When are Virginia Bluebells NOT Virginia Bluebells?

When they are  Symphytum grandiflora ‘Hidcote Blue’, otherwise known as ornamental comfrey!

Thanks to Stacy over at the fantastic blog Microcosm, the plant I thought to be a variety of Mertensia, aka Virginia Bluebells, has been correctly identified!

This is not the first time I’ve purchased plants that were mislabeled.  I thought I was buying Viriginia Bluebells and had specifically wanted them for a couple of partial – shady spots in the yard.  The plants and flowers look very similar and it wasn’t until I was home in PA last week and visited my friend Bev’s garden that I noticed the leaves of her Mertensia looked very different from mine.

Fortunately, my ornamental comfrey (!) has performed fabulously in both shady locations.  The blue flowers are gorgeous, and the fuzzy dark foliage remained all winter (granted it was a mild one.)

Here is a comparison between my plant and photos of  Symphytum grandiflora ‘Hidcote Blue’ found online.  Thanks again, Stacy, for figuring it out!

my plant, about 24 - 28" tall.



Symphytum grandiflora 'Hidcote Blue', photo obviously swiped from http://www.highcountrygardens.com


close up of leaves and flowers of my plant

close up of Symphytum grandiflora 'Hidcote Blue' on http://www.plantdatabase.ie


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a winner!

Another site indicated that ornamental comfrey can be invasive in some areas, but so far it has not shown signs of wanting to take over the yard.  It has grown in the past year, but I must say it’s been one of my favorite plants in the garden.  I’m hoping it will continue to be well behaved!

What’s Blooming in April

This is the longest, most drawn out Spring I can remember, and it’s wonderful!  The past few years Spring seems to have happened quickly, giving way to rain and then Summer in no time flat.

This year Spring seems to be enjoying itself and taking its sweet old time, which is fine by me.  Daffodils are done, magnolias dropped their flowers weeks ago, but I still have tulips in the yard and our glorious crab apple tree just finished blooming.  Here they are along with everything else that’s blooming (or about to) in our garden right now:

the tail end of our Crab Apple blooms

Bleeding Heart

Pulmonaria (Lungwort) - white foliage

I love the foliage on this Pulmonaria. The flowers start out blue then turn purple, then pink.

Spanish Bluebells. I have several patches...this one is among some purple sage (barely seen in this close shot) and they look great together!

I absolutely love my Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia). I have two patches and both are thriving. Both kept their beautiful foliage all year, even over winter (granted it was incredibly mild.) This is one plant and it has grown a lot in the past month.

Here is a close up of the flowers and the foliage. While recently in Pennsylvania for a visit home, I noticed my friend Bev's Virginia Bluebells had very different foliage from mine...hers was smoother and shinier, while mine is veined, thicker, and fuzzy - almost like Stachys leaves.

a beautiful Iris...I'm not sure of the variety. I am "babysitting" this plant and a few others for a friend who lost her garden space last year. It's a very, very welcome addition. I'm hoping my own irises will bloom as beautifully.

I can't help but love the violets that are popping up all over the yard.

the last of the in-ground tulips. My potted tulips haven't bloomed yet!

Spring Green tulip - I love the ruffled layers of this one.

Some critters in the petals of this tulip...friends or foes?

This allium is gearing up to bloom soon! I planted three alliums last fall and this one is the farthest along. I can't wait to see it open!

Pretty Sweet Peas

Last fall my friend Bev gave me some seeds for ‘Cupani’ and ‘King Tut’ Sweet Peas.

Sadly, only a few of the ‘Cupani’ seeds germinated for me, and they are taking their “sweet” old time growing up along the fence.

In the meantime, the ‘King Tut’ Sweet Peas have taken off and just bloomed a few days ago.  They are a shorter variety, but wow – what a unique and gorgeous color!  I just love blues in the garden, and these are so delicate and lovely…

I am so grateful for those seeds, Bev!  What a gorgeous pea!  These little lovelies are growing in a pot and climbing up a few bamboo sticks.  Very, very sweet indeed.

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…)