And then it’s June

Today feels like summer, and while cooler temperatures are forecast, it will not be long before summer heat returns for a longer stay. Spring has slipped by too quickly with too many chilly and damp weekends, and now it is ninety degrees.

Oakleaf hydrangeas in half sun are beginning to flower while ones more shaded are a few weeks behind.

The wet spring weather, however, has suited the garden perfectly. Today, there are few complaints, but a few more branches that lean over the stone paths, and if excess growth was my only problem I’d be a happy gardener. The garden’s newcomers are doing well, though as always there will be casualties amongst tiny pots set out with too little attention paid after planting. Sadly, one Japanese maple moved from the greenhouse to the patio too soon, before our last freezes, has perished. Others are growing splendidly. 

A clematis planted several years ago under the red horse chestnut was too shaded to flower, so several weeks ago it was dug and moved to climb up through a newly planted ‘Red Obelisk’ beech (above). This should be ideal, shaded roots and a sunny top. The tree’s columnar shape should not shade the clematis, and with flowers opening daily I think the move will be a success. There is no reason to grow clematis if they don’t have enough sunlight to flower, and most of the garden’s clematis grow up through trees and shrubs so I must watch to be certain they don’t become too shaded. 

The yellow leafed winter hazel (Corylopsis spicata ‘Ogon’, above) flowered sparsely in early spring shaded by a kousa dogwood (Cornus kousa). There was little space for it, so it became clear it must be moved. The winter hazel was transplanted just after flowers faded into an area in the lower, rear garden that had been quite damp until drainage ditches were dug in late autumn. The drainage improvements appear successful, even after a very wet May, and the hazel shows no stress from the move.

Two small, variegated leaf horse chestnuts were planted just before the last freeze. One was damaged considerably (Aesculus hippocastanum ‘Memmingeri’, above), but the browned leaves were stripped and a few weeks later it has bounced back, and appears to be in excellent health despite the setback. Perhaps I am getting too old to see newly planted trees reach maturity, but the positive argument is that I’m unlikely to be around once they grow too large. Both horse chestnuts are planted in damp soil, and while two related bottlebrush buckeyes grow happily in even damper soil nearby, I’ve lost too many woody plants in this area to be comfortable until a tree grows for a few years.

Without a doubt, the irises are happy here, the wetter the better. When yellow flag irises (Iris psuedacorus) overwhelmed Japanese irises (Iris ensata, above and below) at the edges of the koi pond, these were moved to the damp ground beneath the overflow of the pond along with Versicolor irises. As the yellow flags and versicolor irises fade from bloom, the Japanese irises are coming on, so there will be flowers on one or the other for nearly two months. 

I’ve done it again, delayed too long in spraying the deer repellent until damage is noticed instead of preventing it. A few flower buds on an ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea have been lost, and growth tips and flowers are gone from the upper half of a dark leafed bush honeysuckle (Diervilla splendens Firefly Nightglow, below). Two in shadier spots were not bothered, but the foliage does not darken with less sunlight and flowers are likely to be a few weeks behind.

We’ll close today with a look at the unnamed redbud planted in autumn two years ago. This redbud is a mutation from the yellow leafed ‘Rising Sun’ with some leaves identical to ‘Rising Sun’ and others completely green or a mix of green and yellow. The new leaves are the distinctive apricot color of ‘Rising Sun’ and unlike other redbuds, and in its second spring I’m now curious what colors will predominate once this overly soft new growth matures. No matter how it turns out, I’m happy to have this one-of-a-kind, even if it proves not to as marvelous a tree as ‘Rising Sun’.

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