Layers of Bulbs and early Spring Foliage

Fritillaria imperialis April 14 2018 small

Fritillaria imperialis rising regally from the ground.

Although I, like almost everyone else in Southern Ontario, have been moaning about how cold it’s been in April, there are ample signs that spring is progressing and the garden is awakening as it should.  Yes, it’s been wet, but we all know what April showers bring, right?  And there’s been snow and freezing rain, but with a normal last frost date in mid May, what else would you expect?  Yes, temperatures on most days have not reached the ‘normal’ highs but the flip side of that is cooler weather means spring bulbs last longer.  My Galanthus (Snowdrops), for example, have been blooming since the end of February and will likely last til the end of April.  Remarkable!

Meanwhile, other spring bulbs, tubers, corms and perennials are waking up and starting to make an impression as the colours of the garden slowly morph from greys and browns to green and all other colours of the rainbow.

Tips to remember for the fall – layering and close planting.

When I plant bulbs I often ‘layer’ them to provide a longer bloom period – smaller Crocus and Chianodoxa, for example, bloom early and, in the planting hole, sit on top of larger bulbs like Narcissus, Allium and Fritillaria, which will bloom later.  Or I’ll plant bulbs tight to the base of perennials so that the perennial foliage will grow and cover the dying leaves of the bulbs.   This both lets the bulb gain strength for next years’ blooms and also helps nourish the soil.

Fritillaria persica & Crocus Prins Claus April 14 2018 small

Can you see the tips of Fritillaria persica starting to emerge through this drift of Crocus Prins Claus?

emerging Tete a Tete daffodils Apeil 14 2018 b small

A tale of two Narcissus — this one a tiny Tete a Tete getting ready to display buttons of yellow above ground cover Sedum, which is just starting to shift from its winter red hues to summer green…

orange crocus and daffodils april 14 2018

…and these much taller Narcissus ‘Ice Follies’ – which won’t bloom for another month or so – pushing through large orange Crocus.  Last fall, I dug a wide hole, planted Narcissus and Crocus around the edges and t=in the middle transplanted a mature clump of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).  This year, I’ll get many month of blooms from the same spot in the garden.

emerging Iris April 14 2018 b

I love the contrast between the bright green of newly emerging Iris leaves and the red leaves of fleshy Hens and Chicks (Sempervivum) leaves.

Allium and Chianodoxa April 14 2018

There’s dozens of little blue Chianodoxa bulbs at the base of these Allium ‘Purple Sensation.’  The Chianodoxa will start to bloom in a few days (weather permitting) and stay in bloom until the Allium are set to start.  I’m thinking the rabbit damage to some of the Allium wasn’t life threatening and the flowers themselves survived!

Awakening

Six on Saturday – emerging seeds and a slow spring

Shileau inspecting the new spruces April 6 2018

Shileau inspecting two new spruce trees.  A good friend buys them every fall, keeping them in their pots to decorate her city patio; then I plant them in the yard in early spring.  They generally (but not always) survive, although I have to do a lot of root pruning and root untangling after removing them from their 10 or 15 gallon plastic containers.

This past week brought blustery cold winds to the County and all Southern Ontario – lots of downed trees, fallen branches, rain, snow flurries and power outages.  We were fortunate to escape wind damage or flooding even with the sump pump out of action for a few hours at the height of Wednesday night’s storm.  That said, bulbs continued to push up outside, and seeds started to sprout inside.  Here are my Six on Saturday, with a tip of my Tilly to The Propagator for this theme.

emerging Tulips April 6 2018

These short red early kaufmanniana Tulips have a lovely mottled leaf.  This is their third spring in my heavy clay soil – I’m hoping they’ll continue to bloom for a few more years.

Allium Globemaster April 6 2018

Hard to imagine but within a month this little rosette of leaves will have become a three foot Allium Globemaster.  First time growing them so I’m looking forward to a nice show.

Allium Purple Sensation April 6 2018

I’ve had Allium Purple Sensation for many, many years.  These are new bulbs  I planted last fall but I also collected seeds and have started to propagate larger numbers (I hope!).

Chocolate Sprinkles grape tomatoe - yogurt vs Jiffee pot April 6 2018 1

Grape tomato seedlings started two weeks ago – I’m experimenting using different growing containers.

Chocolate Sprinkles grape tomatoe - yogurt vs Jiffee pot April 6 2018

I was surprised to notice that the tomatoes started in yogurt containers are almost twice as large as the ones grown in more traditional peat pots.  Wow!  Is it maybe because moisture levels are more easily managed?  ie growing media in plastic doesn’t dry out as quickly as in the peat pot?

more Allan Garden delights

Allan Gardens March 7 2018 looking up

Under the main dome, filled with palms reaching up to touch the glass.

The wonderful thing about Allan Gardens Conservatory is you can be satisfied and invigorated by visiting for just 15 minutes or by spending as long as 45.   Take a quick walk through the entire complex to enjoy the colours, fragrance and humid air, or, leisurely stroll the meandering pathways, examining the large and sometimes tiny specimens, many of them exotics (for Ontario), all of them meticulously cared for. The city horticulturalists pack hundreds of species into the half dozen greenhouses; some seem to have been there forever and some are obviously seasonal.  Here are a few of my favourites from the permanent collection and the current Spring Blooms installation.

From the spring show – lots of Muscari, Narcissus, Hyacinth and Tulips, plus the occasional surprise, like Winter Aconite.

 

 

 

 

 

Rhodo and Koi Pond at Allan Gardens

This koi pond is there year-round, but the Rhododendron is now in bloom!

 

Also in bloom is Agapanthus – I’ve heard it being called a weed in more tropical parts of the world but here, not so much!  I love the blue flowers.  And this variegated Brugmansia is quite spectacular.

 

 

 

Surprising for me was this patch of kale, left to flower – the yellow flowers are really quite beautiful when massed like this – and the lemon tree!  I wonder if the staff enjoy G&T’s after closing time…

 

 

Cactus at Allan Gardens March 7 2018 small

There are lots of succulents and cacti in the desert house, some of them so tall they’re brushing the roof.  For me, this quartet epitomizes the look. If I lived in Arizona or New Mexico I’d likely have a bunch of them on either side of the front walkway.

Seen in the metal roof struts; I wonder what he’s found to chomp on…

Squirrel at Alan Gardens
Meander

What I Learned Today – Berlandiera lyrata

Did you know there is a National Chocolate Soufflé Day?   The Colorado Native Plant Society did!  It was yesterday, in fact, and to celebrate they tweeted about Berlandiera lyrata, also known as the Chocolate Flower.  It looks like a lovely perennial, native to the west and southwest U.S. and hardy to zone 4.  Tolerates drought and likes rocky limestone soil — perfect!!!

The flowers appear to resemble a cross between Black Eye Susan and Blanketflower; the foliage also similar to Blanketflower.  The flowers open at night,  so I imagine it attracts moths and other nocturnal pollinators although its chocolatey perfume is strongest in the early morning before it gets too hot and the petals close up.

I’ll have to check out the garden centres for it in a few months (can’t find any seeds in my catalogs…) and see how it fares in our humid summer.

berlandiera-lyrata

This photo of Chocolate Flower was tweeted by the Colorado Native Plant Society; it was taken by Carla Tewes.