Category Archives: bulbs

The long, cool spring of horrors

The horrors, of course, are the many manifestations of Covid-19, aka the coronavirus, aka the pandemic, the global pandemic, the quarantine, etc.  Starting around March 13, when everything shut down with only a few hours’ notice, we have been living a different life from anything we were imagining before.  No socializing, library and schools closed, businesses shut down, restaurants only providing takeout (and several with groceries available, too), curbside pickup at stores, no going out to eat, listening to music, having meetings. Don’t even think about traveling, not an hour up the road to Washington or across the ocean to Vienna, as was our plan for September.  It’s not so bad for people like me who have money and access to food and supplies, but it still wears a person down, especially given the criminal negligence of the government.  But that rant will remain unwritten here.

On the other hand, it’s been a lovely spring.  The cool weather has persisted with none of the 80+ degree days in April that cook the tulips.  Instead, long stretches of cool, sunny weather with even frost warnings a couple times in the last week.  We’re down for the year, but for the month our rainfall is right on track.  I can’t complain!

Narcissus ‘Sunlight Sensation’ and ‘Baby Boomer’ not only bloomed prolifically but lasted and lasted.  This is ‘Sunlight Sensation.’  Would definitely buy more next year to strew under the maple tree.

The tulips were a bit meager this year, with a few exceptions.  The ‘Happy Generation’ tulip that was supposed to bloom with this ‘Pink Charm’ narcissus barely grew a leaf or two. Tulips in pots seemed to be particularly weak or non-existent.  Voles??

On the other hand,  these dark pink tulips seem to be perennial (so far) and dutifully bloomed at the same time as the viburnum (just out of the frame).

The unfortunately named tulip ‘Bud Light’ was particuarly beautiful, though I don’t have a good picture from my garden.  Here’s one from Jackson & Perkins, and it’s just about how it looked for me, too.

Another one I’d buy again.

The oak tree garden, as always, was an absolute delight, starting with the winter aconites in January.  Here they are on February 9th, interspersed with snow drops. 

And a wider view, on April 11,

when the aconites are gone except for their foliage, and the bluebells, star of Bethlehem, columbine, Japanese roof iris and bleeding heart have taken over.

A closeup of the bluebells in late March: 

Not to forget the hellebores!  They bloom so early, last so long in bouquets, and are so incredibly lovely that I don’t mind that they breed like rabbits and self-seed everywhere.  This one was blooming on February 9th. 

So many beauties that I had to make a slide show for you.

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But wait, don’t forget the peonies and roses!  This was a hand-me-down from my friend Susan Hepler, known to me always as the Hepler peony.  The ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ has tons of buds but no blooms yet.

‘Zepherine Drouhin’ is one of my favorites, though it seems to have a fainter scent this year.  Maybe because of the cooler weather?

The ‘souvenir de Ste. Anne’ is an Earthkind rose, the very palest of pale pinks.

Then there is this neglected part of the garden:

The oakleaf hydrangeas that were supposed to grow six feet tall and help to obliterate my view of the neighbor’s shed never did grow very tall.  Then last year we had lots of rain at one point, and this corner of the garden tends to get soggy.  I think they have given up the ghost, and a great culling will happen here soon.  Edging, obliterating the hydrangeas and forsythia (at least some of it) and cutting down the maple saplings that have taken root.  What a mess!  Welcome to spring in Virginia!

This year’s bulbs

For various reasons, I did only a small order this year and it was certainly much less stressful planting fewer bulbs. One order from Brent and Becky:

5 Narcissus ‘Pink Charm’ planted with 5 Tulip ‘Orange Emperor’ per their suggestion

5 Tulip ‘Happy Generation’ – red/white, mid-spring

10 Tulip ‘World Expression’ red/white, good cut flower

5 Tulip ‘Budlight’ yellow lily-flowered, late

Crocus ‘Cream’Beauty’

Crocus tommy ‘Lilac Beauty’

Paper white – 10 ‘Ziva’ and 10 ‘Wintersun’

Oh, and a few species tulips and narcissus that were marked way down at Meadows Farms.  And that’s it!!

 

First round of bulb planting, part deux

The orders from M&Z and B&B are being delivered after Halloween, but I wanted to plant my containers now.  Off to Roxbury Mills, came back and emptied out the sweet potato vines and geraniums, and on to bulbs and pansies.

 

Kolpakowskiana tulips, apricot passion hyacinths and crocus Snowbunting in the front door pot, plus one other standard tulip that I have already forgotten!

 

Pink Impression, Ivory Floradale and Queen of Night tulips in the two blue pots

 

Texas gold tulips in the green pot

Tulipa Texas Gold

Phenology

According to Mr. Google, phenology is “the study of cyclic and seasonal natural phenomena, especially in relation to climate and plant and animal life.”  This is how you know when it’s time to plant peas (when forsythia and daffodils begin to bloom), or what bulbs will bloom with what.  Sometimes it works, and sometimes, given climate change, it doesn’t.

So, one success this year is planting grape hyacinths to coincide with tulip sylvestris, an elegant swan-necked yellow tulip that I read about somewhere and planted for the first time last fall.  sylvestris

These grape hyacinths are bigger and bolder than my older ones, and the bees love them.

Another success, at last, is ‘Sun Disc’ daffodils with Virginia bluebells.  Here they are by the oak tree trunk, finally blooming at the right time.sun disc

Other phenological observations are that the cherry trees are beginning to fade, just as the redbuds spring forth.  Here’s a cherry tree in my neighborhood several days ago:  cherry treeAlison’s two gorgeous crab apples are in full bloom right now.  In my garden, there are tulips (the pink ones blooming with the Judd’s viburnum, just as ordered), daffodils, squills, ipheion, snowdrops, and more.  It is an exuberant time in the garden.

 

Bulb madness

Trying to note the bulbs planted this fall before it all vanishes from my brain:

24 ‘Blue Giant’ chionodoxa under the maple tree and in the front garden

24 Anemone Blanda mixed under the oak tree and under the akebia vine

4 ‘Spring Song’ tulips (above) free from McClure and Zimmerman in the walkway garden

In the blue pots in the driveway garden:  three each of Queen of Night, Maureen and Cape Holland.  Perhaps they will even bloom in unison!  Over-planted with pale yellow and white pansies

Spring Bulb Recap…

…which is a nice way of saying that I have neglected this blog in favor of the faster blip of Instagram posts.  The original purpose of the blog was to document my garden so that I could learn from my mistakes and notice changes.  Of course, over time I’ve included travels and quilting, but in the original spirit of things, here’s a whirlwind tour of what happened this spring.

When Your Plan Actually Works

The ‘Tête‑à‑tête’ daffodils did just what they were supposed to: add color to the early spring garden in front.  As a bonus, they bloomed with the grape hyacinths, great color combo.  These were perfect and I may get more to add under the maple tree next year.  tete-a-tetes

I love the English bluebells with the pale yellow daffodil ‘Sun Disc.”  Every few years they actually bloom together the way they are supposed to, and this was one of the years.bluebells and daffodils

When You Had No Plan and It Still Works

These pink tulips (French single late from WFF?) beautifully echoed the pale pink viburnum ‘Judd.’  I did not realize I was doing this but will take all the credit for it anyway.  Will they bloom at the same time next year?  We’ll see.

Viburnum and tulips

The yellow hostas and yellow ‘West Point’ are another striking combination for which I will also take )unwarranted) credit.westpoint2

Old Favorites Do Well

These are Tommy crocuses caught in just the right amount of sunshine.Tommies

And these are my favorite lily-flowered tulips, ‘West Point,’ that go on year after year.  I hope these do the same even though they’re in a pot.Westpoint

Echoing Ruth Krauss, daffodils are to give everybody enough.daffodils for cutting

Sometimes There’s a Mystery

The ipheion in the walkway bed seem to have petered out, so I ordered more.  Here is one, looking a bit different from the originals, in the bed by the sidewalk.  So I think it’s ipheion ‘Constellation of Blue Stars’ but maybe not?Ipheion maybe

For next year:  more anemone blanda, especially under the maple tree.  I also added more trout lilies and English bluebells under the oak tree, and that was a Good Thing.

Spring blooms

I first noticed some blooms at the end of January.  I still remember (or think I do) when seeing winter aconites in February was unusual…

January 25: yellow crocuses under the oak treefirst-crocuses

 

January 29: winter aconite (in bloom for a week or more by this point) and crocuseswinter-aconitestommy-crocuses

February 6:  white crocuses (and notice how dry the soil is)white-crocuses

And today, February 19: Tête-à-tête dafodils in the front garden, hellebores front and back (in bloom for some time), and more of the delightful Tommy crocuses.

These crocuses, opening up in sunshine, always make me think of Sara Teasdale’s poem “Barter,” invoked by a long-ago children’s librarian about storytime: “children’s faces looking up/ holding wonder like a cup.”

Bulbs planted, fall 2016

spring-bulbsAs usual, my eyes are bigger than my – well, than my ability to plant bulbs in the hard clay soil that abounds here.  But here is what I have.

  • More Lady Jane tulips in front of the trellis because I have so enjoyed the ones I already have
  • Leucojum ‘Gravetye Giant’ in front of the autumn ferns by the trellis and among the marsh fern in the walkway bed
  • Tulips ‘tarda dasystemon’ and polychroma, both yellow species, among the hostas under the maple tree.
  • more narcissus ‘Sun Disc’ because I love their chalky yellow color and their small perfect blooms (not sure where to put these, I already have some under the oak tree that are supposed to bloom along with the English bluebells and occasionally do)
  • more trout lilies and English bluebells under the oak tree
  • more Ipheion in the walkway garden since the originals seem to have petered out
  • Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’ in the front garden so there is some early color there
  • more West Point tulips, an elegant lily-flowered yellow that persisted for years but has finally died out
  • a selection of tulips from Roxbury that are destined for cutting and to fill some containers:  Passionale, Tom Pouce and Elegant Lady in shades of purple, rose and pale yellow.

Note that the picture above is just a generic pretty picture from a landscaping site and reflects none of the bulbs I have planted!

Not again!

It has been raining almost every day for about a month, and we are sick of it, as you can see from this extremely witty Facebook post.just-walking-my-fish

 

Even someone like me, who welcomes a rainy day as an excuse to quilt and read, is getting weary.  We had one sunny day last week, and the air was ringing with the sounds of lawn mowers.  I was able to edge the sunny border, fighting with the witch grass all the way, and started to replenish the soil in the newly installed raised bed.  Rainy today, Sunday, and predicted to go on until some time on Tuesday.  And to top it off, we are still in a rain deficit for the year!

On another note, garden bloggers’ Bloom Day has come and gone yet again without a post from me.  Here is a reconstruction, and a list from 2014 (another of those pieces of paper that floats around the kitchen counter until needed).

Early May 2014

  • Cherokee phlox
  • False Solomon’s seal
  • Ghostly bulb in white garden
  • small white allium
  • hellebores
  • mazus reptans
  • bluebells
  • tulips (going by)
  • columbine and wild columbine
  • sweet woodruff
  • Topolino (I think) daffodil in sunny bordertopolino
  • tiarella
  • euphorbia
  • vinca
  • sorrel
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • dandelions
  • Viburnum ‘Shasta’ and neighbor’s pink dogwood
  • bleeding hearts (white and red)
  • white azalea
  • garlic mustard
  • geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s variety’
  • bugleweed
  • lily of the valley
  • pink azalea
  • coral bells
  • Sun Dial narcissus
  • pansies

This year is much the same, except that mid-May this year found nary a trace of the mazus and wild columbine, both lamented.  I think the hellebores might have crowded out the columbine.  The Topolino daffodil again was the last to bloom and is most welcome.

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is in bloom, as gorgeous and over the top as ever.

2016 peony

Equally magnificent in a very different way is the Jack in the pulpit that either Becky or Judy passed along to me.  It seems to be very happy in this cool, wet spring. Jack in the pulpit

Thanks to advice from Adrian Higgins, I sowed my Shirley poppy seeds in February and hoped for the best.  They were just lying around, so why not give it a go? Lo and behold, it worked!  poppy

This gorgeous red is a good contrast with the blue columbines that have taken over the garden (their days are numbered if it ever dries out a bit).

Bloom Day March 2016

A drizzly morning is good for the garden and good for garden photos.  In bloom today, after a very warm week last week and just a bit of welcome rain this week, are:

grape hyacinths – modest little bulbs but I want to add more for a sea of blue.  I like the contrast with the red blossoms from the maple.IMG_20160315_093458

hellebore – one of the most satisfying of perennials, these come in several colors and postures

daffodils – the cutting garden is doing well (I’ve already cut several dozen in the last few days), and more are in bloom under the oak tree and outside the shed.  I need some in the front garden.DSC06825

chionodoxa – my plan for a sea of blue under the hydrangeas is slow to mature, but I’ll keep adding bulbs each yearDSC06826

speaking of blue, the blue anemones seem to  be the only ones to survive.  They do well in sun and are not showing at their best on this cloudy morning.  They would look great under the maple tree.  Next year?DSC06828

and finally, leucojum ‘Snowflake’ – this one is in the bed with Bishops weed, so I rooted out both the weed and some of the leucojum a year or two back.  It seems to be thriving again.  It makes a very sweet tiny bouquet that allows you to see the delicate green lines on each petal.DSC06820

And, of course, dandelions, myrtle and forsythia, all appreciated but too common to record.  Otherwise, plenty of buds are swelling – not just the maple but also the bottlebrush buckeye and the hydrangeas.