Monday, May 23, 2011

In a Sea of Yellow

     So we haven't seen the sun in 13 days (oh maybe just a glimmer here in Clifton). I would give it credit, it did try yesterday, maybe 3 times and it was warm for the 30 second it managed. Time for a serious dose of yellow.  Maybe we will shame that sun into burning through those clouds.

     Nothing like a nice spring daisy, it is a shame that more people don't grow this one.  Leopards Bane (Doronicum) has nice apple green foliage first thing in the spring with blooms coming out in early May and holding on into June.

     Alyssum has fallen out of favour in the last ten - twenty years.  You don't see it as much as you use to.  Maybe because it was so over used.  I found that if a property had one, they had a dozen scattered all over the place.  Basket of Gold was concidered a rock garden plant and no rock garden was complete without alyssum and creeping phlox.  These little guys belong to the mustard family, easy to tell that by looking at the clusters of flowers.  Alyssum wulfenianum (above) is a nicer version, native to the alps it has deep gray foliage forming a low growing mound, completely covered in bloom by the end of the month.

     Our native Erythronium (Trout Lily or Dogtooth Violets) are little spring bulbs from the lily family.  The flowers are no more than 1" in diameter.  The above larger Erythronium is Pagoda, a hybrid bulb that may be purchased in the fall when buying tulips.  It may be 6-12" tall with 2 large brown-green mottled leaves.  Pagoda is one of those plants that disappears after flowering, so it is perfect for planting among hostas and ferns.

     Uvularia is also in the lily family as is Solomon's Seal of which this little Merrybell reminds me of.  U sessilifolia is our native one which is slightly smaller than the above U. grandiflora.  Very easy to grow in a woodland setting.

     Don't forget spring bulbs like these Darwin Tulips (I guess only if you do not have deer).  Darwins are best, in my opinion, for coming back year after year and putting on a good display.  Other spring bulbs such as crocus, daffodils and winter aconite can give that burst of yellow early on.

     Euphorbia's actually have no 'flowers'.  The colour you see are highly coloured bracts (modified leaves) that surround the very small flower parts.  Think poinsettias (same family).

     Don't forget plants that are grown for their foliage, there are many plants with yellow variegation.  From Hosta to Solomon's Seal, Euonymus to Coral Bells.

     Ah, the lowly Dandelion.  This is a love/hate relationship.  You either like it (not many) or hate it.  Either way I must give it some respect.  Look at that colour, a perfect round head of bright yellow with shaggy petals.  You can eat the leaves (high in Vit. A, B, C and D, Iron, Potassium and Zinc), the roots can be made into a coffee substitute and some parts of the flowers are made into wine.  What more do you need.  You can blame the French, English and Spanish for bringing them here.  They saw the benefits.

     The plant is ingenious at survival, it is designed to act as a funnel to direct rain water to the roots. If broken off it has the ability to regenerate from a piece of root.   It has an abundance of flowers per plant with up to 200 seeds being produce on one flower. The seeds have a transportation system that can travel for more than 200 km (so it is not just your neighbours lawn that you need worry about). They are found world wide and are able to grow in all conditions. 

     I know, 90% of you reading this is thinking that she is right off her rocker praising the Dandelion.  But I must give it some respect.  Which flower did you pick when you were a child.  Did you present your Mother or Grandmother with a Dandelion bouquet??  Didn't she gush with praise that it was the most beautiful flower ever??  And looking over a field, over a sea of yellow just adds some warmth to the chilly air. 

Come on Sun, Where are you.

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