Tuesday, March 31, 2009


These little guys (6-8 inches tall) are just popping up everywhere right now. I never knew about them until I moved to Ohio 15 years ago. We never grew them when I was growing up. One of the nicest things about them is that they self seed so easily. They end up in the grass, other flower beds, just about anywhere. They are easy to find because even the tiniest plants bloom; maybe only one flower instead of the whole flowerhead, but they do bloom. They also stay in bloom for what seems like a very long time. Some are more white and some more blue, but there is only kindyou will usually see offered, official name Puschkinia libanotica or Lebanon Squill. There is an all white version, but it is not readily available. This plant was named after a Russian count, and is native to Asia Minor where it is found in damp places. Here it grows just about any place it chooses. It makes a good cu tflower and is fragrant.
I know I promised other pictures this morning - and I did take them - but since it was sunny, even though not all that warm, we worked outside all day. When I came in at supper time to download the pictures from the camera, it wouldn't do it because of a low battery. I put the battery on the charger with the good intention of doing the pictures after supper. Unfortunately I was just so tired from working all day, that it didn't happen. Should get it done for tomorrow.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring Beauties and Viburnum 'Dawn'

These tiny ephemeral flowers appear in the spring and can carpet an area. The flowers, at least when they first come out, have a pinkish cast to them. The leaves have just appeared here so the flowers can't be far behind. The whole thing is over pretty quickly and by the time really warm weather has come, they will be gone. I leave them in flower beds when they appear since they don't get in the way of anything, even when there are a lot of them. I have always loved these little gems. Don't know if they transplant well or not. They seem to get around just fine all on their own.

Lots of things appearing in the garden right now. The Corydalis solida are in bloom (more on them tomorrow), the Virginia Bluebells are starting to come up, the first Primroses are in bloom and then there is this lovely bush, not all that well know, which is putting on the best show it has for many years. I realized when I went to get the picture, that it was just of the leaves. That will be fixed as soon as I get outside and I'll add a pictures of the flowers. This shrub has been in the garden forever and is one of the best pink early bloomers we have. It's only problem is that if we have a warm spell in January or February, it thinks spring has come and starts showing color on its bud - may even start to open. This just means that it will be frosted with the next cold snap. Like most Viburnums, it is nicely scented - this one not being overwhelming like some of them.
Back later with the flower picture and the full name of this one.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Hellebores - some unusual ones

Helleborus foetidus is one we have all over the garden. This one is evergreen here no matter how bad the winter and sets its buds in late fall. They can sometimes get winter burned, but usually come out in early April. They are a pale greenish color. This one self seeds readily and also transplants easily so we are establishing colonies in several places.

Next is Helleborus odora. It is a chartreuse flower. The plant is only a couple of years old and still small. It seems to have a smaller flower than some others.
This lovely picotee bloom is a volunteer seedling, so you can see the range of possibilities if you just let them go to seed. The babies are all coming up now around the parent plants - so far just the two shiny green leaves. I'll send a picture of them so you know not to pull them out when you're weeding. Only a few survive till the next year, but I've found that you can transplant them with a pretty high success rate.
We have a few doubles but this is one of my favorites. It is unnamed except for a tag which says it is from Pine Knott and it is a double. We have several other double in various shades of rose or pink. This one seems to hold its flowers out better. No point in having a double if all you see is the outside of the bloom which will look just like a simple, single bloom. The blooms are heavier with all those extra petals which is why they tend to look downward, but this one seems to be the exception.

I had a picture of the Lady in Red back when I talked about dark foliage, but I couldn't resist putting it in again since it is so unusual. This is a strain and so not every plant will be identical. This is probably our darkest, but all are similar.

Helleborus viridis has very green flowers. It is a tiny plant, probably only about 8 inches tall. The flowers are also smaller and have a heavier texture than most others. It doesn't keep it's leaves over the winter.

This is a relative of the last one. Helleborus viridis ssp. occidentalis has the same green on the inside of the petals, but is a dark, dusky violet on the outsides. The petals are also more pointed.

This last one is another of the Pine Knott series - this one yellow. The picture just doesn't do it justice. The color in person is a creamy egg yolk yellow with petals that have a very waxy, shiny appearance. This is a big plant and vigorous. Only two years old and already getting to be a good sized clump.

This is just a sampling of the unusual hellebores that you can find. With all of our shade, they have been an easy choice to fill in all over the place. Nothing seems to bother them, bugs or critters and that's always something I have to think of here with the amount of woods that surround our gardens.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Muscari - part two

This first one, Muscari botryoides 'Album', is less common, doesn't seem to spread as readily and is just all around more tempermental. That said, it is still well worth growing because it is unusual. It seems to bloom a little later than some of the others. The plant growing at it's base is Ranunculus numularai 'Aurea', a wonderful ground cover.
This next one is Muscari latifolium. I like this one because it is unlike any of the others and quite different. Instead of a clump of leaves, each plant has just one and if you look at the center leaf in the picture, you will see the bloomscape hiding inside. So cute. They are a dark blue and eventually, as you see, come out of hiding.

This one is Muscari neglectum. Though you can't see it in this bloom which isn't quite all the way out, neglectum has a tiny white rim around each floret. It is also lightly fragrant.

Last is one of my favorites, Muscari 'Valerie Finnis'. It is an ice blue and multiplies nicely into a larger clump, though doesn't seem to end up in other nearby places.

A couple of odd ones I don't have pictures of, but that you might want to try are Muscari plumosum. This is, as the name implies, a feathery plume of a bloom, lavender in color. We added a yellow flowered one last year, the name of which I don't remember (though I do see it offered in catalogs). It doesn't seem as showy as the other colors as the tiny yellow flowers just seem to fade into the background. Maybe this year it will put on more of a show.
After complaining about impending drought, we have had almost 2 inches of rain over the last couple of days. More expected tomorrow. Maybe the gardening season is saved after all.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Muscari - part one

Another of the lovely blue flowers of spring - well at least most of them are blue. The Muscari, Grape Hyacinths, resemble miniature Hyacinths, though I don't know of any with the delightful scent of their larger counterparts. They are from the Mediteranean region and Asia Minor and are nearly all very hardy here in our garden (zone 6, mostly). Bloom time here is late March through about the end of April, but that depends on how early it gets hot. They are long lasting in the garden so long as the temperatures don't turn summer-like. Sizes range from about 4 inches tall to some that are probably 10 inches in height. These will naturalize over time, so don't put them where they won't be welcome in a group. Misplaces seedlings are easy to transplant, though. They also make good, long lasting cut flowers.
This first on is Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike'. It is a very commonly available double flowered form.
Next for today is Muscari armeniacum 'Saffier'. This is what I think most people picture when they think of Grape Hyacinths.

Last for today is Muscari azureum. It is also known by the name of Hyacinthella or Hyacinthus azureus. These are also native to Asia Minor and are ealy spring bloomers. They tend to have lighter blue flowers at the top and darker at the bottom. Sometimes it seems to be a gradual transition and other times there is a definite line in the middle of the bloomscape dividing light and dark flowers.

All of these will be happy in most any soil as long as they get full sun, or mostly full sun. We have some in light, dappled shade that also do well.
Tomorrow I'll do the rest of the Muscari. No turtle hunting yesterday because we got rain most of the day - and it's raining again this morning. The gardens really need the water as foliage was starting to look a bit limp as if we were already in a drought. Not a good thing this early in the season.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I think that these are not as commonly know. Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' is the one in both pictures, the second picture just a close-up of a flower. These are often called Summer Snowdrops because of the similarity to regular Snowdrops and the fact that then tend to bloom once it starts to get hot - late May or early June here. I've also seen them called Summer Snowflakes. The seem to grow in sun or shade, but do better in some sun. Our shady ones come out later and don't seem to make nice clumps even though they have been growing in the same place for at least 25 years. These are native to central Europe.
There are many flowers on an arching stem, unlike regular Snowdrops which tend to just have one. These are also quite a bit taller, probably about 18 inches. My bulb book says that this will grow along stream banks, but I don't think I'll try that since our streams are all very shady along the edges and tend to flood with heavy rains. We do have some growing at the edge of the bog where wetness is more in the winter and spring, less in summer and fall, and they seem to like that.
This is another plant that doesn't seem to have any enemies. Nothing has ever eaten the leaves or flowers and the blubs must not be tasty since out clumps have been right next to vole runs with no damage after all these years.
Turtle update - no sightings yesterday, but it is early for reptiles. I expect with a few nice sunny days to raise the water temperature we will have move luck. We did have another deer sighting. That makes 3 days in a row we saw the same deer in about the same place. Not sure with all the nice rain if we'll see him this morning. I'd really rather not see him here at all since he tends to do so much damage.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


As promised, a post on Petasites. These large perennials are commonly called Butterburrs. They are related to our early spring wildflower, Coltsfoot and some have leaves that resemble it. These are hardy in zones 5-9 (can't imagine how early they bloom in zone 9 if they can bloom in late February here) and like partial shade, especially in the afternoon and a moist place. They spread by underground runners to make a colony over the years.
This first one is Petasites palmatus 'Golden Palms'. We had a bit of trouble finding this one a few years ago when we discovered it. It doesn't seem to be available too many places. This one is growing in total shade. The spot is bright, not depressingly dark, but it gets no direct sun. It is also a bit wet there in the spring as it is planted near a seep. It seems to thrive in these conditions. The leaves are quite golden when they first come out in the spring, but turn more chartreuse as time goes on.
This next one is the first one we got and is Petasites japonicum (some say japonicus) 'Variegatum'. We have this one growing in both part shade/part sun and in shadier spots. It is taller in the shade and wilts horribly in the sunnier spot (It was under a pear tree, but the tree died and now it has only morning shade). This one is pretty popular. Don't plant it in a space where it need to stay in a tiny spot. It likes to spread out. In too much shade it will occasionally revert to an all green form. A bit of sun, though better in the morning than afternoon, will give you more and better variegation.
I hope you can see the wonderful burgundy colored undersides of these leaves on Petasites japonicum 'Purpurea'. The tops of the leaves are a darker green than on Variegatum, maybe because of the dark undersides, and the leaves have more of a serrated edge. These seem to take a bit more sun and we even have a patch of them growing in a full sun, dry spot. They are considerably smaller than those in dampness and shade, but do well anyway.

These are the big guys, Petasites japonicum 'Gigantea'. The leaves on this can be 3 feet across with no trouble. It is also taller, probably at least 3 feet tall, sometimes more and have a much thicker petiole on the leaves. More moisture gives you the biggest plants, though I don't think it wants to have really wet feet all of the time. Definitely a fun plant for kids since they can sit under it.

This last grows in dappled shade and is Petasites japonicum 'Hybridus'. Not a very original name I don't think. The leaves are more kidney shaped and have a heavier texture than Gigantea. They are almost, but not quite, as big, though they are easily as tall. This one is doing well at the edge of the bog and definitely gets pretty wet feet for a good bit of the season most years. It is dry in the summer, but that doesn't seem to bother it.

If you aren't already growing any of the Petasites and have a garden with space and a damp spot, I would definitely recommend them as they are pretty carefree perennials. They aren't eaten (at least so far) by rabbits or deer and I've never seen them get any insect or other pests. I know there are more species out there and I'll be adding some of them as I find them.
In the continuing turtle saga - yesterday we walked to Lake Amanda after we finished weeding out the vegatable garden to plant the onion sets. I saw a turtle tail sticking out from under some foliage. It wasn't the same turtle, but a smaller one. Now I know there are two turtles in there, probably Mr. and Mrs. Turtle. Not a good thing. They won't be doing much until the weather warms up, but I definitely don't need two snapping turtles in my pond where I need to get in to take care of the plants. They eat plants and also fish, frogs, tadpoles - pretty much anything that I want to have living in mu pond. I'll keep you updated on the progess in convincing them to live elsewhere.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Abeliophyllum - a bit more

I posted close-up pictures of the Abeliophyllum a few days ago, but didn't have a picture of an entire bush. I finally got it taken and downloaded and so here it is. I so often just take close-ups and I know people like to see how the whole thing might look like in their garden. Although Abeliophyllum is exceptionally cold hardy, blooming before almost anything else, it does have its limits. We had a temperature of 19 degrees (F) the other morning and although the bushes are still good from even a relatively close distance, right up close to the flowers you can see that they suffered a little bit of damage - some brown spots on some of the petals. Not enough to detract from the beauty except with your nose almost in the flower, but damage nonetheless.
There was a comment on the Petasites and so although the leaves aren't up yet, I do have some good pictures of them from last year and I'll post them tomorrow with all of the cultural information on them.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Plant Purchases

On the first day of spring we had to go into town to run errands, and being the first day of spring, and having to drive past Lowes, you know we had to go in a see what they had in the garden center. I swore I would just look and not buy anything, but I always say that and I always buy something. What we found were 2 primroses in Hank's two favorite primrose colors - blue and orange. I like other colors better, but this is mostly what they had so far. I found a miniature
Columbine, only supposed to get 12 inches tall, It's tiny so far, so we'll see. The colors on the flowers are red and yellow, reminiscent of a species from the midwest/plains in the U.S. That one is horribly invasive so I'll be anxious to see if this is in any way related. The last thing we got was that lovely blue flower in the front. Now, at this early hour if I could remember the name of it, we'd all be doing good. Alas, it is still before 7 AM and my brain just isn't up to what it should be yet. The tag said zone 6, my gardening book says zone 7 mostly but plants only in spring in zone 6, so I'm going to figure this one will need a good mulching or for the corms to be lifted like a dahlia in the fall, to spend the winter in my refrigerator crisper.
We gave away some more bamboo yesterday in our continuing effort to get the patch under control. Anyone who is close enough is welcome to some. All that is required is a sturdy shovel and a strong back. The is a freebie. Post here or email if you're interested.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Daffodil - February Gold

Several clumps of February Gold burst into bloom yesterday. This used to be our first daffodil of the season, sometimes almost blooming in February (I know it must do that somewhere or it wouldn't have that name) but usually in mid to late March. On cold years it doesn't show its face until early April. We've had several cold night with temperatures in the low 20s (F) but it doesn't seem to be bothering anything, at least so far. We'll be warming up again now, so the spring blooms should continue to delight me in the next week.

Something that does come up and often will bloom in February are the Petasites. This first one is Petasites japonicum 'Rubrum'. These plants all have blooms that come up like green baseballs (about that size and shape) long before the leaves appear. Only severe cold seems to bother them. Once there are a few nice, warm, sunny days, the little florets in the ball open. These on Rubrum are tinged red. The leaves when they open are a deep burgundy red on top and green underneath.
This next one is Petasites japonicum 'Variegatum'. This one has green/cream/white variegated leaves. all of these prefer shade, or at least no direct afternoon sun - morning sun seems to be all right. They won't die, but look just terrible in the direct sun in the afternoon, wilting like they are about to die any minute.

This last is Petasites japonicum 'Giganteum'. This has the largest leaves, often 3 feet across. Kids who come in the garden seem to be especially taken with this one which small children can stand under.

The flowers are all similar, but can definitely be told apart. Petasites japonicum 'Hybridus' has flowers that start out the same, but then elongate into something that looks more the shape of a morel mushroom. I don't seem to have a picture of those, unfortunately. The flowers on it are very pink and seem to set seed better than the others. The seeds have little puffs like a milkweed that allow them to fly in the breeze. We have had all of these cross polinate and have a number of hybrids in the garden with traits of several of these, but which are not totally like any of them. If you want to transplant any of the Petasites, you need to do it very early in the spring, before the leaves are barely unfurled. Later in the spring, once the leaves are out, they seem to have difficulty adjusting. It needs to be a quick transplant in any case because they really hate having their roots out in the air.

Friday, March 20, 2009


Often called White Forsythia, this is really Abeliophyllum distichum. It blooms slightly earlier than Forsythia and seems to tolerate colder nights without damage. As I look out my window here, there is one totally covered in white blossoms. It makes a good cut flower and has a scent like honey. It tip roots, so if you don't want it to expand, keep it trimmed up from the ground. If you'd like another to transplant in a year or so, just put a rock on a branch to hold it to the ground, about a foot from the end, and it will root nicely and make you a new bush to transplant where you'd like one.

This is the pink version. I wish it always looked this good. It is always covered with blooms, jus tlike the white one, but in some years, not sure what causes it, it will be the very palest pink just as the blooms emerge, and then turn just as white as the white one. On years when it is pink, there is nothing else in the yard at this time to match it. Just wish it did this every year. This year all of our pink ones are very white and you can't tell them from the others.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Dark Foliage

As I was walking around the garden yesterday afternoon, taking a break from weeding and other chores, I noticed that the Ranunculus ficaria 'Brazen Hussy' was coming up. I love this plant. It come up almost overnight and shortly thereafter has the brightest yellow flowers. It is a buttercup, after all, so I guess we should expect that. The remarkable thing is this almost black foliage. There are other shrubs and probably perennials with black or almost black foliage, (Ninebark 'Diablo', Cimicifuga 'Brunette' come to mind) but in early spring, most things are a nice, fresh green. This foliage will green up after awhile, but when it comes up it is just very dark, glossy black. I'll post a picture of the blooms when they get here, along with the other ranunculus that we grow.
The next photo is of Helleborus 'Lady in Red'. This is probably the darkest foliage on any of my hellebores. Though we have some seedlings that come close, they mostly either have dark foliage or dark blooms, but not both. This is not your cheery, bright, spring flower, but I am oddly attracted to it nonetheless.

The biggest adventure yesterday wasn't the weeding or the flowers, though. The biggest adventure was the snapping turtle. As I was setting of on my walk to look at the gardens and take some pictures, I wandered over to Lake Amanda. As I came down the path to walk around the bottom of the pond, I noticed some movement and realized that a very large snapping turtle was coming off a large rock at the edge of the pond and getting back into the water. His head is the size of my fist and he is about 24 inches long. Not a tiny, friendly turtle. He sat on the bottom for a long while looking at me. Luckily the water was clear so I could see him. We had suspected that there was a large turtle in there, but they are usually rather secretive and keep themselves hidden.
The scary thing is that we have worked in that pond, tending the plants growing there. Knowing that this big guy is actually there makes me realize just how lucky we both are to still have all of out fingers and toes. A snapper that size can easily cut right through skin and bone. When we have tried to catch others, they regularly bite right through the heavy wire we use in place of fishing line and the heaviest hooks we can find.
The next job is to find a way to get him out of there. We'll check with a friend who is a trapper and see how he might proceed. I try to live and let live (even the large deer who we caught eating azalea buds the other night), but this guy is dangerous to us and to the fish and frogs who live in the pond, not to mention that snapping turtles can finish off a waterlily overnight. No waterlilies growing there anymore, the last shard of one was moved a few years ago.
Today is a weeding day - cressy probably. There is much less of it than in previous years since I have worked to hard to mostly eliminate it from the gardens, but there is still some and it must go.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Daffodil - the first 'big' one

Although we had a miniature daffodil bloom already, there is something special and very 'spring is really here' about the first full sized daffodil to bloom. This one is 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'. It is always the first to bloom and this clump of them is always the first of the clumps to bloom. You can see the purple crocus which somehow seeded themselves into the clump. A nice combination. This is a full sized flower on a sort of short stem and nothing fancy color-wise or shape-wise compared to what is to come. Even though it bloomed on St. Patrick's Day and not the official first day of spring. Here in the hollow, spring has arrived.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Other things are starting to bloom outside in addition to the early bulbs. This is Daphne mezereum 'Alba'. Also called Winter Daphne or February Daphne. It is a small to medium sized shrub and starts blooming in late February or early March. The flowers are pure white (the species has smaller purple ones) and are highly and deliciously scented. This is our second attempt at it. We had both forms in another part of the garden, but they got some sort of virus and died, so we've put one of each at Lake Amanda and they have done quite well there. This picture was taken as the blooms were just starting. It is much more covered with bloom now.
This is a daphne that we have been growing in the greenhouse for the last 2 years. It is theoretically hardy here, but we wanted it to get a little bigger here before we subjected it to our winter weather. It is very hardy in zone 7 as are a lot of things we grow here, but we always like to give them some special attention in the beginning and put them in sheltered spots once they do go outside. The one's name, almost forgot to add it, is Daphne odora 'Zuiko Nishiki'. It also has a heavenly scent and does seem to cover itself in bloom several times a year.

This last one is Daphne burkwoodii 'Carol Mackie' and is readily available through catalogs and garden centers, much moreso than the others. It makes a small shrub and is showy all season with the variegated leaves. The flowers are like the ones in the first picture, small and white and highly scented. We need to replace this bush since it was, unfortunately, done in by an ice storm - just weighed the branches down so much that they broke. It never recovered from the trauma though we though it might.
The sun is shining so I'm off to the garden. First time we've seen more than a peek of sun for many days. It is a welcome sight.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hamamelis - Additions

Just taking a day away from the spring bulbs to finish up (almost) the Witch Hazels. This first one is Hamamelis vernalis purpurea 'Washington Pink'. Although the petals aren't quite as long, the color is wonderful and although similar to purpurea, much lighter. I like these colors up close, but from a distance the flowers seem to fade into the background, unlike the bright yellows. This seems to be a more upright bush and gets much less sun than a lot of the others. That might explain why it is more upright - stretching to get to the sun.
This next one is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Double Gold'. The picture is not the best but I didn't get this one (just last week) for the flowers. This will be our first Hamamelis with variegated leaves. Once the leaves come out I'll be sure to take a picture of them to post. It took a bit of looking to find this. We knew it existed but our usual supplier of Hamamelis was sold out. I just love getting plants in boxes - expecially when you open the box and they're in full bloom like this one was.

This next one is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Strawberries and Cream' I think I posted this one before, but it is finally all the way out and this is a much better picture.

Last for today is Hamamelis x intermedia 'Angelie'. It comes out a bit darker yellow, but it has been out awhile and seems lighter now.

One more to go and maybe not until next week or the week after that. 'Birgit' is our last one to bloom, always, and although it is starting to show color, it is a long way from being in bloom. We have 2 of them in 2 very different parts of the yard, but they are at the same stage of blooming (not blooming?).
Warm weather for a few days here so we're back to heavily mulching the area where we are trying to eliminate the bamboo and more pruning of magnolias.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Miniature Daffodils

Lots of pictures this morning, but not many words. These are all miniatures - tiny flowers on short or very short stems for the most part. There might be one or two that gets 8 inches tall, but most are closer to 5 or 6 inches. Foliage is often more reminiscent of chives than daffodils.
This first one is 'Xit'. New last year and already one of my favorites. It is absolutely pure white and if you look inside the cup, you will see a clear green at its base.

This next one is 'Tripartite' . It is one of those that come 3 flowers to a stem, though I only seem to have gotten 2 in the picture. For sure it wasn't eaten. That's one of my favorite things about daffodils - rabbits and deer don't eat them because the foliage is toxic to them. Not sure if the flowers are too since the cats will nibble on them with no ill effects, but the deer and rabbits do avoid them.

This next one is 'Sun Dial'. We have another, 'Sun Disc' which I don't seem to have a pictures of. I'll get one as soon as it blooms. It is all yellow and very round.

'Rip van Winkle' is one of the more unusual daffodils around. It looks nothing like what we usually think of as a daffodil. This one seems to make large clumps - which is always a good thing.

'Snipe is also an older variety. The petals are sometime, I guess usually, more reflexed, but the colors and long cup are right.

'Segovia' is also one of my new ones. This is along a path on the way up the hill to Lydia's Garden. It is near 'Xit'. This has a short, flaring cup. The neat thing about miniature daffodils is that you will find almost every variation in shape that you find in the full sized ones, except in a tiny flower.

'Little Soldier' has got to be the smallest one we have. It was difficult to get this picture without lying on the ground which is not always the most comfortable thing on a damp, cold spring morning. I don't think this one is even 4 inches tall.

This one has been in the garden for quite awhile as you can tell from the size of the clump. It is called 'Little Gem' and we have them around the fairy ring in the front yard.

'Chiva' is another of the tiny white ones. You can see from the size of the flowers compared to the dry leaves just how tiny these flowers are.

'Beryl' has a lovely shape I think. These reflexed ones seem fairly common among the small flowers.

Last but not least is 'Baby Moon'. You can see some of that odd foliage in this picture. It is the tall, dark lines running up near the center of the picture. Not very daffodil-like at all. Easy to mistake for an allium.

There are many more, but I think this is enough for now.