PLANT UPDATE – April – Winter Aconite

winter aconite

Winter aconite – after bloom

Winter aconites, Eranthis hyemalis, are one of the first little flowers to open in the new year. Here’s a look at them after they’ve finished blooming. They have an intricate involucre that looks like a little plate of cut leaves after bloom time.

Although summer dormant, they need some summer water. For more on winter aconites go to this old post.

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PLANT UPDATE – Intense new wallflower

erysimum winter orchid

I was just at Swanson’s Nursery and saw this wallflower, Erysimum ‘Winter Orchid’ in a pot – I didn’t see it on the sale floor though. It’s definitely something to be on the lookout for with its knock you down color combo of  deep orange and hot purply pink. This plant seems to leap with vigor and vibrancy – a welcome look on an overcast day.

(I just wrote a post on wallflowers, you can see it here.)

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April – charming wallflowers

Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' Courtesy of the RHS website

Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ Courtesy of the RHS website

When I first got into gardening I saw this plant at Swanson’s Nursery – it had elongate, grayish leaves and was smothered in pale purple flowers – and it was evergreen! I was young and new to gardening and the plant was just an astonishment to me. It was Erysimum ‘Bowles’s Mauve’ – Bowles’s Mauve wallflower – and it is one of the first plants that I actively lusted after.

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March – Wallingford Native Bee Watch

Bombus occidentalis once common and now very rare around Seattle Photo courtesy of Same Droege's photostream

Bombus occidentalis the Western honeybee, once common and now very rare around Seattle
Photo courtesy of Same Droege’s photostream

Honey bees, those Euro imports, get all the press. At a local nursery there were 9 books on honeybees and one on native pollinators – although there is only one species of honeybee and four thousand (give or take) North American native bees – not to mention the birds, bats, beetles, wasps and others, providing varying degrees of pollination services.

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March – Too late to cut back those epimediums

Once the flowers are up it's too late to cut back ugly epimediums. New leaves will be coming up below. Next year cut back in winter.

Once the flowers are up it’s too late to cut back ugly epimediums. New leaves will be coming up below. Next year cut back in winter.

Epimediums are also known as  barrenwort, bishop’s hat – or my personal favorite – horny goat weed. Regardless of what you call them, epimediums are excellent plants for dry shade, or even shade with some water. They have heart-shaped leaves and beautiful, intricate flowers that you can easily admire by lying on your belly with a hand lens – or cut a few for the house if lying on the cold damp ground in March and April when most of them bloom doesn’t appeal to you.

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