I keep looking at past April records to see if we are behind or ahead of schedule. It's a witless waste of time as the garden is on the schedule it's on and knowing what happened other years won't make a bit of difference. Thus, here's what's blooming THIS April 15!
Unknown Chinodoxa, probably arrived with the squirrels and is now colonizing the garden.
Iris reticulata 'Harmony'
Sanguinaria canadensis (Bloodroot)
Galanthus 'Magnet' (Snowdrop). Wish I had noted when this started blooming as it is still going strong and each bulb appears to have sent up two flowers. I am crazy about this snowdrop!
Helleborus niger 'Sunset Group' (Hellebore). This white variety from the still-mourned Seneca Hill has outward facing flowers which adds to their charm.
Hepatica acutiloba 'Silver Leaf'
Crocus tommasinianus (species crocus)
Helleborus x hybrida (Hellebore, the next two photos)
Hepatica noblis 'European Pink'. I've been waiting for this to do something since I planted it in 2012. Definitely worth the wait! (The larger flower is fading; the smaller one is the true color upon opening).
To see what's blooming in other gardens in the U.S. visit May Dreams Gardens which has been hosting this wonderful meme since before I began blogging in 2008.
In the winter of 2012/13 we lost a sixty-year-old Austrian pine tree that came down in a December snow storm. It took out a good-sized Washington Hawthorn and a small Magnolia when it fell. I worried that those losses spelled the end of my shade garden with its clumps of mature Hellebores. Most of the Hellebores have done well even though they are now in almost full sun.
But last summer a big clump with red flowers was clearly being stressed by the changed conditions. So I decided to dig it up and move it. Mark suggested putting it in a bed by the house which he thought needed those dramatic Hellebore leaves to perk it up.
I grabbed a shovel and transplanted it to a much shadier location, but one amidst a number of trees and shrubs so lots of root and water competition. I added a second Hellebore next to the first clump but now I can't remember if they were from the same area of the garden. Despite what I consider to be my excellent record-keeping system, some times I really fall down.
Most of the Hellebores in that area of the garden were 'Royal Heritage' strain which is not limited to one color. So now I've got two Hellebores, a known red one and an unknown white one with a pink edge, both up and further along than any others in the garden. Clearly the warmth of the location by the house made up for the shock of transplanting.
Maybe when more Hellebores open elsewhere in the garden I'll be able to figure out the name of this delicate beauty.
Most years my Hellebore leaves look like this group from 'Ivory Prince,' a bit flattened from the snow but still attractive.
This year's cold temps and lack of snow cover mid-winter really flattened and blackened the leaves of most of my Hellebores. The green one on the left is a Thanksgiving blooming Hellebore and the one on the right is so brown and flattened you can barely distinguish it from the surrounding leaves. Time to cut them all off and get on with Spring!
The annual Spring Flower Show at Olbrich Botanical Gardens is nicely themed towards families with young children. But there is an abundance of inspiration for home gardeners as well. The following are some of the ideas that caught my eye.
An arbor that's not made of flowering vines but a pair of some variety of Chamaecyparis obtusa held in place by stems of dogwood.
This gate (above and below) could easily be made by a handy homeowner. It could also be put in position just like this, without being part of a larger fence.
My garden has been overrun by Peter Rabbit and his siblings. They don't seem to pay attention to signs. But I would love to try a fence like this looping circle composed of dogwood twigs held together with a few upright stems.
One of my favorite displays was this overturned stump that sheltered tiny storybook characters. But I could also picture it as pure garden sculpture or as the base for a Clematis.
One of the things that can be frustrating about flower shows like this one is that many of the plants aren't hardy here and must be grown in a greenhouse. But these exotic-looking checkered lilies (Fritillaria meleagris) are hardy and easily grown here.
This grouping of pink and white Hyacinth bulbs and pale blue Muscari along with a silvery Heuchera is a subtly beautiful combination. Most of my Heucheras look good almost immediately in early spring but I never thought to pair them with bulbs.
Soft pussy willow catkins against the sky reminded me that I should find room for another willow in the garden.
The Spring exhibit included a little garden shed tucked into a corner, something that almost every gardener dreams about. At the very least, I always have some terra cotta garden pots on hand. Some old, some unusual, always useful. Plus they remind me of the long history of gardening that I am part of.
Even one rain barrel with an adjacent watering can comes in handy. I am a sucker for an old container like this rather than a new plastic one — even black plastic!
I'm not a fan of PJM rhododendrons but I love old tin pails and watering cans. And nothing's nicer in a vegetable garden than terra cotta rhubarb forcers.
This is the garden season where we are making lists of everything we have to do as soon as we can work outside. Be sure to schedule some time to sit back and enjoy your garden, perhaps with a carrot and the daily paper.
And remember that there's no better place for thinking about the garden, designing it or making garden notes than right out in the midst of it!
Mark walked around the garden yesterday snapping photos to help us remember what a nice December we've enjoyed this year. Usually at this time of year we only get to see the tops of evergreen trees; shrubs are usually soft white mounds if they are visible at all.
The litte bit of grass we have in the garden is squashed down from earlier snowfalls and is a shadow of its normal color. But moss just glows when the snow disappears. Its lush color is never more welcome than now.
Lichens are in full "bloom" with the cool damp weather we've had for most of December.
One of my favorite vignettes in the garden is this pairing of cut and natural stone, each sporting green.
There are even a few plants still looking good despite the freeze/thaw cycles they've been through — as well as being buried under the 8.6 inches of snow we've had so far this season. This is hardy bamboo (Fargesia rufa 'Green Panda'). This died to the ground after last winter but came back slowly over the summer, though it's still a fraction of its normal height.
Christmas fern is pretty flat but still offers a spot of bright color.
Two Hellebores. The larger one flowered before Thanksgiving.
These two cloths are Indian textiles, both heavily embroidered including mirrored details. Shisha or sheesha is the name given to the type of embroidery that uses a special stitch to attach the mirrors to fabric. The word, meaning glass, is Persian in origin. This type of embroidery was, in fact, brought to India by the Persian Moghul Dynasty in the 13 Century, according to an article in Selvedge magazine. It also noted that mica was used originally but today silvered glass is used to create the mirrored effect.
The first textile is a mid-twentieth century piece from Rajasthan that I found on sri threads, a wonderful site for Japanese and Indian textiles. Today Shisha embroidery is most often found in Gujerat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Delhi. The raku bowl is by Karl Borgeson from the 1970s.
This is a long runner made up pieces embroidered with Shisha and mettalic threads. It was purchased at the late great Thistle Hill in Dodgeville where I found many wonderful textiles over the years.
If you are interested in Indian textiles you might enjoy these books, which are among my favorites:
Traditional Indian Textiles by John Gillow and Nicholas Barnard (Thames and Hudson, 1991)
Uncut Cloth: Saris, Shawls and Sashes by Nasreen Askari and Liz Arthur (Merrell Holberton, 1999)
Locally both books are available through the South Central Library System.
is in the garden. The witch hazel is covered with yellow flowers which are visible from inside the house now that it's lost its leaves.Though I would not call myself a native plant aficionado, I do grow our North American native witch hazel, Hamamelis virginiana.
The native species is totally hardy here (USDA Zones 3-8) and has never had a pest or failed to blossom in all the years since I planted it in 1998.
It is particularly spectacular this autumn, first covered with yellow leaves and now covered in clumps of flowers like yellow streamers.
I have two witch hazels, each growing at the foot of the trunk of a 60-year-old silver maple tree in dry, moderately shady conditions.
In these pictures you can see their companions — Acer pseudosieboldiana and A. triflorum — still have all their leaves, though they've faded from their earlier screaming red.
These trees hold their leaves throughout the winter, making a bold contrast in the garden once other deciduous trees and shrubs are bare.
It's windy and rainy out at the moments so the last of the bright leaves will just be a memory by next week.
This is the view out the kitchen window above the sink. I can hardly do the dishes because I keep getting distracted by that scene — especially the Korean maple!
The spectacular color keeps drawing me outside to visit the half dozen maples in the front garden.
To get a real sense of the color variation you have to cross the street so you can see the whole panorama at once. Pagoda dogwood (below from left), Witch Hazel, Korean Maple and a sweetly pale pink Burning Bush.
We have at least eight Korean or purplebloom maples (Acer pseudosieboldianum) planted in our garden. Most are very small trees bought at the annual sale of the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society. We like them because they have the leaves of a Japanese maple but are much more hardy in our climate. Though we are supposedly Zone 5, after last winter I am not taking any more chances with tree and shrub purchases and am going back to our earlier zonal designation of 4 as my guide.
The trunk of the one above, planted in 2000, split in a winter snow storm a few years ago. Mark bolted it back together and it's been doing fine ever since. This one is on its way to turning as bright a red as this branch (below) of another Korean maple in the back garden by the Tea House.
Here's the Korean maple by the Tea House and a Japanese Bloodgood maple in the rear.
Moving a bit to the left from the view above you can see the yellow leaves of a striped maple (Acer pennsylvanicum) in the background on the right and yellow Ginkgo biloba leaves just coming into view on the left.
Our paperbark maple (Acer griseum x nikoense) is still mostly green. Next to it is a Pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia) and an Acer palmatum dissectum 'Viridis'.
Scanning the edge of the deck in these next images, the Ginkgo still has most of its leaves and the Bloodgood maple is visible across the pond in the left background.
Willows are turning yellow just past the trunk of our Locust tree.
Only the top of this Stewartia pseudocamellia is visible from the deck as it is hidden behind the willows and some pines.
Though the Bloodgood and Paperbark maples always turn red, I don't think anything has more reliable or more intense fall color than the Korean maples. Add in the hardiness factor and they are my top choice for a small garden tree here in the upper Midwest.
When my father died in 1998, my office mates gave me a gift certificate to buy something for the garden in memory of my Dad. Mark and I decided on a Ginkgo biloba which we planted right off the deck. It is visible from the main living spaces in the house so I see it all the time and think of my dad, who was the gardener in our family.
It is one of the main stars of the garden, never more than at this season when its leaves turn a clear, soft yellow. Typically the leaves fall all at once when frost hits the tree, something that has not happened yet. When the leaves first drop, they are as smooth and pliable as a piece of silk. I often pick one up to enjoy the sensation of rubbing it between my fingers as I wander the garden remebering my Dad.