"The garden becomes almost unbearably beautiful. Every second is precious. But time goes so fast, and I can hardly breathe with the pace and excitement of it. I keep thinking, this is it. This is the moment."
— Sarah Don on the month of May from "The Jewel Garden"
For Foliage Follow-Up on May 16, I concentrated on individual plants with attractive foliage. But in terms of overall garden design it's all about plant combinations: Groupings of plants that contrast — or share —patterns, shapes, textures and color. These are a few of my current favorites.
Two early spring ground covers duke it out at the foot of a Honey Locust tree: Galium ordoratum (Sweet Woodruff) and Polygonatum humile (Dwarf Solomon's Seal).
Trillium sessile with Geranium phaeum 'Springtime'.
Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' with Trillium sessile
Arum italicum 'Ghost' with Athyrium niponicum var. pictum
A threesome: More Japanese Painted Fern (as above) with Hosta 'Krossa Regal' and Carex siderostat 'Banana Boat'
Can you tell I love Painted Ferns? Here combined with Trillium sessile, Arum italicum, and the glorious Hosta 'Spritzer'
A river of Painted Ferns flow toward an ocean of Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' under a Cercidiphyllum japonica 'Pendula' (Weeping Katsura tree). Off to the right are a Boxwood ball and Epimedium rubrum.
Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes' with Caulophyllum thalictroides (Blue Cohosh) which has tiny yellow flowers.
Every spring my Rhododendron yedoense pukhanense 'Alba' puts on a stunning show covering itself in dozens of large white flowers. Its neighbor, Rhododendron yakushimanum 'Yaku Angel' does nothing. In twelve years it has sent up one flower bud. It is the type of Rhodie noted for indumentum, the brown fuzzy underside to its large glossy leaves. That alone makes it an attractive shrub so I haven't let its lack of flowers bother me.
But this spring, it sported eleven buds. Since each large pink bud opens into four or five flowers, that meant I would have a nice show from this shrub for a change. And the pictures below show how lovely my Rhodie's flowers are. But in a fit of jealously, 'Alba' does not have one flower. Not a dried up bud, nada, nothing. I haven't a clue what it means. Perhaps they had a quiet talk over the winter and decided to take turns on center stage.
Although a species bulb, Tulipa acuminata is supposedly no longer found in its native habitat. It can be catalogue dated back to the early 1800's, but it is believed to be a survivor from a hundred years earlier when tulips like this little oddity were all the fashion in the Ottoman empire. I'm happy to say it's made a very fashionable appearance in my garden this spring.
Our full size apple and crabapple trees are done blooming, leaving two tiny trees in full flowering glory, one in the back garden and one in the front. In place of the Washington Hawthorne that came down a couple of winters ago in the back of the garden, we put in a Mountain Silverbell (Halesia monticola) in May of 2013. It has come through two difficult winters with flying colors. Small as it is, it is covered in the flower bells that give it its name. We have a sixteen-year-old Silverbell so we know what a beauty this little tree will be when it grows up.
Our Tina crabapple (Malus sargentii 'Tina') has pink buds that open to this profusion of white flowers. This is a grafted dwarf that matures at 5 feet which is pretty much where 'Tina' is at — having been planted in 2000. Have never had a problem with this little charmer and highly recommend her.
I made this bouquet to put on the sink in my husband's bathroom. The colors in that room are very muted and so is this arrangement. We have a variety of wood-fired ceramic vases and they look especially good when filled with flowers in the same value range.
Today's grouping includes a couple of stems of Royal Heritage strain of Hellebores going to seed, two stems of Fritillaria pontica and a frond from Japanese painted fern. This year the rabbits concentrated on the checkered frits and left the ponticas alone, so I felt free to cut some for the house. And I snapped the photo in my oft-used location of the windowsill above the kitchen sink. I liked the rustic texture of the window screen as a backdrop with this container.
Though I am enjoying the abundance of spring blooms in the garden, my heart belongs to foliage. So I always look forward to this monthly meme hosted by Pam Penick at Digging.
This Thalictrum dioicum (early meadow rue, below) arrived from my neighbor's garden. I let it seed everywhere because the lacy foliage is a welcome addition on its own or in combination with other plants.
I grow dozens of ferns but none is more lovely than Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair fern).
Tricyrtis hirta 'Golden Gleam' with Lilium martagon behind
Tricyrtis hirta 'Variegata'
The elegant Kirengeshoma koreana
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Dark Beauty' gets a second flush of dark leaves after flowering.
It's May, it's May, the gorgeous month of May. This is the moment all of us understand why Carol calls her blog "May Dreams Gardens." Here's what's blooming in my garden. Visit Carol to see what's blooming in her garden and gardens around the country and farther afield.
Iris cristata (unknown variety)
Isopyrum biternatum (False rue anemone with Bloodroot foliage pushing through)
Tiarella x cordifolia 'Running Tapestry' growing through an Acer pseudosieboldianum seedling
Primula sieboldii with Trillium sessile
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Lilac Fairy' at the foot of Picea omorika 'Bruns pendula'
Bergenia cordifolia 'Eden's Dark Margin'
Bergenia 'Bressingham Ruby'
Dicentra spectabilis (OK, Lamprocapnos spectabilis but I really don't like that new name)
One of half a dozen Brunneras with variegated leaves in bloom: B. 'Hadspen Cream'
Our spurt of hot weather pushed the woodland peonies into overdrive. All three shrubs opened all at once and these lovely flowers quickly became toast. But they were so beautiful while they lasted that I had to share them. This pink flowered variety is Paeonia obvata willmottiae.
A close-up of the flowers of Paeonia obvata willmottiae.
P. japonica up close.
P. obvata var. alba is my favorite but seems to be producing fewer flowers and losing vigor — which is why I am only showing this close-up (below). It does seem to be seeding so I am going to pot them up and try to grow them on and see what happens.
Not a peony! But this gorgeous Glaucidium palmatum did not seem to be at all bothered by our spell of hot, windy weather. This gets a lot of early Spring sun before the trees leaf out but seems not to mind that either. Since it is considered a part to full shade plant, I am a bit surprised that it is doing so well. I am hoping to add the white variety to the garden in the fall.
Just had to post a photo of Monday's vase. Look how this tulip stem has grown in just a couple of days. Its head was barely above the rim of the vase when I made the arrangement. What a fascinating flower!