Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Wildflower Wednesday - Bluebells on both sides of the Pond

Just got back from a wonderful garden tour in Great Britain.  The highlight was the Chelsea flower show.  But this is Gail's Wildflower Wednesday, and so will show you some photos from Painshill Park - a grand wealthy family's folly - full of manufactured views, sculpture, and ruins.  It's not a plants-person's dream, but certainly a great space to bring a dog and a couple of small children who enjoy running until they need to be refuelled or put to bed.

We were just on the end of bluebell season last week at Painshill Park in Surrey, and this week here in Oakville, Ontario.  While both called bluebells, they are completely different flowers.  The British bluebell is Hyacinthoides non-scripta.  It can be identified by the colour of the pollen - creamy white - from the two much stronger invaders H. hispanica and H. massartina.  And, had I known while I was there I would have had my nose to the ground to assure you that these are the real authentic ones, rather than an imposter.  However, given the manufacture of the landscape, I'm not confident that I'm presenting the real article, rather than one of its brutish cousins.

Like our bluebells, this member of the lily family grows in open forested areas. 

Even in their decline, quite lovely:

Our bluebell plants Mertensia virginica are ephemeral and are rarely used in the landscape here in Ontario.   However, yesterday morning I found this lovely patch at the front of a lakeside house.

I have several patches in my garden.  This one is in the deepest shade area and its demise is nicely covered by hosta.

I'd hoped that they wouldn't be finished at my favourite trail in Glen Abbey.  So Kevin and I grabbed Bart and made the long climb down to 16 Mile Creek - coming close to disaster when a mad bike rider decided to zoom down the newly paved pathway and appeared to have trouble with both his brakes and steering.  Silly man.

No doubt I made an excellent target bending over to snap these False Solomon's Seal (Smilacina racemosa) that should look gorgeous in a few days when they're in full bloom.

Lots of woodland geraniums - all facing down and away:

And here we were, finally at the bottom of the hill at the creek:

And our native bluebells, Mertensia virginica.  (The mosquitos are now out...hence the wobbly photo.)

And a couple more native geraniums (Geranium maculatum) :

Alas, just a little too late, you really have to use your imagination (note the trees damaged and downed in the ice storm).

And then it was back up the hill and home - where I have made the promise to stay in town to get better photos of bluebells for you next year. (Or should I win the lottery, I'll go to Chelsea again and hire someone to take the photos for me......)


Hannah said...

The Scilla type of bluebells can be rather invasive, I have a few clumps that have spread themselves in areas where they are never watered and they do well there. I just planted Virginia Bluebells last year but the leaves were full of holes from slugs and no blooms this year. Next year I will have to put slug bait on them and hope for lovely flowers, it is great seeing yours. I have a number of other flowers that bloom well in the Borage family so get to see their blue flowers.

chloris said...

Our native bluebells are daintier than the Spanish interlopers. They have a darker blue flower which just hang to one side of the stem instead of all round.
I love your Mertensia, I didn't realise that it can be pink. Your native geraniums are charming too.
A lovely post.

Barbarapc said...

Hannah, their spread is indeed scilla-like, but given their form and colour, I can see why people adore them. It may take several years for your Mertensia to bloom. They like wet springs and dry summers. The ones that do best grow in colonies in leaf litter with a sandy soil base.
Thank you Chloris - I was surprised to see the pink blossom in Bev's garden too. It was the first one I'd seen. Will definitely be back to Britain in earlier spring and will give myself more time to really enjoy, study and appreciate the beautiful flowers.

Gail said...

Barbara, I got to see Bluebells in a woodland when I was in the UK a few years ago. They were so lovely. I can't grow Virginia Bluebells in my garden, it's too dry, but every year I hike to see them blanket a local lowland area. Thank you for joining the celebration and giving me a glimpse of Spring. We are into summer now!