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Warmth, Rain, Bloom!

June 5, 2015

rhododendron exuberanceOur April was unusually cool this year, with very slow snow melt and a sense that spring might never come. Then May arrived with unusually warm – even hot – temperatures. This was not the hot, humid air of July and August, however, but heat that was dry, dry, dry! Relative humidity hovered around 25%. Plants grew rapidly in the sudden warmth, but only a few bloomed. We needed rain.

On the last day of May, the rain came. It started raining on that Sunday morning, and continued for three days. Fortunately, we did not get the destructive, hard-driving rain that visited other parts of the country, but a gentle, soaking rain that was just what the doctor ordered. And, in a phenomenon reminiscent of what happens in the desert when it rains, thirsty plants burst into bloom.

I was away the day the rain started and didn’t get home until after nightfall. But as I walked up the stairs to my back door in the dark, I could sense the presence of masses of blooms and foliage beside me on the back slope. In the morning, I went out to look around, and this is what I found:

rhody catawbiense biokovo beginning

My sense of a massive plant presence on the back slope was correct. Large clumps of hosta leaves were overlaid by the exuberant blooms of the rhododendron that sprawls over the top half of the slope (photo at top of post). In the deck border, Rhododendron catawbiense Album had also begun to bloom, and the first flowers of Geranium x cantabrigiense ‘Biokovo’ had opened.

zwanenburg blooms amsonia opening

In the blue and yellow border, Tradescantia ‘Zwanenburg Blue’ and Amsonia had begun to bloom, accompanied by the soft yellow flowers of Baptisia x ‘Carolina Moonlight.’ The first Siberian irises had also opened (with many more yet to come).

carolina moonlight first siberians

Elsewhere in the garden, Geranium maculatum Album is blooming more profusely than it ever has before, and Heuchera ‘Raspberry Regal’ is just beginning to unfurl its flower spikes.

g. maculatum album h. raspberry regal

This is the time of year when new blooms appear every day. And these rain-encouraged flowers are just a preview of the great show to come.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2015 3:03 am

    thank you…just lovely!

    • June 7, 2015 10:24 pm

      Lilith, I love this time of year, when things happen so fast in the garden.

  2. June 6, 2015 3:14 pm

    yes. that anticipation rewarded. Our red Lachenalia are singing after the rain.

    • June 7, 2015 10:25 pm

      Diana, Our May weather was much drier than usual, so I don’t thing I’ve seen quite this dramatic an effect of rain here before.

  3. June 6, 2015 5:45 pm

    It seems our growing season and weather is the same…..we had that soaking rain, all 5 inches of it, and so much has sprung into bloom….lovely blooms Jean!

    • June 7, 2015 10:25 pm

      Donna, We only had about 2″ of rain here — enough to give the plants a good soaking, but not excessive.

  4. June 6, 2015 7:16 pm

    How wonderful to observe an explosion of bloom like that! I can’t say that we ever experience spring’s arrival that way – it just creeps up on us slowly beginning in what is still mid-winter elsewhere in the country and literally melts away as the heat is turned up. I’m glad you’re having the opportunity to enjoy the joys the season brings.

    • June 7, 2015 10:28 pm

      Kris, Spring is usually a fleeting season here, but the effect has been even more dramatic than usual this year because of our exceptionally warm May weather. Even though winter was long and the garden got started late, and even though June has been below normal in temperature. May’s warmth and that end-of-the-month rain have put my garden 1-2 weeks ahead of last year.

  5. Ellen Bear permalink
    June 6, 2015 8:50 pm

    My gardens did the same in Raymond! What a joy!

    • June 7, 2015 10:28 pm

      Ellen, Isn’t it wonderful?! You should have great blooms for your Raymond garden tour.

  6. June 7, 2015 6:01 am

    Isn’t it amazing how quickly things can change in such a short time this time of year? Things are Looking great in your beautiful space.

    • June 7, 2015 10:30 pm

      Diane, Things really are happening quickly. I went out at mid-morning today to do my weekly inventory of what’s in bloom — and by mid-afternoon, I had three more plants in bloom that hadn’t been just a few hours earlier.

  7. June 7, 2015 4:37 pm

    Hello Jean, you’ve gone from snow to flowers in what seems like just a few weeks! It’s funny how you talk about flowers opening after the rain. I do this when I’m a little impatient for a plant to open it’s flowers. When I see a rose or clematis with large, fat buds that are just poised to open, but frozen in time, I give the plant a soak to encourage them to open.

    • June 7, 2015 10:31 pm

      Sunil, May is usually a fairly wet month here, so it is more typical for me to be waiting for some warmth and sun to nudge buds into bloom.

  8. debsgarden permalink
    June 7, 2015 6:28 pm

    The flowers were just waiting for the chance! I love the rhodie in the first photo. Not many rhododendrons do well this far south, but I admire them tremendously. I also love all your flowers of blue, one of my favorite garden colors.

    • June 7, 2015 10:33 pm

      Deb, That pink rhododendron is amazing. It’s a wild seedling that my mother’s next door neighbor dug up from the woods behind her house and that my mother gave to me the first year I owned this house. Twenty-five years later, it is a major presence in the spring garden.

  9. June 9, 2015 1:07 pm

    We’ve had a cool spring. Things have gotten a bit dry occasionally but it feels like we have had a bit more than normal rain. Enjoy all your bursting blooms!

    • June 10, 2015 9:09 pm

      Jason, I am enjoying new blooms every day. So much is happening so fast in the garden right now.

  10. June 10, 2015 12:49 pm

    June sure is bustin out all over Jean. Not quite so dramatically here but it sure beats the drab Winter months.

    • June 10, 2015 9:11 pm

      Allistair, Did you know that the musical Carousel is set on the coast of Maine not far from where I live? When they sing “June Is Bustin’ Out All Over” in that musical, they are describing exactly the phenomenon that is happening in my garden right now. 🙂

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