|The forsythia and cherries are starting to wind down, but the bulbs continue to provide a burst of color everywhere you look.|
The hellebores were late and most of the earliest spring bulbs were also late -- ordinarily, the crocus and daffodils bloom weeks ahead of the tulips. But I'm not complaining! The garden is gorgeous, so lets take a quick stroll through some of the beds and see what is blooming -- or about to be -- on this sunny Garden Blogger's Bloom Day.
In the front cottage garden, most of the petals have fallen from the flowering cherry, but the sand cherry has once again blessed us with a wonderful fragrance and gorgeous sprays of delicate pink flowers. Considering that we nearly lost this tree (you can read about that HERE), we enjoy every minute that this lovely tree is in bloom.
|The fragrant blooms perfume the entire front yard. Note the golden blossoms of the geum growing over the curbing in front of the shrubs.|
|The red columbine are among my favorite, second only to the powdery blue triple blossoms and the solid indigo blooms.|
|Brunnera macrophylla "Jack Frost" and the hellebores are dusted with cherry blossom petals.|
|The mauve hellebores are among my favorites. The deep burgundy ones are hidden between the mauve and white, hard to capture in a photograph, but stunning nonetheless.|
|Veronica "Georgia Blue" in the foreground and blue forget-me-nots make a stunning ground cover under the pink dicentra.|
Heucheras in every color are forming soft mounds in and among the remaining tulip, grape hyacinth, and daffodil blooms. The petals of the cherry blossom fell like confetti in the brisk winds this week. Veronica is visible in the background.
Our blueberry bed is under-planted with spring bulbs, and the blue forget-me-nots add even more color in this small but colorful bed. Although the spring bulbs have been in bloom for several weeks, there is no shortage of color.
|One of the blueberry shrubs, covered with the nondescript blooms that will become berries in a few months.|
|The dicentra is particularly stunning this year, as are the apple blossoms.|
|The yellow magnolia Yellow Bird blooms weeks after our saucer magnolia and our other yellow magnolia, Elizabeth.|
|Yellow Bird's blooms are a deep, lemony yellow, in contrast to Elizabeth's paler, butter yellow blossoms. Against a bright blue sky, the effect is striking and dramatic.|
|The flower plumes and individual blossoms are twice the size of our other lilacs, the fragrance equally heavenly.|
|The flowering quince makes a stunning display in spring.|
|The bright coral blooms are exquisite.|
The miniature iris bloomed a month ago - they are among our first harbingers of spring.
Most of our the tall bearded iris and rebloomers are little more than green spike just finding their way to the sun. But these beauties, which seemed to barely have started to grow just a couple of weeks ago showed buds on the weekend and the first two blooms opened Wednesday morning, just in time for the Bloom Day photographs.
Above, the ajuga has come into its own as well, creating a beautiful ground cover along the front of the Zen garden where a short walk leads to the front patio. You can see a few blossoms of the raspberry pulmonaria on the left, which makes a dramatic contrast with the ajuga in this bed.
|The silver-spotted leaves of the pulmonaria "Raspberry Splash" are as gorgeous as the beautiful coral-purple shaded blooms.|
Dicentra, lungwort (pulmoneria) "Raspberry Splash", ajuga in the Zen garden.
From the Zen garden, an undulating swath of sweet woodruff (Galium odoratum) grows along the path that leads down the hill from the cottage gardens to the all white shade garden, forming a scalloped border along the hostas that also mark the border of the walkway.
|These columbines are a unique pale blue with an unusual double to triple blossom.|
Hopefully the shade will be restored by the tulip tree that sprouted in the shade garden, which we had moved to a more appropriate location next to the shade beds but not quite as close to the house as where it originally sprouted.
Unfortunately, digging up and removing the tree resulted in some significant damage to the perennials surrounding it, so we will be replacing them later in the month. But I was able to protect the powder blue double columbines that have become my favorites. (Yes, I know, powder blue in our supposedly "all white" garden.)
These columbines bloom later than the others and are just now sending their flower spikes shooting skyward. When they were originally planted, they were white, but my guess is that they self-hybridized and self-seeded and the resulting plants now produce the most exquisite baby blue almost ruffled flowers. I am loathe to move them for fear they won't survive transplanting and anything else that sprouts won't be the sweet blue blooms I have come to adore.
Usually the lilies of the valley have bloomed by now and while other spring perennials have at least caught up and in some cases, are blooming ever so slightly ahead of schedule, these gals are lagging behind. The white ones are just budded and the pink ones have not even sent flower spikes up yet.
The good news is that both varieties have continued to spread in the areas where we wanted them to, and in a few years, we should be able to pick bouquets!
Entering the back gardens through the gate next to the walkway is akin to entering another world.
The honeysuckle on the fence (Lonicera x heckrotti "Gold Flame") first bloomed several weeks ago, just as the leaves were beginning to bud. I trimmed it back a little at that time (it does tend to get unruly) and it is now once again covered with fresh growth, abundant buds, and happily, no aphids.
Despite it's tendency to attract aphids, which are easily treated with a spray of soapy water, this honeysuckle has been a stellar performer since we first planted it in 2004. Gentle trims (mostly to keep it under control) after each bloom cycle throughout the growing season are rewarded by even more fragrant blossoms.
I've noticed that some people are not as fond of the perfume as Steve and I are. While we find it sweet and aromatic, several guests have asked at various times what that "smell" is. I don't fully understand how fragrances can be perceived so differently, but at least for us, it's a gorgeous, pleasantly fragrant vine.
Even after a period of extremely cold weather and heavy "killing" frosts, if the weather warms even slightly, Gold Flame will come out of dormancy and reward us with a few fragrant blooms. And this spring, she did the same when we had a preview of spring in early April.
One thing I have noted, however, is that the color of the blossoms on our Gold Flame seem more softly muted and less harsh than both the tag that was with the plant when we acquired it and the on-line photographs I've seen. I was initially reticent to purchase this vine based solely on the photograph on the tag tbecause I thought the color was too close to a scarlet to blend well with the other blooms in the area where we wanted to plant it. However, whether it's because it grows in partial shade or because of some subtle mineral effect in the soil, I find the blooms to be a much softer magenta-pink than most photographs suggest.
Just inside the gate under the honeysuckle and next to some lilacs, we planted the beautiful shrub Daphne x transatlantica "Beulah Cross".
In full bloom, the intense fragrance of the Daphne reminds me of jasmine and gardenias and combines with the fragrant lilacs to create an exquisite natural perfume.
"Beaulah Cross" is the variegated sport of Daphne x transatlantica "Jim's Pride". Jim Cross was a well-known and highly acclaimed plant propagator and hybridizer and the daphne "Beaulah Cross" is named for his mother.
"Beulah Cross" is our second Jim Cross daphne. Several years ago, a lovely azalea that bloomed along the curve of our sunny cottage garden was destroyed by an overly aggressive snow plow while our driveway was being cleared during a winter storm.
The owner of the plow service, Dave, was also the landscaper, who did such a wonderful job with the hardscape in our garden. Dave felt very badly that his employee had ruined the shrub and later that spring, he surprised us one day by digging out the dead azalea and replacing it with our first daphne, "Summer Ice".
"Summer Ice" is also a variegated shrub with white blossoms brushed with pale pink. Even in cold New England, "Summer Ice" blooms from early spring through fall. It's fragrance is as lovely as Beaulah's but a little spicier (just my humble opinion). Unfortunately, "Summer Ice" suffered the same fate as the azalea. After two glorious seasons of fragrant flowers, she fell victim to the snow plow, even though we had carefully marked the boundaries of the bed with tall florescent orange plow guides. We learned our lesson, however, and replanted the area with perennials that won't be at the mercy of the plows in winter.
|Daphne x transatlantica "Beulah Cross"|
The swimming pool pump, filter, and heater are located here as well amid a thick bed of strawberries and are camophlaged by a trellis covered by climbing hydrangea and several clematis.
The walkway into the back gardens from the gate had been edged with a thick border of Palace Purple heuchera, but they were likewise casualties of a misguided but well-meaning friend of ours who decided to move several of them to another area of one of the gardens.
We will re-plant this year as the heuchera were very effective in keeping the strawberries from wandering out of their bed into the walk.
|Strawberries and lavender make a wonderful border around the base of the clematis on the trellis, keeping the roots cool.|
At the end of the summer, we moved them into whiskey half-barrels that we partially buried in the bed and I was concerned that we had done this too late in the season for them to be established. I needn't have worried. The herbs are confined in their new homes and the entire garden is flourishing.
Opposite the daphne, New Dawn grows enthusiastically along the fence. It's a favorite haven for sparrows that have built several nests there.
Last fall we also planted several clumps of allium and grape hyacinths to add a dash of color to the bed in spring. I don't know the variety (they weren't labeled) but they are deep purple early bloomers whose flower heads opened well before the garlic chives whose buds are still very tight.
|Purple allium contrast well with the lambs ear. The purple and gray-green color combination is one of my favorites.|
|Garlic chives make a wonderful substitute for ramps and scallions in salad and|
|Wild strawberries, Fragaria x ananassa, make a colorful ground cover in the herb and rock gardens. The berries produced by this variety are small but very sweet and tasty and a favorite treat of the dogs, who routinely scour for ripe berries. |
|Roses and peonies are leafing out. Many of the peonies have developed buds, but they are still weeks away from blooming. Near the fence, another clump of allium is budded but they aren't in bloom yet.|
|The flowering crab apples and dogwood fill the tree grove with color. From late March - early April thorugh latge October and sometimes into November. At left is a Coralberry crab apple. In center is another flowering crab.|
The flowering fruit trees wrap the yard in color this time of year. Usually we see the cherry trees bloom first along with the Cleveland pears, then the Santa Rosa plum and quince, followed by the crab apples and the big old apple tree. This year everything bloomed nearly simultaneously which made for a striking display,
|Blooms from the coralberry crab apple are a blend of pink and white petals opening from deep coral pink buds.|
|One of my favorite hybrids is this fragrant mauve lilac with double blooms.|
|The mauve blooms are just beginning to open.|
|The lavender blooms have been open for a week or more.|
The grape arbor is also starting to come alive. We planted kiwi in this area last year as well (more about that later in the season!) and it over-wintered quite nicely.
Our English Laurel also known as Dwarf Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) surprised us with early blooms this year. Last year it bloomed twice, and I won't even guess at what it will do this year. These shrubs were headed for the trash pile at a gardening center when we rescued them in 2006. They bloomed for the first time in 2011 despite being grown in nearly full shade.
|English laurel, also known as Dwarf Cherry Laurel "Otto Luyken". The shrubs are now more than 2 feet high spreading 3 feet across.|
|This is the earliest we've seen them in bloom; usually they bloom the first week of June,|
The water garden is slowly waking up as well. Usually, it has been cleaned and the plants repotted by this time, but the late spring has delayed the official "opening" (and cleaning).
|Back to front, the cat tails, water mint, and varigated Siberian iris are thriving.|
|The bog beans (marsh trefoil) are among my favorite bog plants.|
The woodland garden is never more beautiful at any other time of the year than it is in spring. When we planted it, our goal was to always have at least one tree or a shrub in bloom from spring through fall. We've definitely accomplished that, although we've had our share of fits and starts.
It appears, however, that we have probably lost our yellow lady's slippers, and that is quite a disappointment. They had not bloomed for the past two years but seemed to be thriving nonetheless.
We're watching the spot where they usually appear each spring, but unless they poke their heads up very late in the season, I don't expect to see them again. Both trillium and lady's slippers are protected in Massachusetts and it is illegal to harvest them from woodlands here in the state to move into one's garden. We purchased most of ours from a Canadian grower, Select Lilacs Plus, in 2006.
I can understand why they need to be protected. The purple, red and yellow ones were added more than 5 years ago and are just now beginning to self-propagate and spread under the trees, but there is something so very special about these gorgeous plants when they begin to bloom in spring.
Here, they grow nestled in euonymus "Emerald Gaity" and a red azalea where they are protected from inadvertently being trampled by our dogs and cats who enjoy playing in the tree grove.
|A bloom of one of our red trillium.|
|They were slow to bloom and spread, but now they carpet the area under one of the variegated willows.|
|The yellow trillium are among my favorites.|
|Purple trillium and azaleas provide spring color under one of the variegated willows.|
|Many people raised their eyebrows when we planted these araleas in the shade of the tree grove. Since we first planted them, they've bloomed enthusiastically each the spring and been a haven for birds who have built nests in them from time to time.|
|The bloom of the Shooting Star, Dodecatheon meadia|
|Shooting Star, Dodecatheon meadia, is a spot of color in deep shade.|
|Another shade-lover, foam flower, tiarela|
|Canadian wild ginger and Japanese painted fern|
|The blooms of both the Canadian and the European wild gingers are inconspicuous and close to the ground, hidden under the leaves. They are easy to miss unless you watch for them and check every few days in the very early spring.|
The rainy days of the past couple weeks have resulted in an explosion of weeds, which occupied us most of this weekend.
Fortunately, Steve and I enjoy weeding as a relaxing pastime. But this large common burdock is definitely one over-the-top monster. It actually does a nice job of camouflaging the ozone equipment for the pond, and I would almost be inclined to leave it if it didn't cause so many problems.
Besides seeding and spreading everywhere, it produces nasty burrs that the dogs get into. And a very deep tap root makes it tough to eradicate.
Each month, on the fifteenth day of the month, gardeners from all over the world share what is blooming in their gardens with a Garden Bloggers Bloom Day post. Hosted by Blotanist Carol of Indiana, you can find links to visit all of the gardens that participate in this monthly bloomfest on her blog at May Dreams Gardens.