Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Spring Perennials for 2013

 This little yellow species tulip was a sweet springtime treat. The species tulips are all quite tiny little things, originally from high rocky places in Iran, Turkey, and the like. Most people are more familiar with the highly bred tall and colorful Darwin hybrids. I like them too, but the small species tulips are just right for my raised beds. Funny thing is, we had put some in fall before last and didn't see much of anything last spring (which was a heatwave already!) and I assumed the squirrels had feasted. There were plenty during this cool wet spring, so the smart bulbs just waited around for a better year, I guess!

 Another pint-sized lovely is this cousin of the tall bearded German irises: the dwarf pumila iris. We have a number of clumps of these in shades from blue to purple in the raised beds on the east. They have a rhizome, just like the larger iris, and are planted fairly close to the surface. They like well-drained soil, so the raised beds are a good spot for them.

 I love dianthus of all kinds, both annual and perennial. They like cool weather and tend to bloom early and then rebloom later on if I deadhead. They are related to carnations and many have a sweet scent as well as lovely markings.

 A nice big clump of brilliant yellow is wonderful in the spring sunlight, and this alyssum saxatile "basket of gold" fills the bill every year. It is getting bigger each time too.

 We have phlox of several kinds in the garden. In the shady areas there are the taller pale blue woodland phlox (divaricata) and, later in the summer, the best-known tall colorful flowers of phlox paniculata. But early on, it's the short creeping phlox (subulata) that steal the show, especially this cute little candy striper.

 I can't tell you how many rose bushes, both tea roses and English roses, that I've planted in this garden and others over the years. Most of them are gone, of course, or what remains and blooms is the small dark red blossoms of the original grafted rose used "underneath" the fancy hybrid. Why do they die? Because it's Illinois and so unlike England and Oregon, I guess. But shrub roses are another matter altogether and now, suddenly, the Double Knockout Rose is everywhere in town and blooming brilliantly and living through the winter and looking great. You even see them in front of gas stations, so they must be almost indestructible!

 If wouldn't be spring without pansies in my opinion. Long ago I had a perfect spot in an earlier garden where pansies actually lived over the winter. But mostly they have to be treated as cool weather annuals, planted in the earliest spring and usually petering out when the July heat hits. Last year, they only lasted a very short time, but this year they were lovely for almost two months.

 Many of the flowering trees and shrubs in our garden and elsewhere in this town were unusually full of flowers with all the rain and cool nights this spring. I have never seen the magnolias, crab apples, rhododendrons and azaleas, double kerria, double almond, and dogwoods as full as they were this year. Here's a lovely magenta azalea from our north yard, a shady area come summer.

 Who loves rain and cool weather as much as ferns? Nobody. The ostrich ferns were especially nice this spring, unfurling their tall noble fronds. They have lasted a long time too.

 The sensitive ferns were hit hard last two years by drought and heat. They love water and grow near streams in the wild. Now they are making a comeback here in dappled shade in the north underneath the bird bath.

 A small white azalea that didn't bloom last year was a goner, or so I thought until it showed up this spring, looking sweet and lovely.

 The woods geranium is a common sight in the forest around here, but does well in a shady spot in the garden too. The bright annual "geraniums" that we have in containers are actually pelargoniums and hail from South Africa. The perennial geraniums are cranesbills, and there are quite a few nice ones for the garden in shades of pink and blue.

 In my opinon, it wouldn't be spring without the sweet nodding bells of the lily of the valley. Our clump is huge now, having spread over the years in a shady spot in the north.

Here's a little closer shot of the white bells. They are small but so fragrant!

More photos and commentary to come next time. Thanks for coming back to Susan's blogs!

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