Thursday, May 28, 2015

Follow-Up Foliage

Yesterday I posted lots of blooms from the Michigan garden, even while remarking that we seem to be getting particularly lush foliage this year. Normally leafy things do not get too much attention on this blog because I am too distracted by flowers but maybe I should make an effort to change that. There is a subtler beauty to many leaves and shoots, and something uniquely satisfying about lush new growth.

Giant Japanese butterbur (Petasites japonicus var. gigantea)

Some form of creeping dead nettle (Lamium maculatum cv.)

Japanese painted fern (Athyrium niponicum var. pictum)

Lace-leaf Japanese maple (Acer palmatum dissectum atropurpureum 'Tamukeyama')

Japanese dappled willow (Salix integra ' Hakuro-nishiki')

Bear's breeches (Acanthus hungaricus)

Yucca filamentosa 'Color Guard'

Asian lotus (Nelumbo nucifera) just beginning to grow

Variegated giant reed (Arundo donax 'Variegata')

Japanese blood grass (Imperata cylindrica 'Rubra')

A dwarf bamboo (Pleioblastus viridistriatus 'Chrysophyllus')

It is interesting to note how many of these are Japanese species and garden varieties. The cultivation of ornamental plants for their unusual foliage appears to have enjoyed particular attention in Japanese horticulture. Then again, many plants from northeastern Asia probably also just happen to do well here.

Michigan in May

So far this year, shades of green definitely predominate throughout the Michigan garden. Perhaps the unusually wet and fairly cool spring has led to the growth of particularly lush foliage while stifling the flowering of some of the plants that usually take center stage around this time. Or maybe last year's cool, wet summer caused them to set fewer buds. Nonetheless, loads of things are in fact blooming in between all that greenery. Here are just a few, beginning with the irises:

White crested iris (Iris cristata 'Alba')

Iris 'Champagne Elegance'

One unidentified tall bearded iris...

 ... and another ...

... and another ...

... and an unidentified miniature bearded iris.

A cultivar of Iris sibirica

A yellow sun rose (Helianthemum 'Wisley Primrose')

A pink tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa cv.)

Cheddar pink (Dianthus 'Feuerhexe')

Ivy-leaved toadflax (Cymbalaria muralis)

Blue bugle (Ajuga reptans)

Eastern red columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

An azalea (Rhododendron cv.) of an unknown variety ...

 ... and another, very different one

Lots of foliage to follow!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

At Long Last

I planted snow drop anemone (Anemone sylvestris) in partially shaded bed in the Michigan garden several years ago, and it never seemed to do much. A few leaves would appear, and here and there a flower bud, all quickly snacked on by rabbits and deer. The plant also did not appear interested in spreading as it does elsewhere. This year, though, it is finally doing better.

Snowdrop anemone (Anemone sylvestris)

Perhaps it was the cool, wet summer Michigan experienced last year and the copious rain this spring that made the difference. Other plants from woodland habitats like toad lilies (Tricyrtis cv.) are coming up particularly strong as well. Plants that enjoy the usual summer heat and drought, on the other hand, might not be having their best year - at least the irises are for the most part not as full of buds as usual.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2015

What a difference one month makes! Last Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day almost everything I posted was still indoors, but after a few weeks of warm - sometimes even hot - weather everything has just exploded into growth, seemingly almost skipping spring. Many flowers faded almost as soon as they opened, particularly flowering trees like ornamental cherries and crab apples and some spring-blooming bulbs. Many tulips were gone especially quickly, though interestingly enough species and lily-flowered tulips have proven much more heat resistant, lasting over a week when other types folded within little more than a day.

A tulip of unknown identity that popped up in the frontyard

Another frontyard mystery tulip

A small very double tulip that appears to be multiplying among the irises and mint

One of the lily-flowered tulips I forced in the sun room the winter before last, returning beautifully

Tulipa acuminata, almost more beautiful a week in

Tulips, of course, are not the only spring bloomers that have been putting on a show in the yard.

One of the three types of lilac (Syringa vulgaris) in our hedge...

...and the second one...

... and the third

Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis)

Creeping phlox (Phlox subulata)

On the balcony quite a few things are blooming as well, not all of them just spring blooms.

Rosa 'Old Blush'

The original Parma violet (Viola odorata "Duchesse de Parme')

'Marie Louise', a slightly darker variety of Parma violet

A pale orange double nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus 'Hermine Grashoff')...

... and a yellow one (Tropaeolum majus 'Darjeeling Gold')

Flowers aside, almost all the transplants I have been raising over the course of the spring have found their places in the garden, and there are seedling sprouting everywhere in the raised beds. The rows of rice shoots already shimmer in the sun in the brightest shade of green - to my mind, no other plant really compares to rice on that count. Now if only we got a little more rain...

To see what is blooming right now for others all over the country and around the world, head to Carol's blog at May Dreams Gardens, where she hosts this tradition on the 15th of every month. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Fancy Tulips

Last fall I wrote about the heirloom tulips I was planting, Tulipa acuminata and Tulipa 'Elegans Rubra'. The latter, of which I got only one pricey bulb, unfortunately did not make it. For whatever reason, the bulb rotted away, even though it was planted in fairly sandy soil in a raised bed. Had it lived, maybe it would have looked somewhat like this Ottoman beauty named 'Hüseynî':


An Ottoman 'Istanbul Tulip' named 'Hüseynî' from the Lale Mecmuası or "Tulip Album" of 1725

Luckily, the five Tulipa acuminata planted right next to 'Elegans Rubra' have come up just fine and are now just beginning to bloom. 

A flower of Tulipa acuminata

A view of the whole plant

Tulipa acuminata certainly seems to come closest in flower and leaf shape to the historic "Istanbul Tulips" and its coloring of pale yellow streaked in bright red is reminiscent of that of a number of recorded 18th-century Ottoman varieties.

A variety named 'İbrahim Bey Ali'

The variety 'Ali-Şan', meaning "of great splendor"

'Mir'ât', meaning "mirror"

'Muhayyiru'l-ukûl' or "reviver of minds"

Could Tulipa acuminata be one of these?

Image Source:

Baytop, Turhan. İstanbul lalesi. Ankara: Kültür Bakanlığı, 1992.