March 28, 2013

Spring is Here - Backlit Bulbs

We've been enjoying some warmer weather lately and it truly feels like spring.  After several rounds of small bulb planting over the past few years, there are lots of crocuses and other bulbs blooming in the front yard right now.

I had a plan each time I set out to plant bulbs, but many of them have been transplanted unintentionally when I moved perennials around.  So there are some large clumps and other lonely flowers scattered here and there.

Gardening is part science and part art.  I got out my notebook yesterday and made notes about where to transplant some of the crocuses so there will be more even coverage of the front yard.  I'll wait a few weeks and then get them moved before the foliage dies back completely.

Backlit bulbs just make me smile!  You would have smiled - guffawed? -  to see my contortions trying to get shots of these short flowers.  I'm quite flexible.  Maybe I should join the circus.

And the Cutest Bulbs Ever are now blooming en masse.  Mini-daffodils 'Tete-a-Tete' are six inches high and fragrant if you get close enough.

I'd have more in the front yard but I keep picking them to give away in tiny vases to friends.  They're just too cute to keep all for myself. 

Their blooming will probably peak in the next few days, so I'll post more shots next week.  You really need some of these in your garden.  Guaranteed smiles every time you see them.  Think I'll go out and take another look at them right now. 

March 20, 2013

Bits of Spring Color

There is color in the garden, but you have to look closely to see it.  This is the season of taking photos while crouching low, kneeling on squishy lawn, getting mud on your fingers when you reach down to steady yourself . . . giving the neighbors more reasons to scratch their heads and wonder how you got so strange. 

The first of the 'Tete a Tete' mini daffodils are blooming.  I planted several hundred more last fall, so there should be a good show in a week or two. 

The 'Grand Maitre' crocuses are closed tightly today because of rain, and the bees are hiding away instead of visiting them.  I ran outside a couple times when the showers paused to snap a few photos. 

The red shoots of the three 'Coral Supreme' peonies are just as showy as the little spring bulbs.  I transplanted this one last week so it probably won't be very happy this season. 

'Jap Groot' tulip leaves are variegated pink and white.  The creamy yellow flowers won't show up for at least a month. 

'Barr's Purple' tommy crocuses are nearly done blooming.  The warmer than usual weather finished them off quickly, but it seemed a small sacrifice to enjoy some sunshine and warmth.

A closeup of 'Blue Star' juniper shows its steely blue color with a touch of pink for winter.  As the shrubs get larger in the front yard, I feel satisfied with the amount of winter interest from the evergreen shrubs and perennials as well as the boulders.  Now I just have to get the backyard to this point. 

March 15, 2013

March Bloomsday in VW Garden

I'm not usually organized enough to participate in Carol's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, but I pulled it together this month.  Several hellebores are blooming right now in the garden, including 'Golden Lotus' above and below.  The key to early hellebore blooms is to plant them under deciduous trees where they get shade in the summer and sun in the winter.  My hellebores that are shaded by the house year round aren't blooming yet.

After several years of looking for hellebore seedlings, I finally found some in my garden.  I started pulling up little 'weeds' and noticed they had leathery leaves . . . just like hellebores . . . aha!  I tucked the babies back into the soil and look forward to seeing what their flowers look like in a few years, as hellebore seedlings often look different than their parents. 

We've been enjoying unusually warm weather for the past couple of weeks.  We hit 60 degrees a few times this week when highs are usually in the 40's.  Hopefully new growth on my plants won't progress too far and then be damaged by very cold temperatures. 

The bees have been enjoying the warm weather and visiting all the crocus in my front yard.  Crocus tommasinianus 'Barr's Purple' are shown above.  The clumps are increasing steadily from past years, and I added a few hundred more crocus bulbs last fall. 

These 'Golden Bunch' crocus are the first to bloom each year, and this clump has been in bloom for over a month.  I just had to take a break from writing to pull my one year old son away from another clump of 'Golden Bunch', where he was happily pulling all the flowers off and putting them into a pile.  Sigh.  I'm glad he's able to enjoy the warmer weather outside, even if it means a little damage to the garden.

March 4, 2013

Scrapgardening or Gardenbooking or Something

While planning color schemes for the different garden areas in my backyard, I gave in to my occasional need to cut and paste - well, use sticky tabs - like my kids do in elementary school.  Putting together a collage of flowers and foliage enables me to visualize how a future garden will appear.  The collage above shows the colors I'm going to include in my main sunny perennial bed in the northwest corner of the backyard.  I was planning to do a classic garden in shades of pink and blue-violet, but found myself fascinated with the effect when I added pops of rosy-orange (including the leaves of 'Southern Comfort' heuchera) and deep notes of maroon-black (including the 'Royal Raindrops' crabapples that grow behind this area and 'Purple Petticoats' heuchera whose leaves won an award for best winter hardiness).  Actually the rosy-orange addition came about because I gave in and ordered a 'Lady of Shallot' english rose and needed a place to put it.  My gardens are definitely plant-driven designs.

This collage shows the colors and plants I'll be using in the northeast corner of the backyard.  It's a pastel version of primary colors, with grey-blue, soft yellow and pink.  There's also some lime green for a bit of a twist.  I'm excited that a yellow 'Bartzella' intersectional peony would fit perfectly here along with the pink 'Keiko' peony I already have.  I've been wanting one for years but haven't known where to place it.  As with the main sunny garden, colored foliage will help carry the colors throughout the season.  Above you can see pink 'Berry Smoothie' and 'Lime Rickey' heuchera leaves. 

Obviously the photos above make up a white garden that will have both sunny and shady parts.  I love the elegance of an all-white scheme but don't have the self restraint to give up color in the whole yard.   The middle section of the eastern part of the yard will be planted in white.  I think I can fit the giant leaves of Astilboides tabularis (middle right of the collage) in this area.  Again, it's fun to have something unexpected or unusual mixed into the old favorites that make up the bulk of my gardens. 

The southeast part of the backyard will be planted in true blues and lavender-pink shades as shown above.  This area used to be the forgotten corner of the yard, but our new living room window looks out in this direction and makes it easy to enjoy.  Creating distinct color schemes in different areas of the yard allows me to organize my plants while exploring how different colors work together.  Do you have a favorite color scheme?