Friday, March 23, 2012

Diminutive Spring Flowers

A selection of English Daisy (Bellis perennis 'Rominette Red') with vivid red flowers

Asian twinleaf (Jeffersonia dubia) in a superior flower form from the specimen pictured below

This is my newest addition of Asian twinleaf and its sort-of blowzy flowers are far inferior to those I purchased several years ago, one of which is pictured above.

This tiny fritillaria (Fritillaria armena) is so diminutive and ephemeral I am amazed each season to see it return.

As spring is bursting upon us I am excitedly snapping pictures of the plants (new and old) that, for whatever reason, seem to stir me. The first is a selection of the often maligned and often weedy English daisy called Bellis perennis 'Rominette Red'. I bought this at Mulberry Creek Herb Farm in Huron, Ohio where one of their specialties is miniature plants. This brilliant red English daisy works wonderfully with my rock garden, but I could see lots of applications for it. It also has some sentimental value in that one of my mother's favorite illustrated books includes this plant with fairies or some other such creatures dancing beneath its flowers.

I bought an additional Asian twinleaf (Jeffersonia dubia) two years ago to supplements the plants I already have. Interestingly the new plant is not nearly as attractive in flower as the old ones. I don't doubt they are taxonomically the same, but there is an obvious horticultural difference. My older ones are, to me, an aesthetic marvel while the new one looks like a lavender form of our native twinleaf.

Another very diminutive plant that made a return engagement is my Fritillaria armena. Between being so tiny and going dormant a few weeks after blooming I was surprised to see it return after what was its third winter with me.

These are not tiny enough, perhaps, to qualify for what in school we used to call "belly plants" (because you have to get on your belly to see them), but they are definitely plants that need to be sought out to be noticed. I like a garden that has multiple levels of appeal depending upon the degree of scrutiny, especially when it rewards very careful and detailed observation.