Dodecatheon meadia

Dodecatheon meadia Dodecatheon meadia     Family: Primulaceae
(doe-duh-KAY-thee-un  MEE-dee-uh)

Common name: shooting star
Zone: 4 – 8 
Height: 12-20 in (30-50 cm)  Spread: 10-12 in (25-30 cm)
Aspect: full sun; part shade; full shade
Soil: moist, fertile, well-draining
Water: moderate

Dodecatheon meadia flowers

Description: An herbaceous perennial with pale green, lance-shaped leaves which form an upright rosette. As many as four leafless flower stalks emerge from the centre of the rosette, arising to a height of up to 20 inches (50 cm). Each flower stalk has an umbel on top with as many as twenty nodding, lightly fragrant flowers dangling from their individual stems. Each 1 inch (2.5 cm) long flower has 5 reflexed petals. Colour can be variable, ranging from white to pink to lavender purple. A cluster of bright yellow stamens is noticeable below the petals for its pointed formation. The whole floral effect gives the appearance of a bunch of shooting stars plummeting to earth. Bloom time is mid- to late spring…April through May. A seed capsule containing small dark seeds forms on top of the stalk after flower petals die back.


Special Notes: Native to North America…more commonly on the east coast and into the central prairies, but also found in the Pacific Northwest. Typically, this plant is found growing naturally in glades, deciduous forests, treed rock slopes, ledges, and meadows. It is tolerant of most soil types…preferring rich, moist, well-draining soil, but also clay-type as long as drainage is decent. Does not like poorly drained, wet soils, especially in winter. Due to its early bloom time, it is an important foraging plant for queen bumblebees. The whole plant goes dormant in summer, reappearing the following spring.

There are no serious pest or disease problems. Deer resistant.

Slow and difficult to grow from seed. Needs vernalization…exposure to a prolonged period of winter cold…for germination. Easiest method is to allow the plant to self-seed. Alternatively, the seed can be collected in spring, sown in a tray filled with a sterile soil-less potting mix, and placed in a protected shady spot outdoors for the rest of the year. (Make sure the soil is kept slightly damp.) You can also collect the seeds and store them in an envelope or other suitable container, and place them in a cool, dry location. There are a few different methods of germinating collected seeds held indoors. One such method is to place some sterile soil-less potting mix in a ziplock bag, then add some seeds to the mix…making sure they are incorporated into the potting soil. Place the bag in the refrigerator for one day. Next day, place the bag of soil and seeds in the freezer for one day. Repeat this alternating schedule for one week. After stratifying the seeds in this manner, sow them about 0.1 inch (0.3 cm) deep in pots and place on a heating mat set to 20 °C (68 °F). Make sure the pots do not dry out.

Or you can save some of this trouble and simply divide your plant when it is large enough.

In our Zone 7a garden: We have a delightful clump of Dodecatheon meadia under the magnolia tree. Always a pleasure to see it arrive on scene…a true indication spring is really getting underway.

We have allowed this plant to self-seed in place to save the work of germinating seeds ourselves. The plant will be then be divided.

Royal Horticultural Society Award of Garden Merit (AGM) 1993


Posted on April 4, 2018


Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’

Primula vulgaris Belarina® Nectarine Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’  Family: Primulaceae
(PRIM-yu-luh  vul-GAIR-iss)
Syn. Primula vulgaris Belarina® Nectarine

Common name: Belarina® Nectarine Primrose
Zone: 5 – 9
Height: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)  Spread: 6-8 in (15-20 cm)
Aspect: partial shade
Soil: fertile; well-draining
Water: regular  

Description: A low growing, clump-forming, evergreen perennial with bright green, wrinkled leaves. Fully double flowers open a deep yellow-orange colour and slowly transform through shades of apricot-pinky-orange to a gorgeous rose-orange as they mature. Bloom time begins in April and lasts through into June or July with regular dead-heading. Plant may go dormant in the high heat of summer if in full sun.


Special Notes: For clarity sake, Primula vulgaris ‘Kerbelnec’ is the patented name of this plant. Belarina® Nectarine is the registered trade name by which it is more commonly sold. It was bred by Cambridge, UK plant breeders, David and Priscilla Kerley, and introduced in 2014. Double-flowered primulas were once very popular in England a century or two ago but had become largely extinct. Through careful breeding, the Kerleys have bred a number of different cultivars in the Belarina® series for the gardener’s growing pleasure. (I have acquired a few in this series: Belarina® Pink Ice, Belarina® Valentine, and Belarina® Amethyst Ice.)


In our Zone 7a garden: Belarina® Nectarine was a new acquisition to our garden in 2017 and was planted in the front garden out of direct sunlight behind a Weigela spp. and shaded by the canopy of our large chestnut tree. A very stunning plant. Highly recommend this cultivar.


Posted on February 28, 2018




Galanthus nivalis

Galanthus nivalis - snowdrop Galanthus nivalis         Family: Amaryllidaceae
(gah-LAN-thuss  niv-ALL-iss)

Common name: snowdrop
Zone: 3 – 7 
Height: 6-9 in (15-23 cm)  Spread: 4-6 in (10-15 cm)
Aspect: full sun; partial shade
Soil: fertile; tolerates clay
Water: moderate

Description: A bulbous perennial with narrow, smooth-textured, green leaves and delicate white flowers composed of six perianth* segments. Flowers are held dangling from the tip of the flower stem. After flowering, a capsule forms, roughly spherical in shape. Several brown seeds are held within the fruit capsule until they are ripe enough for release. 


Special Notes: 

Native to Eastern Europe and southwestern Asia, snowdrops have been introduced, and naturalized, in many parts of the world including the United Kingdom, western Europe, and North America.

A true harbinger that spring is coming, its strap-like leaves begin to poke up in late January or February. Flower buds follow with bloom time happening from late February through to late March…even into April, depending on weather conditions.

Planting a few bulbs will gradually produce a lovely colony through self-seeding and bulb offsets, called bulblets.

Plants will tolerate weak winter sun but best to plant under deciduous trees or herbaceous perennials which will provide shade to the resting bulbs below ground through the heat of the summer. Keep the snowdrop bulbs watered during drought.

Allow leaves to yellow after flowering. During this time, they are sending energy back to the bulbs. If left alone, the leaves will naturally die back and disappear by late spring as the bulbs go dormant for the rest of the year.

Snowdrops are easy care, tolerant of a range of soil types including clay. Purported to be resistant to the chemical juglans released by the black walnut tree, under which nothing will grow. They are also deer resistant. Cut flowers will last 5 to 7 days.

In our Zone 7a garden: I have noticed the patches of snowdrops in John’s back garden generally start appearing before mine in the front garden. The reason, I believe, is because my snowdrops are in shade from surrounding evergreen plants and the neighbours’ conifers…whereas John’s snowdrops are planted under deciduous shrubs and trees.


*Note: perianth – the outer part of a flower made up of the calyx (sepals) and corolla (petals)


Posted on January 17, 2018


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