Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Ides of GBBD

(Or not quite, really, but it's when I took the pictures. Some of these may be gone by May 15th.)

Among the currently blooming - spectacular bleeding hearts:

White bleeding heart with yellow epimedium:

More bleeding hearts in the background of Virginia bluebells:

Pale blue 'Valerie Finnis' muscari:

Lilacs in bloom!

And the wonderful clove-scented 'Mohawk' viburnum:

My favorite daffodil, 'Yellow Cheerfulness':

And another daffodil; I think this is 'Bridal Crown.'

It's still cool enough to keep the daffodils and other heat-haters blooming for a while longer. A fantastic weekend.

Het tulpenboek

No, I am not Judith Leyster all of a sudden, but I thought Dutch was the appropriate language for the announcement: my second book is out! You can read all about Time and Fevers on my website.

Here is the cover:

The image is an anonymous (similar to Leyster's, but not credited to her) watercolor of the ultra-valuable "broken" (i.e., infected with a virus) tulip Semper Augustus, which is the MacGuffin of my tale, the object that my pair of time travelers is after, at great cost to their already shaky personal equilibrium.

I feel more on-topic discussing this one on the gardening blog, because tulips and gardens figure in it in an important way. (The first book in the series centered around tea, but the smuggling and drinking of it more than the growing.) I had a great time exploring 17th-century Amsterdam and environs in my head and on the page, along with burbling about the philosophical aspects of walled gardens and Arcadia and Paradise, and the craziness of market forces; I hope the result is as enjoyable to readers.

I went out a bit earlier to photograph flowers and such (another post coming later, sort of the ides of GBBD) and did manage to capture a few tulips, but wow, I used to have a lot more of them. I've kind of given up, because of deer-munching, but I suspect there are a few places I could still slip some in (inside the garden fence, if nowhere else). The above one is a lone Orange Emperor being all dramatic in the shade under the dogwood and next to the cherry laurel. And have some cute little clusianas while we're at it:

I was going to take a photo of the glaringly orange 'Surprise!' tulips, a couple of which still managed to flower this year (well over a decade after planting, in eight inches of clay by the mailbox) as part of their usual catfight with the (now fading) purple-pink magnolia, but though they were there yesterday, they were gone today, and the way the stem was snapped off implied that deer rather than passing pedestrians had found them irresistible. Oh well, I hate them anyway.

A lot of people around here just shrug and say "Tulips are annuals" but I have found some to be reliably perennial (and, all joking aside, not just because they are planted where they will clash violently with other flowers). The Triumph line is pretty long-lived, and most of the little species tulips last for years. Where they don't get eaten.

If I try tulips again, I will probably go with cheaper ones I can afford to lose to ruminants, rather than the beautifully tempting offerings of Old House Gardens. But they are so beautiful and historic - and they have true broken tulips. (The 'Rembrandt' mixtures found in more common garden catalogs are not virus-infected, just stripy. But they're pretty and I have planted them before.) I'm sure they wouldn't mind if I steer you their way with a lovely image borrowed from their online catalog:

Silver Standard, c. 1760
That one costs $17.50 each, but if you're into rarities, this is the place to go.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring blooms before winter chills

Well, we're having an interesting weather day, this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in April. I am sitting here typing this wearing shorts, and I expect to have a sweater on by evening. It's in the 60s now in central Maryland, after several lovely days when it hit 80; might reach 70 today in the middle of pouring rain, and then this evening the temperatures will drop into the low 30s or even high 20s, and if the precipitation hasn't moved off by then it may snow.

So (from photos taken over the last several days) this is what it might snow upon.

Daffodils, of course: the top is my mutant daffs that evolved from a very old planting of yellow trumpet types, the middle is one of the new bird-named ones that I would have to look up, the bottom is the delightful Thalia.

Muscari - and the white and mixed color ones are coming out too, though I didn't photograph those.

Hellebores, finally.

And just to say that spring is going to happen all at once this year (when it's not regressing to winter), budding bleeding hearts and Virginia bluebells.

I even have a few tulips blooming.

This is my blurry attempt to capture the anatomy of red buckeye, Aesculus pavia, which is just starting to bud. All those leaflets, and then something like sepals down below, and the pink bud above. If the cold snap doesn't ruin them, the flowers will be out next week.

Another flower the cold may nip: the gorgeous floating-in-air blooms of the Little Girl Magnolia that is either Anne or Jane.

However, the timing worked out just perfectly for all the cherry blossoms, including those in East Potomac Park in DC, which we popped down to see on Sunday (and walked what my FitBit tells me was 9 miles, OMG).

Also have windflower anemones, forsythia, loads more daffodils, and redbud just about to burst out. The warm spell spelled the end of the crocuses and miniature iris, but I really can't complain about the display.