Shades of Fall on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

It’s time for the anemones, and Honorine Joubert glows, even on a gloomy mid-September day.
Anemone Robustissima (I think) is rambling all over its domain just inside the entrance to the Secret Garden.
A friendly bumble bee enjoys a late season meal. This is likely a new queen who will mate with a male, find a nesting space in the hollow of a tree or a rodent hole underground, and hibernate through the winter. The male bees and female drones will die before winter. In the spring, the new bees will grow from larvae and then pupate. A few weeks later the first drones will emerge from the nest and harvest pollen for their queen.
This Alba clematis kicks out the occasional bloom all summer, and it’s doing so now, just as the Sweet Autumn clematis begins its big show. These two varieties occupy the same arbor.
You can see the Sweet Autumn clematis peeking out between a morning glory vine that decided not to bloom this summer. I’m not sure why, but I’ll plant it again next spring. I like those true blue flowers.
I am grateful for annuals like these pink impatiens that produce color all summer. I’m going to do more with caladium next spring, and come up with a better plan for this bed.
Lucy think’s the Secret Garden belongs to her.
Hello, Hibiscus! She’s joyously blooming in the Secret Garden.
Zinnias and marigolds keep the lower garden interesting. The mushroom shaped piece in the lower left is a staddle, or, rather, a reproduction of a staddle. They were used in England to raise granaries off the ground to discourage rodents and moisture from getting into the grain or game that was stored inside. I love the moss that grows on top.
More zinnias and marigolds for color, this time in front of the Dutchman’s Pipe, the green “wall” that separates the lower garden from the Secret Garden.
The great thing about going to garden centers in late summer is that you can pick up some great deals. I bought two pots of very healthy looking pansies thinking I would divide them by color and sprinkle them throughout the gardens. But they were so happy in their pots. And that’s where they’ve stayed.
And here’s a beauty shot of one little flower deep in thought.
I also picked up this bag of white impatiens for just $3.00.
In the spring and early summer, I mutter curses at the old rose of sharon that grows in the lower garden. I’m constantly pulling out baby sharons. But then it blooms and I have to give a little bit of love to this tree.
So, what’s this? Well, there’s a rose of sharon seedling. And some weeds. And what looks like a partially beheaded Zagreb Coreopsis. I would draw your attention to the hole in the center bottom. That is the entrance to a yellow jacket colony. Yellow jackets are wasps, not hornets. They kill insects and eat them and they are aggressive. So, nobody wants to play gardener near this entrance.

As always, a thank you to May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, a monthly collection blogs that focus on what’s growing on the 15th of each month. If you are interested in gardening, go to her site and sign up. She has a lot to offer.

Is it June yet? GBBD 06/15/2019

Geranium and peonies. Yes, the peonies flopped, but it’s nothing a little twine can’t remedy.

I can’t remember a cooler or wetter June than the one we are having right now. But, the garden loves it. Ok, so the hostas are suffering from edema. Yes, hostas can suffer from water retention. But everything else seems to enjoy this prelude into summer.

I just got back from England a few days ago, 24 hours before a local garden club visited my gardens. So, the day that I should have been recovering from jet lag, I was in the gardens getting everything ready. There were still annuals to plant and dog evidence to remove. This will be my first summer sharing the gardens with two standard poodles. I’m so grateful for my garden guy, Richard. He worked in the gardens twice when I was away and on the day the garden club visited. If it weren’t for him, the gardens would have not looked nearly so tidy. Note the new fence that challenged me to rethink some of the beds, and I’m quite pleased with that challenge.

So, what’s blooming? Scroll down.

The clematis is having a great time, but the bleeding heart is starting to topple over and will need shearing in a week or so. I’m not sure how this bed will turn out. The Gomphrema that I planted is getting trampled by the dogs, so who knows whether I will get anything that can go into winter bouquets.
By next month the State Fair zinnias will be tall and blooming. This is part of the rethinking that I have to do because of the fence. Note the purple petunias. There will always be a space for these because of their fragrance. They smell like vanilla. Petunias are more fragrant in the evening and so I like to walk past them at night.
My back door is my main entrance and this is what greets me when I come home. I almost always have a bag of something hanging from a nail under the light. And this little cement planter that I got from a neighbor is just the right size for a collection of plants. I decided to make my own potted arrangements this year. This one isn’t really finished yet, but I didn’t have time to put anything more in it.
Of course the peonies want to flop over. But a few carefully positioned tomato cages help keep them upright. The darker peonies were here when I bought the house, and I was sure I had banished them. Apparently not. But I’m glad they survived. I like to fill in blank spaces with annuals. The marigolds peeking out will provide that color when the perennials finish doing their thing. Notice the stones. When I first created these beds in the lower garden, I used stones from a patio that had all but disappeared behind the picket fence in the background. I placed them flat. This spring I decided to dig them up so they wouldn’t get buried again by time and grass. And then I wondered what things would look like if I stood them up on their edges. I’m still thinking about that, but so far, so good.
The blue in the background is Walker’s Low catmint. I love it, but this picture makes them look a little bluer than they are. But I’ve gone completely catmint crazy over the years and I don’t see any end to that brand of crazy. The catmint is at its peak right now, but it will give out a limited bloom throughout the summer if I cut it back. The native solitary bees love it. The pot to the right is one I made. Gosh, but it’s so much cheaper to do them myself rather than buy them already put together. Why didn’t I think of this earlier?
It’s only the pots of annuals that are giving off color, but don’t these hostas look gorgeous anyway? They and the ferns are loving the cool wet May and June.
Orange poppies, Alchemella, Lady’s Mantle, and, in the back, Amsonia provide nice early color in the Secret Garden. And the geraniums and pots of annuals pick up the slack when the perennials call it quits for the season. But day lilies, echinacea, and coreopsis will enter in a few weeks. The box in the pathway? It’s herbs and two tomato plants. They are destined for pots.
More Lady’s Mantle, and, somewhere in there is lupine and delphinium. They aren’t quite ready to bloom. I think. I hope.

Kousa Dogwood. What a glorious show this year. Last year it got nipped by a late frost. It’s making up for that now. I love how this tree is maturing.
The mock orange is looking better now that the lilacs have been cut back. Not the Amsonia. I love that blue.
I’m not a huge fan of coral bells, and I’ve lost track of what variety this is, but, it’s blooming.
I think the star of the month is the Giant Allium. I planted these last fall and was hoping for a dramatic showing in June. And that’s what I have. I wonder if I should plant more this fall.
I seem to have a blue/purple theme going, but I like the allium and the Walker’s Low catmint that are blooming in the entrance garden. And, there’s always room for red.

Hellebores!

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: 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.