Saturday, May 5, 2012

Warmer Weather

Of course gardeners always say the weather has been weird. But this time it really has! It's been so cold the mosquitoes have been wearing earmuffs....

But now it's finally more Spring-like and I took a good long walk-about. Never mind the various things that have probably departed southwards, there were lots of good things to cheer me up.

There was a small plant of Hepatica americana blooming late in the fern bed. Most of the Hepaticas bloomed (and froze) earlier, so it was a delight to come across this one. I'll move it to a better spot once it gets big enough to travel.

After a lengthy search, I did find a few of the Saxifraga virginiana a friend had given me as small plants last year. Then, as so often happens, I found the others very quickly. It has to do with the idea of 'search image'. Once your brain has a 'search image' to work with, it quickly spots matches. That is why you can look and look for something and not find it, and then, once you have seen one, you find others with no effort. I've had that experience with wildflowers that I had not seen before. Seeing pictures in books is never the same as seeing it in 'real'. Once you have a good search image, then you find them.

Anyway, the plants have all made it, and the squirrels missed the flowers on several of them. The ones I had planted in the woods were larger, but every flower had been nipped off. This one is in my rock garden. I really hope it produces seeds so I can sprinkle them along my Ridge Trail, where I think they'll do well.

This plant is only a few inches high, but Early Saxifrage can be a bit taller.

Down by the marsh the double Marsh Marigolds were blooming. I also have one (one measly) plant of the regular Caltha palustris but it seems to be struggling. Maybe not enough sun..... must move it to a sunnier spot after it finishes blooming this year. Usually I'm not too zipped on double flowers, but the double Marshies are charming. The plants are low and tend to sprawl but in a good year they are covered with flowers which, like most doubles, last a lot longer than the singles.

My neighbour has an acre of Marsh Marigold, why do I have so much trouble growing it???

On slightly higher ground Viola adunca, Hooked Violet, was blooming nicely. This is one of the tribe of stemless blues - but easy to identify because of the long, slightly 'hooked' spur on the flowers. It is also one of the first to bloom. V. labradorica (Dog Violet, silly name) blooms at the same time, but it's flowers are a soft pinkish lavender, and it invariably grows in the open. V. adunca likes deciduous woods and snuggles among the fallen leaves of the previous summer.

Northern Violet, V. macloskeyi, was in bloom everywhere. It seems to follow the marsh edge or the beaver pond edge, but grows in sun or shade, down by the water or up on the drier banks. The leaves are round to heart-shaped, bright green, shiny, and neatly scalloped. The flowers are tiny but numerous.

You could easily confuse this one with V. renifolia, the Kidney-leaved Violet (who named these things?) but the leaves and where it chooses to grow are very different. In V. renifolia the leaves are kidney-shaped, thick, a greyer green, and covered with fairly long hairs.

Back at the house I was surprised and delighted to see a pot of Viola Selkirkii in full bloom. I got some seeds from one of the seed exchanges last year and they germinated nicely and grew into good little plants..... but the leaves were grey and green variegated and I didn't think they could be V. Selkirkii. I planted them here and there (where, I now wonder?) in the rock garden. Then during the winter I did some searching on the web and discovered there is a variegated form of V. Selkirkii in cultivation. So I figured that was what I had. Nice, but not the native plant. So I was a bit surprised to find these:

Where I got them I do not know. But they are definitely Selkirk's Violet and I'm glad to have them.

The big winner of the day was a single stem of Spring Beauty, Claytonia virginiana. About ten years ago I had some seeds from Gardens North and, not having a pot handy to sow them in, scratched them into the ground in my Sampler Garden. I checked the spot a number of times, but never saw any signs of Beauty, in Spring or otherwise.

So it was a big and happy surprise to find this one. It isn't much of a picture, but you can see the sprawly growth form and the narrow leaves (the lower ones belong to the Spring Beauty). Sometimes the flowers are a bit pink, but this one was quite white. I moved leaves aside and hunted around a bit and was pleased to find more plants.

Maybe I'll get my patch of Beauty yet!

1 comment:

  1. I love those first spring blooms! So full of the promise of warmer weather. :o)