Early May Vignettes And Blooms – Clematis ‘Niobe’

Clematis ‘Niobe’

Continuing a look around the garden over the first half of May, I keep coming back to this Clematis ‘Niobe’.  It was purchased in April 2015 at Southern States in Carrboro, a favorite local plant nursery since I’ve been gardening.

Clematis ‘Niobe’

I go through periods of wanting an all-red or all-white and certainly an all-blue border. They never materialize as I imagine but a few of the plants such as this one end up becoming stars.  This is a great shade of red.

The clematis has been waiting in the wings, caught up in the nightmarish aster that has been overwhelming my iris border. Most of last year I couldn’t even get through easily to the back fence where this clematis lives to check on it. This year the aster has been pulled out twice and still is revving its engines, sending out new runners underground.  (Its leaves are visible in the lower right portion of the image above.) I am determined to keep working to be rid of that aster.

Meanwhile Clematis ‘Niobe’ is visible this May and looking lovely. It began opening around April 10.

Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

 

Early May Vignettes And Blooms – Iris

Here is a look at the irises in the first half of May.

An invasive aster overran my iris bed in the northern border many years ago. I had been able to keep it somewhat under control but for three recent years I was pretty absent from the garden and the aster has been strangling the iris. This iris was yanked up last year trying to extricate it from the aster and I was relieved this spring to find it had survived the move to its new location. All this bare mulched border is where the aster has been cleaned up this spring. The iris came with me when we moved to this house in May 2001. It was a gift from my across-the-street neighbor Henrietta circa 1977. It is much smaller than the larger, fancy hybrids available these days. I really like its delicate nature. A similar red one has disappeared, so I’m trying hard to take care of this one.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Passalong from Henrietta-Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Passalong from Henrietta-Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

This next one, also a Henrietta passalong, is blooming in the northern border too and apparently I have moved it to several other spots in the garden. The standards look white in the first photo but in the next appear more distinctly violet.  I’m pretty sure it is the same iris.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Here it mingles with Virginia sweetspire.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris) and Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

It also is thriving in a fairly shady corner amongst hellebores and salvia.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Although the photo is from April 21 this Henrietta passalong is still blooming.  Very tall, with large flowers, normally it is the first iris to bloom each spring—it was late this year.  I relegated it to the side garden soon after the first year we lived here. I objected to the way the bold yellow clashed fiercely with many of the pink peonies and roses in the other borders. Along the side of the house the strong yellow works better with purples of clematis and baptisia, and rosemary.

The next two irises frame the south end of the southern border, passalongs from Cathy, friend and former neighbor in my current neighborhood. The flowers are huge and command attention. The white one is an autumn rebloomer.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

This yellow is also a reblooming iris and came from Ted and Maria through a neighborhood plant exchange.

Iris – A Passalong

Another iris brought from our former home, this pale yellow iris came from my sister-in-law. She referred to it as a Japanese iris, although I’m not sure it really is.  It is a small form iris, gentle and subtle and was the last to bloom this year.

Kathleen’s Japanese Iris

Dutch iris; Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’, ‘Batik’, and ‘Orinoco Flow’; and Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris) all finished blooming before before May. A new batch of Dutch Iris Hollandica ‘Discovery’ was planted last week.

Early May Vignettes And Blooms – Peonies

Peonies have prospered in the fine spring weather. These are scenes from the first half of May.

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Early May Vignettes And Blooms

Southwest Corner – Iris, Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Marking May’s mid-point I have gathered some favorite images and impressions from the May garden.

Southwest Corner – Iris, Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

In recent years summer heat encroached early into springtime’s allotted time. This year spring has held. Spring has held.

There have been some actual hot days in high 80s mitigated by temperatures dropping back into high 50s-60s for a few days–some cloudy, some sunny. If you check actual records this report may vary, but it seems we’ve had a lot of just nice 70-degree days. Today’s 82. Sunny.

Early spring was wet but rains have diminished over the last several weeks.  Rains missed us yesterday, Thursday. As a rule it rains every Thursday morning, the day recycling and waste are picked up in my neighborhood. It doesn’t take long for the garden to seem dry, I feel I may need to even water!  Enter presumptive tropical storm Arthur, likely to form this weekend and bring rain next week.

I actually tried planting seeds this year, unsuccessfully overall. A few sweet peas made it through to transplant but I don’t think they’re in a sunny enough spot. They’re making slow progress.

Lathyrus odoratus ‘Beaujolais’ (Sweet Pea)

Snapdragon seeds came up but my timing was off and I didn’t get them planted until too late. Good thing I had bought some plants last fall.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Back to seeds, I’m on a second or third try at Sweet William. Now it it warm enough I have direct sowed some along with ‘Summer Romance’ Honey-Scented Alyssum. I have lots of other seeds that are going out this week, mostly zinnias. Other seeds I am trying this year: ‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe and ‘Antique Apple Green’ Heirloom Bells of Ireland.

This oakleaf hydrangea is filling out. There are a few broken branches, thanks I believe to the squirrels clambering to get to the bird feeder nearby.

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Squirrels have been excavating regularly and greedily, even as they have all they can eat underneath the bird feeder. I’ve seen only a few butterflies so far, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and American Painted Lady (Vanessa virginiensis).

Dahlias are up, some lazily left in ground last autumn and some new ones planted out a few weeks ago. Seeing a little bunny every morning breakfast in the garden makes me feel closer to Mr. McGregor. I did get a chuckle from observing a brief encounter between the small bunny and a squirrel—both so intently feeding they were startled to find themselves suddenly face-to-face within a couple inches of each other. For a breathless pause there was a comedic stare-down as each conveyed utter shock and indignity at the other’s rude indiscretion. The rabbit caved first and scampered.

American Goldfinches are back. Cardinals predominate at the feeder although sparrows, black-capped chickadees, nuthatches and house finches find plenty of action as well. Bluebirds, robins and towhees are occasional guests. This morning a lone mourning dove has been lumbering back and forth. Birdsong and chimes form a peaceful soundtrack for the garden.

Recently I also planted in-ground Liatris spicata ‘Blazing Star’, Lily Asiatic ‘Royal Sunset’ and Dutch Iris Hollandica ‘Discovery’.  I planted in trays Ranunculus Tomer ‘Purple’, Ranunculus Aviv ‘Picotee Cafè’ and Anemone De Caen ‘Bordeaux’. This last group in the trays is looking most unpromising. I find anemone and ranunculus so luscious but so frustratingly difficult to grow. Their rarity makes me desire them all the more.

I’m trimming back Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine), visible in the back right corner of this image) as it is going to seed all around the garden. I’m too late to be effective at stopping its spread. That time passed years ago.  Similarly the stachys is a plant that takes as much space as it can.  It’s pretty for a few weeks, then I pull out as much as possible.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I’m encouraging little baby hellebores; some find them nearly a nuisance but I love the few drifts they’ve designed on their own. They provide beauty and wonder for months across winter and spring.

Hellebores beneath Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Asclepias tuberosa is readying itself. I look forward to its orange flowers each year.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ is about to burst into bloom in the meditation circle. Its strong upright form and dark leaves once enforced the turnarounds along the meditation paths, but now having long since reseeded itself it is blocking the paths themselves. I relocate or passalong some but mostly I let it be and just step over and around to accommodate it.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Despite many attempts my garden lacks those strong garden “bones” that give it structure all year round. Neighbors’ cars, play equipment, tarps have a way of creeping into many pictures. Sometimes I can block out those inconvenient objects if I carefully frame a shot from a low angle. In person I just edit those imperfections from my vision.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris) and Snapdragons

Photographing long views of the garden does not capture the essence of my experience with the garden. This year I haven’t made trips to garden centers to fill in bare spots with ‘May Night’ meadow sage or Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) and so brown hardwood mulch seems to stretch endlessly in many photos.  But viewed in person from the back porch a story above the garden or down amongst the plants, the garden this year is enough.  I am very attached to the plants. It astonishes me how many plants come back year after year.  Opportunity abounds for changes and improvements certainly, but in the here and now the garden is all it needs to be this year.

It holds that sense of place and wonder singularly unique to a garden setting, encompassing a refuge, an observatory for nature, a spot for reflection,  a prompt connection to calm and peace.

Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ LITTLE HENRY (Virginia sweetspire)

Clematis ‘Niobe’

In A Vase On Monday – Mother’s Day

In A Vase On Monday – Mother’s Day

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

Yesterday was Mother’s Day in the United States. I am fortunate to be mother to a strong, talented and beautiful-inside-and-out daughter who makes life joyful. My own lovely mother died while I was in college. I spent some bittersweet moments this weekend perusing old photographs of her and missing her sweet smile, as well as remembering many other women–aunts, sisters, friends and neighbors–who played such important roles in my life and continued sharing their kindnesses and wisdom with my daughter. One such person was Mama’s older cousin Virgie who shared her plants and passed along her love of flowers. The everlasting sweet pea, the old-fashioned rose and the Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) all came from Virgie’s garden many years ago (and probably the lamb’s ear).

In A Vase On Monday – Mother’s Day

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Verbena bonariensis and Lamb’s Ear

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ was my first peony. It hasn’t bloomed well the past several years and now has only four or five buds. This one flower opened confidently and spread outwards of eight inches.

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Snapdragons purchased last fall have added a brilliant pop of color to the south-facing border. In today’s vase this ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ helps break up the pinky pinkiness  of the arrangement.

Dianthus and Snapdragon

Materials
Flowers
Antirrhinum majus ‘Rocket Mix’ (Snapdragon)
Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)
Dianthus Ideal Select Mix
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea)
Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Rosa (Old-fashioned passalong)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Foliage
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Vase
Black Matte Dish With Red Interior

By the way, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ lasted only a couple days in last week’s arrangement. The big surprise was how short-lived the baptisia would be as a cut flower. The entire array of baptisia stems were bare also after a couple days. The remaining flowers continued to thrive throughout the week.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week. Good health and peace to you.

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Purple Smoke baptisia was the starting point for today’s vase.  It grows outside of the main fenced garden and its flowers usually have been stripped away by now, presumably by deer.

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

‘Purple Smoke’ (B. australis x B. alba) is a shrubby perennial which typically grows 3-4.5′ tall. It was discovered as a chance seedling in a trial bed at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in the early 1990s. Features smoky violet, lupine-like flowers (from B. australis) and gray-green, clover-like foliage on charcoal stems (from B. alba).  [ “Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke.'” Missouri Botanical Garden. Accessed May 3, 2020.]

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Purple Smoke was discovered by Rob Gardener, late curator of the North Carolina Botanical Gardens here in Chapel Hill and was introduced by Niche Gardens, also of Chapel Hill.  (Sadly  Niche Gardens closed in October 2019.) Kim Hawks, former owner and  founder of Niche Gardens, is known for other introductions, including ‘Kim’s Knee High’ echinacea and Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore.’

Last fall’s snapdragons are mostly white or salmon, but one yellow opened up this week. I thought it would be a good foil to the baptisia.

Antirrhinum majus ‘Rocket Mix’ (Snapdragon)

Several of you were surprised to see Clematis ‘Niobe’ in last week’s arrangement.  I am happy to report the clematis lasted all week.  I have had other clematis cuttings fade quickly in arrangements, so I don’t know why that one did so well.  Hope Jackmanii will also make it for a few days.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

The irises are having a good year, but I have lost a number of my passalongs from the late 70s.

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

Iris (Passalong)

Some heavy rains came just as Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ began to peak, leaving many of the flowers bent to the ground.  There are a few more buds and I just stashed 4 in the refrigerator to bring out in a few weeks.

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

I hesitated to introduce pink into this vase but Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’ is looking fine this week.  It has very few flowers for some reason, perhaps from being a bit close and overshadowed by Festiva Maxima.

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Materials
Flowers
Antirrhinum majus ‘Rocket Mix’ (Snapdragon)
Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)
Iris hybrid
Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’
Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’
Foliage
Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’
Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)
Vase
Black Matte Dish With Red Interior

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

In A Vase On Monday – Purple Smoke

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week. Good health and peace to you.

In A Vase On Monday – April Melody

In A Vase On Monday – April Melody

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

In A Vase On Monday – April Melody

As April ends, so does my Coral Charm Peony, which had a good run this year but wind and rain got the best of it Friday morning. After the other flowers dropped their petals, two final buds opened later Friday so I am able to salute this lovely peony and remember it until next year.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

I paired the coral peony with a red clematis that is performing well this spring, tucking in a few more bits of color for good measure with the help of snapdragon and thrift.

In A Vase On Monday – April Melody

In A Vase On Monday – April Melody

Materials
Flowers
Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)
Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)
Clematis ‘Niobe’
Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)
Foliage
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Peony leaves
Vase
Porcelain Ikebana vase, Georgetown Pottery, Maine. Triangle Black Wave (6.5 W x 6.5 L x 2H)

In A Vase On Monday – April Melody

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week. Good health and peace to you.