Archive | May, 2012

rose of sharon – althea

30 May

These shouldn’t be blooming at all now; normally, they bloom July/August. It’s nice to have something flowering when the rest of the garden is limp and dry, although we have had nearly a week of 90 degree days so that could account for it. I don’t expect to have as many of the single variety this year because I cut most of them back pretty severely last summer. Don’t be afraid to give them a good trimming; it makes the bushes fuller and ultimately yields more flowers. If you’re thinking of adding rose of sharon to your garden, you should know that the singles drop seeds everywhere, so be prepared to pull up lots of seedlings every year. The double variety, although not quite as exotic looking as the single, does not drop seedlings so it’s much better behaved.

white water lily

29 May

I was relieved to see the white water lily begin blooming. It is the oldest and largest of the pond plants and I was concerned that rebuilding the pond earlier this spring might have damaged some of the plants (see 5/4/12 post ‘backyard pond’).


27 May

Thalia, just coming into bloom, is a sturdy pond plant. It really should be in full sun, but the willow bush planted in back of the pond keeps it in part shade for most of the day. Still, the plant is thriving, so much so that when I took the pond apart earlier this spring (see ‘backyard pond’ post of 5/4/12 )I cut this back to about 1/4 its original size. I leave this, and all my water plants, in the pond throughout the year. I just have no use for water plants that must be lifted and brought indoors for the winter.

gooseneck loosestrife

27 May

The origin of the name “gooseneck” is obvious by the way the flowers develop. This is a spreading plant–rapidly spreading, in fact. This started as a single shoot two years ago, and I’m already pulling out stems to keep it from taking over the entire bed.

hosta in bloom

26 May

This variety (I believe it’s called Col. Murphy) usually is the last to bloom but this year it’s the first. It always has been plagued by leaf spot, although none of the other hostas in the bed seem to be affected. I’ve tried dividing it and moving divisions to other places in the garden but so far nothing’s helped. I’d welcome any suggestions but would prefer to avoid chemicals.

stella d’oro

24 May

I acquired this plant in with a bunch of other day lilies given to me by a friend. I’m not sure why I’ve never particularly cared for this variety. Maybe it’s because the flowers never look like they’re open all the way; maybe it’s because they always remind me of shopping malls and industrial parks–they’re a favorite of commercial landscapers. Still, they are good signs of the season. When the Stella d’oro blooms, the rest of the day lilies are not more than a week or two away.

trumpet flower vine

24 May

Trumpet flowers are beginning to cover the pergola. They are colorful and very attractive to hummingbirds. Still, I do not recommend planting them as they are very aggressive. They continually drop flowers and seeds and, if you have one vine, you will soon have many of them all over the garden. When you see a trumpet vine emerge, you can’t just pull it up. By the time the leaves emerge there might already be a 12″ tap root that has to be dug out. You also need to be very careful where you plant them. I’ve seen people put them on trellises near a house, only to have the vines grow up and under the roof shingles, lifting them off. So this is a case of don’t do as I did, do as I say. Don’t plant this vine unless you have a separate trellis and are willing to do a lot of digging.

lamb’s ear

24 May

The lamb’s ear has begun to bloom, although it’s not much of a flower. I like the silvery, fuzzy leaves of this plant, although it does tend to spread rapidly.


21 May

Astilbe is nice for shade/part sun spots. It can grow in full sun, but it dries out easily if it gets too warm so the flowers don’t last as long. For very shady spots, the white astilbe shows up really well.


19 May

I lifted these bulbs from a bed on the east side of the garden and moved them to this bed after stems had emerged. Since I had interrupted their normal growth cycle, I wasn’t sure they’d bloom at all. The stems are shorter than usual and the buds not as plentiful, but at least they are blooming so I guess I didn’t do any permanent damage.