Friday, February 22, 2013

What's Blooming In Seven Months?

With another 3-5" of fluffy accumulation drifting down on the gardens today, it's difficult not to think of spring and the rest of the growing season when flowers can be enjoyed.  Odd weather patterns have affected the bloom times of not only our spring bulbs but just about everything else as well.  The only month in the past 14 months that we haven't had something blooming out in the gardens is December of 2012.  We had blooms last year from late January through November.  With hellebores (Helleborus) and snowdrop (Galanthus) starting to bloom this past January, we'll see where the weather patterns take us this year.  

The shot above was taken this afternoon out in the Horticulture Center yard.  These slanted obelisks will be placed on the slope of our front entrance garden in April and will become prominent vertical elements in that orange themed garden this year.  It was a quiet day today at the Horticulture Center.  Pat and Dr. Gredler were both in for painting duties and Doc spent time putting sealer on our cedar (non-painted) obelisks.  Bill O. came in to help with snow removal efforts and Dick H. did a nice job plowing out our parking lot.  I imagine he'll be back later tonight after the snow has finished.  Tina B. stopped by with some nice photos of the moss rose (Portulaca) collection from last year and we talked about some exciting photo opportunities in the 2013 garden.  I spent the day working on myriad projects and will continue ordering plants next week and finalizing details for many of our upcoming spring events (compost sale, tree sale, spring plant sale, etc.).  

While many of our perennials and annuals wont "go the distance" through the entire summer, there are some plants that wait patiently for September and October to strut their stuff.  Toadlilies (Tricyrtis sp.) fall in to that category.  Native to China, Japan and other portions of Asia, these perennials do well in partly shaded locations with moist soils.  There are quite a few species, hybrids and interesting selections with ornamental foliage.  While some species start blooming in mid-summer, most of the selections at RBG don't start until late September and early October.  With the warm fall weather over the past couple of years, the toadlilies have bloomed well.  However, if we get an early, hard frost (under 25 degrees F or so), the flowers are "toast" if opened already and will turn black.  This seems to happen every three to five years.  However, the exquisite blooms are more than enough reason to include these selections for late season flower interest.  The most successful toadlily that we have at RBG is 'Miyazaki' (Tricyrtis hirta) seen directly above and in the two photos below.  Note in the second photo down how this plant "arcs" and cascades.  This habit or form is characteristic of this species although others are more upright in form.  Each stem has dozens of buds and the show is quite impressive despite the smaller flower size (1.5" in diameter).  The flowers are "orchid-like" in appearance and this selection will bloom for a solid three weeks or until hard frost (whichever comes first!).  We've tried dozens of selections, some having interesting foliage coloration, patterns or variegation.  Both 'Lightning Strike' and 'Golden Gleam' (both seen below) also have nice, late flowers.  Some of my other favorites are included below.  Note that identification is under each image.  Accomplish additional research on these selections for more information but it's not too early to consider what will be blooming in your late season garden.  Keep the show going and consider using some toadlilies!

Tricyrtis hirta 'Miyazaki' (two photos above)
Tricyrtis hirta (straight species)
Tricyrtis hirta 'Lightning Strike'
Tricyrtis hirta 'Golden Gleam'
Tricyrtis hybrida 'Sinonome'
Tricyrtis formosana 'Gilt Edge' (Boerner Botanic Garden)
Tricyrtis formosana 'Dark Beauty'

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