April, May and June, all in one week

I’ve been hiding.  Our temperatures spiked up to 92F (33C) last week and watching the wilted daffodils and tulips being thrashed by the dry wind was just too depressing.  In a few hot days three weeks of bloom flew by and it’s now mostly over.  The temperatures finally dropped today but I still wish we would get some rain before the grass completely yellows.  I don’t like a dry spring.

Fortunately May is still May, and regardless of the weather there’s still plenty to be happy about!

growing perennials from seed

At least my winter seed sowing is paying off. This year I have my first frittilarias and tulips from seed, and it’s endlessly entertaining to search the pots for the latest sprouts.

Between NARGS, HPS, and American Primrose Society seed exchanges I have plenty of pots of little goodies to experiment with, and as long as nobody mentions the fact I have no room for most of these, I think we’ll all just enjoy the enthusiasm of the newest little sprouts in my garden 🙂

lilium martagon seedlings

Martagon lily seedlings going on to their third year.  At this rate there’s not much rush to find more room.

In addition to bringing on the seedlings the heat brought the wisteria from buds to blooms in barely four days.  Last spring was a total loss due to a harsh winter and late freeze, but this year about half the buds survived.  I don’t even miss the lost buds, it’s still full of flowers.

standard wisteria tree

Japanese wisteria planted out in the meadow.  Without anything nearby to grab onto and climb I think it’s invasive tendencies can be kept under wraps.

Maybe you noticed my sad little fritillaria imperialis blooming behind the wisteria.  The hot wind wilted the flowers quickly but I managed to get a photo of the interesting inside of the hanging blooms.

fritillaria imperalis nectaries

The nectar drops at the inner base of the fritillaria imperalis blooms.  A cool thing to look at, but it’s just a bit too “glandular” in appearance for my tastes!

The fritillaria will be something to keep my fingers crossed for in order for it to survive, but the japanese wisteria cannot be mentioned without a warning about it’s invasiveness.  Killing it would be far more work than the neglect which keeps it alive, and to turn your back on this plant runs the risk of having it take over.  I keep it in the middle of a lawn area were it cannot grab onto anything, to grow it as a vine and keep it on anything less than a massive arbor would be more work than I want to consider.

wisteria that doesn't refuse to bloom

Some seed grown wisteria may take decades before they finally decide to bloom, mine is a cutting off my parent’s plant which has always put on a heavy show of flowers.  Even this sucker which came up last year after I moved the mother plant already has a few blooms on it.  A smart person only needs one wisteria, I’m not sure why I’m going to keep this second one 🙂

Speaking of plants which wouldn’t mind taking over the world, I think I’ve finally decided against keeping this darker purple vinca minor.  I like it well enough but without a border or wall to hold it back it’s spreading out just a little to enthusiastically.  This plant (and my wayward campanula glomerata) are officially on the elimination list.  I might put some of it next door in one of the boring mulch beds around my mother in law’s house.  It’s not that hard to rip out, improves the look of an empty mulch bed immensely, and between the house and lawn it shouldn’t get into too much trouble.

vinca minor atropurpurea

Vinca minor ‘atropurpurea’.  A good groundcover in the right place, but a little to aggressive for my beds, and I wouldn’t want to let it escape into the wild. 

Before the heat struck I did manage to finish up a little hard labor.  The front house bed has had a once over, been expanded and topped with new mulch.  I forgot who gave me the idea, but I divided up the blue fescue clumps and spread them far and wide across the front of the border.  I like it, which isn’t something I could say the last time I redid this foundation planting.

mixed border foundation planting

The front foundation planting looking all springy.  Any opinions on the pink rhododendron in front of the brick?  I have mine, and it involves a shovel 🙂

The bed along the front of the house has been one of my favorites this spring.  The shelter of the house gives a little protection from the drying wind and my mulching has kept down many of the most annoying weeds.  Some would say my thistles are weeds but I think they’re fantastic.  You’re not going to want to touch them though….

Ptilostemon diacantha

Ptilostemon diacantha.  I can’t wait to see this one bloom (even though the blooms may be slightly anti-climactic) and will surely collect seeds if I get that far… using gloves of course 🙂

Something a little more suburbia-friendly are the tulips and camassia.  It looks nice enough here but I may remove a bunch of the camassia.  In the heat I don’t think they’ll last more than six days, a little too short of a bloom period for my tastes although I can’t complain about how carefree they are.  Maybe I’ll try them somewhere less prominent.

tulips and camassia

Tulips and camassia highlighting the front foundation planting.  The blue fescue has been divided up and spread all along the front now and I think it looks better than the gappy line which was there before.  Funny to think these are all the descendants of a single moth-eaten clump which I rescued from a neighbor’s yard. 

Close up the camassia are an airy, beautiful flower, and I think to see it growing en-mass in its native Western North American haunts would be great.  Maybe someday.

camassia leichtlinii caerulea or 'blue danube'

Camassia leichtlinii caerulea or ‘blue danube’, I’m not sure which since I planted both but they all look identical to me.

Iris season is next.  The stalks are shooting up all over and it makes the rapid passing of the daffodils feel a little less painful.  I’m sure it will be a fantastic year for iris…. unless that’s the exact point when the rain decides to come.

iris pallida 'variegata' in a mixed border

I always forget to divide the awesome iris pallida ‘variegata’.  It’s one of my favorites but seems to like more frequent division and better soil than some of the others.

So that’s it from here.  I have to apologize for not responding to comments or leaving any on the blogs I visit,  I’ve been keeping up with the reading but for the most part have been just too grumpy and unmotivated to add any productive comments.  But there’s hope.  The first irises are opening today and I’m already feeling better.  This sounds good, but unfortunately the weekend is already filled to capacity with field trips, birthday parties, dance recitals, sports banquets and baseball games and I’ll be lucky to even step foot in the garden for a few days.

But it’s almost Friday, and I hope a great weekend is had by all!

31 comments on “April, May and June, all in one week

  1. Grumpy, you are never grumpy and your comments are always thoughtful. Tired maybe huh? I know the feeling, the heat was crazy this past week, then we almost hit freezing. It makes gardening a see-saw. Anyway, you have some nice blooms showing and I like that lonely wisteria “tree”.

    • bittster says:

      Yes I think you’re right about the tired part. The heat has suddenly brought on all the pollen and the dry weather keeps it swirling around so it’s not the best combo for allergy sufferers!
      The wisteria looks a little lonely doesn’t it? I was thinking the same when I looked at the picture, the grass hasn’t grown up yet due to the dry weather, so it should start to look better after last nights shower!

  2. AnnetteM says:

    Your Camassia looks fantastic. I didn’t know the plant until last year when I put in 4 bulbs to try them out. I am quite excited as they are almost ready to bloom and are looking great so far. Yours looks lovely against the pink rhododendron (she said tactfully). Is it the colour you don’t like or the shrub? The wisteria looks amazing. If I ever move anywhere warmer I am going to have one of those (oh and a gardener to prune it for me!)

    • bittster says:

      I could do a lot with a gardener, no problem here with delegating all those little annoying jobs!
      I hope the camassia does well for you, it should enjoy your cooler stretches since here it goes by just too fast when the heat hits.
      It’s the color mix of the rhododendron which I don’t like… We’ll see if is enough for me to break out the shovel!

  3. Christina says:

    I love wisteria grown as a standard tree, they look wonderful and will produce good shade to sit under in summer if grown to a sufficient height. It is funny that you think of it as invasive and I think of it as a survivor in my summer-drought climate.I would find your weather almost impossible to live with; from being freezing just a few weeks ago you’re now in the middle of a hot summer!

    • bittster says:

      Wisteria is so much more invasive further south. Here I consider it “vigorous” and a strong grower, but that scares off many less obsessive gardeners lol!
      I’m not too happy about this rapid plunge into summer. Today is humid as well and I’m really looking forward to the cold front that’s coming through, I need a few weeks to finish dividing and transplanting perennials before everything gets too far along!

      • Christina says:

        When you say it’s invasive do you mean it seeds around everywhere or just grows very fast and covers a large area?

      • bittster says:

        The wisteria is usually called invasive because it spreads so quickly, takes off when it catches onto some support, and sends those searching runners out which conquer new territory! I don’t think it seeds around much, but will keep coming up from the roots when you try to evict it. In the southeastern part of the US it’s much worse due to the long, warm, and usually well-watered summer.

      • Christina says:

        OK, so it does grow like here, if it is in the right place, it’s just what you want it to do, if not……………

  4. Annette says:

    Your wisteria lollipop looks stunning and very well balanced. Mine had lots of flowers but seems to prefer to grow into one direction. In spite of the heat your spring garden looks beautiful. Isn’t it funny the way the weather is never the way we would like it to be…gardeners are hard (or impossible?) to please. Can’t spot a single weed in these immaculate borders of yours…working like a slave, he, instead of hiding from the heat 😉

    • bittster says:

      🙂 I believe complaining about the weather is something every gardener shares!
      I hate to admit it but my wisteria is also entirely lopsided. The photo angle gives a much more forgiving view of its shape!
      I also have to admit to plenty of weeds throughout the beds. The mulch goes a long way in covering up my mistakes. I’m hoping the weeds give up and don’t bother sprouting through…. One can hope right?

  5. Cathy says:

    Hope you get a moment in the garden after all this weekend, just to enjoy all that colour! Love the Wisteria, but it does look a bit like it is searching for a tree or something, so keep your eye on it! I have only recently learned of Camassia and it does add a nice bit of blue. I am also intrigued by that variegated iris, and hope you’ll give us a closer look when it flowers. Have a great weekend!

    • bittster says:

      I did get a moment in the garden this weekend after all. I spent it potting seedling up and feel much better now that I got to check off one more small thing.
      The iris has fantastic foliage but the blooms are a beautiful but average pale blue and nothing when compared to the bright big modern types. I love them anyway though, and their delicious fruity fragrance makes up for any missing ruffles or loud color.

  6. sueturner31 says:

    My wisteria took 13 years to flower from a small plant and my white martagon lilies 14 from seed….now that’s a patient gardener for you…. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      That is patient! I hope my martagons don’t need the full 14 years before they bother to bloom, but looking at my kids grow I’m sure 14 years will pass in no time at all!
      I think I got lucky with the wisteria. It seems to be a really free-blooming type, and it’s not often you hear that.

  7. Hasn’t the weather been crazy??!!?! And you are a brave warrior indeed to give garden room to a wisteria. A word of warning: It doesn’t NEED to climb, so keep a close eye on the surrounding turf (spoken as a veteran of two losing battles thus far). How far away are those trees..?

    • bittster says:

      Heh heh, I’ve already headed two runners off as they try to sneak off into the tree line. So far between the mower and pruners it’s been ok, and when I can’t keep up with that anymore I’m thinking I’ll have better things to worry about!
      Two losing battles, huh? I once thought it would be interesting to see it grow up into a 60 foot tree. It did, and looked great in bloom. My dad did not agree, and cut down both to be done with it 🙂
      How about next week…. frost last night and then up to the 90’s in a few days. It really is crazy!

  8. mattb325 says:

    The garden is looking amazing. I love the new borders – you are a champion to slave away in that heat! The wisteria is great when grown as a standard, otherwise it is just so rampant!

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I have to admit I hid indoors or in the shade whenever things got too warm. No sense in sweating already, there will be plenty of time for that in high summer!
      The wisteria can be a monster, can’t it.

  9. pbmgarden says:

    Your flowers look wonderful but I can commiserate with you about high temperatures and no rain. It can rush the blooms too quickly through their cycles. The temperatures moderated here after spiking last week also, but no rain. The Camassia is a beautiful color. Looking forward to seeing your irises.

    • bittster says:

      Sorry that you’ve been dry and hot as well. Spring can be such an enjoyable season and I really don’t like when summer comes on so fast. I saw you say recently that spring is when your garden is at it’s best. Maybe the pansies and annuals, but there really is so much more to come! I wish we could do the crape myrtles up here like you do. They really say summer to me, but I’m just a zone or two too far North.

  10. It pains me to say it, but I think a shovel might be the answer to that pink rhododendron! It does look out of place back there against the brick. I planted Camassia last fall, but mine are WAY behind yours, having just this week formed buds. I’ve often been tempted to plant fritillaria, but the price tag has so far kept me from doing so! Things are looking good at your house, Frank!

    • bittster says:

      Kimberley I’m not going to just dig it out and dump it! I’m sure I can find an out of the way spot where the color works a little better…. my garden isn’t exactly the most organized one out there anyway!
      I’ll keep you updated on how the fritillarias do, I’m doubtful they’ll be successful but you never know, right? I don’t think I would have splurged for them but they were half off, so I figured I’d give it a try. Let me know if you want more camassias. To me they look like woodchuck food, but I have plenty of extras so easy come easy go, right?

  11. I’m sorry you feel blue, Frank, because your May garden looks lovely. I especially like your foundation plantings. Mine are just boring shrubs and I need to rethink them I believe. Rain today and sorely needed! P. x

    • bittster says:

      Pam, my blue cloud has lifted now that we had a little stretch of cooler weather. Have you had enough rain? Here we’ve missed nearly all of it and the grass is dying. I may sprinkle since it seems way too early to give up on the lawn.

  12. Your garden is wonderful…with the dry heat I couldn’t get much done and now the weeds are out of control…..Oh the dry heat was so sad for the garden in so many ways and now we had frost and rain and humidity and heat and mosquitoes and now more cold and possible frost…it is May after all in the NE!

    • bittster says:

      Oh was I angry when the first mosquito buzzed in for a meal!
      Yeah last night we had a slight frost and early next week they’re calling for highs in the 90’s. It was cold all winter, cool all April, and now a roller coaster all May! Who knows what the summer will have in store for us 🙂
      Weeds galore here as well, but that’s every year!

  13. We had some warm weather also but it only got to about 80. Your front foundation bed looks fantastic. Of course the presence of tulips makes me more enthusiastic, but even without it looks really good. Love the Wisteria, I am tempted to plant one but they make me kind of nervous. Maybe I’ll try an American Wisteria, they are supposed to be much better behaved. Looking forward to seeing your irises!

    • bittster says:

      You can never go wrong with tulips, but now that the sprinkler is running and the cannas are being planted I can’t even remember them.
      Try the American wisteria, but don’t expect a tame little vine which will share a trellis with your clematis. It’s less invasive and also native but it’s not exactly a couch potato.

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