Tag Archives: Camassia

Spring Fever

27 May

Seattle spring is a lovely waltz between warm sun breaks and cool rains and this year the weather has gotten the dance right! This perfect elixir of sunshine and rain is encouraging the garden to billow up and out (and causing some flopping). The succession of spring flowers are steadily progressing through, but Bletillas are definitely at their peak. Remember them two posts ago? Well here they are a couple weeks ago:

I love the fresh apple green leaves and rattlesnake-tail-inflorescence.

I love the fresh apple green leaves and rattlesnake-tail-inflorescence.

The first bud to bloom a week after:

First bud opening a couple of weeks ago.

First bud opening a couple of weeks ago.

Now here they are today. Look at all of those pink blooms – every year they take my breath away! They are starting to spread a little too fast, but it is a wonderful problem to have, right?

Bloomin' fools they all are!

Bloomin’ fools they all are!

Here is a close up of an inflorescence. Just look at those fancy ruffles!

Here is a close up of an inflorescence. Just look at those fancy ruffles!

Right in the middle of all the Bletilla action my Papaver orientale ‘Miss Piggy’ just opened its first flower today, but something tells me that this isn’t the real ‘Miss Piggy’…hmm…

‘Miss Piggy’ is supposed to have huge pale pink blooms to about 10″ across,  packed with finely cut, frilly petals – this one definitely doesn’t match that description. Even though it has turned out to be the traditional shape and size, I am not disappointed. I really love that simple elegant poppy shape and salmony pink shade. Mmm, delicious!

It isn't what the tag promised, but it's absolutely lovely!

It isn’t what the tag promised, but it’s absolutely lovely!

Over on the other side of the front garden underneath the Edgeworthia, Calanthe x ‘Kozu Spice’ was in full bloom a few weeks ago.

A small plant over all, but that white lip glowed in the shade of the Hemlock.

A small plant over all, but that white lip glowed in the shade of the Hemlock.

I love the contrast of the earthy, caramel petals against the crisp, white lip.

I love the contrast of the earthy, caramel petals against the crisp, white lip.

Oh remember the Camas? Both Camassia leichtlinii and Camassia quamash have budded, blossomed, and moved on for a few weeks now. The fertilized flowers have turned into swelling seedpods and the entire plant will die back in a few weeks.

Here is Camassia leichtlinii just beginning to bloom.

Here is Camassia leichtlinii just beginning to bloom.

Sometimes Camassia leichtlinii and Camassia quamash can be confused for each other, but when they are grown next to each other it is easy to see that they are distinctive. Overall C. leichtlinii is a much larger plant – 3 feet tall – with light blue starry petals, whereas C. quamash has fuller petals with a richer purple-blue hue and is half the size of its cousin.

The flowers of Camassia leichtlinii are a lighter blue than its cousin Camassia quamash.

The flowers of Camassia leichtlinii are a lighter blue than its cousin Camassia quamash.

Notice how Camassia quamash is darker, richer purple-blue.

In person the hue of Camassia quamash is a darker, richer purple-blue.

During my undergrad I took two propagation classes and one of them I got to try my hand at grafting. Here are the fruits (literally) of my labor! I grafted Ms. Malus ‘Karmijn de Sonnaville’ on a M27 rootstock five years ago and now she is bearing young apples! It bloomed for the first time this year and I hope at least one apple ripens before I have to leave in the autumn.

Yay, crosspollination! I hope the young apples continue to swell and grow - no aborting please!

Yay, cross-pollination! I hope the young apples continue to swell and grow – no aborting please!

‘Karmijn de Sonnaville’ was bred in the Netherlands in 1949 and it’s supposedly the most intense, complex, and sweet tasting apple you will ever encounter. It’s said that it stores well and the that the aroma and flavor actually changes and mellows as it sits and cures from week to week. Sounds amazing right? Why aren’t they commercially available? It turns out it’s not a “pretty” fruit by supermarket standards and it’s not very disease resistant. I love it either way.

The large white flowers on Malus 'Karmijn de Sonnaville' were quite fragrant and welcomed in our warm spell a few weeks ago.

The large white flowers on Malus ‘Karmijn de Sonnaville’ were quite fragrant and welcomed in our warm spell a few weeks ago.

While we are still in the rose family, my Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’ is in full bloom and Rosa ‘Julia Child’ is not too far behind! I love the fun and wild form of the Mutabilis rose and it’s playful ever changing colors is so uplifting on a dreary, gray day.

The apricot flower in the foreground is on the first day of bloom and the once int he background in on its second-third day of bloom.

The flower in the foreground is on the first day of bloom and the one in the background is on its second day.

What’s not to love about ‘Julia Child’? The old-fashioned, butter yellow flowers are fragrant, the leaves are glossy mid green, and very disease resistant. I just love her! Although her first flower is small, I spied many fat buds swelling and rising up and out of her foliage.

Here is the first little flower of Rosa 'Julia Child'. Her anisey scent is wonderfully delicious!

Here is the first flower of Rosa ‘Julia Child’. Her anisey scent is wonderfully delicious!

Oh and speaking of sweet scents, both Smilacina racemosa and Smilacina stellata have long finished with their blooms, but their clean sweet scent floated through the garden whenever a warm breeze blew by. Plus, come fall their olive mottled berries will turn a smoldering red.

Smilacina racemosa with a beautiful plume of starry white flowers.

Smilacina racemosa with a beautiful plume of starry white flowers.

I love how the cream colored buds open up to white and the stem after blossoming ages to red.

I love how the cream colored buds open up to white and the stem after blossoming ages to red.

Again like the Camas, both Smilacinas are related, but definitely different. S. racemosa is bigger in every sense: taller, wider leaves, more flower, whereas S. stellata is the opposite. S. racemosa is a clumper, while S. stellata is a spreader.

Smilacina stellata is a much more delicate and low compared to its taller cousin.

Smilacina stellata is a much more delicate and low compared to its taller cousin.

Just look at those tiny beautiful stars!

Just look at those tiny beautiful stars!

Oh man, there are so many things blooming I wish I could share them all! Here’s a quick jaunt threw the rest of the garden of things that are blooming I can’t ignore.

Paeonia lutea-hybrid ‘Alice Harding’ is in full bloom and right on time this year. She is the grandmother if all Itoh Peonies (a miraculous cross between tree and herbaceous type peonies) and it is an honor that I have her growing and blooming in my garden beautifully! She is a low and compact peony perfectly suited for smaller gardens and her warm and slightly musky fragrance can waft a ways down the garden path on a warm day. Her flowers are a sweet lemon yellow with a brilliant red blotch at the base of every petal. The only trait that may be seen as a fault is that her flowers are nodding and usually nestled in her foliage. Unless planted higher up, one would have to lay on the ground to look right into the flowers. (I remedy this “problem” by cutting them and bringing them into the house.)

This flower is facing out more than the others, but you can see how the leaves and her nodding habit may be annoying in the garden for some.

This flower is facing out more than the others, but you can see how the leaves and her nodding habit may be annoying in the garden for some.

Here is generous bouquet that will be enjoyed inside and on a desk.

Here is generous bouquet that will be enjoyed inside and on a desk.

And on the other end of the color spectrum Bearded Iris ‘Cloud Ballet’ just popped open its first blossom! I’ve been waiting for two years! Its icy blue color and supple, but soft fragrance is so hard to resist! This was also a reject from work that I am glad I saved. I wish I would just smother myself in those silky dreamy petals.

Just look at those icy billowing petals!

Just look at those icy billowing petals!

Anyway, again I gotta run and it will probably be another week or two before I can write again, but here is a shot of what the Long Plot in the back garden is doing now. I’ll write you soon!

The little pops of color you see are Irises, Astrantias, and Primulas.

The little pops of color you see are Irises, Astrantias, and Primulas.

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Bloominocity – Part II

14 Apr
Here is Geum x 'Marmalade' with it's citrusy nodding flared flowers.

Here is Geum x ‘Marmalade’ with it’s citrusy nodding flared flowers.

In the front garden Geum x ‘Marmalade’, a Xeraplants selection that I rescued from work about a year ago, is flowering now! It started out life as a 4″ potted plant and it received one too many drinks during the summer and all that was left was one weak shoot grasping onto life. With no compost I left to amend my heavy soil, so with slight hesitation I plugged the little Geum into the slick earth. Throughout winter and well through spring, summer, and into last autumn, it tripled in size and hasn’t looked back since and now it’s blooming! Seriously a tough plant!

Here is a close-up of the sweetly flared flowers in glowing apricot.

Here is a close-up of the sweetly flared flowers in glowing apricot.

The infloresnces started rising slowly above the foliage at first, but once the weather stopped threatening to freeze they all shot up. At nearly two feet tall, each inflorescence gracefully arcs outwards ending with a few syrupy apricot flowers. The flowers themselves are not like typical modern hybrids with full petals and acid colors. Rather the petals are heart shaped and delicately attached to the hypanthium allowing the flower to open into a flared bell.

The open flowers have a pleasant flared shape.

The open flowers have a pleasant flared shape.

Also in the front garden, I have some Tulipa humilis ‘Odalisque’ and Chionodoxa blooming in the Japanese Maple Container where I also planted my Saffron Crocuses. Tulipa humilis is one of the species Tulips that will multiply and reliably come back year after year. Chionodoxa is just as tough and reliable, plus it also seeds around gently creating a small drift over time. I love their bright colors in early spring when things can be so gray.

Tulipa humilis 'Odalisque' enjoying the sun along with the other bulbs.

Tulipa humilis ‘Odalisque’ enjoying the sun along with the other bulbs.

Butter yellow against the rich beet root purple just glows.

The butter yellow against the rich beet root purple just glows.

These bright little stars lifts my heart every time I see them.

These bright little stars lifts my heart every time I see them.

I was a little behind on planting last fall, so I planted a majority of my bulbs in mid-late winter (I still have tulip and daffodil bulbs I still haven’t planted yet…). As a result some of the bulbs didn’t bloom this year and some bloomed later than they typically would, such as my Galanthus elwesii. The majority of flowers didn’t make it past the slugs – even with Sluggo – but some patches did bloom, which was definitely a bonus. More than anything I wanted their energy to be put towards establishing and bulking up, but hey, I shouldn’t complain!

The leaves and flowers of Galanthus elwesii are much larger than the typical G. nivalis and the leaves have a beautiful glaucous cast as well.

The leaves and flowers of Galanthus elwesii are much larger than the typical Galanthus nivalis, and the leaves have a beautiful glaucous cast as well.

Galanthus nivalis is still blooming?! Yes, because I planted these late too.

Galanthus nivalis is still blooming?! Yes, because I planted these late too…

In the front garden I am being overrun by Bletilla striata. I saved these from the compost pile for one of my volunteering gigs. Being the (overly) sympathetic gardener that I am I grabbed ALL of them. When I got home I realized I was way over my head, I had no idea where to plant them.  The only available space open at the time was in the long bed  of the front garden. I threw them into the heavy clay later regretting I sentenced them to death. I eventually would forget all about them. Winter rolled past and in spring all of these mysterious shoots started to emerge out of the slick soil. What could they be? Wait, are them – no it couldn’t be! The Bletillas were not just up and growing, they also had doubled in size! It’s now about four years later and they have been expanding their hold of the long bed. Apparently Bletillas have a penchant for heavy soil and I’m not complaining…

I love the pleated new shoots of Bletilla striata in the early spring.

I love the pleated new shoots of Bletilla striata in the early spring.

At the end of the same bed where the Bletillas live the Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’ is getting ready to bloom. I bought her as a 6 inch twig about two and a half years ago from the Pat Calvert Greenhouse at the Washington Park Arboretum. She’s now grown to about 4.5 feet tall and well on her way to 6 feet and up. Though she is reportedly a vigorous grower, mine (so far) has be well behaved. The name ‘Mutabilis’ comes from the ever-changing color of the rose’s flowers as they fade. They first bloom in a soft apricot fading to a soft orange-pink, then a dusty pink and finally ending in cerise. It’s quite the show!

Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' is such an easy grower, but it's wild habit can be a pain (literally) for people that like more formal plantings.

Rosa chinensis ‘Mutabilis’ is such an easy grower, but it’s wild habit can be a pain (literally) for people that like more formal plantings. She has been pruned in this photo.

As if over night, the inflorescences of Tellima grandiflora in the back garden have shot up and flower buds are starting to swell. Just a few weeks ago they were only rosettes. Hopefully, the Siberian Irises growing with them will catch up and bloom with the Tellimas like they did last year, but I feel like last year was an off year for everyone. Hm, maybe I should name this the “Vertical Bed”, since I just realized this bed is all vertical interest.

My how they have grown! I love they young coiled flowering stems.

My how they have grown! I love they young nodding flowering stems.

Detail of the swelling buds.

Detail of the swelling buds.

The Tiarella trifoliata is also thinking about blooming and not to mention the Saxifraga x urbium too. Wow, I have a lot of representatives from the family Saxifragaceae. Scratch the “Vertical Bed”, it should be named the “Saxifrage Bed”.

Tiarella trifoliata is the epitome of woodland.

Tiarella trifoliata is the epitome of woodland.

Saxifraga x urbium is also known as London Pride. When it blooms a cloud of airy star flowers hover high above that glossy green foliage.

Saxifraga x urbium is also known as London Pride. When it blooms a cloud of airy star flowers hover high above that glossy green foliage.

Seriously, that’s a lot of vertical and a lot of Saxifrage.

Seriously.

Seriously.

Oh wait, another Saxifrage that is sending up inflorescences is Mitella ovalis. I got this one and another, Mitella pentandra, from Botanica at the Saturday U-District Farmers Market. These native plants can be found growing in mossy, wet forests and their crazy, though small, flowers have distinctive antenna-like petals. As some would say, “A flower only a botanist can love.” These diminutive flowers are always welcome in my garden. (I’m a botanist, can you tell?)

Mitella ovalis sending up flowering shoots. It's only 4.5 inches tall.

Mitella ovalis sending up flowering shoots. It’s only 4.5 inches tall.

Oh and speaking of native, all the Camas are sending up their spikes now and even the Mertensia has tripled in size!

Look at all that lushness!

Look at all that lushness!

I can't wait for those blue start flowers too!

I can’t wait for those blue start flowers too!

Mertensia bella just a few weeks away from blooming.

Mertensia bella just a few weeks away from blooming.

Ready for a flashback? Look who is still blooming:

I just can't get enough of it's hot orangey-red color and its fresh, sweet scent!

I just can’t get enough of it’s hot orangey-red color and its fresh, sweet scent!

Viola 'Duchesse de Parme' has been blooming since November!

Viola ‘Duchesse de Parme’ has been reigning since November!

Edgeworthia chrysantha ‘Akabana’ and Viola ‘Duchesse de Parme’! Can you believe it? They both have come a really long way and with such bloominocity! I feel like the mild winter had to do with a part of their fervor, but I am still in awe!

This is an older blossom, but look how full they can get! Plus they have that elusive sort of ripe-cherry-esque fragrance.

This is an older blossom, but look how full they get! Plus I can’t resist that elusive sort of ripe-cherry-esque fragrance.

With each passing day new plants pop up, and everything grows faster and faster – I just can’t keep up! I am going to have to make Bloominocity a trilogy, otherwise this post would never end. Now I must take advantage of this sun break! See you all in Part III!

Wildflower

21 Mar

MossWhen my native plant craze started, I planted only northwest native plants in the garden. My original plan was to create a low maintenance (and wild) garden, so that if life takes me away from Seattle, locally adapted plants could survive my parents’ forgetfulness and if they happened to escape my garden they wouldn’t be a potential new invasive species. My strict native palette has relaxed since then, but my love and appreciate for the diversity of flora of the Pacific Northwest is still going strong. If I ever see an interesting or not commonly offered native plant I’ll usually snatch it up.

Camassia leichtlinii v. suksdorfii leafing out through grass, mint, and Schizostylis.

Camassia leichtlinii v. suksdorfii leafing out through grass, mint, and Schizostylis.

Through the years I’ve saved Camas bulbs that were unsellable from work and I have scattered them through multiple beds, but the largest patch grows in my “Wild Bed”. Here weedy grasses, mint, and Schizostylis run a muck, but every year the Camas have come up fuller and undeterred. I love how the starry blue wands of Camas flowers give the bed a wild meadow look in mid-spring. My soils are predominately clay and it’s difficult to find plants that can survive bricky soil in summer and mud in the winter. Wonderfully, Camas are well adapted to handle waterlogged winters and parched summers, and plus they thrive in clay soil – right at home in my garden with little effort!

I love the buttery soft leaves of Dodecatheon pulchellum, and unfortunately so do the slugs.

I love the buttery soft leaves of Dodecatheon pulchellum, and unfortunately so do the slugs.

Speaking of native plants that thrive in clay soil, the Dodecatheon pulchellum I mentioned in a previous post is already showing signs of buds! I hope the little previously shattered divisions will finally flower this year. It would be lovely to see a drift of hot pink dangling above the cool bed of chartreuse moss.

Look, buds!

Look, buds!

Another native plant that took off in my clay soil (see a theme emerging?) is starting to wake up. Boykinia major is a herbaceous perennial that grows in shady wet meadows and spreads via underground rhizomes. Mid-spring it sends up tall stems with clusters of white flowers  and can bloom throughout summer if it is watered well.

Last year I received my two Boykinia major from work, because they had developed brown spots on their leaves. (I think it was because they didn’t stay as constantly moist as they would like to in the nursery.) I took them home and kind of plopped them into the seemingly last bit of free space in the bed. Apparently the two plants LOVE where I planted them, because I can see their rhizomes tunneling throughout the soil happily. Hopefully each little growing point will throw up an inflorescence giving me a stand of foamy white blossoms and glossy fringed leaves.

Boykinia major unfurling its new leaves.

Boykinia major unfurling its new leaves.

Sidalcea hendersonii, or Henderson’s Checkered Mallow, is another native wildflower that has done extremely well for me. It’s naturally found growing along the coast in tidal marshes and wet meadows. It’s a rare wildflower with wands of pink flowers and very uncommon in its native habitat. Small populations can only be found in British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon. An other interesting fact is that Henderson’s Checkered Mallow come either as female or bisexual plants. My plant is bisexual because it has self seeded gently to my delight.

Sidalcea hendersonii stays as a glossy, evergreen clump in the winter, but come spring it's crepe-paper pink flowers are attention grabbing.

Sidalcea hendersonii stays as a glossy, evergreen clump in the winter, but come spring it’s crepe-paper pink flowers are attention grabbing.

Like Dodecatheon pulchellum, Corydalis scouleri doesn’t like it hot either preferring to go dormant than endure the summer heat. This herbaceous perennial can grow into an impressive billowing four feet tall in one season, though it requires constant moisture to be able to reach such heights. It spreads via underground rhizomes and it quite the sight to see a colony thickly growing in the ravines of waterways and seeps.

Corydalis scouleri waking up with a few more buds on the way.

Corydalis scouleri waking up with a few more buds on the way.

Back in the Wild Bed behind some Camas I have Mertensia bella poking up out of the ground. This native Lungwort lives up in cool mountain seeps and wet meadows. It’s lightly hairy leaves and stems hold up dangling light blue bell flowers in the late spring. Though I planted it in a site that gets too dry and hot in the summer, it still has hung on and grew for the past few years. Since the slugs are also fond of this plant, I’ve been applying Sluggo before it has come up.

Mertensia bella emerging.

Mertensia bella emerging.

Both Maianthemum racemosum and Maianthemum stellatum, formerly in the genus Smilacina, are just pushing up out of the ground. M. stellatum will bloom first, while M. racemosum will have the fullest panicle of blossoms. Both do beautifully in a damp woodland setting and the hold their leaves and red mottled berries through the summer and autumn.

Maianthemum racemosum is the largest of the False-Soloman's-Seal.

Maianthemum racemosum is the largest of the False-Soloman’s-Seal.

Unlike M. racemosum, M. stellatum will run and colonize loose, damp soil.

Unlike M. racemosum, M. stellatum will run and colonize loose, damp soil.

Our naive Bleeding Heart, Dicentra formosa is a very tough herbaceous perennial that spreads via underground rhizomes. Though it is best in damp shade, it can grow in dry shade, however once summer drought hits it will retreat back into the soil until next spring. I have been trying to get it to spread under a Colorado Blue Spruce, but since it’s in dry shade it is spreading very slowly.

Dicentra formosa has the delicate, lacy foliage, but don't let that fool you.

Dicentra formosa has the delicate, lacy foliage, but don’t let that fool you.

Where would I be without Tellima grandiflora? This low evergreen mounding perennial can grow in deep shade to full sun, but part shade in a woodland setting is where it will look its best. In spring tall elegant stems lined with white fridged flowers rise above the scalloped leaves and eash flower will fade to pink or red before dropping its petals. It is a great filler plant and it visually binds the beds together to make my garden more cohesive and best of all it readily self sows so I have my own nursery stock on site. (Don’t worry, the seedlings are easy to weed out if they end up in an undesired place.)

I have a soft spot for Tellima grandiflora. If I had to pick a favorite native plant, this might be it!

I have a soft spot for Tellima grandiflora. If I had to pick a favorite native plant, this might be it!

Phew, what a long post! We’ll those are a few of my favorite native plants and there will be more waking up soon. Stay warm out there and see you soon!

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