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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2023

A month later and I’m still relying on the calendar to tell me what the date is, because the seasons are colliding. Chilly nights (we may still be flirting with frost this coming week—yikes!) have slowed the planting-out process, which has in turn delayed potting up seedlings, because all of my pots are full. It’s been so dry that I have to water to soften the soil before planting, then water again to keep all of the planted seedlings alive. I’m still cleaning and packing seeds from 2022 to fill orders, and about 10 days ago, the 2023 seed harvesting season began. I hope that things will get back in sync by next month. In the meantime, this Bloom Day post will have to be a quick one. That means my virtual garden journal of what looks good each month won’t be complete, but it’s better than missing the day altogether.

One thing I’m very happy about is the extra effort I expended during spring cleanup to save the tops of the ornamental grasses. Cutting down the big ones, like the switch grasses (Panicum), in 1-foot sections took a good bit of time and a lot of hand strength, but, with some extra chopping-up now, the tops make a terrific mulch for bulky plants, like tomatoes and corn. The prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis) tops are much finer and so much easier to handle: a single cut above the crown at cleanup time, then a bit more chopping now, makes a marvelous, lightweight mulch for seedbeds, seedlings, and small plants. What a blessing to have a generous supply of free mulch for my seed crops, particularly in light of the continued dry conditions.

‘Spring Green’ cockscomb (Celosia argentea var. cristata) mulched with the dried foliage of prairie dropseed (Sporobolus heterolepis)

Ok, now on to some of the flower and foliage highlights captured over the past few days, again roughly organized by color.

False bush stephanotis (Vincetoxicum ascyrifolium)
Florentine iris (Iris ‘Florentina’)
Sweet cicely (Myrrhis odorata)
A white-flowered seedling of Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii)
Caraway (Carum carvi)
Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicum)
Robin’s plantain (Erigeron pulchellus) out in the meadow
Fivespot (Nemophila maculata), a charming little native annual
Variegated Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)
Woodland stonecrop (Sedum ternatum) with Helleborus dumetorum
‘Pink Ice’ spirea (Spiraea x vanhouttei) in bud
Dwarf comfrey (Symphytum grandiflorum)
Foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia)
Boehmeria tricuspis
Costmary (Tanacetum balsamita)
‘Dali Marble’ burnet (Sanguisorba)
A variegated seedling of hybrid Lenten rose (Helleborus x hybridus)
I pull out SO much ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea) here, but when I found this variegated sport, I couldn’t resist potting it up.
Some solid yellow and green-and-yellow seedlings of Miami mist (Phacelia purshii) appeared in last year’s seed batch. I’m calling them ‘Hayefield Gold’.
Marsh spurge (Euphorbia palustris)—growing happily even without a marsh
Golden groundsel (Packera aurea)
Two-flowered Cynthia (Krigia biflora) in the meadow
‘Klondyke’ Exbury azalea (Rhododendron)
Moroccan poppy (Papaver rupifragum var. atlanticum): The first-year seedlings produced single or semi-double flowers, but this years’ blooms are mostly double, so I’m guessing that this is actually ‘Flore Pleno’
‘Lena’ broom (Cytisus)
‘Spanish Dancer’ netted toadflax (Linaria reticulata) just coming into bloom
Wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) with ‘Espresso’ wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Fernleaf peony (Paeonia tenuifolia)
Summer pheasant’s eye (Adonis aestivalis): an interesting little annual that looks just like a miniature fernleaf peony. Overwintered seedlings bloom now; spring-sown seed flowers around midsummer
Prairie smoke (Geum triflorum): It has flowered here for several years but has yet to make the “smoke”—I’m hoping that this is the year!
The species form of red campion (Silene dioica), with female flowers
‘Ray’s Golden Campion’ red campion (Silene dioica)—male-flowered plants
Burnet saxifrage (Pimpinella major ‘Rosea’)
Clematis montana var. rubens
This unnamed seedling—apparently a natural hybrid between some of the various species I grow—is the first of the leatherflower-type clematis to bloom here, and it continues flowering through the summer.
One of my favorite spring combinations is this columbine (Aquilegia: possibly ‘Nora Barlow’ but I usually just call it “double pink”) with Arkansas bluestar (Amsonia hubrichtii)
Violet wood sorrel (Oxalis violacea): making its first show of flowers from 2021-sowed seed
Rose verbena (Glandularia canadensis, formerly Verbena canadensis), is blooming up a storm right now. (Plants that overwinter in the ground flower abundantly in spring; spring-started seeds usually start blooming in mid- to late summer.)
Woodland phlox (Phlox divaricata), grown from PA seed started in 2021, flowering for the first time
The typical form of Miami mist (Phacelia purshii) is finally coming into flower.
Blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia verna), another charming native annual
Stiff bluestar (Amsonia rigida)—look at those sturdy stems!
Bird’s foot violet (Viola pedata), flowering for the first time from seed sown in 2021
I’m not 100% sure about the identity of this one, but I’m pretty sure it’s early blue violet (Viola palmata).
Mourning widow (Geranium phaeum)
‘Penny Black’ baby blue eyes (Nemophila menziesii), which is neither true black nor blue but very pretty nonetheless. It’s been flowering for nearly a month already.
Eastern beebalm (Monarda bradburiana): I’ve been seeing a big deal made about a cultivar called ‘Midnight OIl’, but many of my seed-grown plants have this trait, so I don’t know how the vegetatively propagated selection is much different
Green columbine (Aquilegia viridiflora)—which could just as appropriately be called chocolate columbine. Or maybe mint chocolate chip columbine?
‘Erica’ Culver’s root (Veronicastrum virginicum)
‘Ruby Streaks’ mustard (Brassica juncea)
The flowers and new foliage of Peach Sorbet blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum ‘ZF06-043’)

There are so many other beauties I missed, but never mind: there will be plenty more by next month. Here’s hoping that your own Bloom Day is a wonderful one!

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3 thoughts on “Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 2023

  1. Such glorious diversity! You are a couple of weeks ahead of us here in Maine, so I know what to look forward to. The photo of Collinsia and Geum: Wow, what a combination! Will have to try this. Thanks for the inspiration.

    Wasn’t that terrific? It was not planned, of course: both just happened to be in one of my growing beds, but they’re thriving in the same conditions and have looked fantastic together for several weeks.

  2. Nan, as always it’s a treat to see all you have growing😊
    My plants and seedlings are coming along but not like usual. Weather change from hot to frost has taken a big toll on sprouting seeds.
    At least I can enjoy the beauty of all your lovely plants.
    Wishing you a wonderful summer.
    Jean Spangenberg

    It certainly is a challenging time to be a seedling! But I have no doubt that the rest of your garden is thriving and looking beautiful. Happy Bloom Day to you, Jean.

  3. The down side of your beautiful Bloom Day photos is that my seed list for my next order keeps growing, while I need to be outside putting out seedlings. Frost long past here, but a long cool spring. We have also been terribly dry, but last Saturday we got six inches! Did wonders for refilling the pond. Last night’s forecast of half an inch was bypassed with another solid two inches and sprinkles continue this morning. I don’t think I can stand another summer like 2022, so hope these rains will continue and come in a timely fashion, and wish the same for you!

    Thanks, Carol. We sure could use that rain: it’s finally foggy today but still no rain here, and no hope of anything for the rest of this month, apparently. And, we did end up getting frost, so I had to resow a bunch of things that got killed. Sigh. I’m glad you’re getting some rain, at least!

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