2012 outdoor Fritillaria season begins in Maryland

Jim McKenney jamesamckenney@verizon.net
Tue, 13 Mar 2012 09:39:39 PDT

If you had asked me a week ago which frit would be the first to open this year, I would not have hesitated: at that time Fritillaria thunbergii was already well over a foot out of the ground and had a well developed inflorescence with buds about to open. 

But three days ago Fritillaria raddeana popped out of the ground buds first, and today both F. raddeana and F. thunbergii are in bloom. The plant of F. raddeana is only two inched high, and the flowers are still upright or horizontal rather than nodding. But they are in bloom. If the weather cooperates it will still be in bloom which it reaches its full height. 

No overnight freezes are predicted for this week, and daytime highs will be above 70⁰ F (~21⁰C). Winter sown annuals such as poppies and larkspurs are going to town. Bloodroot, spring beauty, Anemone blanda and lots of other little blue things are blooming here and there in the woods and garden. 

Iris lazica continues to bloom freely. I have not counted the number of blooms this clump has produced, but it's had multiple blooms open since it started to bloom. 

Florists' freesias do well in my cold frames. In the past I never paid much attention to freesias because I don't have a greenhouse and they do not usually survive in the open garden here. I'll try to make more space for them in the future. 

There is a nice tangle of stems and foliage from the Chilean Tropaeolum in one of the cold frames. Will they bloom this year? The hot weather concerns me: I think that's what induces dormancy in these plants as much as anything. 

There were some posts about Asphodelus acaulis recently. Earlier this week I found a note from about three years ago mentioning that the person who gave me my plant had also given me some seed. Evidently individual plants will set seed. So I hand pollinated my plant yesterday. Although these plants are visited by insects now, the stigmas looked spotless. When I looked at the anthers, they looked dry and shrunken. But when I tipped the white style of one flower over to the anthers of another flower, the stigma came up with a bright yellow coating. Now to start crossing my fingers.

Some peonies are already over a foot out of the ground with flower buds the size of Thompson seedless grapes. 

The star magnolias in front of the house are in full, potently fragrant bloom today, and in response to the high temperature I've opened windows and doors. The house is slowly filling with the scents of warm woodwork, magnolia flowers and boxwood. Some of the boxwood are blooming now, and they have a pleasant fragrance (some other sorts not so much). 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.021954º North, 77.052102º West, USDA zone 7
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