Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2014

Spiraea x vanhouttei 'Pink Ice' at Hayefield.com

Thank goodness for Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day! If it weren’t for the need to occasionally stop and take pictures, I doubt I’d have taken the time to really notice what’s going on in the garden over the past month. Things are looking much tidier now, but it’s taken a lot of weeding and clipping and pruning to get them that way. (By the way, you can see larger, clearer versions of the images by clicking on them.)

Side Garden at Hayefield.com

Front Garden at Hayefield.com

Side Garden Foundation Planting at Hayefield.com

There’s still plenty of work to do, of course. Once it rains, I’ll start planting out the annuals. In the side garden, all of the Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima) that lined the path died out this winter, so I’m having to dig out the remains. Fortunately, I have some nice-sized clumps of tufted hair grass (Deschampsia cespitosa) in a holding bed, so I’ll use those as a replacement and see how they work out.

Side Garden Path Minus Stipa at Hayefield.com

I’m also pretty pleased to have made some changes in the area I called the Aster Path. In the last few years, I’ve let the native asters seed around, for lack of anything better to put there. This spring, though, I had loads of divisions of regular and golden meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria and F. ulmaria ‘Aurea’), ‘Gerald Darby’ iris, giant coneflower (Rudbeckia maxima), and ‘Cassian’ fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides), as well as a lot of seedlings of American ipecac (Porteranthus stipulatus), and no where else to put them. So, I dug out several wheelbarrow-loads of aster roots and planted the divisions there.

Aster Path at Hayefield.com

I doubt it will look like much this year, but I look forward to seeing how the new combinations will work out.

The garden hasn’t been the only spring project: early May was also shearing time. It looked like a couple of alpacas exploded in the catch pen.

Alpaca Shearing - The Aftermath at Hayefield.com

The boys look 10 years younger now, and 100 times cooler. (They don’t appear to be thrilled about it, but they really are. They were so good, it took only three sessions to get off 95 percent of their fleece. I have only their lower legs to finish.)

Alpacas Duncan and Daniel after Shearing at Hayefield.com

Moving on the the bloom highlights of the last month: I usually don’t buy many spring annuals, but the color of this Flirtation Orange twinspur (Diascia ‘Dala Oran’) really caught my eye, and it has been blooming beautifully for well over 3 weeks now.

Flirtation Orange twinspur (Diascia ‘Dala Oran’) at Hayefield.com

Mid- to late spring also brings out a number of biennials, including forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica)…

Forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica) at Hayefield.com

…red campion (Silene dioica)—which is not red but a rich rosy pink…

Red campion (Silene dioica) at Hayefield.com

…and a new one for me this year: dyer’s woad (Isatis tinctoria). At first I thought it looked a bit weedy, but it’s been in bloom for about 2 weeks now and it’s really growing on me.

Dyer's woad (Isatis tinctoria) at Hayefield.com

I’m not planning to use it for dyeing either fabric or skin; it was just an experiment, to see if I’d have luck with it. It seems to be happy here, so I’ll probably let it self-sow.

Dyer's woad (Isatis tinctoria) at Hayefield.com

Moving on to perennials…these wild columbines (Aquilegia canadensis) opened just a day or two before the first hummingbird appeared.

Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) at Hayefield.com

Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia) is another of the few reds this time of year.

Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia) at Hayefield.com

Red epimedium (Epimedium x rubrum) has so much white in the flower that it doesn’t look all that red, but it’s still lovely.

Red epimedium (Epimedium x rubrum) at Hayefield.com

Below is Epimedium x versicolor ‘Sulphureum’.

Epimedium x versicolor 'Sulphureum' at Hayefield.com

Among the spring blues are Chocolate Chip ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Valfredda’)…

Chocolate Chip ajuga (Ajuga reptans ‘Valfredda’) at Hayefield.com

…‘Stairway to Heaven’ creeping Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans)…

‘Stairway to Heaven’ creeping Jacob’s ladder (Polemonium reptans) at Hayefield.com

…and ‘Big Blue’ creeping speedwell (Veronica repens).

‘Big Blue’ creeping speedwell (Veronica repens) at Hayefield.com

A few perennial whites include striped lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis ‘Striata’)—though really, the flowers are secondary to the foliage…

Striped lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria majalis ‘Striata’) at Hayefield.com

…‘White Pine’ strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa)…

‘White Pine’ strawberry (Fragaria x ananassa) at Hayefield.com

…May apple (Podophyllum peltatum)…

May apple (Podophyllum peltatum) at Hayefield.com

…and dwarf comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum), which has proven to be a terrific groundcover for dry shade, thriving even in the root-filled soil under the silver willow.

Dwarf comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) at Hayefield.com

Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) is a spreader too, but it’s nowhere near as vigorous for me, maybe because it’s getting too much sun here. I planted one pot around 10 years ago and still have only 3 or 4 sprigs. The flowers aren’t showy, but they’re interesting if you get down to see them at close range. The plant can get much taller where it’s happy—to around 4 feet, apparently—but my plants are barely 10 inches tall.

Yellowroot (Xanthorhiza simplicissima) at Hayefield.com

There’s a lot of variation in the wild Jack-in-the-pulpits (Arisaema triphyllum) around here. I’m not sure how this one ended up in the border behind the house, but it’s very welcome to be there.

Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) at Hayefield.com

Some bulb highlights from the last month include ‘Gravetye Giant’ summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum)…

‘Gravetye Giant’ summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) at Hayefield.com

‘Gravetye Giant’ summer snowflake (Leucojum aestivum) at Hayefield.com

…‘Blue Spike’ grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum)…

‘Blue Spike’ grape hyacinth (Muscari armeniacum) at Hayefield.com

…yellow-and-white ‘Pipit’ daffodil (Narcissus)…

‘Pipit’ daffodil (Narcissus) at Hayefield.com

…and pure white ‘Thalia’.

'Thalia' daffodil (Narcissus) at Hayefield.com

I don’t have much luck with tulips, but a few that have lasted more than three years include ‘Spring Green’…

'Spring Green' tulip at Hayefield.com

…‘Yellow Spring Green’…

'Yellow Spring Green' tulip at Hayefield.com

…and Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’.

Tulipa clusiana ‘Cynthia’ at Hayefield.com

I think my favorites, though, are the checkered or guinea hen lilies (Fritillaria meleagris). They seem to be spreading themselves around, so they must be happy here.

Fritillaria meleagris at Hayefield.com

Fritillaria meleagris at Hayefield.com

Fritillaria meleagris 'Alba' at Hayefield.com

Ok, the next is a seedhead, not a bloom, but it’s still interesting: the just-opened seed capsules on winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis).

Winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) seedheads at Hayefield.com

Lots of shrubs are springing out now too, including several flowering quinces: ‘Scarlet Storm’…

Chaenomeles speciosa 'Scarlet Storm' at Hayefield.com

…‘Pink Storm’ (below)…

Chaenomeles speciosa 'Pink Storm' at Hayefield.com

and ‘Contorta’ (below).

Chaenomeles speciosa 'Contorta' at Hayefield.com

A bunch of other white-flowering shrubs include Snow Day Surprise pearl bush (Exochorda ‘Niagara’)…

Snow Day Surprise pearl bush (Exochorda ‘Niagara’) at Hayefield.com

…fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii)…

Fothergilla (Fothergilla gardenii) at Hayefield.com

…red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)…

Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) at Hayefield.com

…dwarf Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’)…

Dwarf Koreanspice viburnum (Viburnum carlesii ‘Compactum’) at Hayefield.com

…golden wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Aurea’)…

Golden wayfaring tree (Viburnum lantana ‘Aurea’) at Hayefield.com

…and ‘Flying Dragon’ hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata).

‘Flying Dragon’ hardy orange (Poncirus trifoliata) at Hayefield.com

Some trees are showing off too. Among them are Asian pear…

Asian pear at Hayefield.com

…flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)…

Cornus florida at Hayefield.com

…our native redbud (Cercis canadensis)…

Cercis canadensis at Hayefield.com

…and a non-native redbud (Cercis yunnanensis, a.k.a. C. glabra). If anyone knows a retail source of this species in the U.S., I’d appreciate a lead, to help someone who is looking to acquire a couple. I planted this one around 25 years ago and have never seen any seedlings from it.

Cercis yunnanensis, a.k.a. C. glabra, at Hayefield.com

Another interesting older specimen that I planted at Mom’s soon after I started gardening is ivy-leaved maple (Acer cissifolium).

Ivy-leaved maple (Acer cissifolium) at Hayefield.com

The tree itself is delicate and pretty, but what I like best about it is the sweet, carrying fragrance it shares when in flower.

Ivy-leaved maple (Acer cissifolium) at Hayefield.com

The bark of this particular one has developed some nice-looking lichen patches over the years.

Ivy-leaved maple (Acer cissifolium) trunk at Hayefield.com

Two more trees that I planted back then with lovely bark now include a gorgeous paperbark maple (Acer griseum)…

Paperbark maple (Acer griseum) trunk at Hayefield.com

…and seven-sons tree (Heptacodium miconioides).

Seven-sons tree (Heptacodium miconioides) trunk at Hayefield.com

Well, I’d normally segue into some foliage highlights at this point, but I’ve already taken up enough of your time today, so I think I’ll save those for my end-of-the-month entry. To enjoy more vernal splendor (and autumnal abundance from gardeners in the Southern Hemisphere), check out Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens. Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day from all of us at Hayefield!

Happy Duncan at Hayefield.com

22 responses to this post.

  1. It’s interesting to see the early progress in your garden. I really enjoy my ground cover Comfrey, I use it extensively in my orchard to suppress weeds. I didn’t know there was a fragrant flowered maple, I hardly notice the flowers on my maple trees. I admire your fascinating Jack in the Pulpits, I’ve been growing the related Mouse Plant, Arisarum proboscideum, which is a lot of fun to watch also.

    That’s a great idea, Hannah: using the comfrey under fruit trees. The bees love it, and it’s thick enough to crowd out many weeds. Yes, fragrance isn’t something you’d usually associate with a maple; it surprises me each year, when I ought to know to expect it by now. I looked up the mouse plant and it’s really cute. I may have to give that one a try!
    -Nan

  2. Posted by christine on May 15, 2014 at 8:07 am

    i always enjoy reading your posts:) its very interesting to see everything developing.

    Thanks, Christine. I tried to keep the text to a minimum this time, or I’d have never gotten it finished, but I think the pictures don’t need much explanation. I’m glad you enjoyed them!
    -Nan

  3. Posted by Nancy Stone on May 15, 2014 at 8:26 am

    Comfrey is used in permaculture for orchards, it is a nitrogen fixer and makes nutrients available to the trees. Amazing the varieties you have and always an education to take the digital walk. I suspect you had the boys trained to help with the heavy lifting during clean-up.

    Hi there, Nancy. I’m not sure about comfrey actually fixing nitrogen–it would have to be a legume to do that–but I know the leaves can be a great addition to compost piles too. The boys do not thank you for the suggestion that they should be at all helpful; they consider themselves to be lilies of the field.
    -Nan

  4. Thanks for the lovely pictures. Love the boys; they are not camera-shy. The dwarf comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum) caught my eye; guess I will do a bit of research for that…

    It’s quite a spreader once it settles in, Mary, but if you have a tough spot and need a filler, it’s worth considering. Thanks for visiting us today!
    -Nan

  5. Such richness in color and form! No need to go to the Philadelphia Flower Show! Although seeing it on my desktop computer screen is second best to seeing it with all the natural fragrance and background sounds.
    Thanks, Nancy, for another great album of beauty.

    Oh, yes, I so wish I could share the scents as well. I’m very glad that you enjoyed today’s tour. As I was finishing it, I realized that “Verna” means spring. How lucky you are to have such a lovely name–and how appropriate it is for a gardener!
    -Nan

  6. Thanks for joining in for Bloom Day! A delightful post as always. I feel like my garden is maybe a week or so ahead of yours right now. The boys like very handsome with their spring cuts!

    Thank you for taking the time to visit, Carol, on what must be the one of the busiest Bloom Days of the year for you at May Dreams. I agree–we’re still a bit behind you now, but I have a feeling we’ll be caught up by next month.
    -Nan

  7. I’m always overwhelmed when I visit. Your garden is so lush and full. I really enjoy your context shots, too, instead of just close-ups. I will have to check out dwarf comfrey as i have plenty of dry shade. And I, too, love those checkered frits.

    I found a couple of online sources in the U.S. for Symphytum grandiflorum: Companion Plants and Earthly Pursuits. It’s also known as Symphytum ibericum. There’s a blue-flowered form as well, called ‘Hidcote Blue’, and one with yellow-variegated leaves, known as ‘Goldsmith’. Lazy S’s Farm currently lists ‘Goldsmith’, pure white ‘Alba’, and pink ‘Rose.
    -Nan

    • The Goldsmith variety did not have the vigor of regular Symphytum grandiflorum for me. I have the impression that it has the gift of allelopathy, since so few weeds can grow in it.

      I had the same experience with ‘Goldsmith’, Hannah. It also tends to get crispy edges if the soil dries out too much, which is a common issue here in mid- to late summer. But I thought I’d mention it as an option anyway, for folks who might want to try it for themselves.
      -Nan

  8. Posted by Susan on May 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Love the llama pics! LOL! I really appreciate the seed heads photo of the aconite. I’d not noticed them before and now will search. Thank you!

    I’ve had winter aconites for many years and never noticed the seedheads before, either! I’m not sure why they caught my eye this spring, but once I started to look, I found quite a few. They’re welcome to seed around here as much as they like.
    -Nan

  9. Great bloom day pictures! Things have really come along and I like the green a whole lot better than the dried winter debris :)
    I’m also starting to really like the checkered lilies -now that they’re settling in. The blooms last a nice long time and the checkering is so interesting.
    Love the barks too!
    Frank

    Hey, Frank! Yeah, it’s great to be finished with hauling all of the debris through the meadow to a big pile out back. At least there was less than there would have been in the fall. Now, we just need some rain so I can get back to planting and weeding. I hope your garden is coming along well this spring, and that all of your seedlings are thriving!
    -Nan

  10. Posted by Nada Bulus on May 15, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Here’s a link to a possible source for Cercis yunnanensis. It is by special order though. It can be propagated by semi hardwood cuttings.

    http://plants.gardensupplyco.com/12190003/Plant/3402/Celestial_Plum_Redbud


    I really appreciate that, Nada. I will pass the link along to the reader who was searching for a pair.
    -Nan

    • Posted by Nada Bulus on May 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

      I really enjoy reading your blog and I love your books, especially “Grasses”. I never have enough of it!

      That’s very kind of you to say, Nada, and great to hear. Thanks so much!
      -Nan

  11. Bloom Day is a great exercise. You’ve clearly been busy – I like seeing the structural changes, as well as your wonderful plants. I was particularly intrigued by the winter aconite but, alas, it’s not suited to my area and, after recent plant losses associated with what seems to be our new normal spring weather conditions in southern California, I’m making a deliberate effort to be more circumspect about my plant choices. Some plants I’ll just have to enjoy in pictures. Happy GBBD, Nan!

    With so many cool plants to choose from for your area, Kris, you’re not missing out on much by not having a few little aconites. I was kind of surprised to lose my Stipa tenuissima over the winter, considering the ample snow cover we had, but so it goes. We just keep trying, right? Or, as you say, we can admire them in other people’s gardens.
    -Nan

  12. Posted by kate patrick on May 15, 2014 at 10:30 pm

    Nan, I love to see your garden wake up for the year. It’s really interesting to watch it evolve and change and to see the changes you are making. It appears you must be about 4 weeks behind us in the season as our daffs are now finished and have been for some time. We have peonies, clematis and all varieties of iris in bloom here in TN right now and the trees are 90% fully leafed-out. I too lost some of my larger Stipa tenuissima clumps but fortunately there are some little seedlings coming on to replace them. I also lost rosemary, caryopteris, and some abelias over the winter. I try to look at the losses as opportunities to try new things in the garden. I like the shots of the different tree barks. Such details really add richness and texture to the garden. The alpacas are simply comic relief! What ridiculous animals they are, especially after their hair cuts, but so endearing!

    Oh yes, it does sound like you are well ahead of us, Kate. It seems like it has been unusually cool here, but it’s actually been a pretty normal spring, going by the average daily temperatures. It’s hard to even recognize “normal” anymore! And you are so right: “ridiculous” is a good word to describe the post-shearing effect. They are silly-looking creatures at the best of times, but it’s true that they are endearing as well. I enjoy seeing them look so much younger and lighter, and they feel really velvety now too.
    -Nan

  13. Wow, I feel like I just toured a nursery. So many common plants but with unique uncommon traits (the variegated lily of the valley, black & blue ajuga …) I’ll be back for more visits.
    Ray

    Welcome, Ray, and thanks for visiting today. I look forward to having you as a regular reader. Happy Bloom Day to you!
    -Nan

  14. Wonderful as always! I am perpetually in awe of your garden and the time you are willing to take to share its beauty and your knowledge with us. Besides a green thumb, you have a wonderful photographic eye. I especially love the asian pear with the blue building background! What camera and lens do you use? Thanks for all your hard work!!

    Hey, there, Julie! I hope your spring is going well so far. Thanks for stopping by to celebrate Bloom Day with us. This post actually marks the debut of my new camera: a Sony SLT A65 DSLR Camera with DT 18-55mm f3.5 – 5.6 SAM lens.
    -Nan

  15. Wow, you’ve got a lot going on there, all beautiful! And it looks like you’re really just starting or in the middle of your spring. We’re about to start on summer down south but it’s been a nice long spring nonetheless. ‘Thalia’ is one of my favorites daffs. Not only are they beautiful but they seem to get better each year. Happy GBBD Nan!

    I completely agree about ‘Thalia’, Jean: it has been amazingly vigorous here, and the multiple flowers make the clumps look so full. You’re starting summer now, and we’re back to the 40s at night this week: brr! Just brought all of the coleus, sweet potatoes, cotton, and other tenders back into the greenhouse until our weather settles about 50 again. The only thing predictable about spring is its unpredictability, right?
    -Nan

  16. May I respectfully say that the boys look even more comical than usual? They really are the most charming creatures. And just look at the beauty all that llama manure produces. I do like that dyer’s woad too.

    You may even say it disrespectfully, Denise; they won’t mind. I tell them how silly they are all the time, and as long as I bring them something nice to eat when I say it, they don’t hold a grudge. And yes, they are very generous in supplying manure for the garden. I’m glad to hear that someone else likes the look of the woad. It reminds me of patrinia–just a couple of feet shorter and several months earlier.
    -Nan

  17. just Lovely :)
    and do not miss SATURDAY SHOW OFF
    it is FUN :)
    Welcome
    The Roseman

    Thanks for visiting, Roseman. Lovely photos on your blog!
    -Nan

  18. That was so enjoyable. I think the flowers are simply lovely as always, but that photo of your alpacas just made me smile. Also, the lily of the valley with the variegated foliage…be still my heart. We can’t really grow lily of the valley here. Not with much success anyway.~~Dee

    Great to hear from you, Dee. I’m sorry to taunt you with the striped convallaria: it’s not especially vigorous even here. The boys say hi!
    -Nan

  19. Nan, you are truly amazing!!! Love, your brother Tim

    Oh, THAT Tim. Thanks, bro!
    -Nan

  20. Posted by Barbara Dashwood on May 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    Ditto for the striped convallaria. Just lovely and I can imagine how eye-catching it would be in the shade. Also, the boys looks so cute in their plus fours. Thanks for posting, Nan. Very, very enjoyable.
    Barbara, Victoria, BC

    That’s funny, Barbara: their untrimmed legs do give that effect. Once I get the fleece off, they look like toothpicks. I imagine that things are more advanced in your garden than they are here so far. I hope you’re enjoying every minute of it!
    -Nan

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