Ok, this weather is getting rather worrisome with all the rain and cool temperatures during the week and too brief warm respites on weekends ... normally I'm not one to whine (too much!) about rain, but this pattern we've settled into for the past several weeks has me a bit on edge. Long time readers will remember that just a year ago now we had a hitherto unprecedented flood in our basement (on June 12, precisely) and then several weeks of serious flooding in Des Moines, and me being the pathological worrywort I am, I hope we're not in store for any repeats of last year's events....
But on to more exciting things ... it's that time of year again to really and truly believe in Dragons! Well, Dragon Arums at least!
2009 is shaping up to be a banner year for what is arguably the weirdest flower we have at Casa IVG, our prize Dracunculus vulgaris that we have affectionately nicknamed "Mr. Stinky." Every June right about the time the Peonies are at, or just past their peak, he struts proudly to the floral foreground with a grand blast of his distinctive aroma of rotten flesh, brandishing his unmistakably phallic red hooded jet black bloom. Needless to say, he always attracts a lot of attention from innocent passersby, who probably don't know quite what to make of the demented gardeners who have such a decadent monstrosity growing in the middle of their shade garden right out there in plain sight!
Here are a few current views (as of June 7) that start out mundanely enough ... some remaining peonies (we cut most this year and brought them inside to save them from the rains), a pretty little stand of pink Camassia and a maidenhair fern... but if you look closely you can see the mysterious buds forming on that rather non-descript bushy plant near the center....
So let's go in a bit closer to investigate what's going on here ... can you see them? Those spiky, whip-tailed things with a hint of a red stripe? Yes, those are the blooms forming on the plants and this year are going to be a minimum of four blooms for the first time ever! When we we first planted this enormous bulb back in fall of 2005, we weren't even sure it would be reliably hardy to our garden, but by now I think we can confidently proclaim that it is hardy to Zone 5 bordering on 6! Since it first started blooming in 2007 it has only produced one flower per year, but the last couple of years it has been sending up offshoots from the original plant that have leafed out but haven't bloomed. Last year we counted 5 offshoots and when it emerged this spring, we were surprised to see eight! Each offshoot produces a stalk which will leaf out over the summer, but not all of them are likely to bloom for at least a year or so, but given its record so far, even more could be on the way for the next few years.
We have no idea if all four of these will bloom at the same time or on a staggered schedule, so you'll just have to follow along on our journey, but rest assured, there will be plenty of photos while they last! For all the drama and stench involved with blooming, Dragon Arum blooms are relatively short lived and go into a rather interesting period of decline on their way out! You'll see it all chronicled here over the next week or so ... we think these are less than a week from blooming at this point, so I just hope we get some sunnier days to show them off when they finally pop open their stench laden flowers for all the world to see....
Finally, just for fun, here's a newcomer to the garden this year for those curious plant IDers out there ... it's just begun blooming and I'll feature it sometime soon here, but for now, what do you erstwhile gardeners out there think this is? Some previously unseen hellebore? Maybe a Fritillaria? The flowers could resemble either of those guesses, but both would be wrong. If you grow this, you'll know immediately, but I have no idea how popular a plant this really is, but we're thrilled to have it join our garden this year, and may even plant more come fall! Weigh in with your guesses in the comments and I'll reveal its identitity soon!
Hanna sends gallons of puppy kisses to all her admirers out there who left such kind comments yesterday on her #500 post. She loves the attention and is always working on new ways to work the cute angle and will be back soon!
Mystery Flower UPDATE:
We have a spot on winner! Sylvana, The Obsessive Gardener, my compatriot from Wisconsin, was the first to correctly identify this flower as an allium, which we know as Nectaroscordum siculum (aka Allium siciculum) or 'Sicilian Honey Garlic.' It's a really pretty allium that blooms in early June, and though ours didn't quite reach its expected height of 36" this year, it's putting on a nice show, which I hope to feature more of in the next few days.... It's another of Van Bourgondien's "Best Buys from the Bulb Lady," so if you like it, it won't hurt your wallet too much to add some to your garden this fall! Just click on the link above for more information!