My last update was on March 24, 2004; I would have posted sooner, but got caught up in preparations for Easter. And then on April 11 I came down with a lower GI condition which kept me in bed for days and because of which I quickly lost 15 pounds and endured nearly two weeks of fatigue. It's over now, but what an ordeal! And that first big wave I alluded to in the March 24 post came and went while I was hugging my pillow. Here's where we are in Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, zone 7. I've included some non-geophytes to act as guideposts - Lilacs are just past their best; kurume azaleas are at their peak; Davidia involucrata is blooming; I saw Daphne genkwa, Pterostyrax hispida and Sinojackia in full bloom in an Alexandria, Virginia garden yesterday; Wisteria floribunda is in full bloom; Illicium flordianum is in full bloom - it stinks, just like Trillium erectum, and it yellows and drops its old leaves when in full bloom. Not a great recommendation, right? Cornus florida and Cercis canadensis are in full bloom. Darmera peltata is in bloom. The Fritillaria season is just about over; the last F. acmopetala are at their best, all others are over : F. imperialis, F. meleagris, F. uva-vulpis, F. bucharica (described in an earlier entry as F. ariana - I wish!), F. pallidiflora, F. aurea, F. involucrata, F. mystery frit #1, F. mystery frit #2 - photos of these "mystery" frits will be posted later. There are others which did not bloom. The Trillium season opened this year on April 1 with T. smallii - it's about the homeliest Trillium I've ever seen. Right now, T. flexipes, T. cuneatum, T. erectum in various forms, T. luteum in several forms, and T. recurvatum is about to open. A double-flowered Trillium grandiflorum once again aborted its flower buds this year (it has yet to bloom successfully here). Incidentally, T. cuneatum is very sweetly secented - it's one of those fragrances which carries on the air well. There are lots of other Trillium here which do not bloom regularly. We are at about the mid point of the tulip season. The earliest sorts are long gone, and many others are past their best, but there still lots of tulips in the garden. Triumph and Darwin Hybrid types are at their peak or just past. The latest May-flowering sorts are still in bud. Among the species, the later flowering sorts such as sylvestris, linifolia, batalinii, orphanidea and whittallii are now blooming. A plant received as Tulipa saxatilis is blooming: I'll try to post a photo later so the rest of you can tell me what you think about the identity. A tulip new to me this year which I like very much is T. polychroma. It is very sweetly scented. Just before the first flowers opened, it looked so much like T. turkestanica that I suspected yet another imposter. But it's distinct, and I'm glad to have it. Here in the Washington D.C. area we have several large retail garden centers which each year offer dozens of tulip varieties. Every five to eight years I go out and buy one bulb of every variety on offer that year. It's a good way to become familiar with the seasons, sorts and color range of tulips. This year, for instance, there are over 250 nominally different tulip varieties in the garden. During the next few years, many of these will disappear; and then I'll go out and do it again. Cypripedium japonicum is about to bloom, as are various Calanthe. Veratrum nigrum is strong this year but apparently will not bloom. It gets better yearly, but has not yet bloomed here. This is a real eye-catcher: the huge foliage fortunately is not bothered by slugs here (so far). V. album, in one of the bog trays, is also strong but again apparently not blooming. I'll try to post photos of these later. Arisaema sikokianum is in full bloom and strong this year. Lots of other Arisaema grow here. Asarum maximun and lots of other Asarum are either in bloom or in active growth. This makes the slugs very happy. Lilium grayi has five stems up this year. I'm doing something right here! Various other lilies in the bog trays are coming on well. Some of the modern super lilies out in the garden have put up stupendous stems. Seed of Eranthis hyemalis was collected on April 22. E. cilicicus (a botanical conference subjected anthis to a sex-change operation: it's now masucline, after being feminine for generations) seems to set seed here but it does not germinate easily. There are nice batches of germinating Jeffersonia diphylla and Sanguinaria canadensis in the frames. Paris of several sorts grow here but it looks as if none is going to bloom this year. Arisarum proboscideum in not blooming this year either: but a near look alike, Pinellia ternata, is blooming all over. This is a seemingly ineradicable weed here. Cardiocrinum cordatum will apparently bloom this year - for the second time. The first flowering came four years ago from a newly received plant; I was in India when it bloomed. This time I've earned it, and I hope to be here to see it. Various Asian Podophyllum make stunning foliage plants now. Helonias bullata continues to bloom in the bog trays. The first Sarracenia should open within a week or so. Paeonia mascula opened the peony season this year but by April 22, after two days of near 90 degree F temperatures, had shattered. Some other sorts seem to have aborted their buds in the heat (emodi, japonica, whittmanniana). Tree peonies are starting to bloom today. Poppy anemones, Anemone coronaria, are blooming freely now. Turban ranunculus should start to bloom very soon. Those of you who garden in milder climates may take these for granted: we have to work for them here! The poppy anemone will survive the winter in the open garden, but its foliage is so badly damaged that the plants bloom poorly. Here they get a cold frame, and that makes all the difference in the world. Ordinarily I'm relatively indifferent to plants which lack scent, but I make a willing exception for these. Anemone nemorosa is mostly over by now; a white-flowered single, "blue" Robinsoniana and Vestal all grow here. Muscari latifolium and the musk hyacinths are still blooming. Garden hyacinths are mostly past their best. I'll post a photo of "my" Roman hyacinth later. Regeliocyclus iris Dardanus is putting up budded scapes. Toads began to sing at the pool on March 26 and spawned for the first time soon after that. There are now plenty of tadpoles. If the wood frogs spawned, I did not notice. Deciduous trees are rapidly leafing out - the good birding days are quickly ending. Hummingbirds and wood thrushes are back - so are lots of others. The flowering of Aquilegia canadensis coincides with the annual return of the hummers. About a week ago while still ill I dozed off on the deck; I was awakened by a strange bird noise. I looked up just in time to see a great blue heron perched about eight feet away on the edge of the house roof. I guess that explains the disappearing goldfish! The screech owl continues to call nightly. Eremurus robustus has a stout inflorescence on the way up. A nice clump of Dracunculus vulgaris suggests this may be a good year for dragons. I don't see any of the Rhodohypoxis in the bog trays yet. Hemerocallis minor has well budded scapes up and ready to go. This is only the roughest sketch, but it will give an idea of where we are. Jim McKenney firstname.lastname@example.org Montgomery County, Maryland, zone 7, where we're at the height of spring and awaiting the arrival of brood X of the 17 year cicada: this will be the fourth time I've witnessed this, and with a bit of luck I should see it at least one more time.