What’s Bloomin’ on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day?

What’s bloomin’? Spring stuff!

This past winter was difficult for me. The cold seeped deeper this year. Or perhaps it just seemed that way because I had to go out into it more often. I adopted a second Standard Poodle that I wasn’t prepared for. She needed a place to live and I needed to give that to her. But, my yard wasn’t fenced in so I couldn’t just send the dogs out the door and stay in my warm house.  I had to go out into the cold, too.   The fence still isn’t finished because not enough materials were ordered. I’m dealing with some stylish panels of decorative aluminum fencing and less stylish propped-up chain link. At least the dogs can run through the garden and not the neighborhood.

But enough of that. Here’s what’s blooming today.

Ain’t this just the grandest of magnolia trees!
I hope the scattering of frost that showed up in some places in Grand Rapids did not hit the cherry tree. Its blossoms are beginning to fade and tiny little baby cherries are showing up, so it might be a good year for these sour cherries. I let friends pick them since I don’t really care for cherry pie or preserves. But last year’s late freeze made for few cherries.

The lilacs!

Sometimes called “false forgetmenots,” these hardy brunnera bring a true blue to early spring gardens.
Today’s sun and warmth is just what the Bleeding Heart needed.
I bought this trillium years ago at Wildflowers in Glen Arbor, Michigan. I think this is Trillium Cuneatum. I had hoped it would spread, but each year I only get this one.
Some of the allium are starting to show their color. In a couple weeks there will be huge globes of pink and purple. I love the “architectural-ness” they bring to my more cottage-y gardens.
I wish I could say this lilac was loaded with buds, but it isn’t. Still, this lilac is doing better than the other two. It might be time to pull these out and give them to someone who might be able to get more cooperation from them.
I hope I’m not too eager to put the annuals in. But, it’s so tempting to get buy marigolds and I think they will do quite well with the purple salvia.
Someday this redbud will be a graceful tree. I’m content to wait.



People often refer to them as Lenten Roses and it’s easy to see why. They tend to bloom during Lent, and their flowers look a lot like and old fashioned rose with a single layer of petals. They are also call “hellebores” and belong to a family of evergreen plants, many of which are poisonous. In fact, the name “hellebore” comes from the ancient Greek. “Helle-” which means “to injure” and “-bore” which means “food”.  Their seemingly fragile flowers tempt us into thinking Michigan’s fickle springs will break these lovely plants, but even four inches of snow that bends the hellebores to the ground can’t defeat them. 


Though snow weighed down this hellebore, it became a lovely flower just a week later.
This hellebore, a transplant from a friend and was the bud that endured four inches of wet snow.
Spring in Michigan wanders in between sunlit days and cruel frosts that injure my hopes of warmth.  Yesterday the sun warmed the garden and me.  But there were frost warnings last night and today it is cold and windy.  Still, the hellebores nod. 
They aren’t the only ones.
Often the old magnolia in the front garden doesn’t get to keep its blooms because rain, wind, or a frost can knock down or kill the flowers. So far gets to stay dressed in its porcelain-like blooms.
The old cherry tree in the lower garden stands guard over a hosta bed. When there is a late frost, this old girl doesn’t produce fruit. So far, frost hasn’t nipped her potential for cherries.
Look what is budding out, way earlier than I expected. This is a French lilac, but its name escapes me, and so does the location of the book I wrote it down..
Here’s the magnolia as seen from the street.
Every time I pass a large garden center or Lowes, I have to stop and look at their patio umbrellas. It would be nice to have some shade in this little seating area. In a month the Dutchman’s Pipe will have formed its green wall of very aggressive vines.
Looking eat in the Secret Garden. I love the Japanese maple. I love my Secret Garden. I know its name is a cliche, but it’s what I wanted to create.
I have figured out that this hosta has to be Fire Island, though I don’t remember buying it or planting it. But, what a beauty!
It is easy for me to fall in love with the deep pink hellebores, but this flower, too, is beautiful.
Every spring I would pass redbud trees in bloom and wished I’d had one. And now I do, in the Secret Garden.

The sprunging of spring

At last! I can walk out my back door without having to bundle up in my red walking sleeping bag of a coat, a heavy scarf, and a warm hat. I can walk a dog (I now have two) without fear of tripping on dangerous little hillocks of melted then refrozen unshoveled sidewalks. And, best of all, I can work in the garden.

But yesterday I walked down the street with a camera. And no dog. The sunshine continues to welcome all kinds of early flowers and awakens foliage.

My walk took me to the woods at the end of my street. It’s weird, really, to have that stand of trees in the middle of an urban area, but it’s part of a municipal park behind my house. It’s called a nature center, but it’s really just a pleasant wooded area with a trail that circles around. In early summer the catalpa trees bloom and give off the most wonderful fragrance.  Some don’t like catalpas because they are “messy”, but anything that smells that sweet and produces such lovely flowers has permission to be messy.  The leaves, too, are interesting because they are so large. Lots of people walk their dogs in the woods, as do I and I’ve gotten to know so many people and dogs.

I have no idea what kind of shrub this is, but the woods host lots of different trees and shrubs. The early evening light turned this one into lovely shades of garnet.

The scilla are thriving in yards all throughout the neighborhood. It’s hard to get that true blue in a garden. Or, at least it is hard for me. My soil is is alkaline and acid loving hydrangeas can hardly muster enough gumption to give me a light purple. So, I will appreciate the invasive scilla when it visits.

This little scilla blossom landed on the sidewalk. Some lawns on the street are filled with these small blue flowers.
Such a luscious shade of blue…


There are all sorts of daffodils blooming in the neighborhood. Every spring I tell myself that I will plant oodles of daffs in the fall and then I get overwhelmed by the chill and don’t plant anything but my posterior in a warm chair. I did plant the white one below, several years ago, and in multiples, but this is the only one that has bloomed so far. I wonder if I will get around to planting more in the fall.

While I enjoy seeing forsythia in bloom, I’ve never had the urge to plant it in my gardens. I can enjoy it as I walk and then not worry about keeping it tamed or hiding its nondescript presence . I’d rather use the space for perennials or shrubs with more interesting foliage.

Four years ago I hung a bee abode in my old cherry tree hoping to attract native solitary bees, especially mason bees. And they have found it their home. Or, more accurately, the females have found it for their maternity ward. Dozens of them have been buzzing in and out of the cylindrical chambers laying one egg and then sealing it up so they can lay another in the next chamber in line. Later in the summer a young mason bee will emerge from the first chamber followed by its siblings behind it. I think the white dribbles are bits of “cement” that the bees use to seal the chambers. It’s why they are called mason bees. You can thank mason bees when you pop a sweet blueberry in your mouth, or bite into an apple. Honey bees, which are not native to North America, aren’t awake yet, and, they have never been the best pollinators. Solitary bees are far better, though, they do not make honey.

Hello, Garden

It is the first plant to bloom this spring, but in a few more days it will be gone, not because its season would have passed, but because it is a weed and was growing where I didn’t want it to, between the pathway bricks.

As always, a thank you to May Dreams Gardens for celebrating a monthly accounting of what is blooming in gardens all over the world.

It’s April 15 and Michigan played a trick on us.  The skies are oxygen blue and cloudless, but the garden is covered in four to six inches of heavy wet snow.  It’s ok.  Really.  There isn’t much blooming yet, a few daffodils and a cute little weed that became my first garden activity of the year.  That is, I started pulling it up.

The hellebores are eager to open.  And they are welcome to do so any time they want.  Often called Lenten Roses, this year my hellebores will be blooming during this last week of Lent.  What I like about them, aside from their lovely flowers and evergreen foliage is that the flowers hang around for a long time.  Their color fades over the season into something that looks a bit like a sculptor wrought them from thin sheets of balsa wood.  Perhaps I’ll try drying them in the pages of a book.  I gathered oodles of leaves last fall and planted them between the pages of favorite books. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but it was comforting over the winter to look at the dried leaves whose colors had deepened and remember that sister leaves would shake free from our bitterly cold winter and start their warming dance again.

If it hadn’t snowed yesterday, these hellebores, a gift from a friend, would be open. Tomorrow will see them. There’s always a future in a garden.

In January I adopted another standard poodle, Lucy.  I hadn’t intended to double my allotment of poodles, but Lucy needed rescuing.  I am sitting in my favorite chair as I write this and on the floor around me I see a teddy bear that has lost his eyes, a chew toy that has pockets for peanut butter and biscuits, a beef bone, a kong that just an hour ago was stuffed with kibble and peanut butter, a winter glove, and a paper towel tube.  Bridget doesn’t really require toys. She has a favorite bear and a stuffed hedge hog, but she doesn’t chew them.

Lucy likes to chew.  And chew.  I’ve lost two Mac power cords, a whole bunch of pencils and pens, and the buttons off a favorite pair of leather gloves. Bridget is a mellow old girl.  Lucy?  Not so mellow.  She loves to run and jump and because I don’t have a fenced in yard, she runs a jumps through the neighborhood.  That will change, I hope, this week when a decorative aluminum fence will go in.  But the real issue won’t be one of containment.  It will be one of waste disposal.  How will the promise of dog feces affect my gardens?  I don’t know, but I will find out this week, I hope. And, I will be very glad when Lucy is safely behind a fence and away from the neighbors and a busy street.

This daffodil will raise its head and bloom in full today.

In the meantime, the garden naps under a coverlet of rapidly melting snow.  Soon it will wake up, stretch, and touch warmer days.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: Oct. 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: Oct. 15, 2018

This view of the zinnias draws me in.  I love all the color and the defiance of our ever lowering temperatures.

The mums were such a good idea!  They add pops of color in an ever chilling and browning garden.  But perhaps my favorite color belongs to the Limelight and Tardiva hydrangeas.  Timing is critical here, but for several weeks, I get to pick as many “heads” of blooms as I can.  Those blooms have started turning lovely shades of pink, and the color stays forever if you cut and bring them indoors.  I’m running out of vases because I now have time to pick. And pick.  And pick. It’s one of the perks of retirement.

The large vase these hydrangeas are in belonged to my grandmother who kept it on her front porch. Now it occupies a space next to my fireplace.


A combination of Limelight and Tardiva blooms that will keep all winter.

But, the mums and the zinnias deserve attention, too, though they will not last much longer.  I hate cold weather.  The older I get, the more I hate it. Today our high was 47 degrees and the wind cut through my sweater and light jacket.  I donned my bright red winter jacket to walk the dog.

As always, a grateful call out to May Dreams Gardens for the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Catmint, marigolds, and mums brighten the back door gardens. Yesterday when it was warmer, bumblebees feasted on the catmint. The little mushroom shaped piece in the middle is a reproduction of a staddle.  These were used as foundations for granaries in England.  The staddles discouraged rodents because of the mushroom cap.


And here are the zinnias, still pumping out large blooms. This is State Fair and I will always save a place for them in my gardens.

The common pink anemones have gone, but Honorine Jobert is wonderfully lush.

Here is Honorine Jobert brightening up the eastern end of the Secret Garden.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: 09/15/2018

Behold the mummobile.
Usually my head is consumed by class preparations that include reading and responding to students’ conversations about their readings, and planning, planning, planning. September has always been about teaching and barely about gardening.  But, I’m retired.  And, I’ve decided that I need to see more things blooming in September. So, I went out and bought a bunch of hardy mums and a few asters.  Take that, September. Bridget and I needed a photo for our West Michigan Therapy Dog name badge, and since we were sitting in the entrance garden, I thought I’d include us in the “what’s bloomin'” post.
Bridget and I continue to bloom, too.
Here are the two containers in the entrance garden. By this point they are a bit tattered
Though the blackberry lilies are long since past blooming, their seed pods and seeds are interesting. The rudbekia still has a few blooms. The bees like them and the birds will soon start eating the seeds.
This clematis has kicked out a couple more blooms.
Here are a few of the mums that I bought. Note the two clematis blooms and the pot of geraniums that, like the other containers, is looking a bit leggy.
This container brings a nice bit of color to the hostas in the Secret Garden.
This container also brings some color to the Secret Garden.
The medal, though, has to go to Walkers Low Catmint. It just keeps blooming. The bees, wasps, and butterflies love it.
The wonderful thing about hydrangeas is that once their blooms have “faded” you can pick them and keep them for years, looking exactly the way there were the day they were picked. This is Limelight. Many of its flower clusters will go in a winter bouquet along with Tardiva,  and some allium and blackberry lily seed pods.
The State Fair zinnias were not as spectacular this year as last, but they provide much needed color and lots of bouquets.
I confess that this Knockout Rose has become the star of the rose medallion. It has bloomed all summer and it stands up to japanese beetles and black spot. There is no fragrance, though.
What DOES have a fragrance is Sweet Autumn Clematis. It’s a late bloomer. And, sadly, it sometimes doesn’t survive our winters, but it’s a fast grower and I don’t mind planting it again and again.
Last are the marigolds that I plant every spring so that when the perennials have gone through their cycle, there is still color in the garden until the first hard frost.

GBBD: The Garden Welcomes Me Back

Thank you, May Dreams Garden, for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  It’s nice to feel welcomed back into my own gardens.  And it’s nice to hop on over to the GBBD website to get inspired.  There are gorgeous gardens to wander through at the click of a mouse.


Though the echinacea are not particularly attractive, the rudbekia are. The catmint got a haircut a few weeks ago, but a few new blooms are starting to appear. I like the contrast between the blues and yellows.

Our weird spring that brought blistering May days followed by near freezing May days may have alarmed the echinacea. This is the best of the lot. But Fragrant Angel is pretty bedraggled.






The Rose of Sharon is doing its gorgeous thing, and, of course, creating lots of seed pods that ensure a place on next summer’s weeding ritual. The zinnias are low maintenance and bring an explosion of color that lasts until frost. I love State Fair zinnias because they are tall and bouquet-ready.

This and Strutters’ Ball (below) are the last of the daylilies. I wish I knew this one’s name. My guess is that it was planted last summer and that I bought it online. But surgery, chemo, and radiation have turned my brain into a mush of vague memories.

Such a vibrant pink.




My neighbor’s mother-in-law gave me divisions from her shasta daisies and they are very healthy.  In Norse mythology, the daisy is Freya’s flower.  Freya is the goddess of love, beauty and fertility.

Tardive and Limelight are both bountiful havens for pollinators. I was once told that bees are most attracted to white flowers. I have made some beautiful bouquets from these two large bushes. Notice that Tardiva is in tree form. It forms an effective shade canopy so I’m going to once again divide a large Elegans hosta and plant a division under Tardiva. I fear that Elegans is plotting to take over the universe. Again.

Limelight got a heavy prune last year, and that doesn’t seem to have done it any harm.

This and the gold and maroon daylily are the last to still have blooms. It’s called Strutters’ Ball. I’m always sad to see the daylilies fade away.

GBBD July 15, 2018 The Love/Hate Confessions

It’s easy for me to get distracted and I often postpone tasks that should have been done.  Like blogging about the garden on days other than Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  I took some pictures a couple weeks ago and have been trying to think of ways to write about the garden other than to document what is blooming each month.  But here I am on GBBD and pushing against the clock and prepping for a class tomorrow.  Plus I have to walk the dog and ignore the clean sheets that are piled on a chair in the living room and get my annuity stuff together.  I’m retiring.  Things have to happen.

So, first, the love.

This is what is blooming in my garden today.

This is what I see when I come down the street after walking the dog. The old magnolia tree provides a perfect canopy for hostas. So, ok, there isn’t much blooming, yet, but if you look really hard you’ll see some impatiens. Go ahead. Squint.

And this is my view from my back door, which is technically my side door. The old cherry tree also provides wonderful shade for hostas. But nothing is blooming. Don’t even try to squint.










Let’s get to the good stuff. The day lilies are blooming. You’ll see my affinity for pink day lillies.

This gorgeous lilie is called Strutter’s Ball.


This is Sea Urchin’s best year. It’s petals always seemed to get scarred during the unfurling process, but not this year.

I couldn’t help myself when I saw this First Knight. I don’t usually get drawn to yellow day lilies, but egads, this one is gorgeous.

This is perhaps my most dramatic daylily.  Meet Red Pinnacle.


I love the brilliant red of crocosmia. And it provides a nice companion for the day lilies and the Garden Lady.
















The sunny bed next to the garage has some new tenants–shasta daisies curtesy of my neighbor’s mother, and a division of the crocosmia that is thriving near the Garden Lady.










Last summer I hardly set foot in the garden.  My trusty gardener did all the work.  Richard has been working in my garden for several years and I love what he does.  And the garden loves him back.  But last summer the garden belonged more to Richard than me.  Yeah, I was dealing with surgery and chemo and radiation.  And, I taught two classes, but much of that work took place online.  It took me weeks and weeks to recover from surgery.  And, about six weeks after surgery I started chemo which knocked me flat.  So, no gardening for me.

This year I get into the garden almost every day and do a little weeding, yank out the ever aggressive dutchman’s pipe, deadhead the day lilies.  The garden is mine, though, Richard still does his magic.  I don’t know what I would do without dear Richard.  He rearranges the hostas, curses at the dutchman’s pipe, and keeps a keen eye out for other forms of garden trouble, like the chipmunk that has made a home under some bricks in the Secret Garden.

So, what is this love/hate thing?

Day Lilies

I love them.  I dream 11 months out of the year about my day lilies. I’m quite fond of the pink ones, especially the dark pink lilies.  I know.  I said that already.

But the minute they begin to bloom, they begin to fade. The leaves closest to the ground dry out and turn brown.  And the flowers bloom for just one day. Everyday I pluck the previous day’s withered flowers and drop them on the bark that keeps moisture in the soil.  I’ve tried to plant lilies that are early bloomers, and others that bloom later, but the hate murmurs softly that each day will bring a little bit of death.  I know, day lilies don’t die when they give up their spent blooms, but it’s sad to see the scapes that have no more buds on them.

I love hostas, too, and I don’t feel sad at all when their flowers fade. Perhaps I’m being a titch too dramatic.

It’s Bloom Day!!

See that dark green plant under the cherry tree? That is ONE Seboldiana Elegans. It has been divided and divided and divided. I have given divisions to friends in the hopes that it would control its growth. Wrong. It’s crowding out a Dreamweaver. The purple in the foreground is Walker’s Low Catmint. I love it and so do my 3 cats who go a little bit crazy when I bring them leaves and flowers.

Bloom Day always seems to come too quickly.  But that’s a good thing because I have to pause and pay attention to what is, well, blooming.  It’s June which means there is lots of blooming yet to come.  I still haven’t gotten some annuals planted.

It’s nice to see the white dawn climbing rose with so many blooms.

I love the tall allium and truly wish they would bloom a little longer. But the seed heads provide an interesting “architectural” element.

This is the entrance to the Secret Garden, and, again, there isn’t a lot of blooming going on, but there will be. The lavender in the foreground hasn’t quite opened up.

In the Secret Garden the current theme is green. That Japanese Maple must have loved our strange spring because I have never seen it that lush. I love this view of the Secret Garden, even if nothing at the moment is blooming.

The entrance garden features Walker’s Low catmint and that takes the eye in a narrow bed that draws my eye to the two large catmint plantings in the Lower Garden and to the entrance of the Secret Garden.

Hello, Garden

My hair is beginning to grow back and I think it is going to be curly. Cool.

I spent a year away from my garden and my blog, focusing instead on endometrial cancer.  That explains my bald head. I can’t say that i sailed through chemo and radiation, but I made the best of things. I was through with treatment and eager to get back into  a life that didn’t involve toxic drugs, radiation, and endless doctors’ appointments  But I needed one more procedure.  In March I lost my gallbladder because there was a slim chance there was a cancerous polyp hiding in there.  But, there was no cancer.  And now I’m suffering from the lack of a gallbladder.


Such a lovely little hellebore.

Nothing is going to keep me from enjoying my garden this summer.

There isn’t much blooming yet, but the garden is full of green anticipation.  At the moment everything that blooms is pink.

What I love about the hellebore here is that it gets darker and “moodier” as it ages.  A friend gave me this little beauty and it sits right outside my back door.

And, I cannot resist falling in love with my pink bleeding hearts.  This one outside my back door is always ahead of the one planted in a lush corner of the Secret Garden.

My garden friend saw a redbud at a garden center so he borrowed a truck, and I now  have a lovely redbud that will give my hydrangeas some desperately needed shade. Someday.

These lovely chains of flowers are so lovely. Each spring they greet me.

Hello, Redbud. Welcome to my garden.

Several years ago I went to a gardener’s conference in Toronto. That is where I fell in love with allium.