It's May, it's May, the Lusty Month of May,,,

Gold Bleeding heartYes, the lusty month of May. May, full of visible energy as leaves and flowers unfurl. Flowers are lusty. They are all about pollination and fertilization besides being just plain beautiful.  May always makes me think of  that know the one Julie Andrews sings in 'Camelot'.  You can listen to that song here. We are having another 'slow' spring. It has been quite cool which is great for flowers and busy gardeners. The snowdrops which can bloom in late February had to wait this year due to the abundant snow still left on the ground until April. They have finally finished blooming and now is a great time to move them around. I have done a bit of that but with other spring tasks taking precedence, it may not get done. Oh well. Such is the gardener's life. There is always something left undone.

ForsythiaThe forsythia are just blooming which signifies that the soil has warmed to around 50F. Corydalis seems to have taken over the entry garden but since it is a spring ephemeral it will disappear shortly. Entry CorydalisI will just admire the orchid blooms and be thankful that it is such a good re-seeder. Salmon DaffodilThe river of daffodils is blooming and this lovely salmon cupped daffodil is elegant in an arrangement or just left in the garden. I have found that for the best show, yellow wins the day. You can see the yellow portion of the river of daffodils from very far away. Magnolia 'Elizabeth' is shedding her flower sheath and wearing it more as a stole rather than a full winter jacket. I expect she will open her blooms in the next few days. Magnolia 'Elizabeth' budShe seems to have shrugged off the cold of winter and has many flower buds this year. I think I have found a good spot for the Viola odorata. This tiny, fragrant violet is nestled under the branches of the cotoneaster and seems to be spreading just a bit. Not far from the door, it is easy to see and reminds me to bend down and take a whiff. Viola odorataIf you stop by and see me lying prone on the lawn with my face in the flowers, I know you will understand. Well, you will after you have experienced the soft, flowery fragrance of this tiny little violet. Spring is unfurling slowly here and that is much better for blooms and this gardener's disposition. May is oh, so welcome here.

The Bee's Knees

Bee's knees 2This morning, the birds are singing, the grass is greening and the scilla are in full, blue bloom. Scilla siberica, to be exact. This little flowering bulb reaches about 3" in height in my garden and it naturalizes beautifully. I have heard the word 'invasive' in reference to scilla but I prefer 'naturalize'. It does spread. That can be a positive. What makes one plant invasive and another a desired naturalizer? Well, this one has beautiful flowers of bright blue and they attract honeybees. Blue pollen It might crowd out grass but in my 'Freedom Lawn' that is just desirable. I do think its best use is as a naturalized ground cover. There is nothing as blue as the electric, black light blue of the scilla flower en masse. It blooms about the time of the daffodils and what could be better than that complement of yellow to enrich the tone of the blue or vice versa? Blithewold scilla and daffodilsScilla is planted in the fall. Plan now to order some if you want your own carpet of blue. This is not a native bulb but then few are native to the USA. It is very hardy and it grows in Zones 4-8. The bulb contains a toxic substance so the deer do not eat it. That is a win around here. The bees however do love it. This plant is the first to bloom on which I see the honeybees. And, the honeybees have blue knees. The Bee's KneesBlue knees on the honeybees is a sight to see. They work the flowers as bees do and they end up with a nice cap of blue on their pollen baskets. I have long noticed the blue pollen but it was Kris Green, Interpretive Horticulurist and blog writer at Blithewold, who told me to look for the blue bee's knees. Persistence paid off. Yesterday was warm and windy and the bees were busy...well one bee was busy. Pollen on beeI spent quite a while trying to get a shot of this busy bee. They move quickly from flower to flower wasting no time at all. I guess that is the definition of 'busy'. On my part, watching the bee was time well spent. I think there might be a children's story in that title, The Bee's Knees, what do you think? 


The Week in Review

CrocusThe snow has left the gardens but there are still a couple of mounds in the drive from the winter snowplowing. No matter since now the garden work can begin. The crocus are up and taking turns debuting their outfits. Last snowdropsThe snowdrops have almost finished blooming which means that in spite of all the raking to be done, they need to be moved around right after the flowers fade. I have found that this is an easy transition time for them and they spread quite readily when given a helping hand. I just lift the larger clumps and carefully pull apart the bulbs. It is then an easy matter to pop them into the empty garden spots. Someday there will be rivers and pools of snowdrops. It is coming. Winter aconite2The winter aconites are doing a bit of yoga with this salute to the sun. Theirs is the first bright yellow to appear, usually well before the daffodils which are just beginning to show color here  I do see a bit of the tete a tete flowers pushing through one of the fallen,  yet to be cut back, grasses. One expects bulbs in the spring but the first of the herbaceous perennials to bloom are the hellebores. This hellebore is a lovely rose veined variety, Helleborus orientalis 'Apricot Blush'Hellebore2I do have some of the dark flowered hellebores but I find that they are lost among the richness of the soil so it will be these lighter ones which I will plant from now on. In the middle of the week I discovered that I am not the only one who loves the Iris 'Katherine Hodgkin'. Katherine H.
Her cool, blue beauty attracted another admirer. In the dark of night either the deer or the rabbits decided to eat the blooms. The deer spray is sitting right there on the step. Live and learn. At least I got a couple of days of joy from them. Another task which has been checked off the spring list is that of starting the tomato seeds.
 I know it seems late since so many of you are in the warmth already but here it will take six weeks to get them to just the right size so they suffer no root stifling. I have planted them early in the past and have found that to do so results in the extra step of potting them on to a larger sized container. April 15th is the target date for planting the seeds here. I was one day off. The seedlings will be planted in the garden at the end of May. Tomatoes love warm soil so there is no use planting them any earlier. One other task which lightens the load for this gardener is the annual burning of the grasses. Grass burning 1I can only really burn these by the fishpond as they are well away from other plantings. Usually this is done around St. Patrick's Day but this year I could not even get near them and they were lying under the snow. You can see how flat they are. These are Miscanthus s. 'Gracillimus' and Miscanthus sinenesis var. purpurascens. They are in excess of six feet tall by the time the fall plumes appear.Grass Burning 2I did get out the hose and the rake just in case there were any escaping embers but from start to finish, the grasses burn hot in under a minute. The ash sweetens the soil and the area is transformed. Grass burning 3The fish didn't seem to mind at all. It was a pretty good week. I hope yours was filled with spring blooms and enjoyable garden tasks.