irises, crocuses and a few precocious shrubs and trees - is now receding: in its place comes the wave of the little blue things. You see a selection of these above. Included are some run-down garden hyacinths (what they lose in girth they gain in charm), two glories-of-the-snow (the larger one is 'Blue Giant' and the smaller one is Chionodoxa sardensis), the Siberian squill (Scilla sibirica), the Greek anemone (Anemone blanda) and two lawn weeds, Glecoma hederacea and the lawn veronica, Veronica persica. Seeing these flowers together reminds us that not all of them are as blue as we think they are.
With the exception of the Greek anemone, all of these are good stayers. Get a start going, and you are likely to see their sweet faces yearly. The Greek anemone is not difficult and will sometimes self-sow around the garden; but each wet hot summer seems to take a few, so the time will come when you will have to buy in a few more. On the other hand, if you can arrange to keep it dry during the summer it should last and reappear yearly. If your Siberian squills disappear over time, try giving them the dry summer treatment, too.
Glecoma hederacea, gill-over-the-ground, is a serious weed here. But one look at a plant in full bloom gives a hint of why it has been brought into so many gardens.
During the next week or two the little lawn veronica will make some of the loveliest pictures in local lawns. If while walking around you see a shimmering flat haze of blue about a yard or two in diameter in sunny lawns, it's probably this veronica. Few deliberately cultivated plants create such a charming effect. Its success in lawns is largely attributable to its growth cycle: it's a winter annual, most active when the lawn grasses themselves are largely dormant. Mowing keeps the otherwise easily overwhelmed plants out in the sun.
Monday, March 12, 2012
Claytonia belongs to the same botanical family as Portulaca, Montia, Lewisia, Talinum and Phemeranthus and with all of these it shares a sort of waxy, turgid succulence. The leaves have the same curiously rubbery, floppy quality felt in the native "aloe", Agave virginica (Manfreda virginica), although they are much smaller.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
Since Sarcocca (sweet box) and Buxus (boxwood) are closely related, seeing the sweet box in bloom reminded me to check the boxwood plants also. Sure enough, Buxus sempervirens 'Vardar Valley' is in full, sweetly fragrant bloom. When the topic of scent comes up in a discussion of boxwood, most people seem to know only about the cat scent of the foliage of Buxus sempervirens. Because the dwarf box 'Suffruticosa' is the most frequently encountered box in this area, and that form evidently never blooms, many people do not realize that not only can boxwood bloom but also that the flowers can be sweetly and agreeably scented. But maybe not all forms of common box are agreeably scented. Buxus sempervirens 'Graham Blandy' is also in bloom, and the scent to me is more peculiar than pleasant.
Note: after writing the above about two weeks ago, I noticed something odd looking on one of the 'Suffruticosa' boxwood here: it was in bloom! So dwarf box does bloom after all.
Wednesday, March 7, 2012
The week before last I took a look at the Welwitschia and got a nasty shock: it seemed to be dead. I've had this plant for fifteen years, but even so it occasionally surprises me. The leaves looked dry as cardboard and had lost most of their color. At the base of each leaf there was a hairline of seemingly sickly, pea soup green. That was the only green evident on the plant.
What in the world happened? In retrospect, I think I simply forgot to water it. I gave it a good soaking and changed the arrangement of the lights. I made sure it stayed moist and under intense light. After about a week of this therapy, I started to put it outside in the sunlight any time the air temperature was over 40 degrees F.
Now, between frequent knocks on wood, I'm pretty sure it is on its way back. The line of green seems to have widened just a bit. Let's hope the mirabilis part of the name proves true.
In the image above you'll have to look hard to see any sign of life.
Sunday, March 4, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
I bought a slide scanner yesterday, and above you can see the first slide I scanned. As I go through my slide collection and scan them, I’ll be adding some images to this blog – in particular plants no longer in commerce. They will be identified as "legacy slides".Here’s the first one: that’s Iris susiana in the image above. It was photographed in May of 1971, and it was about then that it disappeared from the lists of my source. It has always been a mysterious plant to me; evidently it’s not known in the wild, and the plants in cultivation which went around under this name varied a bit. It was grown in European gardens four hundred years ago, and over the centuries its intricate color pattern of fine, very dark blue veining on an oyster shell white background has challenged many famous artists.
I still remember the first time it bloomed here: as I came around the corner of the house and saw it, it immediately brought to mind this description of the flower: like a ball of crumpled newsprint. Was it E.A.Bowles who said that? I also thought I was among the elect: I’ll bet not many of you have seen this plant, much less grown and flowered it.It’s hard to believe that this plant does not survive somewhere in a garden somewhere around the Mediterranean. I’m hoping hard that it does.
Thursday, March 1, 2012
As expected, March came in as a lamb: daytime temperatures today were well over seventy degrees F. I went down to the ponds early this morning, but in spite of the gentle rain we had last night things were quiet then; but when I went back later in the day the peepers were in full chorus.
More rain is predicted for the next few days, and we need it. Seed of larkspurs and corn poppies sown back in December are now germinating freely, especially the poppies. Seed of corn cockle sown last fall germinated almost immediately, and the resulting plants now have several true leaves. Those are corn cockle, Agrostemma githago, seedlings in the upper image. The lower image shows corn poppies, Papaver rhoeas: did every seed germinate? I'll have plenty of thinning to do later.