Wednesday, May 16, 2018

GBBD: Remembering Spring

In my last Bloom Day post, I worried that spring would never arrive.  But not surprisingly, all I needed was a little more patience, for less than two weeks later, spring burst forth in all its grandeur.  Suddenly, daffodils were dancing everywhere, and each day new tulips opened up their blooms.

Now, two short weeks later, most of the tulips are just a memory.  I know that on Bloom Day we are supposed to be sharing what is blooming now, but since I haven't posted for a month, please bear with me--I just have to share all these happy blooms from the past few weeks.  I promise to keep the narrative to a minimum and let you just enjoy the sights.

Every spring I am eager to see what tulips emerge, both the new bulbs I planted the fall before and the old faithfuls I have had for a few years.  Since tulips are not very long-lived and because they are a popular treat for certain varmints (more on that later), one never knows just how many or which ones will appear.  I planted more 'Margarita' last fall because the old ones were looking puny last year and was happy to see the new plantings looking good.

I also planted lots of orange tulips last fall, because I had very few in my garden.  I think I might have gotten a little carried away, though, because I had so many different orange tulips that I couldn't remember which was which. This is 'Gudoshnik'--I think.

This is 'Orange Van Eijk,' according to my planting notes from last fall.

After being impressed last spring with 'Lightning Sun,' I ordered more for this year.  One photo doesn't do these justice--they have variegated coloring in shades of orange to red, and the color varies from one bloom to another.  As they age, the petals remind me of an Impressionist's brushstrokes. Both 'Lightning Sun' and 'Gudoshnik' are tall Darwin tulips purchased from John Scheepers and should last for several years.

I did plant more than orange tulips last fall, in case you were wondering.  'Barcelona' is a lovely rose-colored pink; I just wish I had gotten a better photo of these, minus a car in the background:)

Then there were the returnees: although I prefer the tall hybrid tulips, I do love these little species tulips 'Lady Jane.'  The best part besides their longevity is that they multiply.

My namesake 'Rosalie.'

A double, 'Pink Star.'

And another double, one of my long-time favorites, 'Angelique.'

And what has become my very favorite tulip of all, 'Akebono.'  Another Darwin tulip, these return every year, yet just to make sure I always have some,I add a few more each fall.

There were many more returning tulips that I have simply forgotten the names of.  I wish I could identify the ones above so I could order more this year; they really were beautiful.  Notice I also had a healthy crop of henbit and dandelions this spring.

Some type of Rembrandt tulips.

Shades of yellow

Pale pink/lavender in the shade garden

Orange and purple are not a color combo I would usually choose, but I'll take it here.

And finally, two whose names I do remember and usually the latest to bloom, 'Maureen' and 'Queen of the Night,' with some early 'Purple Sensation' alliums.

Tulips are my favorite bloom of spring, no matter what color or type.  Although most did very well this year, despite the late start and quickly rising temperatures, there were a few disappointments.  The biggest disappointment was in my roadside garden, where I planted an additional two dozen bulbs last fall.  Whether it was the voles that have invaded that area or another varmint or the standing water from the floods in February, only one measly tulip appeared!  This is not the first year this has happened, so I am finally waving the white flag--this fall I am going to stick to daffodils and alliums in this area.

Tulips and other bulbs weren't the only blooms this spring.  The first week of May the flowering trees began to bloom, including the redbuds.

The week before, I was sure the crabapples had been nipped by frost, but thankfully I was wrong.

For one glorious week, my driveway looked like my header photo, once again.

The old lilac has gotten huge and was full of blooms that smelled divine.  I have two newer, smaller lilacs, including one called 'Scent and Sensibility' that also has a sweet fragrance.  But nothing compares to the scent of this original!

Spring is my favorite time of year, but sadly it is the shortest season here in Illinois.  After one week of heaven, the trees dropped their blooms and leafed out, and the lilacs faded.  Only a few fading tulips remain. Temperatures soared into the 80's and even the 90's a couple of days, and we have sped straight into summer.  If nothing else, spring is a reminder of transient beauty and the importance of slowing down and enjoying the moment.

But while I am sad to see spring fly by so quickly, the garden has gone into overdrive, providing more blooms as it transitions into summer.  One of my favorites above, Amsonia tabernaemontana.

Small alliums in the shade garden.

The taller 'Purple Sensation' are taking over one corner of the Arbor Bed!

My original bleeding heart is a no-show this year, but the newer 'Gold Heart' dicentra is doing well.

The tiny blue flowers of  'Jack Frost' Brunnera are a favorite of mine, and I have added several more of these the last two years.

It does pay to take the time and look closely around you--I almost stumbled over this Trillium one day while weeding in the shade garden.  I am so excited to see it, as woodland plants often don't do well for me in the dry shade of this garden area.

The Butterfly/Pollinator garden is also coming to life.  Camassia were the first to bloom, but I didn't take time to get a single photo.  Now Phlox pilosa, or PPPP as Gail calls them, are showing up here and there.

Golden Alexanders are also flourishing, which delights me
 since I tried for years to get them established here.

If you have stuck with me till the end of this post, I thank you.  And while I am sorry to see spring come and go so quickly, there are daily reminders like this 'Immortality' iris that there is much more to come in the garden in the coming months.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  There are sure to be many, many blooms to see this month so hop on over and join in the celebration of spring!

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Patience is a Virtue: April GBBD

"Patience is a virtue" was a favorite saying of one my favorite high school teachers.  Mrs. G was my Home Ec teacher--this was the 60's, mind you, when girls were still expected to learn all kinds of homemaking skills.  She repeated this phrase often as we ninth graders grew frustrated with cooking and sewing disasters, such as my friend who had to tear out a skirt zipper nine times before getting it right!  After my many years of teaching, I suspect, however, that she repeated this mantra as much to keep her own frustrations in check as much as ours.  I know I would have.

I have been reminded of this saying the past month as my patience has worn thin waiting for spring to arrive.  I know I'm not alone as the crazy weather has affected many parts of the country.  From torrential rain to snowstorms--central Illinois has had more snow in April than any other month this winter--to constant gloomy, chilly days, it has been a depressing start to spring.  It doesn't help that we were spoiled last year. Last year we had an early spring, and I had crocuses blooming by the end of February.  By April, daffodils, tulips, and even some spring perennials were blooming.  The flowering trees had already bloomed by Bloom Day as well.  But this year?  Well, let's just see what we can find....

For my March Bloom Day post all I had to show were some snowdrops and the first yellow crocus.  By the end of March other crocuses were blooming as well.

Roco's memory garden had a variety of crocuses and other early small blooms, including Puschkinia and Scilla.  My favorite crocus 'Pickwick,' a larger lavender and white, is just opening up at the top of this photo.  I never did get a good photo of one of these, unfortunately.

The crocuses are pretty well finished, but other early bloomers are not.  The Hellebores, which began to bloom about the same time as the crocuses, are really hitting their peak right now.

I have several different colored singles, all whose names are now forgotten.  Cleaning up the garden has been a challenge this year because warm, sunny days have been few and far between, but I did manage to get out one chilly day and trim back the old foliage on all of these so that the blooms could really shine.

I have two newer Hellebores as well that are doubles.  They don't have many blooms yet, but the few they have are so lovely.  I've forgotten the exact cultivar name, but this one is part of the 'Wedding Series.'

One of my favorite little blooms this time of year are the Puschkinia.  I didn't remember they bloomed so early, but they have been popping up everywhere the last few weeks.  I've planted more and more of these little beauties the last few years because I like them so much--aren't they sweet?

I especially like them paired with the blue Scilla.  When you plant bulbs like this, you never know whether they will bloom at the same time, so I'm happy that the timing worked out.

The hyacinths are just starting to bloom.  I have some pink and white ones as well, but the purple ones always seem to do the best for me.

I was beginning to wonder if I would ever have any daffodils this year, but they are just really late.  A few warm days this past week have really encouraged the blooms to open up.

The bulbs I planted in part of the shade garden surrounding an oak tree are starting to fill in.  If I remember it, I might stick some kind of markers in the empty spaces to remind myself where more could be planted next fall.  It's not easy planting around big tree roots, though!

I've been planting more and more daffodils in recent years, especially in the areas farthest from the house, to avoid deer and rabbit damage.  Usually, I purchase large mixed bags, so I rarely know the name of each type.  This one in the Arbor Bed, though, is 'Mount Hood'--or so I thought.  'Mount Hood' is a large white daffodil, so I'm not sure what is going on here, or if I'm just confused about its placement, which wouldn't be the first time.  Notice even this vigorous bloomer doesn't appreciate the cold rain today.

More daffodils in Roco's memory garden (also Sasha's and Tarzan's garden now) on one of the few sunny mornings we've had.  This past week we had three sunny, mild days that were perfect to work in the garden, and I took advantage of them to do more clean-up of garden beds.  Today it's back to cold and rain with a chance of that dirty word 'Snow' tonight!  So frustrating.  But I'll be back in the garden on the next reasonably nice day, trying to get the rest of the clean-up done.  With any luck, I'll be finished before the tulips start to bloom!

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for faithfully hosting  Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day each month.  And thanks to Mother Nature for finally giving me a few blooms to share this late spring!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

March Bloom Day--Still Waiting for Spring

Wow, it's been a long time since I have participated in Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day--five months, to be exact.  Don't worry, though; you didn't miss much.  Other than some paperwhite narcissus and a lovely amaryllis, there hasn't been anything blooming around here since early November of last year.

Winter seems to have flown by this year, though I don't think it's over yet. We had more snow than last year, but fortunately, not the massive snowstorms that have hit the East recently.  Instead, we have had rain, so much rain a few weeks ago, in fact, that the small nearby river was overflowing its banks and many streets in town were impassable.  Frankly, I would have preferred snow.

A year ago I had crocuses blooming on February 22, the earliest ever, but this year my garden was under water on that day.  It wasn't until February 28 that I spied the first snowdrops blooming in the Lily Bed.

These tiny little blooms are always such a welcome sight, 
a promise that indeed, spring will one day be here.

Today was the first day that I had some time to work in the garden, and a beautiful day it was.  I'm glad I did a little clean-up, or I would have missed this early cluster of crocus blooms.  If snowdrops are an early harbinger of spring, the crocuses are the definite sign of the changing of the seasons to me.  I can't wait for the purple and striped ones to appear!

That's all the blooms for now.  But here and there in the garden are sure signs that more blooms are on the way, and that my April Bloom Day post will be much longer and more colorful!

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day every month.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

What Will 2018 Bring?

The New Year has begun with an arctic blast, bringing cold and snow to much of the United States. I've been housebound most of the past week, venturing out only to pick up a few groceries and return some library books.  It's not that the roads are impassable; it's just that it's too darned cold to go out if I don't have to.  I really don't mind too much--after the whirlwind of the holidays and two trips to Texas in the last month and a half, I'm happy to settle down to a slower pace.  It's a good time to work on those New Year's resolutions and then settle down with a good book in the evenings.  Every year I make the same resolutions like eating healthier and exercising more, but my main goal this year is to purge this house of some the clutter that has been accumulating over the past 13 years in every corner of the house.  Once gardening season begins, I know that will occupy more of my time, so if winter is short, I may not get much done!

The New Year represents a clean slate, a chance to start over and focus on what is really important to us.  For some people, it means a goodbye to a bad year, in hopes that this year will be better.  But 2017 wasn't a bad year for me, other than the political climate in this country, but I'm not going to get into politics here.  For me, 2017 was filled with lots of family celebrations and activities from graduations to baptisms to birthdays to many, many sports events.  Many hours and days were spent with grandchildren, filling my heart with joy.

2017 had its ups and downs in gardening, too, and I'm hoping for an even better gardening season in 2018.  We had a mild--and short--winter.  By late February crocuses were blooming, the earliest in my memory, and I was already working on cleaning up the garden beds in March.

The first crocus blooms appeared on Feb. 22, 2017

The early spring meant that by mid-April the tulips were in all their glory.  Those of you who have read this blog for awhile know that spring is my favorite season of the year, and I love, love tulips.  The problem with tulips, of course, is that they are more short-lived than other spring bulbs, so every year I try to take photos of the flower beds so that in October I can remember where I need to plant more.  The photos do help, but I still do a lot of guesswork in planting, which means that every spring brings some surprises.  Last year I noticed so many of the early tulips were yellow, which is strange since I'm not particularly fond of yellow.  But this year I got carried away ordering all different types of orange tulips.  I think I planted nearly 200 tulips this past fall, so I can't wait to see them all come up this spring!

I also planted another 100+ daffodils between the pine trees, in my goal of creating a "river of daffodils" on the edge of our yard.  I'm anxious to see these, too, and a little worried since my husband mowed this area last spring before I gave the okay.  I have my fingers crossed that the older daffodils survived despite the early shearing.

If I could have one wish for 2018, it would be that spring would last longer.  Though we had an early start to the season last year, by May the weather had turned warmer, almost summer-like, and the spring bulbs didn't last long.  There aren't many new blooms in my garden during this transition time, but I'm usually busy for several weeks planting hundreds of annuals in containers and in borders around the flower beds.  I remember telling some friends how excited I was about a shopping trip to a favorite nursery some distance away where I spent $400 on annuals that would have cost at least $600 locally.  They all thought I was crazy to have spent even that much--I think I am now officially the crazy plant lady of the group.

I remember thinking last year that it was time to cut back on the number of containers, especially when August and September rolled around and I was spending all my time watering all of them, trying to keep them alive.  But it's hard to cut back, especially when I find a new container that catches my eye, like this old wheelbarrow that my husband rescued from the neighbor's trash.  I know I'll be planting this one again!  One thing I learned last summer was that petunias don't like this wheelbarrow for some reason.  I wasted time and money planting and re-planting Wave and Supertunias, only to have them die shortly afterwards.  This photo was taken in the fall, when I'd replenished it with small mums and gourds, but I need to find something else besides petunias for the summer months.

Summer brought my favorite flowers, daylilies...

...and my beloved coneflowers.

The daylilies multiplied, and the coneflowers self-seeded, so that by mid-summer every flowerbed was a mass of blooms. Will 2018 finally be the year I get ambitious enough to finally divide and purge so that my garden isn't a jungle? Well, we will have to wait and see, but don't count on it.

By August I had the garden blahs--oh, I enjoyed whatever was blooming at the time, but I had no desire to get out and weed or do much of anything else.  It didn't help that we went for weeks without rain. I remember dragging out hoses every day and rotating sprinklers on all the garden beds, but that just isn't the same as nourishing rain.  I lost some plants, but by September I really didn't care, other than some native seedlings that I should have taken better care of. If it's not too much to ask, Mother Nature, I do hope you'll send us more frequent rainshowers in 2018.

If Spring 2017 was somewhat short, Autumn made up for it.  Warm weather continued through much of October, delaying the changing to fall color, but the leaves finally turned, providing a few weeks of beautiful color, a bit surprising considering the dry conditions.

The front yard, late October 2017

We had a very late frost as well, the first killing frost not arriving until November 8.  

The highlight of Autumn, though, had to be the return of the butterflies.  Through much of the summer I worried about the lack of butterflies.  A few Swallowtails appeared now and then, but it wasn't until late August that Buckeyes and throngs of Painted Ladies appeared.  In late September a few Monarchs made daily flights through the garden.

But one day in late October I experienced something I've never seen before.  My husband urgently called me to come out to the garden--a rare occurrence in itself--and there I saw two dozen or more Monarchs flitting about in the flowerbed, lighting in particular on the zinnias.  I stood there for the longest time, mesmerized and in awe.  My youngest grandson, who loves insects, happened to be there at the time and was impressed as well.  It was an experience I won't soon forget.  I hope this means more Monarchs in 2018!

A few weeks of mild weather after the first frost gave me time to do some clean-up of the garden and eventually do a little outdoor Christmas decorating without freezing my fingers.  The old wheelbarrow was cleaned out and decorated for the season with some dollar store finds and cuttings from around the yard.

The large urn in front of the porch was also decked out--
and then finished off later with a dusting of snow.

The first measurable snow fell on Christmas Eve, just in time to give us a white Christmas and the coneflowers their fluffy white hats.  And now the garden and I are ready for a long winter's nap.

We have no way of knowing what might come in 2018, but I wish you all . . .

Happy Gardening in the New Year!