Maryland update: numbers 2 and 3 in the tulip sweepstakes

Jim McKenney
Tue, 27 Mar 2007 11:29:01 PDT
As reported earlier, Tulipa kaufmanniana was the first tulip to bloom here
this year. Numbers two and three opened today: Tulipa polychroma and Tulipa
‘Stresa’ (both  particular favorites here, the former for its scent and the
latter for its vibrant color pattern). I don’t grow Tulipa biflora now, but
it’s generally cited as very early also. ‘Stresa’ has the advantage of a
very protected spot; near it grows one of the old duc van Tol tulips, and
that has a bud showing color, but it is not yet open. 


Tulipa turkestanica, which grows right next to T. kaufmanniana and T.
polychroma, is in advanced but but not yet showing color. 


Here’s something curious: Eranthis cilicica is just starting to bloom. The
hybrid E. × tubergenii ‘Guinea Gold’ is in full bloom. Typical 

E. hyemalis was over a week or more ago.  


Today in Montgomery County, Maryland  is one of those beguilingly sweet
spring days which hints of summer: there are hundreds, probably thousands of
richly perfumed flowers of Magnolia stellata scenting the air, and a row of
decades-old boxwood is pouring out their bittersweet scent in perfect
counterpoint to the sensuous odor of the magnolias. Cardinals, song
sparrows, mourning doves, chickadees, titmice, the occasional woodpecker or
hawk sing, coo, chortle and cry. It’s warm, too: temperatures are predicted
to be well into the 80s F today. It’s the sort of day when it’s hard to stay
awake, when it’s tempting to pull out some old recordings of Arie Antiche,
sit out in the garden under the pergola and float for awhile on the
pervasive sense of languor. 


There is another deeply moving scent in the air, too: it’s a woodsy scent
which I’ve been told is the scent of reactivated actinomycetes in the soil.
Of all the scents of the year, this is the one which stirs me the most.


That early bulbs show foliage damage is no surprise, but this year many show
damaged inflorescences also. The tips of some of the Muscari spikes are
brown and dry. Some of the tulip buds show what seems to be cold damage.
Some early reticulate iris flowers went bad very quickly: it wasn’t cold
damage to the flower itself, it was worse than that. The late freeze killed
the new growth right where it emerged from the bulb. The damaged parts pull
out of the ground easily.  This is one of the dangers of raised beds in our


Sweet violets are blooming freely, but in this heat they don’t last long. 


The native shrub Lindera benzoin is blooming today. I’ll go out later today
looking for bloodroot. 


Jim McKenney

Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where the garden toads have
yet to start to sing.

My Virtual Maryland Garden


Webmaster Potomac Valley Chapter, NARGS 

Editor PVC Bulletin 


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