Friday, June 16, 2017

June GBBD: Almost Summer

If I had written this blog post last night, it would have been another one of my whiny, grumpy posts.  It's been in the 90's here this past week, and I don't do well in heat--I turn into a complete grouch when sweat starts running down my face.  As if that weren't bad enough, it's been bone dry without a drop of rain for two weeks or more.  About all I've gotten done outside lately is drag hoses around to water and then water some more.

That is, until last night--it rained!!  I don't know how much rainfall we received since I discovered my rain gauge is cracked.  But whether it was 1/2 inch or an inch, my garden--and this gardener--is so much happier.  It's still unbearably hot, but I'm so thankful for rain I'm not going to complain today.

So, let's take a look around the garden and see what is blooming on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in June.

People may turn up their noses at the ubiquitous 'Stella d'Oro' that seems to be the staple of every commercial planting.  But when they bloom this prolifically every June, I just don't have the heart to tear them out.

And who knew the bees like them??  Actually, the bees much prefer the 'Walker's Low' Nepeta next to the Stellas, but this bee seemed to find something to his liking in the lilies.

Another plant one of my gardening friends considers a weed rather than a flower is Yarrow.  This is 'Appleblossom,' and the blooms are actually much pinker than this photo shows.  Yarrow is one of those plants that will spread, but it's easy to pull out wherever you don't want it, and I happen to like it, especially since it's such a tough plant that doesn't mind the dry spell we've had.

While we're talking about plants that not everyone likes, the Chicory is blooming.  It's another one of those weedy wildflowers that I happen to like, especially when it is blooming along the roadsides.  For me, it's hard not to like these pretty blue blooms.

In the butterfly garden I have a new addition that I'm sure I didn't plant--Evening Primrose, perhaps??

Another volunteer in the Arbor Bed--Nicotania.  I haven't planted any of these for five or six years, yet every year they keep coming back.

Back to the butterfly garden, the Butterfly Weed is just beginning to open up.  You can barely make out the blooms behind them of Phlox Pilosa, which have been blooming for more than a month.

The native/wildflower I am most excited about right now is the Indian Pinks, Spigelia Marilandica.  I planted these three or four years ago, and they are finally spreading out--a bit.  Although these are considered natives in Illinois, they are not found very often in natural settings, especially in central and northern Illinois.

Elsewhere in the garden, a couple of Asiatic lilies are blooming.  Both of these are NOIDS, probably passalongs from a friend.

I much prefer this brighter red one, but it's rather hidden away under taller plants at the back of the Arbor bed.  Maybe someday I'll get around to moving it to where it can really be seen.

The last two weeks have been poppy time.  I don't have as many as usual this year--I plant them in late winter, scattering them over the snow, so they tend to pop up in some strange places.  But we didn't have any late snow this year, so I have a feeling many of the seeds just blew away.

I don't grow many roses, but 'Zephirin Drouhin' is doing well climbing the arbor trellis, though the heat and drought have taken their toll on her, too.

Only a couple hydrangeas are blooming so far, including the 'Annabelles.'

I've planted two different hydrangeas at the back of the shade garden in the last few years that have really grown. One is a 'Mary Nelle,' a unique variation of 'Annabelle,' but I have no memory of what the other one is!

Another mystery at the front of the shade garden are these little purple blooms.  They seem to be coming from an Epimedeum, but I'm not sure--anyone recognize this plant?

The rest of the shade garden is growing to jungle proportions as usual.

Nearby, the miniature Japanese garden is almost ready for visitors.

Spirea blooming along the front of the house.

In the sidewalk garden one lavender plant is blooming, which makes me happy since I cut them back to the ground in the spring, not knowing at the time you should cut them back only by a third or so.

Some of the lamb's ears in the Lily Bed are sending up their quirky blooming stalks.

I took a break yesterday in the middle of writing this post, because I wanted to finish planting while the ground was soft from the overnight rain.  I can finally announce I have ALL my new plants planted!  (Well, except for three new shrubs . . . but they're going to wait till it's a little cooler.)  My back porch and patio no longer look like I'm holding my own plant sale:)  Some of those plants, I'm embarrassed to admit, had been sitting there since April 24, my first plant shopping trip.

I did lose a few annuals by holding them so long, some to poor watering by the gardener, and some to toads.  We have quite a family of toads here, much to the delight of the grandsons and Frank (the pug) and Teddy (the mini Yorkie).  While I'm happy to have them, they like to burrow into the moist soil of the pots.  Many times I've been startled while planting containers when a toad jumped out of one of the annuals!  It's not a problem, except when small pots have been sitting too long, as mine have,  and one of the fatter toads has burrowed in and out of the same pot, displacing some of the soil. Now that I've planted all those small containers, I'm not sure where the toads will sleep--I'd better not dig too deeply in my large pots:)

I think I went a little crazy this year buying annuals, especially petunias.  I won't show you all my annuals--this post is getting too long already--but I do want to share a couple of my favorite petunias.  This is 'Johnny Flame'; it really caught my eye when I saw it at our local nursery, and I quickly snapped up the last three, with no idea where to plant them.

Two favorites I buy every year--'Royal Velvet,' a dark purple planted in the porch planter here as well as several other containers, and the contrasting 'Bordeaux.'

One of my favorites I plant every year--Supertunia 'Raspberry Blast.'

Two new varieties I just couldn't resist this year--'Latte' and 'Black Mambo' (I think I have those names correct.)  I'm not usually a fan of black petunias, but I like this combo.

Although it seems as if I have a lot of blooms, most of my garden is still green right now.  The summer show of color won't begin for a couple more weeks.  Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' is one of the early arrivals for the summer riot of color.

'Moonlit Masquerade' is always the first daylily--other than the Stellas--to appear.  It will soon be joined by many more.

And, of course, my summer garden wouldn't be complete without purple coneflowers.  A few are blooming, but the mass of blooms is still a week or two away.  I'm hoping they will bring back the butterflies that seem to have disappeared.

This weekend is the annual Garden Walk of our local Master Gardeners group, and I'll be very busy, especially since the nursing home garden, where I volunteer, is featured on the walk this year.  But I'll catch up with everyone's Bloom Day posts in a few days.

Thanks, as always, to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

May GBBD: Planting Frenzy Month

There ought to be a law--no one can graduate in the month of May.  Or have a birthday. Or get married.  Or all the countless celebrations that have kept me out of the garden this month.  The weather is finally cooperating so that I can plant some of the many, many annuals I have purchased.  But I keep getting interrupted by things like graduations, confirmations, and t-ball games.  And to top it all off, my Texas grandbabies will be here for a visit in a few days, and I really, really need to clean my house.

Not that I'm complaining.  I've enjoyed every minute of celebrating so many milestones with my family (no weddings, though--I just threw that one in there), and I am so excited about seeing my littlest grandchildren again.  No, I am just explaining why this is not a good time to visit my garden.  The spring show of tulips and daffodils is over, and in their place are weeds . . . lots of weeds.  At the rate I'm going, some of those weeds are going to be there for awhile, so instead of showing any long views of the garden today, we'll just focus on close-ups of a few pretty blooms.

   After heavy rains at the beginning of the month that turned the garden into a swamp and a cold spell with the threat of frost, the weather finally settled down so that I could get back into the garden and plant whenever there are a few uninterrupted minutes.  Typical of Illinois weather, we've gone from coat weather to tank top weather in just a few days, and now I'm griping that it's too hot to work outside.

May is usually my planting-frenzy month.  There are annuals from all my shopping sprees the past few weeks covering my back porch, my front porch, and the patio.  Only a few containers have been planted so far, but I'm not in a big hurry to change this pot when the sweet little violas and alyssum from April are still looking so good.

Other than the annuals, May is usually a transition month here, though there are a few perennials blooming.  The peony bud shown earlier opened up early in the month, and I'm happy to see that 'Scarlett O'Hara' is sporting not just one bloom, as in earlier years, but five blooms this year.

Other peonies are still budding up--I usually think of Memorial Day when I think of peonies--but the NOID white peony has a few blooms already.  The Amsonia Hubrichtii makes a nice backdrop for them, though as is usually the case in my garden, this was a happy accident in planting, not a carefully thought-out design.  Other Amsonia are also blooming, though I find it hard to capture their blue blooms on camera.

The clematis 'Nelly Moser' also bloomed early and is covered with blooms.  I have a hard time catching this one at the right time in the spring to prune it, and last year I made the mistake of pruning it too hard and too late so there were very few blooms.  This year I was late again, so I just left it alone, and I'm glad.

Columbines blooming under the 'Limelight' hydrangea.  I transplanted some native columbines from my mother's garden last year, but I haven't seen any sign of them blooming yet.

Speaking of natives, there are a few early flowers in the butterfly garden as well.  Phlox pilosa, also known throughout the blogging world as Gail's PPPP, has happily spread itself around this area.

And I am thrilled to finally have some Golden Alexanders Zizia aurea blooming!  I've tried planting them from seed before with no luck, and last year I planted some seedlings from the local prairie plant sale, but never saw any signs of bloom.  But patience has paid off, and these look so robust, I have a feeling I will have even more in the future.

Irises are blooming in the Arbor Bed and the Lily Bed--white, pale lavender, and yellow.  But my favorite are these purple and white bearded irises, a passalong a couple of years ago from Beth of Plant Postings.  Notice how many blooms are on each plant!

They're especially beautiful to me because I once had several of these at my old house, given to me by my mother.  When we moved, I dug up a few plants, but forgot all about these.  When I look at them, I think not only of Beth, but also of my mother.

Finally, this is NOT my garden!  It's the MG garden at the county nursing home where I volunteer every summer.   This is another activity that has taken up much of my time in the past few weeks, since I am one of the co-chairs.  We are going to be on the annual Garden Walk this year, so we have spent more time than usual weeding and dividing to get everything spruced up for the walk, as well as hours planning and plant shopping.  But it's already a beautiful garden as you can see from just this one little corner, and it really is a joy to work there.

And now back to weeding and planting in my own garden . . . and maybe taking a few swipes at the layers of dust in my house:)

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens and author of Potted and Pruned.  Thanks, Carol, for helping me keep a monthly record of what is blooming in my garden!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

GBBD: April Beauties

I know I am really, really late to this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but with Easter weekend, tax day, and many commitments the past two weeks, I haven't had time to sit down and read blogs for awhile.  But what a difference a month makes!  In March I had a few early bulbs trying to bloom in the snow, and this month . . . well, let me show you . . .

Since the end of March there has been a steady stream of daffodils blooming.

From the standard yellow trumpet daffodils to ruffled doubles to . . .

. . . daffodils with contrasting cups to . . .

. . .  miniature daffodils.

I've forgotten the names of most, except for 'Mount Hood,' 
a white beauty that has been a vigorous multiplier.

After the rabbits and/or deer ate many of my tulips after a bad winter a few years ago, I have been planting many more daffodils than tulips.  Most of my purchases have been collections of bulbs for naturalizing, another reason I don't know the names of most of these.

But I like the variety and the longer bloom time from these collections.  

These slender narcissi in the shade garden are one of my favorites.  As you can see, there is so much more blooming right now than daffodils--hellebores are still going strong, tulips are at their peak, tiny pushkinia dot the front of the garden here and there, as well as a few early perennials.

The only disappointment this year has been the flowering crabapples.  I wait all year for that one special week in the spring when our long lane is a bower of blooms, as you can see in my header photo from last year.  But most of the crabapples didn't bloom as much as usual; perhaps one of the cold nights we had two weeks ago nipped the buds. It has happened before, so I am hoping that next year all the blooms will return.  The white flowering crab was filled with blooms, however, though the wind and rain this past weekend finished them off.  And it has been a great year for redbuds.

I was worried about the lilacs last Bloom Day, as they were budding up just as a freeze hit us, but I needn't have worried.  The old lilac was in full bloom for Easter Sunday.

Other perennials blooming right now include the Pulmonarias and the Epimedeum above.  

'Jack Frost' Brunnera, still one of my favorites.

The old-fashioned Bleeding Heart is blooming as is my newest bleeding heart added last year, Dicentra 'Gold Heart.'  The foliage on this plant is stunning!

And finally, one of the best parts of spring to me--it is Tulip Time!

Because tulips can be short-lived, every spring is a surprise since I never know what will return.  A few of my favorites that I was happy to see come up again include 'Ad Rem' above.

My "namesake" 'Rosalie' also returned.

As did the longer-lived species tulips, 'Lady Jane.'  These are multiplying as well.

The neon-bright orange tulips that I don't remember ever planting returned 
for what must be their eighth or ninth year!

And my very favorite tulip of all, 'Akebono,' is still as gorgeous as ever.

Then there are a few new varieties of tulips planted last fall including this 'Silverstream.'  It looks like a twin to 'Akebono,' doesn't it?  In fact, if I hadn't marked where I planted these last year, I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference.

Also new this year is a tulip I've admired on Jason's blog for several years--'Coleur Cardinal.'  They are a little shorter than most of my tulips, so I'm glad I planted them in the front where they can be seen.

'Rembrandt' is also new this year.

Every year I plant more tulips in my roadside garden, hoping for an eye-catching display for passersby, and every year the voles (or some critter) dashes my hopes.  This year was no exception, though a few bulbs escaped being devoured.  These are 'Upstar,' an experiment I tried this year for the first time.  I purchased a bag of these that were intended to be planted, bag and all.  I was pretty skeptical, but the results were better than I expected.

Only a few of the new 'Lightning Sun' survived in this area, which is a shame, because these are a vibrant orange Darwin tulip.  

As I type this, we are having another unusually warm day with temperatures nearing 80 today.  The tulips have been blooming at warp speed the last few days and won't last long in these temperatures.  It's time to get outside and enjoy them while I can!

Thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day every month and for being patient with latecomers like me:)