Tuesday, April 15, 2014

What's Blooming This Month? April 2014

April showers bring May flowers...
Everything here is just on the cusp of blooming and today's rain showers will no doubt help them along. Spring has definitely sprung and it's wonderful to see something new in bud every day.

Here's what's blooming in my Long Island, NY garden this month:

I planted this Helleborus "Cotton Candy" (Lenten Rose) last year, late in the season, along with the Chinodoxa bulbs. I am so happy to see them both blooming!

The daffodils have started to bloom. I love the small heads of these type with the orange trumpets. And no matter how much clean up I do, I still find oak leaves everywhere!

These white tulips are a few days away from bloom. Behind them, the Endless Summer Hydrangeas are starting to show signs of life.

 New this year are these cheery Primrose. A blast of color in the cool, early spring days.

More Chinodoxa, complete with rain drops! (Read more about these here)

I love spring - seeing all the new growth, hearing the birds singing and feeling the warm sun on my face. Can't wait to see it all unfold in the next few weeks.

And that's what's going on in my part of the world! Be sure to check out what else is growing around the country this month over at May Dreams Gardens "Garden Blogger Bloom Day" list.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Little Blue Spring Flowers - What Are They?

I love seeing the little blue flowers that appear in the spring. They often appear naturalized in the lawn or showing up in the garden bed among the daffodils and hyacinths. But which are they - Scilla or Chionodoxa?

The main difference is the direction the flower head faces.
Scilla siberica, or Siberian squill, have electric blue flowers that are bell-like, drooping downward. 

It's six blue petals surround stamens that have thread-like filaments and are not clustered together. Scilla can grow 3-6 inches high and each bulb produces 3-4 stems with medium, strap-like leaves. It's very tough and cold hardy that easily naturalizes by bulb offshoots and self-seeding.  

Chionodoxa is commonly called Glory-of-the-Snow because it is among the first bulbs to bloom in the spring. Each bulb produces six petaled, soft blue flowers with white centers that face upward and are surrounded by narrow, basal leaves.

If you look closely, you'll notice the stamens have very flattened white filaments arranged close together, giving the appearance of a central white cone.  The plant naturalizes easily by bulb offsets and self seeding.

Both these bulbs are planted in the fall and during the late winter/early spring months begin to bloom. They may be small, I think they are both adorable and beautiful! 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Orchids, orchids and more orchids!

Each year, the New York Botanical Garden in Bronx, NY holds an Orchid Show in it's conservatory. This year's theme was Key West Contemporary and is described on the website as a show "where the dramatic beauty of a flourishing tropical garden is amplified by vibrant architecture that recalls this particular island's charm and ambience."

I've been to the show before during the daylight hours, but this year my husband and I attended one of the "Orchid Evening" events whereby guests are treated to a complimentary cocktail while a DJ's music sets the tone for a fun event. 

I've always admired orchids for their delicate and intricate designs, and seeing all these different varieties, such as Vanda (rainbow orchids), Dendrobium (cane orchids) and Cymbidium (Asian corsage orchids) made me wonder... what makes an orchid an orchid?

Doing a search online, I came across Merkles Orchids and a very knowledgeable duo about orchids. I learned from their site that a few things set orchids apart from other flowers. Each orchid has the same "parts" - three sepals, three petals, a column and a lip. The lip (or labellum) is actually the third petal, but since it looks so different from the other two, it gets a different name. All orchids have a lip and it's function is to aid in the pollination process. Think of it as a fancy landing pad for an insect to land and do it's pollination business. The second characteristic is the column, which contains the reproductive organs ("male" anther with pollen and "female" stigma). 

Merkles's site has some great close up images of the orchids so you can really see these parts. You can read about them in more detail here. For a plant that has an estimated 30,000 different species, it's really fascinating to think that they are all connected in these same ways. 

The show is on display at New York Botanical Gardens until April 21.