We had a few days of record heat, then rain, and cooler. The plants are dealing with this variable weather better than I am. At least I don’t have to water anything myself!
New flowers are blooming nearly every day.
So much to do, and only so many hours of agreeable weather.
Not a lot of blossoms on this tree peony, so I savor every one.
These photos are of the same flower, on the same day. They open fast in the sunshine.
I did cut a couple of these flowers, just as they began to open.
They are hanging in a closet, clothes-pinned upside-down from a hanger.
If my experiment works, I’ll have some peonies all summer – or maybe even longer!
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Lots of white Dutch iris, I like these a lot.
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Rhododendron flowers open in the same order every year.
These are some earlier bloomers.* * * * *
Weigela is an old-time shrub, and new to my garden.
This particular spot can get very wet during rainy season, and I’ve lost a few plants here.
Upon investigation, I determined that this is a prime candidate to like this location.
It sure looks good now, I do hope it stays around.
We drove into Germany from Switzerland and found a field of tulips.
People stopped their car to pick a few blooms.
There were indications that the flowers had been for sale,
but no more, as these were past their prime.
Nevertheless it was still a beautiful sight.
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Next day we visited Rhein Falls between Germany and Switzerland.
A short walk upstream is a bridge to the other side of the river.
There is lots to see, and the waterfalls were really cool.
Here are some beautiful May flowers we saw near the castle on the Swiss side.
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Our last morning in Germany, I found Botanical Gardens in the university town of Frieburg. Unable to read German, it was not until we were leaving that I learned I could not visit the greenhouses inside, because it was a holiday.
But there was much to see outside, including giant potted plants that would not live outdoors year-round.
There were a number of ponds of waterlilies – exquisite!
The azaleas were about finished blooming, and not photogenic,
but the peonies were still at their prime.
Villandry Chateau and gardens were restored beginning in 1906, to what we see today. We got our tulip fix here when we saw a number of beds of one color of tulips. The next bed would show off another color of tulip, and so on. Those flowers were on their way down, but still looked regal. The light blue complementary flowers are what I call forget-me-nots, and they showed off the various colors of tulips just perfectly.
Do you notice the various shades of green in the hedge part of the garden design? It is different plants next to each other that are all grown together, and pruned to make one continuous shape. Personally, I really liked the effect and thought this to be a great idea.
Above photo shows but a small segment of the small army of workers that maintain the beautiful gardens.
The brochure mentions a staff of about a dozen persons, but we saw many more than these persons, pruning, mowing, raking and doing other garden jobs. I imagine it would take more workers in the spring to bring the garden back to life after a cold winter.
This makes me feel much better about the relative sad shape of my home garden that is maintained by one person, myself!
April came in with showers, which is good for flowers to stay around.
When the sun is shining, spring flowers bloom very pretty and are done before you know it.
This is my only bi-color rhododendron, and the first one to bloom.
With bluebells and tulips it is quite a show from my kitchen window.
What a way to greet the time of longer daylight.
After years of being nibbled by deer, this azalea is slowly coming into its own. I prune and thin the too-dense branches a little more every year.
As it now gets taller and more full, I find myself moving plants from the understory, so they have a chance to grow also.
The lilacs are getting tall enough to fulfill a long-held dream: to be able to walk on the path under a canopy of blooming flowers.
White flowers are peaking while the purple are just beginning their bloom time.
One project for this year is to coordinate the tulips for succession blooms and avoid outrageous color clashes. This row of blossoms is a success which I wish I could say I planned, but I will take a lucky break any day.
Do you see the bluebells? Bluebells were never planted on this east side of the house. They have been planted, moved and rearranged on the north side with plenty more area to go. There is also a single clump of bluebells in a location on the west of the house. Supposedly, these plants can reseed themselves. My theory is this: the growth of bluebells in rogue locations here is due to voles and mice. They think of the bulbs as food to store or hide from others in the winter. Or perhaps it is a game of hide-and-seek the young animals play to pass the time.
This particular green-leafed Japanese maple tree is leafing out, just as the tulips below begin to flower. A bag of pastel tulips planted a few years ago is reaching maturity, and will need to be divided this year. The yellow and pink flowers are so pretty, and the timing couldn’t be better as the tree is coming to life at the same time.
I have been photographing this tree for a few days trying to get desirable light and a background on which the tree’s new leaves would show up. This morning’s photo was taken after the sun rose over the hills to the east; tulips are shadowed by the house.
These brave souls are the first of what I am optimistic to see many more of this season. Some animal has chewed the tops of a number of emerging tulip leaves in this particular east-facing bed. I was sure it was voles, until we spotted a cottontail bunny just outside the fenced area. They are not large animals, and are known to be able to squeeze through impossibly small openings. The thought of one of these rodents in my flower bed had me checking around the perimeter for possible entrances. Sure enough a small hole in the ground next to a walkway is my suspicion. We’ve put all sorts of items into the hole through the years to fill it up, but the animals are wily and persistent.
Early iris sure are short in stature, just like the bulb catalog claims. It has been relatively warm and sunny for February, with the temps in the low 50 degrees F (barely over 10 degrees C). Since the sun has come out the last couple of afternoons, the plants are basking in it.
These blooms were open in the early morning fog, while the crocus stayed closed.
Through the years I have planted so many bulbs in the ground. Now, I have no idea what will come up where. If I move a perennial from one location to another in a flower bed, too often, I find I have sliced bulbs with my shovel. One time, I moved crocus bulbs to encircle perennials to solve over-crowding. Then I intermixed some tulip bulbs with the crocus. Now I find those, and other bulbs, showing up in interesting places. I’ve heard of small animals, as mice and voles, moving bulbs around underground. It seems to me, the rodents must see the bulbs as winter food to be stashed in case of need.
Because daylilies are so easy to grow, I have them in many places around the ranch. This particular photo shows part of a long line of daylilies, planted under photinia plants. The bed includes a row of bearded iris behind the daylilies, and columbine which reseeds wherever it can get a foothold.
A winter project is to remove the ground cloth that lies below the orange daylilies, which flower now in early summer, and plant yellow daylilies that would flower in the spring. Tulips could be planted in between, as this area is fenced from deer (if you look close, you can see the fence behind the photinia trunks).
Later in the fall, I go down the line of daylily plants and pull out armloads of spent flower stalks, which come out easily once they are dried and turn brown.
These periennals are so easy to care for. I have found them to be disease-free, and the only pests they attract are deer. In some places these plants get irrigation, and in other places they are left to mother nature. No matter what, they easily multiply.