Tag Archives: Hyacinthoides hispanica

April Blooms & End-of-Month View

My, oh my, time has gotten away from me again. Although this post is a few days late, I hope you will enjoy the April blooms (10 again, yippee!) and the surprise end-of-month view! Read on…


Iris tectorum (Japanese roof iris)

Sadly, iris flowers don’t last long, even in a cool spring such as this one. This photograph was actually taken a few weeks ago, but I had to include Iris tectorum because it’s such a charmer. The flowers are always so fresh and pretty and the foliage looks good throughout the growing season.


Rhododendron canescens ‘Clyo Red’ (Piedmont Azalea) with Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells)

Here is Rhododendron canescens ‘Clyo Red’, the most red of our natives, which looks especially lovely against the periwinkle of Hyacinthoides hispanica in the front garden, mid April.


Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s Seal)

At the end of the month, April was just as exciting in the woodland garden. The Polygonatum is nearly 4-feet tall and the bumblebees are getting their fill. See that pollen pocket on its hind leg?


Asimina triloba (Paw paw)

I hope some pollinators will visit the nearby Asimina trilobla too. I planted two trees in 2012 and a third one a year later. I saw the first blooms last spring, but no fruit developed. Fingers crossed for round two!


Disporopsis pernyi (Evergreen Solomon’s Seal)

Back in the ornamental garden near the house, there’s a relatively new introduction from China, Disporopsis pernyi. The foliage is evergreen, as the common name suggests, but it looks terrible by the end of winter and thankfully it falls away as the new foliage begins to grow.


Speirantha convallarioides (False Lily-of-the-Valley)

This Speirantha convallarioides should be called “sputnik,” don’t you think? Also from China, it’s glossy foliage grows less than a foot tall, but who cares about leaves when you have flowers like this?



I wish I remembered the name of this dark-leaf Heuchera because the flowers are so pretty. Maybe you know it?


Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’

This rose was given to me by a friend when my mother passed away. Introduced by David Austin in 1985, the full, old-fashioned flowers of ‘Abraham Darby’ have a fruity fragrance and the perfect color mix of apricot swirled with yellow.


Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

And hello gorgeous! If you haven’t heard, ‘Festiva Maxima’ is the very best peony for southern gardens and its perfume is simply heavenly.

Even I’m shocked at how pretty the garden is just now. Luckily, we’ve had a cool spring (the camellias are still blooming, for goodness sakes!) with nights dipping into the 40s or 50s, plus a fair amount of rain. And while this garden is still essentially shady, I’m getting better at finding the sun spots. Plus, there was that infamous hurricane–big, bad Irma–that paid us a September visit, so there are more sun spots than ever.

That’s not the big news, however. Take a look at these “before” and “after” photos of the back garden…pretty much a wasteland since the sun porch was completed in 2016.

House 1




This amazing transformation happened within a few weeks! In fact, Joe Zawistowski of Greenhill Landscaping and his crew worked for only three days to set the rocks and build the waterfall. Most of the planting will be undertaken in fall, but even with only a few plants in place, I love it.

I’ll give you a full tour soon, but I want to drop three more quick footnotes here before I need to finish packing my suitcase for an early morning flight to Vermont for a GFWC state convention.

First, there has been a unexpected cancellation on my upcoming tour, “Gardens of East Anglia,” scheduled from May 29 to June 8, so there is space for one person. The tour includes the Beth Chatto Gardens, the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, the private (and plant-filled) garden of one of my very favorite garden bloggers, and so much more. If you want to review the itinerary, email me at marian.stclair@gmail.com. It’s such a fabulous trip, I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.

Second, I will be answering gardening questions and providing two programs, “Arranging Cut Flowers” and “The Secrets of Container Gardening,” at an event in Columbia on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. I will also be selling a large selection of gardening books from my personal collection.

The occasion will include brunch-like refreshments and beverages and a silent auction of gift totes filled with the most tempting items, plus the sale of strawberries, fruit baskets, cut flowers, hanging baskets, and other garden plants. Tickets, which are $10, can be purchased at the door at 1511 Laurel Street, the headquarters of GFWC South Carolina.

It promises to be a really fun morning! If you live in the Midlands area, come laugh with me and learn something new about gardening!

Finally, did you notice I have a new haircut? I call it the “summer chop.” When a friend saw it for the first time, she said it takes y…e…a…r…s off my age. If I’d only known, I would have chopped sooner.


Weekend Wildlife (and flowers too)

There hasn’t been much time for gardening or blogging recently, but I stole a few hours this weekend to rescue and transplant trilliums, rejuvenate a container, and simply enjoy the spring garden.

Friday provided a quick look at one of the resident red-shouldered hawks that live along the Reedy River.  I barely managed to grab my camera for a handful of photos before it saw me at the window and leapt from its perch in a black walnut tree.


Red-shouldered hawk

Though similar, this bird of prey is smaller than the red-tailed hawk and is easy to identify by its black tail with narrow white bands.


On Saturday, while moving Sweet Betsy trilliums (T. cuneatum) from a soon-to-be utilized city easement at the bottom of our property, I came across a small worm snake (Carphophis ameonus) in the leaf litter.  It was tiny, but not shy about its displeasure, which it expressed with non-stop writhing and, once, by biting my glove.


Worm snake


Notice the pink underbelly, which you can just see in the neck region.

I see these little snakes, which grow just a foot in length, in the garden quite often and they always make me smile.  I’m a bit worried I haven’t seen any black snakes yet, but perhaps it’s still a bit early.


Trillium cuneatum

Most of the trilliums were moved with as much soil around their roots as possible, but I shook these free so you could get a look at their rhizomes.  The smaller, which lost its foliage in digging, was positioned against the larger plant.


Common five-lined skink

Later, while pulling violas from a container, I unearthed a sleeping five-lined skink (Plestiodon fasciatus).  This quick-footed creature is impossible to catch when fully awake, so I was lucky to hold it for a photo.  Minutes later I saw it had already found a friend and was cavorting in the rock wall, so no harm done.

Finally, here a few favorite blooms to brighten your day.  I hope you’re enjoying a spring as beautiful as the one we are having here!


Tulips on the front stoop



Spanish bluebells


And mayapples (Podophyllum) in the woodland, just beginning to flower





A Shady Garden’s Big Moment

Several days ago, I was surprised to hear the Upstate was more than 2 inches short of rain for the year.  I’d be willing to bet, though, we’ve already moved to the plus side of the equation, as the last few days have been very wet, with lots of drippy rain interspersed with hard downpours.

Luckily, especially for fans of the Masters Golf Tournament (about 115 miles southeast), the past weekend was nearly perfect, with blue skies and moderate temperatures.  And lucky for me, my garden was nearly perfect too.

Here’s a bit of what is blooming in the ornamental garden around the house:

Azalea 'George L. Tabor'

Azalea ‘George L. Tabor’

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) with Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip' and violas.

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) with Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ and violas.

Azalea 'Girard's Fuchsia', low-growing and compact with vivid blooms.

Azalea ‘Girard’s Fuchsia’, low-growing and compact with vivid blooms.

Red stem Solomon's seal 'Jinguji' (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum)

Red stem Solomon’s seal ‘Jinguji’ (Polygonatum odoratum var. pluriflorum)

Catesby's trillium (T. catesbaei)

Catesby’s trillium (T. catesbaei)

Kurume azaleas

Kurume azaleas



And in the woodland garden between the house and the Reedy River:

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Piedmont American azalea (Rhododendron canescens)

Piedmont American azalea (Rhododendron canescens)

Florida flame American azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)

Florida flame American azalea (Rhododendron austrinum)

Spring is always busy, so I’m glad I was home for the garden’s “big moment.”  I even managed a couple of days planting and spreading mulch, and enjoyed two wildflower hikes.  All that changes tomorrow, though, as I begin a month of nearly back-to-back meetings.  I hope to say hello from Louisiana, Colorado, and Delaware, but if postings are sparse, you’ll know why.

To see what’s blooming in other gardens around the world, visit the host of Bloom Day, May Dreams Gardens.

Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day–April 2013

Spring has sprung in the Upstate! Although we had frost just two weeks ago, temperatures soared into the low 80’s three days last week before a Thursday night thunderstorm restored normal conditions. April averages include a high of 72 and low of 47 with 3.9 inches of rain. Today, April 15, is our average last frost date.

Spring’s riot can’t be captured in a few photos, but here’s a choice sample of blooms.

The view from my front window includes two spring favorites, Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and the dwarf bugleweed ‘Chocolate Chip’ (Ajuga x). This ajuga speads quickly but is not an invasive self-sower like many of it’s kin.

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip' (Ajuga x)

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ (Ajuga x)

There are close to a dozen types of evergreen azaleas in this garden. All predate me and though some put on a pretty show for a couple weeks, I plan to rejuvenate or reclaim some beds. These Kurume azaleas, with their tiny leaves and twiggy structure, are likely to be replaced with newer cultivars or other woody ornamentals.

Kurume azaleas

Kurume azaleas

Lilac ‘Betsy Ross’ is more to my liking. ‘Betsy Ross’, from a breeding program at the US Arboretum, is one of the very best lilacs for the South. Blooms, which remind me of lace curtains fluttering in the breeze, offer the sweet fragrance that make lilacs one of the garden’s most memorable plants.

Lilac 'Betsy Ross'

Lilac ‘Betsy Ross’

The nine or so bloom spikes on Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’ are beginning to pop above the 30-inch tall foliage. When mature, they will stand six-feet tall and sport white flowers shaded by purple hoods.

Acanthus 'Summer Beauty'

Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’

I hope you can provide a name for this iris, given to me by a friend last spring. I believe she called it “walking iris” but it’s not similar to anything on the internet with that common name. The lovely white crested iris (Iris cristata ‘Alba’) is also in bloom and the planting has doubled its size since last year. I adore white flowers in a shade garden, but they don’t always photograph well, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Mystery iris...do you know its name?

Mystery iris…do you know its name?

Solomon’s Seal is a great favorite and I’ve planted all three species: the large Polygonatum odoratum (including ‘Variegatum’ and the more rare ‘Red Stem’), the much smaller dwarf P. humile, and the native P. biflorum.

Variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum')

Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)

In the woodland garden, the Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina) is the current superstar. Blooms are much bigger than last year, perhaps because the invasive ivy has been removed. Sweet Betsy trilliums (T. cuneatum) are still in bloom and have been joined by Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) and Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus).

Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

Sweet Betsy Trillium (T. cuneatum)

Sweet Betsy Trillium (T. cuneatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Sweetshrub has a number of common names, including “bubbie bush.” If you think there’s a story there, you’re right. In days gone by Appalachian women often picked the fragrant flowers of the shrub and tucked them into their décolletage.

To see what’s blooming in the rest of the world visit the host of Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.