Spring is proceeding as it should, and I am fairly sure that we are beyond the last frost. Spring bulbs are winding down, and summer perennials are starting to poke their heads above the mulch. It’s time for another Six on Saturday.
1. Kaempferia rotunda (Asian crocus)
No, I don’t know why such a beautiful little ginger has such a silly common name. The fantastic flowers look more like orchids than crocuses, and the common name for the genus as a whole, peacock ginger, seems more fitting. K. rotunda doesn’t have the incredible patterned foliage of some other Kaempferia species, but the flowers more than make up for that lack.
According to Scott Ogden in Garden Bulbs for the South (Timber Press), K. rotunda is hardy “south of a line from Austin to Charleston.” I live about 300 miles north of that line, so my K. rotunda will remain in a pot, at least until the rhizome can be divided so that I have a second plant to experiment with.
2. Lonicera sempervirens (coral honeysuckle)
Our native coral honeysuckle, Lonicera sempervirens, is a much more civilized plant than the horribly invasive Japanese honeysuckle (L. japonica). It grows vigorously but not rampantly, and is far less likely to strangle young trees. It does lack the fragrance of L. japonica, but that is to be expected of a plant pollinated by hummingbirds. Along with Aquilegia canadensis, spring-blooming L. sempervirens provides the first food for the hummers when they arrive after their winter holiday in Central America.
This is a wild vine growing at the edge of my garden, but selected cultivars are readily available from nurseries and garden centers. For my money, the best is L. sempervirens ‘Major Wheeler’, a red clone that reblooms all summer long. I used to have ‘Major Wheeler’ and ‘John Clayton’, a reblooming yellow clone, climbing a pergola together. Unfortunately, pine voles ate the roots of the ‘Major Wheeler’, leaving the stems dangling in the air. The ‘John Clayton’ is still growing, but hummingbirds seem to prefer the wild red-flowered vines.
3. Narcissus poeticus (pheasant’s eye)
Narcissus poeticus is the final daffodil to bloom in my garden. It has been a good run this year. Beginning with the first Narcissus pseudonarcissus in February, there has been a daffodil blooming almost every day, and the pheasant’s eyes will take us up to almost the beginning of May.
4. Trillium species
I bought this pedicellate trillium with pale yellow flowers as T. vaseyi, a normally red-flowered species. There do seem to be pale flowered forms of T. vaseyi, but the way that this plant holds its flowers well above the leaves suggests that it is a different species. Could it be Trillium erectum, or a hybrid thereof?
Edited to add: A member of the Carolina Flora group on Facebook suggests that this is Trillium sulcatum forma albolutescens.
5. Halesia tetraptera (mountain silverbell, carolina silverbell)
Halesia tetraptera is native to North Carolina, but primarily the western mountain counties. At any other time of year, this beautiful little tree would be a star of the garden, but unfortunately it blooms at exactly the same time as Cornus florida and just can’t compete with the dogwoods’ flower power.
6. Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud)
This last photo is a cheat–the tree is growing in the parking lot at my workplace, not in my garden–but I wanted to show you the bizarre flowers. C. canadensis commonly produces flowers from woody lumps on its trunk and major branches, a phenomenon called “cauliflory”, but this tree had many more flowers on its trunk than is typical. It is a very large, old specimen and is starting to bloom a couple of weeks later than most of the wild trees in the vicinity. Perhaps it is a selected cultivar of geographically remote origin.
That’s all for this week. You know the drill: for more Six on Saturday head over to The Propagator, where you will find collected links to other garden blogs. Every week, there are more participants, so you can see what is blooming all over the world.