A favorite vignette with Enkianthus c. ‘Sikokianus’ and Acer palmatum ‘Chishio Improved’
It’s been a while since we’ve had a cool, moist (wet…maybe really wet) lengthy spring. Most years, April gives us a wintry mix; we get 2 weeks of spring in May, and then summer-like weather hits us by Memorial Day and we soon start praying for rain. Not this year. The flowering trees and shrubs have been putting on a show unlike any other year in recent memory. Here are a few joyful images from the past 6 weeks.
Arisaema fargesii foliage emerging
Glaucidium palmatum, the lovely wood poppy bloomed for us for the first time!
Art imitating Life
Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’ growing up through Kolwitzia
Leucosceptrum ‘Gold Angel’ effectively disguising Allium foliage!!!!
Kolwitzia ‘Dreamcatcher’, aka Beautybush’
Epimedium ‘Domino’ has continued to throw off flowers since late April, and here it is mid June!
Right now the variegated Cornus kousa ‘Wolf Eyes’ is stunning with thousands of 3-4″ flowers.
What plants totally blew you away with their beauty this spring?
Shrubs and trees which flower on old wood, just before the leaves unfurl, have a special charm. Think Witchhazel, Native Dogwood, Redbud. One that we especially love and isn’t so well known is Stachyurus chinensis ‘Celina’. This shrub bears pendant racemes of creamy white/yellow flowers in early spring (April for us). We have ‘Celina’ planted in a sheltered spot from winter winds, which can desiccate the flower buds. This area is shaded by a Japanese Maple and gets 4-6 hours of sun. Our 7 year old plant is about 4′ tall with arching branches from the base, reaching to about 6′ in width. We expect it will grow to 8′ x 10′ eventually. Fall color varies year to year, but we’ve seen it take on yellow and orange tones. hardy in zones 6-9.
I am just smitten with this Magnolia’s nuanced loveliness….chalices of buttery yellow petals infused with plum and pink appear here in early May, waiting for the last frost to come and go. Yes, it blooms before the leaves unfurl, providing that magic of color against bare wood.
Bred by the late Dr. Augie Kerr, Magnolia ‘Sunsation’ is a hybrid of ‘Elizabeth’ and ‘Woodsman’, and is considered hardy in zones 4-9. ‘Sunsation’ blooms precociously … very young plants try to put on a show which pleases those of us who tend to be impatient. Her form is upright and pyramidal, reaching heights of 25-30′.
Grow ‘Sunsation‘ in a rich well drained soil in sun or partial shade.
Polygonatum x hybridum ‘Striatum’
Just a few images to share….loving the various species and forms in the genus Polygonatum (Solomon’s Seal). We currently have about 15 selections, ranging in size from tiny 6″ Polygonatum humile to 6′ selections of P. biflorum. and are always seeking out more.
quick facts: Solomon Seals is in the family Asparagaceae. Most forms are hardy in zones 5-8, (a few in zones 3 & 4). They slowly spread by jointed rhizomes, and enjoy well drained soil in partial to full shade. Long lived and almost indestructible, Solomon’s Seal is one of those plants that holds its good looks with little care all season.
Hey New Yorkers, you shouldn’t miss this scene. All at once and everywhere, Glory of the Snow, Chinonodoxa sardensis, has created carpets of blue on the grounds of beautiful Wave Hill in Riverdale. I had an hour or so to wander the grounds before my talk in the city on Wednesday, and was able to capture a few images.
On the slope behind the building that houses the Glyndor Gallery, there were easily a gazillion bulbs just beginning to open. I have no idea how many were originally planted, but over the past 50 years (guessing) Chionodoxa has self sown with total abandon. Take note: it is deer resistant so it is the perfect bulb for naturalizing in a woodland garden.
From each bulb rise 4-6″ stems bearing 5-10 starry blue flowers accented with white centers which give quite a jolt of color. Plant where you won’t mind the foliage lingering while it stores energy before dying back. Glory of the Snow starts blooming just as Crocus begin to fade and is a good companion bulb to the earliest daffodils, Adonis and Hellebores. Hardy in zones 3-8.
Enkianthus fall foliage
Redvein Enkianthus is about to betray its quiet charms any day now, with a display of technicolor fall foliage in shades of gold, orange, fiery red through purple. In mid to late spring it delights in a more soft-spoken way, bearing dainty clusters of white or red bells, depending on the cultivar. E. ‘Lipstick’ has white bells delicately edged in brick red, ‘Red Bells’ are colored, as the name suggests, coral red, and ‘Showy Lantern’. A slow growing shrub at first, it is often listed at growing from 6-8′ tall and 4-5′ wide, but with age it can easily reach 15′ or more with a wider reach. In fact, Enkianthus campanulatus can be pruned to from a lovely small tree. It is a perfect candidate for the partially shaded garden, both large and small.
Enkianthus c. ‘Red Bells’
Enkianthus c. ‘Showy Lantern’
Grow Redvein Enkianthus in full sun or partial shade. It enjoys an enriched, well drained, acidic soil that stays evenly moist, although we have found it to be quite forgiving of dry spells, once established. It is deer resistant, but please note that deer will eat almost anything if hungry enough. Perfectly hardy in zones 5-8, with some reporting success growing it in zone 4B.
Anemone sylvestris, is simply lovely and so innocent-looking, but perhaps it should be introduced to you as a potential ground cover. Commonly known as Snowdrop Anemone, this super hardy gem begins blooming in mid-late spring, producing nodding buds which open to 5 petaled white blossoms centered with a ring of yellow stamens. The blossoms, buoyantly dance on 12-18” stems, which are good for cutting, emit a soft early spring fragrance. Although it is a European native, it looks right at home in naturalistic landscapes here in the US, spreading vigorously by rhizomes, and it is very effective for disguising early spring bulb foliage. The wooly seed heads that develop once the blossoms fade add visual interest later in the summer. Occasionally, a small flush of flowering in takes place early fall.
Anemone sylvestris is happiest in a rich well drained soil, and is hardy in zones 4-8. It is not fond of extreme heat, so best to hold off in southern gardens. There are no serious insect or disease problems and it is deer resistant.
Mukdenia should be grown in more gardens and I will speculate why it is not; it has had the misfortune of having more than one Latin name, which gets confusing. For awhile the taxonomists declared it should be called Aceriphyllum rossii, which makes sense (Acer = maple) and the foliage does have exquisite rounded maple like leaves. The cultivar name has a translation that would be easy to remember as well, ‘Crimson Fans’.
I am sweet on its blossoms. In mid spring, Mukdenia produces sturdy 15-18 stems bearing rounded panicles of starry white flowers, just before and as the foliage appears, welcoming the bees into the garden. Mukdenia makes pleasant company for early blooming bulbs and Epimedium. The somewhat glossy, somewhat velvety, dark green foliage forms tight clumps to 12 tall, keeping their good looks all summer, then change vividly to brilliant shades of red when cool temperatures arrive in autumn. Weve found that Mukdenia grows best with afternoon shade in a soil that has good drainage yet is fertile and adequately moist. You will be pleased to know it is hardy in zones 4-8 and is also deer resistant.
Looking for a bold foliage plant that is cold hardy through zone 5, deer resistant and is one of the first to show signs of life in the spring? Meet this form of Variegated Russian Comfrey, a naturally occurring hybrid of S. officinale x S. asperum. ‘Axminster Gold’ will form 18-24″ tall robust clumps of 14″ creamy yellow edged lanceolate leaves, which grow 2-3′ wide. In late spring and early summer, pink and lavender “bluebell-like” flowers will bloom on nodding 4′ stems, attracting a myriad of butterflies. Once the blooming period is over, do remove the aging stalks to promote fresh foliar growth. Last summer we saw ‘Axminster Gold’ in a garden paired with Periscaria ‘Firetails’, and want to duplicate this combination.
Grow ‘Axminster Gold’ in full sun or partial shade in a soil that is rich and somewhat moisture retentive. ‘Axminster Gold’ can be quite vigorous once established in the garden but is somewhat scarce in the trade due to propagating difficulty. For some reason plants propagated from root cuttings will be solid green , so divisions must be taken from the central crown in order to ensure you’ll be getting the gold variegation.