Monday, December 18, 2017

Spring part 3

We are not even finished with April yet more things come into bloom.
These violas were grown from seed from Swallowtail Seeds I think, and I enjoyed the complementary flower colors of different plants.  They self sow as does the more common Viola tricolor, a smaller flowered purple and yellow flowered one that I have a lot of here.  Violas will take a lot of frost and still bloom, so they can be in bloom almost year round.

I  have a number of Epimediums here and some have done well.  They are a diverse group of plants mainly from China.  They are self incompatible, meaning individual plants will refuse to set seed, so more than one seed grown plant of the same species must be present if they are to make seeds.  However different species hybridize easily so an ever increasing number of hybrids are appearing since most gardeners grow a single clone of a given species.   They are good plants for shade or partial sun, preferring well drained soil. With time they spread outwards, some faster than others.  They appear to be critter proof and the flowers usually (but not always) hang downwards in shades of purple, yellow, orange, white, and pinks.  I admit to giving up keeping track of their names as there are so many species and hybrids of them.  Garden Vision nursery carries the most extensive selection of them that I know of and while they are not that cheap they are also a forever plant if they find your garden to their liking.

Anemone ranuculoides is a spring ephemeral from European woodands. Spring ephemeral plants grow during spring so that they can make food via photosynthesis, flower and make seeds and then go dormant by retreating underground when it is too shady and warm to for their liking.   They are adapted to make the most of the spring sunshine before the tree leaf canopy above them blocks out the sunlight.  I got these as dormant tubers at the fall Berkshire NARGS chapter sale.  Often getting plants from such sales means they came from someone else's garden and were very successful so they have extras to share.  That increases the chance that that particular plant will be a success since it is growable in the local area.  Admittedly most of the members of the Berkshire chapter live in far colder regions than I do (USDA zone 5 and 6 mostly compared to my edge of zone6/7) but our summers are not vastly different, rather their winter lows are much lower than around my town and my growing season is longer with an earlier frost free date in spring and a later first frost date in fall.

Tulipa vvedenskyi is one of my favorite tulip species because it has attractive blue green wavy foliage and huge bold flowers for the size of the plant.  These came back a second year from planting so I am hoping they will be permanent.   They are the  commonly available clone "Tangerine Beauty" but they will set seed which I have not yet tried to grow.   It might be interesting to see if seedlings would show some variation in color but it would probably take five years to see a flower from seeds.

Tulip "Fire of Love" has flowers are a decent single red but one grows this for the amazing foliage.
Double flowered (or peony flowered) tulips are quite showy if a bit less than graceful things.  Graceful is a more appropriate description for the candy cane tulips (Tulipa clusiana) that surround the double flowered tulips.  Tulipa clusiana is a good naturalizer and should come back every year so long as the rodents who love tulip bulbs are kept at bay.
Tulipa linifolia is a pretty little species that likes the same conditions as the Opuntia cactus in the photo--sunny and well drained soil.   It is smaller than many others but the bright red flowers call attention to it when it is in bloom
Basket of Gold, Aurinia saxatilis, is a plant I remember from my childhood.  Our landlord in Yonkers NY grew it in his garden, very likely having brought it over from Italy which is one place where it can be found wild.  It is considered to be a bit too vigorous by many rock gardeners because it can spread outwards to cover a lot of ground but it is also a very showy plant when in bloom. The grayish foliage isn't bad looking either.  My plants came from leftover NARGS seeds distributed to the local chapters that otherwise would have been thrown away.
This pink and white Lathyrus vernus is just as old as my purple one but is not quite as vigorous.  It is also getting bigger by the year and ejecting seeds when the two halves of the legume seed pod dry and twist to expel the small pea like seeds within.
Daphne jasminea (?) was obtained as a small plant from Wrightman Alpines during the annual Alpine Plant Sale held at Stonecrop Gardens in Cold Spring in late April.  It has amazingly fragrant flowers, a major selling point for most daphnes.  It is a slow grower as most of them are but pretty much trouble free so far.  Daphnes are known to up and die suddenly, often from a root fungus but this one is in a spot it seems to like and it slowly spreads outwards each year. Flowers appear sporadically through the summer but its main display is in late April and early May.
In the first week of May this most unusual dogwood (Cornus florida) bursts into bloom.  It is an old tree with some dead branches that I had removed.   I also had nearby hemlock branches removed so it could get more sun.  It is a mystery as to how this plant got here, because the closed flower with its folded white bracts creating a bird cage appearance is typical only of a very rare form of dogwood known as C. florida spp urbiniana which is native to Mexico.  It is very scarce in cultivation and I find it unlikely, but not impossible, that the former owners of this property got one and planted it.   It has been in cultivation decades before it was formally described.   It also might be an unusual mutant seedling dogwood that came up, there are other dogwoods nearby that may have also come up from bird dropped seeds.  I have seedlings of it coming along but it is too soon to say if they will have the same kind of flowers as dogwoods are outcrossers (self infertile) so the seeds of this plant have to have crossed with a "normal" dogwood nearby.  I am also trying to ground layer it to get a duplicate plant that will be genetically identical to the parent plant.  Without a doubt it is the most interesting and unusual plant that I found on this property when we brought it.
Mertensia virginica, bluebells, is another spring ephemeral that disappears very quickly after flowering.  It is native to the eastern US in rich forests.  White and pink forms are known but scarce but the blue one is quite nice and easy to grow.  Most members of the genus Mertensia appear to be alpine or shoreline plants accustomed to lots of sun but this one is well adapted to shaded woodland conditions.
Vancouveria hexandra is from the forests of the Pacific Northwest.  It is one of many North American forest plants with close cousins in East Asian forests.  Vancouveria is a small North American genus which is very similar to the much larger Eurasian genus Epimedium and likes similar growing conditions.   I got this plant from one of  the Berkshire Chapter plant sales.
Ok, this is cheating slightly as this Iris cristata is actually in the school garden.  It can be a miffy species to grow, when happy it spreads by very shallow rhizomes but it can also die back suddenly.  These were grown from seeds from SIGNA, the Species Iris Group of North America which has the best seed list of Iris species to be found anywhere.  Iris cristata is a woodland plant of the eastern US which can vary in flower size and color.  This one must get a lot of sun until it is swamped by larger growing plants later in the season.
Also at school but not yet at home are some plants of Rosa xanthina grown from seeds I got some years ago from The Fragrant Path.  They are quite thorny so the deer don't bother them and they can self sow on this well drained slope.   The yellow flowers make a brief but glorious appearance in May.   The Asparagus plant in front of the rose is descended from wild collected seeds from Siberia from a Russian woman.  I think her name is Alexandra Beutenko but I can't find any reference to her online so perhaps one of the readers of this post may be able to provide more information.  She collected seeds mainly from Siberia and Kamchatka if I recall correctly some years ago.   The asparagus may very well be a wild version of the well known vegetable A. officinalis, but whatever it is it is a tough plant with attractive lacy foliage.  Curiously despite having a few different seed grown plants in the school garden I have not seen the red berries on any that would indicate seed formation.  Asparagus plants can be male, female or bear both male and female flowers so perhaps all of them are of one gender.  I'll have to remember to check their minute flowers next time under one of our class microscopes.
Meanwhile back at home the primulas continue to bloom and two kinds of Camassia are in full bloom.  The blue one in the back is from one of the Dutch growers and were transplanted from my home gardens and I think it is C. quamash.  The pink ones in front are much harder to find, impossible really at this point in the US.   They were collected by one Lisa who ran a nursery called Buggy Crazy in Oregon.  I got bulbs from her years ago and continue to grow this exceptional form of this usually blue flowered species.  White forms are known but I have never seen the pink form offered by anyone else nor has she offered it recently as far as I know.  It is a long lived bulb but propagates slowly although copious seed is produced.  Her nursery is no longer around in the sense of having a regular website but she does sell occasionally on ebay under the name growingcrazy2 and she also sells on etsy I think.  She sounds like a colorful character who has little patience for neighbors with destructive animals that made it impossible for her to continue to offer the many fine lily bulbs she used to grow, and also for ebay's increasingly ridiculous seller fees.  I hope she finds more peace in her life as I really appreciate the wonderful bulbs and seeds I have brought from her over the years.  Many of us miss the great lily bulbs she used to offer, many of them the result of her own breeding efforts, but rampaging animals and a lack of law enforcement seem to make growing lilies on a large scale a very difficult proposition where she lives these days.  I once ordered a box of small leftover bulbs from her years ago on ebay, basically she crammed several kinds of bulbs into a small priority mail box and I planted them in the school garden where they flourish to this day.  Included were a couple of kinds of colchicum, some daffodils, dichelostemma, and some other odds and ends.  The bulbs were small as advertised but a few bloomed their first year and they all bloomed the second year and the colchicums in particular were a good deal.  They have grown and every September I get to show them to my students when their large flowers pop right out of the ground.
A closer view of the pink camassia.
This little ranunculus sp grows leaves in winter from small clustered tuberous roots but disappears soon after setting seeds.  I got it from a single seed that germinated from some leftover NARGS seeds years ago when I was a doctoral student at Cornell.  I used to go to some of the local chapter meetings and I nursed the seedling along in the greenhouses until I took it home and planted it.   It multiplied over the years by seed and tuber and I took some when we moved.  It does best at the edge of a garden (or in a lawn) since it does not like competition when it is in active growth.  Bright buttercups appear in May above the hirsute foliage.   I once found a name for it but have forgotten so I will have to do some more research and come back when I find it again.
By early May the Linaria alpina are beginning to flower profusely.  They may be hybrids with other species by now but whatever they are they are beautiful.  They like the cracks between bricks in the patio where I have established a "crevice" garden of sorts.  I find that certain plants do much better in these patio crevices than they do in the open garden, and these linaria, which come in several different colors, do especially well.  They will flower all season long but look their best in spring.   Copious seeds are produced and thinning of the offspring required so that the plants have sufficient room to develop properly.

More typical hybrid tulips of the Darwin sort most likely are in full bloom in early May.  Some of these should be good perennials.  With tulips it is best to try several kinds and see what persists in the garden as some tend to rot in summer when the bulbs prefer drier conditions.  Over time the survivors that are adapted to our climate will multiply and eventually will need to be lifted and separated to give the bulbs space to grow to flowering size.
Silene caroliniana var pennsylvanica is in bloom by early May.  It is a rather rare wildflower in this area but I know of two local colonies which this plant is descended.  I found one colony many years ago (and have written about it before) when I was a teenager exploring the woodlands nearby.  They still grow there but not in the same numbers as before decades later on thin acidic soils atop granite rocks that overlook the New York State Thruway.   It prefers sunny spots in rock crevices but this plant has done well here in a raised garden and even seeded into the patio below.  Plants from this population are mainly pink, but another population that a friend has taken me to in Connecticut has light pink to nearly white flowers.  I have some small plants from the latter as well that are well established and will bloom next spring and set abundant seed.  This species often appears on the seedlists from the UK but is usually an impostor which turns out to be Silene dioca, a European species.  I can see how one might mix them up looking at photos of the flowers but once you see both species there is no way to confuse them.

Here is the one that seeded into the patio below.
I decided to create a trough garden in the bird bath that came with the house.  Our Jack of all trades friend Lin who can build anything drilled some holes for drainage and I planted some plants from S Africa (Delosperma congestum with the yellow flowers), Asia (the crassula like plant with rounded fleshy leaves), a sedum I collected from the Taroko Gorge area on the way to Hehuanshan in the middle, and some sempervivums (Hens and Chicks) that I took from my maternal grandmother's house after she passed.   They looked pretty good when this was set up as can be seen and have done well.   The sedum has suffered some frost damage so I dont know if it can survive our winters but I have backup in my cold frame and indoors just in case.

The rare dogwood is looking splendid by the first week of May.
Meanwhile the double form of Ranunculus repens blooms en masse in a corner of the property where I let it romp around.   I got it many years ago when I worked as a urban garden aide one summer for Brooklyn Botanic Garden and it has followed me through the decades since.  It does not form seed like the single flowered form, which is a blessing as it really is a weed.  It does spread vigorously by stolons much the same as a strawberry plant does.   It takes some work to make sure it doesnt get too out of control but its worth keeping around for its beautiful spring flowers.   It is rarely available commercially even though it is so easy to propagate and has limited invasive potential since it cannot make seeds.
The aqulegias are also coming into bloom by the first week of May, all of mine are grown from seeds I got from the rock garden seed exchanges.  I have close to a dozen or so species at least and I don't know what all of them are but this one is probably one of the western US species or possibly a small form of A canadensis, the eastern US Columbine.  Whatever it is I like it and while aquilegia species are notorious for crossing with each other I find that many self seeded ones do come up that looking just like their parents. 
Spanish bluebells (Hyacintha hispanica) were here when we came and I brought a few form my old gardens as well.  They are tough and multiply quickly into clumps, to the point of being a bit aggressive when they are in actual growth in spring.  But being toxic they are impervious to pests and animals and guaranteed to give a nice floral display in early May. 



1 comment:

Panayoti Kelaidis said...

Wonderful post as always: you're a fabulous gardener. Wish you were nearer so I could visit (and beg starts!)...

You'll get seed from me early in the new year.