Tuesday, May 06, 2008

In Which An Identity Is Revealed and Other Introductions Are Made

The first of the purple tulips began their show this morning. "Purple" seems like such a simple and inadequate choice of word to describe them, though, wouldn't you say? I just love the silky look of fresh tulips and the way the petals change colors depending on how the light hits them.

They are also "bouquet" tulips, which as you can see, means that one bulb actually puts up more than a single stalk. I love this feature in a tulip, since they can otherwise seem a little lonely coming up one at a time.

Here's another look at that yellow tulip, now fully opened, and also revealing itself to be one of those "bouquet" varieties.

I believe the yellow were in a combo package with some orange, as well...but so far, none of the tulips coming on have revealed that color.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I'll see a few of those, since I imagine the two colors, with the nearby purple, would be a fun color combination. In the meantime, I'm just enjoying the beauty that's already in front of me.

Here's a pair of photos featuring again the blue mystery flower from last week. I enjoyed and appreciated everyone's suggestions and attempts to identify them for me.

You've suggested violets or perennial geraniums...which made me realize that my photo of them last week didn't really give you a sense of scale...since both of those options are at least a bit larger than these tiny lovelies. So I've tried to rectify that here, by photographing them with a) the nearby purple allyssum and 2) a ruler.

I am very happy to tell you that, as of this afternoon, these guys are no longer the "blue mystery flower" to me. I finally had a chance to sit down and do a proper internet search...always a little tricky when you have only a description to work with.

They are, for the record, known as slender speedwell, AKA, veronica filiformus. It is native to Western Asia and Europe, particularly in areas of Iran, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, the Russian Federation and the Ukraine...but is listed as naturalizing elsewhere.

I'm a little sad to see this plant classified as a weed, which I always find to be sort of an arbitrary designation. I mean, look at these sweet little flowers...how in the world could you call that a weed? And yet, lawn nazis everywhere are apparently trying to kill it, since I found more notations of methods for "control" in turf than any proper botanical information.

In light of that, I'm happy to host it in my garden, giving it amnesty as I do so many things generally waved off by gardening snobs as "weeds."

The weather forecast for today and tomorrow looked particularly delightful, so this morning I slide the plastic bags off of the sunflower seedlings to let them breathe fresh air and soak in some serious sunshine. For the most part, they are all doing quite nicely...and looking quite vibrant.

I'm sorry to say that's not entirely the case with the other varieties of sunflower still in the bedroom window. The gardener's cat has developed a taste for salad and they are a bit chewed up. Several will not recover. I'm trying not to hold that against My Boy...especially since he seems to be leaving the morning glories alone.

I forgot to mention last week that I used part of a gift certificate I'd been hanging on to to purchase a pair of sempervivum, better known as Hens and Chicks.

I've always enjoyed these odd- looking little plants, since I first met them on a posh weeding job during a long-ago high school summer (somewhere I've got some pictures from that job...I'll have to dig around for them!)

These succulent plants are terrific in full sun and thrive in rock gardens. I've planted them near the base of the recently-installed birdbath, and they seem quite happy.

And I'll leave you tonight with another look at those purple tulips. I'm thrilled with the happy accident that's managed to make them the same color as the purple allyssum I planted not long ago.


Butch said...

Oh my . . .the purple and the yellow tulips have turned out beautifully well. I like the interesting design of the green leaves the bunnies left and the plant took back. There are oh so many pictures in this entry to comment about but, none any less beautiful than the next! Thank you, what a treat this morning for the eyes.

Greg said...

Yes, some of the leaves have been stubbed a little by early munching, but the purple variety's leaves are also a bit more crinkly (I was going to say crinklier) than normal tulip foliage...which I'm very happy about, since tulip stalks and leaves can look a little blah once the flowers have gone.

dykewife said...

speedwell, huh? for some people it's not only a weed, but a pernicious weed. we have a variety here that will take over a yard and choke out all other kinds of plants. though they're pretty enough, i suppose, i don't want my entire garden to be overwhelmed by them.

my mom's favourite ground cover plant was the hen and chicks. she had them all over the place.

Greg said...

DW, one gardener's pernitious weed is another gardener's enthusiastic co-conspirator.

For now, I'm happy to let it give it a little room to run, so I can see what its all about...on a probationary basis, you might say. After all, there's a host of other ground covers and strong perennials to compete against, and I find it's quite easily uprooted, if I find I've too much of a good thing.

I guess my problem is I can't discriminate between flowers...they are all beautiful and have their place and their uses.

On this exact topic, my friend Heidi wrote me an email in response to the "weed" issue. She pointed out a half a dozen so-called weeds right off the top of her head which have (or had, depending on whether or not we've allowed that culture to thrive or bound it up on a reservation somewhere) medicinal applications.

For example, speedwell is both edible and nutritious...and Native Americans used it to make an expectorant tea to alleviate symptoms associated with asthma and allergies.

Maybe everything really *does* have its place. Of course other gardeners are free to make their own choices!! : )

Greg said...

Oh, and I *love* the very idea of the hens and chicks getting loose and running about the garden as their namesakes do!

Sh@ney said...

Gorgeous Greg, I particularly like the foliage around the tulip flowers. They are quite striking alone.
I might get Nate to plant some Tulips this year, he buys bulbs every autumn.
Garden is looking fabulous as always.

Greg said...

Sh@ney, I wasn't into tulips for a while, since they often look a little ratty once the flowers have passed. But when you tuck them amongst other things that'll grow up around them, they work well.

I like the species varieties, too: they bloom earlier, are lower to the ground and are more prone to multiplying...though I've been surprised in that regard with other kinds, too!

Have a great trip to Sydney!

Patrick said...

That purple is spectacular, and yes, somehow the word doesn't do justice to the color. You are reforming my disinterest in tulips; interesting to know you had your own ambivalences about them at one point.

Greg said...

Hey Patrick!! Yep, I am totally crushing on these new purple tulips, and they make me love that whole "branch" of the plant world a little more.

I'm sorry I didn't get to show off the earlier, species varieties (you can see them in previous years in the archives...once I get all the tags done...)this spring - I think they'd also help you like them more - but those bunnies had other ideas.

Curt Rogers said...

You have such a friendly writing style and your photos are wonderful. I've always been terrified of gardening but now that I'm living in an apartment and don't have a yard of my own, you're actually making me wish I could start. You make it sound so lovely and harmonious.