I have been wanting to record some garden views from last Wednesday, May 11, 2016.
Today’s early sky wore a draping, heavy fog. Dewdrops coated every leaf, flower and blade of grass. Would you agree the first morning hours are the the best time in the garden?
The lawn was covered with dozens of spiderwebs courtesy (I think) of Agelenopsis sp. (Grass Spider).
In the Southern Border everlasting sweet pea flowers continue to form.
Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) is new this year and has seemed slow to get growing. On the other hand, long established Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) is very aggressive.
An interesting and delicate-looking fungus popped up today. I could not figure out its name, but a friend who has been studying all things fungi identified it as Parasola plicatilis.
Tradescantia used to be one of my favorite passalong plants, admired for its pretty blue, three-petaled flower. It became roguish in my current garden so I am always trying to dig it out or at least cut it back to keep it from flowering. It is much tougher and persistent than I am though. Tradescantia is growing all around the garden, but this happens to be in the northwest corner of the Western Border.
I actually bought this white Tradescantia. Although white ones are found wild, this may be a hybrid. It does not have the tendency to wander.
The dogwood leaves picked up some autumn color this week. A bird (presumably) found and chewed one of these red ripened berries. Next year’s new buds are forming.
Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy) has performed extremely well this year. Now its color is evolving through brick red and rusty hues. Notice the Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ shows up frequently around the garden.
Roses need more care than is included in my normal “water twice and leave it alone” gardening philosophy. Rosa ‘Iceberg’ did poorly in the spring and I began thinking about taking it out of the garden altogether. This morning I found this excuse to delay.
New lupine leaves look very healthy.
Though I have never seen one growing around here, I have always wanted to grow a lupine. It comes from long ago because of reading a book about The Lupine Lady to our young daughter. On a whim back in April I purchased a container of Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ from a local nursery and for some reason (probably because the tag said it would be 5-6 feet tall) I put it toward the back of the Western Border where it was pretty much out of view. It did have several flowers but never gained its expected height.
If anyone can offer lupine advice I would appreciate your ideas. Did I end up with a dwarf variety or is this normal in the first season? Should I relocate it to the front of the border?
This photograph does not capture the foggy feeling but here is a view of the early morning garden.
Echinacea have been a mainstay this summer, drawing bees, hummingbirds and American Goldfinches to the borders. The blooms on this white one, Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, really improved after the recent rains.
By design I have a lot fewer Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) and Tradescantia (Spiderwort) in the garden this year, both of which were becoming rather aggressive spreaders.
The sap of Tradescantia lately is causing me to have an itchy skin contact rash. For that reason and because I want to control its spread, I tried not to allow it to bloom at all this year, but a few sneaky flowers remind me why I have enjoyed it for so many years.
I have simply grown tired of Shasta daisy after letting it roam for a lot of years. One entire bed was taken over by this plant, so I still have a lot of work to do to tame it.
Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) are pairing up in a lovely color combination. This salvia also spreads freely but I have finally learned to be ruthless in pulling it out when it wanders too far.
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is finally blooming again encouraged by the recent rains.
This passalong everlasting Sweet Pea looked miserable most of the summer but, like the Black and Blue salvia, it was rejuvenated by the rainfall. I planted annual sweet peas seeds this year but none survived.
The bird feeder is always a source of entertainment and occasionally the birds plant a few flowers for themselves. I am not sure exactly what this volunteer is but it is cheerful enough.
For the first time in many years my Stargazer Dahlia, did not return, done in by the cold winter I suppose. It was a passalong from a friend and former neighbor and so I missed not seeing it this year. In spring though I had picked up a dinner plate Dahlia bulb, packed in a fairly generic-looking box, but labelled to have come from The Netherlands.
Well the dahlia has finally bloomed. Granted I selected a poor spot for it, but I do not think it will reach the promised “up to eighteen blooms per plant.” Neither does the size nor color correspond to the package at all. The flower is beautiful though and I am happy to have another dahlia for the garden.
Finally a couple of nice rains this week brought a boost to relieve the stressed plants in the garden. Suddenly lavender is flowering, along with Cleome and Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage).
This morning six American Goldfinches were gathered around stalks of Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena). Bees are feasting on the lavender, Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and Tradescantia (Spiderwort), bringing a satisfying and familiar hum to the garden.
Yesterday I noticed a few daylily buds and then today, a bloom. This first daylily is open a full week earlier than last year. The plant was dug in 2006 from Roger Mercers’ daylily fields in Fayetteville, NC during a special outing with my sister and daughter.
A couple of years ago I planted
Allium Atropurpureum Allium sphaerocephalon (Dumstick allium) and they finally are taking off. The florets are small but I really like the dark, rich color.
Washed in dew drops a lonely Shasta caught this morning’s sun as it first touched the garden.
The early air felt refreshingly cool as I wandered around the borders. Still in shadow, the entire back yard was adorned with dozens of small, dew-drenched webs.
Tucked inside one web was a small red spider starting his morning.
The American beautyberry is still flowering at the top, but further down green berries have formed. Ripened, purple berries are visible near the bottom of the stems.
Nearby the Callicarpa there is much work to be done. I am still trying to eliminate Tradescantia, but it is quite the foe. I like the beguiling flowers and so do the bees.
Tradescantia (Spiderwort) pops up all over the place often with subtle color variations. This deep red-violet is one that caught my attention early this afternoon. This little insect also found it interesting.
It is well into November and some perennials continue blooming, mostly Echinacea. Pale yellow Chrysanthemums still brighten the southern border and Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and one unknown sasanqua are laden with fragrant flowers. Rosa ‘Iceberg’ has been lovely for several weeks.
Several camera-shy butterflies visited the last of the zinnias today.
Recently opportunities to spend even a few minutes in the garden have been rare. There are still many autumn tasks to complete—irises and daffodils to plant, weeding and mulching to finish. The garden is not waiting on anyone to get a list of chores done. It is shutting itself down gradually and gracefully, as if ready for a nice rest.
There has been no rain for a few weeks. Several light frosts have left the thyme in the meditation circle briefly coated in white, but today was a warm and sunny 73° F.
One week before the autumnal equinox, large puffy clouds adorn the deep blue sky. It is a beautiful, sunny day, 79°F.
This Stargazer Dahlia is a cactus-flowered dwarf variety. Grown from seed and passed-along a few years ago by a dear neighbor, this lone survivor returns annually without any special attention.
Speaking of survivors, this tomato was a surprise, surprise when I discovered it last week growing underneath a bird feeder. My next-door neighbor grows beautiful and delicious tomatoes and I assume a little bird thoughtfully brought this into my garden.
A patch of zinnias is finally adding some cheerful color in a back corner of the property. Mixed seeds always seem to be mostly pink but finally a few yellow, coral and orange are blooming now.
Though most have faded by this point in the season, several Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) continue to display fresh blossoms.
Tradescantia (Spiderwort) are a very favorite flower but they have become so aggressive I have had to cut back, pull up, and repeat the same removal process over and over throughout the summer. The result is that many Tradescantia are still present and blooming. My former garden has very heavy clay and lots of shade and the tradescantia stayed very well-contained, but here it is too spready. This white blossom is an unusual one, most in this garden are blue or violet.
The gardenia shrubs continue to be welcomingly fragrant. This is one of the Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ that grow along the western border of the garden. The newly planted ‘August Beauty’ variety is doing well but it will be some time before it can provide much screening to hide the heating and air conditioner units.
Roses are not my forte but this Rosa ‘Iceberg’ belonged to a special friend who passed away a few years ago. Several times I have almost given up on it but it did not give up. So here is this lovely bloom today as a special reminder of a special person. I enjoy that gardens can honor memories and cultivate friendships. Thanks for visiting my garden today.
Early this morning Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Canna waited in the shade as the sun slowly moved to warm these sun-loving perennials.
Echinacea purpurea is native to Eastern USA and bees find it attractive. Later American Goldfinches will enjoy its seeds.
While it still can this bee should enjoy the Tradescantia (Spiderwort) that abounds in the garden. This week I am making some progress in cutting it back, but am finding it difficult work to remove it by the roots.
Although afternoon temperatures reached 92 degrees, the garden this morning was pleasant and mostly shaded, perfect for welcoming visitors to view the flowers. So when a neighbor and her friend walked by while I was taking pictures in the front side garden, I eagerly asked them to come to the back to see my garden.
This year, more than in any other year, I have felt comfortable with the state of the garden overall and am happy when I can share this place. It is not perfect, of course, but some key garden renovation projects during the last year have made the garden much more cohesive and have given it personality. The meditation circle is one such project and today my neighbor’s friend walked the meditation path, experiencing a labyrinth for her first time. It was a nice morning in the garden.
Temperatures reached 87 degrees and the day felt quite humid and summery. The borders appear full and lush, a tribute to the power of adequate rainfall; however, the first flowering period of many plants is past, so deadheading and trimming are on the agenda for this week.
There has been little work done in the garden for the last two weeks, but that must change. The garden is in transition and is very much in need of attention. Echinacea, Gladioli, Liatris and Daylily are replacing Iris, Lamb’s Ear and Tradescantia.
Shasta Daisy clumps will be covered in bloom any day. Meanwhile Meadow Sage should be cut back to encourage more blooms. Nepeta may need shearing soon as well.
Monarda and Lantana are teasing with a bit of color today.
This weekend in town I came upon a large and beautiful planting of Baptisia and Autumn Joy, all in full bloom. In this garden all three baptisias lost their flowers suddenly this year after a just a short bloom time, but the foliage remains healthy and green.
Paths in the meditation circle are in some disarray lately. The pine nugget mulch being used this spring is too lightweight to stay in place when rains come. Also the mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ Penstemon has sprawled over quite a bit and requires staking again. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is so much better behaved and retains its upright place, (although its self-sown seedlings need to be removed soon).
The annual Angelonia ‘Blue’ in the meditation circle has begun to grow now that the weather is hotter.
There will be plenty of tasks to keep this gardener busy this week but with an abundance of flowers blooming and the scent gardenia wafting through the air, it should be mostly delightful to spend time in the garden.
An early evening shower splashed onto the garden briefly, leaving the air thick and humid and the flowers slightly heavy, weighted by tiny water droplets.
Record keeping: Part 2 of a series of notes about what is planted and what is blooming currently in the garden.
The northern border is filled with Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Nepeta (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), Bearded Iris, and an Iceberg rose. Siberian Irises at the far end of this border are yet to bloom. Daylilies have grown large.
As the border transitions around to the west even more Tradescantia has crept in. Across the meditation circle toward the NW corner of the garden is a favorite native tree, Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood). This dogwood had its best show ever this spring.
A ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress that used to fill this corner of the garden died last year. Its replacement is growing, but it will be a few years before it takes over to lessen the awkward, unbalanced look. I planted gladioli and zinnias against the fence this morning so the corner should be colorful later in the summer.
Behind the meditation circle, in the western border (above left) red Dianthus and Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura) provide additional color. Phlox subulata were added this year to this area in early spring are nearing the end of the bloom cycle but will remain green in the front of the border. A recently added Veronica aspicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell) is blossoming.
More Notes on the Western Border
In the western border a single Dahlia ‘Stargazer’ returns annually and I came across it this morning. It is the sole survivor of dahlias a friend started from seeds and shared with me years ago.
Backing up to the fence in this section, a Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ has grown tall but is not ready to bloom. Tradescantia mixes with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine), Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena), and perennial Dusty Miller. Nearby Foxglove and Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ are growing slowly, while Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) is beginning to bloom.
Along the fence five or so Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ evergreens prepare to flower. In the center two Italian Cypress trees planted a couple of years ago are beginning to add much needed verticality. A Spiraea shrub bloomed well earlier and needs pruning soon.
Both in the western border and in the meditation circle white buds sit atop Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue). This evergreen perennial has burgundy and green leaves that contribute color as well.
Southern Side Path
Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ is turning brown from fluctuating temperatures and little water. A couple of weeks ago it was 34 degrees and today it was 92.
Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ are starting to grow up behind the clematis.
White Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) just began blooming all along the path that leads up from the garden to the front of the house. In the middle section, yellow Bearded Irises are nearly finished for this year. Beyond the irises are lavender and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear).
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
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.
Tradescantia or spiderwort is one of the first plants I remember from very early childhood. At the time I did not know its name nor that it was a native plant, but I found the deep purple of its flower so beautiful. Upon discovering that the color transferred easily, I used tradescantia to stain one of the white front-porch columns and was genuinely surprised when my mother put me to work scrubbing it off.
My mother did not garden, but her older cousin did and she became a garden mentor to me. This special gardener introduced me to many plants and was always generous in supplying me with a variety of pass-along plants for my garden, including of course, spiderwort. The color range includes lavender, blue, violet, purple and even white.
Tradescantia does well in sun or shade, but the flowers may close by midday especially in hot sun. Spiderwort is very drought tolerant and self-seeds easily. The plants attract butterflies and this morning were appealing to quite many bees.
Plants have drifted throughout the garden over the years. I always intend to rein them back, but before I can get around to it, they open and form pretty combinations with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) or provide a needed backdrop to other emerging perennials. I think, “Well let’s just leave them for now.” Spiderworts tend to die back during the hottest part of summer. Before I know it, fall comes around again and the spiderworts give another burst of color to the garden. And so they stay.
Continuing yesterday’s tour around the garden, here are some more plants that I found in bloom in mid-September.
The tiny blue flowers of ageratum, or blue mist flower, show up in the fall. This perennial is Hardy Ageratum (Eupatorium Coelestinum). This plant grows well in part shade among some irises near the Arizona cypress in the back border. Ageratum can be somewhat aggressive, though it has not been so for the last several years. With more frequent rains this fall, it may need a watchful eye this year.
Tradescantia, or spiderwort, is in a re-blooming period now that the extreme heat has left. It fills in many spots where other perennials have quit blooming. Colors range from deep blue such as this one, to violet, to pale lavender, to almost white.
Gaura is new to the garden this year. Perhaps it really has been in the sleep phase of the old garden adage regarding perennials: sleep, creep, leap! It has not been as showy as expected and succumbed to the periods of drought by almost dying back (Oops-the tag did say to water weekly in dry periods). Happily though the plant has improved recently. This is Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush.’
It is a delight to have the soft pink clusters of Autumn Joy Sedum in this garden again. The rabbits damage it every spring and for the past few years it has not bloomed at all. This is actually a piece from the original that broke off during spring cleanup. It has competition here from various other plants which are vying for this spot.
Three sprigs of catmint (also pulled up inadvertently during spring cleanup) grew into a small, colorful hedge at the front of the northern border. It has been blooming all summer. It looks scraggly in the picture, but when standing in the garden, it really has a nice soft effect.
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) has been planted in the garden since its first year. This spring I moved a portion to the side garden where it has thrived.
Every garden needs a Butterfly Bush or so I used to think. At a talk at the North Carolina Botanical Garden it was suggested to eliminate them as they can become invasive. I have never cared for the fragrance and it does not perform well in this location. This one is probably Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ and I do plan to take it out this fall.
A few more blooms were identified in the garden yesterday, so this post will be continued.
The garden is holding up well this week despite a lack of rain or watering. In the northern bed Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) and the first blooms of Liatris Spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather or Blazing Star) and Gladiolus dominate the view.
In the southern bed, sweet peas and pink yarrows are still pretty although the color is fading on the yarrow. Mexican salvia, with its intense blue flower is coming into its own in the southwest end of the bed, while Lantana, with its multicolor flowers, fills out the southeast corner.
Daylilies, which I had many times threatened to pull out completely in an attempt to keep deer away, have persisted and (now that the fence has deterred the deer so far), they may actually bloom this year.
The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) is winding down its long blooming period that started in early April, so I cut down most of it this week. I had never noticed a sensitivity to this plant before, but I developed an itchy red rash on my arms after carrying the trimmings away. The rash lasted a day or so; fortunately the itch lasted only a half-hour or so.
Several Shasta Daisy flowers opened last week but as a group they are blooming very slowly. The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is starting to form buds. Several types of lavender are in flower, which delights the bees. Perovskia (Russian Sage), echinacea and bee balm were introduced last year into some additional areas and they seem to have adapted equally well around the garden.
The Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has been a strong presence in the garden. The bloom time is early to mid-summer, but with this year’s extremely hot spring, there was no waiting for summer. With summer still two weeks away the penstemon is winding down and forming burgundy seeds. The tradescantia’s blue flowers are bright in contrast to the red stems and reddish leaves of the penstemon.
When I think of the garden always it is a picture of cool greens and blues. At this time of year though, when I survey the lush parts of the garden, pinks abound in opposite sides of the space.
A short yarrow given to me by a friend nearly a decade ago, sends soft pink drifts through the southern bed between silver Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and blue tradescantia.
Where the yarrow lets off, a trailing, old-fashioned sweet pea that I brought from my old garden continues the pink theme, and winds through tradescantia toward a stand of woody-stemmed chrysanthemums.
Opposite, in the northern bed, purple coneflower or echinacea mirror the pink hues. The garden and its colors are heating up.
June arrived as temperatures are approaching, but not yet surpassing, historic records. Yesterday’s 96 degrees forced the tip of the tall digitalis (foxglove) to simply curl over, leaving the plant in the shape of a shepherd’s crook. Later in the evening it had straightened itself to it’s usual dignified, stately form.
Predictions calling for temperatures to reach near-100 today swayed me to break my anti-watering stance this morning. The new shrubs and perennials especially need a bit of nurturing against this heat for a while longer. Besides, spending early moments in the garden is one of the nicest ways to enjoy the serenity of the space, while providing an opportunity to make mental notes of the accumulating garden chores.
Bees, butterflies, birds, blooms and scents make the garden a special place. Monarda (Bee Balm), Blue Sky Salvia and gardenia are the latest flowers to open in the garden. I knew the gardenias had opened before I saw them, with their unparalleled fragrance wafting through the early morning air; monarda smells wonderful in its own minty fresh way.
The backyard garden at the end of May is pleasant and lush, with inviting colors, textures, diversity of plants, and sounds of birds, elevating this morning’s walk to a remarkably satisfying experience for this gardener.
Chrysanthemum, silvery Dusty Miller, Sweet Pea combine with soft leaves of Eastern Red Columbine.
The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) wake up the early morning garden with intense blues, but close under the strong sun by midday. The pink yarrow and white rose campion mix well and the tall blades of iris add balance.
Nearby a lantana has sprung to life and soon will be covered in multicolored clusters of red, yellow and orange.
Stachys (Lamb’s ear) brightens the back corner between some irises and a gardenia. The gardenia will soon add its unique fragrance to the garden.
The Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) earlier seemed terribly crowded by the irises, but as its bloomtime approaches it stands tall.
Verbena bonariensis frequently draws American goldfinches to the garden. It is surrounded by a foxglove, shasta daisies, tradescantia, a rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ and gardenias.
The meditation circle with its labyrinth still has more mulch than plants. Five bonariensis await planting within but I am hesitant about whether they are a good choice. Meanwhile the penstemon and angelonia have worked out great. The thyme lacks a strong presence, though it grows fine and has bloomed. The candytuft bloomed a rewarding second time.
Many more plants are tucked and packed into this small backyard haven, making each morning’s walk new and interesting as they transition through life.
After a week of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching into the nineties, last night’s cooling breezes and this morning’s crisp air were welcome. Despite the prediction of rain I broke my rule against watering and gave some plants a good drink. Still only 66 degrees by lunchtime, the heavy rain started suddenly and continued steadily until early evening, and streets flooded in Chapel Hill. The garden’s meditation circle flooded near the entrance and in the middle, draining pretty well afterwards, but leaving a stark contrast to its bleached-out look under the severity of the sun earlier in the week. After a rosy-clouded sunset, the rains returned.
Along the north side of the house is a narrow bed filled with the non-native ground cover, Aegopodium podograria (Bishops’ Weed). This seems to be the cultivar, Variegatum.
Bishops’ Weed is invasive in some states, but not in North Carolina. Two months ago I considered whether to eradicate this plant from the garden, but simply did not have time. Now it is blooming profusely and looks so delicate and pretty it makes it hard to be tough with it!
The Tradescantia Virginiana (Spiderwort) is a native perennial, but it is very aggressive in this garden. (It was never a problem in my previous garden, which was much shadier.)
It has a wonderful color and dainty flower, so it gets favored status despite the diligence it requires to tame it back.
One of the places Tradescantia is thriving is in same area as the Bishops’ Weed. Together they create a spring garden vignette of pure charm.
After a wet spring with moderate temperatures, the heat of the last few days has seemed to shock the grass, but so far the garden is holding its own. A very brief, early morning thunderstorm brought little relief, as it was more thunder than rain.
Several perennials await planting. There are three lovely yellow-pink, peachy Yarrows for height in the back border. There are also five Verbena bonariensis, which are planned for the meditation circle.
Spruced up the garden for a few hours this morning, trying to shape and edit along the way.
- Trimmed back Tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) that had grown too tall in front of the borders and had expanded into too much of the midsection.
- Cut back the iris stalks, but kept the leaves to die back naturally.
- Removed some large branches from a Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ (Butterfly Bush) that did not get its proper trim back in February. It was overshadowing the recently added Gaura.
- Pruned back the Iceberg Rose that had bloomed so well this spring. Suddenly it looked completely spent.
- Trimmed the Meadow Sage by half to encourage new blooming. Pulled up stray Rose Campion and Stachys(Lamb’s Ears) in the side path to open up the path again.
- Cut back the blooms on many of the Stachys, but left as many for the bees which were enjoying them so much.
As always, there is more to do tomorrow.
In early spring first the lenten roses, then the daffodils and spirea dominated the garden. By mid-April the first bearded iris had opened. Now, three and a half weeks later, a few irises, along with the old-fashioned rose and the clematises, remain in bloom. Take a quiet stroll around the perennial beds and it is easy to notice the garden again is in transition.
A verbena bonariensis is blooming and echinacea (purple coneflower) are beginning to open.
Several foxgloves are forming their complex flowers. Nearby an ‘Irish eyes’ rudbeckia already has reached two of its expected five feet.
The monarda (bee balm) also is tall and seems primed for a big display of red and fragrance.
A soft gray mound of artemisia accents the border and a perennial Dusty miller is creeping through the garden. Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) will soon add its bright reddish-orange color to the blue palette that has predominated the garden in early spring.
The very tips of the white tubular flowers of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are becoming visible.
These two penstemon are planted inside the meditation path forming a wall at one of the turnaround points.
One of the small pink yarrow is just beginning to open among the lamb’s ears. Rising only 10-15 inches, it has a lacy flower and a dark green, feathery-soft foliage.
Lavender will soon be adding its beautiful color and unique fragrance to several locations. The lavenders responded positively to severe pruning in February.
A Garden Highlight
An exciting highlight is the single bloom on the peony recently added to the garden, Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait.’ Although its planting tag indicated a June bloom, it was ready yesterday without regard to the calendar, as was the gardener.
Changes Bring Chores
As the focus transitions away from roses and irises there are many required tasks this week that will help keep the garden looking nice. The faded iris blooms and the bloom stalks need to trimmed back to tidy up, although the leaves need to remain for several months before being trimmed back to 6 inches in a fan shape. Is this the year the irises will finally get divided?
The southern path is full of white rose campion, but none of the favored magenta-hued rose campion survived the winter. Deadheading is a must if they are to continue to look attractive and to keep them from self-sowing so heavily.
The many Eastern Red Columbine is done for this year and needs to be cut back severely; it will maintain a nice green mound all summer.
Tradescantia is pretty now but needs to be thinned, as it has spread too widely. Many were sheared heavily ten days ago. The daylilies, the sweet peas–all overgrown. The spirea finished its bloom weeks ago and should be pruned back hard to maintain its size. Other chores abound. The fence installation was completed last week and paths to the gates need to be improved.
How to finish planting the meditation circle is still an interesting problem to solve, something to ponder while working on these maintenance tasks this week and contemplating transitions.
After all the analyzing, planning, digging, weeding, pruning, and mulching since first contemplating back in January a renovation of the garden, today was a fitting time to settle back and enjoy, relax, and appreciate the plants and the setting. Though the to-do list remains a long enumeration, today was a chance to observe and to just be.
The quiet evening air was punctuated by the sounds of cardinals and robins conversing through the neighborhood as a mourning dove, chickadees, sparrows and a towhee flitted about the garden. The sun lowered gently, highlighting along the way a certain branch of the dogwood, then focusing on several iris stalks to form a tiny vignette. The rains last week and this spring in general have ensured a verdant lawn and vibrant garden scene.
Looking into the garden one sees white bearded iris standing tall and erect. Nearby the eye is drawn to the deep blue of meadow sage, but soon there will be competition from drifts of lavender Phlox divaricata (woodland phlox).
The dogwood dropped the last of its petals this week after its best blooming year yet.
Nepeta (catmint) is opening beneath Lynn’s iceberg rose, which is full of buds and the old-fashioned rose has a few pink flowers already.
The penstemon forms a nice clump and displays rich green and red-hued foliage. Penstemon seems like a good candidate to use in the meditation garden. A visit to the garden center this week may offer up other ideas.
Along the side path grows lavender and another old-fashioned flower, rose campion. Neither is blooming yet. Returning in this same part of the garden is monarda (bee balm), lamb’s ears, and a lovely stand of yellow irises.
Tomorrow chores await but today in the garden, there was time to just enjoy.
It was a beautiful day for laying in bricks to edge the meditation circle. There are a few wobblies to straighten, but it is great to have the circle well-defined. Still more soil preparation is needed before the red stepping stones can be arranged to form the labyrinth.
Around the garden many things are growing nicely. The Hellebores continue to bloom, Eastern Red Columbine is starting to open in various (mostly self-chosen spots), Monarda (bee balm) and all three baptisias are emerging.
Rabbits or deer seem to be nibbling the remaining daylilies that still need to be dug out of the garden. Similarly something for the first time ever has been also eating the spiderwort (tradescantia), an all-time favorite in this garden. This one, also in the southern side path, somehow escaped being part of the grazing buffet and is the first tradescantia to bloom this year. What a cheerful little flower!