Thursday, April 30, 2009


Blue Nose rhododendron is not seen much in commerce, but certainly deserves to be well known. It is rock hardy even here in Iowa, and covered every spring by luminescent violet flowers. I have white daffodils planted in front of it, for a nice contrast
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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

In The Pink

Wood anemones are a favorite around here; especially the blues. However, pinks are nice too; this is Wyatt's Pink.
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Monday, April 27, 2009

Blanda But Not Bland

Anemone blanda is such a retiring little plant that it gets lost pretty easily in a crowded garden. However, Anemone blanda 'Ingramii' (shown at top) has no such problem; its blue is the deepest yet brightest of blues. This particular selection of blanda is native to southern Greece; it begins flowering before other blandas, and also stays in bloom the longest; it's been blooming here for almost a month now. For comparison, at bottom is a more ordinary blue Anemone blanda.
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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ssssolomon's Seal

Solomon's seal is another of those plants that I really like best when they are just coming up; patches of them look like twisting snakes rearing out of the ground.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Gift That Keeps Giving

Two springs ago I toured the garden of a fellow garden blogger who lives just across town here. His garden, in a corner lot right on a city street, is absolutely jam-packed with an amazing variety of interesting plants, and is much viewed and enjoyed by folks walking by. One of the special delights of his garden is a variety of orchid cacti (epiphyllums) in hanging pots that he places in the trees, with these incredible flowers wafting their sweet perfume through the night-time air. He gave me a pot with some fresh cuttings in it, and it's now blooming in our garden. A nice passalong!
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Friday, April 24, 2009

New And Cool

One of the epimediums planted last year is pictured above (Epimedium sempervirens 'Mars'), with a combination of cherry pink cup and light pink tepals; its flowers looks like brightly colored candy, set off by maroon-edged leaves. It is one of the shorter epimediums (10-12"), early blooming, and covered with flowers.

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Bonus Daffodils

There are so many daffodils blooming in the garden right now, I could fill this blog with enough pictures that it would freeze up the best of computers... here is just a small selection.

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More Daffodils

A few more daffodils blooming today.
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The Tipping Point

There arrives a spring in the life of the garden when perhaps it has tipped over into too much... muchness. Dainty woodland cardamines (top), seemingly so hard to get established in this hot, dry climate, start running through the woodland in waves. Grape hyacinths (middle), march right out of the rock gardens, looking for more room. Primula sieboldii (bottom), mugs the dainty little juliana primula next to it, and heads for the woods.
I'm not sure what the change, or the signal is; but something seems to turn on, and even dainty little plants that normally act like they would rather be someplace else, start popping up everywhere. This morning I almost stepped on a snakeshead fritillary (Fritillaria meleagris) growing in the middle of a path... at least it didn't hiss at me.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Worth Stooping For

Muddy knees are a small price to pay to get a good view of Erythronium dens canis 'Charmer'.
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Monday, April 20, 2009

Fancy Pants Daffodils

For some reason I'm a little embarrassed to admit that my favorite daffodils are these overblown frilled or double daffodils; Iowans don't normally approve of such highfalutin' ways.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Beat This!

Beat this, if you can for total oddness; it's Asarum heterotropoides (I believe ssp. mandshuricum) from China. It is a wild ginger; the great majority of the Asian gingers are evergreen (or, make a brave attempt at it here in Iowa) and therefore of borderline hardiness. This ginger however is deciduous and seems totally hardy, with these extremely unusual flowers appearing in profusion every spring, nestled at the base of the plant.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

a Yearly Ritual

Every spring, like the robins, I start chirping; about Primula vulgaris sibthorpii. This lovely primrose is native to the Balkans, and therefore more tolerant of heat and dryness than other primroses, most of which come from misty, cool highlands or northern climes. Without fail, every spring here in Iowa sibthorpii returns and gets better and better, being invariably covered with bright pink flowers. Each spring I break off a little piece and transplant it elsewhere in the garden, so hope someday to have dozens of these plants blooming around every bend in the garden.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

A Tough Problem To Have...

Cypripedium parviflora, the yellow ladyslipper orchid, is one of those plants more talked about than actually seen in gardens, but actually it is fairly easy to grow and multiplies steadily into large patches. I just raised this clump up three years ago, split it up and replanted three or four pips in this spot; I counted thirteen stems poking up today. It probably should be divided again in the next year or so because it's growing right next to a brick edger outlining the garden path, so there's not a lot of room to expand. It's kind of a chore carefully digging them up and splitting them, but maybe it's not such a tough problem to have.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Further Afield

I've gradually been adding more species of corydalis to our garden. Starting with the commoner, more widely available types, I'm now slowly branching out into some of the lesser known and grown species. To my surprise and delight, I've found many of them hardy and rapid growers; maybe I won't be so happy if some of them turn out like Corydalis lutea, which has designs on taking over the whole garden. This is a more demure species, Corydalis paschei, with pale lilac pink flowers. In nature it apparently is only found in a couple of locations in SW Turkey, but it seems right at home in our garden.

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bee's Work

Blue scillas and blue chionodoxas have been brightening up our spring garden in a most harmonious way; then there's this little beauty, a natural cross between Chionodoxa forbesii and Scilla bifolia. This is properly called x Chionoscilla allenii, with lovely light blue flowers in a short, erect clump. Kind of an oddity, but definitely a nice addition to the spring blues.
Perhaps the busy little bee will cross my chionoscilla back with one of its blue parent genera growing nearby?
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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Enter The Dragon

There are certain plants in our garden which I think I enjoy more when they first arise out of the ground than when they finally bloom; the dragon arum, Dracunculus vulgaris, might be one of those. The floral structures are properly other-worldly, of course, but smell like ten year old gym socks wrapped around a dead mouse, and carrion beetles crawl all over them, smearing themselves with gunk; the foliage then starts flopping over and dying just as the plant blooms. Ah, but the cool, sinister, blotched and spotted plant sheath, rising out of the still-cold ground like some reptilian nightmare; that's worth the price of admission.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Well Named

I have several flower varieties named "Purple" this or "Purple" that. One of my favorites is Corydalis solida 'Purple Beauty', shown blooming by a meandering back pathway, where it gets morning sun and afternoon shade. It is tucked into a little spot with several varieties of fritillaries, a couple of trilliums, and a half dozen primroses, just to keep it company.
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Sunday, April 12, 2009


Anemone nemorosa Dee Day is a striking lavender blue clone of the European wood anemone; in some catalogs it is said to have been collected in France during World War I, by an English soldier. On the other hand, another catalog says Dee Day has been in commerce since 1940 (WW II, I presume). On the third hand, I have another blue wood anemone variety in the garden, Parlez Vous, and that is listed as being found in France by the self same English soldier.
Dee Day is one of those flowers that looks as if it has been crayoned with its blue color; an effect I particularly like. It is early-blooming, which I also like. It does however have a reputation for being a little sparser blooming than most wood anemones, but makes up for it by the brightness of its flowers. I have it planted underneath an azalea bush, and when Dee Day is blooming, I always stop to peer at these amazing little blue faces.
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