Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Blooming Wednesday Potpourri

What a lovely spring day today: partly cloudy, highs in the low 70's ... and I sure wished I hadn't been cooped up in the house working! But I at least was able to get out for a little while after work (and before dinner time) to make the discovery rounds with Fernymoss. Though we didn't get anything in the ground just yet, we both were able to get some shots of the current show and made a few surprising discoveries in the process.

So let's peek inside the Mother Ship below and get going on the tour....

Alas, the tulips are starting to wind down, and all it's going to take is a hard rain or a really windy day and their precious petals will be sent sailing off in the breeze ... but for the moment, they are still looking pretty stunning nonetheless. Fernymoss was having a lot of fun shooting these types of shots of blooms that were lowering the front door of the Mother Ship to reveal the mysterious forms within. This particular bloom is one of our Darwins that have made somewhat of a comeback this year. Even though we lost over 100 of these in that awful late extended freeze in 2007, we're still convinced that these hybrids are the best tulips who truly qualify as perennials. With their 18" stems (no kidding!) and brilliant colors, the Darwins are by far your best value in tulips if you want them to stick around for a good long time.....

Here's a quick shot I took of the overall "ensemble" going on in the Primrose bed by the front steps ... I plan on doing an entire post on these beauties soon, but I need to be able to take the time to get close ups, but for now, I wanted to give a sense of just how this grouping works together. The Blue (and red) one you see at the lower left is the pot I got last weekend and planted on Sunday, and so far they look quite happy in their new home. To the right, just by the yellow ones is the plant I got for Valentine's day. It had to spend a little too long in the house on the windowsill, but now that it's in the ground near its cousins, I'm hopeful that it will stake out its place and join the party ... it's a crap shoot as to whether this will be perennial or not (quite often the primroses sold as potted plants aren't), but at least it has a fighting chance. It will get pampered throughout the season, as will all of these, my much prized Primulas.

And here's the newest member of our Hellebore family, Ivory Prince, that we just got last weekend. Though this is not his permanent home, I just wanted to get a shot of him to show off because he's currently got a lot of blooms going on. Talk about instant gratification ... though we have been patiently nursing some very small plants we got in 2005 over the past four years (and they are blooming now ... more on them later), we both feel that $22 was more than a fair price for this plant, given what most nurseries charge for much smaller plants (usually in the $8-9 range). Plus, we already know what the blooms will look like! Gail commented the other day that she has this variety and she really likes it, so we have confirmation from a good source that this was indeed a wise buy. We're excited to see how this new addition will make his home in the Woodland Garden....

An update on what I posted as a "mystery plant" last week ... long term readers here immediately knew what this was, so I might as well lift the veil of "secrecy" and reveal that this is indeed Dracunculs vulgaris, aka: Dragon Arum, and affectionately known as "Mr. Stinky" around Casa IVG. This was an enormous bulb we originally planted in 2005, and in 2006 it came up, leafed out but didn't bloom ... but then in 2007, it rewarded us with its first bloom. (If you'd like to see the evolving history of this plant, click on the "Dracunculus vulgaris" label below the post to see all previous entries. Then you'll see what this will become in another month or so.) Last year it bloomed again, but also put up five little offshoots at its base, so we're hoping for multiple blooms this year ... but today Fernymoss discovered that this year we have eight offshoots coming up and leafing out right now. Wow, just wow! When we planted this, we weren't even sure it would be reliably hardy here, but it sure seems to be happy where we have it planted in the Woodland Garden not far from the peonies. It's ironic that we chose to plant the stinkiest plant in our garden so close to the flowers with the best fragrance ... we'll just call it a happy coincidence.

For those of you who need your daily puppy pic fix, here's Hanna this afternoon, working her Kong for all it's worth. During the day when I'm working, she hangs out with me in my office either snoozing on the futon couch or looking out the window at the world, and is very patient with my schedule. Of course I give her regular attention and loving, but she really seems to realize that I'm working and behaves herself quite well. But when early afternoon comes, she needs to head out for a potty break, and when we return she expects her Kong! So I usually stuff it with a bit of peanut butter and a few small treats to keep her busy for a while ... Here she's trying to extract that last little bit of peanut butter from the Kong, after getting the crunchy treats out first. She has a really cool way of using her front paws literally as hands to grip the Kong, and that was what I was trying to capture, but once the camera is fired up, she gets "shy" about showing off what she can do. At least this shot shows a little bit of what she can do to grip things with her front paws ... what a constantly amazing little girl she has turned out to be! We think she's going to grow up to be "scary smart" due to her already huge vocabulary of words she recognizes! She definitely has mastered every corner of the house so far and knows where everything is (especially the food and treats), so she clearly has established the reign of Princess Hanna, whether we like it or not! And we're thrilled, of course.....



Morning IVG! Hanna is a sweetheart for sure and certain. What a doll.

I love your primroses. I have tried them in the past but with little luck especially in reappearing each year. Your collection is wonderful.

I remember seeing Mr. Stinky in years past. It's great how he's increasing his presence for you. Tell the peonies to watch out!

Roses and Lilacs said...

Dracunculs vulgaris, I haven't seen one in person, just photos. I'm amazed it is hardy up here.

Shanster said...

All of it is lovely!

I'm waiting for my rototilled area to sprout weeds so I can spray them before I put down the blue gramma seed.

I found a really neat yucca - yucca fiberosa that is supposed to like my area and there is a spot we can't get a thing to grow so I'll try 3 of those yuccas in that spot. They supposedly have a showy white flower. I can only hope! AND bonus is the dogs won't want to trample any yucca. Those things are tough! :)

Cheers! Shanster

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Evening, Coneflower,
She loves that Kong (especially when I put peanut butter in), though her current obsession toy is the Monster Mouth.

I struggled with Primroses for years, same problem as you ... until I got these from Spring Hill Nursery, who guaranteed them to be hardy. (I believe they're located in OH too.) They were tiny things when I planted them, but I pampered them all summer and they really took hold. I think the trick is to keep them evenly moist all the time, which means daily watering in summer. They also like some sun (they just get morning esatern sun here) and protection during the hottest part of the day. As I keep saying, these have been amazing colonizers ... I want more!

It will be a big day in the garden when Mr. Stinky blooms next month! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
We were amazed it was hardy too ... and it gets no more mulch than the leaves that blow in and the ivy we have as a ground cover in the Woodland Garden. We're hoping our Voodoo Lily (a similar stinky relative) that we planted last year blooms this year too!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shanster,
Thank you! Hope I'm not giving you too much "plant envy" with all these ... I never thought about a yucca for you, but they are truly tough and hardy. Yes, the flower spikes are very showy and tall ... sort of whitish bell shaped flowers. Lots of people here have them planted by their driveways, so much so that it's just about a cliché: a yucca and a big rock. We think it must be a city ordinance in W. Des Moines!!! lol

I got a very cool catalogue from a Xeriscaping company last year ... I should try to find it and pass the link on to you ... bet they'd have lots of stuff you could grow. What's blue gramma seed? That's a new one to me.

Shanster said...

It's a native, xeric, prairie grass... likes BAD soil, clay and hot sun. Perfect for us. I'm told it's best germinated from seed too! Keep your fingers crossed for us!

I don't want a lawn, I want free form prarie like yard for low maintenance with some areas of good xeric plants.

Oh! I bought some honeysuckle last fall from the nursery - it was on the side of the building where everything is super cheap cuz it looks half dead? EVERY single one of the 8 shrubs I bought for a song is coming in gangbusters!!

It's also supposed to be super hardy. We have them in a row to the east as a screen for the neighbors. Course they are small now but I hope they grow fast!

Thanks for all your garden talk with me! I'm so going to pick your brain... hope that is ok!! :)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Shanster,
Thanks for the info on Blue Gramma, no wonder it's not something grown around here (to my knowledge). Sounds great for your area though!

Free form prairie like eh? I wonder if you could get some Purple Coneflowers (Echinacea) going there if you slightly amended your soil. They're a wide ranging prairie native that is pretty low maintenance once established. You should look around/ask if others are growing them successfully there. They can take some pretty crappy soil too. Something to investigate at least! I'm sure there are other types of prairie grasses that you could do as well.

Honeysuckless are really invasive around here, so that's a plus for you! They're very pretty and you'll be delighting the bees too. At some point you'll need to give them some sort of support, but you can figure out that detail when they're bigger!

Always happy to answer questions if I know something useful. Feel free to email me (addy in "profile") and ask away and I'll try.


Hello again. By the time I read through your post, ooooo'd and aaahh'd over the pic of Hannah and wrote a comment, I forgot about your amazing first photo. What a spectacular way to show a tulip. Congrats on your creativity.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Coneflower,
LOL, blinded you with pictures, eh? Actually Fernymoss took this one and did a whole series of these type shots with tulips like this. Most are now without petals after a quick thunderstorm blew through today, bye bye tulips!

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