Sunday, April 12, 2015


Here is a snapshot of what is in bloom here now at this time. I will keep descriptions short, as time is short for me today. This will be a mix of natives and plants from my garden. Yesterday I was with my daughter while my wife and her mom went shopping together (she needed a break), so my daughter and I went out for a walk. My daughter, Zia,  loves flowers, and she loves to pick them! I do let her pick the dandelions in the "lawn", but we have been trying to teach her not to pick flowers out of the garden! I often have my camera with me when I am on a walk, and it got me thinking: Why take pictures? Why not let her pick them? Well, I am not really excited about the idea of letting Zia go pick the flowers of the Epimedium or Cynoglossum, and we will continue to enforce (to the best of our ability) the "No pick" rule. What I told her was this: "If we pick a flower, it will be gone forever. If we take a picture, it will last forever!"

Iris chrysophylla, flower opening
Iris chrysophylla
Iris chrysophylla
Iris chrysophylla, or hybrids thereof, grow out in the open fields around where I live. They form large clumps, quite different in appearance from the typical rhizomatous irises most often encountered in stores. The flowers of these, in my opinion, have much more substance than the tall bearded irises and dutch irises.
Symphytum officinale var patens
Interestingly, the color of these flowers are different than they were last year. I started these plants from seed last year, or maybe the preceding Autumn (of 2013). They bloomed last year, much later in the year, and were not so deep in color. I am pleased with this! Hopefully the bees are as well, last year they loved the comfrey and sought it out with intent.

Cynoglossum grande
A few of the hound's tongue's are still in flower, hinting at a wide range of genetic variability. A longer bloom period, as a species, may ensure successful pollination in a climate that changes from year to year. Every Spring bring something new, and pollinators (bees, in this case), adapt to the conditions. This may mean that they forage earlier in some years than others, or that one plant will be more enticing than another. It's a gamble. Plants that can or do adapt to changing conditions have the best chance for long term survival. 

Phlox subulata in the rock garden
Tiarella sp. in the forest garden
Scilla siberica, still blooming strong!
Epimedium × rubrum
Epimedium × rubrum close-up
Epimedium has been s genus that I have been lusting over ever since reading about it in "The Explorer's Garden: Rare and Unusual Perennials" by Daniel J. Hinkley. Read about the genus and species on the Pacific Bulb Society wiki, I wrote the page on Epimedium. Pictured above is the most common selection available, a ground cover that can be an aggressive spreader but useful under trees where nothing else will grow. The small ephemeral flowers are best appreciated if the foliage is cut to the ground in winter. Pictured below is a beautiful mounding selection, 'Amber Queen', with large spider like spurred flowers. In the close-up shots of both Epimedium selections, you can see the nectar in the spurs, where it is held awaiting a pollinator.

Epimedium 'Amber Queen' close-up
Epimedium 'Amber Queen' panicle with Scilla siberica and Viola odorata in the background.

Viola glabella
Smooth yellow violet, so it is called, is a forest understory herb that grows in moist leaf litter. The leaves are smooth, without hairs, and often slightly toothed. The plants can grow up to a foot tall, and as wide. It differs from V. praemorsa (below) mostly by leaf morphology, as well as habit and habitat.

Viola praemorsa
The prarie violet, so it is called, grows in open clearings with Horkelia and Prunella, among others. The petals are narrower than V. glabella. Also, the leaves are finely hairy with smooth margins and a rounded tip. Subsp. praemorsa has toothed margins on it leaves, but still has the fine hairs. Grows to six inches, often shorter here, to three inches.

Ceanothus cuneatus
Astraeus hygrometricus
The false earth star is a fruiting body of a type of fungus. It appears atop the soil as a ball, then depending on the barometric pressure or humidity the "star" opens and the spores are released. The spore ball can be seen as the brown lump in the center. This species flourishes in poor rocky soil where not too many plants can grow.

Erythronium hendersonii
Henderson's fawn lily is still in bloom in some areas, mostly in the forested areas. The plants in more exposed sites flowered earlier, and have already begun to set seed (see picture below). This plant is also taller, almost sixteen inches, the scape apparently protected by the shrubbery and other plants in the understory.

Erythronium hendersonii seed pod

1 comment:

  1. Hello good day :) , I read your article and I found it interesting and mindful please keep on posting different kinds of discussion.


If leaving a comment as "Anonymous," please leave your name or contact information.