Stumblin’ through May

My back is killing me!

The wife and I drove down to Georgia to visit our son over the weekend, my first weekend away from garden chores since early March. The major tasks in the garden are long ago accomplished, but there’s always a weed to pull or an errant branch of this or that to prune while I’m puttering around. 

Driving through the mountains in southwest Virginia on the way back I heard reports expecting temperatures in the low thirties overnight for the next couple days. My garden’s a lot lower elevation, so I knew it wouldn’t get quite that cold, but could drop low enough to be concerned about the elephant ears, bananas, and other tropicals I hauled outside a week or two ago.

Few gardeners can resist the temptation to plant annuals or haul the overwintered tubs of tropicals outside well before the last average frost date, which is usually about now. I’m no exception, though I’m aware that I might need to haul them back inside for a night or two, which I did yesterday. Thus, my aching back. I’ll haul them back out of the garage in a day or two, certain now that it’s not possible to have more cold this Spring.  P1011454 

There are plenty of new blooms in the garden, but I had to revisit the large nandina just off the deck that has a couple different clematis twining through. Last week there were a few flowers, but today purple and white blossoms cover the upper third. P1011456

The clematis are humble, ordinary purple Jackmanii and white Henryi, but the blooms are wider than your hand and as delightful a combination as I can imagine. In two weeks the flowers will have faded, and you’ll hardly know the vines are there.P1011460

The mountain laurels are nearing peak bloom. I’ve said before, I like the buds nearly as much as the flowers.P1011467

The peonies are in full glory. I’m not a collector, with only a few common varieties, but I enjoy watching the small buds grow each day until they explode to make you wonder how all that flower fit in that bud.   P1011480

A week ago, we caught the first of the yellow flag iris growing in the shallow, bog area of the swimming pond. Look now, every bud at its peak.P1011470

Caesar’s Brother, a Siberian iris, showed purple poking from its buds late last week, but now a few flowers have opened. This iris likes damp soil, but not standing water like the yellow flag and Japanese iris, which are still a few weeks away from blooming. Mine are planted in a depression intended to direct water into the dirt bottom wet weather pond at the back of the garden. They seem quite happy to be there.

There are many others in bloom today, we could go on for some time, but we’ll wrap things up with some colorful foliage. I encourage you to look to enjoy more than just flowers in your garden. Leaves, needles, buds, and bark can provoke considerable wonder. P1011471  

Tricolor beech is painfully slow to establish, but there is no better large tree if you have the room they require. Mine seemed not to grow an inch for five years or more. Now it’s a splendid tree.  P1011476

Black Gum is another that is a bit difficult to transplant, slow to establish, but a marvelous tree with dark shiny green leaves, and amazing Fall color. This one is a selection called ‘Wildfire’, with red growing tips.

I’ll return in a few days, in better health and over these nuisance back pains, and certainly with warmer days bringing much more rambling through the garden.

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