Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Ladyslippers and Others

Pink Ladyslipper leaf
Yesterday's rain has revived both the garden and the gardener! It was getting pretty dry around here, and the heat the last few days didn't help. The garden was starting to look more than a bit wilted, and the gardener, being something wilted herself, was starting to think more about cool glasses of wine than about weeding. But today we are both full of enthusiasm again.

The Pink Ladyslippers, Cypripedium acaule, are gorgeous this year. Last year's good growing and the cold winter seem to have done them good. I have clumps of Pink Ladies in several places here - beside the Beaver Pond on one side of the ridge, in a hollow right on the ridge, and along the Marsh on the other side of the ridge. The ones beside the Marsh are the easiest to get to, being quite close to the house and on a trail hardly obstructed at all by blow-downs (only one tree, and it easy to step over). It started about 6 years ago as this one leaf. I'm surprised I even saw it, it looks so much like the Wild Lily-of-the-Valley leaves all around.

Earlier this month I saw that the clump now had six lovely buds, all held demurely above the foliage.

(That's another blow-down behind them. A large Balsam Fir went down several years ago. Following my policy of ignoring all path obstructions whenever possible, I have left it alone. It is now getting pretty punky, in fact when I stood on it it squooshed a bit. Another year or two and it will be compost.) 

The flowers are still not quite at their peak, but have turned pink and are starting to straighten up. In a day or two they'll be world-class.

As are the mosquitoes, but we won't whine about them. Not today.

Cypripedium arietinum
The Yellow Ladyslippers are also doing well, or maybe I should say, are doing better. I have been puzzled as to why my plants didn't seem to be doing all that well and finally realized they were suffering from fungus problems. I'm not a scientist so cannot be certain, but the leaves didn't look healthy and the plants were getting smaller..... then I read somewhere that some plants that like acidic soil can be badly attacked by fungal diseases in neutral or basic soils, and a little 'aha' went off. I mulched with lots of pine needles and planted the 2 new plants I got nearer the Marsh where the soil is very acid. And it is working! The Marsh ones are looking vigourous (no flowers this year, but several stems and good big leaves) and the ones in the Sampler Gardener have at least one flower each. Whew.

My one plant of Cypripedium arietinum, Ram's-head Ladyslipper, is blooming as well. Tiny, only about 8" high, but cute! And notice the healthy leaves.

The Showy Ladyslippers, Cypripedium reginae, are still only shoots. Tall shoots, but still just shoots. They'll take another couple of weeks to bloom.

Elsewhere in the garden, the old Heirloom Irises are open. I rather like them. The flowers are much smaller than the big showy Beardeds available to us nowadays, but they have their own charm, and indeed they fit into a border or bed rather better than the prima donnas do. They look good from a slight distance for a week or more. The more modern Irises are better admired closer up, and they need the faded blooms removed before you do so. I don't know the names of any of these, but here's a sample of the flowers to enjoy.

 Anybody want to swap some? Leave a comment, and I'll let you know when I divide mine, probably in late July. Apparently there is an attractive white one.... well, apparently my Gardener's Greed has revived too!


  1. That's wonderful that you have Lady's Slippers! And so many different kinds. Here's hoping that they will spread and form wonderful big patches for you.
    I find my old irises will bloom in less than full sun, but the fancy new varieties are fussier. So now I am sticking with the heirlooms. The yellow and purple one is very pretty, but alas I have no place for it so I can't swap with you. Sigh.

  2. Your Lady's Slippers are wonderful and you have so many different kinds -fantastic! Your Iris are beautiful too, I wish we lived nearer then we could do a swap, I really like the ones with two colours, they are very pretty..