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.
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 🙂
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’ 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.
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…. 🙂
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. 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 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’ (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.
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 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 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?
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.
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…
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 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 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 🙂