Thursday, April 28, 2016

tiny marvels

Last June I attended the Town Library Plant and Bake Sale. It's a community event; contributors donate thinnings from their own gardens or flats of seedlings from their greenhouses.

One plant I chose was an epimedium.
I planted it at the base of a young oak tree surrounded by ferns, and by July it looked three times it's original size and seemed quite happy:

July 2015

In Autumn, it's leaves took on a semi-coppery sheen,
and when the "last" snow melted (quite recently, and possibly not the last at all), the remaining leaves looked like this:

As my world begins to green up, I've been keeping a close eye on the many, many places where I planted perennials last year, hoping for signs that the plants wintered well and will be back and thriving this year.

Last week, I was thrilled to find a glimpse of green at the base of that oak tree. A single stalk, elegantly arched over a cluster of deep pink buds:

And then another:

Just a few days later, there were more green stalks, unfurling, and many buds:

And now the first flower has opened!

I had to almost stand on my head for that picture, but I wanted you to get a sense of how threadlike these stems are, and how tiny the flowers. (In case it's not clear, those pink logs to the left are my fingertips.)

When I bought this plant, it was past flowering, so these flowers are a complete and wonderful surprise.

I have an illustrated list of many epimedium varieties, kindly given to me at a nursery last year. At some point, I will locate that list - probably when I am looking for a spool of thread or a screwdriver or a phone number - and then perhaps I can identify the plant with some certainty. Meanwhile, tentative identification: Epimedium alpinum 'Rubrum.'

Whatever it's botanical name, it's an unlikely-looking gem of a plant to appear and bloom at this changeable time of year. I'm thrilled to bits that it's back!

What happy returns have you found in your gardens this year?


  1. What a weird and amazing flower.

    Not a lot in our garden, but I'm just so happy to see the trees greening.

  2. Wonderful discovery! I don't recall seeing that flower before. Its charming in a weird way.

    Seedlings...nasturtium are leggy, squash is acting like a teenager with first car keys, the balsam is slow, snapdragons need re-potting, and I'm still wondering why the radishes in a peat pot.

  3. I've never seen this one before - is the center white part waxy (for lack of a better word)? It looks like it might be. Alas no gardening here, beyond a couple of tomato plants & some herbs on the balcony.

    1. I'll have to go out and stand on my head again to check...will get back to you!

  4. Sand...I've found sand, here in the desert! What a beautiful flowering plant...what a grand surprise (and your photos - SIGH!!!). Happy Thursday - here's to more surprises in your garden!

  5. Sure looks like the pictures of Red Barrenwort to me (the more common name of the plant you mentioned). It's beautiful and such a joy to see lovely plants at this time of year!

    1. We're now having three dry, sunny days in a row, so lots of plants are starting to appear. Sure hope they don't get frosted like many of the very earliest risers did.

  6. What a sweet and intricate little flower. I would be thrilled to have it return and flower as well! It reminds me of a mini columbine. So happy for you that it survived all that snow.
    I'm happy that my iris have returned. I had to transplant them last year, and although I waited until the gardening man told me (Aug), by then a lot of them had been attacked by grubs. They seem to all be doing well this year though, and I see I missed a few in the original flower bed. These are all my mom's iris, so happy that they didn't disappear all together! Have a great weekend Quinn, and I hope you find some more surprises peeking out from under the leaves :)

  7. That must have made you smile a huge smile!!! What tiny gems to open up springtime in your yard! Wow, they are beautiful.

  8. Thank you for writing about the sweet things that happen in nature, like the anticipation, and then the actual return, of a plant. This sure is a pretty one. I thought it was a columbine at first. Being a former New Englander, I am reminded, as I read your posts, of the olden days of short springs. In Nashville, we have long and beautiful springs. Have a nice day.


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