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Today’s plant is a cultivar of the Mexican Columbine (Aquilegia skinneri). It’s got a very colorful name to match its gorgeous appearance, Tequila Sunrise. Here’s a pic:
This flower stopped me in my tracks as I was looking for plants for a client’s new garden. The garden is in a lightly shady area near a gazebo and surrounded by evergreen plants. I’m installing plants to light up the area and this color was perfect to mix with the fantastic foliage colors in the palette. Some other plants in the garden are an upright Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum), Summer Gold that’s supposed to have nice golden summer foliage. It looks great now, but I’m anxious to see how the color holds. I’ve also included some Hostas; a golden one called Zounds and a blue one called Big Daddy. The plants that will really echo the color of this columbine are some Heucherellas (intergeneric hybrids of Tiarella and Heuchera) called Stoplight and Alabama Sunrise. The Heucherellas I’ve been watching at the JC Raulston Arboretum have been looking great year round. I’ve also included some green plants to show off those colorful plants. I can’t wait to watch this garden fill in.
Columbines have an interesting shape with nectar “spurs” in the back. This pic shows how elegant the spurs are:
These spurs differ quite a bit among species and correspond to specialized pollinators. Pollinators have to reach way in to get the nectar. Of course, the plant charges for the meal, pollen from the long stamens gets on the diner to be spread around to other plants and facilitate cross pollination. I wonder what the hummingbirds in this garden will think.
The genus is more diverse than I thought, check out this UCSB scientist’s research on the evolution and diversification of species. Our own native species is C. canadensis with smaller red and yellow flowers. The spurs on these are much shorter. Most columbines seed around nicely. My mother has some lovely blue ones naturalized in her garden–she does help them along by spreading the seeds around a bit. I wouldn’t expect this hybrid to come true from seed, but I won’t be disappointed if it seeds around.
I realize it’s really Saturday, but pretend with me a bit. I missed two weeks of FF because I couldn’t post (I needed a software update) and don’t want to miss another. So here we go:
This is an easy to grow terrestrial orchid. We have other terrestrial orchids like Lady Slipper Orchids for US gardens, but this one isn’t native and there is no worry about plants you buy being wild collected.
Bletilla striata or Ground Orchid is a lovely little treat for the spring garden. Look for one, plant it and soon you’ll have a colonly of the purple butterflies.
I’ve got two plants again today. Both the same genus, but very different species. One evergreen, one not; one native, one not; one small growing, one not.
Many azaleas are ubiquitous in southern gardens (too much in my opinion). But when they bloom they are dramatic and people love them. Did you know that azaleas are Rhododendrons? All azaleas and rhodies share the same genus, Rhododendron. Azaleas belong to a couple of subgenera in the rhodie genus–OK that might be more taxonomy than you’d like to know, see below for more.
So, let’s get to the pics!
This is one of the typical garden azaleas. Rhododendron x obtusum*. This is a Kurume type (there are quite a few “types” of azaleas). I’m not sure what cultivar** it is. The Kurumes are one of the earlier blooming azaleas. It has small flowers and a dense habit. They usually grows about four feet high and wide. This poor plant is continually sheared into a rectangle (something which in the right setting, might be appropriate) because it’s too big for it’s space. But it’s simply covered with blooms right now.
This beauty was found on a Cary, NC greenway. It’s a native azalea, probably Rhododendron periclymenoides but could be Rhododendron canescens. They are very similar species. These azaleas lose their leaves in the winter and the blooms come out before the leaves. The effect is of a tiered candelabra enhanced because the plants can get 10′ high or more. The plants grow in woodlands and are usually found near water. Many of these native species are wonderfully fragrant–this one had only a slight fragrance. There are several natives and cultivars of natives available to gardeners, one very similar to this one is Rhododendron canescens ‘Varnadoes Phlox Pink’.
Taxonomy and plant nomenclature lesson:
*The “x” in this name indicates the plant is a hybrid between species. A large “X” is sometimes seen at the beginning of the name which indicates the plant is a hybrid between genera. The former is quite common, the latter not so much.
**A cultivar is a “cultivated variety”. That is, a plant that has been selected in cultivation and propagated so that all the plants labelled as such are the same. The name is shown in single quotation marks after the species name (which is underlined or italicized). A natural “variety” is written after the abbreviation var. and is not in quotation marks, italicized and usually not capitalized–like Rhododendron minus var. Chapmanii. This one is capitalized because the variety is a form of a proper name (likely the patron of the person who named the plant).
I had a chance to stop by the JCRA today to look around for my Friday Flowers entry. It’s hard to decide what to include so today I’ll take advantage of that ‘s’ in flowers. In this post I’ll add a couple of runners up.
The winner today is this gorgeous Euphorbia rigida. Those flowers are truly amazing. The orange bits are the petals and the green parts are the anthers and stigmas of the flower.
The two runners up will perform all the duties of the winner if the winner… OK, I just couldn’t decide, so here goes.
This Yucca torreyi stopped me in my tracks as I was walking down the steps from the rooftop garden. Simply gorgeous. I couldn’t detect a scent, but it was a bit cold out there. I’ll check it out tomorrow at the plant sale to see if anything’s present.
The little white bells belong to a Sinojackia xylocarpa cultivar called ‘La Grima’. This tree is right next to the Visitor’s Center. It’s the first time I’ve caught it in bloom with a camera.
Epimedium x rubrum or Red Barrenwort is this week’s flowering beauty. I always look forward to these small jewels. They aren’t as showy as many other spring flowers and are easily overlooked. They hover a few inches above the soil and can be easily missed if you aren’t looking for them. The flowers come out before or just as the leaf stalks are emerging.
The leaflets are heart-shaped and tinged with red in the spring. They turn a bronzy red in the fall and are usually evergreen in my Cary, NC garden. I remove the old foliage before they bloom so I can see the flowers better. These flowers nod so I needed to hold the camera under them to get these photos. They are such a pleasure to see in early spring.
There are many Epimediums available for gardeners. Tony Avent at Plant Delights Nursery near Raleigh, NC has many species and hybrids available.
I’m going to start a little project. Every Friday I will try to post about some plant blooming in the North Carolina Piedmont. We always say that there is something in bloom every month of the year in NC. I’m going to challenge myself to find something in bloom every week.
Right now, this is really easy. There are so many plants in bloom. Every day something else opens. I’ll try to post things that you might not know about, or something in a new way you haven’t noticed. Or maybe something that will just surprise you.
Today’s post is about a plant you’ve probably seen. But have you looked closely at the flowers? Cercis canadensis, or Eastern Redbud is just starting to bloom here. They follow some of the Malus and come just before Cornus florida (flowering dogwoods).
This native tree likes understory habitats. You’ll see them growing along treelines. Their cheery pink blooms contrast beautifully against the dark grey bark. That contrast looks even better during or after a rain when the bark appears darker. The blooms cluster directly on the stems so that some branches resemble one of my daughter’s fuzzy pink pillows.
Cercis is a genus in the Pea family (Fabaceae -formerly Leguminaceae). So if you look at the flowers closely, you will see they resemble pea flowers. These little flowers are also edible and look really nice on green salads. Some trees produce better tasting flowers than others. The best ones taste like fresh green peas, some taste a bit like grass and others are nearly tasteless. I’ve never had one I thought was bad. So take the dog for a walk, look for these pink flowers and try one.
Check back next week to see what I find.