3, 2, 1…BLOOM!

May. Warm weather (hot even!) has returned and the plants have exploded into growth in our zone 7 Oregon garden. Especially the weeds. So, let’s start with those.

Our most prolific weed is probably Geranium lucidum. This one is everywhere, but thankfully easy to pull. I had to laugh at the little bit of drama over on FB where some folks were demanding that a homeowner eradicate this weed from their yard. That would be practically impossible at our place. The surrounding hillsides are covered with it.

Geranium robertianum is much larger, but not nearly as prolific. Also satisfyingly easy to pull. Neither of these are native.

Pink flowers and glossy lobed leaves of Geranium lucidum
Shiny geranium (Geranium lucidum)
Pink flowers and finely dissected leaves of Geranium robertianum
Stinky Bob or Herb Robert (Geranium robertianum)

Two more introduced weeds. Cleavers (Galium aparine) with tiny little four-petaled white flowers. If you wait a moment, it will quickly smother any plant less than 3 feet tall. Annoyingly sticks to everything with hooked little hairs. The seeds also stick to your clothing after they mature later in summer and you can spend hours picking them out of your socks. Fun fact, cleavers are from the same family as coffee and the seeds contain caffeine. If you are so inclined, you can roast the seeds, grind them up, and make a coffee substitute.

The blue flowers belong to Persian veronica (Veronica persica). I like the tiny, dark blue “whiskers”.

White flowers of a sweet woodruff (Galium) species
Four-petaled flower of cleavers (Galium aparine)
Persian veronica (Veronica persica)

There is one little yellow flower on the little buttercup (Ranunculus uncinatus). Native plant that is difficult to pull – the leaves just rip right off leaving the roots behind. Also a prolific seeder. I’ve never seen a flower with a full complement of petals, usually just 1-3 out of a possible 5. I tried getting a better photo of the flowers, but there are only so many hours in the day.

Common vetch (Vicia sativa). introduced to the US for forage. Supposedly edible in salads, but it would take a lot of “foraging” to get enough leaves to make it worthwhile. No thanks.

Little buttercup (Ranunculus uncinatus)
Purple and white flowers of common vetch, Vicia sativa
Common vetch (Vicia sativa)

Chickweed (Stellaria media), another introduced weed. The only(?) neat thing about it is that the white petals that are almost completely split in two (bifid). Cute, but another difficult plant to weed. You pull one part up and it leaves dozens of other rooted stems behind. Thankfully, we don’t have very much of it.

The other two pictures are of the changing forget-me-not (Myosotis discolor), an introduced weed whose tiny little flowers (less than 2 mm wide!) change from white to blue. They are also borne in a coil, which is pretty cool.

White, split-petal flowers of Stellaria media
Chickweed (Stellaria media)
Blue and white flowers of Myosotis discolor
Myosotis discolor
Spiraling flowering stem of Myosotis discolor
Hairy coils

Lovely leaves of our native Pacific sanicula (Sanicula crassicaulis). The flowers aren’t nearly so nice. By the end of summer, these will have gone dormant and we won’t see them again until the following spring. Very deep tap roots that break off when you try to weed them out.

Mountain sweet cicely ‘Osmorhiza berteroi‘ also has deep roots that break off while weeding. Also has tiny flowers and, as a bonus, long, slender, sharp black seeds that stick in your socks and stab your ankles. Leaves scented like a bitter cross between celery and licorice.

Leaves of mountain sweet cicely, Osmorhiza berteroi
Mountain sweet cicely (Osmorhiza berteroi)
Small green flowers of mountain sweet cicely, Osmorhiza berteroi
I think I need to buy reading glasses

Slender phlox (Microsteris gracilis). A much better name would be microphlox because the flowers are so tiny, “micro” even. Only 1000 to 2000 micrometers across (that’s a bad metric joke = 1-2 millimeters across). Supposedly they come in pink, ours are just plain white. An easy to overlook native plant species. Starting to think all of our natives have tiny flowers.

More small flowers on our aptly named small-flowered nemophila (Nemophila parviflora). Yup, it’s native too. The peach fuzz on the leaves is cute.

Thankfully, there are some native nemophilas with much larger flowers that are easier to appreciate, including fivespot (Nemophila maculata), baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii) and a really pretty, almost black version of Nemophila menziesii called ‘Penny Black’. All three are annuals that were seeded in fall 2021 and bloomed in spring 2022. Nice to see that they reseeded for an encore performance in 2023.

Blue spotted white flowers of Nemophila maculata
Fivespot (Nemophila maculata)
Blue flowers of Nemophila menziesii
Baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii)
white rimmed dark purple flowers of Nemophila menziesii Penny Black
Nemophila menziesii 'Penny Black'

I just realized we have two native annual species of spring beauty (Claytonia species) after thinking we only had one for the last 15 years. The much larger Siberian spring beauty (Claytonia sibirica) has paired leaves. It’s a thick, almost succulent, juicy plant.

Notes: Yes, despite the name, this one IS native and is also found on some Siberian islands. Another plant supposedly good for salads. I need to remember to try it and report back.

The smaller, more delicate little-flowered spring beauty has linear basal leaves and fused leaves from which the flowers arise (Claytonia parviflora).

Linear basal leaves of Claytonia parviflora
Linear leaves pointing almost straight up
Small white flowers of Claytonia parviflora
Fused leaves completely encircle the flowers

I like how this next accidental grouping in the South Fence Border turned out. Taller Podophyllum pleianthum in the back, with green-flowered Haquetia epipactis underneath, interwoven with the lacy foliage and deep wine red flowers of Dicentra formosa ‘Bacchanal’ (a native bleeding heart) on a carpet of Montia parvifolia. As of yesterday, the P. pleianthum and M. parviflora are starting to bloom with flowers that match the red tones in the bleeding hearts.

More bleeding hearts. Never would have imagined as a kid how drought tolerant these are. They look so delicate. D. formosa ‘Spring Magic’ is one I recently acquired from Dancing Oaks Nursery for its blue foliage that I thought would play well against the dark green leaves and purply-pink flowers of Lamium orvale behind it (photo of that blooming much further down below).

Deep purply red flowers of Dicentra formosa Bacchanal
Dicentra formosa 'Bacchanal'
Blue foliage and pink flowers of Dicentra formosa Spring Magic
Dicentra formosa 'Spring Magic'

And, two varieties of the common bleeding heart, Dicentra sempervirens. Gold Heart has the potentially eye-gouging combination of chartreuse foliage with pink flowers. Yes, I actually like this. Valentine has a nice red color compared to the regular pink flowers of the straight species.

Pink flowers and gold foliage of Dicentra formosa Gold Magic
Dicentra spectabilis 'Gold Heart'
More reddish flowers of Dicentra spectabilis Valentine
Dicentra spectabilis 'Valentine'

The flowers aren’t much to look at, but this small Azara microphylla tree is planted next to the side door. On warm days we can smell the sweet vanilla/Cocoa Puffs scent wafting into the house and around the yard.

Powering on…

White strappy flowers of Amelanchier alnifolia in May, Coastal Mountain foothills, Oregon
Pacific serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)
White flowers of an unknown Prunus
Unknown cherry/plum that came with the property. Never fruits.
Creeping form and white flowers of Prunus pumila var depressa
Prunus pumila var. depressa
Pink and white apple blossoms
Apple blossoms! One of the best spring scents.

The other night I saw some little greenish-yellow things dangling from the branches of our birch leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus betuloides). Daring to hope, I ran out to investigate. It was! It was blooming for the first time since being planted on 10/29/2017. Light, airy tall shrub. I am training it into a small tree. The tag didn’t mention that the flowers are lightly scented. Hoping it will set seed.

Greenish yellow pixie hat flowers of Cercocarpus betuloides, Birch leaf mountain mahogany
Flowers only a plant nerd would love, Cercocarpus betuloides
Close-up of the greenish yellow flowers of Cercocarpus betuloides, birch leaf mountain mahogany
Befluffled pixie hats
White flowers of Ceanothus Rodeo Lagoon in front of a rusty shovel blade
Rusty shovel and Ceanothus 'Rodeo Lagoon'

Obligatory gummy gooseberry (Ribes lobbii) photos. Rescued from industrial timber company land. I just potted up some new seedlings this weekend.

Two more gooseberry relatives are native to our area, flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum) and the clove-scented golden currant (Ribes aureum) are just finishing up. Very different flower form than R. lobbii.

Ribes sanguineum
Ribes aureum

Ok, really chugging through the flowers now. I over did it on the photos.

Nice color on these California poppies (Eschscholzia californica)
Euphorbia characias ssp wulfenii (not native, cool closeup)
Fritillaria acmopetala (not native)
Interior design
Iris pacifica 'Joey' (native)
Iris chrysophylla (native)
Iris pacifica 'Tawny Meadow'
Calyptridium umbellatum (native)
Ridges and folds
Lomatium utriculatum (native)
Lupinus polycarpus (native, tiny blue flowers!)
Penstemon davidsonii var menziesii (native, pink buds)
Lewisia longipetala 'Little Mango' (native)
Disporum smithii (native, bee pollinated!)
Maianthemum stellatum creeping along the front of a bed
Closeup of flowers (native)
The much taller Maianthemum racemosum (native, I forgot this was fragrant!)
Doronicum species next to a garden gate (not native)
Lamium orvale (not native). Horsetail on right is a native invader.
Paris quadrifolia - starting to spread just a little (not native)
Thalictrum occidentale (native)
Dangly anther bits
Primula veris 'Autumn Shades (not native)
Great pattern, great color
Paeonia obovata var. willmottiae in bud (not native)
Plectritis congesta (native, name sounds like a seasonal allergy)
Last of the daffodils, Narcissus 'Electrus'
Narcissus 'Tahiti' (a favorite, but poorly named IMHO)
A better name would be 'Faceplant'
Another poorly named daffodil, Narcissus 'Hardy Lee'. Better name = 'Stem Snapper'. I like the flower, but what an awful garden plant. Every single one of this variety did this.
Rhododendron 'Cunningham's White' (freebie, not chlorotic or dead yet)
Trillium kurabayashi (native)
Tellima grandifolia (native)
Viola tricolor 'King Henry' (not native)
Maybe Viola sororia 'Rubra'? (not native)
Viola labradorica (not native)
Viola glabella (native)
Triosteum pinnatifidum (not native). Surprisingly easy from seed! Somebody online said the flowers are forgettable (blasphemy).
Stenocactus species
Remember when these were Echinofossulocactus? Much better descriptor for the wavy, rippled ribs.
Oh thank god. Last pic. Hoya lacunosa. Unexpectedly fragrant, weird looking flower. (L's houseplant collection 2023)

Ok, that was a bit…much. I would like to do a better job of curating bloom day posts. But, I got carried away. I’ve got a thing for the underdog, which is why I drop in photos of flowers that no one else would bother with. And, I also have a thing for the unusual – those are sprinkled in here and there to add spice. Plus, I like the common flowers, gawdy flowers, stupidly ugly flowers, …and I had already processed all those photos. Seemed such a shame to waste them by not posting. But still, that was too much. Ha ha.

Head on over to May Dreams Gardens to see what’s blooming in other people’s gardens around the world.

This Post Has 14 Comments

  1. Kris P

    Wow! Your garden has exploded with flowers. Even your weeds are interesting. I have several plants I consider virtual weeds (like Centranthus ruber, Geranium incanum and Erigeron karvinskianus) that I tolerate and simply try to control but many more I mostly can’t name and try vainly to eliminate, the worst being spotted spurge (Euphorbia maculata), which literally emerges already in flower. I love your wide assortment of Ribes and your Pacific Coast Irises – I’ve only 2 varieties and need to find sources for more. And I so wish I could grow that interesting Paris quadrifolia!

    I require no apologies for long bloom day posts as I’m terrible at controlling the length of mine. I’ve gone over-the-top completely this month, breaking my presentation into 3 parts, the third of which is in the works right now.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Oh yes, the spotted spurge will be on its way as soon as it warms up enough here. I don’t think there is much hope of eliminating that one. I sort of forgot about it because I haven’t seen any yet. Surprised to see Geranium incanum as a weed, but now that I think about it, many Geraniums seem to have that propensity. Looking forward to seeing all the flowers from your post!

  2. danger garden

    Not too much! It was a great wide-ranging post. Something for everyone 😉

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Glad you enjoyed it. I think it ended up being too much for me though! Trying to figure out the best length for a blog post – it always seems inversely proportional to the amount of time that I have. When it’s cold and wet outside, I don’t have a lot to say. When I have tons to say because I’ve been gardening, I don’t have much time to post.

  3. Yvonne

    Your garden seems to be exploding with flowers, and as far as I am concerned, there is no such thing as too many flower photos. Cleavers and vetch are a headache here, and they both will grow as tall as they need to reach sun. I love False Solomon’s Seal. It grows nicely under our oak trees. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed your post, and I sometimes photograph weed flowers also.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Thanks Yvonne. I figure as long as I am out there, I might as well photograph the weeds too and get to know them better.

  4. hb

    Wonderful, unique array of flowering plants–enjoyed your comments as much as the photos. Lovely Dicentra, the former name of the Cactus–what a hoot, the “freebie” Rhododendron looks like a million bucks.

    Fun post! Happy Springtime, Jerry.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      Happy Springtime Indeed! It’s my favorite time of year.

  5. Molly

    So much of interest to me here! I had to look up Nemophila, since it’s not something I see here in New Hampshire. Love the petal colours and patterns. And the ‘Faceplant’ and ‘Electrus’ Narcissus (Narcissi?). Coincidentally, I just saw my first Lamium orvale in a collector’s public garden last week, Bedrock Gardens in Lee, NH. It looked so interesting I checked iNaturalist for an ID, so I knew exactly what yours was without even reading the text. Love the fragrance of Maianthemum racemosum.

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      It’s always fun to see what other people grow in their gardens around the country. I remember many years ago I was at a small conference in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and saw bluets (Houstonia caerulea) for the first time. I thought they were beautiful and now I am realizing they might be fun to try in our rock garden. I haven’t used an app yet for identifying plants – I am always paging through identification books. It might be time for me to try one of them out. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. Denise Maher

    I for one enjoy longish posts, and you have quite a range of interesting plants — and you’ve helped me immensely by identifying the geranium weeds I inherited in the vegetable garden!

    1. Garden Curmudgeon

      If there is one thing I can grow well, it’s weeds! I have a lot of fun trying to identify them. Glad you found it helpful.

  7. Anna K

    Honestly, I’m grateful for all the weed IDs… If you can keep all those names in your head, I’m very impressed! I for one will refer to this post for future recollections.
    Interesting about the coffee substitute. That might actually come in handy one day. Chicory is said to be another one that works.
    I wonder if you could eat the vetch flowers? If they are the same thing we have in Sweden, they have a really pleasant, sweet flavor. And the color would be a knockout addition to any salad or herb mix!

    1. Botanica Chaotica

      I can keep some of the weed names in my head, but others I have to constantly keep looking up. At least they are here now for us to reference. I wonder too about the vetch flowers – you are right, they would be very pretty in a salad. I did read that the seeds are toxic unless cooked.

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