26 March 2012

March 2012 Flowers In The House

Indoor flowers on the last Monday of the month
There are not a lot of flowers around the house yet, so I like to keep them outdoors until more come along. Then, when I bring a few indoors, the yard will not miss the picked ones. Today I have a simple elegant pair of the Poet Daffodils (Narcissus poeticus) staring out the kitchen window.

I hope my vases do not bring back bad memories of your high school chemistry class. These were cast-aways from one of my projects - a renovation of science labs at a Washington DC high school. The bottles stored who-knows-what chemicals, but now have a new purpose in life. I like them because of the narrow necks perfectly suited at the right support height for holding one or two stems.

These daffodils are also tied to chemistry. As noted in a previous post [posted 18.04.2011] the flowers are commercially grown for their oil used by perfume labs in many modern French fragrances. So there's a connection, n'est-ce pas?

Find other garden bloggers' Flowers In The House at Jane's blog Small But Charming.

24 March 2012

You Know It's Been A Warm Winter When...

The nicotiana did not die in the fall
The white nicotiana (Nicotiana alata) is a reliable annual that reseeds itself year after year. Seeds usually begin sprouting near the end of frost, taking about a month to reach happy bloom time. So, early summer in June is when I expect to see and smell the night blossoms. This is great timing for the first outdoor barbecue of the season.

Last fall, the plants died back as usual, but apparently only from the ground up. Last year's plants are now sprouting again, and I expect to see blooms in April. With all those plants still growing from last year, and all the new ones that will be germinating, does anyone need white nicotiana?

Cardoon looks like a tropical plant
The great source of botanical materials, my landscape architect friends gave me two cardoon (Cynara cardunculus ) plants last fall. I planted them on the south side of the house, where they not only stayed healthy, but grew over winter. The leaves have changed shape with the seasons but they remained large and green. I am expecting to climb them this summer to a giant's castle in the clouds.

California poppies think they're in California
According to the internet sources, my mini California poppies (Eschscholzia californica) "...grow in warm, dry climates, but withstand some frost. They grow in poor soils with good water drainage." This is what happens with a mild Alexandria winter. They were started from seed last spring [posted 08.07.2011], grown on the south side of the house, and seem to thrive the more they are neglected. I even spied a few flower buds on them today.

Dogwoods and cherry blossoms bloom at the same time
Well, they are not exactly at the same time. The cherry blossoms are pretty much done with, 2 weeks before the official cherry blossom festival. Didn't they know? The dogwoods are now beginning the show, 3 weeks early according to my past blog post [posted 04.14.2010].

Weeds weeds weeds
Got Weeds? No, I will not post photos of the weeds. As one blogger wrote last summer, "My weeds are having a party." I have a stand of thick Henbit growing among the bearded iris that have never looked so healthy. Hairy bittercress calls my yard its happy home. The annual ryegrass in the flower beds choking any possible flower seed germination begs for Roundup.

Add your own signs of a warm winter.

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: Beauty of apeldoorn & Red emperor tulips, Poet & Salome daffodils, muscari

15 March 2012

March 2012 Bloom Day

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day
What's blooming in the garden on the 15th of the month.
Yawn. These spring pretties have starred in past blog posts, so this time I tried to get as close as my limited camera allows. And, in order to avoid featuring the newest blooming weeds in this bloom day, I present a few words on the one new plant: the blue hyacinth.

A year ago, I forced some hyacinth (Hyacinthus orientalis) bulbs indoors as I had in the past. This time, I tried Sky Jacket, a light blue color. They bloomed nicely during the winter. Last spring, I saved the bulbs, let the foliage die down, and planted them next to the white hyacinth without much expectation. Much to my surprise, they are now blooming, albeit with few actual blossoms.

Note one: the color is more deep blue than they are supposed to be, but they may hit their light blue color as they mature. Note two: yes, you can force hyacinths to bloom, and after letting the foliage die back, plant them outdoors for blooms the following year.

Find other garden bloggers' bloom days at the blog May Dreams Gardens.

Vinca minor

Rhododendron mucronulatum "Cornell Pink'

Narcissus 'Ice Follies'

Narcissus 'Tete-a-tete'

09 March 2012

Name That Plant

I found this growing in the side yard garden last week and am at a loss to identify it. We have ovate leaves with a slight gray color and somewhat serrated edges, symmetrically arranged in pairs on the stem, with about 12 inches in height (30 cm), and a growth not very vertical. I do not believe weeds of this size normally grow fast in the late winter. I ponder the possibilities:

• Lobelia cardinalis.
This is what I am hoping for. In fall 2010, a local nursery went out of business. I purchased a handful of perennials including the lobelia at 50% off and planted them in various places. Although the nursery carried an incredible assortment of unique perennials, it could not compete with nearby big box stores with discount priced annuals and azaleas that homeowners craved.

I marked the plant locations since I have been known to accidentally plant things on top of bulbs and other plants that had been previously planted. Markers were set out - but without labels or names.

Spring came and the Crazy Dasies [posted 2011.07.04] popped out, but no lobelia. No acanthus. No ligularia. All that remained were the blank markers stuck in the ground like little tombstones marking burial plots.

As I raked leaves this last fall, something thick caught the rake. A more substantial plant was found poking out of the vinca. I was mashing something that was struggling and fighting back. After demolishing the pesky plant and after closer inspection, I discovered acanthus sprouts had struggled all summer and were attempting a comeback.

Now that I know where the acanthus is, I am hoping it will reemerge this year. So, the mystery plant could be the reemergence of the lobelia, too.

• Monarda
Last spring I used a gift certificate for a few new plants from High Country Gardens, among them Violet Queen monarda. Two clumps were planted. They grew all summer and died back in autumn. The mystery plant is growing next to one of the monarda clumps. Photos of monarda show leaves in a paired arrangement on the stems and with a touch of serrated edges just like the mystery plant. Maybe a root took off to establish a new clump next to mom?

• Weed
If a weed grows this well in the winter, who knows what it will look like in the spring?

Garden Calendar:
  • Blooming: tete-a-tete daffodils, magnolia stellata, abeliophylum, rhododendron mucronulatum