Sunday, May 15, 2016

A Chilly May Bloom Day

When I was a girl, my father used to watch the local weather forecasts religiously.  I thought he was rather obsessed with it, even though he was a farmer whose livelihood depended on the weather.  As for me,  if it was cold, I put on an extra coat or sweater; if it was raining, I wore a jacket with a hood--what else did you need to know?

Fast forward a few many years later, and I have turned into my father. For the past few weeks, especially, I have checked the forecast every morning, looking at both the hourly and the long-range forecasts:  what time will the rain start today?  Is there one sunny day this week I can work in the garden??  We've had so many rainy days lately that farmers are beginning to worry if they can get their crops planted in time, and workdays in the garden have been few and far between.  I've been especially concerned about the Nursing Home garden where I volunteer on Mondays--we've had to cancel so many workdays recently because it always seems to rain on Mondays!

On top of the rain, the temperatures dropped to an unusual low this weekend with frost warnings for last night and tonight.

A few hardier plants were left outside to fend for themselves.

I went on a major plant shopping spree last week with my friend Beckie, and all those plants were sitting on my back porch and patio waiting for dry weather to plant.  When I heard the forecast for frost, I tucked most of the plants into the barn for protection and covered up my blooming clematis.  Fortunately, there was no frost on the ground this morning, and all the blooming perennials were fine.  But we have one more night to get through before I feel safe enough to bring everything out once again.

Oh well, such is the life of a gardener.  In a couple of months, I'll probably be complaining about the heat and the lack of rain:)  Since there's nothing we can do about the weather, let's take a look at what is blooming on this chilly and windy May Bloom Day.

Some of my friends farther north are concerned about their lilacs this weekend, but that was one thing I didn't have to worry about since they have already finished blooming here.  Little 'Scent and Sensibility' above was covered in pink blooms, and the 'Bloomerang' lilac did well, too.  But my old-fashioned, huge lilac was a disappointment this year.  There were fewer blooms than last year, and they weren't as large as usual.  I've decided this large shrub needs a good pruning soon, but talking to friends, I found I wasn't the only one with this problem.  It may have been a late freeze in April that nipped and stunted this year's blooms.

'Jack Frost' Brunnera is almost finished blooming, but a few tiny blue flowers still remain.

More small blooms that I love on the Solomon's Seal.

The Lamium is also sporting its purple blooms right now.  Plants in the shade garden seem to have doubled in size in the past week, making me wish I'd gotten busy and divided more of them earlier.  The Lamium and the Sweet Woodruff in the forefront, though, are definitely getting moved or culled soon before they engulf this poor hosta!

One of my favorite spring blooms is Amsonia.  Both the Amsonia tabernaemontana above and the Amsonia hubrichtii have done extremely well here, unlike my poor Baptisia which has fallen victim to some kind of varmint, I'm afraid.

Love these pale blue blooms!

Most of the garden is still in that lull between spring and summer blooms, so 'Purple Sensation' Allium really stands out among all the green foliage.

Not much blooming in the Butterfly Garden either, except for Phlox pilosa, which has made itself quite at home here.  This was a gift some years back from Gail at Clay and Limestone, who has gifted many with this practically perfect native.

The blue columbines I planted several years ago have not returned, but this reddish lovely has been a faithful returnee for several years.

It's also iris season.  All of my irises are passalongs, so I don't know their names,
 but I enjoy them nonetheless.

I have several of these lavender lovelies.

My favorite--this is the first time it's bloomed. 
 I'm pretty sure this is one that Beth of Plant Postings gave me; I love it!

Finally, one of my favorite blooms this time of year--'Nelly Moser.'  I'm so happy to see her full of blooms this year after a disappointing show last year.  She's the only plant I took time to cover up last night just to make sure she wasn't nipped by the cold; I can't wait to take off her covers tomorrow to enjoy her blooms again.

There are more blooms, as well--Nepeta, 'May Night' Salvia, and Bleeding Heart, to name a few.  But soon there will be many more, and as you can see, I'm anxiously waiting for the peony show to begin!

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is celebrated monthly on the 15th and is hosted by the ever-optimistic Carol at May Dreams Gardens.  

Friday, May 6, 2016

Enjoy Them While You Can

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever."

When the poet John Keats wrote this line, I'm pretty sure he was thinking of art.  I do know he wasn't talking about spring flowers, because the beauty of spring flowers certainly doesn't last forever.  We admire and write about spring ephemerals, those short-lived woodland beauties, but really, everything about spring seems ephemeral.  Spring brings me so much joy, but if I have one complaint, it's that it simply doesn't last long enough.

For example, this was the view from my front porch just two weeks ago--the scene in my header gives an even longer view of the flowering crabapples lining my driveway.

I look forward to this sight every year and enjoy every moment of it I can.  We were lucky to have a few nice days of sunshine to enjoy them, but the rain and strong winds can make short work of all these beautiful blossoms.

The redbuds, too, show off their glowing pink blooms for only a short time before they begin to leaf out and turn a pleasant, but ordinary green.

The tulips have also been short-lived this spring.  A week or more of unusually warm weather in April--in the 70's and even reaching 80 F some days--put the tulips into overdrive with all of them blooming about the same time and fading quickly in the heat.

In my last post I lamented that all I seemed to have were yellow tulips, but I needn't have worried.  After the early yellow blooms, other tulips opened up revealing that I had indeed planted a multitude of colors.  There was the delicate pink of 'Angelique,' one of the latest to bloom.

Shades of peachy-pink in the new 'Marit.'

Darker shades of pink in the new 'Mata Hari.'  This is an interesting tulip--
the petals get darker as they age.

There were orange tulips, too, including the 'Princess Irene' which bloomed just in time for my mother's birthday.

There were even pink tulips that opened to a near white bloom--'Lady Jane,' a species tulip.  And, of course, what would spring be, without a few dandelions--one bloom that sticks around for a long, long time.

Deep dark purple 'Queen of the Night' and the white of 'Marguerite' added even more colors.

And to add even more, there were several bi-colored tulips as well.

No, my garden wasn't just a monotone of yellow this spring after all.

There are still a few tulips blooming this first week in May, but most have disappeared, and the few remaining are fading fast.  This is the first year that I can remember when the tulip display didn't last until at least mid-May.

There were other fleeting blooms as well.  The Pulmonaria bloomed before I even had a chance to get a decent photo of it, but I did manage to capture the tiny blooms of the Epimedeum above before they, too, faded.

While I am sad to see some of my favorite blossoms leave so soon, there is an upside to spring, of course.  Later blooms appear to take the place of that early show of color.  Camassia is the perfect late spring bloom, tall enough to command attention amongst all the green foliage.

And then there are bluebells.  I was so excited to see these this week, nearly hidden among the Solomon's Seal and emerging hostas.  The reason I was so happy about these bluebells is that I've planted them before, and they've always been a no-show.  I'm pretty sure these were some I planted two or three years ago, and I'd forgotten their name.  These are Spanish bluebells, Hyacinthoides hispanica, not the native Virginia bluebells.

Spring is such a busy season in the garden, but its blooms remind us to slow down every now and then and just enjoy the moment.  A "thing of beauty" may not last forever, but we can delight in it for as long as it is here.  We can also take joy in knowing that there is more--much more--yet to come!