Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Spring Flings

Cardiocrinum giganteum

 Things have really picked up speed in the garden the past couple of weeks. Perhaps the fastest growing plant award should go to Cardiocrinum giganteum. Our little colony now has seven or so plants, only one of which seems heading toward bloom this year. The plant that bloomed last year produced five healthy offsets, so it looks like future years will be spectacular for these plants.

Arisaema sikokianum

Another speedster is this Jack-in-the-Pulpit. The plants emerge as a sharped round shoot completely encased in this beautifully textured brown sheath. The leaves and flower are tightly rolled up inside, and rapidly unfold in a matter of days.

One fascinating thing about cobra lilies is that they often change sex, usually starting out male and switching to female as they age. This can be affected by genetics and growing conditions.

Eremurus 'Spring Valley Hybrids'

This hybrid foxtail lily has developed a highly rhythmic twist in its leaves, the only one of five to do so. Fabulous!

Callistemon critrinus 'Little Joe'
We've had good luck so far with another callistemon, so we added this C. citrinus cultivar recently. It will grow to just three feet tall and about 5 feet wide, unless it gets killed off in a harsh winter. It happens.

Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl'

Euphorbia characias 'Black Pearl'

One of the stalwarts of the spring garden is euphorbias, and E. characias 'Black Pearl' is a beauty. Growing to about three feet tall and a little wider, it is wonderfully architectural, and the black eyes of the bracts are luscious.

Grevillea juniperina 'Lava Cascade'

One of several grevilleas we are growing, G. juniperina 'Lava Cascade' has really grown since it was planted last spring. We situated it at the top of a rockery, where it can cascade down and it has sharp drainage. It's currently covered with buds, so it should be really exciting in a couple of weeks, if these early blooms are any indication.

Hybrid hellebore
Hybrid hellebores are endlessly fascinating, and are such workhorses in the garden. We cut all of the previoius year's foliage off once the flower stalks emerge; fresh new foliage quickly follows the flowers. This one is a division of a clump we grew in our Vashon Island garden. I love the spotting.

Muscari latifolium
These grape hyacinths are so cute with their little topknots of pale blue, plus their peculiar tulip-like foliage. These are a robust miscari, growing about eight inches tall.

Hacquetia epipactis and Fritillaria meleagris
An apparent rarity (although I don't know why, as it is easily propagated), Hacquetia epipactis is the cutie pie of the spring garden, forming a tidy mound about one foot across that is covered with the most amazing line-green "flowers." The actual flower is the yellow center; the green parts are sepals.

We bought our original three plants at the now-defunct Heronswood back in 2005. This clump is one of three that self-sowed for us. We now have more babies that will be ready to move to other locations when they're a little bigger.
Ribes sanguineum 'King Edward VII'
Although by no means a rarity in the Pacific Northwest, red-flowered currant is still worth growing for a welcome burst of bright color in the spring, paired with fresh green foliage. This hybrid has larger flower sprays than the straight species.

Soon, there will be peonies, alliums, luecojums, species tulips, coral bells, and more. The tea tree (Leptospermum lanigerum 'Mt. Wall') is heavily budded, as is Callistemon viridiflorus. Fothergilla gardenia 'Blue Shadow,' which we thought had died last year, is not only budding out but starting to bloom. And one of the giant pokers, Kniphofia northiae, has a monstrously large flower spike emerging. That will be exciting!