30 June 2008

flower portraits: june 2008

After reading up on lemon lilies, ordering some through eBay, planting them, and nipping off all but one bud, imagine my surprise to discover I’d had them all along! Here are some merrily blooming next to a stone wall in full view of the house. Just goes to show that what I don’t know, I don’t see. This one was blooming earlier in the month, 7 June.

Around two years ago, our friends Cheryl and Lynne gave us a division of one of their comfrey plants (Symphytum officinale asperum*). Theirs was huge, and the division they gave us had enormous, rough leaves that wilted almost before we got it to our car. We planted it, and I thought, “Well, that won’t make it through the summer,” but it did and is now a large, shaggy plant with beautiful blue flowers that remind me of Virginia bluebells. The bumblebees have been crazy for them. After a particularly hard rainstorm in the middle of this month, the plant was knocked over. Rather than try to stake it up, we cut it to the ground. Sure enough, a fresh batch of leaves is emerging. This photo is also from 7 June. For information on the fertilizing properties of comfrey tea (B will be happy to see it’s great for tomatoes, according to tonythehoe), here’s a link to a post from the aforementioned Tony over at http://tonythehoe.blogs.allotments-uk.com/2008/06/30/comfrey. Very interesting!

I think the iris and lupine were pretty fine this spring, in spite of some early skirmishes we had with aphids on the lupine. (On two successive weekends I sprayed the developing flower stalks with a mixture of baby shampoo and water, and that seemed to help.) Again, I took this on 7 June!

Gosh, I love perennial flax (Linum perenne).

From this past weekend, here’s a bloom on one of the two rose bushes B and I bought each other on the occasion of our 12th anniversary in the middle of the month (Happy anniversary, B!). This is a David Austin variety called “Fair Bianca.” Very spicy fragrance (I think the blossoms smell like licorice, and B thinks they’re more cinnamon-y). It’s a beautiful flower. (Fair Bianca’s companion is “The Squire.”)

And here’s one of the first blooms on a clematis I bought last summer. “Jackmanii”? I’m not absolutely certain, because the blooms are a little downcast and four-petaled (instead of five-petaled).

* My friend Pam asked for more information about this plant, so I did a little research on it. I think we have what is called rough comfrey (Symphytum asperum). It gets taller than S. officinale; ours gets to be about 4.5 feet tall. I didn’t realize that comfrey is in the borage family (think, of course, borage, but also heliotrope, Brunnera, forget-me-not, and, my new favorite, Virginia bluebells), but on second thought, the leaves are quite similar, roughness speaking, to those of Brunnera, and the flowers, already noted, are similar in look to Virginia bluebells. From what I’ve read, comfrey has a tendency to be invasive, but judging from comments on Dave’s Garden (http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/317/), the positives outweigh the negatives on this point. Some gardeners say that it is enthusiastic, but my overall impression is that it isn’t invasive in the scary, I’ve-come-to-take-over-your-world sense of the word. Just be certain to plant it where you want it, because it’s hard to get rid of. One gardener suggested mowing it down until it’s gone. My experience so far is that if you leave a little of the root behind when you move the plant (and how can you help but do that, because the roots apparently drive deep) it will sprout. Of course, the same thing happened when I moved my Oriental poppies this spring, and I’m delighted to have more of them. In addition to being used for fertilizer, comfrey leaves are used as a poultice, apparently. More information on that is in the comments from Dave’s Garden (see link above).


  1. They are all very pretty flowers but I love the comfrey plants. They look so delicate and I love their color.

  2. Thanks, Shala! The comfrey flowers certainly are delicate looking, a real contrast to the brute of a plant that produced them.

  3. Jared .. is this the mystery clematis ? what a beautiful dark purple ! and YES ! it would look gorgeous with my bargain gal ? LOL
    I haven't been able to visit my favorite blogs in weeks .. just so tired from all this raccoon business and Emma going into an early heat .. it is all closing in on me and then there is the constantly moaning garden looking for some TLC .. LOL
    I have you in my blog list now .. some how I thought I did already .. brain cells are dying off more quickly than I can compensate for ? haha
    Some gorgeous pictures here J !!
    From another "J" : )

  4. Joy,
    It IS the mystery clematis. Mine was also a bargain: I think $4. Ha! I haven't been posting OR visiting for weeks myself; lots of work, LOTS of gardening, and then I'm just too pooped to type anything. I hope to do some catching up in all respects in the next weeks. I eagerly await news of the raccoon and Emma.

  5. Beautiful clematis. I planted Jackmanii last year. It started growing so nicely this Spring and then, suddenly, died! I suspect a mole or striped ground squirrel dug through the roots. I just purchased a new plant (different variety/type II)- the name is outdoors on the tag! and placed it in a different location... hope it works!!! :-)

  6. Shady, I think the same thing happened with my monkshood last year and a lot of my phlox this spring. One little tug, and the whole plant comes up. Darn those critters! Good luck with your clematis!

  7. Now there's another one I can't seem to get to come back! Perennial flax!

    I LOVE that comfrey. I must grow it next year!