Six on Saturday #42 (April 13, 2019)

This week, daytime temperatures have consistently reached the 70s to low 80s (~22-27 C), and spring is proceeding at full force. The dominant color in my garden is moving from yellow to red as the Narcissus wind down and wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) and azaleas take over. As the soil warms, new growth is emerging from subtropical bulbs like Crinum, Hippeastrum, and Scadoxus. Overhead, dogwoods are covered with white flowers, and delicate green leaves are emerging on the deciduous forest trees.

1.  Pollen

Clouds of pine pollen made North Carolina look like something out of a Wilfred Owen poem this week.

With all this new growth comes pollen, and this year’s pine and oak pollen storm has been particularly intense. Photos of the “pollenpocalypse” taken on Monday made it into the New York Times and CNN, but the pollen count actually peaked on Wednesday. That morning, I drove to work through murky yellow haze as clouds of pollen billowed out of the pine trees, and cars on the highway were followed by swirling trails of yellow dust. It was like a desert sandstorm composed entirely of allergenic protein. I am so thankful for Cetirizine.


Pollen floating on the lake beside my workplace.  This much pollen must add a significant nitrogen spike to the water when it rots.  I wonder what it contributes to my flowerbeds

In the garden, the grass was greenish yellow. The mulched flowerbeds were greenish yellow. The paths were greenish yellow. The sunlight was greenish yellow. It was like living in a dirty aquarium. Luckily, thunderstorms throughout the week temporarily cleared the air and allowed me to photograph flowers without a dusty yellow shroud.

My car’s windshield when I left work on Wednesday

2. Tulipa clusiana var chrysantha



This species was featured in Six on Saturday #25 (Picture 4). A year later, the individual bulbs that I planted in autumn 2017 have multiplied into small clumps, and every stem is topped with a flower. After two years it is still early days, but I am becoming increasingly confident that these little tulips will successfully naturalize and become permanent fixtures in my garden.

3. Fritillaria meleagris (snake’s head fritillary)


Fritillaria meleagris has been less successful than T. clusiana. Over the past five years, the plants have been slowly disappearing, although those that remain still flower reliably. I think my mistake was planting them in a bed that is hot and dry in summer. I have since learned that these bulbs like to grow in cool, moist meadows. They aren’t expensive, so this autumn it might be time to buy some more and plant them where they’ll have more water.

4. Narcissus ‘Golden Bells’


This is almost the last of the Narcissus. Only N. poeticus still remains to flower this year, and those will be blooming in just a few days. N. ‘Golden Bells’ is a very vigorous cultivar, or possibly a hybrid, of N. bulbocodium, the hoop-petticoat Narcissus. It produces its wiry foliage in late winter and then waits so long to produce buds that every year I think that I have somehow missed the flowers.

5. Kerria japonica


Having said that the dominant color is moving towards red, I see that I still have a lot of yellow-flowered plants in this week’s six. Kerria japonica is most often seen in its double-flowered ‘Pleniflora’ form with blooms that look like little yellow pom-poms. I much prefer this wild type with flowers that clearly show its membership in the rose family.

6. Arisaema sikokianum and Arisaema thunburgii subsp. urushima

Arisaema sikokianum
Arisaema thunbergii subsp. urushima

Two Asian jack-in-the-pulpits (or should that be jacks-in-the-pulpit?) are already blooming as our native Arisaema triphyllum are just breaking the surface of the soil. With the spadix modified into a club (A. sikokianum) or a whip-like tendril (A. thunbergii urushima), these species give you a some idea of the diversity in the genus.

There is so much going on in the garden this week, that I can’t resist one more photo.

Second 6. Maggots? Pupae?


Actually, these are the dormant rhizomes of Seemannia nematanthodes (see #5). They’re just a tiny fraction of the number that I have exhumed from the bone-dry soil of pots stored in the crawl space of our house all winter. A few will go back into a pot with fresh soil, while the rest will be planted out in various flowerbeds.

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.

9 thoughts on “Six on Saturday #42 (April 13, 2019)

  1. Oh my! All that pollen. That must be tough to live with. Tree pollen is the only stuff that makes me sneeze!
    I’ve never seen the Arisaema sikokianum. It’s a fascinating plant! Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What an impressive amount of pollen! Fortunately you have an antihistamine for your allergy…
    Very beautiful flowers of Arisaema. Never tried to grow them here.
    About fritillaries, I would say yes, they prefer a cool and wet soil. Mine are in the lawn under the cordyline which probably gives them shade in the summer.
    Last point, the Kerria. I was growing one here but it died … all stems became dry and they broke ; no more sap: weird … probably choked by surrounding ivy.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A person could be forgiven for wondering if that’s a lakeside beach in the second photo! That’s an amazing amount of pollen, and I imagine it would affect most people, not just those with allergies etc. Your two Arisaema are so very interesting, and I learnt about this plant for the first time on another six today. Obviously you have the perfect position for growing these types of plants. I love the Tulips; am so hoping mine will naturalise also, but will have to wait a while to see if it happens.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Goodness! That is a lot of pollen! The worse pollen storm that I can remember was actually not this time of year. In fact, it was in October! It was just four minutes after five in the afternoon on October 17 in 1989. The Loma Prieta Earthquake shook SO much pollen out from the deodar cedars in our neighborhood that it looked like everything had been painted with tea made from scrambled eggs. I was not there when it happened, but arrived a few days later. I don’t know why there was so much pollen at that time of year. The big valley oaks and coast live oaks tossed their pollen too. It was not as bad as yours though.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the great photos of the Asian Jacks-in the pulpit (I like that form of the plural–like mothers-in-law). They are new to me. As for the pollen, that beats the greening of Alabama this year!

    Liked by 1 person

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