Saturday, April 17

Foliage Follow Up - April 2010

Every spring, when the new foliage emerges, I remember just how many shades of green (and red, and purple, and yellow, and silver!) plants can show.  I also remember how much I love seeing all of these colors backlit by either the early morning or late evening sun.  Check out the glow:

Peach Heuchera

Strawberry leaf.

Emerging variegated sedum

Tree peony

Tree peony, up close (peep the water droplets from that morning's dew--very cool)

Glowing green centers on the red sedum spurium

bergenia,  left,  and species tulipes, right

A closer view--just for Joey, Mr. McGregor's Daughter, and all of the other bergenia lovers out there!

Emerging leaves on the 'Sykes Dwarf' oakleaf hydrangea

And a close-up of the same... just because the color difference on the two halves (one side backlit, one side not) completely fascinates me

'Golden Sword' yucca, with sedum spurium and common sage

Species tulips, with their streaked and backlit foliage providing a nice contrast to the blazing flowers... and to the sedum below.

Last but not least, I'm veering a little more off-topic to show you one plant whose foliage is too thick to really shine in backlighting.  There's just no way I could leave it out, because it commands the attention of all who pass by my house, from its lofty perch at the top of my front porch steps:

This is just a tease of the blue agave, but I promise a full photo of it in situ sometime soon.  I just wanted to highlight the great toothed markings on the leaves themselves, leftover from a time when these leaves were tightly pressed against each other within the rosette of inner foliage.  Amazing!

To find out what other foliage is capturing the attention of gardeners around the globe, visit Pam's Foliage Follow-Up post and follow the links within the comments left there.

Thursday, April 15

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2010

One of the things that I really like about GBBD is that it allows us to compare from year to year.  It's not just our imagination:  The things I had in bloom last year on April 15th were peaking a few weeks ago already!  Some, like the first of the species tulips, have long since shed their petals.

A few other things are in still in bloom, like the long-flowering hellebores... but it's still the "second wave" of tulips that are stealing the show, both indoors:

And outside, in shades ranging from creamy white:

To these interesting ones that are golden yellow with bold red markings when open, but a soft peachy-orange when closed:

More flower photos to come, but for now I'll close with my list of blooms:

Bulbs/Annuals:  All orange, red, yellow and white tulips (the dark ones, like 'Queen of Night,' are still just in bud) except for the very earliest ones near the 'Golden Sword' yucca.  About 1/5 of the 'Geranium' daffodils are starting to open, too.  Grape hyacinths are a cascade of blue in the shade garden.

Perennials:  All of the bergenias are putting on an amazing show!  'Purple Dragon' lamium is in bloom, along with European ginger and an unnamed pulmonaria.

Grasses:  Carex platyphylla and c. caryophyllea 'Beatlemania' are both in bloom

Shrubs/trees:  The peach tree is still blooming, along with both cherries and the apple tree.  I saw the first flower on my blueberry bush yesterday, too!

To see what's blooming all over the world on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, visit Carol's GBBD Post at May Dreams Gardens!

Tuesday, April 13

Orchid Watch: HEY!!!

Whaddya lookin' at?  Are you looking at me?!?!

Really, checking me out again?  There's nothing to see here yet.  The show hasn't started.  Get a move on!

... Sheesh. Gardeners.

Saturday, April 10

Morning Houseplant Sun

I love how the morning sun lights up the houseplants in my huge (east-facing) dining room window.

Backlighting brings out so many different colors that otherwise remain hidden within the leaves.   Like the yellows between the veins in these fleshy orchid cactus paddles.  ("Leaves" doesn't quite sound right, but "paddles" is my term, not a technical one!)

And the green in the otherwise fuzzy silver kalanchoe.  And the reds and golds in the dark purple setcreasea:

And now, off to take a deep breath and uncover my peach tree so she can bask in the sun.  Hopefully her "tent" kept her flowers safe so that I can enjoy a few peaches later this summer.  Time will tell...

Friday, April 9

All Tucked In

 I know this looks a little pathetic...

... especially in the fading evening light.  But I want peaches this year, darn it!  So I've covered up the fully-in-flower peach tree, and am keeping my fingers crossed that tonight's cold temps and potential frost don't completely do in my chances for enjoying some sweet, juicy fruit this summer.  Stay tuned...

Wednesday, April 7

Spring Emerges--by Leaps and Bounds!

With the warm temperatures this week, spring has not so much been emerging as it has been bursting! Early tulips, daffodils, a sore back, and the lawn-and-leaf bags* lined up on my treelawn are the usual first harbingers of spring in my garden.  But as I worked around the yard today, I noticed quite a few signs of "mid spring" making themselves known.  Here's an assortment:

Blooms on my peach tree

Buds on one of the currants

The pretty, purplish stems of lovage as it first makes its appearance
Cherry buds

Cherry blossoms

Apple buds, with a pretty shadow of the espaliered plant on the fence behind

Lonicera sempervirens showing off its first few flower buds

Newly emerging tree peony leaves

Sedum, cheerfully peeking out from a pocket in a strawberry jar

Most of these photos were taken as I weeded and mulched yesterday.  I also pulled out a great many plants--details on that will be posted later--in an effort to simplify my design.  And I started on my spring plantings of carrots, onions, shallots, lettuces and the like.  
Of course, there is still more to be done.  I plan to put in a little bit of an edging wall in the front yard, to make the garden there look a little more finished.  (The aforementioned neighbors should like that!)  In late May, the tomatoes, beans, peppers, eggplants and other heat-loving crops will need to be put in as well.  But for now, it's enough to appreciate all of the fresh faces of spring.  Happy spring gardening to all!

*Yes, I still compost.  However, I've learned from experience that certain things--some ornamental grasses, all woody plants, and perennial weeds--just do not break down enough in my little compost bins.  (And those pyracantha branches have scratched me up enough the first time around, so I see no reason to let their half-decayed thorns stab my fingers while I spread finished compost.)  The city's compost piles are big enough to heat them all up and turn them into black gold, however, so they end up on the curb in the spring.

Monday, April 5

The Weirdness Chronicles: Spring Leaf Tear

I've spent a decent amount of time this spring pulling what I think of as "dead leaf collars" off of spring bulb foliage.  You know how the green spears of foliage come up and pierce through leaves, only to get choked and strangled by the wiry veins on those same leaves when they get larger?  That's what I mean.

I assumed that this piercing only happened to the brittle inside parts of dead/decaying leaves.  But then I discovered this:

I barely understand why the dead leaves get pierced (I always kind of assumed that they were somehow impaled upon the young foliage via the wind we get so regularly here) but I definitely do not get how a thick, healthy heuchera leaf falls prey to the pointy tip of tulip foliage.  Heuchera leaves are on fairly bendy stems... why wouldn't the tulip foliage just push it off to the side, if anything, as it sprouts and grows?

I confess, I do not get this at all.  What in the world is going on here?  Do any of my more scientific-minded friends have any good answers for me?  The question of "Why," is driving me a little crazy on this beautiful spring day!