Tag Archives: Bearded Iris

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.

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.

After The Rain

Rosa (Rose) -Virgie’s Old-fashioned Rose

The garden was soggy yesterday after an afternoon storm that brought wind and rain. Temperatures were in the 80s F. this week, but will be 70s today after the storm. It has been a lovely, long spring in the garden. Often we move from winter right into hot summer days and the blooms don’t have a chance to linger.

My mother’s older cousin, Virgie, passed along many of her plants through the years. This rose is one she, my grandmother, mother, my daughter for a time (when she had a yard) and I think another cousin from my generation all have grown. It is sweetly fragrant.

Rosa (Rose) -Virgie’s Old-fashioned Rose

The underside of this heuchera shows reminds me of a young child showing her colorful petticoat. In back, hellebores continue to provide interest. What’s not to love about a plant that will bloom for months without demanding anything. The heuchera was purchased, but the hellebores were passed along by garden club friend Vicki.

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)

Dianthus is an old-fashioned favorite and has been so perfect this spring. It is planted among Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood), both of which were purchased last spring.

Dianthus Ideal Select Mix and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

More irises have opened this week. Many of mine were passalongs from a former neighbor, Henrietta on Wave Road, circa 1977.  (Columbine has spread to every corner of the garden, not always creating the best color combinations. Time to cut it back.)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris) (bearded German Iris) with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) in background

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris) (bearded German Iris)

Though there are lots of bold colors in the garden, the soft fresh greens of spring are evident everywhere. The redbud in the southwest corner is another passalong from friend, Chase. I spotted two volunteers yesterday I hope to pot up and pass on to another gardener.  Passalongs carry happy memories.

Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – May 2016

It is time again for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides.

Near the back steps, a passalong dahlia is preparing for its second year in my garden, courtesy of Libby at An Eye For Detail. The foliage looks strong and flowers are forming. I neglected to dig the dahlia last fall so am relieved to see it made it through the winter.

Dahlia

Dahlia

In the upper left of the image above, fragrant Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) is inconveniently growing up through where the garden hose is stored and needs to be reined back. In front of the monarda, a few dark red leaves of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are visible. Also here several plants of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are pushing upwards through some impertinent clover and a ground cover of Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft). Foliage of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) peek through as well. The Aquilegia’s last remaining red flowers nod their heads.

Here is a closer look at the Echinacea and Aquilegia, with seeds formed on Iberis. The textures were not planned but do look interesting together.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

The other side of the steps features a long, sunny border fronted largely by Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy).

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Across the garden in its shadiest corner, several Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) responded well to the recent rains and have grown substantially. Their multi-hued foliage is rich and full for the moment. Meanwhile Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not) finished blooming, but the smaller silvery, patterned leaves add a bright pop to this planting area (lower left of image). In back at left fern-like foliage of Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy) and sword-like iris leaves add height and texture.

Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' (Coral Bells)

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)

In a small nearby border with a bit more sun grows more Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’. Its companion Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has similar coloring. A stand of self-seeded Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with long green, leathery leaves gives a change in texture and color.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) and Heuchera villosa 'Big Top Bronze' (Coral Bells) with Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) and Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) with Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Silvery shades of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and soon to bloom Lavender complement more leaves of Bearded Iris.

Bearded Iris, Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear), Lavender

Bearded Iris, Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear), Lavender

Four Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’ have been planted for about three years. Most are finally getting some size and buds are forming.

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

One of the August Beauty gardenias has been eclipsed by its aggressive neighbors.  Soon the monarda will explode with red, inviting hummingbirds to sip its nectar, and dark pink flowers will grace the echinacea. But for now this spot is a relaxing green with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ providing white accents—a cool, calm, peaceful interlude.

One Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty' has become swamped by surrounding plants.

One Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’ has become swamped by surrounding plants.

Thanks to Christina at Garden of the Hesperides for hosting. Read her foliage update and see more links to foliage perspectives from many parts of the world.

Views From Last Wednesday

I have been wanting to record some garden views from last Wednesday, May 11, 2016.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Bearded Iris Guard Meditation Circle

Bearded Iris Guard Meditation Circle

Lynn's Iceberg Rose

Lynn’s Iceberg Rose

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)- black iris

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)- black iris

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Tradescantia (spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Tradescantia (spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

In A Vase On Monday—Clematis Trio

In A Vase On Monday - Clematis Trio

In A Vase On Monday – Clematis Trio

Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.

At the garden center last week two glazed ceramic planter saucers caught my attention. For some time I had been looking for a square black dish to use for floral arrangements. This style came in several other tempting colors, but I settled on black and white.

The new containers lend themselves to Ikebana-style designs, as do Clematis which are happily in flower this week.

In A Vase On Monday - Clematis Trio

In A Vase On Monday – Clematis Trio

Today’s design turned out quite differently from my original plan to use a red Clematis ‘Niobe’ on the white dish and white Clematis ‘Henryi’ on the black. The effect was underwhelming in this case, but I am tucking the idea away for the future.

Fortunately I had gathered additional material, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ and several kinds of iris, most of which soon found their way into the arrangement.

Clematis Trio – C. ‘Jackmanii’, C. ‘Niobe’ and C. ‘Henryi’

Iris leaves were added for height along with Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’ and Iris tectorum. A small amount of red-purple-greenish foliage of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ was also incorporated behind C. ‘Jackmanii’.

In A Vase On Monday - Clematis TrioIn A Vase On Monday – Clematis Trio

Materials
Flowers
Clematis ‘Henryi’
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
Clematis ‘Niobe’
Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’ (Bearded iris)
Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Foliage
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’ (Bearded iris)

Clematis ‘Henryi’

Clematis ‘Henryi’

Clematis ‘Niobe’ With Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Clematis ‘Niobe’ With Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower addiction. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2016

It is time again for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides.

The dogwood for now is green. There were only a handful of flowers this spring—the most disappointing dogwood display ever. I keep threatening to remove the poor performer but inertia keeps it safe for now.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Below, this this early morning scene highlights the fresh green iris foliage which is very strong and healthy this year. Beside them, in the foreground on the right, green-gray catmint is filling out and up. Looking beyond irises, just beyond the meditation circle, a large circle of daffodil foliage is dying back slowly. Narcissus are wonderful in early spring, but I pay the price of planting them in the middle of the lawn by having to watch the leaves yellow and wilt.

Further back are five evergreens, Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper). They were planted to add some height and privacy to the garden. Because I worked around some existing plants, they are not necessarily situated in the most effective way, but they do help with privacy.

At left behind the fence the neighbors’ red maple is gorgeous this year. Back inside the fence the tall trees in the right back corner are Cupressus arizonica ‘Carolina Sapphire’ (Arizona Cypress) awash in the early morning sun that has yet to reach the rest of the garden. And the large shrub on the right is Spiraea prunifolia (bridal wreath spiraea). It is sending out suckers everywhere and needs a severe pruning, my intended task for this morning.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Lots of plants are bringing great promise. Not all, but many, of these early plants have lovely silvery foliage, such as Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) and, in the background, overly abundant Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). Echinacea are maturing, with a few already forming flowers.

Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Last fall the garden was overgrown when I was trying to plant allium. I just cleared a spot and stuck all the bulbs together. That pretty much sums up my gardening style. I have been reading this spring about suggestions for underplanting alliums to hide their foliage, so lesson learned.

Allium ‘Gladiator’ (Giant Allium) (3 bulbs) Allium ‘Persian Blue’ (Giant Allium) (3 bulbs) Allium azureum (Blue Allium) (10 bulbs)

Allium ‘Gladiator’ (Giant Allium) (3 bulbs)
Allium ‘Persian Blue’ (Giant Allium) (3 bulbs)
Allium azureum (Blue Allium) (10 bulbs)

Here are a few more images to wrap up this April foliage highlight.

Side Path-Iris, Lavender and Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Side Path-Iris, Lavender and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Narcissus, Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) and Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Narcissus, Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) and Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Iris, Lavender and Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Iris, Lavender and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Hemerocallis (Daylily) and Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (Wormwood)

Hemerocallis (Daylily) and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Chrysanthemum and Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Chrysanthemum and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Thanks to Christina at Garden of the Hesperides for hosting. Read her foliage update and see more links to foliage perspectives from many parts of the world.

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.

Embodied by yellow-green hellebores tinted in red violet the palette for today’s flowers covers my favorite half the color wheel. Reddish-purple bearded iris, violet blue anemone and a lime green container supplement the scheme.

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)

Several white Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’ offer a restful element.

Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’

Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’

 

Included last week as well, the reddish purple bearded iris has been blooming just over a week in the garden.  It is lightly scented.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Prolific Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’ continues to thrill. Newly opened flowers are richly hued, while older one fade to a lovely lavender.

Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’

Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’

Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’

Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’

Materials
Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’
Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’
Helleborus x hybridus (Lenten rose)
Iris germanica (Bearded iris)
Ikebana floral pin
Fiesta soup mug

It is always best to work with the correct container from the beginning. This design feels slightly too tall and not wide enough for the substituted mug, making it seem out of proportion. I began this arrangement with another vase in mind, but it turned out to be too small. Although it did not work out as planned, the mug’s color picks up the green of the hellebore nicely and gives a nice overall pop to the design.

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

These are not the only colors in my spring garden but if I had to I could be happy with this palette.

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

In A Vase On Monday—Violet To Green

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower addiction. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are placing In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday—Inky Array

In A Vase On Monday - Inky Array

In A Vase On Monday – Inky Array

Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday.

Yesterday before heading out for the last day of Art In Bloom at the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh I quickly assembled an arrangement for today. The flowers had been gathered from my garden on Saturday evening and left to condition overnight. Certainly these blossoms are less opulent, less exotic than what I have been experiencing this week, but they are beautiful and interesting in their own right.

Dark inky purples are among my favorite flowers and when the flowers in question are iris and clematis, I am content. Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ opened this week, along with an unknown bearded iris (reddish-purple) and another with falls marked with stitched edges. I believe the latter is Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow.’

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’

Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’

Coloring the edge of the northern garden border are spikes of Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ and they make a natural choice to be used as companions.

In A Vase On Monday - Inky Array

In A Vase On Monday – Inky Array

Several stems of Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and one sprig of fresh lavender finish off the arrangement.  A multi-stemmed container allows each bloom its independence and room to stand out.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Materials
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’
Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’ (Bearded iris)
Iris germanica (Bearded iris)
Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (Hardy Sage)
Multicolored, multi-stemmed ceramic vase

Underside of Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Underside of Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’

Iris germanica ‘Orinoco Flow’

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly flower addiction. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and other gardeners are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – March 2015

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

It is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), an opportunity to notice the value foliage plays in the garden, as feature or support. GBFD is hosted by Christine at  Creating my own garden of the Hesperides.

This month I have been trimming back and clearing last year’s growth to make way for emerging perennials and bulbs. In the grace period before the acoustic imposition of air conditioners and lawn mowers begins, this a quiet time in the garden. Peaceful. There is space for birdsong and thought.

During this cleanup I welcome back old garden favorites, delight at greeting new additions from fall plantings, and occasionally panic upon finding things I cannot quite recognize as friend or foe.

Last April I purchased a lupine from a local garden center and placed it at the back of the border. It had a few blooms but I hope it is established now and will provide a better show. Its palmate whorls look fresh and eager.

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) sits near the gate at the northern entrance to the garden. Recently I trimmed back all the brown stems from last year to find its gray-green new growth.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Irises are among the old friends I look forward to each year. Suddenly strong new sword-shaped leaves have begun reaching upwards. These Iris germanica (Bearded iris) are cherished pass-alongs from a long-ago neighbor.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ began budding before I had time to prune it this year.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

In autumn I planted Anemone coronaria (‘Admiral’, ‘Bride,’ and ‘Mr. Fokker’) and for a few weeks I have been happily watching the leaves emerge. I am afraid the voles have damaged many, but I cannot think how to negotiate a truce with them.

Anemone coronaria

Anemone coronaria

Last spring the buds on the Coral Delight Camellia were damaged by a cold snap, but this year its flowers are beginning to open. Actually there must have been one flower last year that made it as evidenced by this thick, hard seed pod that was still attached to the bush.

Camellia x 'Coral Delight' Seedpod

Camellia x ‘Coral Delight’ Seedpod

Thanks to Christine at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting GBFD each month.

A Garden Review of 2014: Spring

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) April 13, 2014

Today Cathy at Words and Herbs published a special look back at her 2014 spring garden. I decided to join her on this journey to review the garden in three segments: Spring, Summer, and Late Summer/Autumn – one each week running up to Christmas.

I may do a more extensive review around the first of the year, but for now here are a few things that stood out this Spring.

March

The winter was very cold and wet. The morning of March 4 found the garden encrusted with a layer of sleet. Normally in early March temperatures would be nearing 60F/15.5C. By March 18 daffodils had opened but the garden lay under an icy glaze.

Garden Under Ice - March 4, 2014

Garden Under Ice – March 4, 2014

When the vernal equinox occurred here on March 20, 2014, a most welcome reprieve brought blue sky, sunshine and warm temperatures.

Hyacinthus orientalis (common hyacinth)

Hyacinthus orientalis (common hyacinth)

This Narcissus 'King Alfred' weathered the recent ice storm

This Narcissus ‘King Alfred’ weathered an ice storm

By the end of March I was way behind on garden chores. It was still raining, but the spiraea was blooming and the grass was turning green.

Garden View In Early Morning Rain-March 29, 2014

Garden View In Early Morning Rain-March 29, 2014

April

What a difference flipping over a calendar page makes. On April 4 the temperature was 79°F (26°C) at 7:00pm. The native redbud was blooming, spiraea was bursting with blossoms, and the soft green leaves of Eastern red columbine were unfurling.

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

Spiraea

Spiraea

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

By mid-April it was still raining.  The garden seemed to be lifting itself upward, turning green, and filling out.

Garden View On Rainy Mid-April Morning

Garden View On Rainy Mid-April Morning

In time for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day there was plenty of fresh new growth.

Northern Border View Facing West

Northern Border View Facing West, April 23, 2014

It pleased me to no end to see an Anemone coronaria in my garden this spring. I had planted 40 bulbs, but rather late, and only one came up. Was it too late? Did the voles eat them? I do not really know, but yesterday I planted a new set of bulbs, so I hope to see many more next spring.

Anemone coronaria 'Governor' (Governor Double Poppy Anemone)

Anemone coronaria ‘Governor’ (Governor Double Poppy Anemone), April 23, 2014

By the time April ended the irises were lighting up the borders.

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)-2

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) April 28, 2014

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica ‘Batik’

Iris germanica ‘Batik’

May

In early May there were many more wonderful irises to enjoy. This part of the year is when my garden is most enjoyable.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)  (bearded German Iris)-3

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica 'Immortality'

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

By May 10 there were still more irises and I was enjoying their rich blues and violets.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) In Northern Border

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) In Northern Border

Other colors than blues do show up in the garden though. Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Tradescantia (Spiderwort) were spilling over in the western border a few days later, May 14. The aquilegia had been blooming 5 weeks by then.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

May brought more happiness as irises in the (southward facing) North Border were joined by lush peonies, phlox, nepeta, foxglove and Sweet William. Here are some views from May 21. If only the garden could stay like this.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Digitalis purpurea 'Pam's Choice' (Pam's Choice Foxglove)

Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ (Pam’s Choice Foxglove)

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

A big thanks to Cathy for inspiring me to prepare this garden review. As I am trying to consider changes for this coming year, it was instructive to reflect on my 2014 spring garden.

May Flowers

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

The garden found its confidence this week, reaching that special springtime peak of blooms that brings abundance, exuberance and balance. It brought such enjoyment and excitement I could hardly contain myself. I checked on the garden’s progress over and over throughout each day and it filled my thoughts even when I had to be elsewhere.

This spring, unlike the past few, I have not been able to dedicate my time to gardening, and when I had time I often did not feel that pull of the garden’s magic calling me to come out and play. This means the weeding has never been quite finished; tradescantia, columbine, common roadside daylilies and other unruly spreaders have not been brought under control; no compost or mulch has been carefully laid to accentuate the beds. But, the garden forgave all this and rewarded me anyway with, as my pbmGarden tagline suggests, a sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ is a true delight at the top of the Southern side path near the entrance to the main garden. Native Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ (visible in the middle right-hand side) is just coming into flower in front of a mound of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood). Sunny yellow bearded irises have been blooming for two full weeks and were among the first irises to open.

Clematis 'Jackmanii' in Southern Side Path

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ in Southern Side Path

The southern border is full of pale yellow Japanese Iris and a few Iris germanica (Bearded iris), such as this dark, almost black, one.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) in Southern Border

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) in Southern Border

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Yesterday one of this border’s three peonies opened. All three were planted last year. One, Paeonia lactiflora ‘Black Beauty’ (Nightlife Peony), has no buds this year, so it must want another year to mature. Another peony came from a plant exchange in my neighborhood and has a few buds. It is Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima.’

This white one with red accents was purchased as Paeonia lactiflora ‘Duchess de Nemours’ but it turned out to be Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’. [Thanks to Chloris for identifying it.]

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Farther down the border are two rose bushes, the same old-fashioned one featured in my last Monday vase. This special pass-along rose is full of pink blossoms. Nearby, visible in the lower left, is a newly added smooth hydrangea, Hydrangea arborescens Incrediball ‘Abetwo’. Incrediball was recommended last year by Carolyn.

Old-fasioned Rose

Old-fasioned Rose

In nearly opposite position, on the northern side of the garden, another of these roses is growing, alongside a huge clump of Tradescantia (Spiderwort).
Tradescantia (Spiderwort) and Old fasioned Rose

The northern border is full of Iris germanica (Bearded iris). This dusky lavender one is another pass-along from my friend Henrietta. It is one of the latest to open.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

This nearly black bud is the same Iris germanica (Bearded iris) as the one shown earlier that was blooming in the southern border. It will open to a dark purple.

Nearly black Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Nearly black Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

I adore this Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) and began last year trying to re-establish it in my garden. It seems a rather old-fashioned flower that I do not see growing often. The bloom carries a sweet fragrance.

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Yet another Iris from my friend Henrietta many years ago, this has pale lavender standards and regal purple falls tinged with oxblood and white.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) In Northern Border

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) In Northern Border

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) In Northern Border

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) In Northern Border

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) are all in bloom, filling the Northern Border with color and just filling it in general. It was not long ago that the borders seemed empty.

Northern Border

Northern Border

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) In Northern Border

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) In Northern Border

This Phlox is another pass-along from my garden mentor that I have grown now for many years. It just began blooming in the last couple of days.

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) In Northern Border

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) In Northern Border

Also opening this week, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) is easy to grow and low maintenance. It works well as a front of the border plant.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Behind the Nepeta another peony, Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ is preparing to bloom.

eony Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Peony Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’

Here is a longer view, looking down the length of the northern border toward the west. I had to remove some winter-damaged trees from the western border, leaving a few problem areas I try to spin as growth opportunities.

Northern Border With Meditation Circle

Northern Border With Meditation Circle

There are a lot of other individual plants creating interest when viewed close-up, but I must leave them for another time. I will wrap this up for today with a few general garden views of the May garden.

Garden View With Meditation Circle

Garden View With Meditation Circle

Garden View With Meditation Circlw

Garden View With Meditation Circlw

Garden View With Meditation Circle

Garden View With Meditation Circle

Garden View Toward Southwest Corner

Garden View Toward Southwest Corner

Garden View Toward Southern Border

Garden View Toward Southern Border

Hope your garden is making you happy today.

 

More Irises

Iris germanica 'Immortality'

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

This is my favorite time in my garden. This is the time of year where I have to check on the garden morning, noon and night because the plants are changing so quickly and flowers seem to open while my back is turned.

I started an end-of-the-month summary for April but could not find time to complete it. Ditto, first-of-May. Perhaps I will post an overview later when things slow down, just for my records. Tonight I would like to share a few more irises.

Christina asked the other day if my white iris was open yet and yes, it opened that same day. If you read this blog regularly you will not be surprised to learn this white iris was a pass-along, so I am not positive about the name. I think this is Iris germanica ‘Immortality.’ It reblooms in fall, which makes it especially easy to recommend.

Iris germanica 'Immortality'

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

I showed the Japanese roof iris in Iris Musings, but I was drawn back to it when I noticed the coloration and pattern on this bud.

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Another pass-along iris from my friend Henrietta bloomed two days ago. So far it is the only one of this color. I have decided I should try to mark it and divide it later this summer.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)  (bearded German Iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) (bearded German Iris)

I researched this iris using a description I thought fit it pretty well: dusky pink standards, burgundy falls. canary yellow beard. I immediately found a good candidate, Tall Bearded Iris Jacquesiana, which may go back to at least 1839.

Then another possibility emerged, perhaps Tall Bearded Iris ‘Prosper Laugier’ which goes back to 1914. It was described as “a smokey lavender, velvety violet-carmine veined bicolor.” I became fascinated reading the coloring descriptions of irises and became quite side-tracked. ‘Prosper Laugier’ seems a good match but it is impossible for me to to know with certainty. If you recognize this iris I would appreciate your help.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)  (bearded German Iris)-3

Iris germanic a with May Night salvia

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)  (bearded German Iris)-2

Have a great weekend everyone. I will be touring gardens this weekend and helping out as a garden guide with the Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour. I expect to come back to my own little garden with lots of great ideas and inspirations.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Iris Musings

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

The first irises began opening over the last several days marking a major milestone as spring travels though my garden. This yellow Iris germanica (Bearded iris) is always among the first iris to bloom each year.  It is a special pass-along from my friend and  former neighbor, Henrietta.

Years ago Henrietta grew beautiful bearded iris her mother had obtained from a friend who grew them for a local florist. One July she divided them and sent her son to all the nearby homes to deliver copious quantities of leftover rhizomes. As a young working mother gardening was not a big part of my life then and I left the plastic bag outdoors for weeks without really giving much thought to the treasure within.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

 

Eventually I did plant them, but didn’t understand not to bury the rhizome, so the next spring they failed to bloom. My friend assured me they would bloom the next year, which they did, and they have bloomed every year since.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)-2

I brought some of these irises to my current garden nearly thirteen years ago and when the stalks emerge and fat buds form, when the first tip of color is revealed and finally the inflorescence follows, the irises feel like comfortable companions, old friends getting together again after a long time apart.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Henrietta and I stayed in touch after she moved away from the old neighborhood, but sadly one year her Christmas card was returned unopened and I have never known an ending to the story. A nice thing about pass-alongs is the way they keep relationships and memories going.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris) is another pass along plant from another special family friend. When my garden was on a small local garden tour in the neighborhood last year, everyone who stopped by marveled at it and I passed along many bags of rhizomes.

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

One of the few irises I have actually purchased, Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush,’ was added to the garden March 2012. It is among the first to bloom.

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica 'Raspberry Blush'

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’

Iris germanica ‘Batik’ is another iris I purchased and have always enjoyed. Its batik markings are pretty unusual.

Iris germanica ‘Batik’

Iris germanica ‘Batik’

On a side note I have grown this Hippeastrum (Amaryllis) several years now. It spent the winter in the garage without attention. I moved it to the back screen porch a month ago and gave it a drink or two of water. There is only one flower head on this stalk and only one stalk. Several more amaryllis are planted in the garden. They are making slow progress toward flowering but this one looks promising.

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

 

 

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2014

Northern Border View Facing West

Northern Border View Facing West

Yesterday was Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides. Though it will be a day late I want to join in the monthly focus on foliage as early spring is a time of year when I especially enjoy the foliage in my garden.

Spring marks a joyful point in an incredible cycle of nature, one I experience with new wonder each year. Fresh growth and tender green hues rejuvenate my gardener’s spirit as the perennials emerge and the borders transform from mostly soil to mostly plants.

The northern border has filled in seemingly overnight after some nice warm days. Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint), trimmed heavily a few weeks ago to remove last year’s growth, makes a nice low plant for the front edge of the border. This border is filled with Iris germanica (Bearded iris), Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris) and Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris).

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint) and Iris in Northern Border

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) and Iris in Northern Border (looking toward west)

Below and to the right of the catmint is a path with a patch of mixed sedum. The sedum overwinters well and I will soon be relocating much of it to the devil’s strip between the sidewalk and street in front of our house where grass does not like to grow. (Architectural Review Board application was approved.)

Mixed Sedum

Mixed Sedum

In my garden there are lots of silvery leaved plants. I enjoy the color and texture of these Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and especially in early spring the Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood) is beautiful.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Creeping Lemon Thyme overwintered in this pot along the southern side path. Stems of Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) is aggressively exploring this bed.

Creeping Lemon Thyme and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Creeping Lemon Thyme and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Planted last spring Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) promises to perform better this year. It is looking vigorous, unlike last year.

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

A generous patch of woody-stemmed Chrysanthemum is a welcome sight, a pass-along plant from my garden mentor many years ago.

Chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ will reach 6 feet tall but for now it makes a large clump of green near the gate of the southern entrance. I need to find time to divide this.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

To the right of the rudbeckia, just as the path turns the corner toward the gate to the main garden, sits a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ loaded with buds after a heavy pruning in late winter.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Visit Christina at Garden of the Hesperides to see what foliage she is highlighting this month and find links to other participants.

May Garden Interests

While irises have captured most of my attention in the garden this spring, other plants have competently played supporting roles and many more are leading the way as transition toward the warmer season takes place.

An amaryllis I have been watching to develop surprised me today when it opened up and was white, not red. I also found one with a red bud nearby.  These flowers did not bloom well last year and I had forgotten the particulars of them.

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Pincushion Flower is an enchanting name for this plant, nicer sounding than Scabiosa. This plant seldom last more than a couple of seasons in my garden and this is year two. It has been blooming well this year, starting just over a month ago. The cooler temperatures and plentiful rain this spring seem to have kept it happy. If I can force myself to do regular deadheading it will help.

Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue'  (Pincushion Flower)

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (Pincushion Flower)

Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue'  (Pincushion Flower)

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (Pincushion Flower)

Slow to open this year the peony flowers show some browning after heavy rains this week. In the previous two years this ‘Pink Parfait’ bloomed by May 11, but this year, still waiting.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

A Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ purchased last year is beginning to bloom. I enjoyed it last year so purchased 3 new ones this winter by mail order, this time ‘Red Fox’ Veronica. They arrived bare-root and are still very small.

Veronica spicata 'Pink Goblin' (Speedwell)

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

This black iris has a few more blooms open today.

Iris germanica (Bearded iris)  Black Iris

Iris germanica (Bearded iris) Black Iris

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) has been blooming for a couple of weeks and now several thymes are also beginning to flower. Echinacea is shooting up in many of the borders and forming buds. In the meditation circle Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ and Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ both opened today.

Every Southern garden should have hydrangeas and, thanks to Jayme at EntwinedLife, my garden has a healthy hydrangea that not only has survived, but is forming flowers. Thank you Jayme.

Hydrangea macrophylla

Hydrangea macrophylla

This year I ordered an Allium Raspberry and Cream Collection, which is in fact a mixture of Allium Nigrum and Allium Atropurpureum. One Allium Nigrum is open this week.

Allium Nigrum

Allium Nigrum

To end this this garden tour today I will mention my family’s old-fashioned rose that my grandmother and mother grew. This was passed along eons ago by my mother’s cousin and my dear garden mentor. She shared with me so many of her favorite plants and they have become my favorites too.

Old-fashioned Rose

Old-fashioned Rose

Mid-April, Briefly

I had but a few minutes to enjoy the garden today and notice the many changes, but plan to spend tomorrow finishing up some weeding and planting some recent purchases. The Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) is coming into bloom in various regions around the yard.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)-2

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)-2

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)-2

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)-2

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)-2

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)-2

The Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) near the back corner is blooming unusually well this year.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Irises are beginning to fill the beds.

Irises, Dogwood–Garden View Looking Southwest

Birds scratch around looking for breakfast, scattering the mulch in the recently planted meditation circle. The labyrinth is calling.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – March 2013

It is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), an opportunity to notice the value foliage plays in the garden, as feature or support. GBFD is hosted by Christine at  Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. This month I have been watching as clumps of perennials shake off some of the ragged winter look and start greening.

Monarda is growing noticeably and it smells delightfully minty. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ seeded freely last year so there are several tucked into places now other than just in the meditation circle.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)  and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) began dying out in the meditation circle last summer. Highly drought-tolerant plants, they seemed ideal for this spot, but the summer through winter were unusually wet. Combined with some pesky mole activity the condition of these penstemon worsened.  So nearly half of the Pike’s Peak are gone.  Earlier in the week I pruned the remaining plants and am hoping they will bloom.

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Also in the very center of the meditation circle I this week planted a few clumps of Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme), a low-growing fragrant Thyme,

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Iris leaves are up everywhere. This is Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris) making its debut this year. It is a Tall Bearded Iris with a purple ruffled bloom. Tall Bearded Iris are among the last to bloom.

Iris 'Davy Jones' (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Autumn Joy (Stonecrop) in several spots are contributing interest at this time of year as is an overflowing pot of colorful mixed Sedum that I added to the garden last spring.

Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude'  Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Mixed sedum

Mixed sedum

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is forming a nice mound of fresh leaves.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Shasta Daisy has taken a strong foothold and needs some serious attention to keep it from gaining any more.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura) sports colorful leaves this time of year. I have been unhappy with its performance in this location and need to find it a better spot. It became very floppy and did not bloom very well.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed) sprang up through a thick mulch layer this week. I was hoping to suppress it and have for years been wanting to manage it.  This is invasive but lovely as a ground cover and was a pass-along from a dear friend many years ago.

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop's weed)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ is a nice plant for the front of the border. I’m gradually increasing their number. Looks like I should be dividing this clump but am not sure if it is a good time.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

So as March winds down many individual plants are contributing their foliage shape, patterns, colors and textures to add interest to the early spring garden. Thanks to Christine at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting GBFD each month.

A Perfect Day In May

Meditation Circle

Today’s weather could not have been more perfect to have a group of friends visit the garden, walk the meditation circle and share a potluck lunch. Cloudless blue skies, low humidity and temperatures in the mid-seventies made for a fine day to be outside.

Inside the labyrinth Penstemon (Beardtongue) hybrids are blooming this week and buzzing with bees.

Penstemons In Meditation Circle

Penstemon  mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ delineates a long stretch of path near an outer edge. Its color is deep and rich violet-purple. Its loose form means it sprawls over into the paths on either side, making it necessary to trim the overhanging flower stalks to help keep visitors safe when walking the labyrinth.

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Marking several turnaround points in the labyrinth is another penstemon cultivar, Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red.’ This variety has a tighter and more upright form, making it more suitable and requiring less maintenance in the narrow space between the paths. Both Penstemon cultivars remained green during this past mild winter.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

The garden has transitioned away from the focus on roses and irises, but a few Bearded Irises linger.

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

German Bearded Iris

Yesterday the garden’s peony opened. This is ‘Pink Parfait.’

Peony Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 1

Forecasts warned today would be 92 degrees. Since there are a few new things in the garden I spent some time selectively watering them very early this morning. With the garden still sheltered at this time of morning by shade from the house, it was a peaceful time to be outside.

View from the Southern Border

With the grass freshly mown the garden is vibrant.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) has moved into every available bit of soil, making the garden burst with color during the morning. By mid-day the little blue-violet flowers close up, diminishing the garden’s overall impact. I began cutting back large swaths of spiderwort this morning to make room for emerging echinacea purpurea, liatris spicata, foxglove and maybe a few more plants.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) has bloomed prolifically for six weeks and is beginning to go to seed. I removed many of the flower stalks today to make the garden look tidier and to prevent further proliferation of this native wildflower.

The one-year-old ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge is growing well, although I did notice a worrisome brown branch on one. Probably I need to clear some room around the trees to give them adequate sun and air to keep them healthy.

Japanese irises and white and black bearded irises continue to provide color and interest at one end of the southern border. The old-fashioned rose at the other end of the border is waning quickly. A group of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) caught the early morning sun as light began to enter the garden.

Black Iris

This iris in bud is nearly black, but once opened displays a very deep purple-black. The actual color on the open flower is distinctly darker than photographs captured in today’s early morning light.

This iris is a pass-along plant. It is blooming this year for the first time and makes the gardener happy.

Raspberry Blush

Iris ger. 'Raspberry Blush'

Newly added to the garden in mid-March, this German Bearded Iris ‘Raspberry Blush’ opened today, earlier than anticipated. This has uncovered a bit of a mystery for me.

I dearly love irises and have grown them for years, my irises have all been the unnamed pass-along variety from friends.  I have never studied irises but this winter I read somewhere that there have been so many improvements to irises in the last five years one really should try the newest varieties and be wowed.  I was intrigued and soon afterwards picked up this plant at a local garden center.

Although the plant tag at purchase time indicated NEW, this seems not to be a new iris at all, but rather one from 1976. Maybe it is new for this particular grower, but apparently my garden’s iris situation is still so nineteen-seventies.

I am not really disappointed in this iris—it is lovely—but I was surprised by its color, height and early bloom time.  The coloration is considerably less raspberry pink than expected. Some descriptions  I came across in researching this iris do mention an orange beard and that matches the specimen in my garden. Its height of about 16 inches is appropriate, as ‘Raspberry Blush’ is classified as an Intermediate Bearded (IB) Iris. This classification of iris blooms early, before Tall Bearded.

Iris ger. 'Raspberry Blush'

The three upright petals are called standards and the three hanging petals are the falls. The beard is the fuzzy part in the center of each fall.

Iris ger. 'Raspberry Blush'

I will begin paying more attention to the irises in this garden and look forward to trying some different ones.

The Difference In A Day

This afternoon a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ flower is unfurling itself in the warm 72 degree sun. Undetectable yesterday, now the Iris germanica (Bearded Iris) flowers buds are fattening with promise.