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?

 

 

 

 

Spring Bulbs in Blue and White

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 Category: Bulbs

Now that the crocus are done flowering, it’s time for the blue and white spring bulbs.  My Chionodoxa (glory of the snow), Puschkinia (striped squills), Scilla (squills) and Muscari (grape hyacinths) all bloom after the crocus, and coordinate beautifully together. With the trees leafing out now, there is more shade in the garden, but these bulbs tolerate the lower light conditions, and don’t mind the leaf litter from the trees.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flower closeup

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flower closeup

Chionodoxa (glory of the snow) are my favourite of the blue spring bulbs. As their common day implies, they don’t mind a little cold and snow, which you are bound to get in Edmonton in the spring.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers

Those pretty blue Chionodoxa petals lighten to almost white at their base, and a deeper blue at their tips. The dark blue stripe down the centre of each of the 6 petals make them stand out a little more.

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers above leaves

Chionodoxa forbesii blue flowers above leaves

Since they are so tiny, I  like them planted in large groups, especially next to Scilla and Puschkinia, for more of an impact. I can see this group from my kitchen window, and enjoy the pattern of white and blue colours. The slow poke gardener hadn’t removed all of the fall leaf drop when this picture was taken. I usually leave the fall leaves on the garden over winter for a little extra protection against our cold -35°C/-40°C (-31°F/-40°F) winters, and remove it in early spring. However this year in a few garden sections that extended into late spring.

Chionodoxa forbesii glory of the snow blue flowers

Chionodoxa forbesii glory of the snow blue flowers

These bulbs are surrounded by ferns, Hosta, Polygonatum (Solomon’s seal), and Brunnera (Siberian bugloss), which will soon hide the decaying leaves of the bulbs.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba'closeup

Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’closeup

This white form, Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’, blends well with the blues. The light colour shows up beautifully as this area gets shadier and shadier, and also make the blue flowers pop more.

Chionodoxa luciliae 'Alba'

Chionodoxa luciliae ‘Alba’

These white glory of the snow got a little dirt on their faces when I disturbed the surrounding fall leaves, but they are still a bright spot in the garden.

Muscari azureum grape hyacinth

Muscari azureum grape hyacinth

I haven’t shown these little Muscari azureum (grape hyacinths) much before, although I’ve had them in the garden for quite a while. The larger Muscari armeniacum ‘Blue Spike’ are more showy, and my favourites, but these have their own charm, too. I don’t have a large enough group of them, and being so petite they really need to be planted in more substantial numbers. I keep meaning to add some more Muscari bulbs to this area in the fall, so I’ll have to make a note for this fall’s bulb planting. They do pretty well considering they are planted at the base of a willow tree, and most plants don’t appreciate that kind of competition.

Muscari azureum showing little grapes

Muscari azureum showing little grapes

When seen closeup, the individual bells of the Muscari remind me of the Puschkinia shown below, with the pale blue petal colour and a dark blue stripe down the centre of each petal section.  However, the grape hyacinths have a little purple shimmer to them. The little Muscari bells open from the bottom up. You can see the closed ones at the top look like the little grapes described in their common name. They really are very small, maybe a centimetre or 2 across (less than an inch), so they don’t show up as much as the Puschkinia. The double  ‘Blue Spike’ grape hyacinths that open later have more of a ‘wow’ factor, but if you are looking for an earlier Muscari, or more natural looking bulbs, then these are a nice choice for their pretty, light blue colour.

Puschkinia libanotica 3 flower spikes

Puschkinia libanotica 3 flower spikes

The Puschkinia scilloides ‘Libanotica’ (striped squills) have no trouble popping up through the leaf litter either. The elongated spears poke a hole where needed, and out they pop, followed quickly by those gorgeous flowers. The many blue striped bells hang down all along the central stalk.

Puschkinia libanotica closeup of white and blue flowers

Puschkinia libanotica closeup of white and blue flowers

In this photo you can see how the striped squills look like expanded versions of the Muscari azuereum.

Puschkinia libanotica pretty blue striped flowers

Puschkinia libanotica pretty blue striped flowers

The Puschkinia get more flowers per square area then any of the other small bulbs, so they make a more noticeable display.

Puschkinia libanotica up through fall leaves

Puschkinia libanotica up through fall leaves

Here’s a clump of Puschkinia, showing how they can make a nice show in larger numbers. With their blue and white colouring, they make a bridge between other blue bulbs.

Scilla siberica small blue flowers

Scilla siberica small blue flowers

These Scilla siberica have the truest blue of all of these bulbs. When viewed closely, the also have the central blue stripe down the centre of each petal, just like the Puschkina and Chionodoxa, to which they are related.

Scilla siberica with pretty blue flowers

Scilla siberica with pretty blue flowers

Usually in the shade the Scilla look a little darker blue than is showing in the photo. They are such hardy bulbs for a northern climate, since they just look after themselves, with no fussing.

Chionodoxa in blue and white

Chionodoxa in blue and white

Here are the 2 different Chionodoxa next to each other, enjoying a little sunshine through the tree branches. The next bulbs up are the double Muscari ‘Blue Spike’, which flower with the tulips. It’s fun to see all of my old favourites have their turn in the garden, before the larger perennials take over. Now is a good time for the smaller bulbs to shine, and not get lost amongst their giant neighbours.

 

Yellow and Gold Crocus

Sunday, May 25, 2014 Category: Bulbs
yellow crocus collage

yellow crocus collage

The crocus are done flowering now, but here are some photos of the yellow and gold ones as they bloomed through May, showing my favourite early, mid-season and late flowering yellow crocus.

Crocus 'Yellow  Mammoth' with golden flowers

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ with golden flowers

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ is a very golden coloured crocus. Despite its name, it is about the same size as an average Crocus vernus, but larger than the small Crocus chrysanthus. It is long flowering in my garden, and one I can recommend for its hardiness.

Crocus 'Yellow  Mammoth' with Crocus 'Pickwick' behind

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ with Crocus ‘Pickwick’ behind

‘Yellow Mammoth’ pairs superbly with purple Crocus, for a contrasting colour scheme. I have them planted next to some solid purple ‘Remembrance’, and the purple striped ‘Pickwick’ and ‘Striped Beauty’.  They all make satisfying combinations, especially the dark purple Remembrance, since it matches the intensity of ‘Yellow Mammoth’.

Crocus 'Yellow  Mammoth' with golden flowers and purple crocus behind

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ with golden flowers and purple crocus behind

In the photo above you can see how bright ‘Yellow Mammoth’ looks in the garden.

Crocus 'Yellow  Mammoth' in snow

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ in snow

‘Yellow Mammoth’ withstood the snow earlier in May, and resumed flowering when the sunny weather came back. When you live in a cold climate, you have to love tough little plants like the crocus.

Crocus 'Yellow  Mammoth' showing golden colour

Crocus ‘Yellow Mammoth’ showing golden colour

‘Yellow Mammoth’ is always the last crocus flowering in my garden, so its a good choice if you want to extend crocus time.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance' in sun

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ in sun

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ has a much softer yellow colour than Yellow Mammoth, more like a pale butter colour. I’m going to pair it with the softer purple Crocus ‘Firefly’ next year for a pastel combination. ‘Romance’ is the first crocus to bloom in my garden, along with ‘Prins Claus’.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance' with raindrops

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ with raindrops

Here the  ‘Romance’ buds are closed tight in the rain, while the drops fall harmlessly off the backs of the petals.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance' with other crocus behind

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ with other crocus behind

I have Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ planted in the lawn, next to some deeper purple Crocus sieberi Tricolor’, and the white and purple C. chrysanthus ‘Prins Claus’. The combination really brightens up the grass that still had its winter straw colour earlier in May.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Romance' yellow flowers from above

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Romance’ yellow flowers from above

This shot shows the sweet little ‘Romance’ flowers from above. They sit close to the ground, and the little snow crocus flowers are much smaller than Crocus vernus. With a number of blooms per corm, they still make a good display. These are a good choice if you are looking for a softer spring yellow, a more delicate looking flower, or a very early crocus.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Fuscotinctus' in sunshine

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ in sunshine

The sunny yellow Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ have maroon coloured stripes down the outside of the petals that give them some extra zip in the garden. They are a very bright golden yellow colour, that look fantastic next to any purple crocus.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Fuscotinctus'with closed buds showing stripes

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’with closed buds showing stripes

This picture shows the maroon coloured stripes that are most visible when the buds are closed tight.

Crocus chrysanthus 'Fuscotinctus' in rain

Crocus chrysanthus ‘Fuscotinctus’ in rain

These Fuscotinctus come up right through the leaf litter, before I could clean it out of the garden beds earlier in the season. In spite of their tiny size, and delicate look, they are very tough and independent, not needing any coddling. That’s one of the reasons I like crocus so much, along with their ability to handle our spring snows.

yellow crocus with purple and white behind

yellow crocus with purple and white behind

Yellow crocus add a little sunshine to the purple and white crocus in the garden. Do you have any favourite yellow crocus?