Monday
Apr282014

Passing in a Flash

I thought I was being attacked the other day. I heard shrieking, and I looked up to see three hawks zooming down toward me. They were about ten feet above my head when I realized two of them were chasing after the third. They swooped low over me, then soared in a huge arc back into the sky. With their wings spread wide, the sight reminded me of a dogfight between fighter planes! I am sure I witnessed my resident hawks, whose nest is nearby, chasing off an intruder. Of course I did not have my camera! I will remember it as the picture that flew away.

I had better luck with this more sedate bluebird:

April has passed in a flash, just like those hawks. Spring was so late in coming, I wish it would stay a while! But already we are having temperatures well into the 80's. The garden is transitioning to deep green. The pastel blooms of redbud and dogwood trees are gone. Most azaleas are spent. Soon the brilliant spring foliage of Japanese maples will assume more sedate tones. Meanwhile, there is plenty yet to enjoy as April comes to a close.

Philadelphus coronarius, or mock orange, is blooming. My friend Nancy dug up an off-shoot from her own mock orange and gave it to me in 1990, after a tornado took out almost everything in the center of our property. Her gift has grown and prospered, and I think of her kindness every spring when it blooms. Japanese maples glow in the background in the first image. On the lower left, the shrub to the right of the mock orange is Chinese snowball viburnum, still blooming and looking great after several weeks:

Rose buds are beginning to open:Clockwise from top: Bee is enjoying the last of a rugosa 'Alba'; Rosa mutabilis, also called Butterfly Rose; Rosa mutabilis; Penelope rose; Penelope rose buds; Knockout rose; Rugosa 'Alba'.

Here are more flowers. Notice the poinsettia at the top. It is not left over from this past Christmas. That is a 2012 poinsettia! It spent 2013 outside, and its foliage was so beautiful I brought it back inside for the winter. I did not expect Christmas blooms, and I did not get them. Imagine my surprise when it began to bloom in April! So it's back outside for 2014. Clockwise from top left: Poinsettia; Poinsettia to right of a potted arrangement; Clematis 'H.F.Young'; Calycanthus floridus 'Athens', a type of Carolina sweet shrub with creamy flowers that smell like bananas; Lonicera sempervirens, a native also called trumpet honeysuckle; Variegated weigela.Above left: Bordeaux Rose Salvia. Above right: Variegated hosta, coleus and coral impatiens in a crusty old urn.

Native woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), hybrid columbine and Dianthus 'Bath's Pink' grow around the blue bench in the front garden. In this scene one gets an idea how the front garden wraps around the front lawn. The house is beyond the camera on the upper right:

Some more scenes from around the garden:

Fatshedera 'Angyo star' is a new viny shrub with large, ivy-like leaves. It grows to about 6 feet:

Clockwise from top left: Sambucus 'Lemon Lace'; Variegated Winter daphne is putting out new growth; Cornus florida 'Cherokee Sunset'; Heuchera 'Green Spice'; Autumn fern; Hosta 'Empress Wu'; Heuchera 'Citronelle'; Pieris japonica.

Finally, with warmer weather, I planted most of my summer veggies, and look what I already have:

And most exciting, one of those tomato blossoms has turned to this!

Grow, tomato, grow!

Monday
Apr212014

The April Garden

I am blessed to have been planted in the same soil for over twenty five years and to have had the opportunity to grow my garden almost from scratch, out of the devastation wrought by a tornado in 1990. The garden is more beautiful now than it ever was before the tornado. But it has taken time. Every spring and fall I planted new trees, new shrubs, new perennials, designing new garden spaces as the years passed. Season after season, year after year the garden took shape. I watched tiny Japanese maple and other seedlings mature into beautiful specimens. I transplanted old finds, like these columbines planted by the original owner of our house:Columbine loves the areas adjacent to the mulched paths wandering through the front garden. Every year I find seedlings to take the place of older ones that die away. I started with six plants; now I have many more. It is my favorite flower, and the bees love them, too!I watched things die, and I fretted until I learned to get over it. I discovered a lot about gardening along the way. Now the death of a plant is an opportunity to do something better.

That brings me to now. Our bitter winter killed a palm tree in the woodlands and the row of Pavonia Hastata that edged our patio. I replaced the palm tree with golden Anise 'Florida Sunshine', and I am bordering the patio with roses and colorful flowering companions. The wonderful Confederate Jasmine that covers the arch leading onto the patio was a close call. All of the leaves died, and we decided to cut it far back, only to discover that the old, rusty arch was completely broken. It was being supported by the jasmine and not the other way around! So we had a new, solid iron arch made: it will outlast us! No jasmine is showing in the following photo, but be assured it is there. The old plant on one side is beginning to show signs of life, and I planted a companion jasmine on the other side.

You can see a section of the new arch here:

April really is the most beautiful month in my garden! Here are some more photos taken around the front garden:

This view looks toward the front garden from the patio. Blue ajuga and perennial verbena grow at the foot of a table we refurbished:
There are assorted azaleas blooming in the front garden:

Here are a couple of current scenes in the woodland garden. The weeping Japanese maple in the top image is 'Waterfall':
The red flower in the above right hand photo is Silene virginica, a native wildflower also called fire pink.

Several years ago I planted some native azaleas in the woodlands, and I have waited patiently for them to bloom. Rhododendron austrinum 'Florida Flame' has finally rewarded me. It has a deliciously fragrant flower. These shrubs once were called Honeysuckle, until the infamously invasive Hall's honeysuckle, Lonicera japonica, arrived from Japan and stole the name. When the afternoon sun shines through the flower, I can see it glowing from the other side of the woodland garden!

From various parts of the garden, here are more April flowers:Clockwise from top left: Variegated Solomon's Seal; Phlox divaricata, also called woodland phlox; Iberis, or Candytuft; Dianthus 'Bath's Pink'; Cornus florida, our native dogwood; Primula sieboldii; A white flowering form of Epimedium; Dicentra eximia, a dwarf Bleeding Heart that blooms all summer.

Flowers can't take all the compliments! I always admire lovely leaves, so I will end with a small sampling of April foliage:Clockwise from top left: Juniper 'Saybrook Gold'; Caryopteris 'Sunshine Blue'; Japanese Painted Fern; Carex 'Everillo'; Bronze Dutch Clover; Native Holly Fern.

I hope you enjoyed looking at my April garden. Have a great week!   Deb