Thursday, May 28, 2009


We had such a great, slow, steady, soaking rainfall this last couple days, I was forced to stay out of the garden and let nature take it's course. As I wandered out to hang a blanket on the line this morning I was pleased to find those bursts of growth that come with rain and warm overnight temps: tendrils of clematis grasping for something to cling, the early flowering varieties with buds pealing open, some tepals on rose buds already flexing downward, revealing some color. Delight doesn't begin to sum up the feeling. To look at huge delphinium plants covered with multiple flower buds soaring the sky, beside bursting lily buds, alyssum that's self-sown opening blooms, poppy buds looking like they could, well, pop, any second... my breath is really taken away. I think, 'I did it. I actually grew this stuff,' with nature's help of course. All those daily walks looking for slugs, watching for aphids, wrapping every clematis in chicken wire, tending to the garden, actually helped. And these plants are actually going to bloom.
Is this a new gardener feeling? I've been gardening for 6 years, but it still feels so new to me. These celebrations are so fresh. So deeply rewarding. And, I can't wait to share it with all of you as each bloom opens.
For now, the earliest clematis this year, "Pink Champagne" delivers it's beauty. I am so glad we painted the fence white, the color just pops!

A few aquilegia:
A colorful spot:
Bachelor's Buttons

Happy gardening!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Too many buds and not enough blooms!

I've made it no secret that patience is not my strong suit. This time of year nearly kills me, as every step I take in the garden leads to another bud on another plant about to bloom. Sure a few things are blooming, including some clematis, dame's rocket, lilacs, and aquilegias, but mostly, it's a bud parade:








Roses and more roses...

This rose looks like it will take the title for first bloom of the season: Europeana
Sigh. The wait feels eternal!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lilac Time

The early lilacs are at their peak fragrance right now. I can't walk around the yard without smelling them, and I'm pretty stuffed up, too. Most of the lilacs I have were planted before we moved in, and I don't know the different varieties. I have plans to eventually add a Wedgewood blue variety to the property, and also a dark purple early-blooming fragrant variety. This year, I also tried to "divide" some of my existing lilacs by digging up off-shoots with roots, and planting them elsewhere. So far, so good. I did not grow up with lilacs b/c they cannot survive in a zone 10 southern California climate, but I'm so glad my kids get to have them around. Lilacs come with such a history. On many of the streets in my town you can see lilac shrubs the size of small cottages or trees. Their fragrance is unmatched, and beauty, marvelous. Truly, I have a love-affair with this plant.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Appreciating the Pretties.

When life gets busy, I often run out of time to really get down and look at the flowers. I have to remind myself one of the most relaxing things I can do is grab my camera and go crawl around the grass and photograph things. The best time for this is just after sunrise, just before sunset, or on a cloudy windless day. The flowers will hold till for you, and the sun won't overwhelm their colors.
I found Erysimum 'Bowles Mauve' at the local Menard's, and on whiff was all it took for me to bring it home. The color is pretty awesome, too. I've read some reports that is only hardy to zone 7 (I'm in zone 4/5), but I have read other desciptions that is hardy to zone 4, but short lived. It was worth $4.50 to me, just to try.
Rhodedondron 'rosy lights' is beginning it's first bloom cycle in my garden. I found this mature shrub in a local big box store garden center. I looked down to see one of the 8 or so plants improperly labelled at $11.99; the proper price was $39.99. It rang up at 30% off the $11.99 price, making it less than $10 with tax. Talk about a good deal!
Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' is a favorite of mine.
My newest lilac is blooming for the first time. I joined the arbor day society 3 or 4 years ago and received my 10 free flowering trees or shrubs... this was one of them. It's take a long time to grow, but it's a pretty pale purple.
The promise of columbines, soon.

Chives like bubbles about to pop.

Lilacs purfuming the air.

This plant was one of dozens I picked up in a fill-a-flat sale at my local nursery. I'm pretty sure it's Basket-of-Gold, a.k.a. perennial alyssum? I'm so pleased with it's early blooms, and find it contrasts nicely with the lilacs just behind it.

Hope you enjoyed some of my early blooms. Wishing you all have tons of blooms in your gardens as well!
Happy Gardening!

Friday, May 15, 2009

A slow start. I need to chill.

I have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. I love late spring, I love the first blooms, the signs of new life, the return of perennials like family. Nothing beats the joy and triumph of plants that come back strong, and motivated to please. On the other hand, this time of year means lots of empty space between plants. With the plants still so small, I begin to second guess my choices of placement, combinations, etc. All of my beds are young, and in many cases are works-in-progress. I have to fight hard the urge to move all the plants around. I know in my heart moving things too much means smaller, less prolific plants, and I'm not patient... not patient on any level. I spend so much time staring at things, visualizing a month from now, trying to remember where I put the nasturium or zinnia seeds, whether or not I like the cosmos in that spot last year, deciding what volunteer seedlings are keepers or weeds, bla, bla, bla... .
I'm posting some picture of what I see when I look at the beds in part of my garden today.
This is my back border, far left hand side. I have 3 phlox, a centranthus ruber, and lysimachia that decided to not return at all, a coneflower in a place I don't remember putting a coneflower. I'm praying the hollyhock seedlings grow. I'm wishing the old daylilies and hostas in the back were moved. I'm urked that the Butterfly Bush takes so long to get started. And there are mystery seedlings in the back. Tall ones.
This is my walkway in the back border. The rabbits do a number on the creeping phlox here, and it's taken 3 years for the honeysuckle vine to get 3 feet tall... I'm hoping it decides to leap this year. I also gave into the urge to grow morning glory back here, and I watch everyday as more seeds germinate. Thank goodness.
This is a new front walkway bed, and I can't help but over examine my choices here also. Two roses, 3 happy returns daylilies, creeping speedwell, campanula 'birch hybrid, painted daisy, phlox, and tomato soup echinacea... and yet they still look so empty, so slow to fill in.
The front corner of my lot is also a new bed... no edging yet. In fact, I have to get out there and clean up the edging. I have a lilac, forsythia, rose, iris, monarda, sage, yarrow, mums, and annuals seeds plugged in here... I'm so impatient! I can't wait to see how things come out here.
Finally, the spot in the yard that is making me the most nutso is this new side door entrance garden. It's so empty. I had so much debate over this space b/c it gets bth heavy shade and full dry baking sun. I had to decice what sun-loving drought tolerant plants to try toward the curb, and what shade loving plants can handle the spots against the house, while still provding height. I wish I had more money to buy more mature plants, and nice trellises to cover the air conditioner and meter. Day by day more stuff gets tossed into this bed. Eventually three clematis, jackmanii, avante garde, and comtesse de bouchaud will cloack the arbor, along with ramblin' red and climbing white dawn rose. Three more roses will be in the foreground, incluing Bonica, Carefree Wonder, and Heirloom. Several ground covers, incluing pinks, speedwell, moss phlox, thyme, and sedum are all planted here. Perennials include 4 lillies, scabiosa from seed, painted daisies from seed, lamb's ear, siberian iris, conflowers, russian sage, sea thrift, phlox, hibiscus, and more...
Consider this the "before" post. Later, when things fill in, and I chill out, I'll share the results, mishaps and celebrations and all.
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009