Perennials & Annuals

Morning in the garden – April 18, 2015

Spring has, at last, taken hold and greenery and flowers are awakening all over the garden, enough to start the morning in the garden series to document the growing season in my zone 6a, south-central Connecticut gardens.

The well-established crocus planted in the south-facing front beds are done blooming while those in the cooler rear beds still greet the morning sun.

Crocus tommasinianus 'Ruby Giant'

Crocus tommasinianus ‘Ruby Giant’

Nearby, are fleeting blossoms of Iris reticulata.

Iris reticulata 'Cantab'

Iris reticulata ‘Cantab’

The crocus and early iris blooms show my love of blue and purple, as do the potted violas on the front porch.

potted violas

potted violas

daylily foliage

daylily foliage

blueberry buds

blueberry buds

Elsewhere in the rear beds daylily foliage adds more green each day and blueberry buds swell.

 

 

 

 

The sand crane statue, that just a few weeks ago was almost completely buried in snow, stands tall and seems relieved to be perched among growing plants.

sand crane statue

sand crane statue

Stachys byzantina or common Lamb's Ear

Stachys byzantina or common Lamb’s Ear

Allium rosenbachianum

Allium rosenbachianum

In the front beds the Lamb’s Ear borders are shaking off their sad winter face and soon will be nothing but fuzzy gray foliage, while allium foliage shows where 3′ tall globes of violet will stand come June.

 

Thankfully, local deer leave both Lamb’s Ear and allium alone.

 

The two dwarf white pines planted last autumn came through the winter well in spite of being totally buried from January through early April.

Pinus strobus 'Nana (Improved)'

Pinus strobus ‘Nana (Improved)’

Magnolia stellata 'Centennial'

Magnolia stellata ‘Centennial’

Sanguinaria canadensis, commonly known as bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis, commonly known as bloodroot

The weather forecast promising two warm, sunny days should entice the first magnolia and bloodroot blossoms to open …

 

and the sun will soon dry the dew droplets captured by emerging Lady’s Mantle foliage.

Alchemilla mollis, commonly known as Lady's Mantle

Alchemilla mollis, commonly known as Lady’s Mantle

 

 

Dreaming of “warmer” white

Though the calendar is close to flipping the page to April and the season is officially spring, winter’s white stuff remains the key element in Connecticut’s outside landscape. With more snow falling today, it’s time to dream of the “warmer” white that will … yes, will … come with warmer weather.

amaryllis 'Christmas Gift'

amaryllis ‘Christmas Gift’

amaryllis 'Christmas Gift' close up

amaryllis ‘Christmas Gift’ close up

Inside warmth allows amaryllis blooms to brighten spirits.

This ‘Christmas Gift’ amaryllis bloomed late this year.

Her blossom just passed, but gave a hint of the warm white blooms her hardier cousins promise.

Spring blooming bulbs are trying to fill the void of outdoor blooms – they’re slowly peeking out of the soil and, before long will open into this.

small cupped narcissi

small cupped narcissi

double narcissus

double narcissus

Soon to be followed by tiny white violets dotting the lawn.

white violets

white violets

Lilacs filling the air with scent.

white lilacs

white lilacs

Siberian iris 'White Swirl'

Siberian iris ‘White Swirl’

Alpine strawberry blossom

Alpine strawberry blossom

Siberian iris and little Alpine strawberry flowers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sanguinaria canadensis

Sanguinaria canadensis

Lily-of-the-Valley

Lily-of-the-Valley.

Bloodroot and Lily of the Valley.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Peonies

Peony in bloom

Peony in bloom

and pinks.

Dianthus deltoides 'Arctic Fire'

Dianthus deltoides ‘Arctic Fire’

Bearded iris

bearded iris

bearded iris

and viburnum branches loaded in flowers.

Viburnum plicatum 'Mariessii'

Viburnum plicatum ‘Mariessii’

Lacy white astilbe blossoms will play with big blue hydrangea blooms.

Astilbe and hydrangea

Astilbe and hydrangea

Shasta daisy with gomphrena and ageratum

Shasta daisy with gomphrena and ageratum

white zinnia

white zinnia

Then shasta daisy and white zinnia will carry warmer whites through the summer months.

 

What “warmer” white blossoms help warm the inner gardener in you during early spring snows?

 

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Fern sex

Ferns are amazing plants in their beauty alone. They’re even more amazing when you begin to understand how ferns propagate. They have no flowers to entice pollinating insects so … how does a fern have sex?

fern fronts as they open in spring

fern fronds as they open in spring

Gardeners who know and love ferns realize that spores – the brown structures that arise on the undersides of mature fern fronds – are a fern’s reproductive cells. Once mature, these cells leave their parent fern to venture out and multiply. What’s fascinating is how the spores leave the parent plant.

As described in a December 31, 2014 article in the Wonderful Things series in Scientific American, ferns use a technique called cavitation catapult to disperse spores.

The article provides drawings and a video diagram explaining how this process works. But here’s the best part for plant geeks … a video showing actual fern spores being launched by the cavitation catapult process.

This kind of stuff happens in gardens all the time, right under our noses as we merrily tend our plants. Gardening is not only one of the best ways to connect with nature, it’s a constant learning experience for those with curious minds and … it’s sexy.
But don’t just watch the video … follow the article link to better understand the whole process. Aren’t we all lucky to have scientists who take the time to question and learn about fern sex, and science writers such as Jennifer Frazer to explain it in a way average Jane and Joe gardeners can easily understand?
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