Alabama has entered a predicated climate pattern of wet winters and springs, and dry late summers. Temperatures are also fluctuating widely. Whether due to those factors or Nature’s whimsy, there has been little progress in flowering since my last post two weeks ago. Before I get to what I do have to share, though, I’ll share the hub site for “Six on Saturday” from the Propagator, anyone wanting to join in just needs to drop by there for guidance: https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com.
1. All of my plants today come from the wooded part of the garden, which is still mostly colored by fallen leaves and pine needles. The boldest color comes from Lenten Roses, such as the one in the featured photo. Almost all of the hellebores there have placed themselves along the dry creek bed (really a water runoff from the road) as a result of water running past a rather large bed I planted. Most of the blooms are white, but there are others that range from pink to a soft maroon.
2. Among those dry leaves and pine needles, something green can be found, but it is a strange plant. Cranefly orchids (Tipularia discolor) can easily be overlooked. An eastern and central US native, it is easily identified by its crinkled leaves that have a purple underside. A perennial terrestrial orchid, the plant is really a series of connected corms each of which produces a single leaf, which will die back in the summer before its flower spike appears. I see several of these orchids at this time of year, but I can’t recall ever seeing the flower in summer. A friend tells me to look out for them in August. This year, I intend to be watchful.
3. A little bright color comes from the flowering of leatherleaf mahonia (Mahoni bealei), a plant that I am somewhat embarrassed to admit I have. It is a non-native that can be invasive. Several years ago I planted a few along that run-off creek bed, and from time to time they now appear just about anywhere. So, I work to keep it confined to two small areas along the creek line. Except for the bright yellow flower buds in the early spring, I can’t say that there is much to admire in this rather tall holly-like shrub. But, it does make a serviceable delineator of space.
4. Just a little yellow is beginning to appear from the naturalized daffodils–no blooms yet, just spikes. But, they have grown noticeably since the last post.
5. There are some other spikes of green in a sunnier spot on the edge of the trees. A bed of irises is breaking through the leaves. In few months this will be a flow of yellow and purple blooms–apparently also with a touch of weeds.
6. This week’s final entry is one of hope and trust. Flowering quince (Chaenomeles speciosa) reminds me of time in Oxford, England, and I have been wanting one in my own landscape. Below is a plant I bought at a plant sale last spring. The depth of field in the photo is deliberately shallow because I wanted to focus on the leaf and bud that give me hope of a successful planting.
There should be be more to report in the next entry. For now I’ll enjoy the blooms in the gardens of others who share their progress in Six on Saturday.