An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

April 13, 2009

Bloom Day - Betwixt and Between

I seem to be between seasons here. Winter is definitely over, but spring is reluctant to warm up - not that I am trying to rush things. As I mentioned in December's GBBD, spring is often very cool here as we are adjacent to the great weather moderators of the Chesapeake and the Atlantic. The air and land may be warm further inland, but when you live next to thousands of square miles of 50 degree water - spring starts off slow and lasts a wee bit longer, at least until the water temperature catches up with the air. Fortunately this can also keep us out of the danger zone when the rest of the state has late spring freezes.

My Hellebores (Helleborus orientalis) are between seasons. Since this plant has had more than enough blogasphere exposure I'll spare you all of the pictures save one.
Camellia japonica is good at bridging the span between late winter and early spring. Most of mine are just about through blooming except for my too latest varieties 'Cherries Jubilee' and 'Nuccio's Pearl'.

While it is still too early to consider Hydrangea blooms, it is not too early to appreciate the incredible (unaltered) foliage color for Hydrangea macrophylla 'Sun Goddess'. These are the last two Narcissus to bloom in the garden, and I am sorry that I can't tell you there name. However I can tell you they did not cost me much.

This is the time that a lot of what are lumped together as "minor spring bulbs" in the catalogs start to bloom. These Ipheion uniflorum have naturalized around the garden coming up where I did not plant them, but I'm OK with that as they will disappear underground soon.

Ditto the Wood Hyacinth (Hyacinthoides hispanica).
Lesser Celandine (Ranunclus ficaria) occupies the space in my garden between pretty spring flower and noxious weed. It also disappears when the heat arrives, otherwise I would be less tolerant of it.
This Violet (Viola papilionacea) is certainly one of my worst weeds that just happens to have a nice flower. It is choking out things I want to spread like this Strawberry Geranium (Saxifraga stolonifera). I have not had any luck getting rid of it accept for patiently pulling their little bulblets out of the soil when the ground is soft. Here is another Violet, Confederate Violet (Viola sororia priceana), that I planted on purpose after our friend Vicky (the ex DJ, ex Latin teacher, medical message maven) gave me a couple. It is said the name comes from the color of the Rebel uniform. I can only imagine that if the forces of the South went into battle wearing lavender uniforms, the war would have been over sooner. So far this plant has not gone marching across the garden. By the large number of pups coming up underneath of it, I can tell that the Rice Paper Plant (Tetrapanax papyrifera 'Steroidal Giant') will soon occupy the world between the weedy and the wanted. The Red Ruffles Azalea in the background is always my first to bloom. This was given to me by a former co-worker who moved back to Nova Scotia to grow plants in the cold. She pulled everything out of the ground she had planted in her Norfolk yard and gave it away to keep it from her landlord. Are you out there Nancy? Viburnum x juddi smells so sweet that it almost overcomes the odor of dog.

On the front porch the battle between the vines continues with no clear victor. The Lady Banks Rose (Rosa banksiae 'Lutea') may be bigger ...
... but the Carolina Jessamine (Gelsemium sempervirens) takes a lot of abuse, which seems to only make it stronger.
The winter was a little rough on the one of my Loropetalums (Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'ZhuzhouFuschia'). However, it seems to be springing back and flowering profusely.
Speaking of profuse flowers, the Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata) has made a fine carpet by the front steps. Don't you know 14 years ago, an hour after we closed on this house, I was in the yard pulling plants out. This is one of the few survivors from the previous owner's intentions.
If you would like to see what is going on in other people's gardens, join the party at Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Garden. While you are there please thank her for all her efforts.


  1. Hi Les, it looks lovely in your between time there. The wild violets have defeated me here, I have given in to them, only pulling one or two that are growing on top of something else. There is no stopping them, especially when I see the millions of babies now germinating, resistance is futile. Your camellias, vines and wildflowers are charming. That phlox is amazing too, glad you left it. Happy bloome day! :-)

  2. Very nice display Les. If you had to choose the most fragrant Viburnum-- would it be carlesii, burkwoodii, or juddii? I really fell in love with them at the botanical garden. We have the Lesser Celandine in the Learning Garden and REALLY do not like how invasive it is. On the other hand our violets seem to be very thin. How big is your Loropetalum? I have seen some that are over 8 feet tall. I am looking into some of the smaller ones-- I guess the newer varieties, like Purple Pixie.
    Forgot that today was Bloom Day, need to get some photos before I head out this morning.
    Beautiful photos as always.

  3. As the owner of three dogs, I will be looking for the Viburnum x juddi for my backyard. :)

  4. You have alot going on in your 'In Between' time in the garden. I know what you mean though, there is much more coming soon in my own garden with all the buds yet to open. The wild violets threaten to take over my lawn & garden beds every spring. Of course it's my fault for leaving some be since I am fond of their blooms. ;) Happy Bloom Day Les!

  5. Hello Les! You made me chuckle when you said.."will soon occupy the world between the weedy and the wanted." How true that is in relation to more than a few plants in a southern garden! Violets being a good poster child for weedy! I love my V burkwoodii and it still smells lovely and is blooming after a few weeks...maybe the cool spring is helping it all out. have a good day today! Gail

  6. Does the 'Sun Goddess' stay that color all summer? It's lovely. Nice self-portrait you got there too. Is that a gazing ball you're reflected in?

  7. Your middle season is nicer than our mud season. You have so much variety of color in your garden. I love your purple carpet!

  8. Wow, 'Nuccio's Pearl' is magnificent. Looks like a rose. I love the blue carpet phlox.

  9. I'm laughing about your crazed post-closure plant-pulling! Don't you know you're supposed to wait a year after getting a new property before doing any gardening?! That way you see what's there and how it all works together! :)

    How awful for your garden to be vexed by such pretty weeds! I'm laughing about that too.

    The Ipheion has not naturalized for me...for some reason I have to plant it new every year.

    What does your Rosa banksiae grow on?

    I've never seen a camellia like Nucchio's Pearl before, with two colors of petal. Very groovy.

  10. You really have some beauties Les. Almost makes me want to move south. I have a friend moving to Alabama. I think I'll just live vicariously through her. Don't you just love that chartreuse foliage on the Hydrangea? I don't have one, but ooh, I'm tempted.~~Dee

  11. You'll love the 'Nuccio's Pearl' camellia. It is one of my favorites.

    That 'Sun Goddess' hydrangea is on my wishlist.

  12. Frances,
    I have not given up on the violets. I don't mind weedy things and have lots of others. However, the violets are very aggressive, they have even choked out my Golden Creeping Jenny.

    My vote would be Carlesii. I have two Loropetalums, Pizazz and Zchouchou (sp?) Fuschia. The picture is of ZF which is about 5' but it is still young. This is the tallest of the Loropetalum and is supposed to be treelike at 10-12' at maturity, which is why I got it. I plan on limbing it up and see what happens. If you want short try Daruma. Purple Pixie behaves more like a groundcover.

    Unfortunately during the other 50 weeks of the year I have to rely on other plants to cover eau de canine.

    If only the violets were in the lawn. They seem to prefer the richer soil of the garden.

    Yes it has been a cool spring. It figures the day I would leave my outer coat at home, that it would barely make it into the 50's. It was misty and cold, but now with soup on and a glass of wine, I am feeling better.

    Sun Goddess does stay that bright all summer, but it becomes a wee bit more green than it appears now. In spite of the name I would not recommend it for the sun.

    Thanks for you comments. We are having our own mud season this week. Cold, wet and rainy. I hope some of this will visit us in August.

    Sweet Bay,
    I have heard people refer to Camellias as Winter Roses, and it is easy to see why. There are several Nuccios and I like all of them.

    Yes I know the rules about gardening, but that does not obligate me to obey them. Besides if you had seen what was planted when we moved in, you would not have expected anything lovely to come up in the spring. I planted Lady Banks at the base of our porch and screwed an eye bolt into the porch beam in the ceiling. I then looped some rope around the canes to hold them up.

    Thanks for stopping by. I am addicted to anything with chartreuse foliage. I really like to mix that color with purples and smokey oranges.

    I only know of one company that sells Sun Goddess and that is Hines who have filed for bankruptcy, but are still selling plants. Maybe they will get their act together or at least let another company grow the plant. It could be they just own the name Sun Goddess and there maybe another name for the plant that has no patent.


  13. Thanks Les, I do like the carlesii. Will look into Daruma. That name wasn't familiar.

  14. Great pics, Les, as always, and thanks for helping me determine the difference between 'Nuccio's Pearl' and 'Nuccio's Gem' - I grow both ('Gem' is formal, pure white, and even later for me) and can never remember which is which. Funny that I took pics of confederate violet this week as well. I've given up blogging for gardening, at least for the time being. Something had to give!

  15. I most certainly feel your pain with the violet - I'm pulling it up constantly in my beds. I've gotten so I let it line some paths, and fortunately the Pointer Sisters beat it down (and everything else in their path).

    I've always liked phlox - when I was a kid, we had a bunch of it on a step bank, it always makes me think of springtime.

    It's been a slow spring here too - I actually still have a few camellias blooming. No complaints from me either.

  16. You've got a lot of beautiful spring blooms there--but I know exactly how those violets are, despite their seductive flower. They have taken over my backyard. Right now, there are literally thousands upon thousands of 'babies' everywhere! We are doing a makeover in our yard and have covered much of it w/garden paper so hopefully that will wipe them out, but I don't trust the paper to completely annihilate them. A woman up the street gave them to me about 15 yrs ago and I planted just one or two tiny plants! What a mistake that was!!

  17. Wow! Your garden is looking great!