Monday, April 29, 2013

Late-April Blooms

I love wandering through the yard this time of year.  When I take a break from weeding/prepping/planting to look at what nature is doing without my intervention, it really is astounding.  There is something new to look at every day.  Here's proof:  fourteen days since my April Bloom Day post, and I have more than fourteen new blooms to show off.

1.  Irises. Each morning I've been running out to see if a new one is open.  So far, four different bearded irises have opened their buds.

2.  Centaurea (bachelor buttons).  Shown here with white bleeding hearts.

3.  Dicentra eximia (wild bleeding hearts).

4.  Spanish bluebells.  I have these all over the yard.  They're rather weedy (they'll grow anywhere), but so cheerful while in bloom.

5.  Camassia.  This is their second year.  I bought the bulbs on a whim, not really knowing what they were.  Took a chance and planted them right in the middle of the front border, where they've been quite showy.

6.  Phlox.  I've already shown off the moss phlox to the right of the tulips, but now the woodland phlox between the tulips is in full bloom.  It is unfortunate that the colors are so close, so they seem to run together. 

7.  Blueberries.  I bought a second blueberry shrub two weeks ago (to replace one that didn't survive my "you're in the ground, now you're on your own" maintenance scheme), so maybe this year I'll get berries.  For now, the flowers are cute.

8.  Columbine (Aquilegia) - three types.
9.  Blue flax (Linum perenne ssp. lewisii).  The truest blue in my garden.

10.  Rosemary.

 11.  Pasque flower.

 12.  Geranium.

13.  Strawberries.  I'll need to put up the critter netting soon, I think.

 14.  Ajuga.  Bought a year ago, planted Friday. 
15.  Nepeta (catmint).  I have two of these, not the same variety.  This one is in full bloom, the other hasn't started yet.

16.  Viburnum.  Just barely.  Of course it is also just barely a shrub, at under two feet tall.

17.  Carolina Jessamine.  Growing on the chain link fence around my vegetable garden.  I planted this quite a few years ago.  It has flowered sparingly the last few years, but is (finally) rather showy this year.  Now if only I could get it to grow laterally, to cover more of the fence, rather than up into the neighboring rose of sharon.

Seventeen types of flowers (and 22 different blooms) opening up in two weeks.  Now I just need more time to enjoy them.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

508 (correction: 510 now 513)

Five hundred and eight ten thirteen.  That's my daffodil count for the year.

Annual totals:
2009: 347
2010: 282
2011: 175
2012: 460
2013: 508 510 513

All of these came from daffs that predate my living here.  When I see pretty daffodils of different types than I have in my yard, I'm tempted to buy more.  But where would I put them?  And what would it do to the count? Why do I care?  And since I've actually reduced the number of daff bulbs by moving 50 to my parent's yard, I guess the count is off anyway.  OK, I've decided this while typing: I have license to buy daff bulbs this fall!   

Maybe some green-eyes:

Or something really exotic, like Electrus, with split, reflexive cups:

Or something else entirely. 

(images from

4/28/2013 postscript:  Geez, I can't even get the title of my post correct.  I found two more faded flowers this weekend, making the final(?) count 510.

Mid-may:  Nope, not final.  Found three more in the front bed.  I'm calling the count at 513.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Who Doesn't Like Violets?

Who doesn't like violets?

Me, that's who.

Oh, sure, they are very cute. They look nice in the spring perennial beds.

But when I find them in the garden, I pull them out like weeds. I'd really rather not have to do this, but violets cannot be trained. If only they would stay in the garden, I'd let them live in the garden. But they don't.

violet seedlings everywhere!

Violets have an evil plot to take over the world. Give them and inch, and they take over ...

My lawn.

ok, it's not like my lawn is very healthy anyway.  violets are one of the nicer offenders here.
My vegetable garden.

Violets invading the pea patch

My patio.

time to unleash the crack weeder

My steps.

My patio furniture.

So those cute little violets have to go!

Friday, April 19, 2013


A delayed spring, followed by intense heat, seems to have played with the timing of lots of plants.  Everything is blooming at once!  How do I tell nature to slow down?

Across the alley, I always enjoy my neighbor's forsythia, which I can see from my kitchen window.  It's the perfect place for a forsythia, in my view.  I get to enjoy its bright flowers, but it doesn't take up valuable space in my yard with its uninteresting form the other 11 months of the year.

I think it bloomed later this year, since spring insisted on hibernating extra long.  But, eventually, the forsythia put on its stunning show.

And then it got hot.  Thanks to the sudden warm up, the neighboring lilac (another shrub whose blooms I love, but not enough to have in my yard all year) is right on time.

So now we have forsythia and lilac, blooming at once.

(yes, if these were mine, I might prune them a bit)

Nice combo, but I'd really rather have them spread out more, so my scenery lasts longer. 

Maybe next year.

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 2013 Blooms

It's an explosion of spring in my yard right now (finally)!  Most of the daffs are done, thanks to last week's heat wave (I started cutting them down over the weekend - check back next week for this year's final count.), but these doubles in a shady spot are still looking perky:

This white and peach daff is all dried out, making it look quite delicate, I think.
Moss phlox is making purple mats in the back yard and in the front

garage garden
front parking strip

The Neglected Terrace is at its peak, with vivid pink moss phlox, euphorbia, and iberis all in flower - a rather garish carpet, but full of energy.

Tulips!  They are not reliably perennial in my area.  I planted some red and white ones about 6 years ago that lasted only three seasons.  This is the fourth year for these purple ones, and they've been increasing yearly (originally only two bulbs).  The yellow tulips are at least eight years old (they predate me in this location), and have sent up only foliage (no flower) for the last 3-4 years.  Kinda funny looking right now, but I'm happy to see them again.
Hellebores are still going.  I like how my newly-flowering plant on the right doesn't droop as much as the parents.

Giant snowdrops aren't quite giant enough - they get lost in the spanish bluebell foliage.  Bluebells around the corner (no photo) are already blooming.

More purples and blues:  Mazus reptans creeping between the stepping stones in the side yard, adorable Brunnera flowers (my first brunnera, I got it last year and never put it in the ground), and creeping phlox in the garage bed.

First flowers of the year on the green-and-gold under the Japanese maple

Lastly, not a bloom (yet), but a preview of what's to come:

irises already?  not quite, but soon
(also blooming:  white bleeding heart, periwinkle, flowering pear (nearly done), dandelions everywhere, grape hyacinths, violets also everywhere)

Check out more blooms at May Dreams Gardens.  Happy Spring!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Perils of Spring Travel

So many tasks/activities compete for a gardener's time in the spring.  In addition to yard, garden, and athletic pursuits, spring is also Travel Season at my job.  This year most of my travel was compressed into two weeks. 

The first trip (first week of April) lasted five days.  I returned to find spring finally starting to spring in my yard (hooray!).  Inside, a sad story awaited me.  My 'not late' pepper and tomato seedlings, sown in tiny cells, must have used up all their available water by day two.  I found the cells completely dry, and some withered up seedlings laying on top.  I tried to revive them.  Some came back (turns out the flat was not completely level, so one corner go more water than the rest), but many did not.  No photos:  I couldn't bear it.

I didn't have replacement seeds for many of the varieties I'd planted. I re-sowed what I had, plus some more mater seeds that had (finally) arrived in the mail while I was gone.  Two days later, I left on another five-day trip.  Fortunately, this time I had houseguests staying in my basement, who agreed to tip over a watering can every day or so during my absence. 

When I returned on Friday afternoon, I was shocked by the explosion of spring outside.  The daffodils had withered in the three days of 90+ weather, but moss phlox and the redbud made up for that big time.

the parking strip that welcomed my return

Indoors, everything that was alive when I left was still alive when I returned, thanks to my helpful houseguests. Hooray!

don't worry, the seedlings aren't actually yellow - that's just my poor photography
Note the big empty space where pepper seedlings used to be.  I have two or more of each variety remaining, so I should be ok.  My friends and neighbors just won't be obliged to take excesses off my hands this year.

Next spring, I'm going to insist on shorter work trips.