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.


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.

Catching the Late Afternoon Sun

Wandered through the gardens yesterday, camera in hand.  Here’s how the light played.


I know I’ve posted a number of pics of this columbine, but it’s so pretty…


That’s H. Halcyon, a medium sized hosta. It hangs onto its “blueness” all summer. It is a layer or two of wax that gives hostas like Halcyon their blues. Some varieties lose their waxy coating in hot weather which makes them appear greener..


Abuja Drinking Gourd was Hosta of the Year in 2014. Mine has occupied this space for five or six years and it continues to charm me. I love its deeply textured blue leaves and the way they cup.

This charming and solitary allium popped up just over the fence from my lower garden.

This charming and solitary allium popped up just over the fence from my lower garden.


The Cheddar Pinks have been teasing me with lots of bud. No any more.


The old dogwood in the Secret Garden is in full bloom and hosts oodles of buzzy insects. Later when its flowers have turned to clusters of dark blue berries, birds find a feast, too.


The hosta bed behind the garage in the Secret Garden is filling in. That is Great Expectations near the fence. Francee is nestled next to it. Next to Francee is Stained Glass, one of my favorites. It has wonderfully scented flowers, lovely color, and lots of texture. In front of Stained Glass is June, another Hosta of the Year in 2001. It is a sport of Halcyon.


No one told me that Great Expectations was a difficult hosta to grow. It must like gravely soil and the dappled sun it gets in the Secret Garden. I love deeply textured hostas, and the fact that I can get all that color, size, AND texture makes this one of my favorites.


I planted On Stage late last summer. I was first drawn just to the name, but I also liked the streaky leaves.

I think house sparrows finally whittled the opening to this birdhouse so they could build a nest.  Usually wrens have nested here, but with the larger opening, I suspect they will find a more secure nesting spot.  There are babies inside.  I had hoped to catch the bright yellow mouths, but they didn't cooperate.

I think house sparrows finally whittled the opening to this birdhouse so they could build a nest. Usually wrens have nested here, but with the larger opening, I suspect they will find a more secure nesting spot. There are babies inside. I had hoped to catch the bright yellow mouths, but they didn’t cooperate.

First Snow Flakes

I didn’t think we were quite ready to see snow flakes, but as I was sipping coffee and reading the NY Times on-line, fluffy white flakes floated past my window.  I still have roses blooming!  I’ve known roses to bloom until Christmas if the weather has been mild.  But it is early November and while many trees still have some leaves precariously clinging to winter-sleepy branches, the leaves won’t last much longer.

My bald cyprus is about to drop its coppery needles.

Bald Cyprus

Carpet Rose still blooming










But the big news is that the hurricane force winds we experienced last week blew over the two aluminum arches that form the entrance to the Secret Garden.  The winds snapped one of the “legs” of the first arch, though, it was bent and weak already.  The two different kinds of clematis that arches supported are fine.  But, the weight of the clematis makes the arches too heavy for my to set upright.  I’ve asked a friend to help me, but I don’t know when he will have time.  And, it’s COLD.

Fallen Arches 🙂

After the winds...

Our high winds lasted two days, actually.  They were preceded by unusually high temperatures for this time of year.  That almost always signals that storms will pass through.  And they did.  In fact, I was doing an advising session with a grad student on the top floor of my building when the tornado sirens went off.  We had to go down to the first floor and wind our way into the interior hallways of the public televisions station that shares my building.  The hallway began to fill with faculty and students who were taking classes, and ultimately a few of us ended up in the green room.  That wasn’t bad at all.  There was cushy leather furniture and a large flat screen television that allowed us to keep up to date on the storm.  We finally got the all clear.  But 15 minutes later the sirens went off again.  So, we trundled off to the first floor again.  I was finally able to finish the advising appointment and go home.  Different winds blew in the following day.  Thunder storm winds come in bursts.  But the second day, even though the skies were clear, the winds blew so strongly and constantly that they almost knocked me over when I stopped to put gas in the car.  That was the day that the arches blew over.

But after that, I knew it was time to take the tricycle rack off the car.  My tricycling was finished for the season.  And today’s snow flurries added the final end mark to that reality.  I tried to ride a stationary bike at the gym earlier this week.  It’s just not the same.  I had hoped to ride for an hour, something that is so easy to do on a recumbent tricycle that goes somewhere.  And even though I was plugged into my IPod and listening to an audio book, I could only last a half hour.

Winter is coming.  Perhaps it’s time to bake bread.

Sunny Sunday and Lovin’ the Lilies

Temps have come down a bit–into the mid-80’s.  And the humidity is better.  I had a little get-together for neighbors Friday night and it was so pleasant in the garden. So, good company and companions make for a lovely evening.

Lilies and the Lady

The day lilies are in their glory. But I’m discovering that my record keeping last summer is slightly flawed.  Which clump of lilies is Druid’s Chant?  And why doesn’t Lavender Stardust look like the pictures on the internet? I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter.  They are just as lovely.

I found this dragonfly resting on a lily frond.

Dragonfly on Lily Frond

He/she was very patient as I took a picture.

I’m still struggling with the “False Garden.”  I bought the wrought iron bench a couple years ago at the Garfield Park Art Show.  It has sat in a number of different places, none of which has been quite right.  It’s now in the False Garden, and I’m not sure this is the right home for it either.  Perhaps I need to take out the False Lupine and the False Sunflower, move the bench closer to the arborvitaes, and put the lupine and sunflower someplace else.    For the time being, some house plants have taken up residence on the bench.  I moved them out there when I had my concert because they were taking up too much space in the sun room.  I needed seating space.  As it turned out, I needed standing room, too.  Almost 50 people attended.  That’s a lot of audience for my house.

Below are a couple of shots of the Secret Garden this afternoon.  I love the textures.  The white liatris in the west side of the garden is starting to bloom, but the clump on the east near the garage isn’t quite there yet.

West side of Secret Garden

East side of Secret Garden near entrance

Below these Secret Garden images are a couple of before and after shots of the False Garden.  “After” isn’t quite accurate, though.  I have a lot more to do in this garden.

I am, by the way, officially out of those flat limestone rocks that I found in the secret garden that first summer I lived here. They have served me very well.  This picture reminds me that I have to paint that cross piece on the garden gate.

False Garden July 11, 2010

False Garden in 2009

Shredded bark makes the garden pop!

Yesterday was mulch day and the garden looks wonderful with its fresh new covering.  And, four more arborvitae went in yesterday, too, with a little help from the guys who brought the mulch.  They also moved the broken fountain into the secret garden.  A friend tonight suggested I try aquarium glue on it.  It won’t be able to function as a fountain anymore, but the glue might make it water tight enough to serve as a bird bath.  It looks nice in its new location.

Broken fountain at the end of the secret garden

The nikko blue hydrangeas in front of it may overwhelm it in a couple of years, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes.    Those are various heucheras in the foreground, with hostas, of course.  The orange leafed heurchera in the bottom left is Southern Comfort.  That is a Great Expectation hosta in the upper right.  There are actually three of those plus some others.  But the Great Expectations are looking particularly good this spring.  That’s the dreaded Virginia Creeper behind the fountain.  It makes a nice green wall.  The trick, of course, is to help it mind its manners.  It does like to sneak up on things.

I bought a Rhapsody in Blue floribunda rose at a family owned garden center a couple days ago and I am loving it’s beautiful plum blooms and its sweet fragrance. It has lovely white veins at the heart of the blossom.

Rapsody in Blue floribunda rose

I am struggling, though, with the side garden, the “false” garden.  I don’t like the way I have used the remaining flag stone.  It’s hard to walk on and just looks messy.  I need to rethink.  I also haven’t figured out the lines of the garden yet. But the new arborvitae look good.

False garden

I thought I would include a picture here of the back of the garden lady sculpture.  I love the braid.

Garden lady sculpture

That is a tardiva hydrangea in the center.

I’m looking forward to seeing all the day lilies in bloom in July.

View from above

From the balcony

I took this photo from the balcony this morning.  It indicates that I forgot to put the perennial spade in the garage last night, and I left a container out, too.  Sigh.  But it also shows the lines of the lower garden and the Secret Garden.  I can barely see the new rose I bought Saturday–a floribunda named Rhapsody in Blue.  I transplanted two of the carpet roses to the border across the way and put Rhapsody in where they were.

I also dug up the pygmy barberries for perhaps the fourth time.  They were in the “false garden.”  But I stumbled on lamiastrum galeobdolon (false lamium, Herman’s Pride) at a garden center on Saturday.  So I took the barberry out and will put the lamiastrum there.  I’m really struggling with the false garden.  I don’t know whether I need to abandon the idea or tough it out.  The false indigo isn’t as big as I thought I would be.  And I can’t tell whether the false lupine survived.  I think it didn’t, but there is one plant I can’t identify.  I’m hoping I wrote it down in the garden book, but…

I also bought two peonies and put those in last night.  One is white.  The other is red.  The white one went over near the Rose of Sharon. The red one went near the entrance to the Secret Garden.  There was a space there that needed filling.  I also planted a Striptease hosta that for some reason never got planted last fall.  It survived in its pot all winter, so I gave it a better home in the Secret Garden with some other hostas.

I dug the holes for the next four arborvitae last night.  I wonder if I can wrestle them into place by myself.  A friend helped with the first four.  Stay tuned.  We’ll have to see what I get accomplished today. I’m going to get some red petunias for the front yard and perhaps some other annuals to put in containers.

I wonder when the shredded bark will arrive….

The first roses

I can’t believe how big the hansa roses are.   And they are starting to bloom.  It’s barely May and I have roses!

Wildberry Breeze hansa rose

The bridal veil spirea is also blooming.  It’s going to need some pruning in a couple of weeks.  There’s a nice Francis Williams hosta that is buried under the veil and needs to be unveiled.

A friend helped me plant four large arborvitae today.  They were $20 each at Costco, too good a buy to pass up.  But they were so heavy I couldn’t lift them out of the pot.

Bridal veil spirea

Bleeding Heart

Three or four years ago I planted two bleeding hearts in a little corner.  Behind it is an old rambler rose that a neighbor gave me the first summer I moved in.  It is doing well, but the bleeding heart is thriving.  I planted another one behind the garage in a little corner, but it doesn’t get warm sun early in the day, and it doesn’t have sun warmed bricks to urge it on.

Bleeding Heart

I realized last summer that my little Olympus camera, though a little work horse, could not take the kinds of pictures that I wanted to take.  So, gulp, yesterday, in anticipation of my tax refund, I bought a Nikon D3000.  This may be too much of a work horse, but it was on clearance and I needed to strike when that sale price was hot.  By the time the battery was charged, it was dark, so the first pictures I took were of the cat.  This morning, though, I took shots of the bleeding heart.  I’m off to get more fertilizer, and may take more pictures when I get back.

Ah, spring.  🙂

An Early Spring

An Early Magnolia Bloom

My glorious magnolia is in full bloom, two weeks ahead of schedule.  I’ve been worried that it would get nipped by frosty nights, but so far, it has stayed clothed in fragrant pink blossoms.  The old girl can still put on a show.

And so can the old cherry tree in the backyard.  In fact, a number of things are blooming, including the bleeding heart.

All winter I dreamed about the garden.  I settled in at my little desk in the kitchen and watched the snow drift past the fountain.  I dutifully spread cracked corn for the birds and rabbits.  And took stale bread out for the squirrels.  But two weeks ago, I became a gardener again.  I dug up three caryopteris bushes and moved them farther back.  I cleared away the dead peony foliage and placed the wire cages over the the red/green spears of new growth.

And over the weekend I started gathering up the rocks that I had placed like necklaces in the secret garden.  I wanted to get them out of the way so that this year’s layer of shredded bark could go down.  I started placing them along the brick edges of the crushed limestone paths, and realized that I liked the look.  So, I placed them all there.  I think I like this look a lot, and now I can go on rock quests.  I’ve become the neighborhood rock pilferer.   I discovered a bunch of them almost hidden by brush at a school a few blocks away.  Surely no one will notice if I rescue them from obscurity.  But I will need more than the dozen I get there.

The quest begins.

I like this look!

The cherry's abloom in the northland...

The bleeding heart in the little sheltered corner is in full bloom.