Saturday, March 04, 2017

Blooms in the Beginning of March

Sometimes a gardener just wants to share some pretties from their garden...and I guess that's where I am tonight.  So here goes....

In early spring, it's always fun to see the bare branches of red buckeye (Aesculus pavia) transform from sticks to feathery fans, highlighted with big, blowsy, red bloom spikes.  Hummingbirds apparently love red buckeye blooms, which are rumored to open just as hummingbird migration begins, but I rarely seem to plant mine where I have an opportunity to watch that interaction.  I've got my hopes up this year, though, as I just found out today that hummers have been spotted along the Gulf Coast in the last few days.

I have no idea which violet (Viola sp.) this next little guy is, but I really enjoy its plucky blooms.  A small group of these came in as "stowaways" in a pot with the white baptisia that is towering over it.  They've done very well.  The diminutive size and long, narrow, arrow-shaped leaves are quite different from most violets I am familiar with.

Not far from the plucky violet is an Ohio spiderwort (Tradescantia ohiensis), whose richly serene, blue blooms are being regularly visited by the little southeastern blueberry bees (Habropoda laboriosa) these days.

How about a perennial that blooms for 2 1/2 months and counting?  The downy phlox (Phlox pilosa) have been blooming since before Christmas and they show no signs of slowing down.  In fact, I'd say they are prettier now than ever. 

I have 4 of these beauties right now - and I'd really like at least another 3 or 4.  In Kansas this plant ran through the beds quite a bit for me and it didn't last very long.  It seems to be acting quite differently here, staying in place and getting stronger, not weaker, as time goes on.  The foliage is nice, too, even when the plant isn't blooming.

Under the large southern magnolia tree out front, next to the sidewalk, was a bare spot that makes the term "dry shade" seem optimistic.  The magnolia roots are so thick in the area that finding pockets of actual soil was a challenge.  I knew the root competition would be fierce, but still I was hoping to find a plant that would give this garden bed a little more "sidewalk appeal".   The golden ragwort (Packera aurea) has really performed like an ace here. 

The flowers aren't, to be truthful, my favorite, but I love the rounded, shiny, dark green leaves that look good throughout the year.  I'm guessing that within 2-3 years, the 6 individual plants will start growing together, giving a more cohesive feel to this patch.

Azaleas are in full blush and the camellias are just finishing up, but the ones in my yard are rather ordinary, to tell the truth, so I'm not going to share them.  Typical foundation plants, the majority of them are placed - literally - about 18" from the foundation and have, in the not too distant past, been pruned into ungraceful, flat-topped boxes.  I haven't decided what to do about them yet, but will probably begin by giving them a "rejuvenating prune" as soon as they're done blooming this spring.  The azaleas, that is.  I don't think camellias can be chopped back like that and survive.

We put in daffodils last fall;  the early ones bloomed nicely, but they're still at the individual bloom stage, so I think I'll pass on sharing those as well.

There is a blue-eyed grass that has been springing up unbidden in the lawn area and I've been leaving the individual clumps to see what they look like.  They've suddenly spread out and started to bloom, allowing me to identify them as annual blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium rosulatum), a distinctly not-blue flower. 

Although the dainty little blooms are rather attractive, the plants have started developing yellowing, spotted leaves, so I've decided to root them all up and just dispose of them.  This is not a native species, so it's only causing me a little bit of angst to be so ruthless.

Many gardeners get upset about wildflowers springing up in their lawns, but I'm not one of them.  I actually enjoy seeing what gifts nature provides.  For example, I've been enjoying this little pink blooming oxalis that appeared, as if by magic, under the magnolia in the back yard. 

I'm not sure whether this is the native violet woodsorrel (Oxalis violacea) or the non-native pink woodsorrel (Oxalis debilis);  I haven't figured out how to tell the difference between the two yet - but I'd always prefer to have the native, of course.

With perennials, it's always nice to have some great foliage for visual interest so that you don't have to rely on just blooms throughout the year.  While I was initially attracted to the light blue flower spikes that lyreleaf sage (Salvia lyrata) has, now that I've grown this plant in my yard, it's the red-veined, hairy leaves with their purplish undersides that I'm finding appeal to me most. 

I'm beginning to think of this plant as a hosta replacement, with the twist that it's native and it grows well down here.  In my mind, the occasional seedlings that spring up in the grass are a perk as they transplant readily and allow me to establish new plants elsewhere in the garden beds, giving some cohesion to my newly evolving plantings.  If I ever get tired of them, they uproot easily and will be no problem to simply weed out.

For now I'll leave you with some blueberry blooms (Vaccinium sp.).

I love the rotund, lacy, little pearls that are blueberry blossoms.  Although it doesn't seem like I have very many on my 7 blueberry bushes, I am seeing a pleasing number of blueberries beginning to swell, so I must have more blooms than I realize.  The blueberry bees are keeping busy, for sure!


Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening said...

It is a welcomed sight seeing your first blooms of March and I especially enjoyed your Phlox. We have had a unusually mild winter here up until just the past few days, where it has been downright frigid! Allium and Hyacinths are starting to emerge, which is a good sign of spring trying to make an appearance! Happy Gardening!

Gaia Gardener: said...

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Lee. I think that winter has been pretty mild throughout the U.S. this year - not the onslaught of "Polar Express" cold fronts that we've had in recent winters. Enjoy your spring!

Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

Some very pretty plants. They sure look healthy. I always envision the few plants I put in growing together and filling in a space. Seems to take longer than it should. Hope yours grow nice.

Gaia Gardener: said...

GonSS, You are very kind - but you know the reality of photographing gardens! You pick the pretty plants, take photos from the best angles, and everything looks wonderful! LOL.

Having plants fill in always takes longer than we want it to, doesn't it? Even down here - where one year feels like 3 years of growth back in Kansas - my plants aren't filling in as fast as I'd like them to. I'm getting impatient in my old age, I guess. It doesn't help that we keep moving and I keep having to start from scratch again either.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you're beginning to get a few more interesting things going in those beds. I know it may seem like it's creeping in those first years, but all of a sudden.... :)

Gaia Gardener: said...

Yes, we are beginning to get a few fun things in the garden beds, ... but they still look pretty barren overall. Hopefully one of these mornings I'll wake up, look outside and suddenly see garden beds, rather than a bunch of puny little individual plants separated from the lawn by mulch. One of those things I know will happen, but it's very hard to wait for! Thanks for stopping by.

Corner Gardener Sue said...

I don't remember when you moved. Is this your second spring? I enjoyed seeing what you have blooming. We have phlox pilosa in common. I get that mixed up with another phlox divaricata, which also grows here in my SE Nebraska garden.

I hope you find time to be out gardening. Grandchildren are such a blessing, but we also need to have that time with our gardens.