Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Spring Delights

Change happens quickly in the garden this time of year. There are fleeting moments of bloom eagerly anticipated, and gone too soon. In just a week, one of my favorite shrubs started blooming, peaked, and finished. I'm not sure which it is - Amelanchier arborea, or maybe Amelanchier canadensis? Either way, it's been here for many years, and it's beautiful. It blooms in mid-to-late April. Birds devour the berries in June, and its fall color is nothing short of spectacular. Each leaf is a masterpiece of intense oranges, yellows, and reds.

The serviceberry's done blooming - this photo's from late April, just before a heavy rain prematurely ended it's typically fleeting bloom period. It's too pretty to let its delicate, airy bloom go by undocumented.

The old-fashioned bleeding hearts were planted four years ago. The first year they were tiny and only one bloomed. They went dormant in late June. The next year they never came out of dormancy and I thought they were goners. Last spring I was delighted to see them re-emerge, but they never quite recovered from their early trampling by some suburban wild thing or perhaps a neighbor's pet straying from home. This year they're happier than ever, and seem to have finally settled in. They've just started blooming. Behind them you can see some surprise lilies, a few baby Anemone sylvestris, an epimedium, three Celandine Poppies (Stylophorum diphyllum,) and two tiny sedums started from cuttings late last fall - probably Autumn Joy.

Last spring I planted my first epimedium. It didn't bloom and went dormant in June, but I remained hopeful. This garden has been full of surprises the last couple of years. The epimedium's back this spring. Two more epimediums rescued from a compost heap late last fall joined the party this spring.

Last year Brunnera macrophylla 'Looking Glass' jumped into the trunk of my car when I wasn't looking. It didn't bloom, and it wasn't very pretty. I wished I'd gotten Jack Frost instead. So this year I did, but Looking Glass is turning out to be very nice too! I've always loved forget-me-nots, and blue flowers are my favorites. With these variegated brunneras, you get those same tiny blue blooms on a perennial with wonderful foliage that lasts all season.

Celandine poppies were pass-alongs from a client last summer. They seem quite happy here. I love the blooms and the foliage.

Nothing but maple seeds seem to self-sow around here, but I wouldn't mind at all if a few of these babies managed to reproduce. So far even typically rampant self-sowers haven't accomplished this feat in this garden. It's a mixed blessing really. I hate the maple seedlings, wish I'd get some babies, realize I need to be careful what I wish for, and don't miss weeding. Aside from lots of maple seedlings and an occasional buckthorn, weeds are rare in our garden.

Hosta 'Night Before Christmas' was new last spring. It went dormant in July, and now it's back!

The first couple of years this garden had more losses than survivors. Even now, in the tangle of maple roots, everything establishes slowly. It has tested my gardening confidence and patience. This spring, after five years, there are delights and survivors in every ray of dappled sunlight that reaches through our leafy canopy, and even the deepest shade is coming to life.


  1. Linda ... you have delightful plants that keep surprising you : )
    I love that you have Serviceberry since we just planted one too and look forword to how beautiful it will be in the Autumn (Autumn Brillance is the cultivar).
    Jack Frost is my favorite of the brunneras : ) .. I love how the name some plants .. like the Night Before Christmas hosta .. how cute is that I ask you ? LOL
    I don't have an epimedium yet .. so I'm still looking : )
    Very nice post to make you smile first thing in the morning !

  2. Glad things are waking up. I love that serviceberry too. Kind of even looks like a star magnolia with its from. Very pretty.

  3. So glad your bleeding hearts are finally doing well. It took mine a couple of years to get established and bloom, then after another couple of years they didn't come back-maybe too harsh winter.

    Jack Frost is so veru hard to find here, we looked last year and this year with no luck, but keep hoping.

  4. Good morning Joy, I predict you'll LOVE your serviceberry, and the birds will love it too. I must admit the name was one of the reasons I got 'Night Before Christmas!'

    Thanks Tina!

  5. Hi Linda: I really like the epimedium - and the color is great. Do you think that would grow up north here? What kind of sunlight does it prefer?

  6. Me too Beckie! They've always done very well for me (until I moved here!) Sorry yours disappeared. I'm surprised the bleeding hearts came back - a lot of so-called 'easy' plants aren't easy in this garden.

    Jack Frost is getting easier to find around here. Yesterday I was at Lowes and saw some there. They were blooming, and they were being snapped up very quickly while I was there! Hope you're able to find it - if not there's always the internet! If I can't find something locally, I can always find it online.

  7. Hi Linda, serviceberry is one of the few shrubs I *don't* have, but a friend does and it is indeed wonderful. I think the jelly is good and the tea isn't bad, either! I love bleeding hearts but haven't had good luck with them; they just don't come back. And, yes, it's funny how something so seemingly stationary and docile like plants is actually very agile at jumping into trunks!

  8. That hosta seems pretty fantastic. Haven't seen that one before.

    And I've realised at last that 'Bleeding Hearts' aren't the same as 'Love Lies Bleeding' (which I used to grow and everyone laughed at me! Huh!)

    Esther's Boring Garden BlogP.S. Thanks for picking 'Postlethwaite' on Blotanical.

  9. Hi Beth, Epimediums are great in part sun or shade. Hardiness depends on cultivar - there are some hardy to zone 3, others hardy only to zone 5, and I think some cultivars are more tender.

    Monica, the serviceberry is definitely one of my favorite shrubs. Its about the only shrub planted by previous owners that hasn't been planted in a hedge. It's nice to have one large shrub that actually blooms like it's supposed to.

    Plants are always jumping into the trunk when I'm not looking. They're very sneaky like that! ;)

    Hello Esther, I love those old-fashioned plant names - so colorfully tragic!

  10. You do have a lot of pretty things growing in your garden! I love the epimediums, what neat flowers.
    Hope your poppies multiply, they are very pretty.

  11. Serviceberry is one of my favorite plants- I have one in my front landscape. I bought some bareroot hosta and daylillies at Lowes last night (50% off!) and potted them up today. Hopefully they'll grow and fill in so I can plant them in the garden.

  12. Hi Linda, your spring is well on its way. I love the need for documentation of the fleeting blooms. Such a good way to think of it. The rains have made a mess of several flowers, no photos even of some of the iris and late azaleas, yet anyway. We need the rain but as you say, some of these flowers only last a few days in the best of weather. Good deal on all the survivors that have returned to grace your garden too. :-)

  13. Your Spring garden delights the eye! It is an exciting time when our garden go through rebirth! Lovely blossoms all around your space!

  14. It does seem to take years to establish a decent garden. Seems like so long from babying every little plant to finally being OK with digging up unwanted starts.

  15. Thank you Catherine! I love the epimediums (a/k/a Bishop's hat.) They have pretty, heart-shaped foliage too, and they're really nice even when they're finished blooming.

    They are such pretty shrubs Laura! Good find on the hostas and daylilies!

    Hi Frances, we've had more than our share of rain here too this spring! I've learned not to dig up something that seems dead for a least a couple years since I moved here! I can't believe how many plants have gone dormant midway through the summer and come back the next year. It happens alot with new additions their first year in the garden here, even plants that don't normally have a growing-season dormancy period. The most surprising ones were the hostas that returned last spring after at least 5 years of dormancy. I'd never seen them until last year, and they're back again this spring.

    Thank you NG! I love spring!

    K&V, I've never had such a slow-growing garden before this. Our huge maples make for quite a gardening challenge!

  16. Linda, Your flowers are lovely, but the epimedium shot just grabbed my attention. Beautiful shot! Those little flowers are hard to capture! You have to almost lie on the ground! Service berries are wonderful, spring, summer and fall! I've never managed to taste a berry, tho! gail

  17. Thank you Gail. Now I'm wondering where epimediums have been all my life! The flowers are so pretty.

    I didn't lie on the ground, but the camera did! I took several photos at different angles, couldn't tell what I was photographing! I'm glad I got a couple of decent shots. I did the same thing with the hellebores!

    I've managed to taste a few berries, and they're sweet and delicious. I suppose I could get out there and get a lot of them before the birds do, but I don't - I like leaving them for the birds to nosh on. We have bird fruit here starting in June and most of the winter, although the pickins do get a lot slimmer after October.

  18. For the next month--it's lots of changes too fast. I have that Christmas Hosta and the deer didn't bother it but nipped at the one beside it--interesting huh? Your blooms are so pretty.

  19. I have a shady garden also and love it. There is no way I could garden in hot blazing sun. I use a lot of variegated leaf color.

  20. Linda, This is the time of year when you have to enjoy every moment, because a bloom today may very well be gone tomorrow. I know I was sad to see my flowering crabs barely bloom at all before high winds and rain took the blooms a couple weeks ago.

    It's good to see all the dormant plants that have survived and come back in your garden. I'm still waiting for a couple tiny bleeding hearts to bloom one of these years. It seems we all have our gardening challenges--my shade garden doesn't get many weeds, but the other sunny flowerbeds are full of coneflower seedlings...and maple seedlings, dandelions, and plenty of weeds. I guess the bad comes with the good:)

  21. Hi Anna, ah, deer vs hosta! We see deer occasionally in the neighborhood, mostly in the winter. We haven't seen them in the back where most of the plants are, and they don't seem to bother the shrubs - curious!

    Hi Donna, I hear you! I don't miss gardening in summer's blazing sun, heat, and humidity at all. The shade garden is often at least ten degrees cooler, and much more comfortable to work in than a sunny bed.

    Rose, amen to that! Wish I had more time to enjoy it this time of year. I grab every moment I can.

    I hope your bleeding hearts will bloom yet this spring!

    I don't miss weeding, nope, not at all! I'll be mulching the new veggie bed and hoping it doesn't get too weedy.

  22. I love those yellow poppies! I didn't even know you could get yellow. My red ones have already come and gone. Too hot, I guess.

  23. Hi Brenda! They're native woodland plants, also sometimes called wood poppies, preferring shade and moist soil. I've seen them blooming in gardens around here sporadically all through the summer - hope they do that here too!

    I can imagine how hot it must be in Texas now. I went to Houston in May several years ago, went to a comedy club while there, and all the routines were about the heat and humidity there. It was so hot while I was there,it was like a three-day hot flash!

  24. Hi Linda - spring delights is the perfect title. I only had the regular old Brunnera back in Illinois and still it was a favorite. The new Jack Frost and Looking Glass would be irresistible.

    Happy Spring!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  25. I the regular old brunnera too Annie, but I sure am partial to these variegated ones. They really light up the shade!

    Happy Spring!


Thank you for stopping by! Comments are welcomed, and while I may not always respond here, I'm happy to pay you a visit.

While comments are invited, links to commercial websites are not, and comments containing them will be deleted.

(Note to spammers: Don't bother. Your comments are promptly deleted. Hiding in older posts won't help - they're moderated.)