Friday, March 19, 2010
With the help of a botanically-minded friend who narrowed this specimen down to the Mustard Family Brassicaceae, I've finally identified this ubiquitous weed to be Arabidopsis thalania, or mouse-ear cress. For years I've wondered what it was. It always bothers me when no one bothers to mention the commonest plants of all. This is a true weed, native to Eurasia.
These "lawn violets" are Viola tricolor, smaller than my smallest fingernail, and sprinkled delicately through the grass like something out of Lothlórien.
I have at least two types of chickweed growing in the lawn. This one is Stellaria media, another non-native species. It is distinguishable from mouse-ear chickweed by its less fuzzy stem and leaves, and its petals, which are so deeply divided that they seem almost separate.
The maples are budding! Acer rubrum is the commonly seen red maple, but come to think of it, the one in the foreground of this picture might be an ornamental. I'll have to double-check.
I looked around in the woods for a while to see if anything was up- I expected the ferns to have fiddle-heads already, but I suppose they're late this year on account of all the snow. The cleavers are sprouting already. I was glad to find a few patches of orchids in sheltered places. I need to be careful of poison ivy, though.
From my descriptions and lists of plants, it's probably going to sound like I could join the Royal Horticultural Society, but in reality I can't tell if I have a green thumb for the red clay. My garden is more like a concentration camp for Kingdom Plantae. Over the years I've been able to find plants that like to grow themselves without much help from me; after May it's much too hot and buggy to go outside again until October. For a while I had drought-tolerant plants, which rotted in the more recent water-logged summers, and now I have a goodly collection of hardy veterans. A couple years back I realized with horror that the color scheme in my main flowerbed had become bright orange and pale purple, which looked perfectly nauseating and migraine-inducing. This year I've cut it back to red, white, and blue.
I dearly love medicinal plants and old-fashioned flowers. I would love someday to have an English cottage-garden. Right now that's just in my imagination, though.
Here's what's blooming currently:
Camellia japonica ssp.
I have four camellia bushes, which have grown into an enormous clump together. I'm not sure of their cultivars. The two which are blooming right now bloom only once a year. They remind me of York and Lancaster, even though they're not roses. The other two bushes bloom in early summer and again in fall, and have single white and pink flowers, respectively.
Narcissus spp. 'Ice Folly,' 'Tahiti,' 'Fortissimo'
My daffodils are starting to get old- blooming a lot less. 'Tahiti' hasn't gotten any buds this year, nor has 'Fortissimo.' I have a pink one that also has no buds, but I can't remember the cultivar. 'Ice Folly' has been the most reliable. There were some generic yellow ones when we moved in that still bloom sometimes, and today I found a tiny miniature one that planted itself near the fence.
These hyacinths are at least ten years old- they're not as full as they used to be. They're scattered around the natural area in the front yard.
The squirrels found some of my crocuses, but I was immensely pleased to find they'd missed at least one clump- it sprouted just a few days ago! I shall post more pictures when they bloom.
The rest of my collection, in no particular order:
Achillea borealis sp.
My pink yarrow plant survived the winter- I had my doubts, when I planted the division last fall. I like the rusty orange yarrow, too, but pink it very nice.
I love my phlox plants- my aunt gave me one a few years ago, and I've been able to divide it into several good clumps. It grows waist-high and blooms perhaps five rounds of fragrant white blossoms. The hummingbirds love it- it's so fun to watch them check each of the fifty-odd little flowers on each stalk.
I like my creeping phlox, too, but it only blooms for one measly week in the spring. I evicted it a few years ago and stuck it in the rock garden down with the iris collection.
I got this bergamot plant at the ongoing plant sale at the N. C. Botanical Gardens last summer. It's very hardy- over the winter it's grown a dense mat of musky-mint-smelling leaves. If it keeps on the way it is, it should be beautiful. As an aside, I strongly recommend visiting the Botanical Gardens (located in Chapel Hill) and buying their plants, which are thriving specimens hacked off of invasively thriving specimens. And they sell carnivorous plants, which is automatically great.
Salvia x sylvestris 'May Night'
My salvia is getting a bit old- they don't grow much, and after a while the woody center ages out and makes little tiny plantlets that don't grow, either. It's light purple, and butterflies like it when it does bloom.
A purple verbena plant was planted in my garden, almost killing something I'd planted there already. It's currently sprawling everywhere. I like more upright, forthright flowers.
This yellow rose grows in a pot on the patio. Its branches are very slender and it needs a lot of pruning and propping up. It has some of the loveliest, sweetest-smelling blossoms all summer that I've ever known, but each one only lasts a day or so before disintegrating.
Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue'
I dearly love pincushion plants, but have had no luck with them. I like the dark red ones best, but aside from having seen them somewhere once I've never been able to find them again. My current one bloomed nicely for the first few weeks of its life, and then dwindled into two little mounds of leaves that I can cover with each of my hands. Every year it sends out a handful of sickly, spindly-stemmed flowers that are already dead when they open up. That's probably my fault, somehow. Or maybe it hates me for where I'd planted it originally.
I got two little feverfew plants a few years back when I'd been having migraines for a while and desperately wanted an excuse to drink tea all the time. They're doubles, so the flowers look like slightly-larger baby's-breath blossoms- very dainty and pretty. They seem to be a hardy biennial- They bloom both the first and second year and then die, but by the first year they've already reseeded themselves, so I have them popping up around the garden. One finally escaped the boundaries. The leaves smell like a muskier version of a chrysanthemum, and as a tea I find them unpleasant unless mixed with mint or some more aromatic herb. I am still undecided as to whether they have any actual effect on my migraines, or if relaxing and drinking tea in general is comforting.
Leucanthemum x superbum 'Becky' (?)
A neighbor gave me three little stalks of very sad, wilty-looking daisies about four years ago. Now I have about sixty-four square feet of them. They're beautiful, dense, hardy, drought-tolerant- there's a reason they sell for $11 a pot if you see them at the gardening center. The one draw-back is that the june-bugs like to chew the flowers up. A favorite pastime of my brothers is to wait until a june-bug lands on a flower, then bend the stem back carefully and release it so that the marauding insect is violently catapulted through the air. If anyone wants some daisies, I need to thin them out- they grow so densely. A rabbit built a nest in them last year, and we didn't even know for almost a month.
Rose campion is one of my favorite plants, because it looks so unique and has a saint's name (two saints' names!). I grew them from seeds collected from a friend and they're quite hardy. They have silvery velvet leaves almost like lamb's-ear except less plush, vibrant magenta flowers, and poppy-like seeds and seed-heads. The deer like to chew it down, which makes it rather unsightly. I will have an overabundance of seeds; ask me around June.
Geum chiloense 'Blazing Sunset'
I got this last year- I'd seen geums before but wasn't sure how well they do down south here. I'm surprised and pleased by this one- it's not only survived the winter, but looks like it's ready for action. Its flowers are crepe-papery, almost like poppies, and the same flaring orange-red. I'm looking forward to seeing it bloom again.
My carnation plant is now ten years old. It's warm velvety red and smells like cinnamon candy. It's been transplanted innumerable times. After its first couple years it shrank down to three single spidering stems, and both refuses to die or to grow any bigger. I'm not altogether sure what to make of it.
I don't like my ice plant. It's very old and has become rather decrepit-looking. Last summer it only sent out one flower; it looks rather weedy. Back in the days when it actually bloomed, it was quite attractive; satin-fringy magenta flowers on succulent leaves. It's rather exotic, though. I prefer old-fashioned flowers.
Helianthus giganteus (?)
Tickseed grows over ten feet tall and more, bushes out, and blooms in late summer with a profusion of golden-yellow composite flowers. It spreads below the ground and I suspect it might be difficult to get rid of. If anyone wants some, they're welcome to a piece.
This miniature rose is perfectly beautiful. I rescued it and planted it in my garden; somehow I always thought miniature roses were hard to grow, but this one takes care of itself. It only blooms once, in June, with perhaps two blossoms- but they last for several weeks. It decided last October to bud and bloom once more. The flowers are light apricot, paling to pink as they age.
This climbing rose grew behind the camellias for ten years. I'm not sure what possessed anyone to plant it there. It's hot pink, with wild-rose-shaped flowers that smell peppery.
This thornless climbing rose escaped my clutches and is now thirty feet up in a tree. It's yellow and smells sweet. I like the way it looks, up there, so I think I'll leave it.
Aquilegia vulgaris 'Nora Barlow'
This is the only columbine I've ever had any luck with. All my other ones always got mildewed and died. I rescued them from my Grandfather's garden- they'd reseeded everywhere and he wanted to get rid of them. I always want to call them harlequins instead of columbines, though. They've reseeded vigorously in my garden as well- if anyone wants seeds or seedlings, let me know.
A neighbor gave me a sack of around sixty bearded iris rhizomes last year- I planted them too late for them to bloom but for one dark apricot-colored one. I already have dark purple and purple-and-white cultivars, and I can't wait to see what the rest turn out to be. Irises are one of my favorite flowers- they smell so amazing, and come in so many different colors, and barely need any maintenance.
I have many clumps of chrysanthemum that grew from divisions from a single plant- bright purple single blossoms with yellow centers. They bloom in October. In the past couple years they've been a little choked out by the daisies, and I'm trying to give them some breathing room; it's tough because they're nothing but green for most of the growing season.
Heuchera micrantha var. diversifolia 'Palace Purple'
Heucheras are hardy and do nicely around here. I once had a lovely one, with middle-green foliage and coral-pink flowers- it would send up a new round of stalks every couple weeks and bloom for a good while. It didn't survive its first winter, though. This one that I have now has purple foliage, and stringy greenish-white flowers; it's mainly grown for the foliage. I don't like it much. I'm going to have to get a pink one again someday.
I don't like hostas, especially since deer do. I have a bunch planted down in the iris rock garden. They have variegated foliage.
The deer ate half my tiger lilies last year, so they didn't bloom as nicely; they're a dwarf cultivar, so the stalks are only about a foot and a half tall.
Liatris do well around here, especially in full sun. They don't bloom past June, but the goldfinches love to peck at the seeds if you leave the stalks to dry.
It took a few years, but my susans are finally starting to spread. They're some of my favorites.
Crane's-bill is a hardy little plant. I grew it from a root clipping, and it just keeps on living. It's smaller than I'd like it to be, because it keeps getting inadvertently traumatized by people who don't notice it. It has finely-cut foliage that turns coppery red in the fall and delicate pink primrose-like flowers.
I have two rose-of-sharon shrubs, one of which grows at the corner of the house nearest my flowerbed, and the other down in the iris rock garden by the woods. I like them because of the biblical references (even though that specific flower's identity is unknown), and because they're the national flower of Korea. The flowers are single dark lavender with crimson centers.
Ipomoea tricolor 'Heavenly Blue'
I've always wanted to grow blue morning-glories, and this year I finally got some. My idea is to grow some in a pot along with the moonflowers, and then train them up strings to the eaves to create a living curtain.
If you've never grown moonflowers, you're missing out. They're so easy to care for- just throw the seeds out there, and they're drought-tolerant. They open in late afternoon and close by morning. The blossoms are plate-sized, pure white, and have an intensely rich, feminine fragrance. If I get to heaven and the Blessed Virgin doesn't smell something like them, I think I shall be a little disappointed for all eternity.
I've never grown lily-of-the-valley, before. The Hungarian name for them is gyöngyvirág, or pearl-flower. I got them because they reminded me of the St. George legend- that wherever his blood fell as he battled the dragon, these flowers sprang up. I haven't seen any sign of life from the roots I planted last month. I saw some pink ones for sale the other week- mine are white.
Dahlia x hybrida 'Duet'
I've been looking at this type of dahlia for quite a while, now- I wanted a red flower, and I missed my dahlias. I used to have a bunch of purple and yellow ones that bloomed all summer, but I decided to dig them up one February and traumatized them so much that they never came up again. They weren't dinner-plate dahlias, though. I'm excited about these. They're already starting to come up.
Tagetes patula 'Scarlet Starlet'
Marigolds are fun. I grew some yellow ones, the other year- threw at least a hundred seeds out in the garden and let them come up; they took over. By the next year I was tired of them- too much yellow. These are a rich and velvety burgundy. I like the way they smell, and the deer don't.
Azalea and Rhododendron ssp.
There are also at least a dozen different types of azaleas growing around the yard, and some pathetic rhododendrons. I wish mountain laurels grew around here.
Well, I'm pretty sure that's an exhaustive list. I'm sure I'll suddenly remember something in the next couple days.
I'll post pictures of each flower as it blooms. ^_^