As we approach the end of May I’m pretty sure things couldn’t be better. There was a moment (actually quite a few) when I was sitting in the backyard, looked about and thought to myself, ‘wow, this is friggin awesome’. It wasn’t just one thing or another, it was the warm breeze, the scent of iris blooms, birds chirping, the wind rustling fresh foliage, flowers here and there, it was all that and it just feels great after months of seemingly endless cold.
Three warm days and a few rain showers ended tulip season and moved the garden into it’s blue phase with iris and aquilegia.
To be completely honest there were a few days in there when the heat was almost bad enough to say something mildly bad about too much heat, but then a quick sit in the shade fixed things. With enough rain and sun you can almost hear things growing, and I like that.
When they were bulldozing the coal wastelands to build the industrial park behind our house I came across and saved two columbine plants (Aquilegia vulgaris) by digging and bringing them into the garden. Ten years later they’ve self-sown everywhere, creating a nice blue haze.
There used to be a lull in flowers between the last tulips and first iris and roses, but by carefully buying too many plants each year for the last few years I’ve ended up filling that gap. I shall try to keep up that effort and see what else wonderful results from overplanting. Maybe it’s the secret to thicker hair or longer life, you never know, better to err on the side of caution since I think I saw something once about a lack of new plants being linked to excessive weight gain and cognitive decline. Be careful is all I’m saying.
The yellow of King’s Spear (Asphodeline lutea) is back after a couple years of too much rabbit nibbling and columbine crowding. I like the spikes of bloom and will try and give it a little more space again.
This talk of new plants has me a little worried because work and a pile of mulch to spread has kept me too busy for my usual nursery runs. I did manage to finish off the front yard mulching, but after bailing out eight or nine bucket of water out of the basement Saturday I told my contractor he owed me another load of mulch. He agreed. A new roof is nice, but when all the water is now directed to a spot just above the basement door, and the gutter is missing, and you can see water flowing into the house it can be discouraging. Good thing mulch makes me happy.
All the early corydalis and scillas are yellowed and gone and with new mulch spread it looks almost suburbian neat in this garden.
Plenty of other things make me happy as well, and since many of the plenty are things which bloom in May, even the latest round of water in the house can’t dampen my spirits.
Amsonia hubrichtii is care-free in full sun and only needs a wack back to half it’s height in June to keep it from sprawling everywhere.
Even though the rain doesn’t need to fall in downpours of one or two inches it’s still worth it to have a green lawn in May rather than the beginning of drought. Everything seems happier after a good soak, provided there’s some sun and warmth afterwards… rather than endless damp and grey.
With all the other blue a new blue lupine was probably unnecessary, but I wanted something to go with the red one… and of course now the red one’s not flowering…
You may be wondering how the construction is going if all this rain and water is still getting into the house, and I wish I could say we’re almost there, but we’re not. Things are crawling along but with a contractor who is often a one or two man show, crawling is as good as it gets. Good thing we like him and it’s always (eventually) a job well done 🙂
With much of this end of the border bulldozed down, the weeping white spruce (Picea glauca pendula) has a chance to get the space he deserves. Maybe the fresh mulch will keep the bulldozer from coming back!
So bit by bit I try to bring back the parts of the garden ‘touched’ by construction. Areas are looking better but the pond was one spot I’d given up on. There are large rocks and nearly a foot of dirt which have fallen in, but just last week everything changed. I heard frogs singing, and then I heard more. In the muddy, murky waters I see many frog eggs and suspect this corner of PA will soon see a tree frog population explosion. I’m already trying to figure out what I can feed them with since I can’t imagine there’s enough whatever in this pond to feed so many future tadpoles.
There are hundreds of frog eggs in here, and those are just the surface ones which I can easily see!
So if all goes well this summer shall again see an abundance of baby gray tree frogs entering the garden. Perhaps that will make up for the missing garter snakes.
The stone wall is about as good as it gets. In a moment of brilliance all the potted succulents ended up on top of the wall rather than on the deck steps. I think I like it but it’s hard to level a pot on such ramshackle construction.
For all the rocks which came up out of the construction hole, I’m a little disappointed by how short a rock wall I was able to build. People who garden on rocky sites are likely rolling their eyes and saying we have plenty, come get a few, but nearly all my rocks are covered by shale and fill and would require a little quarrying to get to them. Hmmm. I’ve heard of people who have done as much and according to my book, if someone else has tried it maybe it’s not so crazy. Maybe I could start a ‘small backhoe campaign’ and start talking about backhoes enough that eventually someone will say ‘just get the stupid thing if that will shut you up’. That could be fun 🙂
The new wall makes a nice divider between the lawn and the meadow… otherwise known as where I mow regularly and where I don’t…
Having a backhoe BEFORE I moved several tons of rock by hand would have been a smarter move, but if the early settlers were able to clear a field by hand and build miles of wall I think I should be able to handle a few feet.
The succulents will spend all summer out here, unwatered for the most part and maybe here and there a splash of liquid fertilizer will land in their pots. Also maybe I’ll pot up another dozen or so other succulents I happen to have laying around. If 20 pots look nice wouldn’t 30 look nicer?
So what other silliness has been going on around here… the entire winter garden is out of the house but bags of canna roots and pots of caladium corms are still waiting their turn. Many of the deck planters have been planted and overall it’s nearly all overwintered things and not much new. That’s good for the budget but at the moment the repotted mandevilla vine looks like a whole lot of dead, and not quite the highlight of any summer display, so maybe it will still be a few weeks before I share photos of that.
The potager is remarkably under control for May. Garlic and onions are growing, tomatoes have been planted, and I suspect there’s another bunny nest in the tulips. Baby bunnies are too cute to resent. I will tell them to keep away from the lettuce.
In some parts of the garden I think I’m overcompensating for the construction destruction. The guilt of bulldozed and buried plants has me trying to make other areas extra-neat as I try to balance those out with areas I’ve abandoned.
btw chives (Allium schoenoprasum) might be my latest, latest, latest obsession. Here’s pink ‘Forescate’ with white ‘Album’ behind. I might have a lead on a darker variety and when I pair those with the regular lavender sort I think it will be quite nice. Oddly I can’t rememebr the last time I ate a chive, but whatever.
Speaking of abandoned areas, the snowdrop beds are all on that list. Maybe I’ll weed and divide things this summer, or maybe not. These days I can call it a wild garden and don’t think anyone will judge me too harshly, plus it’s always going to be much more interesting than mulchbeds and lawn, even though 90% of my neighbors would much prefer mulchbeds and lawn rather than the excessive plantings which find their home here (the other 10% are undecided).
Weeds amongst the snowdrops. A few nice things but I really need to remove the mugwort and powerwash that birch trunk!
Honestly sometimes I’m undecided if all these questionable plants and sweaty labor are changing things here for the better, but when the tadpoles come I will know they are. Actually every new thing which comes up has me convinced it’s all for the better… except maybe poison ivy seedlings. I can do without those.
Enjoy these last days of May, they pass far too quickly!