It is that time of year again. Katharine has come to visit. She wears a wedgewood blue frock adorned with darker blue gemstones and panels of clear yellow. Her frock darkens ever so slightly in color as the days pass. This cool spring has allowed her a very long visit. And, she has brought relatives.The original clump seems fuller this year which may mean that she is happy with this site in humus rich shade. This iris is a bit stockier than others of her clan having sturdy parentage. A gentleman and part time plant breeder, EB Anderson, crossed Iris histrioides with Iris danfordiae but insects must have intervened as DNA testing shows the other parent is Iris winogradowii. Iris histrioides is native to Turkey and is blue.Iris winogradowii is native to Central Asia where it grows in alpine meadows. It is yellow and tends to be stoloniferous which may be the reason this clump above has increased in size. But who, you might ask, is Katharine Hodgkins? She must have been quite a beauty. She was the wife of Mr. Anderson's friend, Mr. Hodgkins but I can find little information on her.
This plant was hybridized in the 60's. It has none of the 60's psychedelic coloration. It is refined and luminous although I do find that it 'disappears' in the garden and is best planted next to a well traveled path. This is its second spring here in my garden and I find her quite bewitching. I recommend her to every gardener as she is lovely and a somewhat unusal addition to the garden of little bulbs.
The blooms have finally begun. The snowdrops have been tightly wrapped until temperatures hit the 50's on Wednesday. I always get muddy knees trying to get a good photograph of the little bulbs and their flowers.
The tommies have popped up. These were planted the fall before last so it is their second showing. The newer plantings have not shown their tops yet but they are in a bit less sunny position than these. They are showing color but are not yet open.
The winter aconites have started with bright yellow blooms as well. I see daffodil foliage popping up but it will be a while before they bloom.
Spring is a few days away and the temperature today was in the low 30's which keeps everything in suspended animation but that will change. It has to as spring is in motion. I can't wait to see what is blooming in your garden. Thanks to Carol of May Dreams for hosting yet another Bloom Day.
Well, they are not really buttercups but the winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis, is a member of the same family as the buttercup, Ranunculaceae. The one above is currently being buried by yet another layer of snow. Snow which will not last long given the prediction of fifty degree weather for the coming weekend. I hope this is the last snow of the season but, if not, the thought of the cheery yellow aconites and the clear white snowdrops snuggled under this newest downy blanket waiting much more patiently for a warm day than this gardener will keep me hopeful. Spring's march is often slow this month, more like a toddle or a shuffle but soon there will be no holding her back. Spring is an action word, after all.
The first day of March cannot go unnoticed here. Goodbye February and as for winter, now you really have your marching orders. Every year is different and this March begins with snow covering most of the garden. Last year there were crocus in bloom in February and snowdrops in full bloom around the first of March.
The winter aconites were also starting their sunny show.
Only one small patch of snowdrops is even visible right now but there are warmer days ahead. This post is here to encourage the blooms. With a bit of warmth it takes just a short time for color to show. Let the games begin.
I love garden tools. I really do and I have many. Trowels, rakes, hoes, lawn edgers, shovels, spades and the list goes on. Every gardener needs a good cache of tools. Some of the better made tools are really works of art.
Nope, not mine either.
I don't have many of those, just basic tools. The prettiest tools, in my mind, are those that are weathered and worn with a patina from use. Therein lies a big problem. They get lost in the garden.
Oh, yes, these are mine.
From the compost heap to one garden then another and another and finally back to the shed where they sit in the wheelbarrow unless I actually hang them. The large tools do hang but the hand tools are in a bucket and it was only upon returning to the bucket to plant the rest of the little bulbs that I noticed my dibble was missing. A dibble does make short work of planting the little bulbs. It plunges somewhat easily into the soil and the bulb gets popped in. I then top it off with compost. The big bulbs are different. They often require a pickax given the amount of rocks here in this garden. Pickaxes are much harder to lose since they have heft and size. It was about two weeks ago that I noticed the dibble was missing.
There are many more small bulbs to plant. Small bulbs are very gratifying but there needs to be an abundance of them to make an impact. One hundred don't go very far. I did plant some with the red handled trowel but it took more time and energy than that required by the dibble. I had to find that dibble or buy a new one. I retraced steps several times and after many days it came to me...look in the garden by the fish pond where you planted the muscari. It was a bit covered with leaves when I finally found it. I brushed them off for the picture. It is still a bit hard to see.
The dibble weathered a week or so outside plus the rain of the recent hurricane. I am a pragmatic person. The organic look of this tool almost led to its demise. It certainly slowed down the bulb planting here.
A bit of neon solves the problem.
I have solved that problem with a can of neon spray paint. The artistic wall of garden tools will have to wait. There is life left in this tool and there are bulbs to be planted. Sacrifices must be made. I need sunglasses to use my tools now. Have you ever lost one of your favorite garden tools?
The pineapple lily is a South African native which adds a thrill to any container planting. There are several different species of pineapple lily and over fifteen different cultivars. All have strap like leaves and a flower stalk which emerges from the center of the foliage. This is topped with a pineapple shaped flower composed of many small waxy florets.
They are easy to grow and will grow in full sun or light shade although flowering is better in full sun. If I lived further south I would consider bedding them out for interesting texture in the borders. They are a bit pricey though and I hope to overwinter this one in the dormant state in a cool basement. We shall see what happens.
I planted 'Sparkling Burgundy' in my containers near the house this spring. This cultivar has dark foliage and the flowers are creamy with bits of pink and yellow stamens. I have not detected any repulsive odor although, since it is pollinated by flies, it is said to have a bit of a stench.
I am enjoying the tropical, exotic look it brings to these containers.
In addition to the burgundy pineapple lilies in my container, a friend gave me a bulb which she had potted up from last year and overwintered in her basement.
This lily has green foliage, a smaller flower head and interesting markings on the stem. It looks quite nice on its own in the small clay pot on the patio and is also a reminder of friendship. Thank you Lois. If you are looking for Eucomis bulbs, there are several on line sources. Mine was purchased as a potted bulb already showing promise. Now, a promise fulfilled. Have you grown this plant and, if so, what are your thoughts on Eucomis?
I am not sure why I rarely see this flowering bulb in other gardens. Perhaps it is the cumbersome name which seems to only be in Latin, Ornithogalum magnum. It is listed in John Scheepers catalog as hardy from zone 5 to 8. I have it planted in a border with filtered light and this is its first year in that border. I plan on adding more.A member of the Hyacinthaceae family, this bulb produces multiple white star shaped flowers on a raceme borne on 2'-3' stems. Planted in among perennials, the flower spike shoots up through the foliage appearing suddenly creating another dimension to a border. It blooms in June supposedly with the alliums. The alliums bloomed early here and are past bloom but, no matter, this flower is just a delight. I think this flowering bulb deserves a more marketable name. Want to give it a go? I vote for 'Star of Spring' or 'White Lance'. Ornithogalum magnum doesn't really roll off the tongue or give any hint of the beauty of this bulb. That name sounds as if it should belong to a big bird. What name would you like to see on this flowering bulb?
There is a rather dear little species tulip which is clear white with a lavender blue eye. It bloomed in my garden this week until the heat hit it and knocked it right over. Species tulips can be a bit pricey and the price is one of the reasons I only have about five of these little bulbs. At barely five inches tall this tulip needs a place of prominence in the garden. Mine are growing next to the stone bench by the fish pond. This bench is a wonderful place to contemplate the beginning or the end of the day accompanied by a cup of coffee or a glass of wine. The little blue eyed tulips, Tulipa humilis 'Alba Coerulea Oculata' sit right at the foot of the bench. When faced with an unusual plant with a high price tag, I find that trying just a few in the garden can do either of two things. Both of those things depend on the performance of the treasure. Sometimes the pictures in a catalog are deceiving with the promise of impossible colors and performance. Sometimes the plant in question fails to emerge from the spring soil. If this happens, only a few dollars have been spent and knowledge and experience are added to the gardener's data base. The second scenario can be costly. The plant in question performs beautifully and the gardener wants more. A large drift of this little tulip would be lovely. They can cost as much as $2.00 per bulb. Blue is a much coveted color in the garden and blue and white are clear and clean and restful to the eyes. Do you think they are worth the cost? Should I get a few more?
Today is St. Patrick's Day. Right on cue the little white snowdrops unfurled to reveal the green. They have been closed up tight as the temperatures were cool all week. Until today. Today the thermometer rose to 62 F and the snowdrops opened at about 55F. They have a very sweet fragrance and someday I hope to have rivers of them. Yes, rivers. It is a goal. Happy St. Patrick's Day.
Spring is over a week away according to the calendar but the garden rarely waits for the specific date as Mother Nature has a schedule all her own. These are the only flowers in the garden. They are revered for that fact alone. The bees do not know that they are here yet. I am going to pay attention and watch for that first pollinator. It is still cold. There is still snow. Spring will come and go for the next few weeks alternating with late winter but spring will take over. It is inevitable.