Snowdrop walk

On Saturday, Montrose hosted a short tour to see the snowdrops at their best. At least, it’s their best between now and, say, Christmas. I expect to see them blooming in the woods throughout the winter and into the spring.

Snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) beneath a fallen trunk of Maclura pomifera, commonly known as osage orange.

Snowdrops (Galanthus sp.) beneath a fallen trunk of Maclura pomifera, commonly known as osage orange.

Nancy started with a packet of snowdrop bulbs purchased at the local feed store. She tended them, divided them, shared them, transplanted them. At some point, the casual interest metamorphosed into a passion.

In late November, the snowdrop ridge turns from a hill of fallen leaves into a rippling white ribbon.

In late November, the snowdrop ridge turns from a hill of fallen leaves into a rippling white ribbon.

On my second or third day at work, I helped to weed the ridge pictured here. Microstegium grew in billowy clumps, camouflaging English ivy and the foliage of various species of cyclamen. Out came the Microstegium, just before it set seed, as well as the ivy. The fallen leaves remain to decompose on their own schedule.

At the time, I found no evidence of snowdrops anywhere. My colleagues promised it would be lovely in time. (And it will look even more heavenly when the Podocarpus [left-hand side] fill in behind them.)

snowdrop ribbon

I know of four Galanthus species in the garden (G. elwesii, G. nivalis, G. reginae-olgae, and G. woronowii) but I am sure there are more. Then, there are named varieties and the charming mutts begotten of self-hybridizing.

clump of snowdrops

I particularly like them grouped amongst Pulmonaria.

Snowdrops growing amidst Pulmonaria sp.

Snowdrops growing amidst Pulmonaria sp.

I’m sorry if you had to miss it (Susie and Erica…). Hope you can come next time.

Dear blog, I’ve missed you.

It’s been a lovely, busy, bewildering autumn. Between the new part-time work at Montrose and the new puppy, I’ve barely found a moment to sit down, let alone work in my own garden or record the seasonal comings and goings.

fall crocus at montrose

Autumn-blooming crocus beneath Metasequoia glyptostroboides at Montrose (Hillsborough, NC).

Unlike much of the country, I’m not beneath a foot or more of snow (yet), but it’s plenty cold outside. The houseplants came in weeks ago and the leaves continue to fall steadily. But underneath some row cover, I can still find some green in my garden:

Carrots, parsnips, tat soi, kale, and lettuces in a winter-friendly raised bed.

Carrots, parsnips, tat soi, kale, and lettuces in a winter-friendly raised bed.

Northern hemisphere friends, I hope you’re staying warm. I hope to write again soon.

Scilla latifolia

On my first day working at Montrose, I made a trip to the compost pile in the woods, where I found these charmers blooming:

Scilla latifolia, an autumn-blooming Scilla.

Scilla latifolia, an autumn-blooming Scilla.

Scilla latifolia is an autumn-blooming Scilla. Like many of Montrose’s plants, I had never seen it before. Nancy Goodwin graciously allowed me to scavenge them from the pile and take them home, where I transplanted them high on the bank of my rain garden. I’ll pot a few up to grow indoors, for insurance. Nancy grows them in a greenhouse, but they may also be elsewhere in her garden.

So far, it’s been hard to track down information on this plant. It may be native to the Canary Islands, or it may be native to Greece and Turkey. It may be renamed Prospero autumnale, although those flowers seem to be more on the rose-purple segment of the spectrum. This one produces offset bulbs and may also reseed. I have lots of questions to ask Nancy when I get to work.

These blooming now are short–six inches tall, perhaps–but Nancy’s greenhouse specimen is tall and regal. It looks exactly like this.

I’ll update you with more as I learn details myself. I love getting acquainted with new bulbs!

Playing catch-up

What a busy month October has been! With moderate temperatures and low humidity, it’s been delightful to be in the garden.

My visit to Montrose at the beginning of the month for a Garden Open Day yielded (of course) a box full of plants.

Trick or treat? Treat, definitely.

Trick or treat? Treat, definitely.

I came home with:

  • Edgworthia ‘Snow cream’
  • Saruma henryi
  • Iris unguicularis
  • Zephyranthes drummondii
  • Zephyranthes ‘Capricorn’
  • Cooperia ________ ( I’ll look this up later)
  • Cyclamen hederifolium
  • Cyclamen coum ‘Lake Effect’
  • Sternbergia lutea
  • Two seedpods of Aesculus parviflora, bottlebrush buckeye, that I found in the parking lot of the school next door.
  • A part-time job.

Well, nearly. I casually asked someone working at the Open Day if they ever needed any help, and coincidentally, they do. It’s time to get all those tender plants in the greenhouses, you see, and down into the cellar and in cold frames. So I came back a few days later to have a proper conversation/interview about working there, and I guess I looked sturdy enough to be of some use.

So I work two mornings a week there, doing what needs to be done and learning everything I can. I hope to have lots to share with you.

 

 

Bug watcher

Montrose last Saturday was a great place for insect watching.

Fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on gomphrena

Fiery skipper (Hylephila phyleus) on gomphrena

Pollinators were out in force, making the most of the glorious fall day.

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)?  on butterfly bush.

Painted lady (Vanessa cardui)? on butterfly bush.

I particularly enjoyed watching these bees, their pollen sacs full of neon-orange pollen, coming in to feast on the dahlias:

honeybee with full pollen sacs coming to a dahlia honeybee with orange pollen sacs landing on dahlia DSC_6805 multiple bees landing on dahlia