What's happening in the Rock Alpine Garden this week? A few new treasures are in bloom

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Saturday's warm weather drew out more bulbs and other early bloomers, and finally its beginning to look like March should.  March belongs to several genera in the rock garden, Crocus, Galanthus and Helleborus are just a few genera that shine in March.  I hope to do a blog on both Galanthus and Helleborus in due time.

First we will revisit the genus Crocus, the main focus of last week's blog.  The sunny skies Monday afternoon allowed me to get photos of crocus both open and closed.  The first is the same cultivar of Crocus sieberi I featured closed up last week.   The bright orange stamens are a lovely contrast to its lavender petals.  The white crocus is most likely Crocus chrysanthus 'Ard Schenk' or a similar cultivar.  Notice both the pale gray venation on the reverse of the blossoms and the orange stigma sticking out of the far left. Crocus sieberi can be found in the lower meadow  smack in the  middle of the Rock Alpine Garden , while Crocus 'Ard Schenk' is in front of the Cactus and Succulent house behind the low stone bench 

While many of the crocus where open yesterday afternoon, Crocus reticulatus  pictured above,  is perhaps my favorite crocus.  Still closed up deep in the shadows,  the reverse of each bloom is a work of art. It is especially beautiful as each bloom opens revealing the interior.  I'll try and post a photo in my next blog.

Iris reticulata cultivars have been getting well deserved attention now, and Iris 'Pixie'  pictured above makes up for it's smaller size with the intensely deep color of its flowers.  It graces the top of the waterfall at the highest point of the garden.  The blooms are less weather resistant than crocus, and snow and temperatures above 70 make them go over quickly.  Actually temperature in the 30 through low 60s make most bulbs last longer than warmer temperatures.

Sternbergia candida is a lovely white flowering bulb in the Amaryllis family.  It is rather rare in gardens, as all Sternbergia are CITIES listed meaning permits are needed for them to cross international borders. This is done in part to curb the widespread collection of bulbs out of their native habitats.  Many species of bulbs are still in dangered of extinction through gathering for the horticultural trade, and habitat loss.   Enjoy the photo of the Sternbergia is it is in a part of the garden not acessable to the public.

Eranthis hyemalis is the last bulb featured this week. A member of the buttercup family you can see the resemblance to several of our native buttercups found in the high country. On a side note the buttercup family has been broken up and Eranthis maybe  in the hellebore family. This cheery little gem is under the Magnolia at the east entrance of the Rock Alpine Garden.

Staying in the same family but departing  the bulbs,  is Pulsatilla vulgaris or pasque flower with its deep lavender or purple blooms.  The word pasque is French for Easter and refers to the general bloom time.  Soon it will be time to find our native pasque flower Pulsatilla patens in the foothills.  Pasque flowers can be found throughout the Rock Alpine Garden.

Helleborus vesicarius, a feature of a blog several weeks ago is now in full bloom, as you can see it is a far departure from the open blooms of Lenten roses (Helleborus x hybridus) or Christmas roses (Helleborus niger), but it has its own charm.  Spring is well on its way.

Comments

Panayoti Kelaidis
Hey, I walked through the garden the other day and MISSED half of these: thanks for doing this. Now for the snow to melt so I can do it again!
Mike Kintgen
Greg, I think the fish died when we added water to the water system in Feb. The change in water temperature or oxygen levels can be hard on them. I have also heard of fish dying under ice when oxygen levels get too low. Your comment has confirmed what my nose might have already known. Thanks for letting us know.
Greg
What about the dead fish? I was there a week ago and the pond near this garden was full of dead fish. Any ideas what happened to the fish?

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