April 27, 2015

Wide Garden Views at April's End

Spring is progressing so rapidly that I have a lot of photos to share, so come take a walk with me around the back and side yards.  Above is the view looking south toward the back gate.  The 'Spring Snow' crabapples are fulfilling their name with 'snow' petals on the branches and all over the ground.  We think it looks like someone decorated for a wedding.

A view of the area looking west reveals red peony shoots among all the spring green of other perennials and shrubs.  Spring is early this year, and I have no complaints.

 I came back out a few minutes after the first photos to capture the interesting lighting during one of those April showers bringing, well, you know.  The pink 'Royal Raindrops' crabapples are just starting to open their blossoms.  I forgive them all their faults (those endless babies springing up all over) when they explode into the fiery magenta-maroon glory of full bloom.

Here is a view of the northwest corner from my second story window.  By this point the sunset had shaded everything pink.  Notice the new little arbor over the bench in the corner.  My husband kindly installed it a week ago, and it has been getting a lot of use since then.  It's fun to have a place that feels hidden away - a feeling that will increase when the 'Hall's Purple' honeysuckle vines I planted on either side grow up to cover the arbor.  I'm still thinking about what else to plant nearby - perhaps a couple of 'Fine Line' buckthorns to frame the arbor?

Looking east from the arbor bench gives this view.  The mountains above the fence line are too washed out to see in this photo, but we can see them in real life, at least until the honey locusts leaf out.

Looking back toward the northwest corner shows pink phlox blooming and plants leafing out.  The 'Ambassador' allium rosettes are starting to yellow at the tips as the buds reach upward.  In the bottom of the shot you can see blurry tall buds from 'Early Emperor' alliums already starting to open.

A closer view of the NW corner shows my giant 'Victoria' rhubarb plants.  I just love these pretty plants, even though I'm not a big fan of eating rhubarb.  The poor sick-looking 'Little Rascal' holly shub at bottom right looks awful - I think I need to find a more protected place for it where the soil doesn't dry out so much in winter.  I'll replace it with a 'Smooth Touch' compact holly, which is much sturdier around here.

Purple 'Negrita' tulips are already in full bloom, while pink 'Don Quichotte' tulips are opening across the front of the main sunny bed.  Pink 'Renown' should follow in a week or two to extend the show.  All three of these tulips are supposed to be good perennials in well-drained soil, so I have high hopes for them here.

After rounding the northeast corner (which still looks barren, hence the lack of photos), the view towards the south shows lilacs ready to open, interesting dark leaves on the 'Black Lace' elderberry (at left), and the wonderfully fragrant blooms of a Korean spice viburnum at bottom right.  'Medallion' Oriental poppies are growing vigorously in front of the elderberry, and their rosy-lilac blooms should be especially pretty in front of that dark background in June.

More spring 'snow' covers the ground on the east side of the house.  Delphiniums, columbines, rhododendrons, and alliums will bloom here soon.  At the top right you can see the small contorted filbert (Corylus avellana 'Contorted') I planted as a focal point at the end of the path.  Someday it will be as tall as the fence.  And when it gets too wide, I will happily prune off branches for floral arrangements.

A shot from an upper window shows this area from a different perspective.  In a month there will be much less soil showing as perennials leaf out.  At left you see the two support stakes for the columnar apple trees I planted last week.  They are supposed to stay less than three feet wide but still produce a few apples.

This view of the same area includes the rainbow we enjoyed during the rain.

I'll finish with a couple of shots of the west garden, where the pink 'Don Quichotte' tulips I planted last fall are a nice addition to the bright color scheme.

Each spring it is amazing to watch the garden burst back to life and color.  I love this time of year!

April 22, 2015

The First Floral Arrangement of Spring

Spring has progressed far enough to provide flowers for a floral arrangement, so I put this vase together earlier this week.  After enjoying a sunny high of 77 degrees F yesterday (25 Celsius) yesterday, the temperature has dropped down to chilly levels this morning.  So it's a good time to be sitting at the computer, letting my sunburned arms recover, instead of shivering in the garden.

Six-year old white 'Mount Tacoma' tulips still send a few blooms up each spring, so I cut a couple for the vase.  I don't recall the name of the pink tulips, as those bulbs are also six years old.  Tulips really like the sandy raised beds in my front yard, as the bulbs don't get soggy and rot in summer the way they might in clay soil.

Korean spice viburnum (V. carlesii) flowers add a delightful scent to the arrangement.  The fragrance reminds me of Oriental lilies, though it isn't as overpowering.  I love this shrub for its fragrant spring flowers, glossy green leaves in summer, and kaleidoscope fall coloring.

A couple of stems of white bleeding heart, Dicentra spectabilis 'Alba,' add a sweet touch.  I also have the old-fashioned pink type in my garden, but the blooms on those plants weren't quite ready to be cut.  My daughters love to pull the flowers apart and tell the story of a sword and a heart . . . I can't remember the details, but it's a fun little notion.

Double white 'Sparkling Diamond' hellebores (from the Winter Jewels series) nod on their stems to soften the upright lines of other parts of the arrangement.  I have learned that hellebores can't be cut when they first start blooming, as the young stems wilt quickly in a vase.  But after they have been blooming for a while (at least a few weeks), the stems harden up enough to stay firm when cut.

The vase looks a little wild thanks to a few stems of curly willow (Salix matsudana 'Tortuosa').  I have four curly willow plants growing in large pots to keep them from taking over the garden, and they made it through the winter even though I left the pots outside.  I added a soft green ribbon around the top of the canning jar after taking these photos.

Here is one more shot of a little hellebore flower at the back of the arrangement.
Spring is really pretty this year, with the flowering trees looking better than ever and plenty of tulips and other small flowers adding color.  I'm taking photos to share soon!

April 16, 2015

April Bloomsday - Tall Tulips and Short Phlox

Tulips and phlox are the stars of the bloom show in mid-April, though a few buds on the backyard  'Spring Snow' crabapples are starting to peek open. 

The garden gets greener by the day, though you see above that the trees have yet to leaf out.  The little white Grecian windflowers (Anemond blanda 'Alba') are still blooming well among the taller plants.   I am impressed at how long they have been in flower when so many bulbs come and go so quickly.

Several years after planting, 'Salmon Impression' tulips continue to bloom strongly.  Yellow 'Jaap Groot' tulips have also proven to be good perennial bloomers, and they are just starting to open in some spots.  White 'Maureen' tulips are the last to bloom in the front yard show.

A 'Coral Supreme' peony provides the backdrop in this shot.  Next month when it blooms the flowers will be huge and gorgeous.  Notice the attractive white edges on the 'Jaap Groot' leaves.

There are fewer 'Emerald Blue' creeping phlox plants than in previous years, as I decided it looked too polka-dotty (that's a technical term, LOL).  But the ones that remain have expanded and continue to provide lots of cheerful lavender flowers.

To the left of the photo above you can squint and see the orange tulips blooming on the west side of the house.  The front yard has a softer color scheme, but the west is more vibrant.  I don't think I've ever taken a shot of the house from this angle before, but my neighbor's blue spruce tree seems to fit right into my landscaping.

I'm pretty sure these orange beauties are 'American Dream' tulips, though I thought I ordered a different variety a few years ago.  The orange and vibrant purple 'Axcent Blue' aubrieta play off each other nicely.

I will close with this wider view of the west garden.  Next week the tulip show in the backyard will really get going, as a few purple 'Negrita' tulips are starting to color up in the main sunny bed, and two types of deep pink tulips aren't far behind.  There are already buds reaching up from the dozens of globe alliums I planted last fall in the back.  If I remember to participate in the May Dreams Bloomsday next month, the alliums will definitely be the stars.

April 7, 2015

Spring Daisies: Anemone blanda 'Alba'

Right now the front yard is brimming with little daisies, Anemone blanda 'Alba,' also known as Grecian windflowers. 
It has been a few years since I planted them, and they have multiplied prolifically.  The flowers set seed, and I assume the tubers are also dividing below the surface.  The plants are so small (6-8" tall in bloom) that they don't take over the other plants in the area.

I haven't seen many bees around the garden yet, but they would enjoy the frilly yellow centers.  The blooms open when the sun is shining and close at night or when it's cloudy.

These sweet spring flowers grow from tubers that look like chocolate-covered peanut clusters . . . or some sort of animal droppings (see a photo in this post).  The tubers should be soaked in water for a few hours before planting or they might not grow.

There are also pastel blue-violet and pink versions, but I only have the white.  They are hardy in zones 5-9.

In the photo above, you can see that the outside base of the flower is tinted pink, but from afar they look pure white.

Anemones don't like heavy clay soil, so they are very happy in the sandy amended soil in my raised flower beds.  They will grow in sun or part sun.

It's wonderful to have these dainty daisies filling the bloom gap after the croci (crocuses) finish and before the large tulips begin.  Soon they'll finish blooming and disappear until next April.

April 4, 2015

April Showers and Flowers

April has already brought rain and hail to get ready for all the May flowers, but we have also enjoyed some sunny though cool days.  More and more spring green covers the garden along with many little flowers viewed best from a crouch, like the 'Berry Swirl' hellebore above.

'Kingston Cardinal' (above) is similar to 'Berry Swirl', though it sports a few more petals.  I seem to have killed my pale pink 'Cotton Candy' hellebore, so I'll need to replant a new one soon. 

A single white hellebore, one of the first I planted, blooms happily in complete shade.  Some of the hellebores that bloomed prolifically last year have only sent up a couple of flower stalks this year.  Perhaps they didn't get enough water last summer.

'Blue Jacket' hyacinths perfume the west garden path, with 'Axcent Blue' Aubrieta adding a warmer purple color in the background.

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa) have increased to large clusters around the west and front yards.

'Spring Beauty' Scilla bloom against a background of Colchicum leaves.  Scilla spread like wildfire and grow well in sun or shade.  Perhaps in a few years I'll be grumbling about how they're taking over the garden, but for now I'm enjoying their vigorous spread.

Old fashioned bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis, above) and white bleeding heart ('Alba') have buds ready to open in the next week or two.  There are also many tulip buds ready to open soon.

'Gladiator' globe allium leaves are full size now in the backyard.  I suppose they'll start withering away soon before the flowers appear.  The reddish leaves in front are from 'Montgomery' Astilbe, and the little green clumps are 'Caradonna' Salvia.

Crambe cordifolia leaves are purple-green as they emerge, and they remain deep green throughout the summer.  Though I planted it a couple of years ago, I have yet to see this plant bloom.  I'm hoping to enjoy its airy white flower clusters for the first time this June.
Lately I have been contemplating how to block some of the views into the neighbors' windows to create more privacy in the backyard.  I really wish I would have paid more attention to that while planning the garden.  I have settled on adding a few more vines ('Hall's Purple' honeysuckle, which is semi-evergreen, and thornless blackberries) in strategic locations.  Eventually they will add another foot or so of screening above the fence line.  Other than that I'll have to be patient while my young shrubs and trees mature, though most of them are deciduous and will never provide great privacy in winter.  Ah well, live and learn.