Friday, April 30, 2010

Tiny spring flowers (and a few exceptions)

With just a few exceptions, I seem to have very small flowers on anything blooming in the garden at this time of year. It's too early for roses or many of the rhododendron trusses, and too late for most of the spring bulbs, so many of the things blooming right now seem bright and tiny.

Another theme that seems to permeate my garden choices is a propensity for flat, simple, sunflower-like blooms. It's probably because I love all those hot-weather, gray-leaved plants that frequently have very simple bloom forms anyway.
Here's one exception to the "tiny" rule, however this cistus does have a very simple form.
I have at least four different helianthemums that are beginning to bloom right now with flowers that are less than an inch wide. This is helianthemum 'Belgravia Rose'.
Helianthemums are in the cistus family. They all have the bright yellow stamens of their bigger cousins.
I love the bright petals against the gray-green foliage this time of year.
Potentilla is another sun-lover with a similar flower form to heliathemum. They share the same grayish foliage, too. But while heliathemums are low-growing ground covers, most potentillas are small, upright shrubs. This one is McKay's White, and it's been blooming for weeks now.
This isn't a simple flower by any means, but it is a tiny one. Grevilla juniperina 'Low Red' has been happy to bloom since I bought it in February.
While I've been inside waiting for the rain to slow down, the callas sneaked into bloom. They seem to love this cool wet weather. Another exception to my theme, they're neither sun-oriented nor tiny, but I'm happy to see them filling this bed under our breakfast room window.
Sedum pachyclados has the tiniest flowers yet. They can't be more than a quarter inch across, but they're creamy, star-shaped little gems.
Besides the many roses I inherited in my garden, there are just a few other blooming plants we kept. The callas were in the garden when we moved here, and this little no-name heuchera is another plant that's been moved a few times, but that I didn't have the heart to throw out. Its foliage is nothing special, but it rewards me each spring with wiry little stems of salmony-pink blossoms for weeks.

Do you have any "heritage" plants you probably wouldn't have chosen, but that you find yourself enjoying in your garden anyway?


  1. Isn't it just amazing how that Grevilla just keeps on blooming! I love it.

    Inherited...well the Hydrangea, I do love them but would have chosen a mop-head and ours is a lace-cap. And the Rhody's...I planned to rip them out but they kind of grew on me...thus they are still there. And blooming early this year!

  2. Great survey of your current bloomers. Those callas are impressive! Even though they don't exactly fit your revamp, I'm glad you kept them. I've been adding sunroses like crazy lately, I love their colors and drought-tolerance, and somehow it seems they should be summer bloomers but as you say, they start early. Hm, inherited a lot of good plants that I've happily kept (witch hazel, giant cedar, oceans of lavender) and others that I'm less happy about but have let stay unless they died (heathers and heaths, giant oriental poppies, scylla, variegated pampas); also many that have had to go (acres of St. John's wort in the parking strip, half-dead azaleas, etc). I guess I am happiest with the ceanothus, witch hazel and Harry Lauder's Walking Stick, all of which I had admired elsewhere and am happy not to have had to buy myself!

  3. Your question brings the realization that I've taken out every plant we inherited. How ruthless is that? Eugenia hedges infested with mites. Hibiscus overgrown, whitefly and mildew. Overgrown oleander. Lemon tree in too much shade, whitefly and mildew. I have only myself to blame for every plant that grows here now. But I do wish I had some cistus in bloom. Besides the flwrs, love the scent of the leaves on a hot day. I've been through lots of kinds but they're so short-lived here. Bennett's White was amazing.

  4. Hi Jane~~ A pear tree is perched in the center of my backyard. I enjoy it for its bark and the shade it provides but we're not big pear eaters. I'm sure I wouldn't have planted it myself but there is no way I'd cut it down. And it's a love/hate with my three towering Sweet Gum trees in the front yard. Love the shade. Hate the fall clean up and the constant seed ball droppings.

    Great post!

  5. Our place was a blank slate, except for the forest and orchard...oh, and a bunch of lilies I was very excited about but the sellers dug them all up and took them with them.

    The only scene I remember from the movie "Frances" was when she came home with an armload of calla lilies...blanked out everything else in that abysmal downward spiral.

  6. Interesting to look back on what was inherited. I often look at other gardens and think about how I'd save the mature plants, and slip in new ones to give the garden some new life. I'm embarrassed to admit have almost nothing left from the good efforts of the former gardener, even though I appreciated her all-white and green approach. I think all I have left is a huge mature cherry tree so tall only the birds enjoy the fruit. The rest were neglected, sick, overrun with weeds, or simply not my style. I'm sure the gardener after me will find themselves in a similar position. Except they'll have many more plants to remove, so maybe they'll just give up and accept my plants.


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