More in mid May

A week ago, there seemed to be a few open areas in the garden, or at least spots that weren’t jammed full. This is good, I thought. I can add a few goodies.

A few days later, what in the heck was I thinking? After a week with several inches of rain, growth has kicked into high gear. Last evening, I looked for small open spaces to plant a few dozen Allegheny spurge (Pachysandra procumbens, which are spaced about four inches apart) and trilliums before the night’s oncoming storm. Where did they go?

Of course, I found places to plant, there’s always somewhere that small plants can be crammed in. And, rarely does it become a problem that things are too close, though many are, and occasionally there are conflicts. I hope to live long enough that there’s not a single spot of open ground for weeds to grow, and in May this appears to be a possibility.

In earlier observations of the garden in May, I mistakenly excluded the hybrid ‘Celestial Shadow’ dogwood (above), which is now at it’s peak, and magnificent with flowers contrasting with brightly variegated foliage. The leaf colors fade in the heat of summer, long after the flowers are gone, but for weeks it’s splendid, so I can’t complain.

A few days ago, I showed yellow and orange Exbury, deciduous azaleas, and now several reds and the one above that I cannot adequately describe (maybe pink) are flowering. Neither is as fragrant as the yellow flowered azalea, but all of these and a few southeastern native azaleas are in close proximity, though the orange and yellow are the only ones with much size. Some day, this spot will be something, and already it’s quite a favorite for several weeks at this time of the spring. Again, I will question why deciduous azaleas are not more commonly used.

This is the prime week for deutzias, though to my thinking the best in this garden, ‘Magician’ (or ‘Magicien’) is still a week off. ‘Chardonnay Pearls’ (Deutzia gracilis ‘Duncan’, above) is a yellow leafed shrub with compact growth. It’s foliage color fades somewhat in summer, but it’s still evident that the deutzia is yellowed leafed and not sickly yellow as some shrubs look in our Virginia heat.

I planted ‘Nikko’ (Deutzia gracilis ‘Nikko’) long ago, and apparently the full sized Deutzia gracilis was mixed into the batch, so beside one another there’s one that’s a foot tall and the other three times it’s size. I could have moved them apart, but didn’t as there are always other things to do. Anyway, gracilis and ‘Nikko’ are exceptional in bloom, and pleasant enough for the rest of the year, though these are kind of hidden from my view at the front corner of the property.

The first of the peonies to flower in this garden is ‘Karl Rosenfeld’ and predictably, the week’s constant rainfall has flowers dragging into the mud. Peonies never seem to recover after this, and it would be wise if I added supports intended to prevent this. Of course, this is unlikely to happen. Other peonies are slightly shaded, so flowers will be a week later, which should get them out of the rain.

The variegated ‘Silver Edge’ rhododendron is starting to flower. The foliage of ‘Silver Edge’ is barely good enough to substantiate its inclusion in the garden, but I am such a fool for variegated leaves that I’ve planted four.

One of the dwarf lilacs, probably ‘Miss Kim’, is the lone remaining lilac in the garden. Others have been too shaded, or otherwise have faded and been chopped out over the years. This lilac flowers in the shade of a sourwood, and the neighbor’s Willow oak, and it shows no sign of failing in this less than ideal environment.

The Chinese Snowball viburnum has grown into a monster. Finally, the assistant gardener has forgotten my pledge to cut it to half its size several years ago. Her chopping away at lower branches enables us to easily walk beneath it.

At the moment, I can’t remember if this is the red or black chokeberry, and in case readers begin to think that there are no natives in the garden, here’s one. I will argue for and against natives, sometimes in consecutive sentences, and the argument becomes more confused since many natives are not, in fact, native to anywhere closeby. I have seen native chokeberries on local hikes, though at higher elevations than this garden. Both red and black chokeberries are excellent shrubs, though they are particular favorites of deer, so they must be sprayed regularly with a repellent.

Sweetshrubs (Calycanthus floridus, above) are flowering, with one in shade past its peak. The one in more sun is a week behind, which makes no sense to me, but what do I know. Probably, many people do not find the flowers of sweetshrub very exciting, but I’ve planted handfuls, including the pale yellow flowered ‘Athens’ (below) which is flowering poorly this spring.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. Ruth says:

    I love the names, Dave! Duncan, Nikki, Karl…haha! Wonderful pictures and comments as always! Thank you! The Chinese Snowballs look amazing too by the way! Thanks so much again! 😀

  2. tonytomeo says:

    You grow several of what we used to grow along with the rhododendrons, such as the deciduous rhododendron, dogwood, deutzia and lilac. We tried to grow peonies (not my idea) and viburnums (but the market for them was very limited). We have our own spicebush that grows wild here. It is not native to here, but nearby.

    1. Dave says:

      Some of the plants I grow are not ones that I particularly favor, but I give them a try anyway. I know, it seems idiotic. I’m certain that I swore off planting rhododendrons about twenty years ago, but I planted six or seven a month ago. Perhaps I’ll tear them out a year from now, or I might like them.

      1. tonytomeo says:

        That does not see idiotic. I have never liked the common lemon bottlebrush, but want to plant it just to experience working with it, and to get some of those cool red flowers for cutting. It is one of those plants that should be more popular here. Newer cultivars are more popular, but I familiar with the old species that I dislike so.

  3. Bridget says:

    Thanks for your ‘tour’. Such a treat to see beautiful things growing this (late) spring. It seems to all be coming upon us at once!

    1. Dave says:

      I thought the garden was lush a few weeks ago, but after four or five inches of rain last week the amount of foliage seems to have doubled.

  4. C says:

    “Probably, many people do not find the flowers of sweetshrub very exciting….”

    What on earth could these folks be thinking? Probably, they have never smelled the utterly delightful fragrance of the flowers of sweetshrub! Such a lovely plant, I think everyone should have one. Most likely under-utilized in home landscapes, sadly.

    Calycanthus, up up and away 😉

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