}

May 27, 2011

...and pretty maids, all in a row.

LOOK UP FROM BELOW, AND ADMIRE THE WAXY WHITE BELLS OF THE SOLOMON'S SEAL
Silver (white) bells. That's what I'm talking about, and there are many, many white bell flowers in the garden today. Let me share a few as I wander the garden.

King Solomon's Seal, or Polygonatum biflorum grows in the woodland behind our house, and throughout the deciduous forests of New England. There are many selected forms on old farmsteads and gardens so look for choice forms at plant sales and exchanges. A shade lover, this is a plant that prefers spring moisture, and late summer dryness. Remember, like many woodland plants in New England, or where there are deciduous forests, they bloom as the leaves are emerging, and tend to slow growth or complete their growth by July, when the canopy of green leaves above their heads drinks up all of the moisture below. Learn tricks ( or reality!) about the culture of these plants, by where they grow in the wild, so allow the leaves of autumn to cover them, a natural mulch that will protect them all winter, foster  micro nutrients, which feeds them in the spring burst of growth. Simply said, they prefer woodland conditions.
THE SILVER BELL TREE, HALESIA MONTICOLA
Any white bell post would be incomplete without an image of the Silver Bell Tree, our native southern U.S species of Halesia, Halesia monticola. I remember one at a garden where I worked while in High School, that was planted by Fletcher Steele, the noted landscape architect, and I always admired it. I was told that he wanted a colorful woodland garden, and needed a tree that would be large, and that would bloom in late May. The Halesia tree is covered with large ( 1 inch) white bells, and indeed, it blooms for us at a time when few trees are in bloom, for the crab's and cherry trees are done for the year.

CONVALLARIA MAJUS, THE INFAMOUS LILY OF THE VALLEY
Lily of the Valley, with a scent like nothing else on our planet. I love that these are picked from a colony that my grandmother planted over 100 years ago, and they still are picked every spring to fill the bedrooms in the house. Looking to grow some? You can, but be careful where you plant it, it spreads and smothers out all other plants, which, can be a good thing, or a bad, depending on where you plant it. Perfectly sited under a shady tree where it goes dry in the summer.



A RARE FORM OF ENKIATHUS, MEET ENKIANTHUS PERULATUS

CASSIOPE TETRAGONA, THE ARCTIC BELL HEATHER, SO SWEET IN AN ALPINE THROUGH PLANTED WITH ROCKS.
This relative of heather, which means that this plant in in the family Ericaceae, the genus Cassiope is a rather small one, with around a dozen species worldwide, most native to high alpine areas on mountain peaks, screes and meadows. You will find this plant mostly in mountainous areas of North America, China, Bhutan, Nepal, Iceland and Japan.

A VERY YUMMY RHODODENDRON, WHICH IS MINI, ALPINE AND PRECIOUS

Tiny alpine Rhododendrons are generally not that hardy, since they grow in montane forests in cloud mists, and they hate snowy, wet conditions which can break their branches, but this unnamed jem blooms for me every year. I lost the lable ( I hate labels in the garden, but love them in the greenhouse, go figure!). This is teensy, with flowers less than 3/4 of an inch long. It grows under a Japanese maple, on the shady side of the house. This past winter, it was buried under 8 feet of snow and ice from the roof, and frankly, I am shocked that it survived this glacier-like condition!

From Chile, comes this rarely seen vine. If you live in Oregon, you can grow it outside, but here in New England, it's a woody greenhouse vine, which can come outside for the summer in a container. It remains small enough to live in an 14 inch clay pot on the terrace, with a trellis which it completely covers. Right now, it is bedecked with these tiny green and white bells, all nice and waxy, but in August, it will really capture attention, with its fruit - brilliant violet, in a Welches Grape Juice-sort-of-way. Almost unnatural, but in a natural way, which I guess means that once you see it, you know that it's a tropical color.


3 comments :

  1. Really lovely photo set. Thank you for posting. Do you happen to know the botanical name of the Chilean vine?

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  2. I love Solomom's Seal with the green at the edge of the flower. I have the variegated one, is their such a hybrid name king Solomon seal.

    The silver bell tree is wonderful. White flower farm had it last year and I could kick myself for not getting it. Actually I have kicked myself for years every time I see a photo.

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  3. This is such an interesting post. I'm an artist/gardener. Your exploration of the varieties of shape and form, here the white bell, is exactly the kind of thing i myself pay attention to, and yet rarely read about in garden literature.

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