Friday, May 15, 2015

Mid-May Blooms for GBBD

An old friend texted me this week and asked if he could stop by: "I want to see all your flowers." I knew what he wanted to see--all the different tulips I had been posting daily on Facebook the last few weeks.  Unfortunately, I wasn't going to be home that day, and in my reply I explained that all the tulips were finished for the year.  "What? The tulips are gone?"  How do you explain to a non-gardener that spring blooms are fleeting, that you must enjoy each day because a garden is not static, especially in spring?

I'm always a little sad, too, to see the end of tulip season, but now I'm eager for their complete demise.  The late ones are still standing erect and green, but headless, and most are withering away, their papery, brown leaves cluttering up parts of the garden.  I'll be glad when I can clean up the last of the remains.  I did find one tulip in the shade garden that I thought looked rather pretty in its dying days.  This is a tulip new to my garden this year, 'Blue Spectacle,' which was advertised as a true blue tulip.  It was a pretty double tulip, but I was sure disappointed that it was lavender, not blue at all.

I did find a few late tulips still blooming in the roadside garden,  I don't remember the name of this one, but I do know it's supposed to be lavender.

While the tulips may be gone, other flowers are beginning to take their place on this May Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  Behind the lavender tulips, the Baptisia is blooming.  It's smaller, though, than in past years, and I'm not sure why.  In fact, the spring display in this small garden area was a disappointment--only the newest tulips bloomed, and one lone allium appeared.  I noticed when cleaning up this bed in March that it looked like the soil had been really disturbed--perhaps interlopers like deer or other wildlife dug up some of my bulbs and plants.  The good news is the lilies and coneflowers are growing like crazy, so this area should have a better display come summer.

The warm weather the previous two weeks kick-started many of the later spring bloomers.  While I was busy admiring the tulips, I neglected taking photos of these until almost too late.  The 'Purple Sensation' Allium in the arbor bed, for example, are already past their prime.

The perennial geranium in the Arbor Bed still has a few blooms, but not as many as a week ago.

The same is true of the lilacs.  My huge old-fashioned lilac is no longer blooming, but a few blooms remain on two newer and smaller varieties.  This is a new compact lilac I bought last fall, purely because of its name 'Scent and Sensibility.'

'Bloomerang' also is quickly fading.  It wasn't such a pretty sight this year as it is still recovering from the winter of 2013-14.

A new plant in my garden this year--Camassia.  I am kicking myself for not taking a photo when it was in full bloom.  Only the very tops still have petals, but these were such cool-looking plants when the whole stem was covered.  I think I might have to find a place for more of these bulbs this fall.

The irises are just beginning to bloom--the first to bloom was this purple passalong from my aunt.

'Immortality' was a close second.

Mid-May to early June is a time of transition in the garden as spring flowers fade, and summer flowers have yet to bloom.  I like to fill in the gaps with colorful annuals, and I've spent a lot of time plant shopping--one of my favorite activities of the spring!  I've only begun, though, to start planting all the containers.

One of my favorite annual combos--'Raspberry Blast' petunias, with Persian Shield and Helichrysum.

There are more perennials beginning to bloom, though.  One of the welcome signs of spring, Phlox pilosa, better known to most people as PPPP, thanks to the generosity of blogging friend Gail of Clay and Limestone.  Gail kindly sent me a few starts several years ago, and it is now spreading through the Butterfly Garden, much to my delight.

Another spring favorite of mine is Amsonia; this is Amsonia tabernaemontana,
 but my Amsonia hubrichtii is starting to bloom as well.

'May Night' Salvia, one of many salvias in my garden.

A new plant in the shade garden last year, Sweet Woodruff. 
 I'm surprised how much it has already grown since last summer; I hope I don't regret planting this.

Speaking of the shade garden, my intention was to divide more hostas again this year before they got too big.  Oops, looks like I'm late once again.  The poor 'Georgia Peach' Heuchera barely visible in the center of the photo has to be moved soon before it's completely overtaken by one of my favorite hostas.

'Sweet Tea' Heucherella, fortunately, is at the front of the border where it isn't as likely to be swallowed up.  I've noticed several of the Heucheras are sending up blooms already.

While there isn't as much in bloom right now as a few weeks ago, there are promises
 of much more to come very soon.  Above, the spireas are covered in buds.

And a bud I am very excited about--the first peony about to open up.  This is a new one given to me by a friend as a bare root last fall.  I was not expecting it to bloom this year, but I can't wait to meet 'Scarlett O'Hara'!

What is in bloom in your garden in this merry month of May?  Join us at May Dreams Gardens, where hostess Carol welcomes you to share on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Of Books, Blooms, and Dogs

It's a busy, busy time.  Weeds are growing as fast as the perennials and need to be pulled, and every flowerbed needs to be mulched.  Plant shopping has begun, and with the warm weather, I've been ignoring the average last frost date of May 15 to get an early start on some of the containers. The back porch is so filled with plant purchases already that no one can go through the back door without tripping over a flat of impatiens or all the Carex that came back with me from Texas.

Some tulips are still blooming in the shade garden, but perennials are quickly filling in.

So who has time to read a book?  Actually I do; it's still the best way to relax before falling asleep and to ensure I'll dream about something other than pulling weeds:)  When I realized it was time once again for the monthly meeting of The Book Review Club, I decided to critique the last book I have read, since it was freshest in my mind; it's also a departure from my usual genre.

Cooper Harrison is a broken man.  A former K-9 officer in Boston, he must take a leave of absence after being injured in an explosion during an arrest.  But the psychological scars are even worse, and he is so traumatized by the death of his beloved partner Argos that he resigns from the force.  Months later, he is offered a job by an old friend from his hometown as an animal control officer.  It's a step down in his career and his childhood home is filled with unhappy memories, but Coop's depression has led him to drinking and with his marriage falling apart, he decides to take the job, but only as a temporary position.

Cooper rents an isolated cabin so that his pacing during the middle of the night when he awakes from his nightmares about Argos won't be noticed by neighbors.  Even during the day, he is haunted by his past as he sees a ghost of a dog on his morning jogs around the lake.  But one day he realizes this is no ghost he is seeing, but a stray dog obviously frightened of humans, and he becomes determined to catch it.  Cooper spends days trying to lure the dog, going well beyond normal measures for an animal control officer.  When he finally is able to capture it, the dog is close to death and Coop's friend the vet recommends a merciful euthanasia.  But Cooper feels he owes it to this dog--and on a deeper level, to the memory of Argos--to do everything he can to save him.  He takes the dog into his home while he heals, but only until he finds his owner.  Finding the owner and the person responsible for cruelly abusing this dog becomes Cooper's mission and ultimately his salvation.

Sophie enjoying the late tulips. I don't think she tiptoes, but she hasn't knocked one over yet.
Obviously I'm a dog lover, but I don't usually read stories that focus on animals.  I still have vivid memories of being devastated by Old Yeller as a child.  When I watched the movie Marley and Me, I cried so hard at the end that I knew I could never read the book.  Other animal stories that have happier endings often seem too sappy or sentimental.  But there was something in the reviews of this bestseller that made me think it was worth reading, and I am glad I did.

Coconut's favorite spot while I garden is in the shade of the old lilac.

The Dog Who Saved Me is anything but sentimental.  Cooper Harrison has no intention of getting too attached to the Labrador who is nothing like his beloved German Shepherd Argos; in fact, he never gives him a name but simply calls him "the yellow dog."  Even though small parts of the book are written from the dog's perspective, they are believable in explaining his instinctive reactions and help to explain how the dog became so frightened of humans.

When Older Daughter asked us to keep Frank, a rescue Pug, I said we already had enough dogs in the house.  But who could resist a face like this??

I enjoyed Susan Wilson's novel because it is much more than just a dog story.  As Cooper climbs out of his depression, he finds himself attracted to a woman with her own need to heal.  He also must deal with his estranged father Bull, a Vietnam vet and recovering alcoholic, and Jimmy, his hardened ex-con brother.  Ultimately, Cooper Harrison finds personal redemption, and yes, the book does have a happy ending.

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@Barrie Summy

And now a few scenes from the garden where spring is rapidly turning into summer:

Just a few days ago, the white crabapple was full of beautiful blooms, 
but most have now blown off with the wind and light rains.

But the lilac is still blooming, providing me with perfumed bouquets indoors.

One of my favorite spring perennials, Brunnera 'Jack Frost,' covered in delicate blue blooms.

You have to look more closely to spot the small blooms of Solomon's Seal.

Tulips are fading fast in the warm temperatures of the past week.  I've noticed that the 'Rosalies,' my namesake tulips in the back,  turn a little deeper in color as the days go by and age beautifully.
Wish I could say the same for me:)

Late-blooming tulips 'Queen of the Night' and Marguerite' compete with the emerging Allium.

Other late tulips in the shade garden complement the Bleeding Heart.  Have you noticed I like pink?

Spring has to be the shortest season here in Illinois--oh, how I wish it would last longer!

As with all the books I review here, I received no compensation of any kind for writing this review.  The Dog Who Saved Me was borrowed from our great local library system.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Spring on Fast Forward

What happens when you leave on a trip just as spring bulbs are emerging from the ground?  In a typical Illinois April, daily rainstorms could flood the ground or the temperatures could plummet with even a late covering of snow.  But not this year!  When I left to visit Daughter and her family two weeks ago, the sun came out and temperatures rose, and spring flowers exploded into bloom.  While I was off babysitting my newest grandson, now four months old, my friend Beckie checked on the garden for me and sent me photos of daffodils, tulips, and so much else in full bloom that I worried I was going to miss it all.  Of course, I was thoroughly enjoying spending time with my grandson, whose smiles can melt your heart, but at the same time I didn't want to miss my favorite time of year in the garden!

We returned late at night, and I checked a couple of the garden areas, but in the darkness it was hard to tell if the blooms were fading or still intact.  The next morning this is what I saw in the Arbor Bed--I hadn't missed the whole show after all!

I did miss some of the early tulips, and others were already past their prime, 
like the 'Double Maureen' above.

The same was true of the daffodils, including some sweet smaller ones that I saw only in Beckie's photos.  But I didn't miss these mixed among the 'Maureens'!  (Names of most daffodils are somewhere in my memory bank, but hard to retrieve at the moment.)

But most of the tulips waited for my return.  'Sunlover' was in full glory, a double peony-type tulip that has the largest blooms I've ever seen.  And even better, it has multiplied in my garden.

Too tired the first morning back to unpack or do any of the countless chores that awaited me,
 I traipsed around the garden in my ratty old robe and snapped photos.

A closer look at the tulips shown in the earlier photo--my namesake, 'Rosalie.'

And this gorgeous beauty in front of it, 'Ad Rem.'

As if on cue for my mother's birthday, 'Princess Irene' also began to bloom this past week.

I've kept records of all the tulips I've planted in recent years, but I have so many that I am beginning to get confused about some of their names.  I'm pretty sure this is a new one, 'Pink Star.'

And this, I think, is 'Lady Jane.'  I was worried these species tulips had been disturbed when we tried to dig out some nearby old yews last fall, but they certainly don't look like they were bothered at all--and they have multiplied as well.

Despite my efforts to record names, some escape me, like these delicate white with yellow markings. No matter, I enjoy their nameless beauty all the same.

Another NOID that's different from any others I have.

And what has become my very favorite tulip of all--'Akebono.'  The rabbits didn't get these this year!

There are more tulips here and there, some nameless, some still waiting in the wings to bloom.  I've been taking long shots of the garden, not because they're particularly attractive photos, but for my own records.

Having these photos in the fall will help me remember where there are empty spots in the sidewalk garden above and the shade garden in the previous photo.  Because you know I will be ordering and planting more tulips next fall!

Tulips aren't my only addiction, however.  I do love daffodils, too. 
 'Mount Hood' has multiplied in just two years.

It's a gorgeous white beauty with large blooms.

In the shade garden, a stand of narcissus.  I wish I could remember the names of these, because I just love their slender stalks and would love to order more.  Or, I could get ambitious and divide them...

I like the standard yellow daffodils because they're the first to bloom, but otherwise I much prefer a variety of daffodils and narcissus.  This is one of a mix around the oak tree.

My granddaughter and I planted 80 daffodils around the oak tree last fall. After rabbits and/or deer feasted on many of the tulips last year, I decided not to tempt fate and stuck with daffodils rather than tulips in this area. I think I need to plant twice that many . . . or I could just be patient and let them multiply over the next few years.

Not every spring bloom has to be big and showy.  Grape hyacinths make such a pretty contrast planted in masses in front of tulips or daffodils.  I especially like this variegated mix.

I was also happy to see the new dwarf forsythia I planted last fall blooming so well. 
 I guess I forgot I had already planted tulips in this spot, though:)

Hellebores are still going strong.

Their pretty faces are much easier to see now than a couple of weeks ago.

Pulmonaria is blooming as well.

As is the Epimedium--my very first one.  How have I overlooked these little beauties before?  I think there will be more of these on my plant shopping list this spring:) 

We were home in time to also see blooms on my little Serviceberry.  It's doing well, but it will be a few years before it commands the attention it deserves.

And best of all, we were home in time to see the sight I wait for every spring--the redbud and flowering crabapples lining my driveway.  Ahhh, can you see why spring is my favorite season of the year?!

I am way behind in blog reading and replying to all those who took the time to comment on my last two posts.  I took my IPad with me on our trip, and while I could read blogs, half the time I couldn't leave a comment.  I'm going to try to catch up with everyone's posts and comments this week--whenever the sun isn't shining, that is:)