GBFD The Promise of May

On the 22nd of each month Christina at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides encourages us to look past all the flowers and blooms of the garden and take a second look at what foliage does to support it all.  I’m happy to once again take part in the fun, and what better month to do it in than May, the month where my garden really starts to overflow with the promise of the new season.  Lets start with the front beds where hosta and self sown columbine have now sprouted up and covered the snowdrop and corydalis beds of early spring.

blue columbine with hosta

These blue columbine were originally found in the woods behind the house prior to its clearing for industrial park.  They’re just escaped or dumped aquilegia vulgaris, nothing rare or unusual, but I like to keep them around as a reminder.  Plus they’re carefree.

This will be our seventh year here and after a slow, cash strapped and baby filled start I think things are finally beginning to look like something.  The colors and shapes of the front foundation plantings are still a work in progress but for now the look is finally something I’m no longer bored or annoyed by. – Cathy here are the variegated iris in bloom, they have a fantastic fragrance 🙂

mixed perennial bed as foundation planting

The just recently mulched, expanded and divided plantings of the front foundation planting.

I love the different colors and textures out here at the moment, but my absolute favorite is the “white frosted” Japanese thistle (Cirsium japonicum).  I know I’m in a lonely position here, but the prickly thistles always fascinate me, and in my opinion variegation is almost always a plus!

Cirsium japonicum 'White Frosted' Japanese thistle

Cirsium japonicum ‘White Frosted’ with blue fescue and some just divided sedum ‘Bon Bon’.

Even with the iris coming into peak bloom along the street border (it’s a good year for iris here), my favorite plant in this mix is the Ptilostemon diacantha.  Some see a spiny weed in need of pulling, I see some of the coolest foliage in the garden.

mixed border with historic bearded iris

Historic iris like the poor soil and hot, dry and sunny front border, and even though the pale yellow iris “flavescens” does not like the wind, the reddish ‘Indian Chief’ and lavender ‘Ambassedeur’ stand strong.

I know I’ve already shown this weed a couple times, but I’ve never seen it looking better…. not a difficult feat since this is its first time growing here!  I suspect the actual blooms will be a letdown, but the fine texture and pattern of the leaves…. 🙂

Ptilostemon diacantha

Foliage closeup of Ptilostemon diacantha.  A biennial thistle from the Balklands/Turkey region in need of a common name.  ‘Ivory thistle’ is the only one I came across and that one kind of bores me…. and with blooms of mauve I don’t see the connection.

There are some friendlier foliages as well.  The juicy fat clumps of this unnamed sedum spectabile (apparently Hylotelephium spectabile is its new name) always make me smile, no matter how common they might be.

spring clumps of sedum spectabile

Spring clumps of sedum spectabile.  The common types are unkillable, and one plant survived for two years after I put the clump down on a stone step after being distracted while transplanting.

Another foliage favorite which I’m happy to have again is this plant of Silene dioica ‘Ray’s Golden’ Campion, which comes via seed from the talented Nan Ondra of Hayefield.  It’s short lived in my garden but easy to grow once you get the seeds planted.  Just rouge out the plain green seedlings.

Silene dioica 'Ray's Golden' campion

Silene dioica ‘Ray’s Golden’ campion with Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ coming up behind.  This section of bed is still in need of weeding, fortunately the shredded leaf mulch has kept most of the little guys from sprouting.

When you circle the house to get out back, you pass what comes closest to a shade bed in this mostly sun-baked garden.  A leaky faucet (left intentionally so for the plants… and laziness) keeps these ostrich ferns and hosta happy here under the dry overhang of the house eaves.

hosta frances Williams seedlings

Hosta ‘Frances Williams’ (just barely noticeable to the right) is the mother to all of these hosta seedlings.  I was curious to see if any would pick up mom’s variegation, but no luck.  All have a similar bluish tint free of any color streaks, a plain look but still beautiful.

The rest of this month’s foliage celebration are also a celebration of wintertime seed sowing.  Lets begin with the seed trays.

rumex sanguineus seedlings with 'sunny side up' pokeweed

My obsession with weeds continues.  Here the baby pictures of Rumex sanguineus seedlings with ‘sunny side up’ Phytolacca Americana next door make for a pretty combination.  Their common names of bloody dock and pokeweed sound much less special 🙂

Any yellow leaved seedling is right up my alley.  Out of my American Primrose Society seeds comes this one little oddball.  My fingers are crossed I can nurse it along to adulthood.

primula polyanthus seedlings

Primula polyanthus seedlings with one yellow leaved sister.  I hope it stays this way and manages to limp through my on again off again care/abuse.  -don’t know why the fly had to photobomb the center of this photo.

Another seedling which has somehow escaped neglect and abuse is this third year Rosa glauca.  I’m looking forward to seeing this one take off, it just needs to go somewhere other than the tomato bed.  Or not.  Maybe it would look nice next to a couple golden cherry tomatoes 🙂

rosa glauca seedling

Rosa glauca freshly mulched with a shovel full of compost.

Sometimes neglect pays off.  The lovely leaves of this lettuce crop are the result of not removing last year’s leftovers until they had bolted and gone to seed.  They’ve even come up in a row as this was a ridge of soil where the mulch was blown off during some winter storm.  Dare I say this planting is nearly as nice as the seedlings I fussed over for weeks indoors and then carefully transplanted and nursed along?

self sown lettuce seedlings

The quality of my weeds is really coming along.  In this photo there’s lettuce, a nice bunch of arugula, phlox, daisies, a daffodil and sunflower.  I must stay strong and remove them all… this really is the only spot left where there’s any chance of fitting in a pepper.

Another weed problem are the many chrysanthemum seedlings sprouting around last year’s plantings.  I must rip them out as well, I have no room for more mums… says he who has a dozen more new little pots in need of planting.

chrysanthemum seedlings

Not sure why I’m posting weed pictures, but you can make out the tiny leaves of chrysanthemum seedlings here amongst the dandelions and clover.

Weeds aren’t the only issue this spring.  The phlox hate the extended dry winds and droughty soil, it brings on the spider mites and I have no interest in spraying for anything.  I’ll make an effort though and spray the foliage off with the water hose while watering (just watering in the first place is probably  good start), then give them a dose of liquid fertilizer.  That and a few more sprays with the water hose might be enough of a shot of goodness to help them outgrow these annoying pests and save this year’s bloom season.  I can’t even imagine a phlox-free summer…

garden phlox with spider mites

What a difference.  Phlox ‘Blue Paradise’ on the left has nearly given up under the spider mite attack, while his neighbor to the right only shows a few yellow leaves and yellowed stippling from the spider mites.  I may just trim him back completely and hope for the best with any new growth which manages to come up. 

One more bad foliage visit.  Sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) is a pest in my meadow garden and each spring I battle the legacy of the single vine planted along the fence next door.  I suppose I could spray the clumps and eventually do them in, but I have to admit liking their patterned foliage and late season blooms…. even though I promptly rip the vines off before seed is set.

Japanese clematis Clematis terniflora foliage

Japanese sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) foliage.  I wish this wasn’t such an invasive thug. 

To wrap things up I’ll leave you with something a little cheerier.  With the exception of a few rabbit decimated plants, the bulk of last years clearance heuchera have overwintered nicely and are showing off their fresh spring foliage (as well as their bland and boring flower stalks).  Honestly I don’t like them all together in one big mess, but as plants grow (or die off) I’ll divide the survivors and see if I can work a few clumps into the rest of the garden and make some nicer foliage vignettes.

mixed heuchera planting

Mixed heuchera from last year’s Santa Rosa Gardens purchase.  Yes this bed also needs weeding and more mulch…

So those are the foliage highlights from this end of Pennsylvania.  If you’d like to see what others are up to please visit Christina’s blog to see what people across the world are seeing in their gardens.  It’s always inspiring!

Have a great weekend, here we have three days to observe Memorial Day and in addition to the usual holiday activities I hope to catch up on all things blogging.  Enjoy 🙂

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!

All work and no play….

There comes a time each spring when the rush and excitement of the new growing season wears off and the realities from the previous year come back to haunt you.  There will be bugs, there will be snapped stems, the rabbits will eat the lettuce, and you will get hot and sweaty mowing the lawn.  It all seems like a lot of work and all the while the weeds keep growing.  But there’s plenty of magic.  Onions have been entertaining me lately and I’ll start with allium moly “Jeannine”.

allium moly "jeannine"

allium moly “Jeannine” with sedum “Angelina” and a few perovskia seedlings. I like how the one perovskia has much fernier leaves than the other.

For some reason I used to dislike most of the flowering onions and only just recently let a few into the garden.  They seemed kind of weedy and never wowed me…. but I’ve been dabbling.  The big purple ones are a no brainer, and last fall I cracked open the wallet for this one (who’s name I can’t recall at the moment).  Surely a half dozen would have been nicer but gardening funds were short after snowdrop ‘dabbling’.

allium "pinball wizard"

The front border is just coming out of a lull as the daisies and roses fire up.  Allium “Pinball Wizard” (I looked it up) has large blooms on short stems, all out of what I consider the “globemaster” family since they all seem similar to me.

Also new this year is allium nigrum, a ridiculously cheap white allium with good sized blooms on nice stems.  I like it!  The only complaint I have is the season falls right into oxeye daisy season, and the allium blooms are lost among the ‘common’ daisies.

allium nigrumLess impressive is my neglected allium karataviense “ivory queen”.  I like the foliage as much as the actual flowers since they have a cool pleated gray look that reminds me of some fancy South African bulb.

allium karataviense "ivory queen"

You’ll have to trust me on the foliage, it looks better in the weeks coming up to flowering. Plus this little “ivory queen” is just praying for someone to take it away from all this weedy mess.

Not an allium anymore (it’s been reclassified as nectaroscordum siculum) the Sicilian honey garlic is a bit of a floppy mess in my yard.  The stems twist around and then put up these ‘interesting’ blooms for a week or so before dropping back down into flopdom.

nectaroscordium siculum -Sicilian honey garlic

nectaroscordium siculum -Sicilian honey garlic- this glamour shot pulls out many of the subtle highlights of the blooms. The actual garden presence might be a little less than overwhelming…

Can I finish off with an onion from the vegetable patch?  This is allium fistulosum, nebuka evergreen bunching onion.  Supposedly it’s a tasty onion, but I have yet to give it a try.  Instead I’m enjoying the long lasting, fat bloom heads.

nebuka onion

Nebuka onion, another subtle effect but it’s carefree, edible, and fuzzy!

There are a few more onions yet to come, but the lawn still needs mowing and it’s now or never, so off I go.  So much to do, so little time…. and sometimes so little energy 🙂

Just a few more iris

Iris season is in full force here and although I’d rather report back that projects are getting done and plants are getting planted, they’re not.  I spend a considerable amount of time relaxing in a shady spot just enjoying spring.  I like to think we deserve it after last winter, but things would probably be the same had it been warm and rainy all February.

siberian iris

Siberian iris. Hard to believe patches of these grow wild somewhere, to me it might be one of the most beautiful flowers. I’d grow more but they are over so quickly and the letdown might be too much 🙂

While I continue my hard labour in the vegetable patch, digging and prepping planting beds, I worry that bearded iris might make a play towards taking over more broccoli acreage.  They grow so well there and the open spots would look so much nicer blooming blue instead of pushing out another potato.

iris snowbrook

Bearded iris “snowbrook” putting on a beautiful show… but lacking something….. maybe it’s just a little too short and congested to have all the grace I expect from my iris plantings.

One iris which will stay on the edges of the vegetable beds for a few more years yet is the bearded iris “ominous stranger”.  It’s not the heaviest bloomer, it doesn’t show up well amongst the brighter colors, but it does have a graceful subtlety which calls for closer inspection.

iris ominous stranger

I need to stay away from the ruffly, overblown, modern bearded iris. I could loose the entire vegetable patch if I start dabbling in these. This is iris “ominous stranger”.

I did try to start a dedicated iris bed when deck building displaced some of the old patch, but it’s at an end of the garden where a mulching mistake resulted in too many seedlings of little bluestem prairie grass.  Grass seedlings and an iris bed don’t mix well, and then throw in a little giving-up and you’ve just added another project on to the to-do list.  Still it’s impressive to see which iris continue to thrive amongst the neglect.

iris honorabile

Iris “honorabile” carrying on in spite of the uninvited grass and blue columbines which have moved in next door. A clump of the late blooming daffodil “baby boomer” also needs an escape plan from this bed.

My favorite this week in the weed bed is this sport of iris “honorabile” called “darius”.  Just one little genetic oops happens and the tint of the falls changes from maroon to more of a violet purple? (please forgive my lack of any color accuracy beyond red and blue).

historic iris darius

Historic iris “darius”, a sport of honorabile with a nice blend of yellow-lemon-purple(?) on small graceful plants.

Here’s another impossible-for-me-to-describe color.  An unknown modern iris is doing quite well in the weed bed, throwing up a healthy stalk of some ruffled murky unknown blend of pink.

unknwn iris

Any guesses on the ID of this one? It was a surprise slipped into a trade box from a great gardener in upstate NY. (note healthy weeds in background)

Idleness and plant neglect seems to be a theme this week, so I might as well stick with it.  This unknown historic was traded to me and to date hadn’t bloomed.  Last summer while debating a spot to replant it in I set it down between some tomatoes and succeeded in ignoring it for the entire growing season.  Maybe it got scared, maybe it enjoyed the company of tomatoes, either way it finally sent up a stalk of these nicely patterned blooms.

unknown historic iris

Guilt is sometimes a good enough reason to keep a plant. This unknown iris will stay just because of the abuse it’s endured…. that and I like the veined falls… it just can’t stand next to one of the fancy modern iris or it will be completely ignored.

There’s plenty to enjoy in the garden as it turns the page into summer and June.  The first rose opened today and the sun is shining bright, but I spend way to much time overseeing things from a seated position.  The queen of the prairie and I sit in the shade of weedy sumacs and contemplate things.

garden seating

Every garden needs a good vantage point from which to keep an eye on things, and although this might be more trailer park than Downtown Abbey, it suits me just fine 🙂

I would claim big plans for today, but it’s Sunday, and the day of rest must be observed.  Spring goes by way too fast to begin with so in my book there’s nothing wrong with trying to enjoy every minute of every beautiful day.

Happy Memorial Day!

Here in the US it’s Memorial Day, a day of parades and ceremonies to remember the sacrifices of the fallen.  Today we’ll be hitting the main events but we’ll also be grilling and getting ready for summer since the weather is finally agreeing with the calendar.  Yesterday I finally got to spend a lot of time in my own garden and most of it was spent getting the front yard straightened out.  It was a pleasure since the whole yard is perfumed right now with the lemony and grape scents of flowering bearded iris.

historic iris

This old iris is one of my favorites.  Although nameless, it has a strong fragrance and carefree habit. Butterfly bush will shade the entire patch come July, but these iris keep going regardless.

The front border along the street is dry full sun, and the iris enjoy the summertime baking.  I think the dry, lean life helps ward off all the floppiness and fungal diseases that sometimes becomes a problem with bearded iris.

iris indian chief

Iris “Indian Chief” is also an older nearly indestructible iris. I sometimes think of these as cemetery iris since they seem to go on indefinitely, lovingly planted by a gravestone and then neglected for the next 50 years.

The iris are a little sparse this year compared to years gone by.  I pulled out wheelbarrows full last summer to try and thin things out, so it will be another year before some of the new clumps really fill in.  Sometimes the garden needs some tough-love 🙂 They were the perfect plant for this location though, and really helped make a new border look full and settled in within the second year.

iris rhages

Iris “rhages”, another historic iris from the 1920’s. Approaching its 100 year mark and still a pleasure!

I did some moving and dividing but this bed will need some serious weeding once I can sort out what all the seedlings are.  Drought last year kept all the biennials and perennials from sprouting last fall, so the real estate was open for tons of nicotina, verbena, and rudbeckia seedlings.  Something about the winter was perfect for seed sprouting since I have things coming up that normally don’t- such as sedum seedlings- and few of the usual characters such as oxeye daisies and forget me nots.

iris kochii

Iris kochii, a bearded iris collected from the wilds of northern Italy around 1887, and my allium splurge coming on next to it. I finally broke down and shelled out the $7 for this bulb and now I’m looking forward to the softball sized blooms.

I think I’m going to collect up all the rudbeckia seedling and just spread them around throughout the border this year.  between those and a few cannas this might be a low maintenance year for the front bed. (this said while considering all the cool seeds still sitting unsown in my seed box)

streetside perennial border

I think I need a few more iris here in the middle….  With all the spring bulbs gone things are too green, but imagine it with big swaths of orange and yellow rudbeckias! (plus a few red zinnias maybe?)

A firm hand (and a shovel) were used against all the little guys drifting down towards the street.  The border may get a bit unruly but I used some leftover mulch to give it a clean edge.  Although I’m not a fan of the brown dyed mulch (it was free from next door) it gives a nice neat edge and might be the easiest thing you can do to make an “overly exuberant” planting look controlled.

mulched perennial bed

A foot or two of fresh mulch along the edge even makes the weeds look better. -yes, that’s a big chunk of coal… this part of Pennsylvania is coal country and we actually sit right above one of the mines.

The border along the house also got a little attention, but overall there’s not much to do here.  Hostas have covered up and filled in around the early bulb foliage and the columbine seed I threw around last year has grown up and added some nice blue color.  In another few weeks I’ll come along and get some annuals in, probably some of the coleus cuttings off the windowsill.

self sown columbine

Blue aquilegia filling in until the annuals get planted. With warmer weather coming the pansy’s days are numbered.

I was a little firmer with the sunflower seedlings this year.  Dozens came up (apparently all the seeds weren’t eaten by the goldfinches) but I moved all but a few to the tropical garden… which has now become a sunflower field.  A few are left though, and the neighbors will just have to deal with rank eight foot annuals mixed in with the foundation plantings.  Here’s another questionable front yard planting.  Miss Willmott’s Ghost (eryngium giganteum) is a slightly weedy looking, thistle-like biennial that is just starting to put up its bloom stalks.  This is my first year with it (the seedlings didn’t do much last summer) but I already love it.  Just look at those flawless leaves with that nice veining!

eryngium giganteum foliage

The striped leaves of iris pallida “variegata” with blue fescue and Miss Wilmott’s Ghost. I’m all into the ghost right now, but the iris deserves some more respect too. I should really give it a spot of its own, and not just these stray bits that were missed when digging the bed over.

I hope to give the vegetable garden a little attention today.  It’s overrun with weeds at a time of year when it should be brimming with harvestable lettuce.  Oh well, we have to pick our battles at this time of year, so I’ll just focus on the front with its neatly edged lawn and freshly cut grass.

iris in perennial border

How do those stupid chairs keep showing up in every picture?!

Wish me luck with the back.  Today is supposed to be warmer again and I hate breaking a sweat on a holiday.  Plus the deck needs powerwashing and there’s grilling to do… and who knows what valid reason I’ll find to sit around with a cold beverage 🙂

Such are the problems of almost-summer!

Time’s Up.

I’m always behind in the garden, and for as much as I think I’ve prepped and planned, there’s always someone throwing a monkey wrench into the machine.  Monday was what I hope will be the last frost…. it wasn’t really a damaging frost, just some ice on the car roof as I was leaving, but it reminded me that the early seedling for the vegetable garden are still sitting unplanted on the driveway slowly becoming stunted and rootbound.  I should almost forget about them and go straight to the tomatoes which are also rootbound, but still inside, but there’s always something.  While I labor away digging beds and spreading mulch and again mowing lawns the daffodils have passed and only the late tulips remain.  Here’s tulip “El Nino”, a big flower putting on a bright show!

tulip el nino

Tulip “El Nino”, a tall, late tulip with a huge flower and bright color.

A tulip star for this year was “Beauty of Spring” (an incredibly uninspired name for such a nice flower).  These were an impulse buy last fall, and at first I couldn’t figure out why I bought another yellow/orange tulip, but as the flowers opened and the mellow yellow and orange lasted and lasted I found this to be one of my favorites.

tulip "beauty of Spring"

“Beauty of Spring” tulip. A Darwin hybrid so I’m hoping to get a couple years of blooms out of this one before I have to dig up the bulbs and divide.

My tulip season was bittersweet this year.  Most came up all right, but many were damaged and stunted by a late arctic blast which dropped temperatures down to the low 20’s.  Also I found that I really missed the vegetable garden full of tulips that I had last spring.  Even the non gardener who I share the house with remarked on the lack of tulips this spring.  She asked if they were just late, I confessed to having killed them.  Apparently they really do need good air circulation while curing, or else the entire bin turns into a rancid heap of moldering decay.  Dumping hundreds of tulips on to the compost pile does not “build character”

tulips damaged by late freeze

I never thought cold could damage tulips but I have several batches like this. Stunted, floppy, and damaged blooms make for a much less cheery springtime sight.

But the season wasn’t a complete bust.  I had a few new ones to enjoy and there’s always something interesting to spice things up.  Here’s “Candy Apple Delight” (ugh!  who names these!?)  with a oddball broken colored bloom.

tulip "candy Apple Delight"

‘Broken’ color on a “Candy Apple Delight” tulip. I’ll have to wait and see if it comes up this way next year…. hopefully it’s not the result of a virus such as the tulip virus which caused so many mania inducing colors back in 17th century Holland.

Lately my photos have stunk, so there’s not much worth posting, but once I get past the hard labor of spring and into the enjoying flowers stage, I’ll again have the enthusiasm to bring the camera outdoors!  In the between time a few favorite shrubs are carrying the show while the tulips fade and the iris warm up.

fothergilla blooms

Frothy fothergilla blooms. The rabbits have been dining elsewhere and the fothergilla bush appreciates the break.

Here’s a closer shot of the brushhead blooms of the fothergilla.  It’s such a cool plant but a little hard to find a spot for since it looks best with a darker backdrop.

fothergilla flower

Although it doesn’t bloom for much longer than a week I think it’s still worth it to give a little space to this early bloomer.

The only other decent picture I got was of this old fashioned snowball bush (Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’) just starting to come into flower.  Far from fancy and new, this heirloom shrub has been around since the 16th century and has always been a favorite of mine.  My plants are cuttings grown off the bush at my parent’s house and I expect them to survive any abuse me, the weather, or the kids throw its way.  The blooms are a fresh lime green right now, but as they develop they’ll go pure white and I’ll have to hurry to get a picture before the  kids pluck them all for throwing 🙂

snowball bush green

Hope you’re enjoying your spring (or summer already for the warmer folk!).  I think the season is moving so fast it’s got me down, but I promise to be in a cheerier mood next time…. once a few weeds get pulled and a few summer plants and vegetables get planted!

When all resolve is lost

There were already  a couple strikes against me.  It was the first weekend in June, there was finally some steady rain to get things growing, most of my growlight seedlings are in the ground, I prepped the deck planters…… and then the kiss of death, a 33% off sale at my favorite greenhouse, Kettel’s Greenhouse in Falls Pa (check the link to their facebook page for current info).  With the exception of shrubs and trees, they grow all their stuff on site in their own greenhouses.  When it’s gone it’s gone, so waiting for the clearance sale is a little risky if you need something specific, but that’s not me….. plus I was already there once in April 🙂 ….  Here’s what I got for under $40.deck plantersApparently I was in a red mood yesterday.  A little yellow would have been a good idea, but so goes the moment.  Celosia ‘new look’, new guinea impatiens, and snapdragons are going to be new this year but the rest are planter standards.  Usually I don’t get this much but the prices were great, the plants looked perfect, and I was rewarding myself for surviving a morning full of surprise furniture moving and bedroom painting.
I think I’m in denial over all the coleus cuttings, canna roots, and other overwintered goodies that also need to come out and get planted.  I’ll figure it out soon enough.  In the meantime there’s a nice Christmas display happening on the deck steps.  Overwintered amaryllis and recovering asparagus fern.  Happy holidays!overwintered amaryllis