Monday, June 01, 2009

Purple Prose and a Pooped Puppy

Continuing with the theme I started with yesterday's post, let's take a look at the blues fading into the realm of purple....

This beauty is Aquilegia alpina, or the 'Alpine Blue' Columbine, perhaps the most successful Columbine we've been able to grow over the years ... after failing miserably with some of the fancier 'Barlow' varieties in the past, we discovered this simpler, more natural variety several years ago and planted several, which continue to thrive at the edge of the Woodland Garden. Last year we collected a lot of seed from these but have neglected to get it in the ground, so sometime this year, we plan on spreading it freely around the area in the hope of encouraging more of them to colonize even further....

This is one of the many globe alliums we have around various areas of the garden, and this particular one is at the edge of the Woodland Garden in amongst the dearly departed Daffodils and near one of our three holly bushes. My gardening friend Marnie over at Lilacs and Roses just recently had a fantastic post up about her Alliums blooming alongside her white Irises, a most attractive combination, so check it out!

Not only are they lovely and unexpected surprises (shape wise) who emerge in late Spring, they are also quite a beneficial plant to have in your garden.
All of the Alliums, including even the humble culinary chives (who also have lovely blooms) gradually leach sulfur into the soil over time, which is a great thing, especially if you have plants nearby that are susceptible to the dreaded powdery mildew (such as Monarda or Zinnias) because sulfur acts as a natural fungicide and will help protect your plants from infection. They come in a wide variety of sizes and colors (I still lust after the quite expensive 'Gladiator' Giant Globe) to fit almost any sunny garden position ... and last fall we planted a bunch of Nectaroscordum aka: Sicilian Honey Garlic, which we just discovered this weekend are now on the verge of blooming very soon. You'll be seeing them here when they decide to strut their stuff....

Thanks in great part to the cool and rainy weather of late, the Pansies we planted earlier this spring are still going strong out front, so I thought I'd include a couple of shots of some of the more striking specimens. Just feast on the depth of colors exhibited by this particular bloom ... it's got the entire range of colors I love in flowers, from the fiery yellows and oranges to the darkest of purples approaching black. I don't recall what this particular variety is named, but I'm sure glad we picked it out (actually I think it was Fernymoss' pick)! For some reason, this particular shot makes me think of a dramatically colored butterfly, perhaps a black swallowtail?

This was definitely my pick, with the real fire going on in the flower and I just love this one ... One thing I've always appreciated in Pansies and Violas are the incredible ranges of colors one can find in a single bloom, and if for no other reason, that makes them worthy annuals to plant in the Spring garden. Of course they tend to disappear when the hotter months arrive, but until then, they sure provide brilliant splashes of color to the emerging perennial border!

Shortly after I started this post, I thought it sounded awful quiet downstairs, so I went down to see what Fernymoss and Hanna were up to (though I already knew), and they were both fast asleep in their respective lounging spots. Lately, Hanna has been spending more time on Pepa's old bed that we have behind the recliners against the wall ... though she shied away from this cushy bed for a long time, she has finally seemed to consider it one of her spaces (I suspect she was given permission from a higher Doggie Power), so I'm glad to see her enjoy it, along with the blanket we gave her to nest in there.

She had quite the day on Sunday, from supervising the weeding and planting we were doing, to doing porch sentry duty (scouting out squinnies, rabbits and neighborhood kitties) and going on her late afternoon walkie with Fernymoss. She clearly had a good day and when I was watching some HGTV earlier, she had a couple of quite dramatic dreams behind me as she was curled up on this comfy bed. We think she's happy here in her new home ... what's not to love? She gets constant attention, has lots of cushy lounging spots and gets to supervise the garden and shake the weeds to death! And pretty soon, if she has her way, she's going to teach those nasty bunnies a lesson for nibbling in our garden ... she's clearly a natural born rodent hunter ... we just hope she can scare them away without having to make an actual kill, which she appears ready to do if given the chance. But if it comes to that, I guess we'll have to endure the bunny screams (which I'd rather avoid, having heard Pepa produce that from them in the past).

Finally, some exciting news I hope to chronicle soon via photos ... we were looking at the Dragon Arum today and discovered that among four of the eight new offshoots, there are four buds coming on! And on the original stalk this year's bud has yet to appear ... so in all probabability we're going to have at least five blooms this year from Mr. Stinky! There may be more, but we're really excited at the prospect of this, our most bizarre plant, producing multiple blooms for the first time this year. Not bad for a bulb we planted in fall 2005, eh? Obviously this is not a plant for everyone, but we're proud to be the only people we know who have such a bizarre bloom arriving every June. Not bad for an original investment of about $8.00 for the bulb, which is clearly very happy where we put it in the Woodland Garden, not far from the Peonies who help to temper its floriferous stench!


Roses and Lilacs said...

Good morning Iowa. I have a blue columbine on my blog this morning too. Great minds with but a single thought;)

My Toby removed two chipmunks from the garden last weekend. Hated to see it but keeping Toby indoors was causing a rodent population explosion.


Loved your storyish garden tour today. You write in such an enjoyable story-like fashion. It's really fun to read.

Glad Mr. Stinky is coming along so nicely. Glad he's in your yard and not in mine. LOL I can watch him from the safety of your camera shots.

And of course, little Hanna's escapades are always so very enjoyable....the way you write about them.

I think I detect a subtle change in your you are more relaxed and are feeling a whole lot less stress in your life.

Just keep up the good gentle work.

FARfetched said...

The warmth (not quite "hot" yet even if I sweat a bit mowing the yard) has done for our pansies this year. They'll be back come fall though.

Y'know, it would be a wonderful prank to put a Dragon Arum in Mrs. Fetched's flower bed… she probably would refuse to believe the plant is making that stench, especially since the dogs like to leave their possum "catches" around the yard. [evil grin]

Hanna would probably be very happy to keep your yard critter-free; just don't let her dig up your beds. I was going to suggest she might need some practice before actually catching a rabbit, but then I remembered Daughter Dearest catching a (small) one bare-handed at age 4. Kids… if they don't realize something is impossible, they'll do it like as not.

boran2 said...

Good news about the Dragon Arum. I can't wait to see the photos of this year's model.

That allium is gorgeous. I'll have to consider some for the garden.

I'm glad to see that Hanna is taking up some of Pepa's old spots.

Now that it's June, we finally took off the snow tires. (We do nothing before its time.) And we've now got a new addition, the Mormon Mazda. We'll need to sell our old car.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Chalk the columbines up to synchronicity! I need to get some pics of the others soon before they're done, but we're in another rainy spell again this week, so if they last until Wednesday...!

Sounds like Toby is a good hunter and perhaps best outside for the summer. If he's good at scotching bunnies, we'd like to borrow him for a bit! Heh, just kidding ... Hanna would gladly do the deed if we let her loose, but until the yard is better secured we don't trust her to stay in the yard on the chase.

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Coneflower,
Glad you are enjoying the posts ... sometimes I'm not sure what to write about so just let my mind wander where it will....

Mr. Stinky will surely be spectacular this year and sure has been thriving where we planted him. And to think the past couple of years we were considering planting more of them, lol! He seems to be multiplying quite well on his own!

Interesting you see a change in my writing, it's entirely possible it is more relaxed now that I'm free from a clearly stressful job that I really didn't like much. I'll feel a lot better when I have something new and better though, but for now I think I deserve the time off!

Thanks much for your remark on "good gentle work" ... I like to think of myself as a gentle soul, except where bunnies, squirrels and RepubliThugs are concerned! :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey FAR,
I'd expect your pansies have exited the stage for now ... ours will probably cook come July, but might come back in fall if I keep them watered well.

That would be a hoot to put an Arum in Mrs. Fetched's bed, and it would be totally hardy down your way. Only thing is that they generally don't bloom the first year, and I'm sure she'd wonder what it was before that happened... they do get pretty tall!

Hanna clearly wants to be a little huntress and has great instincts, it's clear. When she saw a bunny the other day she went into a classic "point" posture, front leg up, ears erect and tail pointing straight out! She doesn't get much chance to dig because one of us (or both) is always out back with her and we've positioned her lead so that she can get close to the veggie garden but can't get near enough to dig. She's much more into jumping to catch and shake the weeds!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey B2,
We're pretty excited about the Dragon arum too, and you know you'll see it the day it pops, and leading up to the big day, so don't worry!

You should get some alliums, they are pretty cheap and easy to find (except the giant ones) and really no maintenance at all after planted ... the foliage gradually just dries up and if you let the stalks go to seed you can just cut them down when they're done.

Hanna is totally at home now, that's for sure! She really does a lot of things that remind me so much of Pepa and I still make the mistake of calling her Pepa on occasion (we both do). I still miss my little "Queen" so much, but Hanna has really helped us get over the grieving so much more quickly. I wish all my readers could actually meet her to see just how special, loving and fun she is ... I bet she'd love everyone!

What's a Mormon Mazda? Better scoot over and see if you have a post up on it ... I'm so behind on my blog visits!

Roses and Lilacs said...

I was just checking and see both my chives and garlic are blooming. Very pretty. Both are in my ornamental garden. Like you I lust after those giant allium but the prices are ridiculous. I'll hope a friend has some to divide.

Toby is very good at rabbit control. He hasn't killed any adults (as far as I know) but he harasses them so much they avoid his areas--squirrels too.

Shanster said...

Nice posts - great pictures! Beautiful. Nice to hear your "voice" again...

A friend of mine has a ton of perennials to divide - all kinds! I'm really excited and will be headed over there Thurs night with my shovel. I think I'll be able to populate my entire garden square with what she's giving away.

I wanted a lot of blues/purples which is most of what she'd giving away! They may not be some of the fancier nursery stock I dreamt of, but beggars simply can NOT be choosers.

I'll get some prarie mallow, bleeding hearts, chives, oregano, iris, perennial geranium, perennial sage, mountain bluet, veronica, hollyhock mallow, ajuga ground cover, blue wheat grass, blue fescue and hardy aster!

Family Man said...

Hiya IVG,

Great pictures and good news on the Dragon arum. Not that I would know a Dragon arum if one stared me in the face. :)

Glad your gardening is going well and that Hanna is getting her rest. :O)

Happy rest of the week to you and Fernymoss.

Sylvana said...

I let wild columbine grow throughout my garden. Hummingbirds love them and they add much needed color at a time when there isn't much.

Good luck on the job front!

Gail said...

Hi IVG...I was sure I left a comment here! The Alpine Columbine is lovely...I have plenty of natives but surely must add this beauty to the list! ~~~I caught up on the goings on in your life! Hugs to you! gail


Hi you Three.... What's up? Is everything okay?

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Marnie,
Sorry to be late getting back to you! Our chives are done, as are the globe alliums, but we have some other interesting ones on the way soon...

Toby sounds like a great garden cat! Anyone who can harass the bunnies enough to keep them away is a great cat in my book!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey Shanster!
Nice to see you too, and what great news that your friend is giving you all those great perennenials! I wouldn't turn up my nose at any of those choices ... they are all excellent foundation plants for a great garden! You will love them, but just make sure you give the bleeding hearts shade and moisture ... the rest should be able to handle some dry but do pamper them while they're getting settled in!
Can't wait to see how they work out for you ...

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hey there FM,
You'll know the dragon arum when you see it ... it's the "petal pR0n" plant, remember? :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Sylvana,
Some interesting stuff going on up your way! I'm liking what you're doing...

We wish columbines would take over around here, but they are picky for us for some reason. Sometimes I think we have too good a soil for their tastes!

Thanks, I'll need it. :-)

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Hi Gail,
1) those photos of the salvia from Spring Fling were stunning! What I wouldn't give for such an expanse of purple!

2) As for the columbine ... I have some seeds for you in that long delayed package of seeds, so I'll make sure you get them eventually!

LOL, life pretty much sucks right about now, but trying to turn it around!

Iowa Victory Gardener said...

Dear Coneflower,
Thanks for nudging me, yet again ... you're a real sweetheart! I just need to get out of this slump I've been in physically and mentally the past couple of weeks, that's all!

Less rain and more sun would help! Looks like I have lots of catching up to do do over at your place! I'll be there soon... :-)

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