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!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Kim your bitty blooms are great. I love finding these bitty beauties all around the garden.

I can't seem to grow lamium. I have tried every varitey you mentioned and not one has survived so I specially appreciate them in your garden.

Karen said...

Oh, you were just showing off your manicure, right? :) I like these small flowers that you have to stop a bit to appreciate. So wee and sweet. I need to get that geranium, I love the deep wine hue of the variegation. Happy spring!

chuck b. said...

All those colors look good to me, and I didn't have a gray-brown-white winter.

I see many kinds of lamium growing around here, but rarely does it flower.

Layanee said...

In spring, size doesn't matter!

Heather's Garden said...

I've just planted my first 2 lamium, so I'm particularly excited to see how beautiful they are in your garden. I'm also envying all your flowers, there just isn't that much blooming in my garden yet!

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

LOL - I love all the shots with your hand. You make a good point though about all the little spring bloomers.
While I admire the beauty of your Lamiums, I'm giving mine the heave-ho for trying to take over the garden and drowning & choking out other plants. I will miss them, but not enough to deal with their dreams of conquest.

Gail said...

Not a lamium in sight here...we have other thugs to deal with (the vincas are not our friends) I do like the geranium...It a cutie pie. Glad you're enjoying your spring beauties! gail

Unknown said...

Greenbow Lisa, thanks! By the way, that's strange... most people seem to have trouble getting rid of them! :) The 'Anne Greenaway' one is the least vigorous for me, and keeps sending out reversions to plain gold leaves. But then again, my ground is pretty dry, and I think that you've said yours is, too, so maybe that's why they don't like us quite as much? I think they're touchy about "dry" until they get established.

Karen, that must be it! LOL! Actually, my hands look pretty good this year--I've been making a concerted effort to try to wear gardening gloves when I'm at the garden center, and it's helping. :)

Chuck, really? Hmm... I wonder if it needs more cold than it gets there to flower? Interesting...

Layanee, I agree! :)

Heather, they really are nice little groundcovers--I love the silver leaves when it isn't in bloom. I have mine growing underneath my rhododendron (the pink-flowering one), under my Japanese maple (the 'Purple Dragon') and in a bed with drumstick allium and baptisia ('Anne Greenaway') so they make nice fillers there.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, your garden is pretty moist/clay, right? Mine don't seem to be bent on garden domination, but it IS pretty dry here. The one that's the worst is the pink-flowering one beneath the rhodo, and I'm guessing that's because that is the one bed that was built up with good quality, humus-rich, trucked-in soil by the previous owners. I'll be keeping an eye on them, though! :)

Gail, the lamium isn't a thug here (knock on wood) but I know what you mean about the other thugs. (Mine is sweet woodruff... that I planted on purpose myself!) Maybe all of your pretty natives will eventually band together and battle the dreaded vinca over at Clay & Limestone?!

T said...


I discovered your blog on a directory site and your username, BlackSwamp_Girl caught my attention. So from one Black Swamp girl to another, Howdy! I live, write, and garden in northwest Ohio.

Great blog! I've enjoyed looking at photos and reading entries.

Benjamin Vogt said...

I am confused--should I be looking at the blooms or the hands? Because each shot has a slightly different angle of the hands, so I find it sorta artistic in an avant garde sort of way.

lisa said...

I'm with you-blooms of ANY size are welcome after the long winter! I discovered that I also have some of those cute mini irises that were passalongs last fall (from kids who had no idea what they were).

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