May 12, 2014


Our Asian Pear trees are in full bloom, and just in time for our first day of warm temperatures, allowing the droves of honeybees to make a full days work more enjoyable.

But it sure is pretty.

The experts say that what makes a blog successful is good, original content, and for a gardener who keeps a gardening blog, the month of May can sometimes provide so much content, that one can easily become overwhelmed. No worries, I am not overwhelmed (aside from some the cold weather, lack of free time, little if no help in the garden, and some serious elderly father issues that we must deal with this week )- as this seasonable cold, yet not freezing month of seasonal transition, is practically perfect. The sort of May that can actually make Californian gardeners envious. with our armloads of lilacs and fresh peonies, spring bulbs and woodland wildflower spectacle, and to top things off, the spring migratory songbirds are just arriving with enough new Warbler species, Orioles, Robins and thrushes to make the morning chorus at 4:00 almost unbearably melodic (almost).
click below for more springness.

Woodland plant from around the world also emerge at nearly the same time as our native trillium and bloodroot. Here, white-flowered Muckdenia rossii 'Karasuba' from Korea blooms along with the tall petioles of Rogersia podophylla from China, which are just beginning to unfold their 5 serrated leaves. A fresh layer of aged compost completes the bed.

When I was a kid, I was always in awe with the second and third week of May here in New England, and these weeks were those magic weeks of seasonal transition. Yes, some woodland plants begin to emerge here in our central Massachusetts woodland in mid-March, but it all culminates on or around May 15th, when on warm, breezy sunny-blue-skied days, the trees all seem to bloom and leaf out at once creating an entirely new motif in just a day or two.

I just love Rogersia, all the species. I've been collecting them since I was in high school, believe it or not, and you'd think that I would have more than I do, but my colony always seems to get either crushed by a tractor, or a pool, or a greenhouse being built…..

The birds know this, as they time their migration perfectly, with many species of warblers arriving just in time for the hatching of insects and larvae which have also timed their hatching perfectly with the emergence of tender, new foliage on the native oaks, maples and ash. Virtually overnight ( as many if not most migratory species fly at night) the forests and meadows transform into one of Mother Natures most spectacular shows. High Spring in the deciduous woodlands of North America.

A stunning nearly black dwarf bearded Iris, one which I've had for at least 20 years and do not know the name of, blooms in the front. This is by far, the favorite flower in our garden, with many people asking for pieces of it ( including Wave Hill Botanic Garden, and the New York Botanic Garden). It's not that important, but clearly, it's awesome!

In our garden, spring is equally in full swing, and there seems to be no let-up with the long list of chores. I think I'll be lucky if I can spread all the compost ( nearly 8 yards), but this year it is exceptionally nice, so few plants will be spared. Time, is again, the only limiting factor. Oh- wait, and labor! I know,  really need to stop complaining about time, as I am sure many of you struggle with the same limitations. This year, I promise that I am going to try to also enjoy the garden, even though most of it looks like an abandoned trailer park ( really, it does - I just don't' show those parts!).

With a tight budget last fall due to painting the two houses, I could only afford to buy a bag of plain yellow daffodils from our local Home Depot. Still, not regretting it, especially when seeing them mixed with my seedling drumstick Primroses ( Primula denticulata).

A sweet wild form of Primula elation from Switzerland blooms in the new woodland bed I created last year.

The gold and blue perennial border looked so horrible on Saturday, that I had to spend a few hours spreading compost over the beds - suddenly, it all looked a lot better by the end of Sunday. The pole in the middle of the shot holds some hummingbird feeders, as they just arrived int he garden this week. I am always trying to get a few to stay around and mate, and nothing helps that more than by introducing a 'hummingbird singles bar', you know, to loosen them up.

My projects list is long, and complicated - ever changing, especially this time of year. There are some things however that cannot wait, such as the setting out of seedlings, especially those of old fashioned flowers such as Godetia, Mathiola and Clarkia species. In my front garden, which runs along the busy street, where I have eliminated a lawn and instead, introduced drifts of low-growing textural plants and shrubs, I like to add in unusual annuals to the mix. This year, I am setting out a few dozen Clarkia elegant, which are a bit fussy, if not un-growable here in New England, but may do well if we are blessed with a cool spring and coolish summer. Hey, I am always willing to take a chance.

Sown in cells, these annuals must have cool, long springtime weather in which to both germinate and grow well in, and this has been a lovely spring for these, and other hard-to-find and hard-to-grow annuals including many annual poppies, phlox, godetia, and basically everything found in the Annies Annuals catalog.

Old fashioned annuals are a favorite of mine, and I have high hopes for this crop of Clarkia elegans.

Started under lights in March, then protected in the cool greenhouse and brought outside on even near-frosty days, the seedlings have developed strong root systems. Right now, the only thing that could kill them is a heat wave.

The Clarkia have been set out amongst the other annuals, salvias, Diascia and perennials. If my gamble pays off, I could have clouds of color by the end of June. And some very happy butterflies.

…and now, to find a place for these.

Happy Spring!

1 comment :

  1. john in cranston9:59 PM

    I've got mid to late season vines and salvias to attract the humming birds, but last year when I set out a feeder the honey bees attacked and drained it in the course of a single day. Ugh. And I had just put on a honey super on the hive!
    Ever have that issue?
    Maybe I should try again, I do enjoy the humming birds ...


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