Monday, April 30, 2007

Helleborus niger- no longer as white as the driven snow

After pollination the white sepals (flower protectors that look like petals but aren't) of the Christmas Rose start to change colour (no wonder: the flower is no longer a virgin! [one might say it has been deflowered?!]) In the first pic you can see that the anthers are lax and spent, the actual petals (small and not very noticeable) have fallen off, and the sepals have started to take on a pinkish-tan tinge.
In the second pic, a different flower which opened earlier, the sepals have become quite advanced in their colour shift (but they aren't finished: eventually they will become green) and the ovaries have begun to elongate and swell noticeably. If I had been able to contort my back lower for a face-on shot, you'd be able to see that the male parts of the flower are gone. But this is a family-rated blog so you'll have to take my word for it.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Frostless Days and Frostless Nights*: Peony noses and shoots (2)

Booming right along without frosts here.

Paeonia mascula shoots from 3 days ago.

And from today, a surprise in a pot-farm, Paeonia mairei which I haven't seen in flower yet (but will this year- note the bud already!); the leaves are distinctively pointed and dark, very attractive. 5 days ago there was nothing here, but in the pot-farms once things start to warm they move along faster than in the ground. Of course the peony in a 1 gallon pot will be somewhat smaller in all respects than one in the ground, even though the root has gone through a hole in the pot into the ground below.

And a Tree Peony, Paeonia rockii. This too has not flowered here yet, but was only planted out into a bed a year and a half ago. I'm just happy they survive.

* with apologies to Freddy Fender, after the (HMCS) Restigouche refit theme song from 1976, "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights". O Yeah, a real highlight year that was... fortunately Frostless doesn't equate to Wasted.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Seedling Surprise

Daphne mezereum f. alba, the white form of the February Daphne (also called Mezereon or Spurge Olive). This is only 4 years from seed, hence the surprise! Wonderfully fragrant, like the more normal pinkish lilac plants, this form is supposed to have yellowey-orange berries in fall rather than the bright red. Leafs emerge after flowering although they start to develop during flowering. Fairly easy to grow, and although preferring an alkaline pH they do adequately in my unlimed NS soil.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Peony noses and shoots (1)

With the advent of a few days of warmth and sun things are shooting up all over. Here are a look at some of the early signs of growth in several peony species.

Paeonia tomentosa, more advanced than the last photo. One can see the hairiness from which it gets its name.

Paeonia emodi, a rare beauty from the Himalayans. This is often the first to open its leaves here, which frequently results in frostbite. Maybe it'll flower at last, this year...

Paeonia caucasica, from the Caucasus mountains. Closely related to P. mascula.

Paeonia steveniana, from the Caucasus mountains. Closely related to P. tomentosa.

Monday, April 23, 2007

In search of shade

Wow, a day of summer. After a wearing 3 hours on the road bike I was looking forward to collapsing in the shade into my garden lounge* to cool off a bit.

Oops. The shade is still a bit thin these days.

* It's not that I've been "warming the bell" on the seasons by getting the lounge out of storage already. I just never put it away last fall...

Friday, April 20, 2007

More Crocuses

Wow, sunlight bright enough to make shadows, and bare legs on the bike type of weather...

Over the last few days some more "traditional" colours of crocus have come into flower. The photo is of one of the sand beds (despite the shape, not a grave! except for a few finicky plants that didn't make it).

The long green spikey leaves towards the back are a couple of Yucca filamentosa, for which the sand bed was created.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

So just exactly how long does 14" of snow last anyways?

More than 11 days anyways. Today, still just a few remnants from the Easter snowstorm, mainly in shaded spots. Good cycling weather forecast for the next few days which should take care of the last of it. Says the dog, "Enough of that, try to get the stick."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Life under snow

So this is what happens to Croci when they have 14" of wet snow sitting on them for a few days... the ones that were open have turned to mush, the ones that were in bud are OK and ready to open at the first touch of fresh air. Not very encouraging weather for garden work, but makes for nice pictures...

The plants are a lot more patient than I am!!!

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Another Sign of Spring: the inevitable late snow storm

Yes folks, it's definitely spring in Nova Scotia when you get clobbered with a massive snow dump. (or it could be winter or fall). First photo, Saturday night, gently falling snow already exceeding the forecast amount for my area. Second photo, what a fine sight to wake up to on Easter morning (or any morning for that matter). Winds have packed the white tar ever so well, for our shovelling enjoyment, and the stuff has settled somewhat under its own weight... The back panel of the garden cart is 14inches high... It will be awhile before the crocuses re-appear.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Miscellaneous Spring Garden Stuff, continued

Helleborus orientalis or probably a hybrid thereof, the Lenten Rose. Once again, a plant located near the foundation of the basement fireroom, although a couple of feet out. Just buds showing so far, although plants of this species elsewhere on the property are barely showing their tips. Lenten Rose and its hybrids are the more commonly grown Hellebores, at least in this country. Their flowers range in colour from whites to greens, from all shades of pink to red, deep purple (almost black), blue shades apparently, and may often have spots.

An excellent surprise still, the third year running: foliage buds of the Blue Himalayan Poppy, Mecanopsis betonicifolia or M. grandis or a hybrid of those. Plants which flowerd last year are not showing, they grow "pups" or sidebuds and then frequently die but the youngsters take over the show. No sign of self-seeding yet.

A peony root searching for "more cold please". Not all of them do this, sometimes it's just how the mulch breaks down or the frost heaves or erosion occurs. I'll probably cover this a bit later in the spring. This is Paeonia kesrouanensis. I know this because there is a label on a stick just beside it-- not from looking at the buds!

Arum italicum pictum, Italian Arum. Non-flowering-size plants. I didn't realize they showed up so early! A bit of frostbite on one of the painted leafs. The pictum form is supposed to have the white-patterned leaf, but these are grown from seed and I'm not sure whether to expect all of them to develop a pattern as they mature.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Miscellaneous Spring Garden Stuff

This marvelous red spring foliage is only one of the reasons why I allow Geranium robertianum -- Herb Robert -- to stay around (and, having allowed it to stay around for a few years I am sure it will insist for many more if ever I decide I don't want it anymore). Originally brought over by settlers for its herbal quality, the foliage of this biennial is quite excellent, and the flowers, though small, are bright. Unfortunately like all Geraniums, throws its seeds a fearsome distance. When the weather warms, the leafs will change to a mid- to dark shiny green. Note there are a few green ones in the photo, these are the result of me picking a few trapped tree leafs off the clump to tidy it up for the photo; those few leafs had been protecting the plant leafs from the weather. Herb Robert shows up in a few of the potted plants which are sold from my nursery here, although I usually try to pluck them out ...

A few more crocuses open and in bud; these are in a sand bed and multiplying there quite excellently. Formerly I had tried crocus corms (bulbs) in all sorts of "good" locations, but found that they mostly died out over a few years or at best languished without increasing -- except under shrubs. Eventually decided this was due to too much clay in the local idea of what made a good "topsoil", parked a large number of corms in a sand bed I was building, and haven't looked back.

The sand bed is about 4-6 inches of sand over clay-rich soil over a thick layer of leaf compost (well, at least it was thick back then)

Hiding below a deep litter of dried maple and beech leafs are a number of Helleborus orientalis -- Christmas Rose. Today I noticed a few bits of white peaking out and since the snow is temporarily gone
I assumed flowers. And was right. One open, a few others in bud. Christmas Rose, not quite around here: that common
name comes from its flowering habit in warmer climates (it's native to countries along the north of the Mediterranean Sea, and some ways north of there). These are actually flowering somewhat earlier than any wood in my woods or elsewhere around the yard, as they are up against the foundation of my house, specifically the "fire room" where the wood stove crackles the winter away, so the soil around them is warmer than in most places here.