What’s Blooming in January

Normally I don’t think we’d have anything actually blooming in our backyard this time of year except for the Hellebore.

This winter being so frighteningly warm, we have a few more things to add to the “blooming or on the way up” list.

Here is the Hellebore, which I planted a year and a half ago.  This is its first time blooming.  It is quite small, only one flower, but it’s been blooming for a few weeks now and is lovely to see.  It rained yesterday so it’s a bit dirty, but lovely to see nonetheless.

Hellebore in bloom

My Galanthus seems to have decided that it’s officially Spring:

Snowdrops in bloom already! Last year it was March before they emerged.

That’s it for actual blooms, although several things are already poking their way through soil and up into the air…I’m not certain what most of them are, thanks to the lousy job I did labeling bulbs last year!  Time will tell, and once they’re up this year I’m going to label!

Bulbs emerging...I think this is Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) Maybe.

All bets are on Daffodils here...

I think these are crocus leaves...

Here’s one I do know, thanks to Bev who helped me to identify.  I sent her a picture and  told her it had a really unique smell when I rubbed the leaves…sort of spicy, musky…”like aftershave” was as close as I could get!  She immediately identified it as Feverfew!  I’m glad to know some of the seeds I planted last year came up (and didn’t get mistakenly identified as a WEED by me and subsequently pulled.)

Feverfew, nice and green - and it will stay green all winter!

Here’s another one I didn’t label:

this could be Foam Flower or Lavender...(it's Tiarella / Foam Flower!)

Last year Bev gave me a Purple Coneflower transplant that had some Sweet Woodruff tagging along in the pot.  Here they are, apparently doing well and starting to spread!

lovely little Sweet Woodruff

one of a few tiny patches of Sweet Woodruff

This next one has me stumped – and a bit worried…

This plant smells very strongly of oregano or thyme, or some savory herb.

It’s growing around my Mondarda (Bee Balm) and once again, my lack of labeling plants last year now puts me in the position of now knowing if this something I planted by seed or a volunteer of some sort.  Here’s the close up and the worrying part:

same plant - is that POWDERY MILDEW on the leaves??

I noticed toward the end of summer that the Monarda has a pretty bad case of powdery mildew, and this is right under it.  I hope I don’t have a big problem on my hands here! Not sure what can be done about powdery mildew, but I did notice some in that area of the garden at the end of last summer.  Yikes!  At least the Sweet Woodruff, which is in the same area, isn’t showing signs of being affected!

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Garden Bloom Day – June 15, 2011

I had family visiting this week, so I’ve missed Wordless Wednesday and I’m a day late with my Garden Bloom Day photos!

Lots of things are blooming in the yard right now, especially on the west side of the yard in the border along the garage wall.  That area receives the most sun and the plants there seem happy.

Things are moving along on the east side of the yard in the border along the fence, but it’s shadier there so some things are slow to grow and bloom.  This our first June in the new apartment / yard, so it’s interesting to look around and see where things are NOT happening.  I’ll need to think about what things I can add to that East side fence line under the Privet trees for next year.  It would be nice to have SOMETHING blooming there in June, and right now there is nothing.

On to the things that ARE blooming!

This is Astilbe, ‘Peach Blossom’ – in the shade garden along the side of the house.  I’m not sure if it’s a shorter variety of Astilbe or if it’s just small because this is its first year…or maybe it’s too much shade?  Right now the plant is about 2′ tall.

the lavender plant I put in last fall has really filled out this year and is spreading out. It’s been in various stages of blooming for nearly 6 weeks now, and it smells terrific.
here’s a close up
This is Lilium, ‘Blackout’ I was expecting it to be a much darker maroon – nearly black according to the photo on Easy To Grow Bulbs, where I ordered it, however I am absolutely in LOVE with this color and I’m very happy with this Lily! I bought 3 bulbs and planted them in 3 different areas of the yard, so their blooming will be a little staggered – perfect. You’ll have to bear with me posting several pictures of this beauty – I’m a little over the moon about it!

If this Lily multiplies over the years you might hear my squeals of delight from miles away.
Day Lilies are also blooming. These came with the property. Earlier this spring I dug some up and transplanted them around to various parts of the yard.
I’m not usually a fan of the color orange, but these are just delightful.
Not the best shot, but this is the border along the garage wall. The sunniest spot in the yard, this border also benefits from being so close to the wall for protection from wind and a little extra heat off the building.  Everything is starting to get a bit more shade now as the fig trees are filling out…hopefully it won’t be too much shade a month or two from now!
This border includes: sweet basil, parsley, cilantro, bay leaves, Thai basil, lemon verbena, a 3-foot tall young lilac, foam flower, lavender, a “mystery” tomato, heliotrope, violets, lambs ears, Dusty Miller, a climbing rose, cosmos, day lilies, the Asiatic ‘Blackout’ lily, and a few weeds. 😉 Plus some begonias back on the steps in the shade.

Not yet blooming, but the Annabelle hydrangea is really filling out…
Since this is our first Spring/Summer in the yard, I thought it would help me to have an idea of how large this baby gets, how quickly it grows/spreads, etc. When we moved here at the end of last summer this hydrangea was about 4 feet tall and nearly as wide and was blooming its socks off. I divided it in the fall and gave a large division to my friend Bev in PA, where it seems to be doing well. Clearly, this hydrangea didn’t mind being divided one bit. In fact, I think it might be happier.

I’m not so sure the tree peony that I planted next to it this Spring is as happy and I hope it won’t end up getting crowded out by this enormous hydrangea!  You can just see the tip of the tree peony in the left side of the photo.

That potted plant on our portable makeshift “backyard coffee table” (a wooden half barrel with a granite slab on top) is a “mystery” clematis that came as a surprise gift from my friend Bev over the weekend, and I am SO excited.  We think it may be Autumn Clematis.  Whatever it is, it is most welcome here.  Clematis is one of my all-time favorite flowers.  Hopefully this time next year – or who knows, maybe even this fall! – I’ll be posting photos of IT blooming.

Garden Bloom Day check-in

This Tiarella (Foam Flower) plant is really small, but it’s flowering! I planted it last fall and I’m just glad it came back.

Close up of my Dicentra (Bleeding Heart). It’s another small one, but seems happy.

These Spanish Bluebells are flowering their socks off a day after I took these photos! I’ll have to update. They are gorgeous and look great. I’m hoping they will naturalize!

My teeny tiny Bleeding Heart.

Tulips, Daffodils, and Tree Peony are all done blooming. The Azaleas are very nearly done.

That’s all for now, but I see several things that I hope will bloom in the next couple of weeks!

Tulip Mystery Solved!

The verdict is in.

Last month  when my tulips were just starting to open I had a hard time telling  which was which (you can read that post HERE.)  I had planted ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Angelique’ together in the same pots, and the first tulip to bloom looked to me like some sort of combination of them both!

Here’s a picture of the mystery tulip as it first opened:

It had the light green markings on the outer sides of the petals which looked like ‘Spring Green‘ to me, yet it was pink.  Hmm.

As it continued to open it became very clear that it was actually ‘Angelique,’ and wow  – is it ever lovely!

I love all the layers and the white base of the petals…and that beautiful golden center.

‘Angelique‘ is a shorter variety – at least mine are.  These  grew to about 12’ tall.  I planted them in containers along with ‘Spring Green’ and ‘Queen of Night,‘ both of which are much taller, single varieties.

At the time of these photos, ‘Queen of Night’ had not yet bloomed.  They are in full swing now, and I need to get some photos of them soon.

Here are the pictures I took before ‘Queen of Night’ opened:

That’s our new willow (“Fern Leaf”) privacy fencing in the background, by the way. As you can see, it doesn’t provide full privacy – I don’t think any of the rolled bamboo or willow fences do. But it does provide *some* screening and it looks better than chain link.

You can still see through it, so it hasn’t solved the problem of the barking puppy next door going crazy when he sees cats in our yard, but we still like the fence and will probably put up another one toward the back.

Actually, it’s probably a good thing that it’s not solid / 100% private – some sunlight can still get through there, and we need all we can get!

Back to the tulips:

Next time around I think I’ll plant the ‘Angelique’ bulbs by themselves, or with another shorter variety and keep the tall bulbs together.

Flower Theft #1

The first flower theft of the year…and hopefully the LAST.

Last fall I planted a bunch of crocus and daffodil bulbs out front in the wells around the two trees in front of our house.

I hoped it would beautify things a bit and maybe inspire others to plant a few flowers or care a little bit about plants, the appearance of our block, etc.

I’ve been keeping them free of the inevitable trash and litter and waiting patiently for them to bloom.  The crocuses came up, but never bloomed.  Odd, since the same crocuses were extraordinarily beautiful in my backyard.  The front doesn’t get as much sun, though…and that’s why it’s taken until now for the daffodils to open.

I watched them all last week as their droopy heads started to lift and and then on Easter it happened, practically simultaneously – we went out front and there they all were, open and blooming and bright and beautiful.

I just got home from work and was looking forward to turning the corner and seeing them…and they were ALL GONE.

Every single one.

They had not died, they had not dried up, they had been CUT OFF.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.  It is Brooklyn, after all.

Fortunately I have a backyard of flowers to enjoy and no one can touch those…but this really does disappoint.

At least I got to see them for one day, in all their glory.

I guess it’s time for a sign…look, admire, but please don’t pick the flowers – they are here for everyone to enjoy.

Belated Bloom Day

Well, I’m a little late getting my bloom day post up, but wanted to at least have an account of what’s happening in the yard right now.

I’m very excited because the daffodils I planted last year have come up and are gorgeous, and the tulips are just getting ready to pop!
Unfortunately it poured rain yesterday so the flowers were still mud-splashed today when I had a chance to get some pictures. They are still lovely, and it’s literally a dream come true to be able to look out a back window into our very own yard and see them there.

Narcissus Accent (bulbs purchased from Easy To Grow Bulbs):

Too bad they are a bit mud-splattered! I wish they’d lift their heads a bit higher…they seem to droop down a bit. I am really in love with their colors, though!

Here is Narcissus Curlew (purchased from White Flower Farm):


Again, mud-splattered, but I do like their light, lemony-yellow color very much.

Here are the muscari – Grape Hyacinth Latifolium (bulbs purchased from Easy To Grow Bulbs):

I am hoping they will multiply a bit next year…maybe I’ll plant more bulbs in the fall too.  I’m really enjoying them and would love to have a bigger patch.

Last fall I planted the following tulip bulbs in containers:

Angelique – a lovely semi-double pale pink tulip

Spring Green – a soft cream with subtle pale green sort of “stripes” along the outer edges of the petals

Queen of the Night – a dark, almost black tulip

Queen of the night got planted all alone in one pot, and I planted two more pots with a mix of Angelique and Spring Green. They’ve all been forming flower heads and today one of them began to open:

It is gorgeous, but what the heck is it is what I’m wondering!  My first guess is Spring Green – it’s the same shape (at least right now) and it has that pale green accent on going down the center vertically on the outside of each petal…but pink?  Every photo I’ve seen of Spring Green Tulip is either white or a creamy color, but not pink.

Could it be the Angelique?  I think it’s got to be the Spring Green…maybe the pink will fade to more of a cream?

I guess time will tell! Either way, it sure is lovely and I’m looking forward to all three containers blooming soon.

When I received my order of bulbs last fall from Easy To Grow Bulbs, they had included an “Adventure Pack” of 10 unidentified bulbs for me to try.  These “mystery bulbs” have come up and I *think* that they are some variety of crocus…not sure.  Anyone out there know?

They grow very low to the ground, open in sun and close up when shaded.  Here’s one closed:

And here they are open:

I just love them! They look like little lily pads to me.  They are really only about 2 inches above the ground – I like how they just sort of blend in, especially when they are closed, and then the sun comes out and you get these big, bright yellow stars.

That’s it as far as blooms that have come up from last year’s plantings – there are more blooms in the yard, but these are potted plants that I could not resist buying at the farmers market this past week.  (long winter + cold, slow spring + desperate need for more color = impulse purchases)

I got mostly tulips, which is odd since I’ve never considered myself a huge tulip fan.  Now that I have a yard, I’m suddenly more appreciative of their form and the variety of their shapes and splashes of color.  I’m really hoping that they will come up for me again next year.

Here’s the farmers market booty:

These large pink tulips really brighten up the driveway.

This is Siberian Squilla, which I put in a shady spot just outside our kitchen window. They are small, but bright enough for us to see from the kitchen. Again, I’m hoping they will continue to come back each spring.

More tulips.  These are deep crimson with a slightly ruffled edge and yellow inside.  Another attempt to brighten up the driveway and side garden:

Back in the yard, near the Narcissus Curlew, more farm market tulips – reddish orange and yellow.

A slightly lighter colored version of them – I’m told they are doubles:

They liven up the area back by the fig tree and cat shelter, at least until other things start to come up and fill in.

These are along the garage wall in the SW corner of the yard.

There are some pretty shady areas of the driveway, so I also got a small azalea.  I know the blooms won’t last terribly long, but it will be a nice punch of color out our kitchen window and will help to perk things up out there:

I guess it’s cheating a bit, but it sure is wonderful to have some instant color out there.  Spring seems to be taking its sweet old time here (which isn’t a bad thing – I’m just impatient!)  I have to say it’s great to look out the window or walk out into the yard and see so many little bright spots among the trees and along the borders.

They’ll tide me over until other thing start filling in…and until my next shopping trip to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden plant sale in a few weeks!  I am literally counting down the days. (16 to go…)

The Last of the Crocuses

Last fall I planted my first crocus bulbs ever:

“Jeanne D’arc” from White Flower Farm.

We saw our first bloom on March 11th this year, and Jeanne D’arc was an excellent bloomer, lasting nearly a month with big, beautiful white flowers with very subtle lavender stripes down the center of each petal and an orange center.

I was really pleased with them – they put on a great show, and I’ll definitely get more next year…maybe combine them with some purple crocuses too.

I also really liked their striped leaves.  Sadly, they are just about done, now…in the back yard anyway – the ones in the front tree pits haven’t even opened up yet!  (We get a lot more sun in the back and the yard is much more sheltered.)

Just as the crocuses have phased out, the muscari (miniature grape hyacinths) are coming into bloom.  I had hoped that they would bloom together, but no such luck.  Oh well!  It’s kind of nice to have something stepping up ready to replace the crocuses.

I’ll have to take some photos of the muscari – they are really lovely, but I realize now that next time around I’d like to plant more of them together in a bunch.  I have them spread out a little too much throughout the yard and I think they will have more impact grouped together so that we can really see a splash of that gorgeous blue-purple.

The snow drops didn’t do as well as I’d hoped.  I’d say only about half of them came up, and they seemed a little straggly.

Maybe it’s just because it’s their first year?  Perhaps I need to group them together as well and go for a little “patch” of snowdrops rather than a smattering here and there?  I do love them, and I hope that they will come back next year.

I got both the snowdrops (Galanthus Giant Snowdrop ‘Woronowii’) and the muscari (Grape Hyacinth Latifolium) from Easy To Grow Bulbs.  With both of them, only about half of the bulbs have actually come up.  I also ordered tulips from Easy To Grow Bulbs and they seem to be doing well…just this morning I saw some bulbs forming and I’ll be eager to see them open.

I am still waiting and hoping for success with the other bulbs I planted last fall:

Hyacinthoides hispanica Danube (WFF)
Narcissus Curlew (WFF)
Lilium Black Out (WFF)
Tulip Angelique (WFF) 

Japanese Iris Variegata (ETGB)

Tulip Queen of Night (ETGB)

Tulip Tangerine Beauty (ETGB)

Tulip Spring Green (ETGB)

Narcissus Accent (ETGB)


The tulips and daffodils are definitely on their way up, and I believe the Spanish Bluebells are too…I guess time will tell!