Northern Shade Gardening

Pink and Blue Flowers for Late Spring

Wednesday, June 11, 2014 Category: Bulbs

 

Tulipa 'Foxtrot' with Muscari behind

Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’ with Muscari behind

There are a number of pink and blue flower combinations in my garden now in late spring. The Foxtrot tulips and Muscari ‘Blue Spike’ are a fabulous combination of pink and blue.  I have a large section of these in one garden bed seen above, and another new section across the yard. In the new bed, the taller tulips make an arc behind the Actaea (bugbane), while the shorter Muscari bulbs are planted in pockets between the Heuchera (coral bells),  Tiarella (foamflower) and Heucherella (foamy bells). While Muscari can tolerate some shade, the tulips like it sunnier, so I’m not sure how well they’ll return in the new section. Although my previously planted foxtrot tulips have dwindled a bit, as tulips sometimes do, they still made a decent display, despite being in part shade.

I started this article last year, and just noticed that I never posted it to the website. Since it shows the plants that are in bloom right now, I thought I’d publish it with a few updates. With our cooler spring start, the bloom times are a couple of weeks delayed  this year.

Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike' flower closeup

Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ flower closeup

Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ are the showiest of the grape hyacinths, with the double petals making larger flower spikes. They come closer to looking like their hyacinth namesakes than any other Muscari. A large group of them makes a noticeable patch of blue. They are my favourite of all Muscari, since those large flowers can show off other blooms around them, like the tulips, and not get lost in the garden.

Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike'  flower between Convallaria

Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ flower between Convallaria

The picture above shows the true blue colour of ‘Blue Spike’. there are some Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) next to the planting, which are now adding some white flowers to the mix.

Tulipa 'Foxtrot' with Heuchera 'Raspberry Ice' behind

Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’ with Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ behind

Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’, a double early tulip, is a good match for the Muscari, flowering with pretty pink petals at the same time as the blue Muscari open. These tulips open up white, and then gradually the pink darkens to a deep pink by the end of their bloom time. Behind these ‘Foxtrot’ tulips are some darker Heuchera ‘Raspberry Ice’ with purple foliage. They don’t flower this early, but their colourful leaves make a great backdrop to the tulips.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' and Tulipa 'Foxtrot'

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ and Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’

Here’s a pretty combination of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ with Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’. I planted these tulips behind the already established Brunnera two falls ago, and am pleased that the two flowers match so well.

blue Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' and pink Tulipa 'Foxtrot'

blue Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ and pink Tulipa ‘Foxtrot’

The pink ‘Foxtrot ‘ tulips get darker and darker the longer they flower, but they coordinate well with the blue  ‘Jack Frost’ flowers in all of their colour range, from lightest white to darkest pink. Something has been enjoying the tulip leaves in this section, or perhaps they got damaged by falling tree debris.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost' in flower

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’ in flower

Here is a larger group of ‘Jack Frost’ made up of 4 plants that form a group about 1 m (3 ft) by 1.3 m  (4 ft). they produce massive amounts of blooms despite being located at the edge of a willow tree canopy. This shot shows how attractive the silver leaves are, as well as the clouds of light blue flowers.

Tiarella 'Spring Symphony' and Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike' flowers

Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ and Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ flowers

Here is ‘Blue Spike’ with the pretty pink flowers of Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’. This pair started flowering at the end of May, and lasted until the third week of June. I planted both the perennial Tiarella and the bulbs together last fall, repeating a combination I have in another garden bed.

Tiarella 'Spring Symphony' and Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike' pink and blue flowers

Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ and Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ pink and blue flowers

Here’s a closeup of the ‘Blue Spike’ and ‘Spring Symphony’ flowers. ‘Spring Symphony’ flowers start as  very pink tight buds, and then look lighter as the florets open from the bottom to form the pale stars.

pink Tiarella 'Spring Symphony' and Muscari armeniacum 'Blue Spike' flowers

pink Tiarella ‘Spring Symphony’ and Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ flowers

I would repeat this combination of Blue Spike and Spring Symphony again, since they both look great together, and both will bloom in the shade.

Pulmonaria 'Samourai' pink and blue flowers

Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ pink and blue flowers

Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ (lungwort) manages to combine the pink and white on one plant. Those pink buds are even more beautiful when they open to blue. I especially like the all-over silver foliage of Samourai. The basal leaves which are visible for much of the season are a solid silvery gray, but the smaller leaves on the flowering stalks, which can be seen in the photo above, are speckled.

Pulmonaria 'Samourai' flowers with Asarum europaeum leaves

Pulmonaria ‘Samourai’ flowers with Asarum europaeum leaves

Here, the Pulmonaria flowers are blooming with the Asarum europaeum (wild ginger) leaves next to them. You can see all of the pink Pulmonaria buds, and then the fully opened blue flowers. This is a great plant for the shade, since the silver leaves brighten the darker areas of the shade garden. The shiny leaves of the Asarum are doing their best , too.

Those are most of my pinks and blues for late spring. Do you have any favourite combinations for late spring?

 

 

 

 

Double Bloodroot for the Shade

Friday, June 6, 2014 Category: Perennials
Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex pretty double flowers

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex pretty double flowers

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex (double bloodroot) are fabulous plants for a shady woodland section in your garden. I’m very happy to see this year that the bloodroot is spreading well and putting on a better flower display each season.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex newly emerging bud

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex newly emerging bud

The new flowers rise up straight from the ground in spring, wrapped cozily in a rolled up leaf. As the leaf unwraps, the flower opens fully on the first or second day. You can see the sequence of blooms in the picture above, with a tight bud on the left,  a partially open bud in the middle, and a fully open flower on the right.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot flower closeup

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot flower closeup

Multiplex is the double form of bloodroot. All of the extra petals make for an exquisite flower, packed full of pure white loveliness. The double multiplex form flowers for longer than the single, which can be very brief.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot group

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot group

The double bloodroot flowers resemble a lotus flower or waterlily as they appear to float above the broad leaves.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex white flowers

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex white flowers

They spread by rhizomes, so if the plants are happy, you can get a nice colony forming.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot

As the Sanguinaria in this site have spread, they have made a much larger flower display each year.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex white flowers with blue chionodoxa

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex white flowers with blue Chionodoxa

This bloodroot colony is surrounded by Chionodoxa luciliae (glory of the snow). This year the Chionodoxa peaked a little before the Sanguinaria, so there aren’t as many of the pretty blue flowers left to set off the white blooms. I’m thinking of adding some Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ (double grape hyacinths) bulbs to this area in the fall. ‘Blue Spike’ blooms after the Chionodoxa, so if the Chionodoxa are a little early, there will still be some blue flowers surrounding the bloodroot.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot 4 flowers

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot 4 flowers

You can see here how nicely the Chionodoxa at the back pairs with the double bloodroot in front. It just needs a larger blue background to balance it out.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot white flowers

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot white flowers

The flowers have a delicate, exotic appearance, but they are very hardy. They have no problem surviving a zone 3 winter, with temperatures down to -35 °C (-31°F), or sometimes -40° (Celsius and Fahrenheit even out about this temperature). My garden is surrounded by houses in the city, so the site is a little sheltered, rather than open prairie or parkland. These beauties are thriving in Edmonton, even though they are native to the woodlands of Eastern Canada.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex leaves

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex leaves

The foliage grows quickly as the flowers bloom, and soon those substantial leaves are up to 20 cm (7 to 8 inches) across. Their attractive shape is a little different from other shade plants, with their rounded lobes and a deeply wavy margin. In my cooler summer, the thickly textured leaves stay all season, and form a dense mat to make a good groundcover. Those overlapping leaves  can out-compete the maple seedlings that are determined to turn my yard into an all maple forest. There are bare areas around this group right now, as the surrounding ferns, Hosta, Brunnera and Astilbe are just starting to grow, but within a month they will meet the bloodroot leaves to make a tight carpet of foliage here.  The ferns and Astilbe make good companions to bloodroot, since their slower growth ensures they don’t block the view of the pretty white flowers when the bloodroot are in bloom.  As the double bloodroot finish flowering, the Astilbe and ferns grow lacy foliage, to contrast with the thick and solid bloodroot leaves. There is also some Polygonatum (solomon’s seal) to one side that starts blooming as the bloodroot flowers finish.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot 2 flowers

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot 2 flowers

I used to have some Sanguinaria canadensis (single bloodroot) in the same location, but they’ve disappeared over the last few years, while the doubles have settled in and spread. Although the double bloodroot is more beautiful, it’s unfortunate for the pollinators, because the doubles are sterile. Since the single flower form doesn’t seem as hardy in my garden, I don’t think I’ll try replanting it. Sorry bees, I usually try to cater to you.

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot large group

Sanguinaria canadensis f. multiplex double bloodroot large group

The double bloodroot must enjoy the location under the trees on the north side of a fence, as they have been spreading beautifully. The site is almost all shade, with a small amount of direct light when the sun is very low in the sky, and a little bit of dappled light. You can see in the pictures that they get a lot of debris from the trees,  such as small branches, twigs, leaves, willow catkins, etc. If you have a willow you know they are always dropping something in the garden. I clean up some of the leaves in the spring, but leave most of the other tree droppings here. The bloodroot seem to flourish in the backyard woodsy setting. I can highly recommend these for a shady zone 3 garden, particularly if you have a site under the trees, with organic, humus rich soil. Their flowering time in spring is brief, but glorious, and then you have  a good looking groundcover for the rest of the season.

 

Hardy Hepatica Nobilis

Sunday, June 1, 2014 Category: Perennials
Hepatica nobilis liverleaf under conifers

Hepatica nobilis liverleaf under conifers

Hepatica nobilis (liverleaf) makes a terrific hardy groundcover for your shady areas. In spring it sends up these bright flowers. As you can see in the photo above, the colours of this blue form can look bluish or purple, but from a distance they appear to be an electric blue. They make an excellent woodland planting and are very hardy in zone 3.

Hepatica nobilis with new leaves

Hepatica nobilis with new leaves

Hepatica can grow in fairly dark shade. Mine are flowering in a garden section that gets only a brief amount of dappled light underneath a pine and spruce on the north side of my house. Despite the shady location, they send up those delightful blue flowers in early to mid-spring that seem to glow above the pine needle debris. I leave the cones and needles where they drop here as a natural mulch, and the Hepatica fit right in, thriving in the suburban forest mulch. The squirrels add to the mulch by perching on branches above and working their way through the cones, dropping scales in middens as they go. The Hepatica rhizomes have been spreading slowly, so they make a better groundcover every year.

Hepatica nobilis blue flower closeup

Hepatica nobilis blue flower closeup

The flowers are about 10 cm (4 in.) tall and about 2 cm (an inch) across. These hardy perennials start blooming before the new leaves emerge, so they can appear to be flowering right from the garden floor.

Hepatica nobilis top of hairy leaves

Hepatica nobilis top of hairy leaves

Some of last year’s leaves have persisted over the winter, but new fresh leaves with 3 lobes start growing as the flower period ends. The Hepatica leaves and stems are very hairy. The new leaf uncurling on the top right shows how fuzzy the backs and stems can be. The fresh leaves are a light, shiny green,  but they’ll eventually darken as they grow larger. Those leaves will meet at the edges and overlap to make a good groundcover as they mature over the next month.

Hepatica nobilis hairy leaf side closeup

Hepatica nobilis hairy leaf side closeup

Check out the hair on these as seen from the side. The underside of the leaves is covered in peach fuzz, as are the downy stems.

Hepatica nobilis collage

Hepatica nobilis collage

The collage above shows how they look for 3 weeks in spring, while the one below shows the good looking foliage they’ll have for the rest of the summer. They are surrounded by Hosta, Brunnera (Siberian bugloss), Athyrium (ferns), Heuchera (coral bells), Tiarella (foamflower), and Aruncus (wild ginger), most of which are still emerging in the garden.

Hepatica nobilis leaf collage

Hepatica nobilis leaf collage

Hepatica nobilis is a charming plant for what could be a challenging garden area.  Those electric blue flowers will glow in the shadowy garden areas, but with their small size and simple petals they blend in with a natural garden area. Then over the summer, their thick, lobed leaves make an attractive groundcover, needing very little care.