Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday: In the Pink

Goodness, it's been so long since I've joined in on Wildflower Wednesday that I've almost forgotten what to say! That's not exactly true, of course--I always read the posts celebrating wildflowers and natives all over the world hosted each month by good friend Gail of Clay and Limestone.  It's just that I don't have many wildflowers, and most of my natives are later bloomers, so I tend to wait until summer to join in.

 I do have several natives blooming at the moment, including Phlox pilosa, better known as PPPP, and a native Penstemon, both kindly shared with me by Gail several years ago.  And, of course, one of the natives I look forward to each spring--the beautiful lavender blooms of Baptisia!  But today I want to focus on a new plant in my garden.

Indian Pinks in a North Carolina garden.

I don't remember when or where I first saw Spigelia marilandica, better known as Indian Pink, but I do remember when I first fell in love with this plant.  It was at the Spring Fling in Asheville in 2012 that I saw masses of these red blooms in several gardens and vowed then that I would have it one day in my own garden.

Indian Pink is native to Southeastern U.S., and although it is hardy to zone 5, it is not commonly seen in the wild in Illinois.  In fact, Illinois Wildflowers, my usual source of information for native plants, lists it only as somewhat of a footnote.  Another source called it an "unusual wildflower," which explains why I had so much trouble finding a source for buying some.

One of my two "babies"

One well-known nursery did offer it for sale, but their plants were rather pricey, so I searched and searched for another seller.  I eventually found some in stock at Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin and quickly ordered two plants in March, before they sold out.  I had never ordered from this nursery before, but I must say I was very pleased.  I ordered a few other plants, including some wild ginger, and everything was packaged so well and was green and healthy when I opened up the box.  My two little Indian pinks even had the beginnings of blooms already!

 Spigelia marilandica is a clump-forming perennial that prefers moist, organically-rich soil and shade to part shade.  I planted mine in a new expansion of my shade garden, which I covered with a thick layer of mushroom compost, so I do hope it will be happy here.  It blooms in spring or early June, depending on the zone, but if deadheaded, may bloom into summer.  Its trumpet-shaped red flowers open up to reveal yellow centers that attract hummingbirds.  I did not find any information that it attracts other pollinators, but keeping the hummingbirds happy is enough for me!

Many wildflowers have been used in herbal medicines, but Indian pinks probably aren't a good choice for this.  They have been used as a de-wormer and as a hallucinogen, but can be deadly if ingested.

Another planting in a North Carolina garden
Indian Pink grows one to two feet tall, and can form a clump up to one and a half feet wide.  I am hoping that my two little plants settle in here and form some beautiful masses like this one in the coming years!

For more interesting information on wildflowers and native plants, visit the bee-friendly garden of Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Friday, May 16, 2014

May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring . . . why, Pilgrims, of course!  This old riddle may bring a smile to children's faces, but my question is what do May showers bring?  I certainly hope the answer is June flowers, because we have had our fair share of rain showers all this week, keeping me from completing garden chores and making me a day late for this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  Not that I'm complaining, because we've certainly needed the rain, and the garden is loving it.  I did manage to finally sneak out between cloudbursts yesterday to take a few photos.

Before I share what is blooming in my garden today, indulge me as I show what was in bloom just last week:

Tulip time has virtually come to an end, but what a glorious few weeks it was!  I shared many of my tulip blooms on Facebook with a "Today's Tulip" theme, including these 'Double Maureens.'

A popular post was this combo of  'Queen of the Night' with the pure white 'Marguerites.'   So often my plantings don't work as planned--for example, the purple tulips that appeared after all the pastels in my roadside garden had finished blooming.  But this combo had perfect timing this year, and I'm liking it more and more.  It's a nice contrast to all the pastel tulips I have planted elsewhere.

One tulip I didn't share on Facebook was this species tulip, 'Lady Jane.'  They're not as showy as the hybrids, but the outer reddish-pink petals that open up to these cheery white faces are still special.

After waiting for two years, I was excited to finally have lots of blooms from my namesake--'Rosalie.'

Also eagerly anticipated and new this year, a tribute to my mom--'Princess Irene.'  Interestingly, 'Irene' is shorter than 'Rosalie,' which is just as it should be--I inherited my height from my dad:)

I shared my favorite tulip of all, 'Akebono,' in my last post, but here it is fully opened.  What's interesting is that these are all new bulbs this year and look different from the older ones I had.

Unfortunately, the older bulbs were all decapitated by the pesky deer just before blooming, but this is a photo from last year.  Notice the difference in coloring; I'm wondering if this was due to the warm temperatures we had that faded out the new blossoms this year, or if it's because I ordered from a different supplier last fall.  I prefer the more yellow blooms, so just to be safe, I'm going to order these from the original company next time.

The redbuds are already leafing out and sport only a few of the eye-catching lavender blooms that I love every spring.  What is strange this year and rather sad for me is that my crabapple trees never bloomed.  I look forward to the week in May every year when my driveway is a beautiful mass of pink and red.  The lone white crabapple bloomed, but the strong winds of last week blew off all the blossoms before I could take a decent photo.  But the lack of blooms on the other crabs has me puzzled and a bit worried.  There have been years when storms blew off the blooms almost as quickly as they appeared, and perhaps that is what is happened this year and I just didn't notice.  I hope nothing is wrong with them, but I guess there's not much I can do other than wait another year to see if they bloom again.

While the early spring bloomers have faded, here is what is blooming this week:

Bleeding Heart has been blooming for a few weeks now.

As has the Brunnera 'Jack Frost,'  one of my favorite bloomers in the shade garden.

Not as obvious but still delightful are the blooms on the Solomon's Seal.  I've been working on dividing and moving some of the hostas in this crowded area, but everything has been growing so quickly that you can't tell I've removed a thing.  This is going to be an ongoing process this year, I'm afraid.

The old lilac bush was covered with fragrant flowers again this year, but they're quickly fading.  The 'Bloomerang' lilac, however, is just beginning to bloom.  I'm still trying to figure out how to prune a re-bloomer like this; so far, all I've done is snip off the old blooms in early spring and late summer.

In other garden areas, the unnamed perennial geranium is full of tiny blooms.

The first 'May Night' Salvia is blooming in the sidewalk garden.  They don't seem to like their location here nearly as well as in the arbor bed, where I have new seedlings popping up everywhere.

Amsonia 'Hubrichtii' is sporting its blue blooms in the arbor bed.

As are the Amsonia tabernaemontana, whose blooms are really much bluer than they appear here. A few years ago I dug up and divided this plant from its original spot in the lily bed, where it had grown too large for the location.  I noticed yesterday that there were new Amsonia seedlings blooming in the original spot in the lily bed again, so apparently I didn't get all the roots.  Digging up that plant was a job I don't care to do again, so I may just give in to its determination and leave it alone.  We'll see . . .

I'm always happy to see the Phlox pilosa, or PPPP as friend Gail calls it, once again!  It continues to spread slowly through the butterfly garden, which makes me even happier.

Giant Allium, 'Purple Sensation,' I think, are a great distraction from the fading foliage of the tulips in the arbor bed, and also a distraction from the weeds, I hope.  Did I mention I also have a bumper crop of dandelions this spring?

While the spring bulbs are becoming faded memories, the show is only just beginning.  Swollen buds promise there are new blooms just around the corner.  It's a great time to be in the garden!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is brought to you each month by Carol who aptly named her garden and blog "May Dreams Gardens."  You can check out the links there for a plethora of blooms this May.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Celebrating Tulip Time

Happy belated May Day, everyone!  For the first time in months, you won't hear me complain about the weather. Oh, it's one of those on-again-off-again rainy kind of weeks, but we have been fortunate in not having the devastating storms that have plagued parts of the country, so I am going to count my blessings.  After my last post in mid-April (where has the time gone??) when a late snow covered the emerging blooms, we went headlong into spring.  Since that time, temperatures have often been in the 70's, even reaching the 80's (27 C) one day.

With the warmer temperatures, my garden has kicked into high gear.  While I had just a few early bloomers for the April GBBD, now, just two short weeks later,  the garden is full of brightly colored tulips.  In fact, I don't think I've ever had so many blooming all at once before--it's as if they are all in a race to see who can open up the fastest.

Here's a look at what is blooming in my garden this week:

The first to bloom were 'Fur Elise,' which is probably a good thing, because with their shorter stature, they would get lost among all the later, gaudier blooms.  They're much prettier than this photo shows, but with the strong winds we have had many days, perfect photo ops have been hard to come by.

Red tulips aren't my favorite, but they were meant to be a contrast to another variety I planted here, 'Red Sorbet' which is white with a red flame.  It would have been a striking combo, but, of course, the 'Red Sorbet' never seem to bloom until the 'Reds' are done.  Oh well, I'm not going to complain.

The most common sight throughout all my flowerbeds are the 'Pink Impressions.'  It's not just because I like pink, but it's also because these are the longest-lived tulips I've found, coming back year after year.

Speaking of longevity, if you are looking for tulips that last more than a couple of years, the Darwin hybrids are the best in my experience.  Last year the roadside garden tulips had to be replanted, because it flooded in the spring and most of the bulbs rotted.  I decided to replace the combo I loved with a collection of Darwins, so I wouldn't have to plant here every year.  My vision didn't quite turn out the way I'd planned, though--I definitely need to add some purple this fall.

A 'Pink Impression'  in this planting.

The trouble with tulips--and the only flaw, as far as I'm concerned--is that they often don't live for more than a couple of years.  But that just gives me an excuse to give into my tulip addiction and buy more every year.  New this year is 'Ad Rem,' a tulip I purchased at last year's Chicago Flower and Garden Show.

Another new purchase from the Chicago show last year--'Cool Crystal,' a ruffled double that hasn't fully opened yet.

My spring garden isn't just tulips, of course--there are plenty of daffodils, like this one in the roadside garden, 'Pink Charm,' maybe.

And the double 'Replete' in the sidewalk garden.  

A shorter narcissus--many different varieties were planted in the arbor bed,
 whose names were carefully recorded . . . somewhere.  

I do remember the name of this tall beauty, however--'Mount Hood.'

I also have several colors of Muscari, including this new tri-colored one this year that I love.

I love everything about spring and every spring bloom from the tiny first crocus to the sweet little scilla to the multiplying daffodils in my garden.  But I confess--it's the tulip show I wait for every year.  I can't resist the enticing photos in the bulb catalogs and buy and buy . . .   My shopping addiction means by the end of planting, I always have more bulbs than empty spaces, often resulting in less than harmonious plantings like this one in the arbor bed.

But  I just can't help myself.  Who can resist a huge double like this 'Sunlover'? 

Or its orangey-red cousin that was mistakenly put in the same order?  Both of these have not only returned for several years, but they are multiplying!  Of course, I would have even more if it weren't for some pesky varmints visiting my garden this year--notice the beheaded stems in both of these photos.  This is the first year I've had a problem with deer and possibly rabbits, probably because it was a hard winter for them, too. I finally understand why many gardeners don't plant tulips--the deer and rabbits find them just as appealing as I do.

Fortunately, they didn't do as much damage as I first thought.  The double 'Maureens,' which are still opening up, were unscathed and have multiplied--I know I planted only 10 bulbs of these a couple of years ago!

The deer also enjoyed some of the 'Akebono,' so it's a good thing I added a few more of these bulbs last fall.  This has become my very favorite tulip--just wait until it's fully opened! 

With the forecast for even warmer temperatures next week, many of these blooms won't last much longer.  Fortunately, there are quite a few varieties still waiting to open, which means I can enjoy my favorite time of year--Tulip Time--for awhile longer.