Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Daffodil 'February Gold'

Such a hopeful name.  Any flower that is willing to bloom in February gets my vote.  Unfortunately, in all of our years in the hollow, I don't think this pretty yellow harbinger of spring has bloomed in February more than once.  March or even early April is more like it.  It does bloom in February down south of us in zone 7, but still...  It has been around since 1923, from what I could find out and was hybridized by deGraaf in Holland.

In fact, it isn't even our earliest bloomer.  'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' from around 1943, is the first large flowered one to bloom.

The prize, though, for the earliest bloomer, goes to a little miniature one, unnamed, that grows along the driveway in amongst the Snowdrops.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dicentra of various sorts

Is there a flower more perfect for Valentine's Day than Dicentra, or Bleeding Heart.  Besides the old fashioned pink one, we grow a number of other ones here.

The first is Decentra exima with it's ferny leaves and more elongated flowers.

This one is Dicentra 'Gold Heart', though it's the leaves that are gold, actually, not the heart-shaped blooms.

Dicentra 'Burning Hearts' is rather new in the Hollow.  Very pretty red.

And the first one we got, the old fashioned Bleeding Heart

The white version is a bit less robust and doesn't increase as fast, but is just lovely.

And last, but not least, is 'Spring Magic'  We have had this for many years and it is still just a small clump.  This one is a much more petite Dicentra, only about 10-12 inches tall and the most lovely shade of pale pink.

These all like shade and woodsy soil.  On years with hot summers, they will go dormant by mid summer.  On more moderate years, the foliage will persist, though the bloom is only in the spring

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Cold, Sun, Blue Skies

10 A.M. and 10 degrees outside.  Not a day to be running around taking pictures.  The hollow is sleeping under about 10 inches of snow at this point since we got more overnight.  I hate the cold and am not crazy about this much snow, but when it is this cold, the snow offers a nice layer of protection for the plants.  Just a few weeks until we can be outside working and getting ready for the new season of gardening and sharing plants  Hard to believe as I look out the window right now.  So, for today, photos of lovely blue skies so we can pretend that the snow isn't really here.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Rhus radicans, otherwise known as Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy.  Dreaded garden weed.  So pretty in the fall.  I know it doesn't seem like the time to talk about summer and fall weeds, but what some people don't realize, is that you can get a very bad rash from the roots, and they are pretty hard to tell from other roots when you are clearing land or making new flower beds in late winter of early spring.  My worst case ever happened just that way, at a new house that I had moved into over the winter and didn't realize that where I was clearing for flower beds was actually a massive patch of poison ivy.  The results of my good intentions weren't pretty.

The fall color can vary greatly, from yellows to reds to oranges and combinations of them.  The tiny white flowers turn to shiny white berries, looking something like Mistletoe berries, which the birds will do their best to spread to other places where you'd rather they didn't.

I am blessed to have a partner who isn't allergic to it (I think 40% of the population isn't) and can pull it for me.  My father wasn't allergic either and I wasn't until I was in my 20s, about the time my other allergies also appeared.  

So enjoy the photos from a distance, and if you do have a run-in with these leaves or roots, there are 2 things that I find work very well to relieve the itch.  The first if Jewelweed,   Impatiens capensis is the orange one and Impatiens pallida is the yellow form.  The sap will sooth the itch pretty quickly.

If you don't have this growing nearby, an even easier fix is to just submerge the itchy spots in water at a temperature that is as hot as you can stand (or use a washcloth for places you can't easily submerge.  This takes the itch away for me for at least 8 hours, and usually more like 12.  Since my hands are the most likely place to be itchy, just washing dished in very hot water usually does the trick.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


And now to write about a subject about which I know very little - and about which I would love some advice.  I have always looked at Tillandsias and thought that sometime I would like to try some.  About a month or so ago I became the proud owner of this one.

I have read up on them and so it gets dunked or sprayed once a day (our house is a bit dry this time of year).  It has bright light for about 12 hours a day and gets a nice soak in pond water once or twice a week. Not cold pond water; I brought a jar of it in the house so it would be nice and warm.   What else do I need to do.  I know they are called air plants and some articles would have you believe that you can just totally ignore them.  The whole idea just doesn't ring true.  It must need some sort of care.  It hasn't changed or grown, but it hasn't died either, so I must be doing something right.  Any comment would be most appreciated from people who are successfully growing these.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Snow, again.

Between lack of a WIFI connection and nothing much outside to talk about, I've been absent for a few days.  Back now, and enjoying watching the snow, since I don't have to go anywhere for a few days.  I took a walk a bit ago and here are some photos.  I seems that we did a pretty good job of pruning trees and shrubs along the driveway since, despite things being covered in snow and hanging down, it was still easy to walk out.  That's a big improvement over a few years ago when walking was impossible as the whole driveway would be gone - covered with leaning branches.  No comment needed on these photos, just some pretty snow.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


I think all gardeners have special plants - ones that bring back memories of childhood, family and friends or special places.  Scilla is one of those for me.  We had them growing, a small patch of them, between 2 Azaleas in the front of the house.  They were tiny things, not flashy or showy and likely to be overlooked by most people, but as a small child, they were right down there where I was and I loved the color, such a deep, clear blue.  I now have lots of them spread throughout the garden.  They come up early and don't last all that long, but while they are here, they are just so pretty.  Since I've not been adding much cultural information to these posts lately, I decided I'd check on the zone for this one (2-8) and found out that it is considered invasive in some places.  Originally from Russian and Eurasia, it has been grown here in the U.S. since the late 1700s.  Grow them in part sun and a place with good drainage.  I like them in masses as they are so tiny, one or two in a place are likely to be unnoticed.  Bees seem to love them and in the very early spring, I'm sure it is a relief for the bees to find something, anything blooming.  They spread by seed and the short, only about 6 inches tall, if that much, is gone by early summer.  Hostas come up around most of ours, so I don't really know for sure when the foliage is gone .  If you aren't growing them, I would recommend them.  They are one of the cheaper bulbs, so you can buy a whole bag of them and spread them around the garden.

And there is a pink form which I also grow, but it will never have the place in my heart that the blue ones have.