Archive for winter aconite

A Wonder of Nature

Posted in bulbs for shade, garden to visit, Shade Perennials, winter, winter interest with tags , , , on February 21, 2012 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

Winter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

One of the first plants to bloom in my garden is winter aconite.  It usually starts blooming in February and continues into March.  I treasure its cheery yellow flowers with their shiny green collars because they brighten what can otherwise be a cold and dreary time of year.


When my original winter aconite plants got this big, I was thrilled.

Winter aconite is in the buttercup family and is native to Europe.  It is about four inches tall and prefers woodland soil in deciduous shade.  It wants to be cool in the summer but not too dry, and it will not tolerate wet soil.  It grows in zones 3 to 7.  Winter aconite is a bulb (technically a tuberous rhizome) and goes dormant when the weather gets hotter.  Some sources state that it is poisonous to humans, but there have been no reported incidents.  It is deer resistant and black walnut tolerant.


When the patch started to fill in like this one I was ecstatic.

You can order winter aconite as a dried bulb.  It is recommended that the bulbs be soaked overnight to increase success.  Despite soaking, I never got more than one or two bulbs to grow into plants.  I tried several times.  Then a friend of mine gave me some growing plants (thanks Julie!), and my little patch of winter aconite began in earnest.


After several years, my patch looked like this.

Winter aconite naturalizes well once you get the initial plants going.  The best way to spread it is to collect the seeds and sprinkle them where you want them.  If you don’t collect the seeds, they tend to germinate around the base of the mother plant.  My winter aconite has been so successful that, after ten years,  I was able to sell growing plants in my snowdrop catalogue (although next year I need to give the patch a “rest”). 


Winter aconite covers this much ground in my woodland.

Now we get to the “wonder of nature” part.  Right down the street from my plant nursery is a public park owned by Radnor Township (Pennsylvania, US) called Ithan Valley Park.  The property was originally an old Main Line estate.  During the early 1900s, it was owned by the botanist John Evans, and he maintained an arboretum of exotic plants there.  Evidently his collection was amazing, but today few of the original plants remain.


Winter aconite in Ithan Valley Park

At some point John Evans planted winter aconite on his property.  The conditions there proved to be ideal with the cool, moist woodland soil and deciduous shade that winter aconite loves.  Today Ithan Valley Park is covered with sheets of winter aconite every February and March.  There is so much yellow that I think it must be visible from outer space.  It truly is a wonder of nature that I want to share with you.


The winter aconite in the park grows thickly.




Trail entrance, Ithan Valley Park


The stone wall of the old estate is in the background.


To truly appreciate the spectacle, you need to visit in person (I apologize to my non-local readers).  Ithan Valley Park is located at 642 South Ithan Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA  19010, at the intersection of South Ithan and South Roberts Roads.  Time is of the essence because the winter aconite will only be blooming for a few more days.

I am linking this post to the Winter Walk-off 2012, which is a challenge by Les at A Tidewater Garden to share what can be seen within walking (or biking) distance of your home.  Every photo in this post was taken at Ithan Valley Park, 8/10 of a mile from my house.

Carolyn

Facebook:  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens now has a Facebook page where I can post single photos, garden tips, and other information that don’t fit into a blog post.  You can look at my Facebook page here or click the Like button on my right sidebar here.

Calendar:  If you would like to look at my photos all year round, please consider buying my 2012 calendar, available worldwide.  For details, click here.

Nursery Happenings: The 2012 Hellebore Seminars are now available for registration.  The March 19 seminar is sold out, but there are still two spaces on March 16.  To view the brochure, click here.  To view the 2012 Snowdrop Catalogue, click here.  I am currently accepting orders—snowdrops are available mail order.

If you are within visiting distance and would like to receive catalogues and information about customer events, please send your full name and phone number to carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net.  Subscribing to my blog does not sign you up to receive this information.

Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.) or to subscribe to my blog, just click here.

March GBBD: The Philadelphia International Flower Show

Posted in Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, hellebores, snowdrops, winter, winter interest with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 14, 2011 by Carolyn @ Carolyns Shade Gardens

Carolyn’s Shade Gardens is a retail nursery located in Bryn Mawr, PA, specializing in showy, colorful, and unusual plants for shade.  The only plants that we ship are snowdrops and miniature hostas.  For catalogues and announcements of events, please send your full name, location, and phone number (for back up use only) to carolyn@carolynsshadegardens.com.  Click here to get to the home page of our website for catalogues and information about our nursery and to subscribe to our blog.

It is time to walk around your garden again and assess what you need to add to make the beginning of spring an exciting time in your landscape.  Do you need more early-blooming hellebores, to give you a reason to go outside?  Could your garden benefit from flowers that bloom in early March like hardy cyclamen, snow crocus, or snowdrops to relieve the gray?

Make a list and take photographs so that when you are shopping this spring you know what you need and where it should go.  I know it’s still pretty cold outside, but you never know what you might find to end the winter doldrums like the beautiful double-flowered hellebore (pictured above), which I discovered during my own  inventory.  More photos of my blooming plants are included at the end.

As you entered the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show, you walked under a very large replica of the lower half of the Eiffel Tower

If you need ideas, there is no better place to go in the mid-Atlantic this time of year than the 2011 Philadelphia International Flower Show.  It is the largest indoor flower show in the world.  This year’s theme was “Springtime in Paris”, and the designers went all out.  I sent photos of some of the weirder stuff to Cheri at Along Life’s Highway The Yard Art Game, and you can see them by clicking here.  But I found the following displays and entries inspirational for my own garden:

There is nothing more beautiful than an individual well grown plant

A new idea for my sedum displays, which are fantastic in containers

Inspiration to upgrade my troughs

I need an elegant metal gate for my walled compost area

Simple can be very beautiful

Today is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day for March when gardeners around the world show photos of what’s blooming in their gardens (follow the link to see  photographs from other garden bloggers assembled by Carol at May Dreams Gardens).  Here are  some more highlights from my mid-March stroll through Carolyn’s Shade Gardens:

Eranthis hyemalisWinter aconite, Eranthis hyemalis

Scilla mischtschenkoanaVery early-blooming Tubergen squill, Scilla mischtschenkoana

My original snow crocus, Crocus tommasinianus, which is rodent resistant, has multiplied into thousands of plants

Winter jasmine, Jasminum nudiflorum, has no scent but makes up for it by blooming so early

Winter-blooming hardy cyclamen, Cyclamen coum ‘Rose’

I want to include hundreds of hellebore photos but am limiting myself to some really special plants:

The rare species Helleborus purpurascens

The flower of Helleborus purpurascens

Another even rarer species Helleborus viridis: inspired by Laura at PatioPatch, I am dedicating this flower to the people of Japan because green is the color for hope

A cross between Corsican hellebore and Christmas rose, Helleborus x nigercors ‘Honeyhill Joy’

A very beautiful anemone-centered hybrid hellebore where the nectaries have become petal-like (petaloid)

Another petaloid hybrid hellebore

‘Blue Lady’ hybrid hellebore

Hybrid hellebore with picotee markings (darker edges, veins, and nectaries)

A very good yellow hybrid hellebore with maroon nectaries

Some of the thousands of common snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis, which have multiplied on my property since the 1800s:

Common snowdrop with Italian arum, Arum italicum ‘Pictum’

Common snowdrop with Heuchera ‘Creme Brulee’ displaying its winter color

Some of my very special snowdrop cultivars:

Galanthus 'Ophelia'Double-flowered Galanthus ‘Ophelia’

The unusual species with pleated leaves, Galanthus plicatus subsp. byzantinus

Galanthus 'Lady Beatrix Stanley'Galanthus ‘Lady Beatrix Stanley’

Galanthus nivalis 'Blewbury Tart' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe crazy upward facing double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Blewbury Tart’

Galanthus 'Flore Pleno' at Carolyn's Shade GardensThe double-flowered common snowdrop, Galanthus nivalis ‘Flore Pleno’

The only yellow-flowered double, Galanthus nivalis ‘Lady Elphinstone’

A beautiful yellow snowdrop, Galanthus plicatus ‘Wendy’s Gold’

Please let me know in a comment/reply what flowers are blooming in your early spring garden.  If you participated in GBBD, please provide a link so my nursery customers can read your post.

Carolyn


Notes: Every word that appears in orange on my blog is a link that you can click for more information.  If you want to return to my blog’s homepage to access the sidebar information (catalogues, previous articles, etc.), just click here.

Nursery Happenings: I have five spaces left for my March 19 Hellebore Seminar (March 18 is sold out).  For the brochure and registration information, click here.  My first open house sale is Saturday, March 26, from 10 am to 3 pm, featuring hellebores and other winter-blooming plants.

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