Dear Problem Lady

May 2018

353

Can you please identify a flower I never noticed before – blooming in a great swath along the border above the back steps at the Hill Center? It’s about a yard tall and covered with sprays of tiny white flowers that sway in the breeze. I want to buy some for our garden.
That longtime favorite is Leucojum, also called “Summer Snowflake.” You can buy it online from well-known suppliers such as White Flower Farm, but only in the fall, because it is a bulb. Just find a sunny place in your garden now where it will fit next April and May, and mark your calendar to start looking for it in August catalogues.

My one-upping best pal looked at our shade garden this April and commented “You could do with some Spring Ephemerals” but it’s too late now.” Okay. I don’t want more advice from him. Please translate and help me.
Spring Ephemerals are lovely flowers that you might find wild in the woods – dog-toothed violets, trout lilies, trilliums – there are dozens, all of which bloom early and then, by June, die back completely to their underground roots and bulbs. They’ve become so popular that they are widely available. The time to plant is usually the autumn – when you see other spring ephemerals like crocus, snowdrops, scilla, Virginia bluebells, Dutchman’s breeches – listed in garden catalogues for the following spring. Plant in well-drained acidic soil in light shade – they must have some sun – which is readily available in March before trees leaf out.

When and how does one plant Solomon’s seal?
You may find some Solomon’s seal growing in wooded areas of USDA Hardiness Zones 3-7, but don’t disturb the wild plants. They transplant poorly. Purchase healthy plants from a local garden center. When initially planting leave plenty of room for them to spread. These plants prefer moist, well draining soil that is rich, but are drought tolerant and can take some sun without wilting. Plant now, or very soon.
Apparently there are some perennial geraniums that have a spicy smell and last all season. Can you enlighten? I need something that clumps and is fairly low.
The perennial geranium is called a Cranesbill, because of the shape of its seedpod after blooming. It does mound at about 10 inches tall, lives a long time, prefers sunshine, and blooms all season. It comes in blues (Johnson’s Blue is the most famous), purples, and pale and bright magenta pinks. Several pink Cinareums have leaves with a pleasing, spicy scent, you’ll have to sniff them out.

 

The Capitol Hill Garden Club convenes again on September 11 at 6:45 pm at the NE Public Library, corner of Maryland Ave. & 7th St. NE. Meetings are free and open to all. Membership details: capitolhillgardenclub.org.