A Flamboyant Parrot Tulip – Texas Gold

I grew a gorgeous parrot tulip this year called Texas Gold. It opened the second week of May and looked like this….

A lovely shape, a beautiful strong golden yellow colour, and some green streaks. I knew it should have a slight flaming around the edges as I had grown it before, so I watched it over the next week or so and on May 16th it looked like this.

Now, isn’t that pretty?

But then the petals started to develop an orangey red tinge all over. This was only two days later…

And now most of them have turned almost completely orange with only a little golden yellow remaining. Wow!

I feel I got more than my money’s worth with this tulip.😃

Did you have a favourite tulip this spring?

Himalayan Foxtail Lilies

In the autumn of 2020 I planted three strange roots that reminded me of an octopus – Eremurus himalaicus, Himalayan Foxtail Lilies.

Here is a photo I found online which shows what I mean about the octopus…

They were carefully positioned in the new Moon Bed, between the giant white Alliums ‘Mount Everest’ – after all, I wanted them to feel at home! 😉

Well, in the spring of 2021 only one showed any signs of life, with no flower. So I had more or less written them off. But this spring three clumps of leaves appeared mid-April. Hooray!

They are a bit difficult to distinguish from the allium foliage in this photo

One fell victim to slugs I think, but soon buds appeared on the other two plants. The excitement mounted, and suddenly the buds seemed to have doubled in size overnight! (Things like that happen here in May! 😉)

Or tripled?! This photo was taken on the 13th of May.

My attention was now well and truly focussed and I have been checking them daily since. By May 16th these imposing and majestic spikes had just started to open…

May 16th

The next day a few more flowers opened from the bottom upwards, clambering towards the blue skies…

May 17th

They love sunny, dry spots, and I have heard them called ‘Desert Candles’, as well as ‘Cleopatra’s Needles’. Maybe you know them by those names? Eremurus himalaicus was the first of the lilies to be taken to Europe in the early 19th century. It is also the earliest flowering one.

By May 18th both stems were open over halfway…

 

The bees like it too. 😃

On May 19th they were almost completely open. Who would have thought just two plants could make such an impression!

Well, here we are on May 21st, and I am completely bowled over by these flowers.

It is a plant with character, shining out above most of the other plants. It has presence. Whereas with other favourites  my reaction might be to grow more of them in a clump, with the Himalaya Foxtail I feel these two flowers are enough to make a statement. Well, three would also be lovely of course, and perhaps the third one will flower next year. I have since read that they can take a year or two to get started. But there are several other species that have different coloured flowers, some of them even taller than these…. perhaps I will be tempted to try some orange or yellow ones in another part of the garden. 😉

This is one of the loveliest plants I have ever grown. 😃

Would you give this plant space in your garden? Or perhaps you already grow them?

 

Fascination of Plants Day, 2022

Fascination of Plants Day is May 18th every year.

Steve, from ‘Portraits of Wildflowers‘, alerted me to this date the other day, which I must admit I had not heard of before. I don’t feel guilty about that though, as there is zero awareness of it in Germany. All the more reason for writing something to mark this day. 🌷

 

First, a definition:

The sixth international “Fascination of Plants Day” will be launched by plant scientists across the world under the umbrella of the European Plant Science Organisation (EPSO).

The goal of this activity is to get as many people as possible around the world fascinated by plants and enthused about the importance of plant science for agriculture and sustainable production of nutritious food, as well as for horticulture, forestry and the production of plant-based non-food products such as paper, timber, chemicals, energy and pharmaceuticals. The role of plants in environmental conservation is also a key message.

As a gardener and plant lover, I find plants fascinating full stop.

But as a vegan there is the additional interest because they form the basis of absolutely everything we eat. We substitute oat and soya drink for milk, coconut milk for cream, and use nut ‘milk’ for sauces. We eat products made with wheat, lupin, pea and soya protein. Amazing… meat alternatives made out of lupin protein… 😃

We consume leaves, fruits, roots and tubers, seeds, vegetable oils, pulses and grains.

Like many Germans, we heat with wood in the form of wooden pellets. We all wear clothes made of plant fibres.

And since becoming vegan I use far more herbs and spices for flavouring than before.

To put it in a nutshell, plants are our life, and not just for vegans!

But as I said, I am a plant lover at heart and the flowers that I grow fascinate me for so many reasons…

Their shapes..

Their resilience…

Hellebore on a frosty morning

A couple of hours later

The way they produce pollen and seed…

 

And their ingenious strategies for surviving…

For example, this year has been a mast year for spruce, which means they are producing more flowers/seed and hence pollen than usual, rather than putting their energy into new growth.

Spruce this spring

This is often considered to be a reaction to drought or disease; to reproduce as quickly as possible to preserve the species for the future. It does happen at irregular intervals regardless of climate or environmental conditions though.

Here a few fun facts I found while thinking about what to write for this post:

  • The average strawberry has 200 seeds. It’s the only fruit that bears its seeds on the outside.
  • Peanuts are not nuts! They are in fact legumes, related to beans and lentils.
  • It can take up to 50 years for an oak tree to produce its first acorn.
  • An estimated 100 billion bananas are consumed worldwide each year!

What fascinates you most of all about plants? And have you heard of this special day before? Maybe a botanical garden near you is marking this day in some way. Why not check and see. And if you know any unusual facts about plants, do share in the comments below! 😃

I will certainly be giving plants a bit more thought today while drinking my coffee, picking my radishes, or cooking some vegetable or other with herbs for dinner!

 

Have a great day and happy gardening!

In a Vase on Monday: Totally Tangerine!

I am totally in love with Totally Tangerine!

I had been looking for this Geum for years, seeing it regularly (with growing envy! 😉) on other blogs. It seemed unknown in Germany. But the choice of plants here slowly improves each year, and more and more nurseries in the north of Germany have websites and online shops. A couple of weeks ago I finally tracked one down… well, actually I ordered three!

I was so surprised that they arrived in flower too. 😃

Naturally, one had to appear in my vase this week, as I join our host Cathy, at Rambling in the Garden, for this weekly meme.

The tulip is Ballerina, which can hardly be beaten for a splash of red/orange in May. The seedheads are Pulsatilla, and the foliage is Heuchera and Alchemilla.

I had to rinse the pollen off the Heuchera leaves, as everything is coated in a thick layer thick of it. Can you see it on the Pulsatilla?

It is not so much the oilseed rape at the moment, but the evergreens… in this photo below the oilseed rape is a pretty picture, but can you see the clouds of pollen in front of the dark evergreens? (Click on the photo to enlarge)

(Anouk has yellow legs most of the time! 😉)

I love the fiery colours of Geums and they have done well for me in the past, so I have sown seed of Fireball and Red Dragon this spring. They are coming along well. I also have a few other Geums in the garden; Blazing Sunset (grown from seed several years ago), Gold Ball, Mai Tai, Scarlet Tempest and Red Wings. Do you grow any?

May is such a busy month, but I will try and take time to enjoy the garden today instead of just rushing around weeding, sowing, shuffling seedlings around, etc.

Hope you have time to enjoy your gardens this week too. Happy Gardening!

 

 

The Spring Garden, 2022

It is high time for a garden update as April is now in full swing and the garden is taking off! The month started out very cold and damp, but the last few days have warmed up the soil and everything is coming to life.

The early tulips are here!

This white botanical one, with delicate pointed petals and a rich bluish mauve eye is Tulipa humilis ‘Coerulea Oculata Alba’. It is perfect in the Moon Bed, where it is accompanied by blue and white Anemone blanda…

… and some pretty Narcissi.

This bed has developed into a lovely area for spring flowers. 😃

 

There are lots of Narcissi Cheerfulness in my Herb Bed… they certainly brighten up this area until the herbs start growing. You can see chives in the foreground, already tall enough to cut. 😃

The Herb Bed is also home to a few tulips. These are the first things to catch my eye when coming through our gate – a welcoming sight! They were planted a few years ago so the name is forgotten… maybe ‘Apricot Emperor’.

And here this morning with the Actaea Narcissi.

Apart from a few bulbs, the Herb Bed is still looking rather sparse, so let’s move over to the Oval Bed. There are some other early tulips in flower here, including these deep ruby ones: T. aucheriana. The buttercup yellow centre is such a contrast to the dark petals.

New perennial sweet pea shoots are emerging from the ground, the Viburnum is in bud, and the Pulsatilla are flowering.

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Next, The ‘Edge.

Those red dots are the ‘Showwinner’ Kaufmannia tulips. They are a dwarf tulip, but seem to have unusually short stems. Hopefully the stems will get longer as they do with many other early tulips.

They show up very well against the woodchip mulch and catch the eye even from the house. This is the first Spring for The ‘Edge, and I am going with the flow and seeing what works and what doesn’t. The Miscanthus and Calamagrostis stood there all winter and the red-stemmed Cornus have been lovely since January.

 

The Butterfly Bed succumbed to mice this winter, so I am waiting to see if many tulips have survived. The broom in the middle is wobbling, either due to strong wind or to root damage, but I will wait and see if it flowers before digging it out. The hellebores still look wonderful here.

 

And this Pulmonaria (P. ‘Benediction’) is a striking blue. The bluest I have found yet!

The hellebore below (in the Sunshine Bed) is my favourite at the moment. It turns from creamy yellow to pink and green. (Another one with no label…. where do all these labels disappear to?)

And between all the beds, dandelions!

Still, if they attract wildlife I don’t actually mind them, and they are such valuable plants. As long as they stay in the grass and out of the flower beds. 😉

The hedgerows planted around the perimeter of the garden in 2018 are well established now and the blackthorn opened yesterday. This was a few days later than the ones just down the bottom of the hill, which shows me what a difference it makes being a little higher and more exposed to the elements.

And these buds are about to burst. I wonder if you recognize them….

They are what we call ‘false elder’ as they do not produce the heavenly scented flowers people love to use in syrups and liqueurs. European Red Elder (Sambucus racemosa) is named so for the red berries produced. They start leafing out at about the same time as the scented Black Elder (Sambucus nigra) but flower much earlier.

Finally, one of the new raised planters is looking really promising, with radishes and salad leaves sprouting and some new parsley and chive plants too. If you are sowing  seeds that should only be barely covered with soil, I can recommend covering the surface with a little hay or straw to keep in moisture and to protect from wind, strong sun or cold nights. They will germinate much more quickly. 😉

The other planter will hold my butternuts, but I can see I need even more space for vegetables this year… Plans are being forged, so watch this space! 😉

I wonder if you have any specific garden projects at the moment?

Have a great Easter weekend.

😃

And Happy Gardening!

🌷🌷🌷

 

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Spring Zing 😃

Spring has sprung and every day a few more flowers appear as if from nowhere. If I went out at night with a lamp I would probably be able to watch them growing! 😉

So a few cornus cuttings and some other lovely spring colour went into my current favourite vase trio.

Coltsfoot, Iris, Hellebores and my first tiny narcissus.

When the Coltsfoot flowers I know that spring is round the corner. It always turns up mid March here, and the first glimpse of it at the side of our lane makes me almost skip for joy! It is holding up well in the vase too, as I picked it on Sunday afternoon.

The hellebore is a ‘Prince Double White’ – one of my largest and healthiest in fact, but I have had to remove a lot of blackened leaves from all my hellebores this winter.

I haven’t been blogging much recently…. because I have been in the garden. 😁 Oh, it is so good to be working outdoors again, feeling the warmth of the sun on my back.

Tomorrow rain is forecast, so I will be catching up on the other vases linking in to Cathy’s meme at Rambling in the Garden. Thanks to Cathy, as always, for hosting! And Happy Gardening! 🌷

 

 

In a Vase on Monday: Late Winter Flowers

Some recent sunshine has helped along the Hellebores and most of them are starting to open now. The first ones I picked two weeks ago are, AMAZINGLY, still presentable! (Possibly because they each had their own little vase and did not have to share with any other plants?)

Photographed last Friday, day 12 😃

But for today’s vase I picked some fresh ones and continued the experimentation with how best to make them last. Today they are all in one vase, with nothing else added.

As with the last ones, these have not been conditioned. That will be the next experiment, as I have never tried it. (Any tips would be welcome!)

Very cold nights are forecast, but my hellebores don’t mind a bit of frost and perk up as soon as the morning sun shines on them. So hopefully I will have more to pick soon. 😃

I am linking in Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for her weekly meme. Why not visit her and see what everyone has found to put in a vase this Monday. 😃

Happy gardening!

🌷❄️🌷