Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Garden Debuts, Old and New Favourites

There's lots that new and blooming for the first time in the garden. First up is the epimedium that was added to the front-yard shade garden last spring. There were no blooms last year, so I was absolutely thrilled to see the flowers this morning.

The blooms of "Orange Konigin" are a delightful coppery-orange colour. They are so small that it was difficult to get a good photograph of the flower. Epimedium are great plants for dry shade (lucky for me, 'cause that's where I've planted them). As a bonus, they tolerate drought. In a few years, the sprays of flowers should create an orange haze above a good mound of foliage.

Sticking with the miniatures, daffodil "Minnow" is in bloom. At only about 10 inches tall, this is a diminutive daff. The bloom is only about the size of my thumb.

It is very possible that "Minnow" is in fact "New Baby" but I won't know for sure until "New Baby" blooms. Whatever it's name, I love it.

Tulipa Turkestanica is blooming for the first time. I am so glad I planted this species tulip. The squirrels haven't touched it and the blooms are spectacular in a carefree kind of way. It's a bloom that looks great without looking like it's trying to look great.

Sadly, Turkestanica's companions have yet to make an appearance and I'm beginning to think they might not bother. Tulipa Saxatilis and "Little Beauty" are nowhere in sight.

The smallest new bloom in the garden is Bishop's Cap or Mitrewort. I picked up some Mitella Diphylla at a native plant sale last spring and immediately divided it into six plants.

While it was difficult to get a good picture, these plants are really very charming. The flower stems stand tall with confidence.

The Tete-a-Tete daffodils are new to the garden and already a favourite. How could I not love these? They have been blooming for three weeks already! They look great on their own but next to a pulmonaria they look outstanding. I have grown pulmonaria for years and never give it enough credit. Now that I've seen it with miniature daffs, I think I have a new favourite combination.

The serviceberries are blossoming. Serviceberry has been a favourite for a few years now. At one time, it was one of the garden's earliest bloomers. Now, it has taken its place in line behind some of the flowers mentioned above. Still, I love it for its creamy white blooms that lead to a colourful June display and an even more colourful autumn display. In June, bright red berries against deep green leaves make me think of Christmas. And fiery orange fall colour make this shrub unforgettable in autumn. I love serviceberry.

Bloodroot is relatively new to the garden but a veteran compared to some of the bulbs debuting this spring. It has such a pretty bloom and the foliage is very impressive (sort of like an extremely large fig leaf). My only complaint is that I can't get enough of it. There have only been a handful of blooms this year. I want a colony. I think dry weather is certainly a factor.

I am happy to say that the garden has had something in bloom since the end of March. Just as one bloom is fading, another is taking up the slack. So, I've come to realize that "Succession Planting" is not a myth. You really can have plants bloom one after the other so that there is always something of interest. It has been a great start to spring, with old and new favourites making the garden come alive.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Coming Soon: My Very Own Cottage Garden

One month ago today I received the best message from Connie who blogs at Notes From a Cottage Garden. She was sharing a little bit of her garden and I had just won her Cottage Garden Seeds Giveaway. After three weeks in transit, the seeds arrived in a beautiful package complete with a lovely little ribbon.

Inside was a collection of seeds from Connie's beautiful garden including:

Bachelor Buttons
Calendula (various kinds)
California Poppy (orange and cream)
Cosmos (Pinks, whites, and bi-colors)
Cosmos (tall Orange)
Dairy Pink
German Catchfly
Poppy, Shirley
Rose Campion (biennial)
Mountain Garland
Wild Lupine (perennial)

I was so excited to get started and then...I got sick. Really sick! Sick in bed for eight days sick. Uggh! I'm still coughing and sputtering and sniffling but feeling better nevertheless. With the sunshine calling to me today, I gathered up my strength and prepared two areas for Connie's seeds.

The first is a small patch of garden that sits in shade all morning but gets full-on sun in the afternoon. Some purple coneflowers and maiden grass are already growing here and should mix well with the new flower additions.

The second spot is right in front of my tall bearded irises. They should be done blooming by June. The foliage will fade into the background as the cottage flowers come into their own. I will add a third area of cottage garden flowers but need to prepare it first (it is in need of some serious weeding!) I'm happy to say that there will be enough seeds to share in the community garden down the street. It seems the whole neighbourhood will have a cottage garden to enjoy. Thank you Connie for sharing a little bit of your garden. I'll post pictures of progress in the months to come.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Yellow in the Garden

Visiting with family kept me busy this beautiful Easter long-weekend. I came back from an overnight stay to find the garden had come alive with yellow blooms. The Tete-a-Tete daffodil is so small it makes the Dwarf Iris "Cantab" look like a giant. The bright yellow of the Tete-a-Tete's looks brilliant next to the cobalt blue of "Cantab," (although I have failed to get a picture that really captures the contrast.)

The King Alfreds have begun blooming in the backyard. They are truly giants among daffodils.

Even the windowsill daffodils are getting in on the action. This window box always presents a dilemma in summer. Nothing has ever grown here really well mainly because I forget to water. The simplicity of the daffodils is appealing but what's a good summer alternative that won't mind a little (okay, a lot) of drought? Suggestions are welcome. If I can't think of anything I have not ruled out an artificial window display.

And, finally the Dwarf Iris "Danfordiae" are showing off their sunny faces. Last spring was much more miserable than this year but the brilliant yellow of these blooms got me through. I loved them so much I planted 80 bulbs last fall. While the colour hasn't disappointed, the performance of the bulbs has me worried. So far, out of 80 bulbs only about half-a-dozen have bloomed. Here's hoping that a few early birds have made an appearance with the rest still to come, because a wide swath of these bright bloomers would be a welcome sight indeed.