Friday, May 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, May 2015

Sweet Shrub, Calycanthus in the shade garden.
And then the day came
when the risk to remain
tight in a bud was
more painful than the 
risk to bloom. 
-- Anais Nin

We can learn so much from tending a garden: I have learned to take risks in my life, to try something new however painful. The poet Mark Nepo, in The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have, gives numerous, inspiring examples from nature on 'how to stay vital and in love with this life.' A quiet walk through my garden soon after sunrise brings me into the present and sets the tone for my day. On this Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, come with me on that walk. Oh, and bring a sweater -- it's another cold morning.

Bordering the Stone Garden more lilac blossoms than usual shed their heady aroma. A canopy of shade provided by the tall maples tends to limit the number of lilac flowers. This year, however, not only the common purple is blooming but also the pale pink and the white one.

 The white and purple lilacs are in full bloom. The pale pink blossoms are nearly there,

I've lost the name of this white beauty.

In the Cottage Garden the crabapple tree, in full bloom, takes center stage. It is the star of my garden every May.

You can just make out the lilacs under the maple trees to the left of the crabapple.

Near the pond new growth, like fairy lights, adorn the miniature spruce.

Picea abies 'Pendula'

 Walking around the house to the front garden we find the first of the azaleas blooming bright red in the shade of the foundation planting.  The white one on the other side of the porch will be another week before its petals open.

Through the gate and into the shade garden we find more May blooms: brunnera, lamium, hellebore, Jacobs ladder, and lily of the valley. And, of course, lots of gorgeous foliage.

Brunnera macrophylla 'Jack Frost,' pink lamium, and the faded flowers or helleborus 'Ivory Prince.'

The 'naked lady' statue is bathing in a foam of spirea 'Golden Mound.' Too early for blooms but beautiful chartreuse folliage.

I find blue flowers particularly gorgeous, and Jacob's ladder is no exception with its lavender blue cup-shaped blooms.

Jacob's-ladder or Greek valerian, polemonium caeruleum

Into the Woodland Walk now where lily-of-the-valley's clusters of fragrant white bells abound. Spreading by rhysomes, they make excellent ground cover for the Woodland Garden, but need too much space for the Cottage Garden. I have to remember they are very poisonous and keep them out of the nearby horse's pasture.

Lily of the valley, Convallaria majalis

Sweet woodruff carpets the Woodland Walk. One of my favorite spring flowers, it is another native plant that I am happy to own. A small clump was given to me by my friend, Pat, many years ago. It's exuberent behavior is easy to control by simply tugging unwanted plants out. They are easy to remove but I rarely want to do so. This often forgotten herb is a valuable addition to shady areas.

Sweet Woodruff, Galium odoratum

I hope you enjoyed this short walk through my mid-May garden. I am linking to Carol at May Dreams Gardens where she graciously hosts Garden Bloggers Bloom Day on the 15th of each month. Now I'm going over to Carol's wonderful blog to see what is blooming in gardens all around the world.

Happy GBBD!

Pamela x

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Tulips, Violets, and Cherry Blossoms, Oh My!

 'Nature never did betray
The heart that loved her.'
William Wordsworth

May arrived and with it above normal temperatures. I have few true spring ephemarals in my garden, but many of today's blooms are equally fleeting, especially with these unusually high temperatures. The tulips are dying back already, but I was so happy to see them, as I thought the squirrels had removed the bulbs soon after planting. Those of you who told me my tulips would survive were so right!! You can read about the planting process and its related angst here. Before the first tulip buds appeared, I sprayed the plants with deer repellent. When I didn't renew it after a rain storm, the deer munched off several of them, so I have sprayed diligently since. I'm sure you agree it is worth the effort.

Tulips planted in the entry garden welcome visitors to our home.

The weeping cherry was so very pretty. By the time I photographed it, the blossoms were falling, so this picture doesn't really do it justice. This is its third year and the branches have filled out and some have reached the ground already. The tree was planted in honor/memory of my mother, who lived at Cherry Tree Court in England where we planted another cherry tree for her. I wasn't there to see it's blooms this year.

Snow fountain cherry Prunus x 'Snofozam'

Cherry Blossoms

We opened the pond, activated the water falls and installed a new spitter, since the 'goose boy' deteriated, springing leaks. As with all our garden tasks, we were late this year. The water is gradually clearing and the fish look healthy.

The new spitter -- appropriately a koi fish.

Years ago, I planted native violets in the cottage garden and of course they have spread. I love their deep blue color and welcome their proliferance (is this a word?)

Pale blue violets with primroses

When many other daffodils died back 'Tahiti' continued to strut its stuff!

Tahiti again. Isn't she lovely?

I am amazed at the giant foliage on the allium 'Globemaster' I planted last fall. This is the biggest and many think the best Allium yet. I can't wait to see its giant blooms. I planted the bulbs where other perennials will grow up and hide the foliage when it becomes ugly. Right now I think it's beautiful.

Allium in the foreground.

Many gardeners dislike vinca as a thug. I love its blue stars and forgive its aggressive behavior each spring. The vinca in my garden was planted by H.H.'s mother years before I appeared on the scene, and was a favorite of hers. She called it periwinkle; I would not dream of removing it.

Vinca appears in every crack and crevice.

I broke this year's resolution to blog weekly, or at least three times a month, blogging only twice in April. I can offer all sorts of excuses including being crazily busy with garden presentations and garden writing. (You can read my latest article published in our local newspaper here. This is the first in a series of monthly articles I am writing on 'Gardening in the Poconos.') We are continuing with home renovations: the inside is finished and the workmen are now outside replacing broken fences, painting, staining, and working on the roofs of the outbuildings. Added to this craziness, I had a flare up of my autoimmune disease, Crohn's, which sent me to the hospital for more tests this week and of course required doctor visits. I am trying not to let my health problems define me, but it is difficult. I too often see myself as 'sick' rather than healthy and I complain a lot more than I should. I am resolved to get out of this cycle. And that is enough of my pity party...

I've finished seed-starting with half a dozen flats of annuals making good progress: marigolds, zinnias, snapdragons, and various herbs. The pansies are puny but still alive, so I'll put them out soon. The rest should be ready for planting after the average last frost date, which is coming up fast, hurrah! In the kitchen garden, I direct sowed snow peas to grow over the pea tunnel, and I planted lettuce to grow underneath where it will be shaded.

Pea tunnel in place and snow peas and lettuce planted.

We have beautiful gardening weather here today; I must get outside. My heart goes out to those in other parts of our country experiencing tornadoes, floods, and even the first-named tropical storm so early in the year. I am truly blessed as I enjoy spring's fleeting loveliness. Whatever the season where you live, I hope you find peace and beauty in your garden today, my friends.

Pamela x

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Thursday, April 23, 2015

The Daffodil Walk

My garden is radiant with gorgeous daffodils. Their lovely faces brighten this miserably cold April day. Undaunted by the biting wind and snow flurries, they exude everything SPRING.
She turned to the sunlight
    And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
    "Winter is dead.”
--A.A. Milne

I planted them along the path to the front door. My mother-in-law grew some there many years ago and we remember them fondly, but somehow a landscaper removed them. When I took over the landscaping, I planned on replacing the daffodils, but never got around to it until last fall. I described how we planted them here. When H.H.'s sister visited and happily said, "Mom's daffodils are back!" I wished I had replaced them sooner. After all, I have daffodils in many other areas of the garden.

Daffodil Walk
What a miracle, that these turned into such beautiful flowers!
These are White Flower Farm's weatherproof daffodil mixture -- good choice considering our weather!
There is confusion over the name of this plant. Is it daffodil, narcissus or jonquil? According to the University of Missouri, "both daffodil and narcissus are correct. Narcissus is the generic botanical name given these plants in 1753. In England, however, the plants were commonly known as daffodils. This term was carried to other countries by English-speaking people. Jonquil refers to a specific kind of narcissus, and is not correct for the group in general. True jonquils have a reedlike leaf and sweet-smelling flowers. Narcissus, then, is the correct botanical name for the genus; daffodil is the correct common name for all members of the genus; and Jonquil correctly refers to one particular division of the genus." -- David Trinklein, Division of Plant Science, U. of Missouri.

I  love the frilly cup of this daffodil.

I follow Perdue's Department of Horticulture's advice,
"Remove flowers as soon as they begin to fade. This not only makes the plants look better, but it also prevents undesirable seed development. Seed development results in smaller bulbs the next year."
I'm not sure what I'll do when the Daffodil Walk's plants die back and start to look ugly.  I don't take off the leaves until they are turning brown, as they are still manufacturing food, flowers are forming for the next season, and the bulbs are maturing. If I decide to tie the dying foliage together to make the bed tidier, I must not do it until a month after the flower dies, so it's really not worth the trouble. I feel my best course of action is to plant groundcovers, annuals, or perennials to hide the dying plants. It is a full-sun area, so hostas and ferns (good daffodil companion plants) are not options. Also, the daffodils are planted close together, so there's not much room for planting between them. In my other daffodil beds, the companion plants came before the daffs., so I didn't have this problem. Daylilies are always suitable. What would you plant to hide the dying foliage?

My favorite with its distinctive corona.
Daffodils need little care during the spring. I fertilize my established bulbs with bonemeal just as the leaves begin to come up. I scatter it around each clump, being careful not to get it on the new leaves or they may be burned. Do not fertilize bulbs once they begin flowering as this encourages bulb rot and may shorten the life of the bulb. Daffodils need plenty of water during and after flowering. In the summer, when the bulbs are dormant, they should be kept fairly dry.

This bed is nearly ten years old.
I need to separate some of the daffodils in the more established beds. I will dig the bulbs as soon as the tops begin to die back. The dying tops help locate bulbs and make digging easier. I will replant the bulbs immediately, because if I store them, I may forget.

Daffodils in the perennial border.

Tahiti -- my favorite daffodil.
Beautiful bloom waiting in the wings.
Daffodils are not bothered by insects and diseases. Most important: deer wont eat them! The latter is the best reason to grow them I think, especially since deer munched several buds off my tulips last night. 

"... my heart with pleasure fills,
and dances with the daffodils."
-- William Wordsworth

Happy Gardening!
Pamela x

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