Wednesday, April 08, 2009

The Crocus Parade Continues ...

Today we finally had some sun again, which pretty much finished off the rest of the snow lingering from Sunday's "storm," so the crocus were able to show their faces again to the world after spending two days closed up and shivering. The temperatures have also begun to moderate slowly and with any luck, we'll be seeing the upper 50s by the end of the week, with partly sunny days in store. That's a Spring I can start to believe in, but it's still too chilly at night to begin putting anything into the ground (other than early planted seeds).

My goal for this weekend is to get at least one afternoon spent cleaning up the back yard because it's a mess! If you recall, after the tree came crashing down last October, the weather turned cold very quickly and there's still a lot of branches and stuff that need to be picked up and disposed of, and then there's the matter of getting the tree taken out. Fernymoss finally got a lead on a reasonably priced tree service, so we'd like to get that taken care of before too much longer, not only to get rid of the unsightly mess, but also to ensure a sunnier back yard this summer. I can see my tax refund disappearing already ... but it has to be done soon!

Now we return to our regularly scheduled Crocus coverage, already in progress...

Note: the shots in this post are also from my most recent session on April 3, 2009.
(Be sure to click through to see the larger, more detailed versions.)

I'm a bit baffled as to exactly what variety of Giant Crocus this one is ... it definitely came from one of our Van Bourgondien mixes and I thought it might be Blue Pearl, but after looking at that one in the catalogue again, I'm not so sure. It's definitely not Pickwick (shown below) because it doesn't display the prominent purple striping that characterizes that variety. But whatever this one turns out to be, it's another reliable bloomer and has been multiplying quite happily over the past 3 years or so out in the front boulder bed, and at this point has grown into a respectable, showy clump that stands out in the bare ground of the central bed.

This is one of our small clumps of Pickwick that we have scattered around the front beds ... I suspect this is one of the more recently planted groupings because it doesn't show signs of having multiplied just yet. Though this variety doesn't seem to colonize as quickly as the other Crocus do, it's definitely one of the more dramatic cultivars with its white tipped petals striped with deep purple hiding the brilliant orange stamens. We should be seeing more of these soon, and though this shot doesn't really do it justice, it's the best I have for the moment. The only drawback I can find for this variety is that, like Jeanne d'Arc, it's really prone to lose its petals in a heavy rain or strong wind, and its bloom period is somewhat shorter than most of our other Giant and Snow Crocuses. Still, it's a very worthy crocus to have in your garden and would make a nice planting companion to others like Jeanne d'Arc and Golden Yellow. Have I sold you on the virtues of the Giant Crocuses yet?

I have no clue what variety of yellow snow crocus this is because it was in a grab bag mix I got from Park Seed several years ago ... this little clump is one of many I planted along the line of the sidewalk on the Woodland side of the house (on the north). When I planted them, I just mixed up a bunch of crocus and Muscari (Grape Hyacinth) and planted them in groups of 5 or 6 every foot or so down the sidewalk line. This year, this is one of the first ones to show up, and there are still quite a few more that should be appearing sometime soon, so consider this a sneak peek at more to come....

I was really happy to see these little guys coming up in profusion last weekend when I was out with the camera! Though at first glance one might mistake them for Squill (Scilla siberica), they are actually Chionodoxa forbessi, aka 'Glory of the Snow.' These cheery little star shaped blue flowers with white centers and yellow stamens are really a great naturalizer that can go just about anywhere you want a splash of blue among the early spring bloomers and would look good with snow crocus, because they start (at least here) blooming just about the time the snow crocus are on the way out (but while their foliage remains). I think we have about 3-4 clumps of these near the edge of the front boulder bed, where they have been happily colonizing for the last several years. I think I started with about 5 bulbs in each planting and I've definitely noticed that every year more and more return in the spring ... they're definitely a bulb you need to plant in masses, because the sight of one or two lone flowers just wouldn't do them justice ... they need to be seen in groups for the full effect! I'll also note that getting good photos of these flowers is a real challenge for some reason ... if there's not enough sun, they look muddy blue, too much sun and they end up looking bleached out. I hope I have better luck capturing them this year than I have in the past few years. You'll see soon enough....

Now these are a bit of a mystery so far, but one thing's for sure, they're something that Fernymoss planted that day last fall when I was sick, so I don't know where anything he planted is (and he can't remember what went where). My best guess is that these are either Nectaroscordum ('Sicilian Honey Garlic') or Fritillaria 'Fox's Grape.' Now that I think more about it, I think they might indeed be the Fritillarias because they are up so early and are supposed to bloom in April or May, while Nectaroscordum doesn't bloom until May or June ... so time will tell what they really are! If anyone can positively ID these just from the initial foliage, please let me know what you think it is, otherwise we'll just have to wait until they bloom....

This is a bit of a wider view of one of our mass plantings of Daffodils, Tulips, Hyacinths and Crocus we have on the Woodland side of the house (where, as you can see, we haven't gotten much cleaning up done yet!). I'm cautiously optimistic that some of the tulips we had there that didn't return last year may be back this year, because it seems that I'm seeing more there than last year. These 'Yellow Trumpet Daffodils' are a very basic version of the flower bred primarily for naturalizing, which is exactly why we bought a whole half bushel back in 2005 to plant all around the garden. We have experimented with some of the fancier varieties in the past and been disappointed that, like the fancy tulips, after several years they either disappear entirely or revert to some kind of unattractive mutant Narcissus resembling the stinky Paper Whites we made the mistake of forcing one winter. That's an experience we won't repeat again because those pestiferous things stunk up the entire house and we ended up sticking them on the porch to kill them!

Fortunately, these Daffodils come back true every year (so far) and have been multiplying nicely in the 3 years they have been blooming for us. And they even escaped the great Des Moines Daffodil holocaust that hit so many gardeners last year, who lost entire long-established beds of them for some as yet unknown reason. Our neighbors across the street used to have masses of lovely Daffodils next to their house and their bed was decimated last year and only a few still remain ... yet ours were seemingly untouched and actually thrived last year. It looks like they're gearing up for a good show again this year, so we're looking forward to their appearance soon!

And for those of you who need a puppy fix, here's Lil Miss Hanna ...
I call this shot "Inscrutable"

What dog owner hasn't wanted to peek into the mind of their dog when s/he gives them one of these kinds of looks? Of course, Terriers are notorious for their staring capacity and can stare the best of us down (Pepa was a pro at this too) ... actually this shot kind of reminded me of that old Frasier episode that had a section called "Stare Master" where Eddie got the best of Frasier, despite the latter's best efforts to out-stare Eddie. Hanna definitely has the talent, so when you combine that with her incredibly expressive face and her frequent brow wrinkling and you get truly inscrutable looks. How do you interpret this gaze? Is it Hanna concocting some devious plan? Is she merely expressing concern? What wheels are spinning inside her head at this moment? Let me know if you have any good ideas....


Zach said...

How many crocuses, do you have? They are all so beautiful, Here in Ohio, there are no more crocuses in bloom, now the daffodils and tulips are blooming!

Hanna is as usual adorable! I hope she keeps those darn tree rats out of your yard!

boran2 said...

Heh,that Hanna shot really shows some insight into her intelligence. It is a very knowing stare. It would be interesting to peek into her mind.

Our turtle Pablo stares also but he's probably only hoping for a snack. ;-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Zach,
I'd guesstimate that we have upwards of about 600-700 crocus scattered around the various parts of our garden. We just put in another 300 last fall and had already a few hundred planted previously to that. When you figure in the colonies they've formed, who knows how many we have in all?

Our daffodils and tulips are up (see photos) but it's going to be a few weeks before they bloom. We're obviously behind you guys!

Glad you like the Hanna pics ... again, we were so lucky she came to live with us and is a delight every day!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
She's a sharp one, that's for sure! That's one of the joys and frustrations of terriers is that they often think they're smarter than you are (Pepa was an expert at that). But it's a great part of the attraction of having one ... I think maybe she was trying out her mind reading skills.

Well, if Pablo stares for treats, at least he knows the behavior-response routine, and that's some kind of intelligence! :-)

Shady Gardener said...

Wow! I'm behind over here!! We recently returned from a trip to AZ. What a beautiful place to visit. But I really enjoy living in Iowa. :-)

I missed your poll! I'd have voted for Tri-color!!

Raking: We've almost got it finished. Mr. SG joined me yesterday afternoon, soo it's nearly done!! Very early for me. :-) I do love having everything out from under all the oak leaf mulch. And with today's sprinkling, things should really grow. Hurrah for Spring, IVG!

Shady Gardener said...

Hurrah for Spring! :-) I am really enjoying all your crocus photos.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shady,
No problems ... I'm glad to hear your trip was enjoyable (I peeked at your place but haven't had time to comment yet).

I wish we could get our raking done, but between the rain and cold lately, we haven't been able to get out and finish our clean up! Yesterday it was family obligations, so nothing got done, so hopefully next weekend!

Glad you're liking the Crocus... they're still popping up all over, and our Squill has finally shown up!

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