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May Flowers Follow April Showers: GBBD, May 2011

May 15, 2011

Flowers of Dicentra spectabilis (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)In my south-central Pennsylvania garden, the “showers” (read “torrential rains”) of April have been followed by the promised flowers of May. This is my first year to keep any record of what’s blooming in this garden, so I can’t be sure – but I think bloom times are a bit later than usual. Nevertheless, the flowering bulbs of April have been replaced by spring flowering perennials.

Large Dicentra spectabilis dominates the front flower bed (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) In the small flower bed at the front of my rented townhouse, a Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding hearts) dominates, spreading to a width of almost 5’ and hiding a number of other plants beneath it. Soon, the lovely flowers of this plant will be accompanied by the blossoms of hardy geraniums (G. x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ and G. endressii ‘Wargrave Pink’), but these have not yet begun to bloom.

First flowers opening on Gerenium 'Biokovo' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) In the large flower bed at the back of the house, geranium ‘Biokovo’ has just begun to open its sweet pink-tinged blossoms. Right now, the main feature of this flower bed is foliage, accented by the airy blue flowers of Linum perenne (flax); but in a few days, the drifts of ‘Biokovo’ at the front of this bed will be covered in a froth of flowers.

Foliage of Geranium and Hosta in the large flower bed (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Flower of Linum perenne (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
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In the Stone Circle, just to the left of the large flower bed, the lavender flowers of the moss phlox (Phlox subulata) that carpet the stones at the front are just starting to fade. I love the way their color and shape is echoed by the flowers of Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’ (recently acquired from Carolyn’s Shade Gardens). Right now, these steal the show from the demure Dicentra spectabilis ‘Alba’ blooming at the back of the bed.

Phlux subulata (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Geranium maculatum 'Espresso' (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
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In the small circle by the patio, a volunteer columbine (Aquilegia) is blooming in shades of pale pink and mauve – colors that are picked up by the blooms of annual geranium (Pelargonium), petunias, dianthus, and osteospermum (Dimorphotheca) growing in a nearby container. These days, I spend as much time as I can out on the patio, enjoying mild May temperatures, sunshine, and (of course) May flowers.

Volunteer columbine in bloom (photo credit: Jean Potuchek) Patio container (photo credit: Jean Potuchek)
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Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what is in bloom this month in hundreds of gardens from around the world.

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39 Comments leave one →
  1. May 15, 2011 11:24 pm

    Rain and chill have slowed blossoms in my zone 6a gardens. Looks like we are at about the same bloom-wise. Beautiful shot of the dicentra.

    • May 18, 2011 11:03 pm

      Joene, Spring seems to be cool, wet, and slow in coming all over the northeast (including the Canadian maritimes). I hope this isn’t going to be another wet summer like 2009; I’d rather see the rains of April and May give way to dry weather and sunshine in June.

  2. May 15, 2011 11:28 pm

    Don’t you just love how the delicate blooms of spring just pop up to cheer the spaces of green…lovely Jean!!

  3. May 15, 2011 11:43 pm

    You’ve got lots of lovely blooms making a show in your garden. The Phlox and Geranium patches are so pretty and your volunteer Aquilegia is such a dainty thing. Sitting out on the patio enjoying these gorgeous sights sounds like a great way to pass an hour or two.

  4. May 16, 2011 7:01 am

    Jean, I love seeing my plants in action–great combination. Carolyn

    • May 19, 2011 8:18 pm

      Donna, I do love the long, bountiful spring of southern Pennsylvania; this is definitely my favorite time of the year to be here. And I get to enjoy this part of spring twice, because my Maine garden (where I will be in a few days) will be 3-4 weeks behind this garden.

      Bernie, Phlox subulata and Geranium x cantabrigiense are both plants that spread quickly to form a dense carpet of foliage which then gets covered with blooms each spring. They’re wonderful. I don’t know what the ancestry of the volunteer Aquilegia is; it’s deeply spurred and really lovely. It comes back every year in this spot, but my attempts to transplant seedlings to other parts of the garden where I would prefer it to grow have not been successful.

      Carolyn, I am thrilled with G. maculatum ‘Espresso’ and I’m so glad I added it to my garden. (It’s also in the plan for my new Serenity Garden in Maine.) Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough light to photograph it without flash, so I wasn’t able to really capture the delicate pink/lavender color of the flowers. (I feel as though this photo really doesn’t do the plant justice.) Three of the four plants I bought from you now either have flowers (Espresso, Dicentra spectabilis) or buds (heuchera); only geranium ‘Rozanne’ hasn’t shown signs of blooming yet.

  5. gardeningasylum permalink
    May 16, 2011 7:05 am

    We’re still getting those showers well into May here in CT Jean! What a lovely time of year – nothing is better than an old-fashioned bleeding heart right now.

    • May 19, 2011 8:25 pm

      Cyndy, We had a string of gorgeous dry, mild, sunny days here; but we’ve been back in the rain pattern for the past week. We’re supposed to get back to sunshine this weekend — which is a good thing not only because I need to get some outdoor chores done before I leave for Maine but because my college’s commencement is this weekend — and sitting out in the pouring rain wearing academic robes for several hours is a particularly exquisite form of misery!

  6. May 16, 2011 7:55 am

    Ooooh, I remember how many beautiful geraniums you have and look forward to seeing all of them in bloom. Mine are just beginning to bud. My columbines, too. Here’s to enjoying that sunshine, and more flowers!

    • May 19, 2011 8:29 pm

      Kathy, I’m the one who once published a post entitled “I Never Met a Hardy Geranium I Didn’t Like,” and it’s true. Most of those different flower you remember are in my Maine garden (where I have more than a dozen different varieties growing); but even in the small Gettysburg garden, with my recent purchases from Carolyn, I’m now up to four different varieties. I hope you are getting more sunshine than we have been getting lately!

  7. May 16, 2011 10:12 am

    Our late snows haven’t helped, but spring seems late coming here in Northern Colorado, as well. Even the bird migration seems a little later than usual.

    • May 19, 2011 8:32 pm

      Patricia, Thanks for visiting. I was in Maine for the spring last year, and we had an exceptionally early spring. So even though this week’s spring is maybe only a week behind normal, it seems much later by contrast with last year. My Pennsylvania garden is 600 miles and two USDA zones further south than my Maine garden, but it had about the same flowers blooming for this bloom day that my Maine garden had last year at this time.

  8. May 16, 2011 1:05 pm

    Mmmm, the shady hosta corner looks so inviting that I could just imagine laying down to take a nap there (never mind that I would break all the stems, but it looks so soft and billowy that it would make a good bed in my imagination).

    • May 19, 2011 8:37 pm

      VW, When I put those three hostas in a few years ago (two as divisions from my Maine garden and one that I bought just for this garden), they seemed miles apart. Now they’re crowding each other so much that Paul’s Glory (the variegated one) is under threat of being completely buried under Krossa Regal and H. nigrescens. I’ve made a note to myself to dig up Krossa Regal and divide it when it starts to come up next spring. I can give away divisions of this beautiful hosta to 2 or 3 gardening colleagues (an easy way to be popular at work!) and give Paul’s Glory some breathing room.

  9. May 16, 2011 1:19 pm

    Of course, it’s always easier for the people who haven’t had to endure the torrential rains to say, “Oh, but they’ve made everything so green and lush!” as if that’s adequate compensation for days of rain. But really, your garden is amazingly green and lush… You can practically hear that hosta bed growing from here. Really lovely!

    • May 19, 2011 8:43 pm

      Stacy, It’s good to have desert dwellers to remind us of how lucky we are to have plentiful rain. The last time Gettysburg College had one of those commencements held outdoors in the rain, our commencement speaker was Sandra Day O’Connor. Just as we were all feeling thoroughly soggy and sorry for ourselves, she began her remarks by saying, “I’m from the desert; we always rejoice at the sight of rain.” It is so green here it looks like Ireland. I planted a tiny Joe Pye Weed seedling less than 2 weeks ago, and it’s already almost 2 feet tall! In this kind of cool, wet weather, you really can stand around and watch the plants grow.

  10. May 16, 2011 6:03 pm

    A perfect Dicentra photograph at the beginning of this post Jean, just lovely! They used to run almost wild in my first garden, but they seem to struggle a bit here. I really like the pale pink of your volunteer Columbine too. Much more delicate and calm looking than our native red variety here.

    • May 19, 2011 8:54 pm

      Clare, The native columbine here (Aquilegia canadensis) is red and yellow. I don’t know the origin of the pink/mauve and deep blue/purple volunteers that you find everywhere in Gettysburg. I think they are garden escapees (given their shape and long spurs, possibly descendents of McKana hybrids). At first, I wished that the deep blue ones would show up in my garden, but I’ve come to really love the pale pink of these.

  11. Nell Jean permalink
    May 16, 2011 7:49 pm

    So pretty, the pastels of spring, long since done here. Pink dianthus is one of my favs. I took cuttings to spread it around a little.

    • May 19, 2011 8:58 pm

      Nell, I’m definitely a fan of all those pastels in spring, too. I used to have a lot of dianthus here, but it all died out during the two summers of drought and neglect when I was away on sabbatical. They tend to be much longer lived here than they are in my Maine garden, so I’m happy to be making a start on getting them reestablished here.

  12. May 16, 2011 8:10 pm

    You almost had me falling out of my chair for a second. I was thinking it was your Maine garden and I couldn’t believe you were so far ahead of me. Thank goodness, it’s the more southern garden. I know we’re behind this year but I couldn’t believe we were that far behind! My bleeding hearts are up but only about a foot tall now and the leaves are still unfurling. No blooms for some time yet (and certainly not till it warms up! it’s freezing here)

    • May 19, 2011 9:01 pm

      Marguerite, Sorry to give you a scare; I’m pretty sure my Maine garden is no further along than yours in PEI. I can let you know for sure in a few days, but when I was there 3 weeks ago, my bleeding hearts were just breaking the surface and only the earliest hosta varieties were showing their little nubs. One of the fun parts of my two-garden lifestyle is that just when it starts to get seriously hot here and plants like bleeding hearts start to go into dormancy, I get to go north and enjoy them all over again.

  13. May 17, 2011 8:27 am

    lovely pastels … That’s an amazing patch of dicentra eximia. Bleeding heart is one of my favorite plants, with its delicate lacy foliage and tiny pink bell flowers. I find it hard to capture the true charm of it in photos …

    • May 19, 2011 9:10 pm

      Sheila, My bleeding heart is actually D. spectabilis rather than the native D. eximia. I wonder if D. spectabilis is easier to photograph because it’s a larger plant. I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who disliked this plant. I never get tired of photographing it’s flowers.

  14. May 17, 2011 9:02 am

    I love those pretty pink flowers! This year I finally planted bleeding heart, after admiring it for years. I am hopeful it will do well. By this time next year I will know how well it likes my climate.

    • May 19, 2011 9:34 pm

      Deb, Are you growing D. eximia? It’s native to Georgia, so I would think it would be well-adapted to your area. I’ve only grown D. spectabilis, which I think is much less tolerant of heat. I hope you’ll have lovely bleeding heart flowers next spring.

  15. May 17, 2011 5:27 pm

    I love that dark-leaved Geranium…I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for those!

    • May 19, 2011 9:38 pm

      Scott, I agree; G. maculatum ‘Espresso’ is a winner. I’ve had it on my wish list for a while, and when I was visiting Carolyn’s Shade Gardens and saw that she had it for sale, I grabbed one. Even though it’s still just a baby, I am already pleased with my purchase.

  16. May 18, 2011 10:10 am

    I’d love to learn more about your bleeding heart. Mine are always small, but I want it big like yours. What’s your secret?

    • May 19, 2011 9:49 pm

      Cara, Do you know which species of bleeding heart you are growing? The native plants, D. eximia (Eastern fringed bleeding heart) and D. formosa (Pacific bleeding heart) are much smaller plants than D. spectabilis, which is the one I have in my garden. My reference books show D. spectabilis as growing to 3 feet high and 18 inches in width, but this one is much bigger than that. It may be that its protected location up against the foundation and the brick wall of the house gives it an earlier start in spring and time to grow much larger. My experience with this plant in other parts of my gardens, too, though, is that it grows to shrub-like proportions. It does do best in cool, wet conditions.

  17. May 18, 2011 11:34 am

    Hi Jean~~ It’s nice to see what’s blooming in other gardens, isn’t it? I love your photos and prose. Your bleeding heart photo is gorgeous!!

  18. May 18, 2011 2:00 pm

    Such beautiful bleeding hearts!

  19. May 19, 2011 11:57 am

    What a beautiful GBBD. Every time I see a post like that I think I must join in (but it would probably be devoted to hardy geraniums – they’re just getting going).

    My dicentra is just falling over, and I do miss it – I’m miles away from you, in Wales – so it was good to see that they’re still flourishing somewhere!

  20. May 19, 2011 2:57 pm

    What beautiful flowers! I too am waiting for the sun to come out (and stay out for more than an hour)

    • May 19, 2011 10:17 pm

      Grace, This has got to be a favorite bloom day for you — all those pink flowers at this time of year :-).

      Byddi, I find bleeding heart flowers almost irresistible.

      Kate, Thanks for visiting. I’m always a little surprised by how much earlier spring comes to the UK than to the northeast US — the effects of that warm gulf current. You should jump into Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day; I’m not big on blog memes, but I never miss this one. I just love the community ritual feel of it, not to mention getting to see what’s blooming in all those different climates.

      EvoOrganic, I’m waiting for the sun to return here, too. But I still get out to tour the garden each day and see what’s in bloom.

  21. May 20, 2011 11:38 am

    Hi Jean,

    Rainy and cold through much of spring here in Illinois. The growing season is about a week to two weeks late here. I’ve also noticed that some things, though blooming, are not as tall as usual–too much cold weather?

    I’ve got bleeding hearts blooming, too. Columbines are among my favorite flowers.

  22. May 21, 2011 5:25 am

    Yes, great combination of plants, I can understand why you spend much time with them! I love your aquilegias, a garden near by has many in different tones and I am spending time shooting at them, I will post some soon.

  23. May 24, 2011 6:38 pm

    What a soothing collection of lovely blooms. Your colour palatte is so pleasing. Biokovo is especially charming 🙂

    • May 26, 2011 10:30 pm

      Rebecca, It’s nice to hear from you. I do love the flowers of Biokovo. They don’t last long, but they’re a special treat while they last. It’s interesting how the garden palette changes with the seasons. Early spring is full of bright yellows as forsythia and daffodils, but late spring is all soft pastels of pink, white, and lavender.

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