Now that we’ve finally gotten some rain again here in southeastern Pennsylvania, I decided to plant out a few pansies.
Yeah, no–just kidding, obviously. But this is part of the spring tradition around here: making the rounds of area nurseries, including Ott’s Exotic Plants in Schwenksville, PA, home of the magical mountain o’pansies. Here at home, things aren’t spectacular on the grand scale, but there are many wonderful small things happening.
Once the rain returned, the weeds really took off, and for a while, I was so busy catching up with planting that they kind of got out of control. In a way, it’s a lot easier to pull weeds once they have some size on them, especially if you’re clearing everything out of a bed or path. Sometimes, though, there are tiny treasures that need to be saved, making the process much more time-consuming. There’s nothing worse than pulling out a bunch of weeds and finding the tops of long-nurtured seedlings in the handful. Oh, wait, there is one thing worse: ending up with a handful of poison ivy. (Thank goodness for Tecnu!)
Anyway, my point is that it’s worth being careful. Back in the Happy Garden, I found lots of cool things: many seedlings of wild gingers (both Asarum europaeum and A. canadense), as well as a bunch of the dwarf Formosa lily (Lilium formosanum var. pricei) seedlings that I’d set out last year and forgotten about.
I thought I’d lost my beautiful variegated ‘Bill Archer’ borage (Borago officinalis), because I ended up giving all the seeds away last year. A few days after I cleared out the white clover, though, a dozen or so plump little seedlings popped up right where the patch had been last year. Whew!
(By the way, I also managed to give away all of my ‘Tiger Cub’ corn seeds, which is terribly disappointing. If any of you got some in a previous giveaway, had luck with them, and have a few extras that you’d be willing to share back, I’d be pathetically grateful.)
Out front, I found three seedlings from a previous year’s ornamental sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas). The only one I grew out there last year was ‘Camouflage’, but none of the seedlings were close to where it grew, and I can’t recall if it even flowered, so I’m not sure where they came from.
Last year, I skipped deadheading my ‘Isla Gold’ tansy (Tanacetum vulgare) plants , with the intention of sowing the seeds in pots to see if the seedlings would come true. I forgot to collect them, though, so I figured I’d try again this fall. It turned out that the plants took care of the experiment for me. I was disappointed to find more than a dozen green-leaved seedlings in the first bed I weeded.
Around each other ‘Isla Gold’ clump, though, I found only yellow-leaved seedlings: hooray! So, it’s safe to say that the seeds come at least partly true, anyway. I’ll make sure to collect some this year for my giveaway in case any of you would like to try them.
Finding this blue false indigo (Baptisia australis) seedling was a surprise too. It must have sown itself into this ever-expanding patch of Tatarian aster (Aster tataricus) several years ago, and I just didn’t notice it until it bloomed this year.
I wondered why none of my other baptisia species and cultivars had ever self-sowed in the garden, then finally realized it’s because I usually cut them all back hard after flowering to control their size. Since the long dry spell has kept the plants on the short side already, I’m going to leave them alone this year and scatter their seeds around to see what else I might get.
I must have been pretty careless when I dug my tender bulbs last fall, because I missed quite a few things I’m sorry now to have lost. It was a delight to uncover these shoots of ‘Oakhurst’ pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa), though.
I know the species is supposed to be hardy here, but I’ve not had luck in my few experiments with leaving it or ‘Oakhurst’ in the ground before, and it was certainly cold enough this winter for a fair test. It would be terrific to have one less thing to haul indoors every fall.
Several other nice surprises came from seeds that some of you have sent me over the past few years. I was thrilled with the rich color of ‘Twilight Serenade’ meadow sage (Salvia pratensis), and the pretty bicolor blooms of ‘Madeline’ too.
Thanks again for those seeds, Christine, and for the fringecups (Tellima grandiflora), too!
From a friend in Italy (thanks, Clark!), I received some seeds he’d collected in the Netherlands, labeled “Fluffy Seeds from Venlo.” They finally flowered this spring and, rather amusingly, turned out to be a perennial that’s native to Pennsylvania: Anemone cylindrica.
Technically, red clover (Trifolium pratense) is a weed in the garden (except for the variegated selection ‘Susan Smith’), but it’s actually rather pretty. I’ve been leaving some of the clumps and regularly picking their flowers as snacks for Duncan and Daniel.
Red feather clover (Trifolium rubens) gets much more credit for being ornamental, maybe because it’s less common. I always have a few plants at any given time, but they’ve moved themselves around over the years. I really like how this one paired itself with ‘Walker’s Low’ catmint (Nepeta).
One more wonderful surprise of the last two weeks has been the ripening of the ‘White Pine’ pineberries (Fragaria). (If the berries are shaded by the leaves, they may stay white when ripe; sun brings out more of a pinkish blush.)
I splurged on six plants last year and grew them in containers so I could pamper them. They produced a few fruits, but they were kind of mushy and not especially flavorful. By midsummer, the plants exploded with runners, which cascaded over the edge of the planters and ended up rooting into the weed barrier cloth below. This year, those plants have been producing loads of really tasty berries, and lots more runners too. I’m going to set some flats of potting soil around them for the runners to root into, then use them for a groundcover in a spot I plan to clear later this summer.
Ok, well, enough of the surprises and on to some flowering highlights of the past month, starting with the bluestars (Amsonia).
A couple of bellflowers (Campanula)…
…and dianthus (Dianthus).
It’s also the season for perennial salvias (Salvia)…
…and irises, of course.
And what would early June be without peonies…
…and roses, of course.
Rose rosette disease (RRD) is still an issue around here, but I’ve pretty much stopped losing plants, and those that are left seem to be doing well. Flower Carpet Amber (Rosa ‘Noa97400a’) is thriving, thank goodness, and though my original Knock Out (‘Radrazz’) plants are declining, I think that’s due to age, since they’ve never shown any signs of RRD, nor have my Pink Knock Out or Blush Knock Out plants, or any of the rugosas or rugosa hybrids.
Back in the “wild garden,” I have a good-sized patch of the Gallica rose ‘Belle de Crecy’, which has also been unaffected so far. In fact, it flowered more abundantly this year than it has for quite a while. I couldn’t resist using some of the Flower Carpet Amber and ‘Belle de Crecy’ (plus one bloom of ‘Dr. Huey’ and some sprigs of lady’s mantle), to make a nosegay for a friend.
Lots of clematis have been blooming here, too, including…
…and several “leatherflower” types, including:
My efforts to add more late-spring and early-summer interest have been paying off, with lots of miscellaneous herbaceous bloomers strutting their stuff over past few weeks, including…
A few stars among the woodies include…
And to finish, some foliage features:
Goodness, that was a long one, but there was a lot to cover. Eventually I’ll get back to writing on other topics, but for the next few months, at least, I’ll be sticking to Bloom Day posts while I put the finishing touches on my next book and then get ready for my seed giveaway. Speaking of books, I’m making the Kindle version of Tried and True Perennials available for free on Amazon from today (June 15th) through Friday, June 19th; if you’re interested, you can get it here. If you’d rather enjoy a virtual tour of other early summer gardens, then visit Carol’s main Bloom Day post at May Dreams Gardens to see the whole list of participants. It’s bound to be a big group this time!