A Return to Edgewood

In hindsight the weather could have been better for the two hour plus drive down there, but when you’re matching up three busy calendars you sometimes just get what you get.  Fortunately for the most mountainous part of the drive the bulk of the snow hadn’t yet arrived, and for the flatter portions the thermometer was beginning to rise.  At least it was pretty to look at…. I guess…

witch hazel diane

A slow, careful walk up the icy drive gave plenty of time to admire the witch hazels.  I believe this is Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Diane’.

We really had to squeeze this visit in because John Lonsdale, Edgewood Garden’s proprietor, was busy loading up trays and packing the truck for the Pine Knot Hellebore festival in Virginia which kicks off this weekend and then runs for the next three.  Lucky you if you’re close enough to visit, but for now the seven and a half hour drive is more than I’m willing to consider… you never know though.  It’s on the bucket list.  >click here< for exact dates and locations of this and other Edgewood sales events.

hardy cyclamen foliage

Cyclamen ready to hit the road.  Such awesome foliage you almost forget they also cover themselves with bloom, C. maritimum on the left wouldn’t be hardy for me, but I could easily pick out at least four or five of the C. hederifolium to the right and they’d do just fine here in the mountains 🙂

My friend Paula met up with us and we had a great morning looking at and talking about just about any and all snowdrop nuances you could think of.  Then we talked about cyclamen.  As usual I overstayed my welcome.

John lonsdale Paula Squitiere

John and Paula working their way through the G. plicatus section of snowdrops.

I honestly intended to take pictures of some of the latest and greatest hybrids and named sorts and share the photos here, but I really do get a little overwhelmed when hit with the variety of species John grows.  If you’d like a more focused report I’d recommend clicking >here< to read the recent Washington Post article on Edgewood Gardens and some of John’s work with several of the rarest snowdrop sorts.

galanthus gracilis

Just one of the many pots which made me say “oh look at this one, I like that too”.  I believe these were all G. gracilis seedlings.

Of course I like galanthus for the flowers as much as anyone else, but for some reason the varied foliage of the snowdrops had me distracted on this visit.

galanthus gracilis

Curly thin foliage, flat wide foliage with a grey tint, wide apple green…  This photo shows some of the range in Galanthus foliage.  G. gracilis mostly but also a few other species such as G. plicatus and G. ikariae subsp. snogerupii…. a name which I can never resist saying 🙂

I think it’s a bad sign that I now know the names of more than three or four snowdrop species…

galanthus ikarie

Various pots of Galanthus ikarie seedlings.  Such nice foliage, some big flowers here and there, and even one with a nice flush of green on the petal tips.

There weren’t just a few species.  I asked which ones in particular he had growing in the greenhouses and his response was just “all of them”.  It was very cool to see, but even that was overshadowed by the thousands of snowdrop seedlings coming up on nearly every spare shelf or extra rack.

galanthus seedlings

Future snowdrop flowers.

The incredible diversity of species coming along is staggering but before I was even able to get myself grounded again it was off to the next greenhouse to check in on some hardy cyclamen.

cyclamen coum

Cyclamen coum filling the bench with an exceptional range of forms and colors.

I took this visit as an opportunity to correct the severe lack of cyclamen coum which my indoor garden is dealing with this winter.  For those who need to know, my budget only allowed me to pick four new ones, so you needn’t worry that I made a huge dent in his offerings.

cyclamen coum porcelain

Cyclamen coum ‘Porcelain’, a nicely striped special strain he had coming along, as well as a particularly dark form below it.

Speaking of budgets, since last year was such a success in restraint and control, I’ve decided to leave off on a good note and never mention tracking my gardening costs again.  It seems almost pointless to worry about a few dollars here and there when I’m faced each month with writing the checks to put a ten year old girl through gymnastics.  All my gardening budget is now officially part of my health care budget, and that would be mental health specifically.  Spending money on the garden will hopefully distract me from the endless drain of money going towards filling birthday cards and financing icecream shoppes and filling the belly of a twelve year old boy who always seems inches from famine.

eranthis orange glow

Another Edgewood offering this year, ‘Orange Glow’ winter aconite (Eranthis hiemalis).  I could have easily added a few of these to my order, but have to keep faith that my little seedling from a previous year is still just waiting to show itself.

As long as we’re talking about the budget I wasn’t going to talk about, I might as well admit this visit wasn’t all just the usual me inviting myself over to look at plants.  John has put out a spring listing of plants and I may have needed to pick up a few snowdrops as well as my new cyclamen.  It can be found >here< and although I did save on shipping by picking up directly, you may choose to avoid a five hour roundtrip through snow and icy roads, and just have them mailed to your doorstep.

galanthus plicatus

A large flowered Galanthus plicatus seedling.  The rule of thumb here is about one inch for that particularly fat digit, and that puts this well endowed snowdrop at over two inches!

As always it was a great time, and even though the walk out went even more slowly with precious cargo in hand, we still took a few more minutes to again admire the optimistic witch hazels lining the drive.

hamamelis witch hazel

Icy witch hazel (Hamamelis × intermedia ‘Barmstedt Gold’) in full bloom despite the sub-freezing temperatures.  Everyone should have a few of these.

Thanks all around, and since this post is starting to sound like a shameless plug for Edgewood gardens (which it is) I guess I should say I received no compensation for it, and as a matter of fact it was actually a little costly even if you don’t count the stop at IKEA on the way home.  Well on second thought that’s not completely true.  On a previous visit John gave me an ‘unsellable’ cyclamen which had a few yellow leaves.  It’s now growing and blooming beautifully in its new home, so maybe that cyclamen was all just part of some elaborate master plan 😉

Have a great week, and judging by the strength of the sun this morning you can probably guess what my next post will feature heavily!

A primrose path

I don’t mean to brag but my expertise in the genus primula is really growing by leaps and bounds.  Vulgaris and veris were strangers a few months ago but now they’re names I can put a face to and to be completely honest I’m feeling a bit smug…  I do grow them from seed you know.

So I thought maybe it was time to officially rename a few misnamed seedlings and hit the computer for a little looking around online.  My bliss was shattered when I discovered there are more than a few primula species out there.  In the interest of keeping my self confidence up and my ignorance intact I’m not planning on finding an exact number, but my less than indepth research has discovered at least a primula for every letter of the alphabet from P. advena to P. zambalensis, and at least 30 species in just the ‘a’ section alone.  India has over 100 species… who knew?

Well apparently plenty of people knew, so I’m going to just return to my humble garage and enjoy a few of the flowers showing up under my growlight this winter.  Did I mention I grew a primrose from seed?  They’re probably a self-sowing weed in your garden but I’ll be the first to admit that even after a number of years it’s still the simplest of things that make me happy.

primrose belarina pink tartan red

The ‘Tartan Reds’ are indeed from seed, but the double pink ‘belarina pink ice’ was given to me by a friend last spring.  It’s much darker than it should be but I love the color.

I think I mentioned my primrose exploits in an earlier post and warned about more photos of the mealy eyed yellow auricula which was blooming…. and here it is again 🙂

primula aucalis

I think the white flour-like farina which coats the center of the flowers make these blooms really cool.  Notice how much smaller the other P. auricula seedlings are in the pot to the left, I really got lucky with how well this one plant grew!

The other seedlings from last year’s American Primrose Society seed exchange are also pulling their weight.  I’m still surprised that the neglected little things are doing anything at all but they are and I’m grateful for it.  Here’s my next big thing and also the reason I went searching through primrose species lists.  The large pale yellow sounds ok as a P. aucalis, but I am now calling the smaller blooms around it P. veris ‘sunset shades’ and not another aucalis.  I’m surprised by how much I like them, small droopy flowers and all!

primrose from seed

primrose from seed

Many new primula seed were sown last week and I’m sure I’ll go on and on about them some day too, but for now primrose are a nice diversion from my snowdrop mania.  Snowdrops are a problem and I promise to go on far too long about them as well since there’s the promise of warm weather again this weekend 🙂

Do I detect a thaw?

Longer days and stronger sunshine doesn’t necessarily mean it’s springtime.  Warmer weather and a lack of snowstorms means spring to me, and since we’re 0-2 on that front, this weekend’s forecast of almost normal weather gives me some hope that the snow may eventually melt.  My fingers are crossed that the receding snow will reveal healthy snowdrop sprouts, and in the front bed along the foundation this might be true.  This bunch has come along since the last time it was uncovered (Jan 13th), but it’s still far behind last year’s bloom date of Jan 31st.  Still it amazes me that even under feet of snow and temperatures down to 0F (-18C) they continue to grow, disregarding the frozen soil and surrounding ice.snowdrops and snow

Indoors is a different story.  The forced snowdrops are at their peak, and I regret giving them the cold shoulder in my last post.forced galanthus

There’s plenty of variation in bloom shape, plant height, and color and pattern of the green markings inside.  I’m quite pleased all over again and it makes me even more excited the ones outside might someday open!forced galanthus elwesii

A better gardener would keep track of their favorites, and carefully plant them out for observation…. but I’m just fine with big patches of anonymous white.  If there are a few real special ones I can separate them out, but we’ll see what happens once they have a chance to grow outside in the real garden.  The pale drops are nice, but the dark green markings such as this one also look interesting once open. snowdrops forced indoors

This one has such a stumpy, stout stem (but small bloom) that it really contrasts with the daintier one to the lower right of this photo.strong stem on galanthus

Having potted up all 200 of my bulbs for growing indoors, there are pots all over.  I might have gone a bit overboard since usually the windowsills are reserved for post-bloom hangout until things warm up enough to go outside.snowdrops on windowsill

I’ve been pollinating away, so hopefully there will be a few snowdrop seeds to start this summer.  My fingers are crossed since it looks like the sprouts I had coming along with so much promise in January all died during the last couple arctic blasts.

There’s a different kind of hope though.  Birds are singing in the sunshine in a way not heard since last spring, and this little guy was spotted rooting around under the feeder.  He’s not a mouse or vole, but a little half-blind shrew.  I’ve never seen one out (alive) but this guy let me take his close-up from about 12 inches away while he burrowed around in the seed hulls looking for bugs and whatnot.  He’s an interesting guy, one of only a few poisonous mammals (their saliva is toxic enough to kill a similar sized animal), and their hyperactive lifestyle has them eating nearly their entire weight in food each day.  They’re also a little stinky, which we discovered last fall when an opening in the foundation let a couple into the basement. shrew at feeder

Stay out by the feeder is all I have to say… that and have a great weekend!

Still hiding indoors

We’re into another warm spell, with temperatures predicted to peak at a balmy 50F (10C) this afternoon.  I would pull out the shorts and T shirts, but the weather forecast also has a low of 5F (-15C) listed for Wednesday, so maybe I’ll wait another week.  For now the indoor garden will have to do while we wait for the snow to melt.  Cyclamen coum are at their peak.hardy cyclamen coum indoors under lightsSure they would be hardy outdoors under the snow, but to see them blooming now is twice as nice, even though they have suffered more than ever this winter under my neglectful care.  Most are unnamed mixed seed, but the darker, smaller bloom is from the Meaden’s Crimson seed strain.meadens crimson cyclamen coumI have some whites outdoors, but only this one under lights.  It’s got nice foliage, a decent sized flower, and a nice blackberry smudge on the nose.  Also, according to the original listing this seed comes from a wild collected plant of cyclamen coum ssp. causasium, which to me means its mom comes straight from the wilds at the edge of the Black Sea near Turkey and Western Russia (and may also be slightly less hardy than other c. coum).  A cool pedigree as far as I’m concerned, but based on the mixed variety of colors and forms that came from this seed batch I’m guessing dad was a local.white cyclamen coum with blackberry centerThis one is still my favorite.  No fancy reason, just like the color.pink hardy cyclamen coumThe snowdrops (galanthus elwesii) which I potted up in December from a late Van Engelen order are doing fine, but just not as well as last years order.  There’s just not as much variety in bloom shapes and markings this year, and to me this says it might be time to move on from my bulk snowdrop purchasing days.  I’m sure I’ll still pick a couple up here and there, but no more bags of hundreds.  Just the other day a friend suggested I try Brent and Becky’s since they usually supply a higher quality and larger bulb…. (so maybe I’ll still have to try one more year of bulk orders) forced snowdropsEventually I hope to bring in a pot or two of my own garden’s clumps and force them indoors, but for now my clumps of just one bulb aren’t ready for that.  So until then I’ll have to take what I can get.galanthus and primulaYou might recognize the pinkish primula vulgaris ssp. sibthorpii from my Far Reaches Farm order in January.  It’s lookin’ good!  I can’t really take any credit for this since all I did was keep it warm and under lights, but it’s a nice treat here amongst the permafrost.  Rumor has it that sibthorpii should have a white ring around the yellow center star or else it’s a mixed hybrid, but since mine has been grown under artificial lighting, it may not yet be showing it’s true colors. primula vulgaris sibthorpiiTo save on indoor light space I placed another dormant primrose in a cold spot near the door to keep it asleep…. then the polar vortex and little vortices came through and before I knew it the poor thing was a block of ice.  After a slow thaw I have it under the light too, and other than a few freezer burned rosettes of new growth, I believe it will be fine.frozen perennial primroseAnother objet d’hope  is this group of overwintered geraniums I potted up last week.  I had a free afternoon and the strangely bright sunshine made me antsy to get something growing, so after another 25 pots of seeds were sown and placed outside to get a taste of winter, I took pity on the stray geranium cuttings sitting in the dark garage, repotted them and set up the second shoplight.overwintered geraniumsI had been of the opinion that my tropicals under a shoplight experiment was a waste of lighting, but last year’s hanging pots of geraniums look much better for having been under the light.  I suspect this will be the year of the geranium (pelargonium) since I now have room for nothing else (other than this sad looking cane begonia- which believe it or not will recover very quickly from this wintertime abuse).overwintered geraniumsThe succulents are much less bother.  Dim lighting, a cup of water in January, and they look as good today as when I brought them in.  As long as they only get enough water to hold off death, they’ll be fine until May.overwintered aloe

May sounds good right now, but I’ll be happy enough when March gets here.  It’s scheduled to come in like a lion, but hopefully by the end we’ll see some signs of life outside.  Onion seeds were planted last week so even if the ice outside says winter, the calendar will soon start to argue that…. I hope.

Christmas countdown

Just about a week left till the big day and there’s no question it looks like winter here.  The kids are on their third snow day, but even with all the winter weather I just checked the extended forecast and have the feeling there will be no white Christmas.  Rain and 60F (15C) for the weekend.snow on the deck

But it will still look seasonal here.  This year I was finally able to harvest enough evergreens and twigs from the garden to put something together for winter, and although it’s not much, it does make me feel vindicated for not bothering to trim up the yews into their traditional meatball shapes along the foundation.holiday twigsObviously I didn’t invest too much time in this display 🙂  An armful of yew trimmings, a bunch of dogwood twigs, all dropped into an empty pot with a few cheap plastic balls.  For a second smaller pot, same recipe, just with sumac twigs rather than dogwood.sumac and yew for the holidays I really need more winter diversity.  I’m looking forward to the day when I can add holly and fir and maybe a couple golden conifers and rose hips… I need to get planting!

In the meantime snowdrops will have to do.  Here’s the bunch from VanEngelen all ready for covering up.  There are too many for the winter garden so I’ll have to see if things thaw out enough over the weekend to bury them in a leaf pile or something outside.  In the meantime they can begin rooting inside on the cool garage floor.  For those who wonder about these things, out of my 200 clearance bulbs 194 looked perfect for planting.  For a bulb often recommended to be purchased “in the green”, these snowdrops (elwesii) seem to have survived their dry storage just fine.  I think the traditional snowdrops (nivalis) might have more of a problem with drying out.forced snowdropsNow if I can only get moving on a few other things, I’ve been remarkably lazy lately and spend most of my time browsing other cooler blogs!

More snowdrops from the Temple Nursery

Here’s the second installment of photos from our visit to Hitch Lyman’s garden.  These pictures are all taken on the bank of earth that lined the one side of the driveway leading up to the house.  The drops (and a few other things such as cyclamen coum) seemed happy on the slope, even though there didn’t seem to be much in the way of soil improvement or mulching or any other tinkering with the planting area.  But I don’t know that for sure, all I know is there were plenty of nice looking galanthus and even in the cold weather they were a hopeful sign of spring.galanthus "Sickle" Hitch Lyman Garden

galanthus "Warham" Hitch Lyman GardenI’ve always been a big fan of snowdrops.  When the first warm days of spring rolled around I’d always make a point of swinging by the yards and parks where I knew there were a couple growing.  Although they were one of my favorite flowers, when I tried growing them in my parent’s garden they  never really settled in.  They just hung on.

The ones at the Temple Nursery seem to be doing much better.  If you’re curious as to snowdrop names, a mouse hovering over the photo will hopefully show their identity.  In this photo, the one on the right is galanthus “Sophie North” and it was one of my favorites.  The blooms were big and fat and at this point when they’re still tucked in by the foliage I think they’re perfect.galanthus "Sentinel" "Sophie North" Hitch Lyman Garden

This was my first opportunity to see a lot of named snowdrops in the flesh, and it may have made a snowdrop snob out of me.  I’m beginning to pick up on  the variations and differences.  Here’s “Spindlestone Surprise” which even an amateur like me can pick out as being different from the usual green-whiteness.galanthus "spindlestone surprise" Hitch Lyman Garden

yellow snowdrop HItch Lyman Garden

But I still can’t tell too many of them apart (and never with any certainty unless there’s a label stuck right next to it).  Here’s another yellow, and although there was a “Wendy’s Gold” label nearby, I don’t see much of a difference between this and the other yellow.

I may be drifting into snowdrop-snobbery but I still think I’ll be fine with just a couple.  Fyi they’re on order for shipment this spring.

Here are the last few pictures.   “Lodestar” shows a little green even when closed, and the blooms splay out a bit instead of having the round drop shape.galanthus "Lodestar" Hitch Lyman Garden

Wasp has a longer narrow bloom, looking a little sad in the cold.  galanthus "Wasp" Hitch Lyman Garden

I think this is Naughton.  I really like the fat blooms, no green showing, and the curled Pedicle (or at least I think that’s what you call the green thing over the bloom).galanthus "Naughton" Hitch Lyman Garden

Not to leave things on a down note, but some snowdrops looked like they took a hit from the cold.  Here’s “Lord Monosticus”, and it appears the blooms got more than their fair share of winter cold.  I’ve had this happen in my garden with some of the earliest ones, and they recover fine for next season, but it’s sad to see.  This one was actually on my short list for ordering.  I’d like a real early one, but maybe it’s not worth the stress.  galanthus "Lord Monosticus" HItch Lyman GardenSo that’s it for the snowdrops, I guess they’re not everyone’s “thing” but I kinda like them.  Also there’s not much else going on here as another 4 inches of snow comes down……

The Winter Garden

Image

A winter garden usually means something a little fancier than my shop light setup that sits in the back part of the garage.  Hellebores, evergreens and snowdrops could fill a corner of an outdoor winter garden, a nice glass conservatory planted with camellias and clivias would be a perfect spot for a January morning cup of coffee,  even a couple southern windows with a flowering lemon tree and a couple amaryllis is nice….. but this is all I’ve got.  It’s better than nothing.

The cyclamens love the cooler temperatures of the garage.  I keep some of my babies here, the ones that I didn’t get around to planting out or ones that I wanted to “keep close” for another year.   Right now the cyclamen coum are blooming.  Here’s one grown from  Green Ice Nursery seed.  The mother plant was collected in Russia, and I think it’s cool that my little plants are only one generation removed from the Russian wilderness.

cyclamen coum

cyclamen coum

Seedlings for the next generation of cylcamen hederifolium are also coming along in the winter garden.  They were sown last winter, didn’t get enough of the cold they wanted, sat all summer and then finally sprouted in the fall.  I could have left them outside but they take up barely any space and I can check up on their progress any time I want.

cyclamen hederifolium seedlings