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The Spring-to-Summer Speed-Up

June 4, 2021

patio walkway early JuneA fellow garden blogger once described my Maine style of gardening as “gardening in the fast lane.” By that, he meant that long after his more temperate English garden has come to life, mine is still sleeping under its blanket of snow. But then, in late spring and early summer, things happen fast in my garden. By mid-summer, my blooms have caught up with his and then speed past them as my plants prepare for the arrival of our much earlier winter.

The transition from May to June is also the transition from late spring to early summer in my garden. And with that transition, the speed-up has begun.  At this time of year, each day’s walk through the garden is a journey of discovery as I find more and more plants beginning to bloom.

back slope rhododendron 2021The big rhododendron on the back slope that is in its glory in late spring is starting to fade, but Rhododendron catawbiense ‘Album’ in the back garden, which hasn’t bloomed in years, is gracing the garden with flowers this year. Don Ouellette Memorial Blossom

geranium biokovo 2021Throughout the garden, various species of hardy geraniums are blooming. These include Geranium cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo,’ whose frothy early summer flowers border walkways and paths in many parts of the garden. These flowers will come and go, but longer blooming varieties, like the pink Geranium x oxonianum and the blue Geranium x ‘Brookside’ have also begun to bloom.

geranium oxonianum 2021 brookside first flower 2021

lupine with companionsOn the front slope, the fading late spring flowers of our native sundial lupine (Lupinus perennis) and moss phlox (Phlox subulata) are now accompanied by the magenta summer flowers of Phlox sanguineum and Tradescantia virginiana.

Other early summer flowers that have begun to bloom include Amsonia and Baptisia.

amsonia & baptisia

back door iris & tradescantia By the back door, spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) is blooming with Siberian irises.

creeping thyme flowersCreeping thyme has begun to bloom on top of the retaining wall by the patio. Below the wall, the red flowers of Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’ are about to be joined by the intense magenta flowers of rose ‘Hansa.’

Weigela and Hansa

In the Fragrant Garden, rose ‘Therese Bugnet’ is blooming, and the peonies have even begun to open (the earliest I have ever known peonies to bloom here.)

Therese Bugnet 2021 1st peony 2021

new front border june 2021

Globemaster opening 2021The new front border is coming into its own, with a wonderful display of Allium ‘Globemaster’ by the turn into the driveway. At the other end of the border, the beautiful flowers of Siberian iris ‘Hubbard’ are blooming.

Iris Hubbard flower

And all this floral bounty is just the beginning; there is so much more still to come!

Celebration of Spring: GBBD, May 2021

May 16, 2021

fading daffodilsIn mid-May, Spring has truly arrived in my Maine garden. With warming temperatures, the daffodils of late April and early May are fading and being supplanted by a whole host of spring blooms.

The native wildflowers that I have welcomed into my garden come into their own at this time of year. The slope by the driveway is now covered with flowers of sweet white violets (Viola blanda), which act as a groundcover in this part of the garden. viola blanda 2021
Fragaria groundcover At the top of the slope, another native groundcover, wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana), forms a weed-suppressing mat around the foliage of peonies and daylilies.
Here and there, common blue violets (Viola sororia) are tucked in among the perennials. viola sororia 2021

bluets 2021Another carpet-forming native plant, Houstonia caerulea (bluets), is blooming profusely this year. On the front slope, they are joined by colorful carpets of moss phlox (Phlox subulata) in two shades of pink.

Moss phlox1 2021 moss phlox2 2021
pin cherry blossoms 2021 beach plum flowers

Trees and shrubs are also flowering. My volunteer pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) has grown quite tall, making its blossoms harder to see from the ground. By contrast, those of the beach plum (Prunus maritima) in the new front border are blooming much closer to the ground. Lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) are also blooming at eye level.

lilacs 2021

In the shrub planting at the front corner of my property, Fothergilla gardenii is in bloom, and there are buds on the native pinkshell azalea (Rhododendron vaseyi).

fothergilla flowers 2021 pinkshell azalea buds

My morning walks through the garden have become a delightful experience of discovery as new buds appear and new flowers open every day. I am celebrating Spring and a new garden season.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted each month by Carol J. Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her web site to find links to the May blooms of other gardeners.

A Hillside of Spring Cheer

May 3, 2021

hillside of daffodilsLast fall, I planted 150 daffodil bulbs between the perennials on my front slope. My goal was to repeat the successful planting of crocuses on the side slope. Those provide a much-needed splash of color in late March and April; I wanted to follow them with a cheerful display of yellow to fill the gap after the crocuses fade and before the perennials start to bloom in earnest in late May.

I bought my bulbs from one of my favorite Maine sources of seeds and plants, Fedco Seeds, a co-op that specializes in cold-hardy selections for the Northeast and whose catalogs are a source of both information and delight. From their catalog of “Bulbs and Plants for Fall Planting,” I chose the Narcissus Landscape Mix, described as a great choice for those who are “looking for a large splash of springtime inspiration that will last year after year.”

I used my garden spade to scoop out thirty holes between the perennials and pressed five daffodil bulbs into the sandy soil of each hole. After I closed each planting hole, I sprinkled ground cloves on top, a strategy recommended by Fedco for keeping rodents from sniffing out and digging up bulbs, and which I had used very successfully in protecting the crocus bulbs on the side slope.

Front Slope DaffodilsAs April has turned into May, all thirty clumps of daffodils have emerged and bloomed. I have identified four main varieties in my mix of daffodils (above), two yellow and two white, two with yellow cups and two with orange cups. As the perennials around them emerge and grow, I expect that the fading foliage of the daffodils will be mostly hidden from view. I am very happy with my hillside of spring cheer.

front slope daffodil display

Spring Bulbs and April Snow: GBBD, April 2021

April 16, 2021

crocus hillside 2021April in Maine is normally a battle between winter and spring in which spring eventually triumphs. This year, however, winter has mostly been a no-show; we have had an early spring, with above average temperatures, early melting of the snow pack, and no April snow – at least until today.  Today, we are having rain with temperatures cold enough for snow flakes to mix in. So far, the snow has not been able to accumulate on the warm ground, but that may change overnight; it would not be surprising to wake up tomorrow morning to at least a coating, and maybe even a couple of inches, of snow. Even if we do wake up to a wintry world, however, it won’t last. Warm temperatures will quickly return and melt the snow. What will remain is the colorful display of spring bulbs that mark the beginning of the garden season here.

crocus colors

The first crocus flower opened, in a warm spot by the foundation of the house, on the first day of spring. As the snow melted in late March and early April, more and more crocuses appeared on the big slope beside the driveway. Crocus blooms  have since been joined by some blue hyacinths blooming in the back garden and by the first flowers of forsythia.

forsythia first flowers

As the crocus and hyacinth flowers begin to fade, more blooms are waiting in the wings. The 30 clumps of daffodils that I planted on the front slope last fall are sporting fat buds, and flower buds have also appeared on the lilacs.

daffodil buds 2021 lilac buds 2021

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol Michel at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see the wonderful array of April blooms from others gardens.