Tag Archives: Polygonatum biflorum

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.


Oh, deer!

Can you spy the deer in this photo?


Not so easy? Then how about this one?


And again? Yes, now there are two!


Tim and I have seen these two young whitetail deer intermittently on the woodland terraces near the river since early summer, when they first appeared with their mother, who had a single fawn in 2015. Born in late May, give or take a few weeks, they probably weigh about 70 or so pounds and have been recently abandoned by their mother for another cycle of reproduction.  Tim says they are little bucks.  I have to admit, they look so lost and timid just now, I can’t help but feel sorry for them.

But deer, as we all know, can do a lot of damage in a garden. Currently, they are grazing on acorns, but in spring they eat my beloved wild Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) down to a nub.

Even worse, the overpopulation of whitetail deer throughout the Eastern Seaboard is accountable for significant crop losses, forest damage, car collisions (more than 2,000 annually in South Carolina alone), and spread of Lyme disease. Just 2 deer, without predation, can produce a herd of 35 in just 7 years.  It’s a huge problem.

Even so, who could blame these little ones for simply doing the best they can? They might be trouble makers, but I get excited every time I see them.

Easter Ramble

On Sunday afternoon, Tim and I, with our friend Jenny, took advantage of the good weather and headed to the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway (SC Hwy 11) for a hike at the Eastatoe (ee-sta-TOH-ee) Creek Heritage Preserve. Located in the heart of the Jocasee Gorges property, the 373-acre preserve is a secret garden of spring wildflowers, including many common species and some that are quite rare. Most of the hike is along an old logging road so the going is relatively easy. And since it was Easter, we almost had the mountain to ourselves. Here’s the best of what we found in our 5+ miles of exploration.

Trail view of Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve

Trail view of Eastatoe Creek Heritage Preserve

Dwarf iris (I. verna)

Dwarf iris (I. verna)

Pale yellow trillium (T. discolor)

Pale yellow trillium (T. discolor)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

Solomon's seal (Polygonatum biflorum), the largest I've ever seen!

Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum), the largest I’ve ever seen!

Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Foam flower (Tiarella cordifolia)

Vasey's trillium (T. vaseyi), the most exciting find of the day!

Vasey’s trillium (T. vaseyi), the most exciting find of the day!

Squawroot (Conopholis americana)

Squawroot (Conopholis americana)

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)

Maidenhair fern (Adiantum pedatum)

One of many limestone outcrops along the trail.

One of many limestone outcrops along the trail.

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.