Six on Saturday #41 (April 6, 2019)

A brief return to winter this week kept me busy covering the tender new growth of terrestrial orchids every evening to protect them from frost.  Then, of course, I had to uncover them before going to work in the morning.  It looks as though we may have seen the last freeze, though, and the temperature is forecast to be 80 F (26.6 C) on Monday.

Here are six plants whose flowers didn’t mind the cold (or were protected in the greenhouse)

1. Ficaria verna ‘Brazen Hussy’ (lesser celandine)

Ficaria-verna_Brazen-Hussey

Purchasing this plant a year ago may have been a mistake.  It was labeled Ranunculus ficaria at the nursery, and I didn’t realize that the little spring ephemeral with dark purple foliage was actually a cultivar of Ficaria verna,  the invasive pest with green leaves that I have seen covering river banks in Pennsylvania.  However, ‘Brazen Hussy’ has thus far shown no inclination to self-pollinate, and the flowerbed in my garden lacks the moving water that helps F. verna spread so aggressively on floodplains.  If it manifests any invasive inclinations, it will go straight to the landfill (won’t risk the compost heap), but until them I’m reluctant to do away with it.  The shiny, almost metallic flowers go so well with the dark foliage of this cultivar.

2. Brunnera macrophylla (Siberian bugloss)

Brunnera

I most commonly see the variegated clone ‘Jack Frost’ for sale around here, but this seed grown plant has plain green leaves.  My wife loves blue flowers, so plain leaves or not, this is an obvious plant to include in the garden.

3. Tulipa whittallii

Tulipa-whittalliiTulipa-whittallii2

For the last couple of years, I have been experimenting with species tulips that may prove to be more heat tolerant than most of the hybrids.  Tulipa clusiana var chrysantha was recommended for our climate, and it looks as though it will do well–the bulbs I planted in 2017 have multiplied and will be flowering in a week or two.  It’s still too early to know how Tulipa whittallii will do. On the strength of one bulb catalog that said this is one of the most heat tolerant species, I planted a dozen bulbs last autumn.  The flowers are certainly eye catching. They close up tight each evening and only open up for a few hours in the afternoon (which doesn’t seem a very good way to attract pollinators), but the intense orange color makes the wait worthwhile.  I hope they stick around for a good many years.

4.  Narcissus Quail (and an enormous pile of mulch)

Quail

Narcissus ‘Quail’ is a jonquilla hybrid that produces two or three flowers per inflorescence.  I’m not sure if I like it.  The flowers are a somewhat squashed together, so their shape is lost in a large blob of yellow.

The mulch is 16 cubic yards of ground hardwood (with a generous proportion of eastern red cedar, judging by the smell).  A couple of inches of mulch spread on the flowerbeds every other year suppresses weeds, adds organic material, and most importantly, reduces the need to water.  Although I irrigate new plants until their roots are established, my goal is to have the garden survive on rain alone.

5. Euphorbia horombensis

IMG_1348(1)

In the greenhouse, this is the season for Euphorbia horombensis to produce its brick red cyathophylls, but its spiny armament is impressive all year round.  E. horombensis is listed as endangered on the IUCN red list, primarily due to habitat degradation and over-collection, but artificially propagated seedlings are reasonably common (and reasonably priced) from a few nurseries that specialize in propagating succulent plants.

Euphorbia-horombensis2

The inflorescences of E. horombensis are covered with sticky sap which traps small insects (in this case, a flying ant).  I’m not sure what purpose the sap serves, but it seems odd that a plant would trap potential pollinators.

Euphorbia-horombensis3

6. Paphiopedilum delenatii var. vinicolor

delenatii-vinicolorAnd finally, a first-bloom seedling of Paphiopedilum delenatii var vinicolor, a recent addition to my slipper orchid collection.

The Propagator is the host of Six on Saturday.  Head over there to see his Six and find links to the blogs of other participants.

12 thoughts on “Six on Saturday #41 (April 6, 2019)

  1. The ‘Brazen Hussy’ with the dark leaves looks rather lovely. According to Wikipedia the Ficaria verna, was formerly Ranunculus ficaria! I let mine (the green leaved version) grow for the last three years under a tree, but this year it started to encroach on other spring bulbs so I dug most of it out.

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  2. Since your “goal is to have the garden survive on rain alone”, perhaps other Narcissus jonquilla species would work for you as they seem to appreciate a drier, warmer summer dormancy. Hopefully SWHVPOA will give her approval.

    In regards to bulbs outside deer restraints – bulbs that have proved successful for my location are the Narcissus, of course, but also; all Galanthus (maybe your climate is not cold enough for them); Leucojum aestivum: Scilla peruviana, which I would think would work for you as it is native to southern Europe; other Scilla; and Chionodoxa.

    Of course deer are unpredictable and practically omnivorous plant-wise, so deer in your locale may have different dietary restraints (if any). After a plague of rabbits about 12 years ago (so disheartening), we have few to no rabbits now, so I don’t know how rabbits and these bulbs would mix.

    The Scilla peruviana I moved from a spot where they were overwhelming smaller bulbs to a well drained meadow where they get no additional summer water (I live in a summer dry climate). They are completely untouched by the deer even though the deer will cut down Camassia right next to them. Even though the deer leave the Chionodoxa alone, the slugs can devastate them.

    Thank you for your posts. I always find something interesting and pertinent in them.

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    1. Thanks for the suggestions. I have Scilla peruviana and Leucojum aestivum inside the fence, so it would be easy to transplant some. galanthus are marginal here. Montrose Garden, just down the road, has vast sweeps of Galanthus in the woods sloping down to the Eno River, but I haven’t had much luck with them at my drier site.

      Naively, I thought any amaryllid would be deer proof, but they repeatedly chewed the foliage of Crinum powellii last summer

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  3. The Ficaria verna with green leaves is quite invasive here and I leave but I have an eye on it (the heavy clay soil seems to please it ). Yours with red leaves is just as beautiful and I hope less invading . About your pile of mulch I had the same thing (mixture of thuja chips, eleagnus, syringa ..) I had to spread this yesterday in borders with many back and forth. My back was exhausted last night …
    PS lovely euphorbia !

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  4. Braven Hussey was found by Christopher Lloyd of Great Dixter in his wood, it’s an unusual leaf colouring. I have had it for a few years and it is slowly spreading. I’ve noticed that this year there is more and I think it’s because my neighbours have removed some trees which shaded it so maybe it will be slower to spread if it is in the shade.
    Am coveting your muck heap!

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  5. Lots of treats in your six – I like the euphorbia and the species tulip especially. I can’t get over the range of temperature you have to deal with where you are. We English like to moan about the weather but we don’t have to contend with frost one week to 80 degrees in the day the next!

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    1. As someone once said, North Carolina has two seasons: Hot and Random. The variability is nothing to what people in the great plains experience, though. Our temperature swings are at least somewhat moderated by high humidity for much of the year.

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  6. Great six! I think I might have some of that celendine thingy, just have the leaves so far but I vaguely recall the behing yellow flowers. The daffs are nice enough but I love your enormous pile of mulch the best. The thorns on that euphoria look nasty!

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  7. tee hee . . . ‘Brazen Hussy’ I heard about those in the Los Angeles area, but never saw them up here. I still think that is sort of odd. Such plants are typically more popular here than there. Bugloss is available in nurseries, but I do not think it is very popular. I happen to like it because it looks like forget-me-not.

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