Friday, May 15

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - May 2009

It's May 15th, the May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day hosted by Carol over at May Dreams Gardens... and I find myself able to enjoy my little bouquets of cut flowers more than I can observe the actual garden plants in bloom this month! Between the overlap of indoor and sand volleyball, long hours at both jobs, going for bike rides, taking my little cousin's Flat Stanley on adventures around Cleveland, and hanging out with Steve and Coco, I simply don't have much time!

I have been sneaking a peak at some of the new blooms in my garden off and on, like this pretty little groundcover phlox divaricata:

And the HUGE blooms on the 'Chojuraku' tree peony that I salvaged last year from the garden center:

Of the spring bloomers, some (like this 'Jack Frost' brunnera--which I love underplanted with golden creeping jenny) are hitting their peak:

And others, like this pulmonaria (also underplanted with creeping jenny) are almost at the end of their bloom time:

The gorgeous coral honeysuckle (lonicera sempervirens) will always remind me of Annie in Austin since it first caught my eye on one of her blog postings. It's just starting its amazing late spring show:

And I'm equally excited to see the flowers on many fruits & veggies, including this blueberry (underplanted with woolly thyme and 'Ivory Queen' allium):

What really amazes me, though, is that so many tulips are still putting on quite a show. It's been at least three years since I planted anything but the short little species tulips that are finished blooming now, and yet I have some gorgeous returners like 'Queen of Night':

The peony-flowered 'BlackHero'tulip, which I love love LOVE coming up through the leaves of a peachy orange heuchera:

And this unknown variety, which usually looks pink to me (Steve, knowing my aversion to pink, assuredme that it's "a reddish tulip" instead--good guy, isn't he?!) but which looks nicely orange/red when backlit by the setting sun:

Notice those white flowers behind the tulips? They represent my failure--AGAIN--to take out my doublefile viburnum. *sigh* Oh, but I've rationalized it this time, don't worry! See, I'm thinking that now that the treelawn tree is gone... well, sure it will have more sun. But it will also have less competition for water since those tree roots won't be sucking up all of the moisture in that garden. That sounds reasonable... right?!?! :)

It's way past my bedtime now, and I have to get up early and dig out some plants to bring with me to the garden center tomorrow as gifts for a few of my coworkers, so I'll sign off with a few lists... and a wish that your May garden is as lovely as a May garden should be!

Shrubs, grasses & vines in bloom:
- Doublefile viburnum, tree peony, lonicera sempervirens

Perennials in bloom:
- Phlox divaricata, lamiums 'Anne Greenaway,' 'Purple Dragon' & the passalong one from mom, sweet woodruff, linaria, pulmonaria, 'JackFrost' brunnera, 'Samobor' geranium, various heuchera

Fruits, veggies & herbs in bloom:
- 'Red Lake' currants, blueberries, chives, common sage, strawberries

Annuals & bulbs in bloom:
- 'Geranium' daffodil, 'Black Hero' tulip, 'Queen of Night' tulip, unnamed "reddish"tulip, frittilaria, red pansies

Saturday, May 9

A "Little" Spring Appreciation

A few years ago, after one planting combination that would have been unfortunate in any other season, I decided that all colors worked well together in the spring in Ohio. Why? Well, after our grey-brown-white winters, Midwesterners are so color-starved that literally anything looks good popping out of the ground and blooming at the top of a stalk... doesn't matter what its neighbors look like at all!

Similarly, I decided this year that spring is the perfect time for perennials that have small flowers to bloom. Would we appreciate the blue bell clusters on a grape hyacinth in any other season? After all, you could fit between 2-4 of them within the area taken up by one of my fingernails:

Strawberries can be appreciated for another reason, but the little blooms themselves are not really much to write home about:

Leaning down to view and appreciate the tiny flowers of 'Anne Greenaway' (aka 'Anniversary') lamium helped me find another small treasure this spring:

And there are other lamiums in bloom in my garden today, too, including this 'Purple Dragon' that lurks beneath my Japanese maple:

And the passalong variety (thanks, Mom!) that is mounding all around my rhododendron:

Other spring-flowering groundcovers include the ajugas--here is 'Metallica Crispa' in the bottom of the deepest "Lock" garden:

The drought-tolerant bergenias, whose leaves have greened up and are no longer sporting their winter burgundy hues:

The dry-shade-tolerant epimediums, with their "bishop's cap" shaped flowers:

And the pulmonarias, with their silver-spotted leaves and flowers that open pink and "fade" to blue:

And the sweet woodruff, with its sweetgrass-esque fragrance:

And don't forget some of the mounding perennials! I would grow 'Jack Frost' brunnera just for its gorgeous silver leaves and drought tolerance, but these sky-blue flowers are a definite bonus:

On the darker side of the spectrum is 'Samobor' geranium--again with interesting foliage, and equally interesting, moody-hued flowers:

Rock garden plants are starting to get into the flowering act as well. No sign of blooms yet on my 'Little Plum' lewisia (the sunset-colored one I showed off in the May '08 Bloom Day post didn't overwinter) but some seedlings of the 'Neon Lights' Linaria I purchased last year from Mulberry Creek Herb Farm, via Gales in Westlake, are already starting their summer show:

And last but not least is a gorgeous dwarf iris, iris pumila, which may have come from Mulberry Creek as well. (I just can't find it on their website right now, and am too lazy to go out and check the tag!) I planted this directly in the ground in its biodegradeable pot last fall after rescuing it from the trash at the garden center where I work--along with some saxifrage and a couple of other alpines. All came back just fine, but I was particularly excited to see the beauty of the iris:

Its lovely white petals, which look like they were dipped in the lovely shade of bluish purple that veins them, are intricate and detailed, in spite of the fact that each individual bloom is not even as big as the palm of my hand:

Who says that beautiful things never come in small packages? Spring seems to be proving otherwise--at least, around my garden!

Monday, May 4

The Front Yard Garden in Spring

Last night, Steve and I went for a nice 10-mile bike ride through the Metroparks after I finished working at the garden center. This evening, I went searching for a couple of my old blog posts on trilliums and angelicas, both of which I pointed out along the trail, so I could send him the links. As I nosed around my archives, I was surprised to see that we're in the FIFTH month of the year already, and yet I have just FOUR blog posts published in 2009. Yikes!

It's not for lack of things to talk about, either. Spring has definitely sprung here in Northeast Ohio, as you can see in these pictures of the front yard garden:

The photo above shows you what I see when I walk out my front door. Here's a closer view of the bright color in the middle of the bed, where the golden marjoram is starting to emerge in all its chartreuse glory after a close spring cropping:

The golden marjoram makes for a very pretty groundcover, and when the dog is out front and gets excited about seeing a visitor (either 2- or 4-legged, or even winged) it smells lemony good while she stomps around on it, as I had hoped.

The groundcover to the left of it in that same bed is a sedum album, which fills in nicely without being a thug. However, this section of bed looks sparse since I cut back my sages and grasses so severely in April:

Luckily those beautiful species tulips (plus a handful of 'Prinses Irene,' my all-time favorite tulips, are massing and multiplying well enough to distract from any bare spots.

Some of the shorn plants look very interesting as they grow in... this carex buchanii (leatherleaf sedge) looks like a caramel-colored cousin of the lavender plant behind it, until its blades get taller and start to gently curl over:

Some of my purple lyreleaf sage are emerging, along with returning Mexican feather grass, baby sea kale (seriously, I cut all of those bloom stalks back last summer--how is it still having babies?!) and a steady creep of the aforementioned sedum album:

The lyreleaf sedge has some nice backlighting effects... but it is nothing compared to the fire of the unnamed (inherited with the house) heuchera when the western sun sets it aglow. Especially when highlighted with the equally en fuego tones of 'Princes Irene' tulip flowers:

Two side notes, quickly: 1) Am I the only person who thinks of Dan Patrick and the old Sportscenter every time I hear the phrase "en fuego?" And 2) I know that sometimes gardeners get big surprises in the spring, but... I REALLY don't remember planting this next fuzzy, affectionate thing in my garden last year! *grin*

Beyond the catmint in which Mr. Kitty was indulging himself before he came over for a petting is my 'Solar Flare' bergenia. Right now it's obnoxiously bright, as it is both blooming in bright pink and flaring with acid yellow variegation on its new leaves. Later in the season, this plant will revert to all green... and in the fall, its leaves will turn a lovely burgundy color. I would probably hate it if it were so bright year-round, but as it is, I am completely smitten:

Oh, speaking of smitten, here's another shot of a single 'Prinses Irene,' with golden marjoram in the background--and little tufts of allium schubertii leaves poking up all around it:

I can't wait for the allium to return--more than a few people have told me that they dont have luck getting those particular alliums to perennialize. I hope that my well-drained soil gives me a little bit of an advantage there, but we'll see.

Based on last year's posts, 'Prinses Irene' and a few of the other tulips are a week to ten days ahead of last year's pace. That 80-degree weekend really gave things a kick start around here... even my Japanese maple is leafing out, in spite of the fact that I haven't given it an annual pruning/shaping just yet:

I guess I'll be foregoing the Japanese maple's haircut this year, at this point--Ma Nature seems to have her own agenda where that is concerned!

Speaking of going with the flow, I think that may be what 2009 is going to be all about for me. At this time last year, I never thought this spring would find me where I am right now, in so many ways... but it's a pretty good place, all considered. And I am determined to enjoy it, and appreciate it, and take notice of all of the little pockets of color and fragrance and... life.

Happy Spring!