Sunday Garden Chat: Spring Bloomers

Schlemizel siberian squills

From commentor Schlemizel:

I have been very jealous of all the flower pictures on the Sunday garden chat. We just lost the snow out here on the tundra and survived 2 weeks of steady rain (not an exaggeration). Got out today to uncover beds.

The attached are flowers I only know as “snow bells” they occasionally pop up before the snow is even all gone but are late this year.

I think they’re Siberian squills. Anybody else got an opinion?

max daffodil

From commentor Max:

The daffodils have come. And also, now gone. This is from last week.

max pansies

I picked up what I thought was a cheap single pot of purple petunias. I actually got a cheap six pack of pansies. Now I have six potted pansies. OK, whatever.

max petunia

I actually prefer petunias, so I got a large single pot of them, not so cheap. Since I already had regular purple, I went with this color.


max coreopsis

The little yellow flowers that I put in pot last year and which promptly stopped flowering and then spent the winter in the basement, looking not at all like a flowering plant, has decided to flower now, just in time to go into the raised bed. (Coreopsis?)

max wild violet

I get lots of these purple flowers in my backyard every spring. I believe the colloquial name for this plant is ‘a weed’. But it’s nice weed. (Wild violets, aka ‘the lawn fanatic’s nightmare‘)

Maybe by next week so of my peppers will have perked up. [‘Nah. Too early.’]

What’s going on in your gardens this week?

74 replies
  1. 1
    raven says:

    Check it out!!! Nice work Schlemizel! I took pictures for a school field day and then spent the afternoon making jambalaya for a great party last night so I did zipola in the garden yesterday. Today will be different!

  2. 2
    Tommy says:

    Garden going in this week. We’ve had kind of a cool spring. Then like out of the blue the last few weeks it has warmed up and rained a lot at the same time. Everything in my hard has gotten really green and growing like gang busters.

  3. 3
    VidaLoca says:

    Yes, those are squill (at least that’s what we call them here). It’s just past the peak for them. A week ago you could see several properties in town where whole yards were covered with those small blue flowers.

  4. 4
    Tommy says:

    @raven: As somebody that has lived in Louisiana I always have to think if you live someplace and make some jambalaya for folks, you know them not having lived in the state/area, you have to appear like a rock star.

  5. 5
    Tommy says:

    @VidaLoca: I did not know they are called that. The first of each spring, before I mow the lawn for the first time, my yard is covered in them. It is strange cause the people that live all around me comment how pretty they are, yet they don’t have them. The only thing I’ve been able to come up with, and I have no idea if this is true, is my yard is the only one around that doesn’t have chemicals put on it.

  6. 6
    raven says:

    @Tommy: I was lucky enough to go to the New Orleans School of Cooking in 1982 when it was on Conti. I have a 20 gallon cast iron pot that I pull out for really big events but usually just use my 5 gallon pot.

  7. 7
  8. 8
    Tommy says:

    @raven: Can I come to dinner sometime at your house :)? I was born in Baton Rouge when my dad was at college. Went back there myself for college. Pretty much have spent at least a week in Louisiana every year of my life. My brother married into this large family. They were over for Thanksgiving the first time as a family and things like fried oysters and grits were on the menu. They seemed somewhat confused. We were like it is a southern/Louisiana thing, you might not understand.

  9. 9
    Tommy says:

    @raven: It might only be 5:20 AM where I am but I’ll take a bowl or two of that.

  10. 10
    Stella B. says:

    Pansies are better for coolish weather anyway.

    When we moved into our house, I paid a designer to make me an official garden plan so that I would not be tempted to buy one of everything that I liked at the nursery. Then I, um, made some alterations. Oh well. It still looks pretty nice, but somehow, by accident, I wound up with spring flowers on the east side, summer flowers in the middle, and autumn on the west. Anyway, spring has ended and needs some serious deadheading and summer is just getting into the swing. Also, too, artichokes.

  11. 11
    Tommy says:

    @raven: Since this is a garden thread, I assume talk of food is OK. Three weeks from yesterday, the LSU Alumni Association will have their crawfish boil by me. My father and I, LSU grads always attend. This year taking my five year old niece. I assume she will be as confused as I was the first time I saw people eat those “mud bugs.”

  12. 12
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Max, yes that is coreopsis. I have several and they surely are a bright spot on the island.

    Got all my tomatoes in yesterday. Something else goes in today. Also got some more tilling to do, but it won’t take long. The section where my tomatoes were last year and so afflicted with the fusarium wilt remains under plastic and will stay there for another week or 2. Then I compost and till it. That is where I will put my corn and beans this year so no big hurry.

    Was in the fifties all last week until Friday when it made it all the way up to 61. Yesterday got up to 79. Today? 88. It is gonna kill me.

  13. 13
    raven says:

    @Tommy: Peel the tail and suck the head! Watch this baby caught it, cleaned it and BOOM!

  14. 14
    raven says:

    @Tommy: One of my buddies was a lineman at Baton Rouge High in the early 60’s. He’s about 5’9″ but he was a killer in his day. He ended up an art prof at UGA!

  15. 15
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tommy: My bet is, it won’t take her long to catch on. A couple buddies and I used to hit an Ozark creek in the evening hours then have a midnight crawfish boil on a gravel bar by the light of the full moon. Sometimes we’d drink more beer than we ate crawdads if the netting hadn’t gone too well, but we always had a good time.

  16. 16
    Tommy says:

    @raven: I had spent a lot of time in Louisiana before I went to grad school there, but never a crawfish boil. I had been there like three days. Just moved there and I didn’t know a single person in the entire state. Walking through the parking lot of the apartment building and somebody out of the blue just said hi. I said hi and they were like you sound funny, where are you from? I said Illinois. They were like cool, we’re having a crawfish boil, you ought to stop by.

    The phrase Yankee and you seem confused was said often. The first time looking at them who knew I would come to love eating them as much as I did.

  17. 17
    Tommy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I hope. I grew up not that far from where you live. We used crawfish as bait, not something we would eat.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    Today’s agenda includes pulling weeds and digging up bushes that didn’t make it through the winter. Three of the bushes are fairly large gardenias that were planted decades ago.

    @raven: I want some.

  19. 19
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Obama at the White House Press Dinner. Opens by having 2 ferns set out,

  20. 20
    RAVEN says:

    @Tommy: We took the City of New Orleans from Champaign. I brought back a huge box of iced mud bugs and we ate em at the tavern! No one had ever had them so it was quite a deal. This was before Prudhomme made his big splash and coon ass and creole were pretty unknown outside of the Bayou.

  21. 21
    Tommy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: OK that is pretty darn funny. I like to think I am kind of remotely “hip.” I guess I am not. I’d never heard of Between Two Ferns. Didn’t even know it was a thing until the right seemed to get upset about it. I would say this about any president, heaven forbid they try to be somewhat cool and/or hip. I mean what a freaking crime. How dare they attempt to appeal to a group of people that isn’t myself. Maybe get interviewed by a show I’ve never heard of. What a terrible, terrible thing.

  22. 22
    JPL says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: He’s really good. I loved the Kenyan in office.

  23. 23
    Tommy says:

    @RAVEN: Oh I bet. I’ve taken a few friends to the LSU Alumni Association event I mentioned that have never been to Louisiana. Don’t even know who Paul Prudhomme is :). As we stand around drinking near a thing large enough to be a dunk tank with stuff boiling in it, you explain yeah they are going to dump that on these tables. Then we are going to eat until we can’t stand. There are always confused looks all around.

  24. 24
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Tommy: He was a little stilted this year. Still got some good zingers in tho,

    “The Koch Brothers bought a table here this year. As usual, the used a front organization for the purchase. Hello FOX news.”

    “I want to offer some advice to Cliven Bundy. Don’t start with “Let me tell you something about the Negro…”

    “The House Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than me. Proving orange is the new black.”

    “What does Obamacare have to do to satisfy Republicans? Give Mitch McConnell a pulse?” (paraphrased)

    A nice send off to Kathleen Sebilius at the end. She has to come up and “fix” a faulty video.

  25. 25
    Tommy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I didn’t see it, just a few clips. I got your YouTube video bookmarked for watching later today. He didn’t look for WMD under his couch did he?

  26. 26
    JPL says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I thought he was better than Joel, although I’d did like his comment about Jeb Bush and the ten year surprise party for Iraq.

  27. 27
    Tommy says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I find the best humor is honesty. Blunt and in your face.

    I want to offer some advice to Cliven Bundy. Don’t start with “Let me tell you something about the Negro…”

    That is both funny and so true at the same time. Anytime that is your openly line, “let me tell you about the Negro” bad things are going to follow.

  28. 28
    JPL says:

    One thing that the President did say was Fox News was going to be disappointed when he’s gone. They are going to have trouble convincing folks that Hillary is from Kenya.
    What will Joe say?

  29. 29
    satby says:

    Yes, the first picture is squill, and they naturalize slowly. I planted squill and grape hyacinths in my lawn in Michigan to replicate my beautiful blue lawn in Chicago. Lawn weed and feed stuff doesn’t really affect them normally, because they bloom and die back (usually) before the grass really gets going. But this has been a weird year, everything is coming up late, and shorter than normal too.

  30. 30
    eric nny says:

    My friends sent me a gift certificate to a local garden center to buy a tree in memory of my father. So I bought “Golden Raindrops crabapple”. I planted it yesterday and I’m really pleased. It flowers white, but the interesting bits are the foliage which is unlike any other crab I’ve seen, deeply cut and fancy. Also, in the fall it has tiny yellow crabapples and the leaves turn a slight shade of red so that sounds wonderful.

  31. 31
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @JPL: Did you see the pic of Joe holding a shoe like a football?

  32. 32
    Schlemizel says:

    Thanks everybody! I googled Siberian Squill and that is what they are. They are a bulb plant – bulb is tiny, When we moved in 20 years ago they were just a tiny bunch but are spreading nicely and do pup up all over the yard. I wonder if it is squirrels hiding the bulbs?

    Raven – My education in cajun cooking came from Justin Wilson, not exactly New Orleans but the picture looks familiar. My oldest (34) was just a kid but he will still pop up with “Happy I am for you to see me”. We used to get a bag of mud bugs shipped to us about once a year and all the kids know how to suck heads.

    Ozarkhillbilly – I didn’t think his delivery was as good last night but the lines were as sharp as he has ever used. My guess is several people went home a quart low last night! Have not seen McHale’s bit yet. I wonder if Colbert would reprise his roll one more time.

  33. 33
    bemused says:

    I planted Scilla Siberica or Squill many years ago and I love them. They come up early and when they stop blooming. the stems and leaves quickly turn yellow and just disappear leaving no sign of them. That’s why Scilla work well if they spread in lawns. You get a lovely carpet of blue and by the time the grass is long enough to mow, they are done.

    I’ve got Scilla in a few flower beds that are the very first perennial to bloom, always a joy to see. It’s too early and the ground is a little too cool to do any serious perennial planting or transplanting in my area when Scilla are blooming so when they disappear and I can transplant other perennials, Scilla end up getting transplanted along with the others. invisible passengers. The fun part comes the following spring seeing Scilla sprout in all sorts of unexpected places.

  34. 34
    JPL says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: That was pretty funny and the President enjoyed that picture also. I wonder how Fox responds, since they are so thin skinned, they could not have enjoyed the festivities. I assume that it will have something to do with Benghazi.

  35. 35
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    I wonder how Fox responds,

    They won’t. Even they are able to recognize that that would be very bad form.

    @Schlemizel: I still watch Colbert’s routine from time to time. Pure genius!

  36. 36
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Those little purple flowers are EVERYWHERE this year and I wondered what they are. They do look like the photos of Siberian Squills. I guess that makes sense since we had Siberia’s weather this winter.
    My ivy vines are in terrible shape. I’ve never seen any die back over the winter but we lost nearly every leaf on the north side of the house. Just all brown. Looks terrible and I’ll have to rake off all of the dead stuff so they can re-grow. Which of course they will because they’re unkillable. Winter of the century? Just a setback.

  37. 37
    Schlemizel says:

    They really should have shut the deal down after Steven – nobody is going to ever top that night.

  38. 38
    grillo says:

    I have a really lovely yard, full of flowers and fruit trees and wonderful plants, some put in the ground by the previous owners of the house, and some put in the ground by my sister and many put in the ground by me in the 1990s.

    And then there was a dark time in my life, and the whole place has been a scene of epic neglect for a decade.

    So everything was overgrown. Weeds, weed vines, weed trees everywhere. Chaos. And what was a beautiful little postage stamp of a Boston suburb yard and garden became an unhappy place.

    But this year it is being made beautiful again. Things are trimmed. I can see the daffodils stubbornly clinging to life. Forsythia and rhododendron insist on blooming. A few little flowers on the quince. Even the cherry tree I put in to replace the old cherry tree flouts my neglect and covers itself with white blossoms.

    And that makes me very happy.

  39. 39
    WereBear says:

    @Tommy: When I lived on Long Island, my lawn was the only one around not chemicalized. Everyone complained they couldn’t keep roses growing because of the Japanese beetles, when I had 80+ rosebushes thriving.

    I would tell them that it was because I was organic. Grubs season, my lawn was covered with birds, who ate the grubs.

  40. 40
    Jennifer says:

    Re Siberian Squill: we have them too, at least I think what we refer to as “spring beauties” are actually a cultivar of squill. Ours are white ranging to very pale blue. They are a bulb plant but if you don’t mow before the flowers are done they can also spread by seed.

  41. 41
    Ellen says:

    Those little blue flowers are scillas. Very early, low-growing perennials.

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    @grillo: You should send Anne some pics. My yard is always a one step forward and two steps back type of area.

  43. 43
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    I hope you’ll take and link to pictures. And I’m very happy for you and glad you came through the dark times into the light.

  44. 44
    chopper says:

    Tomatoes are dealin with a nasty round of bacterial leaf spot. Still, should have some nice ripe early girls in a month.

    Yellow zucchini is doing what zucchini does best, and exploding everywhere.

  45. 45
    Mike E says:


    They really should have shut the deal down after Steven – nobody is going to ever top that night.


  46. 46
    MomSense says:

    I’m contemplating changing a small lawn to a garden or meadow so have been doing some reading on various options to figure out what might work in my space. Lawns do not do well in my neighborhood and I refuse to bring tru-green or some other chemical spraying company in like so many of my neighbors have. Their lawns still look like crap btw.

    If anyone has some zone 5 ideas, I would be most grateful. Here is a link to an audobon publication on reducing the lawn.

  47. 47
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @MomSense: Way back in the late ’80s I had a place in south STL with a postage stamp for a front yard. I got sick and tired of mowing it at the 45 degree slope so I put in a retaining wall. Tilled up all the grass and added some topsoil, then broadcast white Alyssum seed. All summer long I had a carpet of snow that never needed mowing. (also put in some rose bushes across the east facing front which added a nice color accent).

    Doesn’t really sound like what you are after, but maybe it will germinate an idea or 2.

  48. 48
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @grillo: Gardening is soothing to the soul. Something about playing in the dirt, and giving something life, and that something returning your gift a thousand fold.

  49. 49
    Ultraviolet Thunder says:

    Check your local codes. Some municipalities have strict rules about street facing yards. People get ticketed and hassled for taking out the grass. Our city is pretty liberal, and allows front gardens as long as they’re reasonably well managed. It makes for nice variety when walking the neighborhood. Works especially well where trees throw too much shade for grass.

  50. 50
    satby says:

    @Schlemizel: Squirrels don’t bother the bulbs, but as well as naturalizing they sometimes develope seed pods, so they spread both ways.

    Or what Jennifer said

  51. 51
    Linda Featheringill says:

    Garden? Oy!

    I was incarcerated in the hospital again and lost a few of my seedlings, but the survivors are hardening off now.

    The garden will be a little later and probably smaller than I planned. But I’m really looking forward to the tomatoes in the late summer.

  52. 52
    Schlemizel says:

    Thanks to both of you – I could not figure out how they got scattered so far. I know the squirrels love to eat tulip bulbs!

  53. 53
    JPL says:

    @Linda Featheringill: Take care of yourself.

  54. 54
    Fuzzy says:

    Will this purple scillis/squill grow in Northern CA.? I’m in a no snow, light frost, hot summer area in the East Bay.

  55. 55
    WereBear says:

    @MomSense: Zone five is great for flowering perennials for a Cottage Garden look. Asters, coneflowers, and rhododendrons (for shadier patches) are easy keepers.

    Roses do well in zone five if you have full sun. They interplant beautifully with herbs (garlic is good for them!) and the classic “living mulch” is alyssum, which comes in white OR purple.

    Bulbs galore, from crocus to irises, can weather the winters and provide early color.

  56. 56
    Linda Featheringill says:


    Thanks. I realize that recidivism is not a good thing.


  57. 57
    MomSense says:


    Sounds beautiful to me.

    @Ultraviolet Thunder:

    The local codes are not the problem–the homeowner’s association is though!

  58. 58
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @WereBear: I recently found seeds for yellow Allyssum (Ferry-Morse) I use the white and pink/purple liberally but a few spots would look better in warmer colors.

  59. 59
    MomSense says:


    Those are a few of my favorite things! I have put perennial beds all around the house using many of those plants and salvaging the bulbs and plants from some poorly placed previous flower beds. They are all thriving now that they have been getting lots of compost, manure, fish fertilizer, and the right amount of sunlight. The problem is the lawn beyond the flower beds. The soil is terrible and grass doesn’t grow well plus I really don’t want to use all the water it would take to keep it from just being brown with bare patches.

  60. 60
    WaterGirl says:

    @grillo: Beautiful yard, dark period, epic neglect, reclamation. Been there, done that. Good for you!

    I reclaimed my yard and my life a few years a few years ago. It’s sad that some things had clearly died, but not everything. I remember finding a tiny little hydrangea almost entirely covered with weeds, and after weeding and watering it got big, even during the first year of reclamation, and I was delighted!

  61. 61
    WaterGirl says:

    @MomSense: When I read your first sentence, my head put it to song.

    We really must read ahead more than we know, because it was a song in my head from the very first word.

    I am zone 5 and the things that grow best are plants native to Illinois. Do you have anywhere that sells native plants? There is always a sale here one day a year in the spring.

  62. 62
    WereBear says:

    @MomSense: The soil is terrible and grass doesn’t grow well plus I really don’t want to use all the water it would take to keep it from just being brown with bare patches.

    Here’s some ideas for such a spot, depending on sun.

    If you have enough sun, Butterfly plants and other baptisias are fantastic in bad soil. The deep root means they don’t need a lot of water to keep them going.

  63. 63
    MomSense says:

    I was thinking of that song when I wrote it!

  64. 64
    MomSense says:


    Yes, full sun – south western exposure. Thanks!

  65. 65
    WereBear says:

    @MomSense: Oh, then you have a lot of choices. Google “prairie drought garden” and you’ll discover a number of “good soldiers” who handle poor soil and low water conditions.

  66. 66
    Gretchen says:

    grillo: I’d like to see your yard too. I felt it when you said your yard had been neglected and you’re bringing it back. I could use some inspiration, because mine is always more than I can handle.
    Water Girl: Good idea about googling drought-tolerant prairie plants. I live in Kansas, and have a little patch of dirt near the patio that I keep trying to make pretty, and it never seems to work out. I need a plan.

  67. 67
    satby says:

    @WaterGirl: Try this to find a native plant source in any area.

  68. 68
    StringOnAStick says:

    @MomSense: I’m in zone 5 and this is the desert known as Colorado, so I got rid of the pathetic front lawn when we moved in and planted low-growing xeric (water thrifty) native shrubs (hardy manzanita from western CO). Our place is situated on a sandstone/mudstone outcrop so around the ‘hood you can tell just by the health of the veg who sprung for importing actual soil or who didn’t. The native stuff bakes into something you can’t even get a shovel into once summer hits full swing.

    Even with all that and as hot and dry as it gets here, I couldn’t be happier with our totally xeric yard and its associated drip irrigation system (Tinker Toys for adults, but easier). The dry-adapted stuff looks better in the heat of summer and accepting that this is a high, cold and hot desert and not an English countryside makes more sense. If you’re in a dry place, consider planting some of the wonderful hummingbird and butterfly friendly xeric plants like agastaches, woody salvias, wild and “refined” milkweeds, and local natives; the local critters will thank you, the deer and elk will mostly leave them alone, and you’ll save on two precious resources: water and your time. A good mail order resource is High Country Gardens – lots of good and accurate descriptions instead of over-the-top photos and descriptions to just sell stuff.

  69. 69
    Joel says:

    top is definitely squill.

  70. 70
    StringOnAStick says:

    @MomSense: Oops, didn’t realize you were dealing with an HOA. Good luck, and come prepared with a nicely sketched-out plan and some photos of what you want to do. They seem to handle it better if the grasses aren’t too tall (most HOA’s think ornamental grasses look unkempt if unmowed) and there are lots of flowering things. Prairie natives like Oenothera macrocarpa (Missouri primrose – avoid the pink version – too rampant), Dalea purpureum, smaller coreopsis, Echinacea, and Callirhoe involcrata (Prairie Winecups) intermix nicely with native prairie grasses, as does some “civilized” milkweeds for the Monarchs.

  71. 71
    Mnemosyne says:


    Another good resource may be the National Wildlife Federation. They came to an Earth Month event at the Giant Evil Corporation and a nice lady who works for them offered to let me email her and tell her what my conditions were and she could help me decide what plants to get so I could attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

    Our gardening zone is 9B so I don’t think her tips for us would help you much, but I’m sure they have lots more nice ladies and gentlemen who could give you advice.

  72. 72
    jurassicpork says:

    The insanity of taking a nonexistent government to a nonexistent federal court over nonexistent police brutality, as only Bundy’s Army can deliver.

  73. 73
    Anne Laurie says:


    The problem is the lawn beyond the flower beds. The soil is terrible and grass doesn’t grow well plus I really don’t want to use all the water it would take to keep it from just being brown with bare patches.

    Sounds like you want ‘rock garden’ plants… don’t know how your HOA would deal, but showing them pretty pictures with Latin names attached might help.

    If the ‘lawn’ doesn’t get a lot of foot traffic, you might just look for a ground cover you can live with… my Spousal Unit would cover every flattish surface with vinca if he could get away with it, because he loves the purple-blue flowers every spring, and that the rest of the year the leafy vines tend to disguise/discourage weeds. It’s also quite tough — grows well here despite my neglect, even in semi-shady areas close to the heavily-salted-all-winter street. If the HOA is dubious, you could even plant a bunch of ‘starts’ all around the edge of your lawn and let them take their own way. By the time any of your more Puritan neighbors notice, those cute little blue-eyed individuals will have the chance to mature into an ever-expanding border-bed…

  74. 74
    ron says:

    just so you know, siberian squills are invasive and crowd out native species in woodlands.


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