Wednesday, April 1, 2020

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!

Saturday, June 15, 2019

What’s Blooming This Month? June 2019

June blooms are everywhere. The air smells like sweet roses, the bees are happy to have a choice of flowers to enjoy and the hydrangeas are just about ready to make their grand entrance. Come along as we tour my Long Island garden this month!
The shade garden off the back patio has completely filled in, mostly thanks to the ‘Guacamole’ and ‘June’ hostas. The pink and red astilbe add a touch of color, and I’m really starting to love the Cercis ‘Whitewater’ (redbud) tree cascading down between the birds.
Just a few more days to go until these Endless Summer hydrangea shrubs are covered with big, colorful blooms.  I’m not particular with the flower color - I like both pink and blue!
The garden in the front yard has really taken off this year. A friend gave me a small Baptisia plant two yearsago and this year it’s looking full, lush and had lots of blooms in early June. Below it, the dainty, chartreuse flowers of Lady’s Mantle cascade over the edge of the garden. Tall pink Astilbe are starting to bloom behind ‘Praying Hands’ hosta and and an oakleaf hydrangea.
My other oak leaf hydrangea (‘Sikes Dwarf’) has just begun to open too. I’m loving its white panicle blooms.
And finally, the shade garden is looking vibrant this year! The bright yellow-green Japanese Forest Grass looks like a giant beanbag in the front of the garden! Astilbe, Hostas and Japanese Painted Ferns fill in the middle of the garden. 

As the temperatures continue to rise over the next month, the pale links and blues will give way to the hot reds, yellows and orange blooms. Be sure to check back to see what’s blooming next!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Rose Hips as Winter Food for Squirrels

My backyard is still under over a foot of snow with more expected this week. My bird feeder has been a busy gathering place for my feathered friends. And the squirrels are just as happy to dine on whatever mess they find on the ground from those messy birds.

But yesterday, I saw them munching on a different treat - rose hips.

During the summer, my carpet roses are a beautiful shade of pink and emit a sweet scent. Rose hips are swollen seed pods that form under the blossom, turning orange and red, and last for months after the blossom is long gone. Here's how mine looked in October.

Rose hips are a tasty treat for squirrels, birds and rabbits. Humans can eat them too, but only the fleshy outer part. The hairy inner seeds can irritate human intestines. Personally, I've never eaten one, but I've read that they taste like a tart apple crossed with a rose petal. Rose hips are rich in vitamin C and can be made into jams, jellies, syrups and tea.

Looking at these two, enjoying the rose hips, I'm so happy I didn't deadhead the roses at the end of the season. I left them because they were attractive, but also a valuable food source for wildlife during a time of year when food is scarce.