Thursday, May 15, 2008

May Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

So much is blooming in my May garden that I'm wondering why we always schedule our Paris trip at this time of year (I'll remember as soon as we start walking the Paris streets). Part of me would like to stay home and admire this rhodo, blooming secretly behind the pond, its pink blooms chiming beautifully -- 'Temple Bells' it's called. I think the pink is set off nicely by the acid green of the Euphorbia Amygdaloides Robbia (Mrs. Robb's bonnet). In fact, I think almost any plant benefits from the colour pop of a nearby Euphorbia -- which is good, 'cause these guys really colonize
The photo above and this one below, of the Solomon's Seal (a shade-lover, also quite happy to colonize, but not as agressively as the euphorbia) were taken with my new Canon Elph. I bought it for portability -- don't want to lug the Nikon SLR around the Paris streets -- and the picture quality and ease of use seem quite decent. Behind the Solomon's Seal (properly, Polygonatum) is the Hydrangea Petiolaris which apparently is not going to bloom this year either, despite being nine years in this spot where it seems to be quite happy. Any suggestions?
(Back to the Nikon now, although with a few other Canon shots mixed in) I know I showed you these orange species tulips earlier, on Mother's Day.

These pink ones are also blooming right now, opening and shutting depending on how much sun is shining.And I showed you these Clematis alpina already as well, which I love not only for the daintiness of their downward-facing flower, but also for their contrast with the green foliage, their own and the shiny leaves of the rose, Awakening (apparently a sport of the favourite climber, New Dawn).
In the foreground here, is a much more common (gaudier?) version of a similar colour combination -- the vinca major, best known as periwinkle. To the left, just behind it, you might be able to make out the osmanthus flowers -- pretty little white creatures, but it's their fragrance that earns their keep. And the gold, gold, and more gold foliage behind that is the Physocarpus or Ninebark. I agree, it does look a bit scruffy, but it is a cottage garden, after all.
But perhaps the palate-cleansing effect of a single bloom is in order. And not even a bloom, but a bud, and an architectural one at that: Centaurea cyanus or bachelor's button. I got a few of these from my mom's garden years ago and now they're all over -- okay by me!

Another determined volunteer that you'll never hear me complain about is borage, whose ethereal beauty (achieved, I think, through the downy hair on the stems, the droopiness, and the contrast between the red stems and the blue flower -- and that blue, positively celestial!) belies its hardiness and adaptability.
And since we're looking at single blooms, may I show you this fritallaria, with an anemone blooming to its left (and repeating that purple/mauve/periwinkle against green motif).
Truly, I think this has the most sensuous curves of any flower. Sadly, it is not a vigorous colonizer at all, having popped its head up all alone for five or six years now.This Euphorbia (characias wulfenii), though, is settling in nicely, in the most difficult part of the garden, the very front, where it must contend with poor rocky soil, wind, and seaspray.Also doing well in a challenging location are the epimedium we put in the summer before last. They're also near the front of the yard, where winds and seaspray make life difficult, and their soil is not much better; they're in shade much of the day, though, rather than in full sun as the Euphorbia are. Here's one variety (there's another blooming right now as well) and to the left, you can see that the Skimmia Japonica is also flowering right now. Neither of these plants are chosen for their flowers, foliage being their more important contribution (and I love the Skimmia's red berries brightening the shade), but their daintiness is a welcome gift every spring.You may get tired of seeing these blooms in my monthly photo account, but I never tire of seeing them in the garden. February through November, this Erysimum 'Bowles mauve' blooms its heart out. Rather literally, to tell the truth, as it will exhaust itself through flowering, and, since the flowers are sterile, I'll have to begin again with a new plant. Every two or three years, I pick up a few of these from my favourite nursery and pick likely places for them. Oddly, I can't predict which spots will be successful nurturers of these showstoppers, but I'll make whatever allowances are necessary. After all, I get three years of beautiful purple blooms against gorgeous glaucous foliage -- that's worth a bit of fuss, no? And once the plant takes to the spot, it needs almost nothing, not even watering. To the left of the birdhouse, you can see that the Viburnum Davidii are just coming into bloom and have, in fact, begun blooming quite vigorously in the few days of sunshine since I took this picture.
I'm a bit worried about this next plant. Not the Viburnum tinus 'Spring Bouquet' to the left, but the Sweet Cicely (myrrhis odorata) in the middle -- the one with the ferny leaves and the white flowers. What I'm worried about is managing to enjoy the flowers over the weekend and then being sure to cut off every single one of them before we leave so nothing manages to go to seed while we're away. So far, I've kept this plant in check, enjoying its dramatic size and ferny leaves, but not allowing it to seed and take over. We're usually only gone for ten or twelve days, though, and this year, we'll be away over three weeks. Yikes!
Another potentially vigorous seeder is this Anthriscus sylvestris 'Raven's wing' -- or black Queen Anne's Lace -- not as invasive as the more common, non-black variety, but still, I take care to chop the flower umbrellas off as soon as they're done. I will probably do a pre-emptive strike on Monday. Despite the control issues, though, I love the drama of this plant -- huge ferny foliage in stunningly dark purple does draw the eye, especially when accented by the sprays of white floral lace.
For more dark drama, this Sambucus Nigra 'Black Beauty' provides a gorgeous backdrop to what I think is another Euphorbia -- this plant was a division from a friend's garden, and she couldn't remember its name. The flower is even more acid-green off-screen, if possible. And by the time it's finished flowering, the Sambucus' own neon-pink blooms will be startling us with their kitschy colour -- those blooms I really hope I'm home for!
For some simpler, yet still lovely blooms, how about this combination of Solomon's Seal (polygonatum) and a Geranium (Phaeum?)
Nearby, also sweet and simple, rising above a bed of Vanilla Leaf (Achlys triphylla) are Bluebells (think these must be Hyacinthoides non-scripta, but if you know better, please share). In the background, the pink hearts are the blooms of the wild bleeding heart (Dicentra eximia).A closer look at the Vanilla Leaf (larger, more solid leaves, white flower) and the Bleeding Heart flowers and leaves (so lacy):And an even closer view of the Vanilla Leaf flower which will soon disappear 'til next year:

Also shade-growing, also tripartite leaf, also featuring contrast between green and white, but with a much, much longer flowering period is this Oxalis (shamrock, yes). These flowers will open up soon and brighten the dark side of the yard where the Oxalis has been allowed to spread into a wavy verdant sea.More green and white: the lily-of-the-valley should be ready to fill my dainty white bone-china Coalport vase, a birthday gift from my mom years ago, for my birthday breakfast table setting in a few days.More white against green freshness comes with the Choisya Ternata (Mexican Orange). I have several of these shrubs around the yard and they do yeoman's duty all year 'round. This one, to the left of the monster bird house, are just coming into bloom, and provide a nice foil to the maple's red.Vines are blooming as well -- not only the clematis alpina I showed you above, but also the clematis montana that Paul pruned back severely last year, concerned about its effect on the guest cottage roof. It seems to have forgiven him, and is regaining ground quickly. Golden Physocarpus in the foreground, and Fountain Bamboo in the middle.Back on the ground, this Geranium Sanguineum flower is not my favourite colour, but it does brighten dark spots, and the foliage is thick and healthy-looking. Plus the foliage, when you brush by it, releases a wonderfully herbal, woodsy fragrance.

Whew! I'm getting tired, so I hope I'm not wearing you out with all this floral bounty. Just a brief return to that purple and green motif in the form of the lilac, just coming into bloom,

then a quick peek at the Astrantia Major rubrum (also a happy but considerate volunteer)and let's just mention the forget-me-nots, the Corydalis lutea, the aubretia, and then acknowledge that I will have forgotten a bloom or two along the way.

And that's it for May Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Once again, thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for organizing this blog event and motivating me to record and share what's happening in my garden.


  1. You did not wear me out. I love seeing all the blooms but also liked the education you gave with each picture. Do all euphorbias colonize? I planted three Silver Swans and hope they do well.

  2. I've never before commented on one of your gardening posts, because I have the blackest of thumbs and find it all so overwhelming. I admire people who have so much knowledge about gardens and flowers - although I suppose it is all down to experience and hard work, although I've never been tempted to put much of either into a garden so far. However, this post I found very inspiring, so maybe I'll keep it in mind for when we have our own garden again. Here our (rented) house is in an Italian style (salmon-coloured stucco, brick and wrought iron, I just think it looks like something a Soprano would live in!) and the garden is fairly formal, so right now I'm trying to keep the weeds down and keep it tidy. The landlord does send a young 'gardener' round now and again, but he is really quite useless - don't get me started on the workmen and workmanship here! Anyway, I really like the wild mix of colour and texture in your garden.

    I understand that you are leaving at the weekend? All the best for the last minute preparations, make sure you post the photo of that closed suitcase for us!! Patricia

  3. Tina: I see you've got a good ol' Golden Retriever like mine. As for the euphorbias, I lost, from one year to the next, the E. griffithii 'Fireglow' I loved, so they don't all colonize. I don't know the Silver Swans -- sounds pretty, and I'll have to go look it up. I'm more careful with any Euphorbia now since I've realized they're the culprit that caused me to blister badly, with burn-like sores that took weeks to heal. Now I "suit up" to trim them, especially on a hot, sunny day.
    Patricia: I gardened alongside my grandma and my mom when I was young and have always enjoyed it. As with other hobbies or interests, I've amassed a collection of books that inform and inspire, but much of my knowledge is gained through trial and error -- the cost of experimenting is very reasonable in the garden altho' you can spend a fortune here as well. Anyway, glad you like the results.
    We leave for Vanc'r on Tuesday and fly Wednesday morning. Before that, yes, I'll try to post the suitcase photo.

  4. Your blooms for bloom day were all quite interesting. I liked the palette cleansing of the single blooms.

    Enjoy your trip to Paris, your garden will be there when you return, although depending on how long you are gone, it might look at lot different when you return.

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  5. I have been warned about the blisters and irritation-still I want them. Especially that green one with yellow you show in your picture. It does well here and someone gave me some but I can't find it. Sigh. Silver swan is a white variegated one. A stunner too. Have a great vacation. Loved Paris in spring. Make sure to go to EuroDisney or I think it is now Disneyland Paris? We had a great time.

    Oh yes, my golden. BJ. My forever gardening partner. Aren't they the best?!!! I have two I like them so much. Not the yippy yappy chihauhau/dachsund mix though. Bye now.

  6. Lovely photos, lovely garden, looks as good as the Chelsea show gardens I will be gazing at next Friday.

  7. Frances, not only are your blooms fabulous, but your photography skills really enhance them. I'm like Patricia with the blackest of thumbs, but I do appreciate the work that goes into making a garden look beautiful. With the sun coming out for the weekend I was hoping my yard was in better shape. However we just got a last minute invite up to Whistler, so the garden goes unattended once again.

  8. Carol: You're right, one of the wonders of the garden is that there is always another delight coming.
    Tina: We're not Disney folk, never even having taken our kids to California when they were young! But, as you know, there are many other delights in Paris, and we'll be revisiting as many as we can.
    Alison: Not quite the manicured polish that you'll see at Chelsea (you lucky thing!), but I do have fun.
    Leona: Whistler fun beats weeding any day. Have a great weekend -- the dandelions will be there when you get back (that's what I'm telling myself as well)

  9. Have fun nonetheless. Be safe.


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...