Tag Archives: spring garden

Early May Vignettes And Blooms – Thrift and Salvia

Note: Thanks to Tony Tomeo for commenting with the correct ID of this plant.

This patch of Thrift (Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’) Matthiola incana (stock) was planted last fall possibly last fall. I’m no longer sure. It has provided a cheerful spot of color in the southern border near peonies and iris since mid-March. Now it is starting to play well with recently opened Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage).

Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) and Armeria pseudarmeria ‘Ballerina Lilac’ (Thrift)

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

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 – 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’

Garden Charm

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Yesterday was a nearly perfect gardening day. Early morning showers cleared to a sunny afternoon in high 70s, and last night a final glance through the upstairs window before bedtime revealed an animated starlit sky.

My first view outside each morning is usually from that same window from where I have a bird’s eye view of the entire back garden. Yesterday the sight of scattered peony petals sent me scurrying outside through wet grass to catch the last bits of Paeonia ‘Coral Charm’ until next year.

After using one stem in my Monday vase, I had watched the rest of these gorgeous flowers all week as the aging cycle transformed their crisp structures of deep coral pink into softer, paler symbols of grace. Sad to see them go I have enjoyed observing them through each stage.

Tuesday, April 21

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Thursday, April 23

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

 

Friday, April 24

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

All but two buds on this peony had opened precisely the same time so this and the rest of the blooms had fallen by mid-day.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

The remaining two buds will be appreciated a few days longer.  Both opened quickly and were fully awake by late morning. Fortunately at this time of year there are other garden delights now and ahead.

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Coral Charm’ (Coral Charm Peony)

 

Wordless Wednesday—Around And About

Southern Side Path

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Southern Border (Facing North)

Passed along as Japanese Iris

Iris hybrid

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’ and Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’ and Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Chrysanthemum, Daylily, Old-fashioned Rose

Old-fashioned Rose

Rhododendron ‘Robin Hill Gillie’ (Azalea Gillie)

Southwest Corner

Hellebore, Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells), Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) in sunlight

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells), Tansy

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells), Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Hellebore, Tansy, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), Iris

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear), Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Southwest Island

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)  April 22, 2018.

Buxus x ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Boxwood), Dahlia ‘Fireworks’, Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, Coreopsis, Iris

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’, Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, Snapdragon, Dianthus

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Iris, Coreopsis

Meditation Circle

Meditation Garden at Early Morning, from Southern Border facing North

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Looking toward SW Corner

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Looking toward SW Corner

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Looking North

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle.  Facing NW

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Facing NW

Western Border

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

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ (Wallflower)

Nepeta ‘ Psfike’ (Little Trudy Catmint), Dusty Miller

Northern Border

Iris germanica, Old-fashioned Rose, Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Iris germanica

Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Iris germanica, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Iris germanica

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony), Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Iris germanica

Clematis ‘Niobe’

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’ April 22, 2018

Morningtide On First Of May

Morning Garden

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.

Sunlight touching Southern Border

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.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’ and Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

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.

Antirrhinum majus ‘Montego Violet’ (Snapdragon) and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

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.

Dianthus b. ‘Barbarini Mix’ (Dwarf Sweet William)

Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris) and Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Oenothera speciosa (Pink evening primrose)

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.

Virgie’s Rose – a passalong

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Tall Bearded Iris

Crossing Paths

I carefully tread lightly into the back of the northern border for a closer inspection, then swing the camera back out across the garden.

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Morning Garden

Delighting at form, color and wet grass underfoot I recognize the transience of this peaceful moment, and can hardly bear it.