Category Archives: bulbs

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.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

On January 15, the only things in bloom were the usual suspects, but they were welcome.  Winter aconite (which has been in bloom for about a month), hellebores, and crocus ‘Claret’ tried to brighten the gloom on this mild, cloudy day.IMG_20160103_160409
With rain in the forecast, I took Adrian Higgins’ advice and sowed some Shirley poppies that I had on hand. No telling if they will take, but worth a try.

Shirley Poppy

Garden musings for a change

Just a few random notes from the garden this fall.  This has not been a very active gardening year for me (wait till next year!!), but I wanted to mention a few things.

First up is this picture of a woodpecker on the yucca plant.  When the plumbers dug up the front lawn, they broke off a lot of leaves on this guy, and he was looking pretty sickly.  Nevertheless, I think it must be a cast-iron plant, because it has recovered nicely. I left one bloom spike on it for no particular reason, and now I know why: it’s for the woodpecker!DSC06434Blurry because he was pecking so fast!

A quick trip to Roxbury Mills so that I can plant the outdoor pots resulted in:

sternbergia lutea (fall flowering) because I love the ones I already have

tulips Maureen and Canasta (fringed) for front door pot

Boxwood Winter Star (so-called, probably North Star) for the front pot – I saw something like this somewhere and copied it.  Apparently if it is North Star it will grow as a globe but right now it’s small and upright.  When the pansies expire and before the bulbs come up, there will still be a presence there.

Daffodil concerto or more likely a tulip, I think for the front door pot

A couple of Allium purple sensations planted in the front of the sunny bed

Then, from Bluestone, Cream beauty crocus, Lilies both Oriental mix and Stargazer, and Pink impression tulips  planted today 11/15 – Stargazer lilies in the pink bed, mixed lilies in with the iris, pink tulips in the pink bed and with the mixed lilies, didn’t get to the crocus today

Geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s Variety’ on backorder

Still in bloom on Gardener’s bloom day:

DSC06459cornflower (note to self, get more for next year)

DSC06462dragonwing begonia (they go on and on, caught this just as the setting sun lit it up)

physostegia still holding on

random morning glories that pop up everywhere

a little purple everlasting that  quietly goes on and on – will try to get a pic later

rosemary blooming white

remains of wild white asters

Notes for next year

Early spring is a great time to think about next year.  The snowdrops blooming under the hellebores in front were charming:  definitely order and plant more around hellebores next fall.

The tommy crocuses really came into their own this year.  They love the sun and open up beautifully on a bright winter day.  This February photo doesn’t really do their color justice.Tommy crocusesIt would be good to plant more on the far (street) side of the maple tree this fall.

Seeing the brilliant blue of the ordinary grape hyacinth in someone else’s garden reminded me of how lovely they can be, especially en masse.  These are some strays near the oak tree.underrated grape hyacinths

On a related note, the chionodoxa in the back corner is really starting to look like a sea of blue, especially from a hazy distance.  This is not a great photo (click through) but will remind me where to plant them next fall.  They’d look great under the viburnums, too.sea of blue

The hellebores have been so lovely this year, and the walkway garden so puny that it occurs to me to move and plant some hellebores along there, especially in the middle where it’s pretty shady.  I think they are just the right scale for this small space.DSC00907

Finally, the oak tree garden is, as always, a delight.  The ever-growing sea of winter aconite has turned into fringed leaves by now.  As the daffodils start to bloom on the other side of the tree, it’s a reminder that this side could use some, too.left side needs daffodilsMaybe some little ones to show prettily among the aconite foliage.

Back to the blog

Blogging about our wonderful trip to Italy and Slovenia seems to have worn me out, but I’m back with some notes on spring.  After our return from Death Valley on March 29th (a blog post for another day), I ventured out to find some forsythia to force.  None too soon, since a week later it’s in bloom outdoors.Forcing forsythia

Another indoor project is starting dahlias.  I ordered a selection of pinks from McClure & Zimmerman that will go in the pink garden near the Anthony Waterer spirea.  Varieties are Otto’s Thrill, Park Princess, Lambada and three Fascinations.  They arrived at the very last minute, the afternoon before we were to leave for Death Valley, so I hurriedly swung into action.  I planted them in a mixture of half vermiculite and half potting soil, in pots that are barely big enough – those tubers are long.  Watered, waited, and two weeks later actually looked up how to start them. It turns out they need to be covered up and watered sparingly.  Trying again, I added more mixture, watered just a bit and am now hoping they will take off.  Here’s the experiment.  dahlia projectNo signs of growth yet, but just you wait.

Outside, today is a good day to observe my favorite signs of spring, the plants that are just barely coming in to bud.  From top to bottom:  akebia leaves, buds of Lady Jane tulips, hellebore almost in bloom, and bluebells just leaves on akebia specie tulip almost in flower bluebells in bud

First flowers and onion snow

Catching up to the fastest spring I’ve ever seen –  temps in the 70’s and 80’s for days at a stretch in February, followed by a few days that plunged into the 30’s.  Spring is usually changeable, but this year it was late winter that gave us screwy weather.  Everything seems to be blooming at once.

February brings the early bulbs, in my case the sea of winter aconite (thanks, Mom) and snowdrops under the oak tree.

Lots of tommie crocuses under the maple this year, and I’m growing to love them.  These cream-colored crocuses are another delight.  This warm, chalky light yellow is one of my favorites and seems to blend with everything in the garden.

Finally, success with crested iris!  I think these were a bonus sent with my McClure and Zimmerman order.  They don’t last long, but they are beautiful.  Need more.

The hellebores have been magnificent this year.  Here are a few.

I seem not to have kept good records on the varieties, so not sure what this is.  Sometimes the white ones are my favorites…

Other times it’s the purple ones.

The first daffodils are these by the shed door, no idea what kind.

And then we had an onion snow on February 12th, one of the few snows we had this season.  I read somewhere that we had only 1/10 of an inch all winter!Pretty while it lasted, but it was gone by noon.

Tulip trials

Emma Townshend recommended this elegant mixture, dubbed “In the still of the night,” in an article last fall.  I put them in a less-than-elegant spot, at the end of my raised vegetable bed, but I’m happy with the combination.  It’s time now to pull them all out and save them in the garden for next year.