Posted on 21 Comments

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day — April 2013

Iris reticulata with Sedum 'Angelina' at

The only thing predictable about spring weather here is that it’s completely unpredictable. Within the last month, we’ve had some days that we were lucky to get above freezing and other days in the record-breaking mid-80s. Back on March 25, we had snow…

Iris reticulata at

…and then nearly 3 weeks with no rain.

Parched soil at Hayefield

Despite all of the extremes, though, we’re pretty much where we normally are as far as bloom times. The woodies haven’t leafed out yet, but the early spring bulbs are making a good show…

Shrubbery path at Hayefield

Helleborus x hybridus and Narcissus 'Tete a Tete' at Hayefield

…and the hellebores have been gorgeous.

Helleborus x hybridus (double) at

Helleborus x hybridus (single pink, bronze nectaries) at

Helleborus x hybridus (single yellow) at

Helleborus x hybridus (pink-blushed yellow single) at

Helleborus dumetorum at

A few other blooms of interest include plantain-leaved sedge (Carex plantaginea):

Carex plantaginea flowers at

…deliciously fragrant winter honeysuckle (Lonicera fragrantissima):

Lonicera fragrantissima at Hayefield

…and ‘Orange Encore’ witch hazel (Hamamelis x intermedia).

Hamamelis x intermedia 'Orange Encore' at

Technically, this ‘Frosty Knight’ sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima) is in bloom, but I bought it that way last week, so it doesn’t really count as a garden flower. It will probably be dead by the next Bloom Day (I don’t have much luck with these fancy new introductions, though sometimes I can’t resist trying), so I figured I’d show it now.

Lobularia maritima 'Frosty Knight' at

As far as flowers go, that’s pretty much it for here. If you want to see how beautiful a spring garden can look here in southeastern Pennsylvania, I highly recommend popping over to Carolyn Walker’s blog, Carolyn’s Shade Gardens. It’s where I go when I need a good dose of primroses, spring phlox, and other early-blooming beauties.

Inspired by Carolyn’s spring spectacular, and by those of other Bloom Day participants, I’m determined to make more effort to bring more early color to my own garden. To that end, I’ve started a lot of columbines from seeds shared with me by fellow bloggers last year and this year (thanks, Kim, Jasmine, and Barbara!), and it looks like last year’s batch will be in flower very soon. And a few weeks ago, I dug a good-sized new area and filled it some spring bloomers that had accumulated in my holding beds, including ‘Kumson’ forsythia (Forsythia viridissima var. koreana) and flowering quinces (Chaenomeles speciosa), underplanted with several dozen seedlings and divisions of my favorite hybrid hellebores as well as snowdrops (Galanthus nivalis), winter aconite (Eranthis hyemalis), and forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica).

New spring section in shrubbery at Hayefield

Granted, it doesn’t look like much now, but I’m very much anticipating its show next year (and really hoping that the scarlet and orange quinces don’t flower until the hellebores are nearly over). In the meantime, I’m much more interested in seeing how the nearby beds I added last fall are going to look this year. One is just behind this spring section, and the other two are further down, closer to the road. (You can tell the new areas by the fresher-looking mulch.)

Expanded planting beds in shrubbery at Hayefield

There’s one more “empty” space in the middle there. Once I get a large bed dug to incorporate the Japanese maples and viburnum growing there, I’ll be nearly done linking all of the baby shrubs and trees I planted in this area a number of years ago.

One of last month’s projects, the alpaca path, got rather rumpled during the long spell of dry, windy weather, but it has settled well since we finally got some rain. It’s still going to take several more weeks for the plants to start smoothing out the edges.

Alpaca fleece path at Hayefield

In the meantime, I’ve been filling in some of the bare spots with the results of this year’s first shearing sessions. Now Duncan, don’t look so outraged. You may look a little silly, but you were happy enough to get some air on your chin and neck when it was hot last week.

Slightly sheared Duncan at Hayefield

No, I didn’t actually cut his ears off, though it wouldn’t be my fault if I did. You’d think he’d stand very still when I’m using scissors around his head, instead of trying to spit in my face. Daniel looks very cheerful and innocent here, but he’s even more squirmy.

Slightly sheared Daniel at Hayefield

At the moment, they have a new pasture ornament to distract them. More on that next month, I hope.

Mystery structure at Hayefield

Otherwise, things don’t look very exciting here: a lot of potential, but not much action.

Courtyard at Hayefield

Front Garden at Hayefield

Diagonal path at Hayefield

Side Garden at Hayefield

Log round path planted with 'Chocolate Chip ajuga at Hayefield

Side Garden at Hayefield

Happy Garden at Hayefield

Nursery area at Hayefield

Above, the very first plants collected for this year’s new book project!

There are still several half-done garden projects, a few areas I haven’t gotten around to tidying yet, and a whole new round of weeding to do.

Cottage area at Hayefield

Cottage area at Hayefield

Veg garden at Hayefield

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of work still left to do, but when I start feeling like I can’t handle it, I visit my friend Clark’s blog, Hortus Horrei, to see what new project he’s tackling in his own garden. If anyone has a reason to feel overwhelmed, it’s him. Try to imagine what it would be like to lose your home, your livelihood, and your garden within the space of a few hours, and you’ll have some idea of what happened to him on May 20th last year, when the first of a series of severe earthquakes hit northern Italy and destroyed the castle he was living in.

In the last year, he’s had to find a new place to live; re-establish his business (Reading Retreats in Rural Italy); move thousands of books as well as paintings, plants, and his goats; and sow as many seeds as he can get his hands on to start creating a new garden from scratch. If he can do all that, I can surely manage to handle the few areas that are still left to weed and plant here. You can follow Clark’s adventures at his new place in The Hortus Horrei of Corte Eremo, Mantua. And if you’re one for travel and want to spend some time in Italy immersed in books and plants, check out his cultural association’s website at Corte Eremo.

Clark usually participates in Bloom Day too, so if you visit his blog , you may see some of what’s currently coming up in his new garden in northern Italy. You can find links to lots of other mid-April gardens in Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens. But before you go, I just have to share this stunning example of redundant labeling. I suppose “Contains: Peat” didn’t fill enough space but “Contains: Peat Harvested from Fragile Ecosystem” was a little too off-putting.

Potting Soil Label

Posted on 21 Comments

21 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers Bloom Day — April 2013

  1. That Organic Peat! Ha!

    Thank you, Nan, for another great post, and mentioning my “projecament”! It’s sometimes a struggle, but always satisfying, thanks to friends and their encouragement – and seeds! I’m determined to go full steam ahead and fill in this empty canvas of a property; and to do that, I’m growing thousands of seedlings – in thousands of pots! Yesterday some people arrived by chance and thought I ran a nursery here.

    Wishing you and your readers all over the place a happy spring (in the northern hemisphere) or crisp, cool autumn if they’re headed toward winter. Spring has finally arrived here in Mantua, and the sun is serious! It feels all the brighter and hotter after over a month of steady rain. The wettest spring in many, many years. Looks like we have opposite gardening challenges!

    You already have more plants started than I did when I actually had a nursery, Clark, so I’m not surprised at the mistake. I can’t wait to see how your plantings are going to turn out this year!

    Take care,


  2. Yes, the Hellebores are fabulous this spring-even my measly collection. If it’s any consolation, I grew that variegated Alyssum last year in a container combo and it lasted all season until hard frost. If I see it this year I will definitely be buying more. Spring is here! Happy GBBD!

    That’s great news, Sue – thank you. Now I don’t feel so bad about taking a chance on it. Have a great spring!

  3. Nan, We are a bit behind in spring time blooms this year, compared to last year when we were 6 weeks ahead and experienced 80 degree weather this weekend (last year). What I absolutely love is to watch your garden transform through the season as everything starts to grow and bloom. Always a feast for the eyes! It’s nice to see it “bare” now, and I can hardly wait to see the changes in May. ;)

    Hey there, Cathy. Doing these Bloom Day posts provides such a great opportunity for tracking our progress from year to year. I was amazed to see that I already had lilacs in bloom last April; that was definitely not normal. Things do change so quickly at this time of year, though. I wish you a wonderful year in your garden!

  4. The promise of spring! So much to do there’s not really time to enjoy those spring blooms. Your gardens are so neat, do you clean it all up in the fall?

    How about some early spring bulbs? Crocus, chionodoxa, snowflakes, squill? They’re so easy and so reliable. I have my crocus directly in the lawn, take up no garden space.

    happy gardening

    You’re right, Brenda: I really need more of those little early bulbs. I don’t have much success with them outside the fence, thanks to the deer, but I could certainly fit more inside the fence. I see the bulb catalogs are already starting to arrive, so now would be a good time to make that commitment. Happy Bloom Day to you!

  5. Your garden looks so cheery with those runs of daffodils! I adore your hellebores. I will be lucky to get a few small blooms from my new ones this year – can’t wait until they fill out like yours have. Love the furry friends!

    One of things I love about the hybrid hellebores is that they just keep getting better year after year without absolutely needing to be divided. It was kind of hard to take the shovel to blooming clumps to get pieces for the new spring area, but otherwise, I’d never have gotten a nice distribution of colors there. And now I have duplicates in case one part dies. Just wait: in four or five years, you’ll probably be weeding out all of the excess seedlings from around your own plants.

    Duncan and Daniel say thanks! Really, it’s a good thing they don’t know how silly they look right now. They just hate shearing on the general principle of having to be touched.

  6. Photo 4 is my favorite today because of the gentle promises of the daffodils despite being surrounded by winter’s bare branches and the half-hearted green of the grass. I’m even more excited because my (your) variegated phytolacca is ‘poking’ out – 2 seedlings like tiny horns and Vernonia lettermannii is finally sprouting after a trip to the refrigerator.

    That’s great news – a good start on your “weed border”! At least one of the seed gifts you shared with me is up. I moved all the pots of germinated seeds to a new spot last night and I can’t remember what it was offhand, but I know your name was on the label. So, thanks!

  7. I love spring! All the brush is cleared off the garden and I’m busy cutting down fall perennials. Looks like you are getting lots done too. I was seeding up your Jewels of Opar, and Kingswood Gold Talinum this morning. I still need to start Polanisia dodecandra and Zinnia tenuifolia but I have 8 weeks before I can plant annuals out. Awful but true. Don’t want them too get leggy especially the Zinnia, I bet that would get leggy fast. Maybe 1 May.
    The bubbas look great with their haircut!
    I have lots of bulbs blooming and a few more helebores are slowly opening. Always look forward to your progress, have a great day! TTFN…Sue

    Sounds like you have your hands full, Sue. You really do have a short season, don’t you? Our last frost date is technically around Mother’s Day, but I’m getting a late start with my own annuals, so I too won’t be planting for a while. Have fun with your cleanup – it’s always very satisfying!

  8. I’ll be interested to see the outcomes of your various projects in future posts. I hope your weather continues to improve!

    Thanks, Kris. Somehow I’ve managed to get sidetracked into renovating one of my biggest borders, instead of just weeding it, but I hope to get back on track and finally finish some things soon. I wish you good gardening weather too!

  9. I am a fan of daffodils. The way yours are arranged toward the ends of beds are the way I like to plant mine. Daffodils are mostly over here and it was not a particularly good year for them. I’ll enjoy looking at yours again.

    It would be better to spread them out better through the beds, I suppose, but the plants are so thick by bulb-planting time that I can only tuck things in along the edges. Sorry your daffies didn’t do well this year; fried in that hot spell, I’m guessing. Well, other beauties should be along soon for you. Enjoy!

  10. It’s nice to see your garden before all the action begins, if only to appreciate the variety of pathways and borders you’ve created.

    I’m going to start referring to my garden as “naturally natural.” How goofy!

    I’m glad you enjoyed that label too, Heather. Really, what were they thinking? Maybe they got paid by the word.

  11. There’s something so alluringly beautiful about an empty garden.
    And I do appreciate seeing a post like this, very very nice!

    Sadly, I must chime in with a small story, [unlike your friend Clark because mine didn’t involve a natural disaster! Much ♥ to him~] But I now must also relocate myself and my ‘garden’ to a new place…
    My longtime boyfriend of almost ten years broke up with me and asked me to leave our home – thus leaving my 5 year old fledgling garden to someone who could care less about it… [and my dog, but that’s another story…]

    Thankfully I will be moving down south to Delaware with my parents, to which my mother has already given me permission to tear apart her sandy claypan back yard to turn it into paradise… and you better believe that I am taking as MUCH of my perennial plantings as I can! :D [and they live in coastal Zone 7! pushing Zone 8! homygosh…!]

    So for now, I’ll live vicariously through your garden as I yearn to put my hands back into the soil… whenever I can. :(

    Oh, Donna – that’s so very sad. I’m glad you have somewhere to go, at least, and the prospect of a new space to garden in. The warmer zone is a plus too. Don’t forget to take loads of pictures before you start digging, and along the way. Might be a good time to start the blog to record your progress. When you’re ready, I’ll be glad to send you more seeds. The boys and I will be thinking of you.

  12. I love seeing the photos of your gardens before they’re full of blooms and foliage–get to see the bones of it all. Gorgeous hellebores!

    What was in full bloom this time in 2012 hasn’t even budded out this year. Off to a slow start, but unless my imagination is playing tricks on me, the plants grew inches while I was outside working all day!

    Hah – “the bones” – or the lack thereof. I really think you’re right about things growing as we watch. I too was outside all day, and I was thinking that I could do a whole new Bloom Day post just with what changed yesterday and today.

  13. You’ve been busy! I was hoping you would show the hellebores again, they look great and I love them mixed with the yellow daffodils. I wouldn’t have tried that myself but now I think I have to. Thanks for all the overviews too, it’s nice to see how things develop over the season and from where they start.
    What tree did you cut back in the side garden? Was it the willow?
    (Oh and the iris and sedum picture is amazing)
    thanks! Frank

    I cannot believe that you noticed that, Frank. Yes, it’s the silver willow. One of the four main stems snapped near the top in the hurricane last fall, and I gave it to the boys to chew on. They enjoyed it so much, and it did such a good job helping to keep their front teeth worn down, that I ended up cutting the other stems for them through the winter. Cutting down a 20-foot tree with a small pruning saw was quite an adventure. It looks bad now, but I expect it’ll be really nice and bushy by the summer, and it won’t shade the side garden so much. I hope all is well in your garden this spring!

  14. Your garden is so nice and neat… a clean canvas waiting for the creation of the seasons to splash color all over it! Nice assortment of hellebores too. I will have to put some daffs among mine as well… its a nice combination. What is the name of the hellebore which is pale yellow edged with rose? It’s really a knock-out.
    I got a good giggle out of the alpacas! What a strange hair cut you gave them! Is that how you are supposed to do it or did you just kind of invent that “do” with the long stripe down the neck?
    We’ve had a couple of days of warmer weather here in TN and everything is busting out all over… the trees are leafing out, grass has greened over night and perennials are putting on growth at an alarming rate. I can almost watch my hostas grow. Oh, the golden leafed campion I raised from seeds you sent 2 years ago is blooming. It’s really lovely! It looks like the purple leaf plantains have made it through the winter too…
    Spring is such fun!

    Happy spring, Kate! None of my hellebores have cultivar names; they’re all from seed (mostly from Will McLewin in England back in the 90s). And don’t worry: I am nowhere near done shearing the boys. I can only do 5 minutes at a time without seriously annoying them, so it takes a while; plus, I like to wake sure that it’s going to stay warm before I take it all off. Thanks for letting me know about ‘Ray’s Golden Campion’. Mine isn’t blooming yet, but I notice that there are more green-leaved seedlings than yellow-leaved ones now, so I’d better keep an eye on them.

  15. Nancy, Wow, what a recommendation—I am honored. And to inspire you to add plants to your garden, wow again. I guess I should have done a bloom day post but the primroses will have to do. Duncan and Daniel are so adorable. I have to come see them in person. The label on the bag of peat, so funny. Not only is it harvested from a fragile ecosystem but it is pretty much worthless in comparison to good old-fashioned compost. Thanks so much, Carolyn P.S. Another funny “free photograph” story when next we talk.

    I remember thinking that your garden was amazing 20 years ago, when I was there for HPS tours and SIG meetings, and it’s even more so now. I really admire what you’ve accomplished with both your garden and your nursery. I still have a chunk of ‘Gerald Darby’ iris in mind for you if you’re ever up this way.

  16. Carolyn always inspires me and I am amazed when I see what you have blooming and the work you’ve been doing. Our Spring is very late but we’ve had rain which is much needed after last year’s drought. Now just a little sun and warmer temps and something should be ready to pop here, too!

    I can imagine that you are very grateful for the rain, Linda. I’m sure you’re in for a lot of excitement as soon as it warms up a bit. Have fun!

  17. I usually visit your garden (virtually) in its “after” mode, gasping with awed delight at every new picture. It’s heartening to see it in its early spring “before” garb – perhaps there’s hope for me yet, albeit on a much smaller scale. Happy blooms day!

    There’s a long way to go to, that’s for sure; things are popping out all over, but I suspect it’s still going to be pretty sparse for May’s Bloom Day. We’ll see what the next few weeks bring. In the meantime, I wish you a happy Bloom Day and happy spring too, Helen!

  18. That’s a funny label. I see so much potential in those empty beds. In a few weeks, they’ll be full of leaves and flowers. Mine is leafed out, but our temps have been everywhere. I’m supposed to have another freeze tonight. Out come the covered for some things. We may get even one more freeze next Monday. Ugh. Oh well, this too shall pass. Hey, did you see the American Rose Society finally decided to talk rather extensively about Rose Rosette Disease. I heard about it here first.~~Dee

    Yikes about your freezes, Dee. I hope your nights are milder than your forecast looks now. We’re going to be flirting with frost again this weekend, but who know what will actually happen. So interesting about ARS addressing RRD; I’ll have to check that out – thanks!

  19. That sedge is quite unusual. Also like your witch hazels. I am sure you cannot wait for the full glory of your garden to begin again!

    Isn’t that a neat sedge? It’s really nice in leaf too: called “seersucker sedge” because the broad, light green leaves have a puckered texture. Things are coming along very quickly here: not enough to be worth photographing yet but getting there. I hope you’re fully enjoying your own garden right now!

  20. Your hellebores are looking very nice. I like it when they cooperate with the camera and have at least a few blooms facing outwards/upwards. Otherwise it gets a little tricky trying to hold up a flower with one hand while taking a picture with the other !

    Have you thought about trying Hepatica in your spring colour bed ?

    It also helps when you’re on the ground shooting directly into the flowers – but spring weather often makes that an uncomfortable option!

    Hepaticas would be pretty there, wouldn’t they? Maybe someday, but for now, that bed is in full sun. Hybrid hellebores do fine out there with just a little shade from nearby shrubs, but it’ll probably take another 10 years or more for the trees in that area to cast sufficient shade for more delicate spring things.

  21. I loved the walk through your garden. The hellebores are really lovely and the garden has such a nice layout to it. Your spring is going to be so amazing. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos.

    Thanks, Charlie. It’s amazing how much the plants here have come along in the last two weeks: the same way as in yours, I imagine!

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