Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bloodroot & Turkestanica

I let out a little gasp of excitement when I saw the bloodroot in bloom this morning. I thought it would be a few more days at least. Two years ago we were into May before the bloodroot really came into its own.

The bloodroot seems to be multiplying successfully. There used to be three plants (and therefore three blooms) at the base of the serviceberry. This year, there are at least three blooms wherever there used to be one. At this rate, I should have a very impressive clump in about a decade. It will be worth the wait, no doubt. While the bloodroot flower is diminutive and short-lived the foliage continues to provide drama for a while to come. Once the flowers fade, giant, multi-lobed leaves similar to curvy fig leaves unfurl. Bloodroot is considered an ephemeral that goes dormant in the summer heat but in my garden the foliage lasts right through the summer. Sufficient shade and moisture seem to do the trick.

Tulipa Turkestanica made its debut today. Compared to
last year the blooms are a little behind schedule. Turkestanica is an outstanding performer: it is loaded with blooms and they last a long time.

This is a species tulip. The squirrels do not appear interested in it. I planted Tulipa Saxatilis and "Little Beauty" with Turkestanica but they did not bloom last year. This year there is plenty of foliage to suggest they will.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mini Daffodil: Tete-a-Tete

Who needs sunshine when the daffodils are in bloom? The rain has been relentless, pounding at times, but the miniature daffodils Tete-a-Tete are holding up quite well. Unlike the crocus which really struggled to stay upright in this spring of downpours, the mini-daffs seem unfazed.

Tete-a-Tetes are remarkable little bloomers. This is their second spring in bloom and they seem just as vigorous, if not more, than last year. I have ten groupings of Tete-a-Tete all more or less equally spaced along the edge of the garden. Each group features more than a dozen blooms. The effect is quite pleasing. As a bonus, Tete-a-Tete flowers last for a very long time.

I have also managed to achieve some nice colour combos. The Dwarf Iris "Cantab" is fading but its blue still looks wonderful in among the daffodils. The deeper violet-blue of a small clump of chionodoxa produces a similar result. The yellow daffs also look nice against the cinnamon foliage of the heuchera with the name that escapes me at the moment. Its foliage came through the winter remarkably untattered producing this pleasing duet with the daffs.

There is more rain in the forecast. I'll have to rely on Tete-a-Tete for my sunshine fix.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Last Crocus

The last of the crocus is in bloom. "Ruby Giant" is the flower I think of when I think of crocus. This is the only flower that escaped the squirrels unscathed. Of the six different crocus varieties that bloomed this spring, "Ruby Giant" proved to be the squirrel favourite.

"Giant" is a relative term in the garden. This crocus is by no means a a giant compared to some spring bloomers. It gets its "giant" moniker because its bloom is large relative to other crocus of the same species.

I am absolutely thrilled will the crocus this year. They have been blooming since the beginning of April giving me nearly a month of garden enjoyment even in this particularly cold and wet spring. Without question I will add at least another six varieties to the garden in fall...maybe even twelve... maybe even...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Reluctant Spring

Have I mentioned that spring has been absolutely wretched this year? I spent ten minutes in the garden this morning and had to turn back because of the cold. The daffodils were none too happy either. Last year the daffodils were in full bloom weeks earlier. This year fewer than a handful have opened.

Despite the cold I've already made my first garden purchases of the year: a sharp-leaf hepatica and the double primrose "Miss Indigo."

I can't say that I have ever been a fan of primroses. My neighbour grows a number of them though and over the years I have come to appreciate their charms in early spring. So when I saw "Miss Indigo" I thought why not?

I try to add native plants to my garden whenever and wherever I can. The sharp-leaf hepatica (hepatica acutiloba) caught my eye with its unusual and somewhat hairy foliage. I'm not sure if that's a bloom-in-waiting or a seed head (I bought this at a local nursery where the plants are so far along there are even flower buds on the coneflowers). I would love to see it flower but if it doesn't I will gladly wait to see it next year. This is a great time to plant the spring ephemerals because it is easy to see where the bare spots in the garden are. Now if spring would hurry up and bestow some sunshine and warm temperatures on us I could start feeling good about adding even more new selections to the garden.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dwarf Iris Cantab Returns

Dwarf Iris "Cantab" was easily my favourite addition to the garden last year. It is a true blue that makes me swoon. I recall reading somewhere that "Cantab" aren't really expected to return so it was with great delight that I discovered them in bloom. It does seem that there are fewer flowers this year but even one bloom is more than welcome. This is truly a stunner.

Sadly, it has been an absolutely wretched spring and "Cantab" is a little worse for wear. The temperatures have been really cold. The winds have been biting. And the rains have battered everything -- the crocus have been flattened and the "Cantab" is barely holding its own against the conditions. There's sunshine in the forecast for tomorrow. I'll have to do my best to get outside and enjoy the fleeting beauty of the spring bulbs.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Mystery Crocus

While this is a delightful little crocus I can't help but be disappointed. I thought I had planted Crocus Advance: a three coloured crocus featuring creamy-yellow in the centre of the blooms and outer petals that alternate between white and violet. Will there ever be an end to the heartbreak of mislabeled plants?

What I have instead is quite pretty in its own right. The petals are a light purple on the inside. The outside petals are an even lighter purple blush with much darker markings. Quite dramatic, don't you think? Does anyone know the identity of this mystery crocus? I guess I'll have to try again for some Crocus Advance next year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Crocus Tricolour

This crocus lives up to its name featuring three colours: orange-yellow at the base, a band of white, and purple-tipped petals. Crocus sieberi Tricolour has not performed nearly as well as Romance, Blue Pearl or Fuscotinctus. All the crocus have a similar growing environment. I think the problem is squirrels. I sprinkled bloodmeal around the others a few weeks ago and the squirrels seem to have stayed away. But I must have missed the Tricolour because something has been digging and doing some damage. Too bad. A few more of these would be delightful.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Crocus Romance

Another day, another crocus. This buttery yellow selection is Crocus Romance. It is much more subdued in colour than the Crocus Fuscotinctus that opened a few days ago but equally exuberant in the number of blooms.

I have very little yellow in the garden aside from some Black Eyed Susans I enjoy for their late season bloom. My garden leans heavily to to violets, purples and blues. But yellow is the perfect colour for early spring. It's a welcome wake-up call after a long winter.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Crocus Blue Pearl

I've gone a little crocus crazy this year largely because they are doing so well and providing abundant blooms. Crocus chrysanthus "Blue Pearl" was reluctant to open this morning as rain threatened. This allowed me to enjoy the pale lavender- blue on the outside of the petals.

Later in the day, the pearly inside was revealed.

I have learned to plant crocus in large groups to create some drama in the garden. Having witnessed "Blue Pearl's" magical shimmering effect I wish I had tripled or even quadrupled my order of 32 corms last fall.

Lucky for me that "Blue Pearl" naturalizes happily and rapidly. There should be many more of these lovelies to enjoy for years to come.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Crocus Fuscotinctus

The crocus have been reluctant to open and share their blooms. They have been closed tight against the bitter winds that are blowing through. Fortunately Crocus Fuscotinctus (full name: Crocus chysanthus var. fuscotinctus) looks mighty impressive even when closed tight. Each petal has several purple stripes that are feathered along the edges.

After a few days of gloomy cloud cover the sun coaxed the crocus to open today revealing the golden yellow flowers.

I planted 32 Fuscotinctus corms last fall. They are said to multiply quickly to form large drifts (my type of plant). That's important: if the squirrels get a few (and they do) there will still be plenty of blooms for the humans to enjoy. I have another five varieties of crocus still waiting to bloom. I already know that I will plant many more varieties this fall because in these early and still-cold spring days the sight of crocus takes a bit of the chill off.