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.

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.

August 15: GBBD

Many thanks go to MayDreamsGardens for the opportunity to share what is blooming in our gardens each month.  Here is what is blooming in my gardens today.

The limelight hydrangea in the background is HUGE!! It got a hard prune last fall and that, plus our cool wet spring has urged it on.


H. Halcyon always stays tidy and keeps its blue.

I'm always grateful for annuals.  Marigolds brighten up the little nook garden outside the sunroom.

I’m always grateful for annuals. Marigolds brighten up the little nook garden outside the sunroom.


There’s always a love/hate relationship between the rose of sharon and me. It’s lovely when it blooms and it’s a pain when it so vigorously self-seeds.


Perennial hibiscus in the Secret Garden.


Love the wild abandon of echinaceas. The white are Fragrant Angel. That’s white phlox in the middle right.


Tardiva is a wonderful draw for native pollinators.


More marigolds.


The very last daylily of the season–Kathy Perkins.


H. June in the Secret Garden.


Pink anemone, a gift from a friend years ago.


That’s Limelight in the background. It got a hard prune last fall and it’s now taller and fuller than ever.


Blackberry Lily in the entrance garden.


More of the entrance garden. The Walker’s Low catmint got a big trim and it’s starting to send out new blooms. The rudbeckia gets to shine white the catmint catches its second wind.

Surveying the Hostas

I’m procrastinating.  Or maybe I’m percolating.  At any rate, I’ve decided to survey the hostas.

Dream Weaver, June, Krossa Royal, Francee, Great Expectations

In the Secret Garden:  Far right is Dream Weaver.  In front of it is June, then Stained Glass, Krossa Royal (next to the garage),  then Francee, and Great Expectations sits to the back of this photo.  There are, of course, astilbe and heuchera mixed in, not to mention hydrangeas and a big old bleeding heart.

The large hosta in the rear is a division of Elegans.  In front of it to the left is Francis Williams.  Left of Francis is another Elegans (I keep dividing this monster!).  The left front hosta is Orange Marmalade.  Center front is Lakeside Beach Captain. On the far right is Wheaton Blue.

The large hosta in the rear is a division of Elegans. In front of it to the left is Francis Williams. Left of Francis is another Elegans (I keep dividing this monster!). The left front hosta is Orange Marmalade. Center front is Lakeside Beach Captain. On the far right is Wheaton Blue.

Another shot of Elegans.  To the right of it is Stained Glass.  And on the far right is Abiqua Drinking Gourd.  Peeking out behind Stained Glass is another Dream Weaver.

Lower Garden: Another shot of Elegans. To the right of it is Stained Glass. And on the far right is Abiqua Drinking Gourd. Peeking out behind Stained Glass is another Dream Weaver.

On the far right, just in view, is Elegans.  To the left is Hanky Panky.  The bright green hosta next to it is a mystery to me.

Lower Garden: On the far right, just in view, is Elegans. To the left is Hanky Panky. The bright green hosta next to it is a mystery to me, but might be Maui Buttercup. (sorry for the blurriness!)

Strip Tease and a mystery hosta that a friend gave me.

Lower Garden: Strip Tease and a mystery hosta that a friend gave me. That’s a Francis Williams to the left of the mystery hosta.  I think the hosta behind Strip Tease is Ryan’s Big One.


Secret Garden: Moerheim

Deep Blue Sea, Orange Crush

Secret Garden: Deep Blue Sea, Orange Crush

Halcyon in foreground,

Lower Garden: Halcyon in foreground, Elegans on the right under the cherry tree, Hanky Panky (though it’s hard to see in this shot), and Regal Splendor to the left of the cherry tree.

On the left is Francis Williams.  Next to it is Lakeside Beach Captain.  On its right is Elegans.  And tucked away next to Elegans is Pineapple Upsidedown Cake.

Front Garden: On the left is Francis Williams. Next to it is Lakeside Beach Captain. On its right is Elegans. And tucked away next to Elegans is Pineapple Upsidedown Cake.

Allegan Fog, Silver Threads and Golden Needles, Stitich in Time, Ghost Spirit

Secret Garden: Allegan Fog, Silver Threads and Golden Needles, Stitich in Time, Ghost Spirit.  Behind these is Dream Weaver.

Lucy Vitols

Lower Garden: Lucy Vitols in the center.  That’s Rhino Hide in the pot to the left.  I’ve almost lost it twice, but it comes coming back from the brink.  There is a Kaleidechrome almost hidden by the pot of argula.  There’s a bit of Thai basil peeking out of the pot on the right.

As Winter Recedes

It’s been a tough winter, the toughest in a couple of decades.  More than 100 inches of snow fell on the garden this year.  And temps hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit for too many weeks.  Snow can protect perennials and I’m confident that most of the plants in the gardens survived the winter.  But the bitter cold has taken a toll.  One of the dwarf alberta spruces in the entrance garden is showing winter burn damage.  It’s too soon to tell whether the bush will fill in a bit.  This will be an issue of disguising damage rather than any hope of regrowth.  Dwarf albertas do not “repair” burn damage.  The boxwoods got burned, too, but I am less concerned about that.  I’ll trim the burnt ends and the hedge will be none the worse.

Burned boxwoods and Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Burned boxwoods and Dwarf Alberta Spruce

Close-up of Dwarf Alberta Spruce damage

Close-up of Dwarf Alberta Spruce damage

Hellebore buds!

Hellebore buds!

Also damaged were a couple of holly bushes.  These I am even less concerned about.  There never thrived where they were planted, and, truth to tell, if they had thrived, they would be a problem.  So, I might just use this as an excuse to pull them out.  My guess is that I have a friend who will give them a good home. But it isn’t all sad news for the garden.  Lots of things are starting to poke their heads above ground.  And I even spotted a wayward crocus blooming.  This is a volunteer or, perhaps, a remnant from long gone days before my gardens went in.  And the day lilies are coming up.  So, in a few weeks, everything will have filled in.  And, I’ll be able to finish the pathways.  How I have been looking forward to that!

Soon the day lilies will be filling this spot!

Soon the day lilies will be filling this spot!

Winter-killed holly

Winter-killed holly

Crocus volunteer in the Secret Garden

Crocus volunteer in the Secret Garden

Also coming up are the dicentras.  In a few weeks those lovely branches full of pink hearts will arch gracefully.

Bleeding heart popping up in the corner garden.

Bleeding heart popping up in the corner garden.

April 15, Bloom Day

After our unseasonably warm early spring, we returned to some frosty days (and nights).  Some early risers got nipped.   The Dutchman’s Pipe lost some new foliage, but it will bounce back with a vengeance.  I’m not sure about the old cherry tree.  It’s too soon to tell whether the frost killed a lot of “cherry hope.”  But things are still ahead of schedule, so April’s Bloom Day is bountiful compared to last year’s.  A year ago, only the heather and a few brave violets were blooming.

The old cherry tree hanging onto some blossoms after several frosts

The heather still gets the early bloomer prize.  But the brunnera macrophylla are blooming, too.

Looking Glass Brunner (brunner macrophylla 'Looking Glass') and lots of maple seedlings

There are a few white daffodils, planted last fall, that are hanging on, but the early spring woke them up far sooner than I anticipated.

White Daffodill

Bleeding Heart (Dicentra)

Also  blooming are the Bleeding Heart.  They look like little Christmas ornaments.

Bleeding Heart

I’m not sure why I don’t have more Esther Staley French lilac blooms, but the three lilacs I planted in that area never seem to do as well as I would like them to.  The President Grevy French Lilac only got one bloom last summer.  It’s a later bloomer and I can’t tell yet whether it liked the pruning I gave it last summer.  The  Mme LeMoine French Lilic is doing ok, but I count only about 10 blooms.  The James McFarlane lilacs continue to do great, though.  And they are just starting to bud out.

The new trellis now stands at the entrance to the Secret Garden.  I’m hoping the clematis bounces back and covers it by the end of the summer.

New trellis entrance to the Secret Garden