Beyond words

There are days in spring when a garden’s beauty is nearly beyond description. But, not this garden, which typically in early April is somewhere between disaster and paradise. One part can be lovely, the next an eyesore, and so it is for another few weeks until the messes are cleaned up and enough foliage has grown to disguise what I don’t get around to. Then, it is not so bad.

Another lovely hellebore in early April

Another lovely hellebore in early April

With warmer temperatures and longer days of sunlight, the garden has suddenly burst into spring. Today, there is no other story to tell, no lessons to be taught, and perhaps the narrative will be somewhat less wordy. There are too many flowers and too little time to update all, so today we’ll let the pictures do the talking. Certainly, there will be too little space and time to complete our journey through the garden today, so the completion will wait until another day.

Enjoy. There is no better time to be in the garden.

Dorothy Wycoff is the most vigorous pieris in the garden. It is planted at the intersection of the driveway and path to the rear garden so that bees must be avoided in early spring.

Dorothy Wycoff is the most vigorous pieris in the garden. It is planted at the intersection of the driveway and path to the rear garden so that bees must be avoided in early spring. I often recommend against planting Pieris beside a walk or drive because of the hordes of ravenous bees in early spring, but here it is. For a few weeks I’ll detour the long way around.

With dark red new growth Katsura is bound to be a favorite. So far it appears tolerant of clay soils.

With dark red new growth Katsura is bound to be a favorite. The flowers are also exceptional, and so far it appears vigorous and tolerant of clay soils.

 

The variegated Little Heath

The variegated Little Heath is more touchy than others. Without exceptional drainage and just the right sun exposure it can struggle. But, it’s a wonderful small pieris.

Brouwer's Beauty is a hybrid of the Japanese and native American pieris. It is sturdy, but slightly less floriferous and blooms are not as pendulous as other pieris varieties.

Brouwer’s Beauty is a hybrid of the Japanese and native American pieris. It is sturdy, but slightly less floriferous and blooms are not as pendulous as other pieris varieties.

Snowdrift pieris is exceptional in bloom, ordinary after flowering

Snowdrift pieris is exceptional in bloom, ordinary after flowering with unremarkable foliage compared to others. One Snowdrift has declined in health starting in autumn, and it’s unlikely to survive the spring.  Pieris as a whole are not ideally suited to heavy clay soils, though they can be planted to encourage drainage with good results. I suggest Dorothy Wycoff, Katsura (based upon limited experience), and the compact growing Cavatine in areas with clay soils, though these must not be planted where soil stays damp.

 

FebruaryGold occasionally flowers in February, but rarely in April

February Gold occasionally flowers in February, but rarely in April. Usually, it is a week or two earlier than larger daffodils, but this spring it began flowering only a day or two earlier. The smaller daffodils spread more quickly than larger types, and the smaller bulbs are less costly, so February Gold and Tete a Tete are great to get started adding early spring color.

One Winter daphne suffered injury to uppermost flower buds, while a second escaped injury. Both are flowering in early April when late February or early March is more typical.

One Winter daphne suffered injury to uppermost flower buds, while a second escaped injury. Both are flowering in early April when late February or early March is more typical.

Leatherleaf mahonia often flowers in February, but more commonly in early March.

Leatherleaf mahonia often flowers in February, but more commonly in early March. In recent years I have enjoyed the winter flowering ‘Winter Sun, and ‘Charity’, but leatherleaf remains a marvelous plant. The winter flowering mahonias are less likely to be pollinated be bees, so there are fewer of the grape-like fruits. But, this makes leatherleaf more likely to sprout seeds elsewhere.

Ogon winter hazel (Corylopsis spicata 'Ogon')  flowering in early April

Ogon winter hazel (Corylopsis spicata ‘Ogon’) flowering in early April. In my garden Ogon is more floriferous than Buttercup winter hazel (Corylopsis pauciflora)

Okame cherry is the earliest to flower

Okame cherry is the earliest to flower, often blooming several weeks before the more common Yoshino and Kwanzan cherries.

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