A wee while ago the ladies and gents from the Flamborough Horticultural Society came on a big bus to tour our garden, and I said what every gardener says: “Oh you should have been here last week when the moss phlox and the tulips were going cray…” I was thinking that a couple of weeks hence would be a good time to visit, too, when the pink beauty bush and the purple geraniums will be in full bloom.
Someone broiught me down to earth by saying “There never is a perfect time to visit a garden, is there? I think it’s good that you have something in bloom in every season. It’s more than many of us can say.”
So, herewith, are some of the features of my garden in spring that the people in the garden tour didn’t see. By the time the Applewood Garden Club’s Great Neighbourhood Gardens tour show up in July, things will be entirely different.
Ah, my beauty bush (actually it’s my neighbour Mary’s, but it sits on the lot line so I claim half of it as my own.) It started to bud out a few days after the tour, and is now in almost full grandeur. The bees love it, too. It has interesting exfoliating bark as well as arching sprays of pale pink blooms
The crowd did see the yellow lysimachia (L. nummularia, commonly called creeping Jenny), which remains a startling chartreuse-yellow from early spring till fall, when it fades and turns reddish for winter. It’s a bit invasive, I admit, but its runners are easily pulled out and it works well as a colourful ground cover. I also dig out roots to use in big containers, where it grows fast and hangs gracefully over the side….lovely with dark red or purple-leaved plants. The crowd didn’t see the Himalayan cranesbill (Geranium himalayense) behind it, though–it and some purple iris (not showing here) are a wonderful contrast to Jenny’s bright yellow hue.
The tour just missed the PJM rhododendrons under the edge of the big fir tree in front, too–the rhodos were just over, and I’m afraid looking a bit tatty as they faded, although I didn’t point that out. Here they are a couple of weeks earlier: ‘Olga Mezitt’ in shocking pink, and a mauvier one to the right. In front is ‘Rambo’, a nice contrast to ‘Olga’, don’t you think?
This is the front corner at the end of the driveway in mid-spring. It’ s one of my favourite times in the garden because of its heavy, dense dose of colour, which comes at a time of the year when you really need the lift. That’s moss phlox (Phlox subulata) in front in mauve and pink, and the wonderful ‘Lilac Wonder’ species tulip tucked in at the right. Behind is cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma), whose new leaves lose their chartreuse colour and turn plain green after spring is over. They get a little leggy, so I trim the stems back to about five inches and they bulk up again. But they don’t get that beautiful colour again till the next spring,
Last fall I planted some daffodils in the front to try to fool the squirrels, who have discovered the wealth of tulips growing there. I mostly gave up on tulips in the back because I’d find the beautiful blooms lying on the ground, lopped off by some selfish rodent who just had to dine on the tender pieces of stem just behind the flower head. The daffs looked great in early May with a patch of grape hyacinths–the lovely yellow tulip with pink flares is Long Lady, from GardenImport. Funny, though, the squirrels didn’t attack any of my tulips this year, front or back. Must be a new generation. ( I have my fingers crossed for next spring.)
This,, my favourite tulip combination, had just faded when the tour arrived. The orange one with red flares (or is that red with orange…?) is a favourite–Ballerina, a lily-flowered tulip. It’s tall, it comes back –and multiplies, at least in my garden it has–for several years, and it has a whisper of fragrance. I can’t remember the name of the purple one. Luckily, a dozen or so Ballerina were still blooming in the back, in a shadier spot, waiting to be admired.