Wednesday, May 18, 2011

May Bloom Day: What a Change!

Spring is a time of anticipation . . . anxiously waiting for the first daffodils and then the tulip buds to open. Searching for the first signs of perennials; watching the small green shoots of hostas emerging upright from the soil and curlicued ferns, like green question marks, holding tightly to their fronds.  But like the proverbial boiling pot, if you don't watch each day, the garden transforms itself quickly this time of year.

When we left home two weeks ago for my daughter's wedding, the tulips were still reigning supreme over the garden.  Coming home a week later, the scene had changed completely.

A late white tulip still looks elegant, but most of the tulips are either gone
or look like the faded blooms in the background.

This tulip may be past its prime, but I thought the remaining petals made an interesting image.

The biggest thrill for me when I arrived home was to see the first iris blooms.  Quite a few irises were added to the lily bed last fall, and I really wasn't sure if they would bloom this first year here.  All of the irises are passalongs, so I have no idea of their names; this lovely yellow one, which is full of blooms, was given to me by a fellow Master Gardener last spring.

Other passalongs came from my aunt and from my parents.  I had no idea what color each of them was; this one is actually more of a rusty bronze than what it appears here in the fading sunlight.  Another purple iris is just opening today, so hopefully I'll have even more surprises in the coming week.

Also fully in bloom when we arrived home was the Amsonia tabernaemontana.  This plant was one of the near-freebies I got from the MG Idea Garden last spring and started as a tiny division last year.  I love the light blue color of its blooms; I wish I could find more plants with this baby blue hue.

The reblooming lilac 'Bloomerang' is looking its best this year, too.  Its fragrance is not quite as strong as the old-fashioned varieties, but it still has that definite sweet smell.

The butterfly garden seems to have had an obedient plant and aster population explosion this year . . . but that's a story for another post.   A few stalwarts have refused to give in to those mobsters, however, including this Valerian, another near-freebie from the Idea Garden last year.

Still another division from last year's Idea Garden--Meadow Rue, Thalictrum aquilegiifolium.

The star of the butterfly garden right now--even though it's nearly obscured by what I hope are asters and not weeds--is Phlox pilosa, or as Gail calls it, PPPP.  I wonder how many gardens across the country have some of Gail's offspring blooming this month?:)

Also oblivious to the native invaders is this Salvia 'Eveline', returning for its third year.

It was dark when we returned from our trip to Cancun, so I didn't notice for a few days some changes in the roadside garden as well.  The giant alliums, 'Purple Sensation,' I think, bend, but don't bow to the strong winds.

The baptisia has settled in nicely and blooming its head off in this, its second year in the garden.

Even the vegetable garden has a few blooms.  To my surprise, last year's kale overwintered and is full of blooms.  Someone told me last fall that it only blooms in its second year, which must be true; still, I had no idea it would be able to stand our harsh winters.  It must have been all the snow we had that protected it.

The chives are full of blooms, too.


And those small hosta and fern shoots I mentioned?  The shade garden has made the biggest transformation of all.  In a week it has gone from potential growth to its present state where hostas, ferns, and heucheras rub elbow to elbow, vying for space.

There, the blooms of old-fashioned coral bells replace the blooms of narcissus and tulips.

But the biggest thrill of all for me was this--my first ever columbine bloom from seeds I winter sowed a year ago.  "Patience," she says, "All in good time."

They may not be as exotic or as precious as the blooms on my last post, but these are certainly making the daily routine these days of weeding and planting a delightful way to spend the month of May.

To see what else is blooming in mid-May, be sure to check out the list of other Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day participants at Carol's at May Dreams Gardens.


  1. I loved this Rose. You are so right about the tulip. It looks great in its ending with the lily foliage behind. I grow almost all of the same plants because many are from our beautiful Great American Prairie. Love you my prairie friend. Happy Bloom Day.~~Dee

  2. HI Rose,

    Your garden is in full swing.
    The iris are beautiful. I love each and every one of them.
    They are such show girls....

    The shade garden is beautiful and contains some of my favourite plants. Ferns, hosta and the lovely I wish rabbits would leave the last alone, and not crop them to the floor. The have such wonderful coloured leaves. I would love to have them in my garden.

    Rose, the changes in your garden are a delight. My mind always wanders a little now when I read your posts. I know that in years to come your garden is just going to get better and better.
    Well done, you have so very much to be proud of.

  3. wow, to be gone for two weeks in the spring --- you certainly come home to different things blooming!
    I saw Valerian on one of our MG trips and love its fragrance. Not sure if I have a place for it, but I am sure your butterflies love it.
    Your hostas and ferns and heuchera are wonderful!! Lovely shade garden.

  4. Rose, I love that pale yellow iris. So pretty. This year I have a hankering for yellow iris, not sure why! :-) I also am wanting to try baptisia. Yours is just lovely.

    Congratulations on your daughter's wedding!

  5. Definitely quite the explosion. It all looks wonderful! What a nice garden to come home to. I do love that pale yellow iris. So lovely!

  6. Isn't it fun to come home to a party? Your shade garden is definitely in party mode. It looks like a big patchwork quilt with so many textures and colors. I love it. Happy GBBD.

  7. I really love your shade garden. I can see that I need to add some of those colorful heuchera to mine.

  8. Your garden is so gorgeous this month Rose. I'm so envious of your Baptisia blooms, mine is finished for the year. :( Eveline is a beautiful Salvia that I must add to my wish list soon. Purple blooms are my weakness. :)

  9. My goodness, Rose, everything looks so lovely! And you are so ahead of our garden. The iris, salvia, allium... have not yet blossomed. Interesting is that our tulips are now falling apart except for a few white ones which have also just begun to bloom. And we actually had a day without rain and near 70 degrees... now I'm excited.
    PS: congratulations on your daughters marriage

  10. Wow, that shade garden is impressive! Wonderful combination of foliage types and colors!

  11. Dear Rose,
    Wow! So many different blooms...lovely.
    I was working in one of my gardening notebooks and saw a photograph of my front peony bed from 1992. I started laughing it was so small. Now the bed is huge and packed full of plants. Gardens do grow up......yours is growingup so fast.
    I bet your reception will be stunning.

  12. What a great surprise, Rose - the garden is celebrating along with you.
    Wow, that yellow iris is worth passing along & your hostas and baptisia are so bouncy!

    Would you believe I forgot about Valerian? Grew it for years and had a flashback when your photo rolled up.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  13. Judging by all those beautiful blooms and with so much still to come, the garden reception in June will have a wonderful setting Rose :)

    How lovely to come back to the Irises in flower. I do like the yellow one, such a delicate shade.

    Love those giant Alliums too. Living at the top of a hill strong winds can be a problem so perhaps some of these might be useful in my garden.

  14. Dee, I've found myself growing more and more natives in the last few years--they like it here:)

    Cheryl, I had to stop and think what you meant by your mind wandering, but now I understand. It does make a difference once you've actually seen a garden in person. This is the time of year when mine looks best...not September:) Every year things change, and I feel as though I have a better grasp of what I want it to be.

    Janet, This is the first year for the valerian to bloom, and I don't know much about it. I do hope it is a butterfly magnet!

    Jean, I planted the baptisia the summer after seeing it at the Lurie during the Chicago Fling. That sight made such an impression on me I had to add one.

    Tina, The yellow iris is a winner, for sure. This morning there were at least 5 full blooms on it.

    Lisa, A patchwork quilt is a good way to describe my shade garden. It's still my favorite place, even though I keep thinking I need to divide the hostas and give everything a little breathing room.

    Renee, I fell in love with Heucheras a few years ago and keep adding more, tucking them in in any tiny bare spot I can find.

    Racquel, The 'Eveline' has done very well here; I'd like to add more of these.

    Diana, We had a week of unusually warm temps--in the high '80's--while we were gone, which I think jumpstarted a lot of plants. But the tulips weren't happy with the heat:)

    Plantpostings, The shade garden has just evolved, and I've been very happy with it. I do love all the different textures and foliage.

    Sherry, All my garden areas are pretty small, but I keep digging up a little more dirt each year. I hope to be digging in the dirt for many more years!

    Annie, It's always hard to come back to the routine after being away on vacation. But the garden certainly was a welcome were Sophie's kisses:)

    Jan, I don't know how strong the alliums are, but they don't flop over in the area I have them in, and we get some pretty strong winds here. Yes, the reception is in June, and I hope to have more in bloom then.

  15. Rose girl !
    I just stopped by your wedding post from Cancun and it was lovely : )
    And now look at your garden going full force here ! It is gorgeous and so welcomed since we had such a slow start to our Spring .. my garden has gone NUTS with a week of steady rain .. but we are hoping for some sun for the weekend and me finally getting in the garden with a whip and chair ? LOL
    We do need that garden therapy so much don't we ? Hope you have a great weekend in your garden too girl .. stop and smell the plants before working yourself into the ground (like I do ? LOL)
    Joy : )

  16. So nice to come home to all this good news in the garden, love esp your PPPP and meadow rue - your sweet columbine gives me hope for my own sprouts, just about ready to be planted out in the real garden...

  17. Hello Rose, I am so glad the PPPP is happy in your garden (and thank you for the linklove!) ~Your garden looks wonderful~I cut off the fading kale flowers and the new growth is great, too. I might get another month before the summer heat takes it out! I am going to pop over to review the wedding photos. xxoogail

  18. You have so many lovely blooms in your garden. Love the Aquilegia (Columbine) The ones that seed in my garden are not as attractive a colour as yours.
    Maggie X

    Nuts in May

  19. Lovely blooms in May, Rose! Our gardens certainly are in "full-speed-ahead" mode at this time of year! I did not do a Bloom-Day post on the 15th as I was at our daughter's college graduation and just didn't get around to doing one...but I have many of the same blooms as you. Funny that my Amsonia has no blooms just yet, though--it's a bit late, I think. The concept of 'zonal bloom-time' is definitely a 'subjective' scale of measurement;-) Love your shade garden plants--my favorites;-) Congrat's on the marriage of your daughter!!

  20. I love your shade garden especially! We have lots of shady bits; I'll have to try and copy some of your ideas.

  21. How wonderful to have your columbine from SEED! I cannot grow columbine, at all, I am jealous of yours!

  22. Joy, It seems once the garden took off this spring, it really went gangbusters. I enjoy the garden therapy, but I've been in a planting frenzy lately trying to get everything ready for a wedding reception here--I'll need another vacation soon:)

    Cyndy, I couldn't believe how much difference a week could make. I was really pleased with the columbine blooming.

    Gail, The PPPP looks better each year, and is much happier now that I cut back the asters in front of it:) The kale was a surprise.

    Maggie, I'm just hoping this columbine reseeds itself, although I've been told the offspring often look quite different.

    Jan, When I visit different bloggers from around the country, I'm surprised at the different bloom times of plants. I expect those in warmer zones to have blooms first, but that still doesn't account for everything. I just discovered I even have some new hellebore blooms!

    Liz, Most of my best-looking garden areas have been copied from someone else:) Hostas, ferns, and heucheras=a can't miss shade recipe!

    Sissy, I'm really happy about the columbine; I don't often have good luck with a lot of seeds either.

  23. Great post...I can't believe your Amsonia and Baptisia both looks to amazing for plants only in their 2nd year! It usually takes much longer for them to really start performing...congrats!

  24. Oooo, so many lovely plants there that I'd like for my garden!

    The alliums are amazing, I must put them on my wish list.

    Mums iris have gone over now, but they were a picture a week or so ago. Your garden is beautiful as always


  25. You have so many spring beauties in your garden! I love the shot with the hosta and the heucheras.

  26. Lovely blooms! I am excited for my meadow rue blooms to open. This is the second year for it in the garden, and it did not bloom last year.


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