Sunday, May 15, 2011

Crazy Spring!

Spring is my favorite season, but in the Midwest it's a very unpredictable time indeed. We had not only April showers aplenty (and now May showers) but April cold as well this year. A very brief hot spell finished off the daffodils, but cool wet weather made the flowering trees and tulips last a long time. It did put off  shopping for annuals, however.

Then another heat wave finished off the tulips, lilacs (except for the dwarf lilacs still blooming), and the loveliest big spring blooms--the tree peonies. Fortunately, I got a few pics in before the rains came to finalize things.
We are lucky to have a number of tree peonies in the garden, some of which are old and big. A lot of branches were broken last year in heavy rains and the show wasn't as magnificent as it has sometimes been in the past, but the big fluffy flowers are always a joy to behold.
A few days without rain provided a quick time to take photos and also a chance to bring out the houseplants for the summer. Usually I have planted at least some of the container annuals by then, but this year I hadn't even started looking for them yet.
By the time that all the tree peonies on the east, west, and north areas of the yard were blooming, the temperatures started rising.
Suddenly, it was extremely humid and in the high eighties. We weren't really ready for it and it was exhausting. Okay, we said, it's summer now ... too bad spring is over, but open those windows and turn off the furnace.
So I went to a garden center and got a bunch of great annuals: angelonia, lantana, osteospermum, callibrachoa, saliva, marigolds, vinca, lobelia, coleus, petunia, euphorbia, scaveola, bidens, gazania, zinnia, wax begonia, verbena. Had a heck of a time getting them unloaded from the van, set up on trays, and watered (no room on the convenient table this year because the houseplants were already taking up the area).
I was wiped out by the heat and humidity but grateful that I had gotten them watered (the pots were pretty dry at the nursery). Five minutes later, we got a huge downpour. Now the temperatures have dropped such that it may be in the mid-thirties tonight. Close the windows, turn on the furnace, switch back to winter nightgowns!
Meanwhile, the Persian lilac is still blooming well. The tall "regular" lilacs are finished and ready to be pruned. And "Miss Kim" lilacs are blooming their heads off and filling the cold wet air with their wonderful scent. Lots of other flowers are blooming now too.
The lily of the valley doesn't last long, but they are little charmers and so sweetly scented!
The bearded dwarf German iris (Iris pumila) are gorgeous now in the raised beds on the east side. I've seen some delightful stands of full-sized German iris around town now too.
Like their big cousins, these short irises come in a wide range of luscious colors.
The brilliant azalea was in full bloom last week, although the nearby rhododendrons are just starting to open, probably confused by the weather!
As you can see, the bush was covered with blossoms. And I love that hot pink color!
Spring tall phlox (Phlox divaricata) are a joy now too, with their delicate look and fragrance. They bloom in the woods around here also and are sometimes called Wild Sweet William.
The short white cress called Iberis is also in bloom now in the southeast raised bed. They don't seem to have a fragrance, but the pure white is lovely and especially beautiful at night in moonlight.
In shadier beds under the maple and the pin oak are the yellow wood poppies (Stylophorum). They are so cheerful and I like their shapely foliage too. They do tend to spread a bit, however.
I was happy to see the return under the pin oak of this rare Japanese Jack-in-the Pulpit from my friend Frank (Asarum sikkokianum). The black tail is amazing!
All of our ferns love cool moist air, of course, and the maidenhairs are nice right now. But the ones that are spreading the most are the reliable Ostrich Ferns, upright and oh so green!
We've got a couple of these white bleeding hearts (Dicentra spectabilis alba) in partial shade, and I really like them a lot. They are very reliable and undemanding and lovely in the spring.
Of course, I like the deep pink one as well. Even though they aren't flowers, the pink/red/marroon leaves of the Japanese maples add color to the garden now. They will turn green in summer and then deep red again in the fall.
Although it is finished blooming now, I did catch a photo this year of the Fothergillia, a very easy shrub with honey-scented bottle brush flowers.
 Well, by the time I get this blog up (the Blogger program was unavailable for a while ... just when I finally found free time!) new plants are blooming. But it's too wet and cold to take photos today!

How's your garden?

1 comment:

  1. Got the names of Elis' friends from her:

    On guitar, Paulo Henrique Vaz

    On drum and voice: Robert Perere