March 21, 2010

Welcoming in the spring Equinox

Adonis amurensis bud emerging.

One of the first, and most beautiful winter-blooming perennials for cold climates is Adonis amurensis, also known as pheasant's eye. An Asian species this choice early ephemeral wild flower is cherished by plant geeks, and being difficult to dig and share, remains rare in most collections. It likes rich, well-drained soil with lots of humus that is moist in spring during the growing season. The very showy yellow flowers bloom as early as January in zones 7, but in gardens that are in zone 5 or 6, it wait until Febrary or March to emerge, often the first color of the season, arriving just after the Petasites japonicus cobs, which arrive in our garden, as early as mid February in some years. With the lovely Adonis amurensis in your garden, it may not be unusual to see the flowers displayed against the snow. The fern-like foliage is pretty in spring, disappearing by early summer. Adonis are best growing in beds that are left to themsleves, an ecosystem of leaf duff, and preferably under deciduous trees. We grow ours with the Hellebores, Corydalis solida and other woodland ephemerals in deciduous shade where no wood mulch is spreak. Rather, a late autumn blanket of shredded leaves cover the plants for the winter, and it is not removed in the spring. This, is the most environmentally proper way to grow many woodland perennials that dispise woodmulch. i In Japan Adonis amurensis is one of the essential flowers for welcoming the new year, often sold in small container gardens in bloom. Selected named varieties have been grown for hundreds of years, and some rare plant nurseries have very expensive clones. You can find some in the US at Asiatica.com.

A jeffersonia blooms in the early morning sunshine.

This weekend I attended the North American Rock Garden Society's Eastern Winter Study Weekend, which was held near my home in Devens, MA. The event was inspiring with many knowledgable speakers and members, always a fun event. Since we are setting up a display at the New England FLower Show (Blooms) tomorrow, I could only attend the conference for two of the three days, but I still gave the check book a work out with the many fine vendors. This Jeffersonia dubia was actually the floral centerpiece that appeared on the banquet tables the first evening, grown and donated by Iris guru's and friends, Jan and Marty of Joe Pye Weed Gardens. It will be a welcome addition to my ephemeral bed.

We can't get enough of Snowdrops (Galanthus) during this veryr grey and muddy time of year. Here are a couple of shots of some cultivars from around the garden today.

I always wanted a Crocus lawn, essentially, a lawn, planted with a few hundred or thousand Crocus. I only planted 200 bulbs of Crocus tommasinianus, an early blooming species that is more delicate than the more common crocus that we see planted. My Tommies are awesome in our back lawn that was once a bowling green planted with bent grass in the 1920's by my grandparents. Now, it is dotted in violet, and very pretty.

The Tommies in the new crocus lawn

My favorite early spring crocus species, Crocus chrysanthus, here, the cultivar 'Gypsy Girl', with it's burgundy striped petals.

A Petasites japonicus ssp. giganteus floral cob, our first official flower of the season, emerging about a month late this year. These cobs are edible, and sold in produce markets in Tokyo every January and February.

A Saxifraga 'Pluto' starting to show some flower buds. These sturdy, hard, lime-encrusted alpines that grow only in the highest of peaks in the Alps, are planted here, in pure rock chunks of a porous limestone called Tufa rock. They stay exposed all winter to snow and cold temperatures, and always surprise me with how tough some alpines can be. Cultivated in a stone trough, my collection of silver and encrusted saxifrages grew a bit this weekend, with some new varieties from Harvey Wrightman Alpines, who had an incredible selection at their booth at the NARGS EWSW.

Last year I planted some seedling Primula denticulata ( Drumstick Primroses) in the garden near the raised alpine bed. This weekend, they grew 4 inches in 2 days. Moisture lovers, mine are growing in good, deep loam that is far from being wet, but this helps them stay to a more manageable size.

1 comment :

  1. Is that jeffersonia in the garden? If so it seems very early.

    I bought 3 adonis last year from asiatica and I'm hoping to see them flower this year. I am seeing some of the leaves emerging so at least I did not kill them.

    I love all the spring crocus, especially 'Gypsy Girl'.

    After this winter, it is great to see the garden coming to life.


Oh yes, do leave me a comment!