Garden Journal, May 29

My garden is coming along beautifully, despite my complete lack of attention. I do hope we get some more rain soon, since I have to conserve water living on a spring, as I do. I’m happy to collect rain water & use that, but we haven’t had any in more than a week, and I didn’t have my barrel set up then.

Helen iris
Several years ago I bought some of the most beautiful bearded irises I’ve ever seen. The elderly woman I bought them from had a huge back yard full of bearded irises, most of which she’d painstakingly crossed herself, transferring pollen from one bloom to another with a paintbrush, and tracking all her gorgeous colors. I think this is the cross she named Porta Villa.

Fireglow spurge
I have several varieties spurge. This one is definitely the most assertive and, in my opinion, the most beautiful. Fireglow spurge adds a tall orange and green block to my garden in springtime. Interestingly, this spurge, like all of them, doesn’t really flower in the traditional sense. These beautiful colors are actually bracts, not petals. Think of the poinsettia-they’re in the same family, but this one doesn’t require special attention to put on a show.
Jacob's ladder & spurgeJacob’s ladder is in the foreground. My yard is the only place I’ve seen a white variety, and I don’t believe I purchased it. I think it’s a mutation that just happened. Interestingly, the white is more assertive than the blue; I’ve been nipping its flowers off before they seed for a few years so I can retain the blue. You can get a better sense of the size of the spurge patch behind the Jacob’s ladder here.

pink creeping phlox
I know I said I liked my lavender creeping phlox best, but the pink is putting on a much better show this year. Moles wreaked havoc in my garden with the lavender, doing a number on it and destroying hundreds of crocosmia.

Canadian columbine
I moved several native Canadian columbines into my garden some years ago. I don’t know which I like better – the natives or their hybridized cousins. Here’s a shot from underneath, so you can see the lovely interplay of yellow & orange.

Trollius is a rather odd plant. As you can see, it has large leaves and small flower heads. For the first few years I had it, I kept waiting for those buds to open up into full flowers. But this is what they do. This is their complete flower. After this stage, the flower heads turn brown and die. Different, huh?

I have a lovely large azalea. It spent the first several years of its life struggling, but is now very nice. This photo makes it look pink, but its actually a sort of salmon color.

wild azalea
Last, but certainly not least, is a wild azalea, often locally simply called pink. I rescued this one almost two years ago from a spot that was going to be bullozed. Margaret and I each got a hunk, and we just call it “The Queen.” I am thrilled that mine is flowering this year. This lovely native shrub also has a really lovely fragrance.

Your turn, what’s blooming near you?

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