On my recent visit to Erin, The Impatient Gardener, I admired her 'Cafe au Lait' Dahlia. That's my hand stroking it below. For the first time ever, I planted a Dahlia this year. When I say "a Dahlia" I do mean only one. And it's in a pot, not the ground. I generally don't overwinter plants let alone tubers, so buying even one Dahlia is a big deal for me. But Dahlias are so beautiful and none more so than 'Cafe au Lait.'
I was excited to get home from our vacation to see a big fat bud on my Dahlia that was about to open. I picked up the pot with its massive plant to move it into a little more light. That's when I heard that big bud connect with the tree branches overhead. Yup, I snapped the bud right off with my carelessness.
But the next buds started opening quickly — into a soft peach Dahlia edged in yellow. Clearly there was a mix up in labeling/shipping my Dahlia. I should be mad since there's usually nothing more frustrating than waiting for a longed-for flower to bloom only to discover you don't have what you've been waiting for after all.
But given that one of my flower beds is filled with yellow Lilium leichtlini and the bed opposite has a swath of orange Lilium henryi, this mistaken Dahlia is the perfect color to tie my two borders together. I will be writing a thank-you note instead of an angry letter to the purveyor where I bought my Dahlia. And I'll also be asking him exactly what Dahlia am I growing?
Thursday night around 10 p.m. after the big storm had mostly ended, Mark took the lantern out to check for damage. The big pot holding the Dahlia in the upper garden managed to stay upright despite the wind and rain. The stems topped by big blooms unfortunately had bent and broken, so he came back into the house clutching two rain-soaked flowers.
I knew this silver vase was in the hall closet, so I grabbed a flashlight to locate it in the darkness as the power was still out. Plunked the Dahlias into it and there they remain. I don't think I would have cut them for indoors as they looked so well near the yellow and orange lilies. But now that they are in the house we've been moving the vase from room to room enjoying the Dahlias wherever we go.
Thanks to Beth, a fellow-Wisconsin gardener who blogs at Plant Postings, on this trip I saw what I had missed on previous visits to Door County up at the top of Wisconsin's "thumb": The Ridges Sanctuary. The following information is from the official DNR description of the area:
The Ridges Sanctuary encompasses a diversity of unusual habitats, resulting in one of the greatest concentrations of rare plants in the Midwest. It was established in 1937 as Wisconsin's first area set aside to protect native flora.
The natural area consists of about 30 narrow, crescent-shaped sandy ridges and recent research has correlated the ridge formation with the cyclical changes in Lake Michigan water levels which have occurred during the past 1400-1500 years. Each ridge represents a former beach line of Lake Michigan and took an average of 30-50 years to form. The narrow ridges are forested with wet swales between them.
We hiked the various areas of The Ridges on our first morning in Door County as well as toured the Upper Range House.
Built in 1869, the Upper Range Light and its companion Lower Range Light (below) are the only lighthouses of this design that are still on range and functional as navigational aids. Each building houses a light and ships position themselves so the lights line up in order to make it safely into the harbor through the rocky coastline. Except for touring the Range house with a small group of people, we barely saw or heard anyone else during our morning at The Ridges.
The view from the room that houses the light in the Upper Range building down to the Lower Range Light and the lake.
Fundraising is going on to restore the Range Lights. When they pulled up the old linoleum flooring they discovered WWII-era newspapers which are framed and on the walls of the keeper's bedroom along with historic photos of the light.
Everywhere we hiked we saw memorable landscapes and plants.
Nuphar pumila (above) was growing in the expansive bogs (below).
We saw orchids and lots of this orange "wood lily" as well as incredible lichens and mosses.
This thistle is rare and endangered and only grows in a few places in the world, the Ridges being one of them. The day we were there folks from the Chicago Botanic Gardens were also on hand. They are trying to help the Ridges' staff figure out how to propagate the the thistle to help save it.
When you enter The Ridges the initial area where you walk is all new boardwalk raised above swampy areas where we saw Iris growing.
Friends who've visited at other times of the year say that no matter what season you go you will see something wonderful and unusual. Our time spent hiking at The Ridges was a revelation and certainly makes me eager for another visit.
When we arrived back home from the reception for Mark's photo exhibit on Sunday afternoon, I decided to put the vase of Allium 'Forelock' in the front hall for a little drama on the home front.
Each day I've been amused to watch the flowers send the tuft out of the top of its head, just as the catalog promised. Interestingly, the ones in water in the vase continued to perform at about the same rate as the ones outdoors in the ground. Who knew?!
Another rain storm missed us again this morning. The sky darkened, the wind came up and the rain barely came down. We've had three storms pass us by in the last 24 hours, to say nothing of the low rainfall this entire month. Yesterday's total was .11" and this morning came in at .02". Not enough to make it through the tree canopy or the mulch but the deck got another gentle watering.
The upside of cloudy, rainy weather is that it does not seem to make the water lilies close their flowers. They tend to have lots of blooms open later in the day when it is not extremely sunny. There are so many big lily pads shooting upward that they are hiding the flowers. If you look closely you can see bits of white indicating clumps of lilies hidden in the leaves.
I have been lusting after Foxtail lilies (Eremerus) for I don't know how long. Last fall I decided to give them a try and ordered five bulbs of the variety 'Cleopatra'. I planted them in the back of the border and all five have come up. They are not as splashy as they will be in a couple of years if they survive their location and our winters. Last winter was not a bad one so their future is not assured. But I am totally enjoying their moment of peachy perfection at the same time as the 'Mrs. R.O. Backhouse' Martagon lilies are opening. Did I actually plan that?
They also both look good when viewed against the Tea House, no? I thought of that color echo when I planted the Eremerus but I planted the Martagons long before there was a Tea House. What was completely unplanned is the third peach tone in this combo. If you look closely in the right hand corner of the photo below you can see that as the flowers of Gillenia trifoliata (Bowman's Root) fade, they leave behind a tiny orange seed pod!
I discovered End of the Month View (EOMV) at The Patient's Gardener's blog sometime in the last year or so. Helen describes her meme — which has been running since 2009 — as the time "to stand back and show your garden, warts and all." I think this is such a good idea, especially the way Helen's doing it: Picking a location to consider and picking a spot to shoot from that stays consistent.
I took part in this meme on and off last year but I'd like to try to be more focused this year and finally get this garden planted. It's almost where I'd like it to be, so a monthly review seems like a good way to get there.
THE TEA HOUSE GARDEN
The Tea House Garden, April 2015, photographed from just in front of the deck, looking slightly southwest. This is one of the main views of the garden that we see from inside the house and the deck where we spend a lot of time in the summer.
The Tea House Garden, April 2016. Hostas, ferns and Martagon lilies were planted since the above photo was taken though they are not very obvious yet this season. And the big brown clump of bamboo needs trimming as it's the most dominant thing in view.
The Tea House Garden, April 2015, photographed from the back of the deck looking west. This gives you a better view of the sweep of the garden around two sides of the building.
The Tea House Garden, April 2016.
The Tea House Garden, April 2015, photographed from the bottom of the slope and next to the west side fence.
The Tea House Garden, April 2016. In the photo below you can see that the ivy has finally recovered from two bad winters and the Sweet Woodruff and dwarf Solomon's Seal are rapidly colonizing the area. I need to control those plants so they don't swamp the more delicate ephemerals nearby. Just under the left edge of the Golden Shadows Dogwood tree is a small Korean maple looking nice and green. To the right of the orangey Mica rock (currently covered with ivy) are orange Heuchera and behind them (barely visible) are a gaggle of Mrs. R.O. Backhouse Martagon lilies, also peachy colored to reflect the color of the Tea House itself. Once everything is fully up in the next few weeks, I am hoping that it will be clear to me what still needs attention!
Last fall I planted five Eremerus 'Cleopatra' (foxtail lilies) and all of them have come up. Whether they will flower this year is an unknown, but at this point in the gardening year I'm more than happy to merely see they made it though their first winter, especially since we had so little snow cover and I did not mulch them as much as I now know I need to do in the future. This one is growing in front of a massive clump of Lilium martagon 'Mrs. R.O. Backhouse'. Though it looks like I planted two bulbs too close together, that is just one plant.
Perfect weather for the driveway project — and for water lilies. We've been having almost a dozen flowers every day. This is one area of the garden where I am very strict about flower color: only yellow and white are allowed!
If you are not familiar with water lilies, I should point out that they are not actually in the lily family. They are members of the genus Nymphaea. All our water lilies are Nymphaea odorata, meaning they're fragrant.
My color restriction holds true even in the upper pool. There is only one plant growing there, Arrowhead (Sagitaria latifolia), and I love when it comes into flower. Such a cool and refreshing look. This plant has been showing up right on cue every summer since we planted it in 1998! It almost fills this smaller pool with flowers.
I'm so consumed with the progress of our driveway project, that I almost forgot it was Bloom Day. My garden has an equal number of plants in full bloom and just on the cusp. Another day or two and there will be twice as much in flower. Currently there are lilies, daylilies, Alliums, Echinacea, Geranium Roxanne, Calminthas, Thalictrums and probably a few others I've missed.
Worth noting is Lilium leichtlinii in its first full season and doing beautifully. Dark purplish stems and yellow buds flushed with orange make this a pretty plant even before the buds open.
The lilies are currently towering over a clump of Echinacea 'Sundown' that I moved in full flower from the Traffic Island Garden into the main flower garden in back. A bit floppy from the sudden change but otherwise seems to have weathered the move. They have more coral and less pink in them than this photo suggests.
To see what's blooming in other gardens, visit Carol who hosts this meme at May Dreams Gardens.