Spring keeps rolling along

As it is with most things here, the gardener is not exactly on schedule with his gardening.  He’s not exactly on schedule with many things, but the late freeze and the discouraging damage it did to so many spring greens has left him slightly unmotivated.  Then the relentless rain and cold damp brought on rot, and now dry weather is bringing spider mites to the phlox.  So the gardener will restart his spring in mid May and deal with the mites.  He’ll also accept that many projects will again not happen, and will just clear his conscience and move on.  Iris are beginning to bloom after all, and once the iris start to fill the flowerbeds with color and perfume it’s hard to hold onto a black mood.

narcissus keats

One of my last daffodils to open, narcissus ‘Keats’ was voted ‘ugliest thing to bloom’ by a more serious daffodil friend.  I’m always one to love the underdog. 

One minor project (which seems to be the only project type I’m capable of tackling this spring) which was finally taken care of was the long suffering heuchera plantings.  A few summers ago I dipped my toes into the hybrid heuchera world and since then they’ve been suffering along in my garden.  My planting beds get too dry, my shade isn’t as high and dappled as they’d like, and my soil is too heavy for their roots but I try nonetheless.  They still have plenty of filling in to do but if you saw the before picture I’m sure you’d agree this is an improvement.  Unfortunately the tan lawn clipping mulch doesn’t do much to set the foliage off, but it’s better than weeds I suppose.

transplant and divide heuchera

The woody stems of the heuchera clumps were dug up, ripped apart and carelessly stuffed back in to the re-dug bed and the plants actually look much happier after their tough love treatment.    

As summer heat settles down on the garden this holiday weekend, I just wanted to celebrate the meadow and a few of the newer plantings which did well this spring.  Number one on the list were the tulip clusiana bulbs which planted into the turf.  They looked perfect out there and I hope they return just as nicely next spring.

tulipa clusiana

Tulip clusiana (I think they were a named variety but I’ll need to dig out the tag) were scattered around in the meadow garden.  I will be extremely happy if they settle in here!

A few Anemone blanda look nice in the shadier parts of the lawn.  I tried throwing them around in several of the outer edges of the garden and then promptly forgot until little sparkles of blue started showing up here and there.  My goal for this one is to recreate the neglected show which used to pop up each spring around my first apartment in upstate NY.  If this plant can naturalize around a ramshackle college boarding house I think it stands half a chance here.

blue anemone blanda

Blue Anemone blanda in the “lawn”. 

Muscari is practically a weed everywhere so I added a few of those as well.  The flowers on these grape hyacinths were nice enough but now I keep looking at the seed heads with their kind-of aqua tint.  I wonder if it was the cooler temperatures or if they’ll always have this attractive look…. or is it just me that thinks they look cool?

muscari seed pods

Seed heads on the grape hyacinths (Muscari).  In other parts of the garden I clip them off to limit their seeding around, but here I’ll risk it 🙂

Most of the bulbs were brought in as bulbs, but if you know me you know there are a few seeds coming along as well.  My little gravel covered pots are bursting with new plants this spring and even though the last freeze did a few things in the majority seemed to enjoy our mild winter.  I’m always a bit surprised anything will grow up through gravel, but in some pots even the tiniest of seedlings make a crowded moss of new green sprouts…. which will soon desperately need thinning!

hypericum albury purple

Hundreds of Hypericum ‘Albury Purple’ seedlings sprouting in the center pot. Realistically I need about two.

With new seedlings coming along each spring there are always new surprises as youngsters open their first blooms.  A couple years ago I thought I’d dabble in a few species anemones and see how they do in the meadow, and although I’m not sure they’re all correctly labeled, for now I’m just enjoying them for whatever they are.

aneomone caroliniana

Not Anemone caroliniana?  Pretty regardless, and it looks like it might be able to hold its own if I move it out into the thinner areas of grass.  

One seedling which has a positive ID is this cool little Japanese Jack-in-the-pulpit or snow rice-cake plant (Arisaema sikokianum).  I was surprised to see any of these three year old seedlings flower, and although the actual flower is definitely on the small side for this species they say size doesn’t matter in these things and I’ll just keep admiring the fancy little bloom.

arisaema sikokianum

Arisaema sikokianum.  Although my picture doesn’t do it justice, I hope you can appreciate the mottled foliage and bright contrasts of this flower. 

So that’s the basic update.  I promise this will be the last time I moan about freezes and such, but I can’t promise some other weather event won’t come along shortly to take its place.  Whatever happens it’s a great iris weekend and I’m sure I’ll be going on about that next 🙂

34 comments on “Spring keeps rolling along

  1. Pauline says:

    I think all your Heucheras will benefit from their new planting, they will soon put down roots and grow away. Love your Anemone, so pretty!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pauline, for as quickly as the heuchera show their disappointment in a bad spot they also seem to respond very quickly to better conditions!

  2. Chloris says:

    I disagree with your daffodil friend, I think Keats is charming. And a lovely little anemone, whatever its name. I hope you can start to enjoy summer blooms soon.

    • bittster says:

      It’s been a few days and summer has arrived with a vengeance! I barely remember the flowers of spring and now need to focus on moving things before the foliage disappears completely. Funny how the seasons can change so quickly.

  3. I’m glad your Heuchera seem happier. Maybe this is the beginning of a positive Heuchera movement. I think the Tulip clusiana might be ‘Lady Jane’.

    • bittster says:

      I think you might be right about the tulip ID. I looked at a few pictures before posting but they seemed a bit off in color and I wasn’t sure.
      My fingers are crossed for the heuchera, they looked so good their first year.

  4. “He’ll also accept that many projects will again not happen, and will just clear his conscience and move on.” I have to do this every year as well, except it usually happens around the first frost of fall. I stay delusional for a long time, and go into mourning when I finally face reality. I also love ‘Keats’ and that pale yellow anemone. I am a sucker for any plant that flowers in pale yellow, even potentilla which I otherwise disdain. It was a pretty disappointing spring; I don’t blame you for whining. But yes, we need to enjoy what’s right in front of our face, and quit thinking about all the blooms we should have seen and didn’t.

    • bittster says:

      I think it’s going to be an excellent summer… even if spring didn’t really live up to expectations this year.
      That pale yellow color is great isn’t it? Anything with a ‘moonlight’ or ‘lemon meringue’ or ‘banana custard’ in the name makes me look twice and want to add it to the garden. That and yellow foliage… I can’t walk away from something with yellow leaves and already have way too much in my garden 🙂

  5. Linda says:

    We’ve been having July weather: temps in the 80s and little rain. Add in a huge family of marauding rabbits and I have my own horror stories to tell. But nothing raises my spirits like a meadow with T. Clusiana. More and more it seems like it’s impossible to know what kind of weather we will be having from week to week, let alone year to year.

    • bittster says:

      You must have sent all that warm weather our way because we just finished a week of hot and summer has definitely moved in!
      Sorry to hear about your rabbit struggles. Sometimes it seems like everything is working against us and it’s a miracle anything survives to put out a bloom.

  6. Alain says:

    Could the anemone be sylvestris? I also love your Keats daffodil.
    We had a different spring here. April was the coldest on record which was a drag at the time but turned out to be a good thing as very little suffered. Everything was behind by the time the warm weather was here.

    • bittster says:

      It doesn’t seem right that we were teased by warm temperatures all winter and then had to suffer through all that cool weather with then the sudden cold snaps. But on the other hand some things look exceptionally lush and promising and I’m entirely optimistic for an exceptional summer!
      I’ll have to check into anemone sylvestris. It looks like a promising ID but the flowers are such a clean white, and my plant seems to lean a little into the yellow tones.

  7. Schedule?? Whazzat???? LOL I would say that I am “behind” except that I didn’t really start yet. A partial excuse is that I’ve been helping my son start his garden instead of doing anything here, but now of course the weeds in my place have had countless parties and the fallout is staggering. And who wants to work in 90F heat? (not I…)

    A question re: your muscari — Is it really as invasive as they claim? I originally had it on the list for my son’s new mixed border but am having second thoughts, at least about the usual M. armeniacum. Am thinking about substituting ‘Blue Spike’ instead, which is said to increase only by offsets, the double flowers supposedly being sterile.

    What a pretty little anemone! Is it really that soft butter yellow (like Coreopsis ‘Moonbeam’? 🙂

    • bittster says:

      What is it about working in other gardens? I seem to be more focused, get more done, and have more energy when I’m helping out in someone else’s garden! Maybe I carry too much baggage around here and just can’t see through all the distractions. In any case the heat doesn’t help at all. My gardening efforts went to zero once the thermometer rose above 90F and the pool received all the attention 🙂
      I don’t think muscari is invasive at all, but in the spots where I have it I’d rather not see all the tiny grassy seedlings coming up so I make the effort of deadheading. I think if you wanted to get rid of it you could, which is not something you can say about other blue bulbs such as scilla siberica.
      I wouldn’t go with ‘Blue Spike’, it’s usually underwhelming and even if it does bloom longer I sometimes think it shouldn’t bother since the blue is not as bright and the flowers just look messy in my opinion. I could send you a few bulbs if you want to give it trial run, but I think something like anemone blanda or the regular grape hyacinths would be much nicer!

      • I am doing a serious rethink about the muscari and one of the options I am considering is eithe Anemone blanda or Chionodoxa sardensis. The bed is south facing and backed by mature conifers so it gets sun all day and is also protected from north winds.

  8. Cathy says:

    I think Keats is charming as well! And I’m so glad you did get some narcissus flowers to enjoy. Very impressed by your meadow and particularly those delightful little T. clusiana. You are growing such an interesting mix in there …how do you manage the mowing? Is it only twice a year, or something like that?

    • bittster says:

      Keats has really had a confidence boost with all these nice comments 🙂
      The meadow should look nice into July but after that the grass begins to look messy so I run over it with the mower. Depending on what’s still blooming I either let it regrow for a few late summer flowers or just begin to mow regularly until the colchicums sprout.
      I really hope the Tulipa clusiana does well, I love them! Also nice right now are the dichelostemma. They are perfect for the meadow but don’t always come back as strongly as I’d like, so I’m hoping I can still find a better spot for them.

      • Cathy says:

        Keats has probably departed now (but in a cloud of glory!) Look forward to seeing more of your meadow in the future!

  9. Julie says:

    Keats is very charming in a underdog kind of way, I would happily grow that at home and Arisaema sikokianum is beautiful, is that in a border or in your meadow? Had to laugh at only needing two Hypericum ‘Albury Purple’ seedlings and having hundreds, will you still pot them all up and grow them on?

    • bittster says:

      The Arisaema is such an interesting plant! It’s growing in what I suppose I should call a bed, but is really just a seedbed for weeds. I don’t think it would compete well with the grasses but more importantly the meadow would likely be too dry for it.
      I will probably pot up a few of the extra Hypericum seedlings but I’ve found that my life becomes far simpler if I just hold my breath and thin them out by the hundreds. It takes firm resolve but in the past I’ve let seedlings overwhelm me and had to deal with the guilt anyway when they end up dying of neglect!

  10. pbmgarden says:

    Even minor projects make significant impact. My garden has been coasting along without an enthusiastic gardener at the helm, and is finding its way surprisingly well. Will have to get back to attending to it sometime but this spring I’ve just been enjoying it, not fussing much. Your narcissus friend may not have the final say on narcissus ‘Keats’–it’s lovely.

    • bittster says:

      My narcissus friend as excellent taste in so many other things, so I’m fine with overlooking her opinion on this little flower 🙂
      Glad to hear you’re enjoying your garden without all the extra fuss. Sometimes it can surprise you with how well things grow and develop even without constant redirection and I suppose it says something good about your plant choices and combinations when they carry on without any interference from the gardener.

  11. Spider mites decimated several stands of phlox last year. I despise those nasty things! If you cut them back to the base and give them a deep watering with some liquid kelp, they might make a great comeback. So glad to know heuchera thrive with barbarian pruning. I’ll keep that in mind the next time I’m feeling feisty and decide to prune something. 😉

    • bittster says:

      I was really brutal with the heuchera. ‘Ripping apart’ would not be an exaggeration and ‘rootless’ was the norm.
      I’ll try trimming a few of the clumps back if the look too bad. For better or worse the woodchuck has already trimmed back a few of the worst looking clumps. I was cursing him before, but maybe he was just trying to help out after all… although I’m not sure his trimming back the lettuce will be as successful.

  12. Cathy says:

    I should have given my Heucheras that treatment too, but there always seemed to be some more pressing job to be done! Yours certainly look as though they liked the attention. I disagree with your friend and think that daffodil is quite sweet.
    Hope you have some decent weather now. We had a thunderstorm with extremely heavy rain last night after very high temperatures at the weekend. The rain was welcome but it all looks pretty battered out there at the moment.

    • bittster says:

      We just made it through our own spell of high temperatures and the rain and cooler weather are a relief here as well. If it dries enough I may be inspired to do a little weeding and planting today since the weeds seem to have enjoyed the heat much more than I did!

  13. Christina says:

    Sorry to hear you so demoralised by the weather but I can understand it perfectly. Hope soon it will settle down and you’ll be back to enjoying what you’ve created. Love your species tulips which surprisingly don’t seem to do well for me.

    • bittster says:

      Sad that the species tulips don’t enjoy your garden even though every other tulip seems to love it! I don’t usually have much luck with them either, they fade away quickly even though other gardeners seem to have good luck with them.
      My mood has improved now that the iris have bloomed. The heat made them pass quickly but the flowers were perfect, and it’s re-inspired me to get to work 🙂

  14. Lisa Rest says:

    You have inspired me to take back my yard. I went on a planting binge over the weekend, which meant I was digging up crabgrass and weeds and clearing space for native grasses and wildflowers. As I was recovering from a nasty cold I found I was happiest outside in the warmer-than-it-has-been weather. Now that I think gardening is therapeutic I’m determined to plant the shady areas next! I’m glad to find out planting late was a good idea this year.

    • bittster says:

      haha Lisa, just when you were heading out to enjoy the heat I was dragging myself into the shade to escape it!
      Wildflowers and native grasses seem so reliable for creating a backbone in the garden. I was looking around this spring and thinking that for as much as I like a big dahlia and zinnia flower, the more reliable perennials really make life so much easier.

  15. Who said Keats is ugly? Let me fight ’em! Your heuchs look happy so far! I’ve not had good luck here with the anemones (or snowdrops or corydalis or winter aconite), so I jealously admire yours! I’ll have to find time to visit soon, though with graduation coming up, quickly followed by a week at the shore, I don’t know when that may happen!

    • PS–I’m taking a page out of your book and using dried leaves for mulch in a few beds this year! Gotta love FREE!

    • bittster says:

      That reminds me, I should dig you a few corydalis before I forget where they are!
      The anemones were a surprise this year, I wasn’t expecting much since I’ve killed dozens in the past yet I guess third time’s the charm!
      I love the start of summer but you’re right that it’s so busy. I don’t know about you but I really need to get into gear since you can’t even sit out on the porch yet and all my containers are still unplanted. Doesn’t help that we spent all day at a pool party and baseball game yesterday and that I still need to finish up some painting and trim in the kitchen….
      You’re welcome here anytime, warts and all 🙂

      • bittster says:

        -and I mean of course the warts of the garden, not that I’m implying anything on your part, oh and glad to hear about giving the leaf mulch another try. Hopefully the weeds will die and the leaves will rot away and it will all be perfectly timed so that the voles can’t invade again.

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