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May 2011

Alliums - Spherical Symmetry

The alliums are blooming.  I can't help but think about Alice in Wonderland when these flowers bloom.  I am not sure why. Perhaps the perfect symmetry of the blooms just seems a bit other worldy.
They look luscious in the morning light. These are Allium aflatuense. They pop up through the surrounding foliage and bob in the late spring breeze. DSC_0012
I am working on a large drift of alliums, adding a few each year.  I like the way they add bounce to the garden. I have seen the seedheads of some of the varieties of alliums painted in bright colors to add another dimension to the border. These do retain interest even though they are a bit smaller than other species. I have never painted them as it seems a bit of a crime against nature.  The buff color of the seedheads is serene and understated in direct contrast to the unique spherical shape complete with the star like clusters of the spent florets.DSC_0012
They are rather cosmic orbiting above the rest of the garden don't you think.  Do you have any alliums?  Which ones do you recommend?  


A Fairy Garden & Tree Cookies

A perfect childhood should contain a fairy garden shouldn't it?  The herb bench seemed ideal for the task since it had been sitting pretty as a moss garden for the past ten years. The idea was born at the garden center which was filled with bins of little tin trellises, benches, tables and chairs.  IMG_3568
Who wouldn't love a garden in miniature? Since HED, the granddaughter, has a birthday in March, a fairy garden seemed a perfect choice. The moss was cleaned out of the bench and the stone dust added along with furniture and moss to follow. HED arrived to play. HED just turned two.  IMG_3565
How could I have forgotten what 2 year olds do with sand or stone dust?  Has it been that long? Apparently so. HED loved the bench with its accessories although she was unclear as to their purported use. She used the tiny birdbath as a shovel to scoop stone dust onto the ground. She scooped for forty minutes while she turned tables and chairs into plows and push brooms. This gardener just kept fixing the setting. Time after time. It was the second visit which made the gardener grandma realize that two year olds need spoons and plastic cups and could care less about the aesthetic beauty of a fairy garden. IMG_4019 The accessories are now packed away in favor of practicality and the simple joy of spoons, cups, sand and sun. HED is very happy. Someday she may care about a fairy house replete with furniture which can be moved around and bridges which traverse waterways but for now, playing in the sand is just plain fun.  DSC_0022
She does get to walk the tree cookie path to the fairy/sand bench and when we are done we can sit on the bench under the Carolina silverbell with our feet over the biggest tree cookie in our world.  IMG_4183
Sitting with a child is a wonderful way to spend a minute or two until they are up and running off on some other adventure. 


Oak Flowers

In the midst of a garden full of ornamental plants, this native oak blooms.  Oak blooms often go unnoticed since their bloom time overlaps that of tulips, bleeding heart and some of the other show stoppers.  But like a baby with perfect fingers and toes, the small oak leaves look soft and fresh and well worth a caress and a second or even third glance.  Another reminder from Mother Nature to pay attention.    


Gardening on the Edge

Gardening addicts never really know when to stop.  It will happen someday.  It is inevitable that there will have to be adjustments made sometime in the future.  But for now, garden beds continue to change, grow, evolve and sometimes new ones are added.  DSC_0023Since the removal of the large oak tree in March, the long border outside the fence needed a face lift.  It wasn't easy.  Fifty feet long and two feet wide were added to this border and that meant removal of the grass.  No sodcutter was used.  DSC_0064
Just an edger, a shovel, a fork and lots of work.  I almost said 'muscle' but the muscles are not what they used to be.  Anyway, today, eight days later, the bed is ...well, almost finished.  A layer of compost was added to all but the last eight or so feet of this bed and once that is done and the exposed soil is mulched, plants will be moved, divided and added to finish the border.  Finish? Who am I kidding, a garden is never finished. DSC_0015
That is half the fun of gardening. Tweaking, rearranging and perfecting plant combinations is really what provides satisfaction to many gardeners. That and a very straight edge, of course. I know that all that digging and shoveling and dragging will improve my golf game, I just know it.  How do you approach a new edge or a new border? Are there any new beds in your future which you can talk about?   


Tulip Time - Triumph Tulip 'Boston'

Spring is the time when the promises of the bulb catalogs are realized. They know how to tease don't they?  Luscious pictures and catchy names speak to each gardener just a bit differently.  Some like pink and others like yellow.  The catalogs promise color and beauty and it is up to the gardener to have faith, hope and patience when those bulbs arrive in the fall.  Bulb planting is not the easiest of tasks especially if one orders many bulbs.  Last fall when the catalog arrived, I marked several pages and then added choices based on, well, whim.  How could I not order the triumph tulip, 'Boston', since I drive to work there every week?  DSC_0016
I am not sure who decided that this creamy yellow and red tulip deserved this name.  Maybe the colors of brick and concrete, which are readily found in Boston, inspired this name.  I am not sure but really would like to be considered for the job of naming bulbs, lipstick, nail polish or any other creatively colored item. DSC_0014
That job sounds like fun but, I digress.  Back to Boston. 'Boston' is beautiful, both the city and the bulb. Concerning the bulb and subsequent flower, the tulip in bud has colors that are concentrated. Strawberries and cream come to mind and the cream matures to a pale yellow as the tulip grows on in the garden.  It opens to the bright colors of the catalog photo.  It has not disappointed this gardener.  I only ordered ten and ten makes a good clump.  I may order more next fall as tulips give only a year or two of bloom before they need replacing.  I am not the only one who loves tulips in the garden. DSC_0127
Cooper likes them also but I am going to have to train him not to eat them.  He has no shame.  He didn't even try to sneak this flower into his mouth.  DSC_0129
He just walked by, sniffed and bit it right off the stem. It is a good thing he is handsome. DSC_0105
Training continues....         


The Freshness of Spring

DSC_0116There is new growth everywhere in the garden in the spring. DSC_0120
Fresh, clean and taut new growth.  The dog tooth violets are now blooming next to the somewhat fading flowers of the hellebores.  Here is where the difference shows.  DSC_0103
In age, the flowers of the hellebore, which were once very dark maroon, are fading to a muted mauve and looking a bit blowsy like Aunt Shirley in her Easter dress. The dog tooth violets just look perky and youthful.  DSC_0113
The epimediums are flowering with abandon this spring.  They deserve a bit more attention as a perennial.  They look good with flowers and without.  The new growth of leaves borne on wiry stems dances with every breeze. The dark tinge of bronze on the leaf edge just adds to this little workhorse's charm.  Dry shade?  Epimedium doesn't care it just carries on like the fearless honey badgerDSC_0121
The brunnera is sending up its unforgettably blue flowers.  They are small but they are intense.  DSC_0117
Prunus x 'Hally Jolivette' is blooming. It blooms for quite a long time as the flower buds open in stages. It has fine texture and work quite nicely as a backdrop for the coarsness of the staghorn sumac. Can you see the stag, or should I say stags? DSC_0084
While the Practically Perfect Pink Rhododendron has faded, the PJM is in full bloom.  This purple is difficult to place in a foundation planting as the color is painful when paired with brick, red or the bright yellow of forsythia (my opinion), but against the backdrop of the pine forest I find it quite beautiful. The end of the day comes quickly when the garden needs the attentions of the gardener for the seemingly endless chores of spring cleaning, edging, weeding, mulching  and, hopefully, just enjoying. I wonder how many blooms I have missed seeing today.