The thought of bloom

“Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom…” – E.B. White

After a bad last year for Hepaticas, and the unexpected collapse of H. nobilis var. japonica this spring, there is joy in seeing the first Hepatica americana starting to bloom.

Hepatica americana flowering

Hepatica americana flowering – with the blooms there comes the thought of seeds

Thoughts of bloom & seeds are also extended to Corydalis nobilis, Corydalis solida – purple and red and many, many more to come…


Quote from a lovely E.B. White poem to his wife:

To My American Gardener, With Love

Before the seed there comes the thought of bloom,
The seedbed is the restless mind itself.
Not sun, not soil alone can bring to border
This rush of beauty and this sense of order.
Flowers respond to something in the gardener’s face
Some secret in the heart, some special grace.
Yours were the rains that made the roses grow,
And that is why I love your garden so.

Earth octopus

Yesterday I spent quite some time into the darkness of the garage, doing archaeological plant-digging in containers. I was looking after various creatures that like to spend the winter dry and need to be unearthed by late April and be brought back to life (if possible).
A large earth octopus almost jumped out of a pot! Luckily it proved out to be a gentle one. I checked its legs one by one, all seemed to be fine; eyes wide open and smiling. It was carefully placed in fresh, rich potting mix as it likes it, free to swim and have fun.

Roscoea auriculata 2

The earth octopus (Roscoea auriculata)

I’ll wait with the water until it starts growing a bit (it’s an earth octopus with rhizomatous fleshy tentacles after all). Somewhere in mid-summer a strange phenomenon will happen: the earth octopus will bloom!

Roscoea auriculata flower
There were also a few baby octopuses (not completely developed, some have only 2-3 tentacles), all fine looking and ready to start earth swimming. Roscoeas are very pleasant plants to grow from seeds; it will take 3+ years for the first flowers to appear.

Roscoea auriculata it is a hardy ginger from Nepal, Sikkim and Bhutan, where it grows in grasslands at 2400-2700 m altitude. As the name suggests, it has consistently auriculate (eared) leaves on the pseudostem. The height can be variable 20-40 cm and the flowers are large, in various shades of purple to deep violet or even white. It can be mistaken with R. purpurea but it flowers a bit earlier and the flowers have usually white upper staminodes and a strongly down-facing labellum.

Spring startups

New growths, new beginnings – All equally exciting!

Caulophyllum thalictroides first germinated seeds:

Caulophyllum thalictroides germinated seeds

Caulophyllum thalictroides germination startup

The beginning of a ‘direct woodland sowing’ project (native species, of course)– more about this will be detailed soon.

Woodland Plot 3

The spotting of a few happy pollinators (alas not in my garden):

Erica and wasp

The first day out at ‘fresh air’ for the young seedlings:

Seedlings 2015


Second place in the race

Plus a new contender and a dare

Long title for brief post: Dicentra cuccularia has finish second the flowering race while Primula frondosa has become the new challenger for the third place!

Dicentra cuccularia

Dicentra cuccularia flowering

Primula frondosa
Primula frondosa

And the dare: guess the name of the plant from the next image.

what's this -
What’s this ?
Worth growing even if only for this fleeting moment when the mauve buds are pushing through the soil. (Hint – it is a woodland plant of European origin; yellow flowers)

 Dare to guess and you will be rewarded with any seed packet from the shop (I am 99% sure that no one can tell ;)

Second chance

It felt really bad when I lost my Oxytropis halleri seedlings two years ago (particularly because I knew why). Now, from the few seeds left, I got new seedlings! and I will be more careful. Most alpine plants develop incredible long roots very fast and should be transplanted ASAP. Seedlings of a high elevation growing Astragalus, Astragalus oreades, will keep them good company. As well, just a few leftover seeds from a Caucasus collection.

For both species (Fam. Fabaceae), I scarified lightly the seeds, placed them in moist paper towels, sprinkled over a bit of GA3 solution, and kept them in the fridge for a couple of weeks. It is hard to say if the scarifying worked until you see the seeds nicely expanding by absorbing moisture, so it’s best to scarify less than too much (as seen in the images, I didn’t quite ‘scratch’ them all, but you can repeat the procedure). Ga3 is not absolutely necessarily, but you will have to allow for a longer cold-moist period.

I only have pictures with Oxytropis , but they are both glorious alpine plants; such a nice pair for the rock garden!

Oxytropis halleri

Oxytropis halleri in wild habitat, Carpathian Mts.

Oxytropis halleri with fruits

Corydalis solida

Corydalis wins the race

As predicted, with the flowers starting to open today, Corydalis has won the flowering race! A little snowdrop, who quietly tried to sneak away the prize taking advantage of the cold and snowy weather yesterday, was disqualified. He innocently argued that he didn’t know about the race’s rule (container grown plants only)…