Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium)
After a speedy start, spring in our part of Pennsylvania has slowed considerably, due to several weeks of cool, damp weather. It’s nice in a way, as the flowers that are opening are lasting a long time, and there’s lots of lush new foliage to admire too–so much, in fact, that I’ll try to keep the chat to a minimum and focus on the interesting stuff, beginning with the wild things.
A trip into the meadow starts with a close encounter with the gelatinous masses of cedar-apple rust (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae). A lot of them. They’re particularly icky on rainy days, of which we have had many.
Cedar-apple rust (Gymnosporangium juniperi-virginianae) on eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginianae)
After that daunting greeting, the meadow path reveals much prettier sights, such as this self-sown flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).
The flowers and new growth of sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
An opening bud of shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)
New growth of shagbark hickory (Carya ovata)
The upper meadow at Hayefield
Narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) in the meadow
Spring beauty (Claytonia virginica) in the meadow
Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and narrowleaf blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) in the meadow
Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and common cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex)
Foxglove penstemon (Penstemon digitalis) typically has green leaves, but a bunch of these dark-leaved variants are seeding around in the upper meadow.
Much of the lower field is just green grasses of various sorts, but those drifts of color in the distance were tempting enough to lure me down to that wetland area.
The yellow in that field turned out to be the same as in my upper meadow: the charming daisy-form flowers of golden ragwort (Packera aurea [formerly Senecio aureus]).
The white flowers were a new find for me: bulbous bittercress (Cardamine bulbosa)–a rather ugly name for a lovely spring wildflower. I can’t believe that I never noticed these before!
An even more intriguing find was a wildflower that I haven’t seen around here in many years: Pedicularis canadensis. It’s most often known by the unappealing name of Canadian lousewort but is sometimes called wood betony. The plant is technically a hemiparasite–partially parasitic on other plants–but apparently can also live on its own.
Whether they are solid yellow or bicolored like these, the flowers of Canadian lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis) are so distinctive that you can’t confuse them with other spring wildflowers.
Viewed from above, the flowerheads of Canadian lousewort (Pedicularis canadensis) have a fascinating spiral form.
This has also been a particularly good year for robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus), also known as robin’s fleabane. The color is often white or pink, but there are also some nice purples in the lower meadow areas. I normally pull the plants out of my borders, because they can spread quickly, but I’m almost tempted to bring a few of these into my cottage garden.
The flower form of these robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) plants is very similar to that of hens-and-chickens calendula (Calendula officinalis var. proliferans).
Not all robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) plants branch like this one–but my goodness, doesn’t it look festive? Whee!
This flower-filled meadow is also one of the boys’ favorite places to hang out before we head back to the barn after a ramble.
Back in the garden, there are lots of beautiful blooms too. Here’s a bunch of highlights, in no particular order.
‘Freckles’ is a form of common or woolly blue violet (Viola sororia). I started the original plants from seed once, decades ago, and they’ve been around ever since, self-sowing as freely as the species.
Dwarf comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) looks dainty in bloom, but it’s a tough plant, forming a dense groundcover even in dry shade. This patch is growing and thriving in the root-filled soil under my silver willow (Salix alba var. sericea).
I was thrilled to find this golden Alexander (Smyrnium perfoliatum) plant in bloom, because I thought all of my plants had flowered, seeded, and died last spring, and I figured I’d have to wait several years to see flowers from their offspring. But now that I have this one in bloom, I’ll be able to collect and sow more seed this year.
Woodland sedum (Sedum ternatum) can grow pretty much anywhere, from sun to shade and in moist or dry soil.
Now that I’ve seen ‘Ravenswing’ cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) seeding around rampantly in a garden where it was left unsupervised, I now understand why it’s considered a potential problem. I deadhead most of my plants but leave just a few flower clusters so I can collect seed to share. I’d really miss the ferny dark foliage if I got rid of it altogether. Here it’s with variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’).
This even-more-vividly-variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum x hybridum) is sometimes sold as ‘Striatum’ but also travels under other names, including ‘Grace Barker’. It looks great coming up through low, solid-green groundcovers, such as Canada wild ginger (Asarum canadense).
I’ve had a bit of trouble getting woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata) established here, since I don’t have much shade, but ‘Clouds of Perfume’ has managed to settle in and keeps getting better each year. It looks like it’s been infiltrated by Queen Anne’s lace (Daucus carota), but that feathery foliage is actually from the annual white lace flower (Orlaya grandiflora), which should be in bloom by the time the phlox is finished.
It wouldn’t be spring without a few forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica)! Well, ok, it’s hard to have just a few, once you let them go to seed a few times, but I’m happy to have them wherever they appear. This clump placed itself nicely in a carpet of ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre).
Remember the golden ragwort (Packera aurea [Senecio aureus]) in the earlier meadow shots? In the garden, where there is less competition, this sturdy native wildflower can form handsome, dense clumps.
Dyer’s woad (Isatis tinctoria) seeds around freely too, to the point that this non-native biennial or short-lived perennial is considered a noxious weed in some areas. I let only a few seeds form on mine–just enough to have replacement plants.
Another plant that I grew from seed, but there’s no danger of it ever becoming weedy: Paeonia officinalis.
Yet another beautiful species: fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia).
Stiff bluestar (Amsonia rigida), shown here, starts flowering about a week before Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii) and two weeks before hybrid ‘Blue Ice’.
Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)
‘Margaret Wilson’ mourning widow (Geranium phaeum)
‘Espresso’ wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)
‘Bloodstone’ sea thrift (Armeria maritima) with woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus) against ‘Berggarten’ sage (Salvia officinalis)
Cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) with ‘Angelina’ sedum (Sedum rupestre)
Siberian corydalis (Corydalis nobilis)
Variegated lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis ‘Striata’) in bloom
The richly scented flowers of fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis) began opening just a few days ago but already fill the cottage garden with their perfume.
‘Flying Dragon’ hardy orange (Poncirus [Citrus] trifoliata)
Green-and-gold (Chrysogonum virginianum) with forget-me-not (Myosotis sylvatica) and ‘Maui Buttercups’ hosta
Pink Panda strawberry (Fragaria ‘Frel’)
‘Top Hat’ blueberry (Vaccinium) in bloom with ‘Powis Castle’ artemisia (Artemisia)
Peach Sorbet blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘ZF06-043’) in flower
I’m thrilled that my pawpaw (Asimina triloba) seedlings are finally old enough to start producing multiple flowers!
I was able to collect pollen from the male parts on one pawpaw seedling a few days ago.
Two flowers on another pawpaw seedling were at the right stage for pollination. I guess I’ll know by next month whether I did a good job playing bee (or in this case, fly, as flies are the common pollinator).
Speaking of pollination…last year, someone mentioned that their ‘Ray’s Golden Campion’ (Silene dioica) plant wasn’t setting seed. That led me to research what should have been immediately obvious from the specific epithet dioica, for dioecious. Now that I’m aware that there are both male and female plants, I’ve found several ways to tell them apart.
The most straightforward way to identify male and female plants of red campion (Silene dioica) is to take a close look at the flowers. The females are below, with two male blooms above.
Seeing a developing seed capsule is another obvious clue that a particular red campion (Silene dioica) plant is female.
If you have a number of red campion (Silene dioica) plants growing together, you may also be able to tell the males from the females from a bit of distance. The males (on the right) tend to have thinner stems and smaller but more abundant blossoms, though that’s not always the case.
Female plants of red campion (Silene dioica) make more of a foliage impact, which is a bonus on strains with showy leaves, like this ‘Ray’s Golden Campion’. (Female plant is in the foreground; male plant is behind.) Still, you need both kinds to get seeds!
Since I like ‘Ray’s Golden Campion’ (Silene dioica) so much, I decided to sow some ‘Ray’s Winter Cream’ last year. I don’t care for it much, though: the plants were kind of sickly looking. I ended up with all males, anyway, so I won’t have it self-sowing.
While we’re on the subject of foliage…lovely leaves are another delightful feature of the garden this time of year. Consider this part an early entry for Foliage Follow-Up
, which is hosted on the 16th of each month by Pam at Digging.
Shredded umbrella plant (Syneilesis aconitifolia): younger plants in front and flowering-size stems behind them
‘Pacific Crest’ foamflower (Tiarella)
Variegated heal-all (Prunella vulgaris ‘Variegata’)
May apple (Podophyllum peltatum)
‘Raspberry Wine’ bee balm (Monarda) against ‘Gerald Darby’ iris (Iris x robusta)
The silvery new shoots of Amur maackia (Maackia amurensis)
I started seed of ‘The Flasher’ Maltese cross (also known as Lychnis chalcedonica ‘Variegata’) last summer. Only about a third of the seedlings showed any variegation. Of those, their markings this year are very dramatic but also quite unstable: There can be solid green and solid white shoots as well as multicolored ones on the same plant.
Variegated sweet iris (Iris pallida ‘Variegata’) with ‘Axminster Gold’ Russian comfrey (Symphytum x uplandicum)
Thanks to the cool weather in the last few weeks. ‘Gerald Darby’ iris (Iris x robusta) is still showing a good bit of purple in the foliage. By the way, if you’re looking for ‘Gerald Darby’ and live in the southeastern Pennsylvania area, you can buy plants at Linden Hill Gardens, a retail nursery in Ottsville, PA.
‘Tiramisu’ heuchera (Heuchera) with Canada wild ginger (Asarum canadense). I’m really impressed with this heuchera: It’s been in the ground for 4 years now and keeps getting better every season.
‘Circus’ heuchera (Heuchera) has also performed beautifully here for a number of years.
The spring foliage of Cardiocrinum cordatum
The new leafy growth and flower buds of ‘Concord’ fox grape (Vitis labrusca)
Seriously dark Serious Black clematis (Clematis recta ‘Lime Close’)
A spring-yellow seedling of great masterwort (Astrantia major) with a bit of golden Hakone grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’)
Yay – the ‘Chocolate Shogun’ astilbe (Astilbe) made it through the winter just fine and is producing lots of richly colored new growth.
A newly formed flower bud and foliage on king’s spear (Asphodeline lutea)
Golden full moon maple (Acer shirasawanum ‘Aureum’)
Just a no-name Japanese maple (Acer palmatum) seedling, but it sure is pretty right now
And to finish, some general garden shots.
Courtyard arbor and path at Hayefield
The Courtyard at Hayefield
The back garden at Hayefield (yeah, the path looks rough, but I didn’t sow this area until last fall)
The Happy Garden at Hayefield
The Happy Garden at Hayefield
The side and back garden at Hayefield
Looking from the side steps back to the veg garden and orchard area at Hayefield
The side garden foundation planting at Hayefield
The side garden and The Shrubbery from the side steps at Hayefield
The side garden at Hayefield
The front garden at Hayefield
Let’s hope this is a sign that the dreary, cool days are almost over so the growing season can really get going.
There are a lot of seedlings still waiting for their permanent homes, but they’ll have to wait a few more days, at least, as we have a few more chilly nights to get through.
Once planting starts, it’s going to be really hectic in the garden, so for a while, I’ll be posting here only on the 15th of each month for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day (graciously hosted, as always, by Carol at May Dreams Gardens). If I have bits of news in between–new seeds listed in my Etsy shop, for instance–I’ll feature them in the “What’s New at Hayefield” box at the top of the sidebar on the right. See you next month, my friends!
While I’m busy transplanting seedlings, collecting seeds, and weeding, certain others around here will be taking it easy. As usual.