This Week in the Garden – April 5

Flowering Magnolia 'Susan'

Warning this is a picture heavy post! But if you are ready for some Spring color, read on. Things are moving so quickly now, and it seems as though I find a few new things blooming every day.

Different Daffodils

Different Daffodils

More Daffodils are opening up everyday- and I’ve counted at least nine different varieties so far.

Yellow Daffodil

Yellow Daffodil

I’ve been taking notes on location, bloom time, height, and color in the hopes that I can figure out the varieties based on the tags and notes the previous owner left behind.

White with orange cup Daffodil by driveway

White with orange cup Daffodil by driveway

The daffodils that started blooming about two weeks ago, and until now would be considered ‘early’ Spring bloomers.

White Daffodil with Red/Orange rimmed cup

White Daffodil with Red/Orange rimmed cup

There is such a range of colors available in daffodils- all within the white-yellow-orange range, including some pinks and some ‘reds’. Although they aren’t a true bright red, it’s more of a deep orange red.

Small Flower Daffodil

Small Flowered Daffodil

The head of this daffodil is miniature compared to it’s nearly 14″ height.

Pale Yellow Daffodil

Pale Yellow Daffodil

In mid-April, I’ll go around and take another round of notes- those will be the mid-Spring bloomers.

Long cupped Pale Yellow Daffodil

Long cupped Pale Yellow Daffodil

Some daffodils naturalize better than others (meaning they spread out and multiply on their own). I have a plethora of these pale yellow daffodils.

Large Yellow Trumpet Daffodil

Large Yellow Trumpet Daffodil

The trumpet on this Daffodil was enormous! I wouldn’t mind adding a few more varieties though–in particular I am looking at the double flowered kind.

First Jonquils to open

First Jonquils to open

These jonquils opened up just today! I did a little reading and found out that Narcissus is actually the genus name that encompasses Daffodils and jonquils. Technically, any plant that is in the genus Narcissus can be called by it’s common name- Daffodil. Jonquils are a specific type of Daffodil, usually characterized by thinner, tubular shaped leaves and multiple clusters of flowers on a single stalk. The one I have pictures has two blooming flowers on it currently.

Daffodils next to driveway

Daffodils next to driveway

These are probably the brightest bloomers so far- a very loud yellow with a screaming orange cup.

Almost Peach frilly cupped Daffodil

Almost Peach frilly cupped Daffodil

And finally this stunning frilly cupped Daffodil. When it first opened, the cup was almost more peach colored than orange.

Squill

Squill

Another early bloomer that’s just about finished up now is the Squill. I’m not sure what variety it is, and I only have the one lonely bulb, but boy is it a pretty little thing! To give you an idea of the scale, the flowers are a little smaller than a crocus bloom.

Forsythia blooms

Forsythia blooms

A lot of people use the Forsythia blooms as a natural clock–‘When the forsythia blooms, Spring is here’ and the like. Mine finally opened up just this week, but I think they don’t open as early or as much since they are located in part-shade.

Bridal Veil Spirea

Bridal Veil Spirea

Forsythia isn’t the only early flowering bush. I have three wonderfully sized Bridal Veil Spirea bushes that are so cheerful with their white spires.

Flowering Quince

Flowering Quince

The Flowering Quince just started blooming as well. It’s not quite as covered with blossoms, but has a knock-out color.

Pink Camellia by front stairs

Pink Camellia by front stairs

The Pink Camellia by the front stairs has opened up her beautiful rosettes.

Pink Camellia rosettes

Pink Camellia rosettes

White Camellia bush

White Camellia bush

And the other Camellias are just getting started too!

White Camellia Flower

White Camellia Flower

These white flowers are pretty, but ho-hum compared to this white with pink stripes:

White and Pink Camellia

White and Pink Camellia

Too bad a lot of the buds have frost burns.

Slender Deutzia Buds

Slender Deutzia Buds

The Slender Deutzia has also set it’s buds- it will start blooming in a couple of weeks. I have noticed some of the azaleas starting to set their buds, but it will be nearly a month before they really get going.

Pachysandra blooms

Pachysandra blooms

Even the Pachysandra is blooming now! I think they look like little tentacled claws.

Celandine Poppy

Celandine Poppy

The Celandine poppies are quick to grow and pop open. These smaller yellow flowers are very cheerful!

Not everything in the garden is yellow or white– there’s plenty of blues, violets, and pinks!

Periwinkle Flowering

Periwinkle Flowering

The Periwinkle is in bloom now. These tiny little flowers make a nice impact, but you really do have to stop and look.

Grape Hyacinth

Grape Hyacinth

A couple of these little guys popped up- Grape Hyacinth. So cute, and so tiny.

Viola Flowering

Viola Flowering

Another small, violet colored Spring ephemeral is the Viola.

Hellebore

Hellebore

Of course the Hellebores are still going strong. Some of them have started looking ‘up’, meaning I don’t have to reach under or tilt the flower up for a good photo.

Creeping Phlox

Creeping Phlox

The creeping Phlox is just gearing up too. I remember growing up, my mom had planted Phlox out by the end of our driveway. I remember loving to see it, as it was an early bloomer that created a carpet of color.

Spring Starflower

Spring Starflower

Spring Starflower also carpets the ground with color. More grass-like in appearance, these surprising flowers open up profusely.

Redbud Buds

Redbud Buds

Around Richmond, there are lots of flowering trees. Right now many beautiful Cherry blossoms are everywhere. I don’t have any in my yard, but I do have a RedBud which is starting to show it’s buds. My tree is still somewhat immature so it’s still fairly small, but I’ve seen some Redbuds around that are just gigantic and covered in blooms.

Flowering Magnolia 'Susan'

Flowering Magnolia ‘Susan’

And finally, this Flowering Magnolia ‘Susan’. This tree is also somewhat small, but will not ever get very tall. The flowers are almost technicolor, I love it!

Benches for veggie planters

Benches for veggie planters

On the veggie gardening front this year- we’ve decided to do container gardening on the deck. We headed out to Home Depot and bought some cinder blocks and boards so we’d have a ‘raised bed’ effect as well as a way for the pots to drain without sitting directly on the decking. The pots pictured are not necessarily the ones we’ll use- I’ve got a bunch of different sized plastic pots stashed that should work for a variety of veggies. We still need to get compost and the actual plants- but we won’t be ready to plant for another month anyway.

I’d love to know if YOU are growing vegetables this year!

Daffodils and Hellebores

Daffodils and Hellebores

Oh Spring! How glorious!

This Week in the Garden – March 22

Pretty Crocuses

Now that Spring is officially here, the daffodils, crocuses, hellebores, and more have opened their flowers in celebration!

Miniature Narcissus

Miniature Narcissus

The first daffodils to open this week were the miniature narcissus. They stand about six inches tall.

Daffodils

Daffodils

There are several clumps that had opened by today, including some taller varietes like this one. In this shot you can also see Columbine leaves starting to emerge.

Crocus

Crocus

Last week, I photographed one lonely crocus that had emerged. I found several more around the yard, in two different varieties. This one has more uniformly colored, rounded petals.

Crocus 2

Crocus 2

But I really like this other variety, with its variegated leaves, darker tipped, pointed petals.

Pretty Crocuses

Pretty Crocuses

I think over the years, critters have eaten some of the bulbs as there really are just sort of random single crocuses for the most part, around the garden. I think it would be neat to plant more of these, and maybe snowdrops in some lonely areas.

Pink Camellia

Pink Camellia

The pink Camellia is just bursting with beautiful blooms right now.

Pink Camellia Blossom

Pink Camellia Blossom

It is a fairly early blooming Sasanqua variety.

Blooming Stinking Hellebore

Blooming Stinking Hellebore

This week the Stinking Hellebore started blooming. It’s quite a bit different from the Lenten Rose variety.

Stinking Hellebore Flowers

Stinking Hellebore Flowers

The flowers are these light green, leafy orbs. I’m glad I caught it this year.

Pretty Hellebores

Pretty Hellebores

But I prefer the beautiful colors of the ‘Lenten Rose’ Hellebore.

Dark Pink and White Spotted Hellebore

Dark Pink and White Spotted Hellebore

The blooms in my yard are pretty standard though- typically white, pink, purple, or some combination of the three.

Purple Hellebore

Purple Hellebore

Some are spotted, others are solid.

White Hellebore

White Hellebore

Last year I did a whole post just on Hellebores

Light Pink Hellebore

Light Pink Hellebore

I’ll probably collect seeds again for anyone who wants any.

Blooming Leatherleaf Holly

Blooming Leatherleaf Holly

The other variety of Mahonia started blooming this week too! I talked about the first blooming Mahonia back in early January.

Buds on Trees

Buds on Trees

Some of the trees, as well as bushes, are starting to swell with buds.

Flowering Quince buds

Flowering Quince buds

Here you can see the Flowering Quince are about to pop!

Frozen Hydrangea buds

Frozen Hydrangea buds

I also took a closer look at the Hydrangea bushes. Some of the buds look like what I photographed here- brown and possibly frozen.

Hydrangea buds

Hydrangea buds

But others are definitely showing signs of life! I should definitely have some flowers this year!

Harry Lauders Walking Stick Catkins

Harry Lauders Walking Stick Catkins

There are also some buds on the Harry Lauders Walking Stick- just above where the catkins form at the branch. The catkins have really puffed up since the last time I took a photo, seen below.

Catkins of Harry Lauders Walking Stick

Catkins of Harry Lauders Walking Stick

Snail

Snail

And finally, this little guy. I found him while clearing out one of the beds. He appears a little nervous in this photo, looking at me, but I love the shadow of his eyes on the leaf.

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This Week in the Garden – March 15

Icicles on Leaves

This week in the garden — the transition from Winter into Spring. There may be a few slightly colder than average days left this winter, but the weather has definitely turned a corner, and we are seeing more sun, more warmth, and more green. Even though the calendar says we have just about a week left until Spring officially begins, it is here. I can smell it in the air after a good rain, the smell of fresh dirt thawing out from winter’s freeze. I can hear it in the rain and in the new songs being sung by the birds as they begin to look for a mate. I can feel it in the warmth of the longer days. And I can see it in all the new leaves and buds that are emerging. My heart rejoices in the change, the renewal of the earth. I am ready for it, hopeful for a renewal in more than just my spirit.

Just a few weeks ago, we had several inches of snow covering everything.

Daffodils pushing up through Snow

Daffodils pushing up through Snow

And now, so much more is coming up.

Daffodils and more pushing up

Daffodils and more pushing up

Snow blanketed the earliest of the Spring bloomers (or the latest Winter blossoms), the Hellebores.

Snow Covered Hellebores

Snow Covered Hellebores

But now they can start to stretch their flowers to the sky.

Hellebores Blooming

Hellebores Blooming

I need to get out there (hopefully on a slightly drier day) and start removing some of the spent foliage. It is not necessary or crucial, and it may even be considered too late in most cases to do much for the plant except to neaten the appearance.

More Hellebore Blooms

More Hellebore Blooms

I love how many Hellebores I have on this small plot of land. Their little shots of color are perfect this time of year.

Hellebores out front

Hellebores out front

You can see in this next shot that I still have quite a bit of leaf litter to pick up. I left it purposefully this winter as a sort of mulch for the beds. It should be warm enough now that I can remove them (and hopefully compost some!).

Hellebores under 'Queen Crimson' Japanese Maple

Hellebores under ‘Queen Crimson’ Japanese Maple

And a detail of a flower under the tree:

Hellebore Bloom

Hellebore Bloom

As the foliage dies back, some of it turns this beautiful shade of dark purple first.

Dying Hellebore Foliage

Dying Hellebore Foliage

Another type of Hellebore, the stinking Hellebore or Helleborus foetidus, is also about to bloom.

Stinking Hellebore Blooming

Stinking Hellebore About to Bloom

Another early bloomer is this pink Camellia that’s been trying to bloom for several weeks. Now that we’ve had a stretch of a couple days, nearly a week of good weather, it is starting to go crazy.

Early Blooming Camellia

Early Blooming Camellia

Several buds were damaged with the extended cold weather we had, leading to “frost bitten blooms”.

Frostbitten Blooms

Frostbitten Blooms

They look sort of orange in this photo, but are really more brown. Even on the more protected blossoms, you can see a little damage around the outer edges.

Camellia Blossom not fully open

Camellia Blossom not fully open

I also spotted this lonely guy today.

First and only Crocus so far

First and only Crocus so far

And I guess to be technical, this little weed was blooming too.

First weed of the year

First weed of the year

At least I think it’s a weed. I’m not sure what it is, although it does look a bit like creeping jenny, of which I have plenty very close to this spot.

I’m continuing to get a lot of attention from the birds at the feeders. This male cardinal was eyeing the food, but wouldn’t come close with me near the window.

Male Cardinal

Male Cardinal

And you may have noticed I did actually clean the windows- inside and out! Here’s a great shot of a chickadee, clearly showing the sides and markings indicating that it is in fact a Carolina Chickadee. An eagle-eyed reader pointed out my mistake in my last post.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

While out at the library this week, we also spotted a Hawk come fly in close to the building and perch for a little while. I managed to identify it from the photos we took at home as a Red Shouldered Hawk.

Red Shouldered Hawk

Red Shouldered Hawk

He/she was quite large, although it’s difficult to tell from this photograph.

Buds on the Viburnum

Buds on the Viburnum

As the new buds come in, I also am surveying the garden for any potential damage. I can’t tell for sure, but even though they aren’t green anymore, I think the Hydrangea buds survived this year.

Hydrangea bud - dead or alive

Hydrangea bud – dead or alive

At least they aren’t black. I’m going to just have to wait and see if anything grows from them this year.

Green Buds on Bush

Green Buds on Bush

I can’t remember what bush this is, but as soon as it starts to bloom I should know. I was pleased to see a bunch of tiny green buds on it today. And just some more signs of Spring:

Spring is coming

Spring is coming

Spanish bluebells and daffodils coming up in the front bed, and in the side:

Spanish Bluebells coming up

Spanish Bluebells coming up

This area will be a carpet of color in about a month. And finally:

Garden Phlox coming back

Garden Phlox coming back

It’s not too early for the tall Garden phlox to start peeking out from its slumber. This year I am going to try to be more vigilant about the Phlox bugs so that I can have as many blooms as I can get.

This Week in the Garden – Feb. 22

Yellow Rumped Warbler

This week was full of snow and freezing temperatures. Other than shoveling snow, I tried to spend most of my time indoors. On my snow day from work, I staked out by the window for about twenty minutes and managed to capture pictures of several different species of birds.

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

And please excuse the dirty windows…. The Tufted Titmouse is one of the more common species that comes to the feeders all year round.

Chickadees

Chickadees

Black capped Carolina Chickadees are another common species. I see them all year round, and they are so cute and small. They will typically grab a seed, fly to a nearby tree branch, and then peck at it and eat it. I also recently read that they will sometimes stash seed during the warmer months. (Thanks to a reader, I’ve corrected what type of Chickadee lives here. I think I assumed it was a black capped Chickadee because that’s what I grew up with. Thanks Megatron!)

Eastern Towhee and Downy Woodpecker

Eastern Towhee and Downy Woodpecker

Here a Downy Woodpecker and an Eastern Towhee are sharing the ledge. The Downy gets a bit anxious though, and usually scares off other birds while it’s feeding. The Eastern Towhee visits seasonally, and in the Spring will spend hours “fighting” his reflection in glass (windows) or the side mirrors on the car.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wren

The Carolina Wren is another small and cute bird that stays here just about all year. Last year, one made a nest in a plastic bin we had sitting out on the lower deck (in shade by the house). There were three or four little babies that hatched and then fledged pretty quickly.

Bluebird

Bluebird

I have noticed quite a few bluebirds at times- sometimes there will be as many as six or seven together. I’m very glad to see them. We do get European Starlings quite a bit too, which are known for disrupting and tossing out nesting bluebirds. I try to shoo them away as frequently as I can.

Robin

Robin

The Robin. Some birds seem more acutely aware of what’s going on behind the glass- and the Robin is one who seems to be able to see me. If I make any movement, he’ll fly away. If he sees me, he won’t come near the feeder. This is contrast to the chickadees and titmice who seem completely oblivious.

Yellow Rumped Warbler1

Yellow Rumped Warbler front

And finally, the most exciting watch of the day was this Yellow Rumped Warbler. I had to search my field guide thoroughly to find the name of this bird. I saw one a few days previously, and then saw a few more on the snow day. I took lots of pictures.

Yellow Rumped Warbler

Yellow Rumped Warbler back

And here you can see how it got its name. Now that I’ve identified it, I wonder if I’ll see it again.

Today (Sunday) was actually quite nice, at 52 degrees Fahrenheit, I managed to get out and check up on my hydrangeas. Some of the buds may be dead from cold, but I’ll just have to watch them and wait and see this summer. I also checked the Camellia to see if the flowers were damaged. The ones that were open have frostbite, but the buds that haven’t opened yet may be Okay with just some minor burns. While I was out, I did notice lots of footprints in the snow.

Rabbit Footprints

Rabbit Footprints

I was surprised to see some rabbit footprints in the snow. I was just thinking the other day that it had been several months since I’d seen a rabbit in the garden. I had supposed they may have been eaten due to increased cat and hawk activity.

Bird Footprints

Bird Footprints

I think bird footprints are adorable.

Cat Footprints up and down hill

Cat Footprints up and down hill

I thought these prints were amusing too- cat prints going up and down the hill. Even with the warm temperatures, there’s still quite a bit of snow, and I consider it dangerous to trek down into the lower garden. To break from the dreary weather, we managed to get out this weekend and go to the 9th Annual Virginia Orchid Society Show, held at Strange’s. It wasn’t very large, but there were some amazing specimens on display.

Colorful Orchid

Colorful Orchid

The sizes, shapes, and colors were just incredible.

Amazing Orchid

Amazing Orchid

They also had Orchids for sale, and they had several lectures on orchid care. The lectures and admission was free, which was perfect for a much needed shot of color.

Orchid Society Show

Orchid Society Show

I’m so excited and ready for Spring!