April 30, 2014

Celebrate Spring with Double Red Tulips - Oh, Miranda!

Spring bulbs are peaking over at the Spokane Temple right now.  Thousands of perennials daffodils outside the fence and tulips inside the fence - safe from deer - are in bloom.  The flower beds at the front doors are full of bold color, including peony-flowering 'Miranda' tulips, above and below.

Isn't Miranda fabulous?  Hooray for the breeder who came up with this gem.  Grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum), dwarf 'Tete-a-Tete' daffodils and deep pink 'Jan Bos' hyacinths form the underplanting.

We are expecting delightfully warm temperatures over the next few days - possibly up to 80 degrees F - which will emphatically spell the end of winter but also the quick end of any bulbs that happen to be blooming. 
Ah well, the uncertainty of gardening adds to its allure.  At least I dragged myself over to the temple grounds to grab photos before this flush of blooms finished.
There are a few more waves of tulips yet to bloom - orange lily-flowering 'Ballerina,' giant red 'Cashmir' and orange 'Temple of Beauty.'  The warmth won't be enough to do in the pansies, which will keep blooming their cute little heads off until we pull them out next month to plant annuals here.
Double orange 'Princess Irene' tulips are just coming into bloom and probably won't last long in the heat, but they'll be gorgeous for a few days.
There is a different feeling to spring in areas like Spokane where winters are so long and harsh.  When we lived in California, winter wasn't so bad so spring didn't feel so amazing.  But now we feel a great relief that we survived another long grey frigid yucky winter and we need to celebrate.
What better way to celebrate than with fluffy red tulips?  Thanks Miranda!

April 24, 2014

April Garden Views 2014

True to tradition, we've had some showers lately to get ready for a bigger burst of bloom in May.  But there are also pretties blooming right now.  In the narrow west garden the hyacinths, aubrieta and miniature irises are perky along the path.

Basket of Gold alyssum and red-gold tulips are getting ready to open and brighten the color scheme in this area, but for now it is very soft.  It took several years to figure out which bearded irises I wanted where in this little garden, and all that transplanting takes its toll, but the clumps are finally looking big enough to make a big show.  May should be lovely! 

In the front yard, 'Salmon Impression' tulips are starting to open and soft yellow 'Jaap Groot' are not far behind.  The roses no longer look like skeletons as new leaves are starting to fill out.  'White Splendor' Anemone blanda are blooming merrily beneath the rose, but they're kind of hidden by tulip foliage.  I need to spread them out after they're done blooming but before the foliage disappears and I can't remember where they're planted.  It's a narrow window and I missed it last year.

'Coral Supreme' peonies are getting ready to pop open.  These are the earliest of my peonies to bloom, especially since they're planted on the southern side of the mounded borders in the front yard.  Isn't that foliage lovely?

The landscape is more sparse in the backyard because everything is still settling in after the big landscaping project last spring.  I make a lap around the path nearly every day since things change so quickly this time of year.  This 'Berry Swirl' hellebore has been especially pretty for over a month.

Here is a shot of one of the first open flowers from last month.  Many of my other hellebores are still sulking after being transplanted last year.  And I did a very bad thing and poured liquid fertilizer over them a month ago to try to hurry them along, but it just dried out many of the buds.  Dumb gardener.

This 'Sparkling Diamond' hellebore is also looking good despite being transplanted along with a dogwood tree a few weeks ago.  Poor hellebore, poor tree, poor husband . . . but I think all three survived without too much damage.  There are so many buds in the garden that I feel a little giddy thinking about the coming weeks.  I've just got to make myself pull the heavy camera out with me so I can post plenty of photos here.

April 14, 2014

Easter Floral Arrangements

In preparation for Easter, several congregations from our church performed selections from Handel's Messiah last Sunday evening.  I was asked to make floral arrangements with an Easter flavor for the event, so I ordered bulk Asiatic lilies from Costco.com and mixed them with Queen Anne's lace and various foliage.  Above is one of the arrangements for the foyer tables.  It's not very noticeable, but I bent Arctic willow branches around the inside of the fishbowl vase and included a few branches from my contorted filbert to add a little more interest.
Here is the arrangement in place at the church with another tall vase of lilies.  The flowers set a nice tone for the event, which was beautifully performed by many singers and musicians.  Unlike Oriental lilies, which pack a pungent fragrance, Asiatic lilies have no scent.  That makes them a better choice for indoor settings where a strong scent might bother people.

For the inside of the chapel, I created two of these large pots with some of my houseplants draping across the front, a foam block with lilies set in the center, and a plastic container holding curly willow tucked into the back.  Curly willow is fabulous but has a mind of its own, so I convinced it to stay in the proper place by wiring the stem bases together and holding them upright with scotch tape across the top of their container.  Some of the stems are sending out roots into the water, so I'm planning to pot them up into large urns and cut them back to the base each spring to keep them from growing into trees.  Then I can have a ready supply of these interesting twigs.

I also put together these flowers in foam for the pulpit.  I'm not completely pleased with how they look - it seems that the shapes should connect together better somehow.  I bought a plastic foam cage from a florist shop that they often use for funeral sprays and used ribbon to hook it around the wood piece that juts out the front of the pulpit.  The next spray I make for this position will be bigger, and maybe the side arrangements should be set down a step? 

The lilies from Costco were a great deal - seventy stems of lilies with three to four blooms on each stem arrived at my doorstep on Tuesday.  They needed several days to sit in buckets while the buds opened before being displayed on Sunday.  I have decided that lilies are not my favorite flower, though, as it's difficult to avoid creasing the delicate petals when working with them.  This tall arrangement was for the food table, where it made a large impact without taking up much space.  I made a grid of scotch tape across the top of the vase, which made it a cinch to keep the lilies standing up in place.  I learned this trick from The Flower Recipe Book, by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo, and it's going to make arranging roses and many other flowers much easier.  If you're tired of stiff, static vases then this book is a great resource to learn how to use asymmetry and interesting materials to create flowing arrangements.

April 9, 2014

A Pop of Tulipa Humilis Violacea

My spring garden is looking more vibrant than ever with the addition of a new species tulip, Tulipa humilis violacea.  This short pink flower is a much earlier bloomer than any other tulips in my yard.  It even beat the 'Grand Maitre' crocus planted in this area.

The foliage grows nearly horizontal, and the buds stretch out in sinuous shapes before they finally reach up for the sun.
The color is an incredibly vivid pink above a black base.  They open under a bright sky, even if the sun isn't out.
I planted Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) and violet 'Grand Maitre' crocus in the same holes as the tulips but a little shallower.  The three cool colors work well together.
So often bulb combinations don't come out quite the way I expect.  This one turned out better than I imagined, for once.
All of these perennializing bulbs should return and multiply each year since they're in a well-drained, sunny spot.  Many tulips only bloom well for one year, and it's too much work for me to replace them each year.  I love perennial bulbs!

April 2, 2014

More Spring Temple Blooms

Yesterday I caught some more photos of the spring bulbs at the Spokane Temple.  Last fall I wrote about the planned bloom progression here, and things are going mostly as planned (though the bulb company was out of 'Romance' crocus and sent 'Cream Beauty' instead).  I expected that the different bulbs would overlap less, but the warm weather has them all bunched up together.   

Next to the front door the first of the 'Showwinner' Kaufmaniana tulips are already opening with 'Yellow Mammoth' crocus in the background and a few 'Cream Beauty' crocus peeking into the bottom of the shot.  

In another area just inside the front gates, crocuses that were planted in fall 2012 have already expanded into small clumps.  Last year the individual blooms looked puny, but we crossed our fingers that they would multiply quickly and they have.  These bulbs are planted among daylilies, so the emerging daylily foliage camouflages the bulb leaves when they start to die back.  That means no extra maintenance, since the bulb foliage just comes out with the daylily leaves in the fall.
We're going to add more small bulbs to this area in the fall.  I'm looking forward to a brilliant spring meadow of blooms in a few years.  Hopefully we don't have a family of voles move in, as has happened in the past.

Here are a couple more shots of the front door beds.  Pale blue Chionodoxa and deep royal blue Iris reticulata 'Harmony' mingle with the red tulips and yellow crocuses shown in the first photos.  Very cheerful.  'Harmony' is a beautiful true blue, though I couldn't figure out how to get my camera to represent it correctly.  These miniature iris are a great addition to the early spring repertoire of bulbs.