Friday, May 23, 2008

May in the garden

So much has been happening over the last few weeks. Lots of rain and very cool weather has made flowers last. The Delaware Valley azalea bloomed early for some reason - it's usually a welcome surprise in June but it's been in bloom for about a week already. The clematis that Betsy gave me when I moved in is blooming by the mailbox. Several kinds of iris - I think they're Japanese iris but maybe they're Siberian? - are in bloom or even just gone by. A pale creamy white one, and a striking yellow are just going by.

Best of all is the Sarah Bernhardt peony. This is probably its fourth year, and it's just going to town. Big flowers with hundreds of petals, pale pink streaked with darker pink, a pungent scent, and when the flowers start to fade, you can cup them in your hands and feel the silky soft petals fall into your palm.

And then there's the foxglove, and the tiarella is still in bloom, and the sunny garden is a sea of blue with catmint, amsonia, sage, the ends of columbine... Never go away in May again, it's too wonderful to leave!

Divine dahlias

Martha persuaded me to try dahlias, and I loved the single dark red one I grew last year. I wintered it over in vermiculite in a plastic bag in the shed, and took it out just last week. It immediately began growing like mad, so, heartened by its vigor and beauty, I crept out to Roxbury Mills and bought six more. (Not in the budget, but I used cash which makes it all right.) Above is Arabian Night.

Good Earth is a pale pink cactus form.

This little pale yellow one is Canary Fubuki.

If all goes well, they should be full of blooms by mid-summer. I've planted them along the walkway where the tulips were. I hope they work there - they're amidst some hostas. We shall see.

Friday, May 9, 2008


Last night, 2.5 inches of rain fell on Ferry Farm. Hurrah! Luckily, we avoided the tornado that hit England Run. All I found was a piece of insulation (I think) and a roof tile (not mine so far as I can tell), plus a few oak twigs. May the rain continue!


The columbines self-sow every year. Most of them are blue, like this one being visited by the bees, but I had more white ones this year and even a reddish purple one.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

My New Favorites

These are my new favorites, mostly because they are doing just what they're supposed to do (rather than turning yellow or dying, for example) and look so beautiful.

Tiarella 'Mercury Stargazer' has striking leaves, deeply cut and variegated in a good way. The pale pink, fluffy blooms are just a wonderful bonus. So good that I had to return to Meadows Farms and buy two more.

Then there is the modestly beautiful baptisia australis, which should withstand drought and get bigger every year. A little hard to see here, but aren't the blue flowers pretty in front of the lambs' ears?

This is the itea 'Henry Garnet' getting ready to bloom. So delicate and beautiful, I have to visit it every day to watch its progress. Look carefully, and you can see the little drooping spires of bloom just starting.

I have recently added geraniums to the mix, and I love them. On the left is geranium 'Rozanne,' which I also went back to buy more of. Now there are three along the walkway.

This is an unnamed one I got from a gardener at the farmer's market last year. It's much taller than Rozanne and has delightful streaks of blue against the white.

There are plenty of disappointments in the garden, but these are a few of the joys.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Container Gardening

I'm never satisfied with my containers, so this year I decided to steal from the ideas in the new White Flower Farm catalog. They show several containers for shade that appealed to me, so I made my list and went out seeking their recommendations locally. I admire some caladiums but have trouble making them work for me. The WFF container with caladiums, though, had a restrained green, white and pink palate and, more to the point, I was able to find the varieties they recommended.

Here is the result. I like the way the caladium leaves wave in the wind. And they show to advantage on the new steps (a saga there for another post).

Here's another attempt, using pink, green and purple. Not so sure this one works but will give it time.

April into May

We've had the most glorious spring - clear and cool, with almost enough rain. The tulips have lasted and lasted. I always think of Henry Mitchell when it comes to tulips - he who was known to take a drill to the frozen ground in January to plant them, and who railed against the string of 80-degree days we often get in April that cook them instantly. He would have loved this spring.