the gates of hell

the gates of hell
The Gates of Hell

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Land of the Giants

It's been 3 years since my first (and only, until this year) Giant Himalayan Lily bloomed (Cardiocrinum giganteum). This year I have 3 stalks as reward for my patience. Such incredibly beautiful, impressive, and fragrant (vanilla) flowers! This is the tallest of the three, at 8 feet, though it looks rather dwarfed next to the T-Rex (Tetrapanax papyrifer 'Steroidal Giant' aka rice paper plant) to the right.

 Look closely--you'll see the photographer's ghost...

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Tulips aflame

I love to see the flames of hell firing up early in the year.

Tulipa acuminata, aka 'fire flame tulip'

Tulipa "Fire Wings"

Tulipa "Marianne"

More color from Epimedium "Sandy Claws" and rhubarb.

Heuchera "Fire Alarm" completes the effect.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

La Anima Sola

Interesting sunlight effects in the devil garden--the sun ray appears to be piercing the 'Anima Sola' (Lonely Soul). Or possibly extracting from purgatory?
Close up of la Anima Sola--my avatar on the shed wall. (Note: The 'Anima Sola' image was taken from a Mexican holy card; artist unknown.)

Monday, July 10, 2017

Green Wizard

This is the first bloom on Rudbeckia occidentalis 'Green Wizard' in the devil garden (after several years). I suspect the delay is due to lack of sun. This year's bloom is encouraging--I'm hoping for more next year. And I will cut shading branches back further. The top photo is from a few weeks ago. The ring of yellow florets gradually moves upward as new ones open and the older ones are done, but the overall presentation remains primarily a purple-black cone on green sepals.
The wizard has a minion! I think it's Lygaeus kalmii ("Small Milkweed Bug")--in addition to donning fiery colors to complement the devil garden, it contains cardiac glycosides in its thorax that could cause arrhythmias or worse, if I felt like having a beetle snack (no worries there). It's a bit reminiscent of a Tiki mask.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Teratogenic beauty

Veratrum californicum, or corn lily, is highly poisonous and causes birth defects in grazing horses and sheep--luckily I have neither. The pleated leaves are gorgeous, and the flower stalk is awesome--it has been in the process of blooming for weeks, and is now over 6 feet tall.

Pleated leaves in early spring.
 Stretching to bloom--easy to see where it got the "corn lily" nickname
 Full bloom--both the overall effect and the individual florets are lovely! (just don't munch on this plant)

(For those who care to know, Schefflera delavayi and Datisca cannabina are in the lower foreground.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Dre's Dagger

I planted this fern (Athyrium filix femina 'Dre's Dagger') in the devil garden last year. I wasn't sure it had survived, but it's come back nicely. From a distance, it's neither remarkable nor obvious why it was a candidate for the devil garden.

But up close, the reason for its name--its strange growth habit--becomes clear. Note that half the crested pinnae criss-cross backwards over the others.

And the tassels at each frond's end top it off nicely!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fire Wings

Tulipa 'Fire Wings' are blooming now for the first time in the devil garden, and they really light things up. Hopefully, Hades (the mosaic slug) feels slightly warmer today.

Sunday, March 26, 2017


Nothing ominous about these plants, except that Helleborus always conjures up Cerberus in my crazy mind. These flowers are the stars of the garden today, and are quite instrumental in cheering me up and proving that it's finally spring. Several varieties are in flower now; sadly a few others got knocked back by the long cold wet winter and I can only hope to see their flowers next spring.

Helleborus x hybridus 'Jade Tiger'

Helleborus x ericsmithii 'Pirouette'
Helleborus x hybridus, a purple-black variety from Heronswood, with
Helleborus orientalis 'Klondike Gold' just above and behind it
 Helleborus orientalis 'Mardi Gras Double'

Monday, January 30, 2017

"It's Alive!"

The T-Rex (Tetrapanax papyrifer) has been through a lot this past year, and so have I. It woke from hibernation in early March 2016, with new growth at the tops of surviving stalks, maybe 5-6 feet high. (I got this plant in fall 2013, and the first 2 winters, the stalks died back to the ground.)

It proceeded to grow rapidly through spring and summer.
  By September, T-Rex was above the roofline.
  Also by September, buds were forming--so exciting! The first buds I'd seen on this plant!
  The buds stretched out, and emerged above the foliage in mid-October.

In November, I thought for sure it would bloom against all odds (pretty pretty please), since there was still no freeze in sight...
But the inflorescence just kept stretching out and developing--a very slow process. Perhaps slowed further than normal for this plant by the lack of heat here in November. The photo below is from December 1st--could flowers beat the freeze?
No, they could not. None of the buds opened. The inflorescence drooped over, dropping failed flower buds to the ground in a slow sad drip. So sad, too bad.
But today, in late January, there are still green leaves at the top of each stalk (12'-15' up in the air--some are hidden under the drooping buds on the stalk to the right), that I imagine will get an even earlier start this year. Maybe flowers this December? One can only hope. But can I let it continue to grow so tall? Will I regret not topping it? Curiosity will probably make me leave these stalks alone to see what happens. I will also leave some of the inevitable new root-based stalks to grow up from ground level, in case these tall stalks topple from their own weight and winds later this year.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Hades and Poseidon

My garden has two new inhabitants, gorgeous 22" mosaic slugs, courtesy of Elaine Summers Mosaics

Poseidon brings calm in ocean colors under the pseudo-beach gazebo, while Hades is fiery and warms up the devil garden. I hope they send their smaller minions far far away!