THANKS TO A TOO-WARM WINTER AND SEVERAL SPRING FREEZES, my lilacs were a big disappointment this spring. But that doesn’t mean my garden is lacking color. I went out with my camera yesterday morning in order to capture the lusty lupines (that’s ‘Russell White’ pictured up top), the pink and red Pyrethrums, and assorted woodland plants which seem only too willing to strut their stuff no matter the weather:
Before we begin our photo-show, let me explain that as I knelt to photograph the Lupinus for the top photo of this post, I suddenly discovered a snapping turtle beside my knee. These massive reptiles with sharp teeth crawl up from the creek each spring, and then lay their eggs all over my property. The babies, which hatch in August, head straight for the swimming pool, only to become trapped in the pool’s skimmer basket. I rescue them, of course, and carry them back down to the creek. Unlike adult snapping turtles, the babies are actually cute.
If you want colorful spires in your garden, by all means plant Lupinus ‘Russell Hybrids Mix.’ Mine make a big splash in the sunny Serpentine Garden from mid-May to mid-June, with a little repeat flowering in autumn. They are extremely easy to grow from winter-sown seeds. Need cultural details? See my Lupine Growing-Guide.
Situated between the Lupines and a Weigela, is a patch of blue iris. The variety, I believe, is ‘Agua Fresca’. The flowers open a rich navy blue, and quickly fade to denim. I ain’t complaining. If your your own crop of iris isn’t performing well for you, check the rhizomes. These must be buried half-in and half-out of the ground.
One of the wisest decisions I ever made was to plant Weigela ‘Wine and Roses’ in the Serpentine Garden. With no care whatsoever, and no matter how bizarre the winter or spring weather might be, this one reliably covers its sturdy branches with trumpets of deep, rosy pink. To propagate the shrub, simply layer its stems.
Behind the Yoshino cherry tree which shades the bench in the Serpentine Garden, is a patch of twice-blooming Iris ‘Immortality.’ When in bud, the flowers have a lavender cast. But they open pure white, and emit a strong, sweet scent. Although the flowers don’t last long, this Iridaceae germanica gives an encore performance in autumn.
After my crop of Iris ‘Immortality’ was attacked by borers one year, I got wise and planted Pyrethrum beside them. Pyrethrum deters the dreadful pest. Its daisy-like flowers, which come in shades of pink, white and red, are large, and perfect for cutting. If you want this breathtakingly beautiful plant in your garden, be sure to winter-sow the seeds. Pyrethrum is not commonly available in garden centers.
Stealing the show in my shady Woodland Garden just now is Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost.’ The silver-and-green leaves of this deer-proof plant are as sparkling as flowers. Of course, if it’s flowers you want…
I also have real forget-me-nots in my Woodland Garden. What a sight the tiny blue flowers are! These Myosotis reseed themselves freely, providing the soil isn’t disturbed in the spring. You can winter-sow the seeds, too.
Although my peonies have yet to open their fragrant blossoms, residing in the same bed with them is the gorgeous Baptisia. When located in full sun, this “False Blue Indigo” produces tall spires lit with violet-blue blossoms. In part shade, the stems always bend toward the light (as mine, above). Both the flowers and foliage are pea-like, and no wonder — the plant is a member of the pea family. Stems, whether in flower or in the seed-pod stage, are useful in flower arrangements.
My roses, which frankly looked rather pathetic a few weeks ago, are suddenly coming on strong. I’ll do a detailed feature on them in June. But for now, suffice it to say that Rosa ‘Zephirine Droughin,’ above, is in full-flush. Do you know this thorn-less bourbon which was bred in 1868? I use it to help hide my ugly garden shed. Look carefully at the picture, and you’ll notice that a pair of robins enjoy the rose as much as I do, for they have made a nest in its dense growth. The strong, honey-scented flowers are a clear, deep pink. Learn more about this great rose.
Well. I hope you enjoyed this little picture-show. Let me know what’s blooming for you just now. Just don’t tell me your lilacs were miraculous this year. Because that would make me jealous.
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