The Short Lived Among Us


There are some flowering plants, trees and shrubs that offer only a brief shining moment of bloom, but the breathtaking beauty of their bravado makes their planting worthwhile. In our zone 7a garden tulips will grow and flower, we have the required chill time for the bulb, but just about the time of tulip bloom, our weather can get scorchingly hot, spoiling the flowers, and then get chilly again a couple of more times. Each year is different and the hope is always high that this will be the year of a longer show. One of the earlier tulips, and one that has been in the ground for ten years with reblooming is Tulipa ‘Silverstream’.


Bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis, flowers last only a day here, sometimes they are missed entirely. As the woodland wildflower area becomes more shady with the ever growing young maples and dogwoods to replace the gone but not forgotten red maple, click to find out more about this tree here-Ferngully, the spring ephemerals are gaining momentum. The above was a passalong from Christopher of Outside Clyde. Also showing are reinforcements from Mr. McGregor’s Daughter. Another patch that came from offspring of offspring Chickenpoet, MA and GA, bloomed during our recent absence. Coming from North Carolina, Illinois and Upper East Tennessee respectively, the plants bloom in order of warmest to coldest areas from whence they came, even though they now live close together, the plants that is. Interesting.


Located in the same corner of woodland wildness are several varieties of Epimediums. Above is E. ‘Rubrum’.


The most vigorous and numerous is E. sulphereum. The flowers are larger and it has been spread throughout the area, mostly because there is simply more of it.


I have never noticed that these flowers are different from the larger yellow and do not remember buying it. Does anyone recognize this little beauty? Other Epimediums growing here are E. ‘Lilafee’, not yet blooming, with a light lavender flower on a petite plant and a couple that were purchased from the old Hinkley owned Heronswood. The tags were dislodged from the plants and they were thought to be lost when the towering shade of Ferngully bit the dust. A large leaved one has arisen from the dead but has never bloomed. Maybe there is hope for the other one, if only we can find the tags or perhaps the invoice with the names listed if and when there are blooms to identify.


Moving onward to the early blooming trees, the dark leaf peach that was a rooted cutting passed along from dear neighbor Mickey is now blossoming. This tree received a harsh pruning to limb it up to provide more light and air below for promising plants in the black garden where it resides. There are only a few branches left, a leader and some upper side shoots, all have blooms along them.


The beloved Magnolia ‘Jane’,which shares the name of our beloved mother in law, a finer woman never graced the earth and she is sorely missed, is in full bloom.


Jane the tree is always difficult to capture on pixels properly. Early morning, late afternoon, any type of lighting never seems to show what the eye sees, with either camera. She shines like a beacon in the spring garden, you will just have to take my word for it.


Two years in the garden and blooming for the first time is another small tree, Corylopsis spicata. Located under the tall pine trees at the property’s edge, there has been slow but steady growth since it was planted. Joining the Edgeworthias, Forest Pansy Redbud, various pink and white dogwoods, hollies, viburnums and azaleas, among others, we are imagining a vision of a shade loving, low maintenance privacy screen of shrubbery.


Included in that vision is the new last fall Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’. Though a small one gallon specimen, the size we prefer for all our tree and shrub plantings for ease of planting, price and faster settling in, there are rewarding flowers joining the gold foliage. Gold and yellow seems to show up best in the darkness of the tall pines. It might be noted that Ogon is fending off the intrusion of the dreaded thug Vinca major that has overtaken this bed. The plantings of perennials have been usurped by this vining ground cover, a passalong from Mae and Mickey. There is no hope of eradication, but the planting of larger trees and shrubs that can coexist is working so far.


Veronica umbrosa ‘Georgia Blue’ is anything but thuggish. The delicate flowers last for a short time in early spring, depending on the air temps, the cooler the better. Planted as a backdrop for the Little tulips, Little Beauty and Little Princess, it rarely is still open when the tulips are showing color. Maybe this will be the year, for Beauty’s buds are near opening size.


These fall planted violas were meant to be the closing shot, with a blurb about how the above normal temps, by twenty degrees! was frying their pretty petals. But something else was noticed as this post was being composed…


…a daylily. That’s right, Hemerocallis dumortieri, a gift from The Financier for Mother’s Day last year, May 10, is open. We are not sure of the naming, the label called it H. lilioasphodelus, but there were red markings on the bud and outside of the petals that led us to dumortieri. Perhaps it is neither, as explained by this good site on the subject. The reddish hue seen last year is missing. It seems we will have to get down and give it a smell, also note the length of bloom time to help with the ID. It was spied as a blotch of yellow on the ground and was assumed to be a fallen daffodil flower. Closer inspection showed it to be a crazy mixed up daylily with no stem at all, blooming right at ground level, with follow up buds in evidence. It is not known what this portends for the rest of 2010, but seems to forecast a bumpy, be prepared for anything type of ride.

NOTE:
There are several other short time bloomers that are featured in a simulcast posting, click to view it here-Before They Are Gone, they were way too numerous to squeeze into just one story.

Frances

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30 Responses to The Short Lived Among Us

  1. Sylvia (England) says:

    Frances, it does seem to be warming up fast for you. It is lovely here as well but not so hot 10-15C (50-59F), thank goodness, I don’t like the heat! Our flowers should last a bit longer but I do love the plants that are with us briefly – so much to look forward to.

    Best wishes Sylvia (England)

    Thanks Sylvia. Your temps seem much more reasonable, but we have had a cold front sweep through, giving us needed rain and back to normal temps. As long as a freeze doesn’t knock out the leafed out trees and shrubs, we should be fine.
    Frances

  2. Frances, I so need an English spring. When I lived there, I found the spring bulbs lasted for weeks. Here, our weather is very like yous up and down. My snowdrops finished in a few days, and now it is cold again!
    I see a few plants to add to my wish list, you manage to increase it everytime I visit, lol.

    Thanks Deborah. The English spring sounds luscious, I do hope it is still going strong when we visit next month. It is cold again here too, what the flowers do in these conditions remains to be seen. It’s always a surprise each spring. I know how it is with those wish lists, too! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Joy says:

    Hello there Frances girl ! I ordered Lilafee from a company to plant this year .. my first epimedium and I am excited about it .. I also have Veronica umbrosa β€˜Georgia Blue’ too ! and I love it .. I am missing Bloodroot though the “double” version is so gorgeous .. maybe some day ?
    Pictures are picture perfect girl !
    Joy

    You will love Lilafee, Joy, it is very elegant, but you have to get waaaay down to see its understated colors. lol You might get hooked on the Epimediums, they really seem to survive anything that natures throws at them. Thanks for the sweet words. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This has been an unusual spring so far Frances. I have noticed the same thing happening in our garden. No daylilies yet though. What a surprise that must have been.

    It was alarming to be honest, Lisa, about the daylily. When things bloom right at the ground like that, it is not good. That bed was heavily mulched this winter, more so than usual. I wonder if that had any play in the early bloom?
    Frances

  5. Les says:

    I love the Epimedium ‘Rubrum’. I have the same yellow one as you, but did not pay attention and it bloomed while I had my back turned. I have wanted Spiraea ‘Ogon’ for years now, but had nowhere to put it, so I’ve decided to pull out an Vanhouttie after it blooms and replace it with ‘Ogon’. Have a great weekend.

    Thanks Les, and the same to you. I didn’t think Rubrum was as good a garden plant as sulphureum until this year. It took a lot longer to get established, possibly not as drought and sun tolerant. With lots of winter rains and adequate rain last summer, many things are looking better than ever before. We are hoping for a better year with the hostas, they had all but been given up on. I think Ogon is far superior to Vanhouttie. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  6. lotusleaf says:

    Hi Frances! All the flowers are beautiful altough short lived.I know what you mean , the camera can never capture the beauty of the plants.

    Thanks, Lotusleaf. No matter how pretty the shot, it never equals the beauty the eye sees. Ah, spring. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  7. Robin says:

    Your spring blooms are lovely. I’m glad you didn’t miss seeing them while you were away.

    We had record breaking temps for three days reaching into the 80’s. Iwas amazing to see how quickly the spring flowers and trees burst into bloom.

    Hi Robin, thanks. I am sure you enjoyed those 80 degree days, even though it seemed odd. For us, wearing capris and flip flops while the daffs were blooming really was strange! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  8. cpollen1 says:

    The pasque flowers are almost like that…you blink and you might miss them up here in the mountains.
    I love your violas, nice color combo.

    Ooh, I love pasque flowers, so far not able to locate any or get the seeds to germinate. Maybe they aren’t right for this climate, and the over in a blink is a minus. We have enough of those already. What we need are loooong lasting flowers! Those violas are dreamy, they seem to be getting lighter as the temps rise.
    Frances

  9. commonweeder says:

    It seems the weather gets more and more unpredictable. Even here in Heath we had temperatures reach 80 degrees! and today it is 40. The showers are welcome and I remind myself to live in the moment and enjoy the most ephemeral flowers while I can.

    Hi Pat, even 80s where you are? What a heat wave! The poor plants, even if the humans might enjoy a taste of summer. Each year is different, isn’t it?
    Frances

  10. Rosie says:

    Frances you’re my first blog stop after coming home from work and its so wonderful to see the garden with such life and colour. I am very partial to your epimediums – I only grow pagoda and compared to yours mine is so boring – the colouration in your petals is wonderful. Your little violas have remarkable colours to their petals also. You have so many beauties and I’m looking forward to seeing what other gems you have soon.

    Oh what a sweet thing to say, Rosie, thank you so much! The Epidmediums are having their best year ever, the first time they were ever mulched, with the debris from the old tree trunk Ferngully. So many more flowers too, maybe it was all the rain over the winter. We have an Erythronium named Pagoda, is that what you have, perhaps? It is yellow and much larger than the Epimediums, even though my macro shots might make them look bigger than the one half inch or so size that they actually are. There are more little ephemerals to come, hope you like them too. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  11. Thanks for the link! This spring really is going zip, zip. Your Epimedium are beautiful, sorry I can’t help with the ID. I share your problem of lost tag syndrome. The Magnolia is a fantastic focal point.

    Hi MMD, thanks. If I look very hard, maybe the name was written down somewhere, but I remember that there was a mix up when they were purchased from Mouse Creek, her tags were all faded and could not be read. We had some coolness, hope it will slow things down, I can’t keep track of them all! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  12. What a great garden story. I especially loved the last entry; Dandelions are definitely a delight for me and I absolutely hate to see such a hardy, useful, and pretty flower depicted as an evil weed in the Round Up commercials. RoundUP is the REAL evil here!
    Anyway, I don’t grow flowers so I have to enjoy them in other people’s blogs.
    Great job!

    Hi David, thanks and welcome. I know exactly what you mean about the Round Up commercials. Years ago I didn’t even give it a thought, and year by year, their attitude makes me angrier. As though we must kill every single plant not growing where we want it to. The other commercial that makes me crazy is the garbage bags with the mom throwing away the meatleaf by slinging it off the plates. Why is she throwing away food? It could be composted, or better yet, eaten! Change the recipe, woman! Whew, glad to get that off my chest. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. Meredith says:

    Frances, that felt like a refreshing morning walk through your lovely spring garden (altho with some plants confused about the date because of the weather’s roller coaster, unsurprisingly). I enjoyed your blooming tribute to your mother in law, even if the tree is impossible to photograph (I know exactly what you mean).

    The ephemerals are so lovely, but it was especially nice for me to see a well-behaved vinca, with much prettier blooms than the usual one and named for my home state, apparently. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Meredith, glad to have you along for the stroll. Don’t be fooled by that vinca shot, I have worked ceaselessly to keep it away from the small shrub until it grows large enough to fend for itself. This vinca climbs like a vine, I have to cut it out of large Chamaecyparis and it will envelop azaleas. Bad vinca, but the blue flowers are pretty.
    Frances

  14. Catherine says:

    I just loved seeing all of these flowers! I planted two Epimediums last fall, the same as the first two you show. I’m impressed with your pictures, they are very hard to photograph. Glad your Corylopsis bloomed for you this year, they are so pretty. Mine has just begun to leaf out now that the flowers have finished.

    Thanks Catherine. I have to get way down, and take many photos to get decent shots, these are not as good as last year’s for some reason. I even tried all different times of day, too. Funny thing, there are so many more flowers on all the types this year. They like moisture it seems. The Corylopsis was adorable, I look forward to it maturing, as your beauty. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. paddysdaughter says:

    Gorgeous photos of Spring flowers in your last two posts. A happy reminder of what I can look forward to as we head deeper into damp and cooler autumn…..I’m off to plant a few hundred daffodils and tulips this morning.

    Hi Susan, thanks. It is a perfect time to see the spring bulbs in bloom, when they are to be planted! We have to make notes and try to remember what it was we loved, several months later. Have fun with the planting! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. Rose says:

    Frances, I’m glad you were able to capture all these beauties on film…er, pixels before they faded. It does seem as if this spring is moving very quickly. I have tulips blooming that normally don’t open till the end of the month, and the first of the daffodils have already faded. It makes one want to spend every moment outside just to make sure you don’t miss anything. Those Veronica are gorgeous, but I’m a sucker for anything blue.

    You are so right, Rose. I hate to be in the house, even for a minute, there is so much going on. Much to quickly, things are done, but there is always that next thing just beginning. Usually we have a little more breathing room between them, this year we are running from flower to flower. Now we know how the bees feel! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. Sweet Bay says:

    Spring has really taken off like a racehorse out of the starting gate this year. You have a lot of spring beauties! Hemerocallis dumortieri has just started blooming here too.

    Thanks Sweet Bay. It’s crazy isn’t it? I hope everything settles back down to nearer normal, the poor plants. Do you think this is dumortieri? There is no red on the outside, like there was last year, but this is a mutant bloom anyway, with no stem at all, blooming right from the roots. Very odd.
    Frances

  18. Town Mouse says:

    Thanks! That was beautiful, thanks for catching it all. I find I have the additional problem that some plants are too tender to take the heat if it warms up too quickly. I’ve learned the hard way to shield the feather maple with a sheet in early spring or I’ll have crispy feathers for the rest of the year.

    Hi Town Mouse, thanks. Things were certainly crisped here, and I wasn’t here to do anything about it. Even if I was here, there is just too much to cover. The maples are precious, I agree, and worth protecting. Our problem is more often from late frost with them, after they have leafed out. The trees are supposed to know it is too early to do that, right? But ’07 taught us that is not always the case.
    Frances

  19. Your garden and blooms are lovely! It is so true some blooms are fleeting. A good reminder to make sure not to miss a day in the garden. My tulips are now all in full bloom and I must make sure to remember to capture them on my camera before they are gone too.

    Hi Helen, thanks and welcome. Somehow, taking a photo of the tulips and other things makes it seem okay when the fade so quickly. It helps us remember and extends the joy of gazing at them. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. kimberly says:

    Hello, Frances! You have so many blooms that are really magnificent! I think I like the epimediums the best, as well as the pretty violas. What a surprise the daylily is for you! It looks very healthy and happy to make it’s first appearance.
    The short bloomers are similar to the bird migrations…look forward to the season and make sure to schedule time to appreciate them before they’re gone.
    Lovely post!

    Thanks Kimberly. What a good analogy to the bird migrations. Easy to miss but worth making time to appreciate! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. Benjamin says:

    Too hot, too early. Mosquitos are out already! Very worried about a hot summer. Last spring was long nd early too, but pleasant. This spring is a blast furnace.

    Hi Benjamin, it was warm and cooled a bit and is now warming up again. Drat to the bugs, not ready for them! It is the drought that worries me, we are already four inches behind with no rain in sight for many days. The rain barrel will be put to good use this year.
    Frances

  22. Sheila says:

    It drives me crazy when people ask me how long something in my garden blooms. The people that pick out their plants based on how long they will have flowers are missing out on so much magic in the garden! Loved your post!

    Hi Sheila, thanks. You are so right about that. Someone just asked me yesterday how long the tulips bloom. That can vary with the weather, but I told them, they are worth it even for just one day of that beauty.
    Frances

  23. Lola says:

    Such an array of beauty. I only wish mine looked half as good.
    These strange temps sure has made a nuisance of itself. Things that should have been full earlier are just now showing. Confusing but none the less enjoyed.

    Thanks Lola. Confusing is the word for this spring, but it is full steam ahead right now and we must slow ourselves down to breath it all in. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. I love bloodroot. It’s so sweet. Can you believe the magnolias are blooming here already? It is WAY early; normally they bloom in mid May!

    Thanks Monica. The bloodroot is always the most short lived among those early ephemerals, we get too hot too soon every year for them to last. The magnolias are in bloom all over here as well, even the later ones are early. Hang on for that bumpy ride! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  25. Siria says:

    Hi Frances! Your garden has really come alive! Your flowers are all beautiful, shortlived or not! In a previous post, it looks like you had a fabulous trip to see the big mouse! Leave it to you to find Blodgett’s. I lived in Orlando for 10 years and most visitors to the Disney resorts never make it in to see how lovely Orlando and Winter Park are. I wanted to tell you that the yellow tabebuia is a gorgeous tree. My parents have the most gorgeous one in their back yard ~ I wish I had one as lovely! The pink tabebuia are also beautiful and are blooming now all over ~ did you see any when you were in Orlando? Enjoy your gorgeous garden!

    Hi Siria, thanks so much. Oooh, a pink tabebuia? If I saw one, I did not take notice of it, sad to say, that would be spectacular. The yellows were on every corner in the part of Orlando, near Disney, where we stayed. I loved driving around the older areas, Winter Garden and the Leu, taking the surface streets to get there rather than the interstate or turnpike. I followed Edgewater down to Hwy 50 from Blodgett’s and came upon the most beautiful neighborhood around a small lake with gorgeous houses of all styles, mature trees giving much cooling shade. It was so different than the rest and a happy discovery.
    Frances

    • Siria says:

      Frances,
      I think the neighborhood you are talking about is College Park. Orlando is dotted with numerous lakes and some charming older neighborhoods. Glad you made it to see some of the old charm of the place and not just where the tourists go. The pink tabebuia has a pale pink bloom. Lovely!
      Siria

      I agree, Siria. Most visitors to Orlando probably never leave the major destinations, and they are really missing a lot! πŸ™‚
      Frances

  26. Wow – your pictures are truly fantastic. You captured the radiant burst of spring! I can’t wait to keep reading and LOOKING.

    Thanks Concrete Jungle and welcome. Glad you liked what you saw. Do return for more! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  27. Deirdre says:

    Our winters in Seattle are very similar to yours, but our springs are very different. Yours are so fleeting. Summer doesn’t really hit here until the 4th of July. Our spring flowers last longer without the heat. I love that, but still, I wouldn’t want spring to hang on indefinitely. I’m always anxious to see what’s NEXT!

    Your spring sounds delightful, Deirdre, quite different from our horse race. Things always happen so fast in April, it makes ones head spin. But we do get to see a quick succession of blooms, and that is fun. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Oh, Frances! Your GBBD flowers are just scrumptious. I could easily get lost in your spring garden with all those treasures.

    Hi Linda, thanks so much. I love being in the garden at all times of the year, but right now, it is painful to go back into the house. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. sequoiagardens says:

    What a lovely post!

    Thanks Jack. πŸ™‚
    Frances

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