Friday, April 18, 2014

Garden full of rhodies

Two April Glows with a Flaming Silver Pieris in full new leaf inbetween
I pulled this photo out of my camera today and was really surprised to see how big my older rhodies look. Six inches a year does add up—after 8 years a 1-foot plant becomes a 5-foot plant. And when it's covered in big fat blooms, it looks even bigger. It makes my garden look like an amazing woodland fantasy. So I grabbed another photo of some almost-as-old rhodies from further down the hill and here it is—a half-grown rhodie garden that's so beautiful I can't believe it. Here's to a lovely spring, and having it come soon to everyone.

April Glow in front, and Cheer in back

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The red leaves of Spring

Acer palmatum Red Dragon
This is a small tribute to that week every spring when the leaves on the Japanese maples start opening up, and the the red pigments show up so strongly. I look out my window in the morning and if the eastern sky is bright behind them, the backlighting shows them so beautifully against the pale greens of the other new leaves and the darker greens of the mature foliage. The one above is my dwarf weeper Red Dragon. This is its best year ever.

Acer palmatum Bloodgood
This one is of the pair of Bloodgoods I planted seven years ago. The one on the left had a very bad year before I realized it wasn't getting enough water in the summer, but it didn't die, and since I remedied the watering situation, I've been encouraging it to catch up to its mate.

Acer palmatum Bloodgood
And this is the little one in its close-up, its fifteen seconds of fame. This is its best year ever, too.

Rhododendron Yellow Hammer
Can't have a post without a rhodie photo in it this time of year, so this is my Yellow Hammer, an older variety that I rescued from a going-out-of-business nursery, when it had a cup of soil and roots left in its gallon pot. It's been growing slowly but seems to like where I put it, and this is actually a huge clump of flowers for it.

If everything you planted in a garden automatically did just get more and more beautiful every year, maybe the thrill would wear off after a while. But they don't, so you just can't help being happier and happier about the ones that do make it. The ones that thrive become like special friends, honored companions. And because they get more beautiful every year, so every spring becomes your best year ever.

And I'm happy to say this is mine.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The flowers are out, and so am I

One of the benches I never have time to sit on
It hit 68ยบ this afternoon—far and away the warmest day we've had so far this year. And it was beautiful, calm, and quiet, and I spent a lot of it outside, working in the garden. Mostly I was weeding and doing cleanup, but I did a little bit of dancing—carefully, because I'm out of practice and I already bruised my heel the other day at a garden fair, stepping in a hole. I hope to really catch up this week, it's going to be dry all week, and after tomorrow, not windy. I have been getting out once in a while to take pictures as my spring flowers open, and I wanted to put them up here. My big red bicolor camellia (above and below) is always the first one in the back to flower, so I've been enjoying it for the last two weeks, and half a dozen other camellias are blooming now, along with a couple early big-leaf rhodies. I really love the tie-dye look of this bicolor.

Unnamed bicolor camellia

For the first year, I could actually see blossoms on my forsythia from my house! This is the third year for the Lynnwood Gold, and the fourth for the Meadowlark, and I could see them both. But the Lynwood Gold just happened to send an arching branch over the lavender flowers of my deciduous Rhododendron mucronulatum.

Lynwood Gold forsythia and R. mucronulatum

I've been pretty good about putting sluggo out this spring, so my primroses have been mostly happy and hole-free. I got a pair of this one a couple years ago, and it is one of my favorites. It's so bright. I hope I'll be able to divide this clump at some point—I'd love to have a whole row of them.

A two-tone primula

The last photo is of my biggest PJM rhodie, which is as tall as I am now. It's really beautiful this year, with more flowers than ever. Another Master Gardener friend was over the other day relieving me of about 200 one-gallon plastic pots for her garden club to use, and she said the azalea lacebugs got one of her PJM's so badly she had to take it out. The lacebugs poke thousands of holes in the leaves of azaleas and small-leaved rhodies and suck the fluids out, reducing the leaves to—yep—lace. They hit a number of my azaleas pretty hard last year but didn't kill any of them, so I'm hoping the plants will start developing some defenses to them this year. I don't use insecticides on my plants, just on my house, so trying to keep my plants from being stressed in any other ways is my only strategy. That means, no more sun than they like, and keeping them well watered this summer. Rumor has it that it will be a hot summer, so I'll have to work at that a bit.

PJM Rhodie behind Siberian Iris  and Midwinter Fire dogwood

So it was a great start to my gardening year today, on probably the warmest day till next week. Lovely, lovely, lovely.