A May Day walkabout

The start of May is always an exciting time because for us it’s that part of spring when everything just explodes into growth.  We might be a little behind this year, but you still can’t beat the first of May.  The biggie bulbs like daffodils and tulips are taking off now and the front bed has finally been resurrected from its winter drabness.

spring bulbs in a mixed border

Early daffodils and a few of the first tulips opening up along the front border.

I’m trying to get things moved around while it’s still cool but life always interferes with colds, work, and T ball games so I’m already way behind.  Last Saturday all I wanted to do was move seven rooted privet cuttings into place to start a nice little hedge along the back fence, instead it turned into an hour long project and I ended up digging out a good sized boulder.  At least I got this magnolia transplanted before it leafed out.

white magnolia

Magnolia in position near the street. I wish I knew the variety but it’s a layered cutting stolen from my brother in Law’s yard….. yes, it needs some pruning.

If I had more land there’s a good chance I’d find room for a number of magnolias.  But I don’t, so I try to stick with some of the smaller types… even though a nice big one would make for a good shade garden once you trim it up.  Here’s magnolia “Ann”, one of the smaller bush/tree sized ones, finally big enough to bloom after several years of rabbit attacks.

magnolia ann

Magnolia “Ann”. A smaller, later blooming cultivar that should grow into a nice sized bush here in front of the fence.

winter buned foliage on southern magnolia "little gem"

“Little Gem” magnolia still looking worse for wear after the winter.

While on the subject of magnolias, the freezer burned “Little Gem” is still looking sad and brown and dead, but I’m still pretty sure it will recover just fine once warm weather hits.  As soon as these brown leaves start to drop off I’ll know the plant is starting to think about putting on new leaves.  It will look worse before it gets better, but hopefully by June will look as good as new.

Luckily other parts of the garden look good enough to distract you from the first aid beds.  Yellow primrose has clumped up nicely in the damper parts of the yard.  In the next few days I’m going to try separating this clump, and hopefully this really is the right time of year to tackle this.  My track record on primula is not too good, so wish me luck.

yellow primrose primula vulgaris

A yellow primrose (primula vulgaris?), one of the few primula to survive any amount of time in my care.

I guess I might as well bore you with a few daffodils too 🙂  I have quite a few and really do need to give them some attention this summer in terms of division and moving and “thinning the herd”.

daffodils and tulips

Some of my favorite daffodils…. with a few tulips sneaking in.

A friend of mine lured me in to the daffodil world a few years ago.  While she succumbed to  the dark world of show daffodils, I’ve held strong and try to keep myself satisfied with just a few good garden varieties…. actually it’s hard to go wrong with daffodils, and it’s also hard to stop at just a hundred or two!

mixed pink and white daffodils

Left to right- narcissus “golden echo”, “passionale”, and “serola”

Maybe I’ll admit to having just a few show quality daffodils.  As far as I know something like this one, with a nice strong (not tissue papery) flower substance, nice flat petals, clean unmarked, and no nicks or anything around the edge…. that’s what makes for a flower you could bring to a show (that and a few years practice and you might bring home a bunch of ribbons!)

narcissus "new penny"

Narcissus “New Penny” looking nice in the garden and maybe worthy a spot on the show bench?

It’s still a little early here for tulips, they’re only just starting to color up around the beds and add in a little contrasting pinks and reds, but the muscari always brings in a nice blue to go along with the yellows and whites of the daffodils.  These can be a pest in some gardens, but I guess I’m still young enough or dumb enough to not mind them spreading a bit…. or I’ve been conscientious enough to behead them after blooming to stop their seed spreading ways.

blue muscari

Regular old blue muscari given to me by a friend. I need to remember to spice up this planting with a few of the pale blue “Valerie Finnis” which still need planting out.

A plant I wouldn’t mind seeing spread a little is this nice double hellebore that’s blooming for the first time this spring.  It’s another seedling from the now closed Elizabethtown nursery and I believe it was supposed to be a double pink cross.  Double it is but pink it’s not, and I’m quite happy with this genetic mix up.  The newest blooms open a pale chartreuse and then darken to a limey green.  I can’t wait to see what it looks like next year!

green double hellebore from elizabeth town seed

First year’s bloom of a lime green double hellebore from Elizabethtown seed.

And that just about does it.  After the subtle rarefication of a lime green hellebore I leave you with a final view of bright tulips and a photo bombing tacky orange plastic Adirondack chair.  It was a gift from my mother in law and I’m really quite pleased with it.  I guess my endless whining about wanting a couple for the back yard didn’t fall on deaf ears.

tulips and daffodils in a mixed border

What better front yard art is there than brightly colored plastic lawn furniture?

I wonder how long it can stay out there before the Hillbilly comments start and people again loudly question my design sense?  Maybe a pair of these chairs would be twice as good?  I might have to test that this weekend, since I eventually will retire these to the back.  In the meantime I’m beginning to think this could be the new millennium’s version of the pink flamingo.

 

 

18 comments on “A May Day walkabout

  1. Tsk. The chair matches the flowers. Why would anyone question your design sense? Love that ‘New Penny’. But then, I love just about any daffodil, show quality or heirloom. Have you read the book on Daffs by Noel Kingsbury?

    • bittster says:

      No I haven’t read the book…. And you just pushed me on to the timber press publishing site, and I see they have a 30% off sale going on, and I have a shopping cart started….. Looks like I may put in for an early Father’s Day present!
      Daffodils are such a no trouble plant. (I’ll let you know when I’m digging this summer!) 😉

  2. pbmgarden says:

    That green hellebore is quite something and I adore all the various daffodils. Nice May tour of your garden.

    • bittster says:

      You just have to be able to ignore the daffs when they’re dying back, right?
      I’m glad you like the hellebore, there’s something about green flowers that always interests me. Two years ago I had some green zinnias, and you’ve just reminded me that I haven’t grown them since… I really should. They don’t make much of an impression outside, but in a vase they were very cool.

  3. You have SUNSHINE! 😀
    Love the daffs – I inherited tons of them when I moved in with Hubby…no names, but I think there are at least a dozen varieties. No tulips – the rabbits ate the buds off them. Again…

    • bittster says:

      The sun was awesome! (For the few hours it stayed around) clouds and cool damp are good for spring flowers but not so much anything else….
      I’m not sure why the rabbits here avoid the tulips. Maybe because they love the crocus leaves so much?

  4. Pootershow says:

    Hi, I’m finally chiming in after lurking for a while. Still tossing around starting my own blog. I don’t know what to call it – I think that is what’s holding me up. I wanted to advise hold up on dividing the primrose until after it’s done blooming. Let it be while putting all it’s energy into blooming. Everything looks great 🙂

    • bittster says:

      What a difference from when you visited, There’s actually green grass to walk on :). Thanks for the comment , I’ll hold off on the primrose division.
      I’m glad you’re still considering the blog idea! It would be nice to see even more of your garden, and I do tend to waste too much time looking up your old pictures in Facebook and emails…. A website would be so much easier!

  5. Cathy says:

    I love the chair Frank – sets off all those daffodils so nicely! 😉 Seriously – your daffodils are a real show. Those tulips are sneaky too, didn’t even notice them at first. The pale lemony green hellebore is very pretty – I think I will have to find a specialist nursery as there are only ever red or white ones in our garden centres – no names on the labels, just “hybrid” usually! Isn’t it amazing and infuriating how quickly everything happens at this time of year though – the transformation of your front border in just 2 or 3 weeks is incredible. It all looks great – no time for sitting in that chair for long though! 😉

    • bittster says:

      Yes, this is the time of year when I get excited over all the new things but then realize other goodies are gone for another 12 months. I really should put chair to better use (if the weather ever really warms up enough!)
      Good luck on the hellebores, I don’t know if your area is any better, but hellebores around here are few and far between even at the more specialized nurseries… It’s one of the reasons I have mostly seed grown plants. -that and the fact they’re not all that cheap when grown well!

  6. Pauline says:

    Lovely tour of your garden, Daffs and tulips are a wonderful combination at this time of year and your chair tones in perfectly!

  7. Chloris says:

    Lovely to see so much going on in your garden after so many long weeks of winter. Lots of nice daffs; I love New Penny.’ A lovely green Hellebore. I can’ t resist green flowers.
    Isn’t that Magnolia Stellata?

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Chloris,
      I bet you’re right about the magnolia, I just looked at stellata and it’s very close. I guess I have to see over the next few years since this one has had a rough upbringing (having been sandwiched between the air conditioner unit and a large hosta) and my brother in law insists on shearing his into an odd lollipop shape each summer…. So I have no idea how it will look when allowed to grow on it’s own. I think the mother plant has a pale pink flush when it first opens. Do you know if stellata ever shows pink?

  8. I divide all my primroses in the spring before it gets warm with 100% success. I wrote a post called Primroses that Live describing all the easy primroses. You should try Japanese woodland primroses. I love magnolias and grow lots. Little gem is marginally hardy where we are.

    • bittster says:

      thanks Carolyn, I took a look at your primula post, and I think that was the reason I was keeping my eyes open for more of the belarina series primroses! I have one that’s barely alive after frost heave brutalized it this spring, but I’m hoping it can recover.
      Hmmmm. I’m really trying to convince myself the little gem will recover, but if it’s borderline where you’re at….. plus it has yet to drop a single brown leaf, and in my experience only dead shrubs hold on to dead leaves… the ones that have a chance will drop them as the leaves absciss 😦

  9. Beautiful daffodils. As to the chair, I say double down and distribute several of these throughout the garden. This will provide design unity.

    • bittster says:

      I did go out and buy a second chair, and a third and fourth for the back 🙂 It does provide unity, but I’m not sure it helps my design… if you can call what I do designing, often it’s just plunk and plant.

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