Sunday, June 8, 2014

Early June 2014 Garden Walk

Early June, and even late May, are really some of the best days in my garden for colorful blooms (zone 7a, full sun). The grass is greening up nicely, with bursts of color popping up here and there, like an orchestrated symphony.  A daily walk through the garden shows many changes in each of the plants. 

The spireas and salvia mix well at the front border of one side of the lawn.
Bee balm stands tall behind the spirea and salvia, as seen in the photo below.  They're just beginning to open up now.  It's nice to see a little bloom from all three overlapping.
Front to back:  spirea, salvia, bee balm
Bee balm blooms
Buttercups are glowing on the right side of the photo frame below, with a Rose of Sharon (an hibiscus variety), in the center of them. Just to the left of the buttercups are my tall butterfly bushes.  They were pruned to the ground due to winter freeze, but are bouncing back nicely, and will have purple blooms. 



My buttercups have not disappointed this year.They are a sea of sunny, yellow blooms right now, behind the hostas, surrounding the Rose of Sharon. I will prune the Rose of Sharon to shape it more like a tree later this year, so that by next year its canopy will be above the buttercups.
The photo opportunities the yellow flowers provide, en masse, make for wonderful screensavers....
 ....or bowls of nectar for the bees to imbibe....

From my vantage point, in the chaise lounge chairs, I have pretty much a panoramic view of the main landscape garden.  I can see all that I've already described, or look toward the road and river to see passersby, whether on foot or in boats.....
I can lay back and look up at the sky..........
Looking in front of me, I can see the large magnolia tree, with an arc of knockout roses just in front, framing in the growing Lord Baltimore hibiscus.
The magnolia is just now starting to open its blooms.....
Magnolia bloom 2014
...and if  I look under the magnolia, where the birdbath is situated, the birds are regularly jumping in the pool to play and then jumping out to dry off (sometimes perching on the watering can)... (hibiscus visible in photo below, with garden stakes).
Robin on watering can spout, at birdbath; growing hibiscus (staked) in rear
Sometimes I can catch the birds up close (they're a little skittish when I come too close).
Robin at birdbath
If I look to my left, front corner of the landscape, I see my newest addition in the garden, a hand-built trellis of wood with spiraling copper around each leg.  My clematis is taking off with blooms...
Jackmanii clematis vine
The blooms look regal against a blue sky, don't they?
Jackmanii clematis blooms
Beneath the trellis, I've been adding a couple of perennials that complement the blue/purple of the clematis to fill a no-bloom void between the vine and my azaleas. I have rozanne geranium (full to part sun) and mountain bluet (full sun), neither of which are strong specimens by themselves, but look good together. Both are low maintenance, and mountain bluet (related to cornflower and bachelor's button) attracts butterflies.
Azalea, rozanne geranium, mountain bluet
Rozanne geranium and mountain bluet
Of the two bluets I bought and planted at the same time, the one below struggled.  I moved it just a foot away, to a spot with more direct sun, clipped off the dead leaves, and it seems to be happier, pushing new growth and bloom.
The knockout roses against the courtyard wall have struggled this season to put on a stellar show, but they're trying.  The dwarf butterflies in front of them were necessarily cut to the ground due to winter. I moved one of my containers here to fill the void.
Knockout roses (background), dwarf butterfly bushes (foreground), container (center)
Last fall, I had seven hydrangeas (Endless Summer) that were taking over the back section of landscape, so one was removed, and the rest were hard pruned to about half their size.  I knew they may not bloom this year as a result, which I was okay with, but I have found a couple surprises already.
Endless summer hydrangea patch (Background: nandina (left), hibiscus (right, staked)
From the woody stems that were cut during the pruning process last fall, several pieces remained throughout the mulch beds, and guess what's happened? I'm seeing a few volunteers sprouting from those stems!
Piece of wood from hydrangea, with sprouts on each end
I'm leaving these in the mulch to see if they continue growing, and I'll decide whether I want to nurture them in pots later on.  There are a couple more in the mulch beds surrounding the other bushes.

I've planted over three dozen plants this season in the landscape, NOT including my containers. Many were replacements for hard winter freeze, but some had just grown tired.  My lavender took a beating from freeze, and has only yielded the bouquet I cut, below, so far this year.  You can see in the background (below) how small my plants are. It's like starting over, after a bumper crop year last year.
One more surprise in the garden....it appears a couple has moved into the magnolia...thrasher dudes!
Brown thrasher, aka French Mockingbird
From 1 am to 5 am for several nights in a row, we'd been waking up to the sound of every Eastern woodland bird under the sun, and thought it was a Northern Mockingbird taunting serenading us. We think we found a remedy to shutting him up in the middle of the night - we turned off our landscape lights - and it worked!  It could be the male simply found a mate, though, but Mr. P. enjoys thinking he's the Bird Whisperer. While out in the garden this weekend, I caught two of these, first bathing, then preening, then scampering up the magnolia.   Unlike the Northern Mockingbird's grey color, these are reddish-brown.  Research says they're a French Mockingbird, or brown thrasher.  Well, okay, then, since they're French, they can stay awhile...

Remember those path lights I bought at Lowe's and put in my containers? Well, I kinda got happy on those, so I picked up enough for all my other containers, this time at Wal-Mart. These look like cake pops, in crackled glass, and only $1.97 each.
They're definitely not as bright as the others from Lowe's, but, then again, I'm not trying to set an airstrip landing in my yard.  Just enough twinkle to make me happy.

What makes you happy in your leisure time? Whatever it is, c'mon, get happy!