Monday, April 28, 2014

End of April Views

Spring is here - the fresh green foliage of perennials begins to cover the ground, and bulbs are flowering in the spaces between the leaves.

Daffodils blooming near the bare stems of Japanese Maple 'Coonara Pygmy'

In my shade garden right now, there are lots of bright yellow daffodils. I thought it was a bit TOO much yellow, so added this cheery pink fuchsia in a pot for a bit of contrast. Pink and yellow is not usually a color combo on my favorites list, but with the right shade of strong pink I think it can work.

Narcissus 'Ice Follies', 'King Alfred', 'Peeping Tom', and 'February Gold' with boxwood and fuchsia

Here is a corner of my rose garden. The cotinus in this spot has not begun to leaf out yet, but the ground beneath is alive with daffodils, hyacinths, and this purple pasque flower.

Pulsatilla vulgaris (Pasque flower) with Narcissus 'King Alfred' and Hyacinth 'Aiolos'

Another view looking out from the rose garden to the sidewalk. The roses are just beginning to show signs of growth. At their feet the Dutch crocus are still blooming, joined by scilla from across the way.

Crocus vernus 'Yellow Mammoth' and Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty' blooming in the rose garden.

I am still in the process of planting up the narrow terrace area (sidewalk strip) seen in the picture above, which is under an ash tree. So far I've added heuchera, alchemilla, geranium, and bergenia, plus scilla, chionodoxa, and daffodils. Some epimediums and hellebores will be added this spring. There are also plenty of weeds as you can see from the photo! I am quite pleased with the bright blue scilla next to the red-purple heuchera though - an unusual and striking color combo.

Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty' with Heuchera 'Prince'

Here is my front entry border. Geraniums, sedums, catmint, calamint, tulips, and alliums are greening up. (Actually the allium foliage is already starting to turn brown!) I have the same purple heuchera in this area as well. The yellow centers of daffodil 'Ice Follies' reflect the bright foliage of the golden chamaecyparis.

Narcissus 'Ice Follies' with Heuchera 'Prince' and Chamaecyparis pisifera aurea nana

The "orchard" area under my fruit trees is also bright with early daffodils now. The new foliage of their companion tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold' really glows when it emerges. You can see the patch of garlic growing tall in the background. It's amazing how early garlic begins to grow!

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' and 'Ice Follies' with Tanacetum vulgare 'Isla Gold'

Now we are in for a stretch of chilly, rainy weather. The garden may take a breather before surging ahead into its next phase of growth.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Second Wave of Bulbs

A second wave of bulbs is washing over my garden as spring really starts to get in gear.

Early spring bulbs (crocus, chionodoxa, narcissus, scilla)

Crocus vernus 'Yellow Mammoth' is blooming in my rose garden. The roses are a mess as I haven't given them their spring pruning yet, but it might be a bit early as they haven't shown signs of growth yet.

Crocus vernus 'Yellow Mammoth'

I've sprinkled the gorgeous dark blue Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty' throughout my beds. Hopefully they will eventually spread to make a thick carpet of blue in spring.

Scilla siberica 'Spring Beauty'

A somewhat rare glory of the snow, chionodoxa gigantea alba, has begun opening in this shady corner. I'm enjoying the simple purity of its all-white flowers.

Chionodoxa gigantea alba

The more well-known Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' is still going strong. It has begun to naturalize among the still-bare barberry stems. The pink does not really harmonize with the strong yellows, purples, and blues in my garden right now, but it's tucked somewhat inconspicuously into a corner so it doesn't bother me TOO much.

Chionodoxa forbesii 'Pink Giant' with barberry

As are the Puschkinia. These are wonderfully long flowering for a "little" bulb. Here they are next to the soft fuzzy new leaves of Geranium wlassovianum.

Puschkinia libanotica alba

The very early daffodil variety 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' is now at its peak. This is a very "ordinary" looking daffodil, but its extremely early bloom time makes it special.

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'

It is growing in my "orchard" under the fruit trees, behind the patio area.

Blooming in backgroud: Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'

Teensy 'Tete-a-tete', another ultra early daffodil variety, has started popping too. It's a cutie!

Miniature narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete'

A few bulbs of 'Ice Follies' have also begun blooming. This patch of bulbs is blooming earlier than the others, because they're in a warm spot right by the house. The rest of my "early" daffodils are still waiting in the wings, but should start opening over the next week or so.

Narcissus 'Ice Follies'

This mystery hellebore, which may or may not be 'Sparkling Diamond', is also joining in the show.

Helleborus orientalis, possibly 'Sparkling Diamond'

Some perennials are finally starting to wake up as well. It's so exciting to go outside every day and hunt for new things - a new leaf here, a shoot pushing through the ground there. Hurray for spring!

Emerging foliage of Geranium wlassovianum

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Early Splash of Color

Spring has finally arrived, and my eyes revel in the sudden bursts of color that appear overnight.

Puschkinia libanotica alba and Iris reticulata with bergenia foliage

Winter aconites (eranthis hyemalis) are the first to bloom. They will pop out of the earth as soon as even a small patch of snow is melted, while it seems that the ground must still be frozen. You have to know where to look for them to find them, but it's exhiliarating at that time of the year to see anything growing outside. In 2014 they bloomed on March 18, and by early April are already fading.

Eranthis hyemalis (Winter aconite)

Snowdrops follow soon in their footseps. These simple, elegant bulbs are much appreciated by humans and pollinators in this time of flower scarcity.

Galanthus elwesii (giant snowdrop) in March

Next in the race are the species crocus, such as crocus tommasinianus (tommies). These little fellows are spread with surprising vigor - this is the second year of this planting and they have at least tripled in number. The warm rosey-purple really catches the soft spring light.

Crocus tommasinianus

Tiny delicate rock garden iris, like this iris reticulata, are not far behind the crocus. I love the blue color and elegant shape of the blooms. They also have a fantastic sweet fragrance! It doesn't carry and you will have to get right down on the ground and stick your face in them to smell it - an rewarding activity at this time of year.

Iris reticulata 'Clairette'

Large dutch crocus bloom a bit later than the small species types. They come in intense colors like deep purple and bright yellow.

Crocus vernus (Dutch crocus) 'Flower Record'

Puschkinia (Striped squill) are also beginning to bloom at this time. I have two types: the classic pale china blue Puschkinia libanotica, and the pure white form Puschkinia libanotica alba. The ruffly, feminine flowers make a fine contribution to the early spring garden, and they grow and increase easily.

Puschkinia libanotica with the teensy dwarf evergreen Tsuga diversifolia 'Loowit'

Puschkinia libanotica alba with bergenia

Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) has also started in. I have the pink-flowered form planted among some lamium underneath my quince tree.

Chionodoxa forbesii  'Pink Giant'

Finally, I have a daffodil blooming already! It's an ultra early variety called "Rijnveld's Early Sensation", and it is certainly sensationally early. It is short of stature, but the blooms are large and cheery. I have lots of other daffodils coming up, but this is by far the quickest to bloom.

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'

Here is a view of my peony bed, which later will be filled to bursting with glorious tree peonies, lilies, and  iris. Now it looks almost bare with nothing but a few scattered bulbs. Still, this first flash of color may be my favorite time of year, for the color is so precious now, and the earth is full of promise. Can you see the red new growth on the peonies?

Peony bed in early April

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