Sunday, May 26, 2013

Merry Month of May

There are many lovely months in the garden, but it's pretty hard to beat the month of May. I think the main reason that May is so beautiful is because the usual garden pests haven't had a chance to settle in. Everything is still green and fresh, and new blooms show up almost every day. Sometimes I don't even remember what they are! And look closely, you'll see my reflection in the glass...
One of my favorite parts of gardening is the fragrance of the many different things I have planted. This is my Chinese fringe tree in bloom, looking very lacy and delicate. But I had totally forgotten how fragrant these blooms are, almost like a jasmine, and strong enough to spread through my whole back yard.
Here's another fragrant favorite, my Sunny Knockout rose. What? You say you didn't know there was a fragrant Knockout rose? Only the yellow is fragrant, while also having all the best qualities of a Knockout rose. This thing will bloom all summer long, and has grown to almost mammoth proportions. No diseases to worry about, but I have to admit that the Japanese beetles love it. At my house, their favorite roses are always the yellow ones.
What's that pretty pink flower on the arbor in the background of the above photo, you say? Ah, that's the most fragrant flower of all. Zepherine Drouhin has moved up to the top of my favorite rose list this year. Thornless, incredibly fragrant, and just plain gorgeous, it's a must-have rose for me. It should be for you too. 
Iris is another pretty flower that is often fragrant. And you can't beat an iris for plain old fashioned beauty in the garden. 
Florentine Silk
No fragrance on this one. I'd call Amsonia hubrichtii a filler plant. Pretty foliage, charming blooms in the spring, but it's main attraction is in autumn when the foliage glows golden. They look best when planted en masse, and I haven't quite got that down yet. More are definitely needed. 
I only wish this gorgeous Fourth of July rose was fragrant. But it's beautiful enough to pass without it. Another one of my favorites. 
 I think I have this ninebark Diablo planted too close to the house, because it doesn't really have a chance to arch gracefully. It just looks crowded all the time. It's also hard to photograph so you can see how pretty it is. The arching stems and purple foliage are really pretty, especially during bloom time. 
As beautiful as peonies are, they are another one of my poorly sited plants. Just not enough sun and air movement to make them happy. Still, they do bloom very prettily each spring. After that, the foliage looks awful all summer. Maybe someday I'll move them to a happier spot. But then again, peonies also don't like being moved, so I don't know what's worse.
My plants love it in the Merry Month of May, don't you?

Monday, May 20, 2013

No Place Like Home

Every once in awhile I have to visit my hometown in Michigan, St. Joseph. If you are live there, or are familiar with it, you simply call it St. Joe. It's one of my favorite spots on earth.
I'm not sure why hometowns can mean so much to us. Perhaps it's tied up in the precious memories of our youth. But for whatever reason, there's no place like home.

Okay, so that's a cliche. But it doesn't stop it from being true. I'm sure most people are fond of their hometowns. But when your hometown is a charming little tourist beach town, it makes St. Joe even more loveable.

Recently I went back to spend some time with an old friend. I got lucky, the weather was perfect! And it's always wonderful to renew an old friendship.

I spent much of my time just wandering around the park and beaches. I'd read my book for awhile, then stop and just watch the world go by. And my camera was busy capturing everything.

And every night found me sitting at the beach watching the sunset. It's not a bad place to sit and wait, especially when the results turn out like this....
Goodbye St. Joseph Michigan, I'll see again in July!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

What's Growing On Out There?

May is such a busy time for the northern gardener. We have lots of preparation and planting to do this time of year, but we are rewarded with the constant arrival of new blossoms. It's an exciting time of year for us! Let's see what's growing on in my garden this month. The lilacs are both in bloom, first the common ones, then the Miss Kim. Both are so very fragrant, but the Miss Kim is way more floriferous! My regular lilac bush is very small and has been for several years. Maybe someday it will grow.

I'm definitely enjoying the blooming of the the Chocolate Chip ajuga by the front walk. Normally it blooms in conjunction with the daffodils I've planted underneath them, and they look nice together. This year, the daffs came and went quickly, so the droopy stems don't really compliment the flowers beneath them.
Columbines are so easy to grow, these red and white ones seed themselves all over the place. The red doesn't really go with everything else in this area, but they don't bloom for long. I tried to remove them last year, but they had other ideas. The purple double columbines would be welcome to spread themselves around, but they don't do that. Figures.

The Kousa dogwood hasn't always been a favorite around here. It doesn't bloom reliably, and never gives me nice fall color. But one doesn't just dig up a healthy tree, so I deal with it. Maybe someday I'll get the nerve to just take it out and replace it. Maybe a Serviceberry would please me more. The bracts are starting to show, so I see it is going to have a good blooming year. But even so, it never blooms as prettily as a standard dogwood.
My alliums have popped up all over the place. I'm pretty sure I planted more this past fall, and I'm glad I did. They are like exclamation points for the garden!
Doublefile viburnum is looking its best this year, and you'd think it was a lacecap hydrangea if you didn't know better.

I particularly like the tapestry under my front dining room window. In this photo, you'll see Jack Frost brunnera, Silver Beacon dead nettle, and Starry Night violas. The dead nettle spreads itself around like crazy, but it's easy to rip out any extras. The brunnera and violas are great at reseeding themselves, but in a mannerly way.
I'm not exactly a hosta fan, and recently dug out a bunch of them to give away. However, there is one hosta that I love, called June. I think it's the only hosta that made me say "Wow" when I first saw it. It looks particularly lovely covered in raindrops.
Heucheras are another plant that most gardeners love, but don't really thrill me. I do have one, and it's the traditional, original, all green model, more commonly known as Coral Bells. This one I approve of, and so do the hummingbirds.  Yes, I know the purple and red are clashing. It's okay, the ajuga blooms will fade away soon.
The first rose to arrive is always Funny Face, a vigorous shrub rose that will bloom like mad all summer. I like that in a rose.
There was a surprise waiting for me out by the clematis lamp post. I wasn't expecting any blooms for awhile yet. Hmmm, seems to be the clematis that I tore out last year and replaced. Guess I didn't get all the roots. Oh well, it can stay. I don't think I could ever separate it from the others anyway. I remember it was called Clair de Lune.
My favorite surprise this week was a beautiful fragrance on the air one morning. I went about my business, wondering what it was when I realized that the iris must be blooming! I hurried to the back yard and found these lovelies. Now that's a real beauty.
See what I mean? There is so much going on out in the garden this time of year. Every day is a wonderful surprise!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I'm in Love

Yes, I'm in love, and you probably are too. Ah spring, my beloved! The weather is no longer moody and unpredictable. We've been in a nice long stretch of warm and sunny days. That alone would be enough to make me fall in love with the month of May. But when the days are warm and sunny, that means the earth is waking in up, and in full color. It's the most beautiful of months.
It's been so nice that I even broke the rules and planted out a few warm season plants, even though we are still a week or so away from the frost free date. They'll be fine, and if not, I can sneak them into the garage overnight if frost threatens.
 The pastel colors of May are seen on every corner, at my house and everywhere I go. I've noticed that as the month wears on, the pastels slowly transform over to the bolder colors of summer.
I know one thing for sure. If we don't get a rainy day sometime soon, my house is never going to get cleaned. I'd rather do garden work over housework anytime!
So yes, I'm in love with the month of May. Honestly, I always have been. I was born in the month of May, not to mention that it is the prettiest month of the year. You really must agree, right?