Wednesday, April 2

Spring Observances & An Allium Question

Still no sign of the coveted winter aconites... but my 'Flore Pleno' snowdrops finally decided to make an appearance this week! Here's the first one, a bit shorter than I had expected but still a welcome sight amid beech leaves and browned ajuga foliage:

The snowdrops are just outside my big picture window, and when I looked up from the camera I noticed a bright coral color near the crown of thorns plant next to the window. When I went inside to investigate, I found a flower! This is not part of the bud cluster I showed last time... but based on the way those buds have changed I think this is only the first of many flowers I'll be enjoying on my euphorbia milii:

Walking into the front yard, I noticed a bunch of tulip foliage sprouting... even in areas where I don't remember planting any tulips. After going back through my bulb planting photographs--er, records--I have discovered that I don't have a clue what I planted here.
So much for my record keeping skills, eh? Even the photographic kind is apparently beyond my capabilities.
I know that I have professed my love of foliage before, and my admiration for plants that do double-duty, so to speak, but either being edible and ornamental or by having great flowers and foliage. My feelings here extend to tulips as well... check out the interesting spots on this t. greigii. It reminds me of lizards, or maybe crocodiles, which is very fitting for the tough reputation these species tulips have:

Also with a tough reputation, but looking pretty frazzled, is euphorbia 'Efanthia,' a relatively new cultivar. Her branch tips look pretty vibrant, but the rest of her looks a little winter-weary and dry. She's listed as hardy to zone 7 in some places, and colder in others, so I knew I was taking a chance with her... we'll see whether she snaps out of it with the coming warm spell.

Similarly ratty, and in need of some cleanup, are my bergenias. (I just found out I've been pronouncing these wrong, via a nice post on emerging spring reds. You should say ber-jean-ia, but I was using a hard "g" in my head. Thanks for straightening me out, Layanee!)

This little clump above glows with reds, greens and golds during the morning, and then the clump next to the doublefile viburnum picks up the show in the evening. If you look closer, though, you can see a few spots on the leaf in the lower right, and some crispy edges at the top. All of those will be taken off in a few weeks when the plant greens up... I just can't bring myself to do it now, because I don't want to forego their show!

Heading back to the steps, I checked out a few plants that were basking in the morning shade. More tulips that I don't remember planting, of course... and then the fat pink flower buds on my 'Ivory Prince' hellebores.
Good thing it's spring, when all colors are welcome, or some stylish gardener might order me an intervention for planting these pastel-flowering hellebores alongside red species tulips--and other taller, showy tulips, too. The almost black 'Queen of Night' and the Orange-with-streaks 'Princes Irene' (which might be my alltime favorite showy tulip) reside nearby with the acid-yellow leaves of golden oregano at their feet. It will be an... interesting... sight if all of these decide to bloom together!

Last year, I fell hard for the new orangey cultivars of coral bells? Which ones, you ask? Well... YES. lol. I'm pretty sure that the one above is 'Amber Waves,' which definitely held up the best of the three. 'Peach Flambe' isn't looking too bad, either, but is definitely on the small side. 'Marmalade,' which you see below, is borderline scrawny but then it gets the most sun of them all and is in relatively unimproved soil.

The little green sprouts above the heuchera are the emerging foliage of allium schubertii. I have planned to allow the golden oregano to creep across the bed toward 'Marmalade,' and thought that the funky purple alliums would be an interesting addition peaking through the oregano foliage.
Which leads to my allium question: Has anyone grown these before, and if so... is it really possible that the flowerheads might end up being up to 12 inches wide?! I am suspicious of any and all claims for "huge blooms," especially on bulb packages, so I planted them about 6-8 inches apart to make sure that I can get a good show from them. However, if the stats on Davesgarden are true, these flowerheads can easily be 10-12 inches across... and I might have to move a few of them to new homes, if that's the case! Any advice would be appreciated...


Unknown said...

Ugh. Blogger is giving me fits right now with editing... sorry for the weird spacing and lack of space between paragraphs. It looked fine in the previews!

Also I neglected to put in a link to the Davesgarden Plant Files homepage. I like it because the files are built by real people who write about their experiences. You can find it here.

Frances, said...

Hi Kim, I have those allium schubertii's and they are pretty cool. The longest flower stems are indeed easily ten to twelve inches, with shorter sputnik looking stems mixed in. They are not very purple, like A. Christophii, kind of a gray mauve, but they dry in that shape and last a long time. The first year was by far the best bloom for these, but that seems to be the way with many bulbs. If fed well, they will build up again for more blooms in subsequent years. Save the seeds also, they germinate easily, but who knows how long it will take to get a flower?

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

I hate to throw a monekywrench into your pronounciation, but I believe it is prounounced ber-GHEN-eeuh, because it was named in honor of Bergen. (Just as Heuchera was named for Heucher, Tradescantia for the Tradescants and Forsythia for Forsythe (but nobody says for-SIGH-theeuh)).
Before I started reading blogs, I had no idea Winter Aconites were so hard to grow. I had no idea how lucky I was. I hope yours pop up soon.

growingagardenindavis said...

I love that t. greigii! And I can't wait to see what color flower it has. Good thing those surprise front yard tulips weren't backyard hiding-in-the-lemongrass tulips!

Anonymous said...

Kim: MMD is right also and with history in there to boot! Pronunciation guides list it both ways but I like the soft sound. Sometimes I say potato and sometimes potahto. We will so miss you in Austin. Why don't you and the rest who aren't coming just show up and surprise us all!

Anonymous said...

Yep, they get huge. They're pretty cool, and hard to resist.

Looks like stuff is starting to happen up there - nice to see! I too have fallen recently for some of the colorful heuchueras - they're showing, but without being obnoxious I think - and I have so much light shade that they're perfect.

Oh - and I like the species tulips too, their foliage is really nice - yours look gorgeous.

Unknown said...

Frances, thanks! And YIKES--it looks like I might indeed have to move these. Or maybe give them a year and see if they get smaller. Hmm.

I like the grey mauve color that I've seen for these--kind of a duller (or maybe it just seems that way because the color is more spread out/less dense) version of the color of my drumstick alliums.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, well now... that makes sense, too! Ber-GHEN-eeuh is the way I'd been saying it, but I've been trying to change that a bit.

So, botanically speaking, what happens to names that are created "in honor of" someone, if they don't translate well to Latin? I don't know if I'm asking this correctly, but if "ch" is pronounced as a hard "kuh" sound in most Latin names, but say Mr. Heucher is a German guy who says his "ch" as a "shcuh" instead, which way wins?

My inner two-year-old wants to know. :) Why, why, why?! :)

Leslie, you're so right about the lemongrass! lol.

By the way, this particular t. greigii is 'Red Torch' and it's pure, teenager-dream-lipstick red. I've also planted 'Shakespeare,' with a thin soft orangey gold edge to the petals, and 'Cape Cod' with a wider, lighter gold margin to the red flowers, nearby. I think that next year I'll need to add some dark purple crocus to put on a good show together.

Layanee, I SO wish I could! Alas, I didn't win the MegaMillions yesterday (something about not buying a ticket) and so I'm stuck here in Cleveland instead. *grin* I can't wait to read all of the reviews when you all get back to your blogs!

Pam, no fuzzy oakleaf hydrangea buds yet, though... I checked. :)

Now that you mention it, that's exactly why it's so easy to find a spot for those colorful heucheras. They're bright without being obnoxious, and they mix in so well with other things. The 'Peach Melba' is the hardest one for me to mix in because I don't do pastels much, but it still manages to look good in spite of me.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

Such fun finding your first snowdrop. It just means that there are lots of things waiting for the snowdrops to send back the message that it is alright to emerge.

Anonymous said...

nice plants.

East Bremerton florist

kris said...

I love seeing your spring blooms. I love species tulips - the foliage is great and the blooms are so sweet. Your bergenia just amazes me - I have to try yours this year. Mine was always so ugly I threw it out last year. I'm glad someone else is seeing tulips where they aren't expecting them - I'm scratching my head at a couple patches in my garden too. :)

Kylee Baumle said...

Kim, you've got so many of the same things I do! My 'Efanthia' pretty much looks the same as yours.

Yes, Allium Schubertii does get that large. I grew them two years ago and sadly, they didn't return the following year. They made it through the first winter, but not the second. However, I enjoyed them so much I planted some last fall again.

Here is a photo of the ones I had in 2006.

Unknown said...

Yes I have many Allium in my garden, with very large flowerheads. In the fall I'll use them in flower arrangements.

Rowena said...

My tulips have been pushing themselves out of the ground too, but I am reacting to their arrival with a bit of trepidation. I'm not the only that loves does my 3 year old westie. She loves to bite the new blooms off as if picking fruit from a tree!

Anonymous said...

Wow. I *love* the tulip. I'd never seen varegated tulip foliage before. On the other hand, I'd never heard of species tulips either. Is variegation common with those?

lisa said...

Nice start to your spring, Kim! I can't wait to see your allium pics...I have several varieties but not the "huge" flowered one. As for the tulips-I've had them skip a year or two, making me think they're dead, and then they re-appear! Weird.

lisa said...

Oh! And congrats on your crown of thorns bloom! :)

Unknown said...

Greenbow Lisa, lol! I hope the snowdrops are shouting it from the rooftops, then! Hmm. Those winter aconites aren't planted too far away. Maybe they'll get the hint. *grin*

Thanks, Arlene!

Kris, I really do have to get my camera back to the "other" bergenia (the plain old b. cordifolia) in the backyard to show you all the difference. It's amazing how much nicer these look--hence the other ones ending up banished to the back.

I'm glad that I'm not the only one scratching my head at some of these tulips, too. :)

Kylee, I know! And yet it seems like we're such different gardeners somehow, doesn't it? I wonder why that is?

Yikes re: the allium schubertii. I should have better drainage here than you do there (Black Swamp and all) so maybe that's the key? Either way, I love your picture--I'd like to have those at least one year!

guild-rez, I do like them in arrangements--at least, I have liked the drumstick alliums used that way. :)

rowena, YIKES! I'm laughing... but empathizing. Mine likes to eat my tomatoes and green beans right out of the garden. lol.

Planting Oaks, there are quite a few with these little markings here and there. I have another variety planted in another part of the front bed that has the darker markings... and then there is one variety whose name escapes me that has yellow vareigated foliage and is quite lovely. (But was sold out by the time I got there.)

Thanks, Lisa! I'll have to see what varieties you have--I haven't yet met an allium that I don't like, I'll admit. :) Good to know that about the tulips. I have a whole bagful of tulipa tarda that I planted in the fall but do not see either hide nor hair of.

(Unless maybe I'm not looking in the right place? Maybe those are my surprise/mystery tulips? HMM.)

Meagan said...

Snowdrops are (or seem to be) Neil Gaiman's favorite flower.

Unknown said...

Thank you for visit..
Acanthus mollis..I looked again to find more information:
Growing Zones: 6 - 9 some sites show only zone 7.
Sun Exposure: Part Shade
Ship Form: 3-inch Pot
Bloom Season: Late Spring.
In a sheltered place I might be sucessful to grow the plant but not in front of the house.
Thanks again..
cheers Gisela

Ki said...

Kim, My yellow spot Leucojum was disappointingly short too when it first started flowering but has grown a bit, enough so it doesn't look out of proportion. Since your Galanthus nivalis 'Flore Pleno' are a relative, the flowering stalk will hopefully elongate. Since they are both considered snowdrops I was a bit confused that they look so different and was compelled to look it up ;) From Wikipedia: "Snowdrops should not be confused with their relative(s) snowflakes, Leucojum species; leucojums are much larger and flower in spring (or early summer, depending on the species), with all six petals in the flower the same size..." You've had a very tough winter but I'm sure the plants will come on in a fury with any hint of warmth.

Anonymous said...

Kim, wow is spring ever in your garden! I've grown alliums but I don't believe that particular variety is one of the ones I grow. I purposely didn't buy the super giant one because of the wind where I planted my other alliums. The one variety is as large as they claimed: a good 6-8 inches across. So, I would suspect if the variety you have is the super giant that they must get that large. I didn't read all the messages so someone else has probably already answered that one!


Unknown said...

Meagan, you're such a stalker! ;)

Guild-rez, I wonder if you could, though? I bet it hasn't been tested in our zone before, since it's a new introduction... but maybe in a sheltered place, or maybe with some extra mulch? I've been tempted to try 'Tasmanian Tiger' anyway, so if I do, I'll let you know my results, too.

Ki, they're still pretty short, but I'm keeping an eye on them to see if they'll pick up a bit. Mine are also in morning and noon sun, but nothing after that, so maybe they'd be taller in a sunnier location?

I think I need all kinds of snowdrops--and snowflakes--next year, by the way. :)

Diane, that will be interesting--my front yard is pretty windy, too, as it faces west! I didn't particularly want a "super giant" one, but I like the way this one has such an uneven shape... kind of like a burst of fireworks? Very pretty.

Chrissy said...

WOW beautiful. Love your blog.

chuck b. said...

And here I thought I was going to be the last person with snowdrops still in my Bloom Day posts this month, but I forgot there's a part of the world where spring is still springing.

Cook Tulip foliage... maybe this will be the year I get more serious about quality tulips.

Shirley said...

Hi again Kim, enjoyed reading this with my breakfast cuppa :-)

You really have me in the mood for getting out into the garden to look around too!

Ah… the alliums! Looks like we have something in common for this year’s garden. I too planted quite a number last year. Others are seeding themselves quite happily as well. I bought masses as bargain bulbs at the end of the season and as I wasn’t sure where I’d plant them I potted them up meantime. They are coming up great now so today it’s a job of getting out there, making some decisions and getting them planted!!

Yes, some of the allium flower heads are large. I don’t think Christophii gets to 12 ins wide but I love its colouring all the way from bud to giant seed head :-D

Have a great weekend :-D

Catherine said...

Nice blog..looks like a nice garden you have also...I look forward to seeing the flowers on the greigii!!
Enjoy the weekend!
Happy Gardening!
Happy Spring! :)

Muum said...

Nice spring tour! Don't know about the schuberti, but would love to see your results.

joey said...

Loved the garden tour, Kim. I adore bergenia and have several masses planted in various areas. I love the contrast with spring bulbs like double tulips. And I can't get my fill of heuchera, the names alone delight me. Finally, the weather improved and I spent the day in the garden, delighted to see swelling buds on my shadblow and Yoshino cherry tree ... spring has not forgotten us after all ...

growingagardenindavis said...

Kim...there is an award for you over at Growing a Garden in Davis...

Garden Wise Guy said...

Kim - I'm - how shall we say? - ga ga for that spotted tulip. Couldn't grow one so save my soul out here in SoCal, but it's nice to view on your site.

Thanks SO much for the tip about my e-mail address on my Garden Wise Guy blog. I just made the edit.

Have a bountiful spring. Hope I find out something about the WSJ piece. It's itching at me.

BG (alias GWG).

Katarina said...

Thanks for visitng my blog and leaving such a nice comment! I'm glad you did - this way I found yours!

It's great when spring arrives, isn't it? It makes you really happy. And when plants start popping up which you've completely forgotten you ever planted - that's excitement!
/Katarina at Roses and stuff

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