Today I thought we'd take a little tour around my garden to see what's been blooming lately. Let's start with this really cool bearded iris. Its color is a very pale yellowy-gray. It's hard to describe (it's less yellow in real life) but I really like it. And do you see Fiona in the background? She's a bit gray herself!
Here are some striking purple and white irises, which I got from the same gardening friend who gave me the peonies.
The little cat garden is in full bloom with valerian, as well as catmint. James and Fiona approve.
Here's the valerian close up. Birgit had mentioned valerian pillows, little fabric squares filled with dried valerian, that are made for cats in Germany. I'm going to save the leaves and borrow my friend Aunita's sewing machine (and, most likely, her leftover bits of fabric) to make these this fall.
I have two fairly large "wild beds," to the north and south sides of my backyard. They both have been overgrown with buckthorn, despite my best efforts. This is the eastern end of the north bed, looking a bit more under control these days. I put pine needle mulch on them in the last year and that really seems to help keep the weeds down. (But not the poison ivy, alas!) Apparently pine straw is a popular mulch in the south but here in Michigan it's rare and expensive. Fortunately my mom has several huge red pines and a lot of patience for raking up their fallen needles! Contrary to popular belief, this mulch doesn't acidify the soil (only slightly over time as the needles break down but they take forever to break down, which is what makes them good weed blockers!).
Jimi enjoys rolling on the cement pavers and fitting in between two sets of tiny leeks. This is my front vegetable bed before I weeded the center and planted it yesterday.
Voila! I know it doesn't look like much from a distance, but it will fill in, trust me. You can see horseradish to the top left and the four baby leeks along the bottom left. That's a mum at the bottom right (it had nowhere else to go!), plus three tomatoes at the stakes, a dahlia at the wooden stake, marigolds at the right, interplanted with onions. We've had an unusually cool and cloudy spring, which has somewhat stunted the growth of warm-weather veggies.
I have very few areas that get full sun, so this strip along the driveway is ideal. Here is one of the tomatoes, Gajo de Melon, close up. Also in this bed are Big German Pink and Ladino di Panocchio.
I also created a second veggie bed along the southeast corner of my house. I had to dig up a whole bunch of artemesia first, which took a really, really long time (and various choice curse words) and I'm sure I still didn't get all the roots. I planted three heirloom tomatoes I winter-sowed: Ukrainian Heart, Olga's Yellow Round Chicken (I love that name!), and Red Russian. Upfront are banana peppers and 'Mini Fingers' eggplant; in containers are zucchini and beans (hopefully out of groundhog reach, but who knows).
Here's Ukrainian Heart up close, it's the largest mater I have so far. (I mentioned it's been a cool, overcast spring, right?!)
I also lost some tomato seedlings in a frost, which I've reseeded but which are too small yet to plant out (cool overcast spring blah blah). They are: Avivvi (see Debbi's blog for what they'll look like as fruit), Azoychka, Bisignano #2, Canestrino di Lucca, Caspian Pink, Gillogly Pink, and Turk’s Mutts. (I got all the mater seeds from Royer Held, a local heirloom tomato guru.) I also reseeded green and jalapeno peppers. I'm going to need to expand the beds to plant them!
I also planted garlic (no photo) and a few things in containers. My lettuces are coming along nicely: the greener leaves are Asian Baby Leaf Mix, the redder (and harder to see) leaves are Merveille De Quatre Saisons.
This is chard 'Bright Lights' (in pot and up high to outwit wildlife) and chives (in jail).
And here, in pots in the garden, are garlic chives and rosemary (the former to contain it, the latter because it has to come in over the winter). Just out of view is flat-leaf parsley.
Moving onto flowers, my baptisia is blooming. I love its vibrant, saturated blue (and Jimi's ears!).
Speaking of vibrant blue (that the camera didn't capture, unfortunately), one of my three spiderworts is blooming.
Blue-eyed grass is also one of my favorite blue plants.
And although much paler blue, I still love the nigella as well.
Moving to yellow, I have some really cool creeping sedum that bloom yellow.
And some nice yellow alliums nearby.
My ninebark 'Diablo' shrubs are huge this year, at least 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide, despite generous pruning last spring. And look at all these blooms. Noogie!
Here's another shrub, 'Little Henry' sweetspire. It's been struggling for years, is maybe only a foot tall. I think I've found (after several tries) a good location for it, and it's sending up flower spikes!
Here's the path to my front door, looking south. If you come and visit, that's what you'd see heading for my front door.
I never think of myself as liking pink, and yet Jupiter's beard and coral bells are two of my favorite flowers. (Yeah, I do have about 100 favorite plants. So?!)
Here's Jupiter's beard close up. It will bloom again later in the season after I cut back the first spent set of blooms.
And, finally, in the good news/bad news/good news again department, you may recall that I bought two red yuccas (Hesperaloe parviflora) last year after being so taken with them on a trip to Colorado to visit my niece. They are rated for zone 6 and I'm zone 5. I planted both in what I considered protected, microclimate locations and made sure they were covered in as much snow as possible (insulation). They both looked great until about March when we stopped having snow and they looked dessicated and brown. One died; it detached from the roots when I gave the shriveled foliage the slightest pull. The other looked just as sad but seemed attached firmly to its roots. I removed the dead leaves that easily pulled off and left two that wanted to stay attached. Later I noticed they had grown a green base. I cut off the brown part and hoped for the best. Then I got distracted and forgot all about the plant. The other day I noticed the old stalks had grown and a few new ones had come up. The plant is still small, but it's alive. Yay! Please send good thoughts its way, as I'm sure we'll need to get through another winter before it decides to bloom.
And the other good news is, I'm going to Colorado again in July for my niece's renewal of wedding vows.
And I almost forgot to show you these cool garden boots! My Spring Fling swag bag had a gift certificate for gardenshoesonline.com and I ordered these boots and some hiking socks. Fun!