The nicest time in my garden can be the early hours between 6 and 8 a.m., when the sun is peeking around, seeking entry past rooftops and fence posts.
Yesterday, heading down the back steps with a cup of coffee in hand I intend to sit on the black Lutyens bench in front of the meditation circle for a few moments of reflection.
Before I even sit something catches my gaze and of course, I must look.
Satisfied, I continue toward the meditation circle and take a seat. Birds calling and chimes singing are the sounds I notice and sometimes for an instant, there is complete silence.
Pretty soon though I spot a mocking weed that must be plucked right away. There, that takes care of that impetuous intruder! Oops, another one.
Ah, too many weeds to worry about just now, so I relax and take another sip of coffee. But soon I am up wandering around with the camera, exploring each new bloom that has appeared since the previous day.
Now the coffee cup is abandoned. Like the honeybees pausing for nectar at each opportunity, I float round the borders, inhaling rose and peony and iris, and retracing my steps.
I carefully tread lightly into the back of the northern border for a closer inspection, then swing the camera back out across the garden.
Delighting at form, color and wet grass underfoot I recognize the transience of this peaceful moment, and can hardly bear it.
In bud this pass-along iris from my friend Cathy is a rich black. It opens to a deep purple.
The week has been stormy, with heavy rains at times, and though sunshine prevailed today, Thursday’s forecast calls for more storms. The garden is in full bloom so I have been taking photographs of sodden and drenched flowers.
Long ago at my former home, a neighbor, Henrietta, shared many Tall Bearded Iris with me. This is one I like very much. The coloration on top of the falls where the markings are, displays a chocolate cast before blending into a lovely purple.
The red flowers in the previous image actually grow on my Iceberg Rose. Did I prune it back too far at some point or is this a sport? For quite a few years there have been some red flowers, but this year I have not seen any white flowers on the bush.
I created a Mesh gallery to share more garden views at this point in May. If you have time for a tour, click to start. You can make the images full-screen using the 4-corners icon.
This little bunny has been eating pansies from the meditation circle and no telling what else the past two weeks. Here it is hiding among aquilegia and gladioli.
What is captivating you in your early May garden?
A supremely spring-like day yesterday stirred a few of the garden’s early achievers and an early morning rain today left them freshly washed.
Daffodils suddenly are awake all around the garden. These are Narcissus ‘King Alfred’.
This little blue friend still could use a bath. It was a muddy job pushing its way out into the sunlight. Pseudomuscari azureum (syn. Muscari azureum), the azure grape hyacinth features a bright blue color with a darker blue stripe on each flower. In the Pseudomuscari genus the mouth of the flowers is shaped like an open bell, rather than narrowing the way it does on Muscari.
Narcissus ‘Tete-a-Tete’ opened just overnight it seems.
An inexpensive impulse purchase from the grocery store last fall yielded just one crocus but it has a delicious color.
Euphorbia has been nice in the garden all winter.
Hellebores are blooming well at last. These were planted about 14 years ago when we first moved in.
Some hyacinths from last year have yet to return but a group of H. orientalis ‘Woodstock’ pushed up way too early into a cold, brutal world. Surprisingly they seem to be recovering.
Remembering how spring hurried in and rushed past so quickly last year has made the this year’s leisurely drift into spring all the more enjoyable. The garden’s gentle pace toward April flowering has been a gift, allowing time to watch and anticipate.
Standing in the garden yesterday, I had that feeling for the first time this year that the individual plants were coalescing, uniting to form a whole, unifying to create a balance to the garden that escapes it other times of the year. This early part of the gardening season, with its fresh growth of foliage, tender young shoots and the promise of imminent flowering is my favorite time in the garden.
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender) shows a fresh flush of leaves after being cut back severely in late winter.
New leaves of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood) are fresh and healthy after a hard pruning. This sits in front of white-blooming Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion).
The early spring foliage of this Chrysanthemum complements the silvery, fuzzy leaves of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). Both of these are some old-fashioned pass-along plants.
The first Coreopsis blooms are open and colored a deep sunny yellow.
Chrysogonum virginianum (Green and Gold) is a native that I have tried several times to establish as a groundcover in this garden. This one was added last spring and looks promising. Today I noticed it being used in a garden along with Coreopsis and it worked well.
Melampodium ‘Showstar’ is a reliable summer-blooming annual that tolerates the heat and drought.
The first tall irises to open each year are making a strong show this year, filling up the Southern side path.
A long-time favorite pass-along, this year Tradescantia (Spiderwort) is on probation in the garden. Last fall and late winter I dug out untold numbers of strays and yet many more are showing up in odd places. At this time of year it is lovely though. Here it mingles angelically with an Iris without a name, also passed along by a friend.
Linum Perenne ‘Sapphire’ (Flax) does not perform very well in this garden but the perfect blue color of its dainty flower keeps me trying.
Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ was blooming by this time last year. There are two other Baptisias in the garden.
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ opened it first flowers this week as did a striking Batik Iris, Iris ger. ‘Batik.’
Ants have found the Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ and presumably are enjoying the nectar. Looking back I see this Peony is at the same stage as it was this time last year.
Overall the garden has filled in quite a lot in just a few weeks and the Meditation Circle plantings are growing well.
Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) is everywhere.
Iris ger. ‘Raspberry Blush’ is getting lovelier every day.
Winter was a long time leaving and now Summer is intruding on springtime. After a beautiful and warm day, it is 87°F at 7:00 pm. Yesterday the Easter Redbud was opening against the deep blue sky.
Also yesterday, several spikes of Meadow Sage revealed purple-blue buds. Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) was ready to pop open. Bumblebees were courting, a yellow butterfly drifted through the garden and a ladybug investigated a chrysanthemum.
Today the mulch project I began in early February was finally completed! The garden beds have all been weeded. There is still some cleanup to do to thin out some of the most aggressive growers (almost everything in the garden it seems). Nevertheless the garden looks tidier and feels ready for the green, the growth and the surprises that follow winter. And the patio is ready to be reclaimed for something other than mulch storage.
A few new Iberis ‘Purity’ and some Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ have been added to the center of the meditation circle in hope the mulch soon will not even be noticeable. The planting areas between the paths on the left are ready to plant tomorrow. I have used Angelonia there the last two years and it has performed great, blooming until October. It is an annual though and it requires trimming back several times during the summer in order to be able to comfortably walk by. I will try Dianthus year, an not very exciting choice–we’ll see.
I ordered new plants from a mail-order company in Michigan in February and finally received them today. I expected them by mid-March, but was dismayed as the shipment dates were pushed back several times. Perhaps the severely cold winter affected the company’s ability to fulfill the order, but now the temperatures here are extremely hot and the plants will need extra care. I will try to get them in the ground early in the morning.
3 Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant, Orange Glory Flower
12 Delphinium x ‘Pacific Giants
12 Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)
1 Clematis ‘Wildfire’
3 Veronica spicata ‘Rotfuchs’ syn. Red Fox (Red Fox Veronica)
1 Paeonia lactiflora Duchess de Nemours (White Peony)
1 Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
1 Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ (Pam’s Choice Foxglove)
1 Paeonia lactiflora ‘Black Beauty’ (Nightlife Peony)
20 Anemone coronaria de Caen ‘The Bride’ and ‘Mr. Fokker’