The air conditioner went on in the office on Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday went back to heat.
This is how Spring weather works, and May is no different. Last year, daily highs in May ranged from fifty to eighty-five, with a low of thirty-nine degrees early in the month and forty-one two weeks later. I can remember a May in the recent past with ten days over ninety degrees, and another when it rained twenty-nine days.
Gardeners will fume that they can’t plant this or that until the weather warms up, another is two weeks late, and a thunderstorm dashed the blossoms of something else, and how this is the third year in a row that the weather has ruined it for me.
And then the sun comes out for a spell, and the garden glows with magical greens, yellows, reds, whites, and blues. The peonies explode to impossible fullness from such tiny buds only a week before, and everything is just right.
And so it is in my garden, as witnessed from the photos (above) of the view out my bedroom window, and of the front of the house taken the last day of April on a chilly, cloudy day. Yes, there’s a house in there somewhere.
The parade of blossoms marches on. First, the buds of Bottlebrush Buckeye were ready to pop last week, and here they are. Don’t blink, in days they’ll be gone.
Chinese Snowball viburnum is a gangly deciduous shrub covered with huge white snowballs in Spring and sporadic blooms later in the Summer. It has grown to take more than its share, so after bloom it’s due for a severe renewal pruning, from which it will grow twice as fast.
Pragense viburnum is a semi evergreen in my garden, so it retains some glossy green leaves through the winter. I’ve found Pragense to be rather unexciting, but there it is for all these years, and there it will stay. The large non-fragrant flowers are a redeeming feature, but there are many plants that I would prefer if I had the sense to plant them instead twenty years ago.
Garden journals prattle on about sustainable and edible landscapes, and with the economic woes we must grow our own food, or surely will starve. Blueberries have a measure of ornamental value, though not deserving, to my thinking, the acclaim for its Fall color.
The color is fine, no better, and the shrub is twiggy and best planted at the outer fringes of the garden. But, the fruit is marvelous. There is no better treat in late June, early July than snacking on a handful of warm blueberries between chores. Surely I’ll hear again that I should wash the berries before eating.
I planted this group of blueberries a year ago. The first group, large plants at the start that were salvaged from an Oregon berry farm that was turned into a shrub nursery, fruited weakly under the shade of a Franklinia, and then fell victim to the construction of the large swimming pond.
Weigelia ‘Wine and Roses’ is quite a fine plant in the nursery with lush dark foliage and vibrant blossoms, but it has never grown well for me. Perhaps a heavy pruning will encourage more growth.
Azaleas are blooming, but I have few flowers on my Encore azaleas since the deer took care to eat every blooming tip over the Winter. This is Delaware Valley White, which miraculously escaped.
The deciduous azaleas, this one ‘Orchid Lights’, are just coming into bloom. Their colors tend to be more vibrant than the evergreens. Early in my gardening days I discounted these delightful azaleas, now I count them as one of the fleeting treasures of the garden.
Azalea ‘Mandarin Lights’ lights up a shady area in the garden. Many of the deciduous azaleas are fragrant, though I am scent impaired and only occasionally enjoy their sweet fragrance.
The camellias have suffered from wild fluctuations in temperatures through the Winter. The buds begin to swell with several warm February days, then single digits spell their doom. There are a few buds on Winter’s Interlude that appear to be swelling, but most are brown. This is the last of the blooms from ‘April Tryst’.
The early blooms from ‘Cunningham White’ rhododendron are popping out. I have a small rhododendron and azalea thicket that hides the small sailboat that I gave up for lack of time too many years ago.
Peony blossoms are quite amazing. This first bloom from ‘Duchess de Nemours’ was the size of a pea only a week ago, then a marble, then a golf ball, then a flower with more substance than could possibly fit in that small container.
And perennials are beginning to bloom through the garden. Columbine self seeds near its parent plant so that I have no idea if this is the plant from the nursery, or from seed. Nor does it matter. Unfortunately, too many volunteers are snatched up in the name of weeding.
‘Espresso’ geranium has a relatively short period of bloom, but its dark foliage holds its place in the garden nicely.
I prefer Espresso to ‘Rozanne’, though she has endless blooms from may through October.
Salvia ‘May Night’ makes an impressive show with long lived flowers in massed plantings.
Arched stems, green and white variegated leaves, and delicate blooms make Variegated Solomon’s Seal an essential for the wooded garden. They prefer moist soil, but will have to make the best of my thin soil and dry shade.
Verbena ‘Homestead Purple’ is purported to be a hardy perennial, but has never lived for me. However, it blooms its garish head off from now through frost. Every time I plant it in the garden I think I should add some tractor tires painted white and a pink flamingo, but the urge passes and I enjoy the bold purple flowers for the next six months.
So, surely I’ve exhausted the reader for another week. No doubt the new week will bring additional wonders.