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Slowly Springing: GBBD, May 2019

May 17, 2019

daffodils 2019Spring in Maine is usually a flash in the pan, but unseasonably cold temperatures this year have brought us an unfolding so slow that it is sometimes imperceptible. But when it seems as though nothing is happening and spring will never arrive, I look around and realize that a lot has changed in recent weeks.

entry garden new growth side slope new growth

All over my garden, ground that was mostly bare a month ago is now mostly covered with new green growth. When I look up, I can see that the deciduous trees are starting to sport the lacy look they get when fading flowers combine with new leaves.

spring new leaves

In my garden, the crocus and hyacinth flowers have now faded, but daffodils are still in bloom. The little slips of forsythia that I transplanted outside my study window five years ago have finally gotten big enough to make a cheerful yellow display.

forsythia light yellow forsythia strong yellow

And as these flowers fade, the little pin cherry tree (Prunus pensylvanica) nearby is just beginning to bloom.

This is a season for spring wildflowers, both in and out of the garden. The lovely bluets (Houstonia caerulea) are blooming, and the sweet white violets (Viola blanda) have begun to open.

bluets 2019 sweet white violet

Along my rural dirt road, I see flowers of Epigaea repens (known locally as “mayflower” and further south as “trailing arbutus”) and of Viburnum lantanoides.

wild mayflower wild viburnum flower

Although only a few spring flowers are currently blooming in my garden, there are many promises of blooms to come once seasonably warm weather gets here.  There are fat buds on the rhododendron that covers the back slope with its flowers each May, on the lilacs along the front of my property, and on the maple-leaf viburnums (Viburnum acerifolium) planted last year. And in the new front slope planting, moss phlox (Phlox subulata) plants are showing tips of hot pink flowers about to open. spring flower buds

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is hosted on the 15th of each month by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Visit her blog to see what other gardeners have blooming in May.

17 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2019 1:03 pm

    Good to see that Spring is finally there!
    Have a great weekend!

    • May 21, 2019 11:18 am

      Lea, We had temperatures up into the seventies yesterday, which helped to spur flowers to open. I noticed the first flowers opening on the lilacs this morning.

  2. May 17, 2019 2:24 pm

    Just beautiful — and so many happy memories for me. I love a slow spring — it’s kind of like a seductive burlesque striptease… show just enough to keep them coming back for more. 🙂

    • May 21, 2019 11:20 am

      Kevin, I love the striptease analogy. Sort of a striptease in reverse — with more fancy dress added each day! 🙂

  3. May 17, 2019 6:19 pm

    I’m glad you have an opportunity to really enjoy the Spring season this year, Jean. That seasonal shift is magical. Spring always seems way too short and, here at least, summer seems far too long, although I guess in your case it’s winter that hangs on past its “best by” date.

    • May 21, 2019 11:33 am

      Kris, Yes, it’s definitely winter that hangs on too long here; and that was especially true this year. There is now enough happening in the garden for me to feel as though spring has truly begun, and my morning walk through the garden is taking a little bit longer each day (now a very enjoyable 30 minutes). We had a warm day yesterday (seventies), and I was actually able to sleep with a window open for the first time this spring. I’m looking forward to more sun, more warmth, and more blooms in the days to come.

  4. garden337 permalink
    May 17, 2019 9:41 pm

    I always love to see what is happening in your garden, and I’m always reminded at how much we seem to have in common. I think I had forgotten your academic anchor is sociology. My PhD is in English and the lens my program looked through was cultural/critical theory. I landed in a college of education, not an English department and so I was in a way the misplaced zygote that pushed against the more procedural habits of mind that my colleagues seemed so engage in. I love many of them dearly. And they always seemed interested in what I had to say about the culture of a classroom or the culture of tenure, or the culture of accountability. But, back to the garden. Yours is lovely. I think you are a week or so behind me in West Michigan. Lake Michigan has a huge effect on our weather, but I am just enough inland to not have to get the brunt of the cold that comes in off the lake. And, I’m in the middle of a mid-sized city. I’ve thought about doing the Master Gardener training, but I’m far busier than i thought I would be. Everyone says that, right? Anyway, was nice wandering through your garden.

    • May 21, 2019 11:41 am

      Nancy, I just took a look at your blog (I love your magnolia!), and I do seem to be about a week behind you. We had a warm day yesterday, and I saw the first lilac flowers beginning to open this morning. My cherry tree is now fully in bloom, and the flowers have also opened on the Fothergilla shrubs I added last year. Like you, I’m inland (about 25 miles), so I normally get warmer temperatures than the coast at this time of year.

      I ended up not doing the Master Gardener training until my second year of retirement, because I needed that first year to get my retirement feet under me and begin to figure out what’s what.

  5. May 20, 2019 7:44 am

    Soooo happy spring is finally here! It has been exceptionally rainy and cool where I live and the plants have thrived. Everything seems early, but I say that every year. As always, the season is gone before it starts so enjoy every moment. Thanks for sharing your photos and wisdom. I really enjoyed your post and thank you for taking the time to share!

    • May 21, 2019 11:42 am

      Everything here seems a bit late, about a week behind last year. But now that things have started to bloom, the cool temperatures just mean that the spring flowers hang on longer, which is welcome. Thanks for visiting.

  6. May 20, 2019 2:37 pm

    Hello Jean, I hope you have more and more flowers each day as Spring advances. It’s amazing how the Lavender walk and the slope have greened up so quickly so recently after they were made and planted!

    • May 21, 2019 8:42 pm

      Sunil, I underplanted the slope with wild strawberries and violets as groundcover, and they have really done the job of covering bare ground between the ornamental plants. Both groundcover species green up (and bloom) early. The violets are blooming now, and I expect the strawberries to be flowering by the end of the week.

  7. May 20, 2019 11:08 pm

    Seasons there are interesting, but so is what can tolerate such seasons. I suppose violets can tolerant anything. I don’t know bluets, but I think of them as being riparian species closer to the coast and farther south, like Virginia.

    • May 21, 2019 8:49 pm

      Tony, Your comment led me to look up Houstonia caerulea on the USDA plants database. It turns out to be an extremely adaptable little plant and is native to almost all of the eastern U.S. and Canada. This is a plant that grows in the deep south and north to Quebec and Labrador. I didn’t think of it as riparian, since it grows happily in my dry, nutrient-poor loamy sand. It turns out that, in much of its native range, the plant prefers dry upland conditions. But there are two exceptions: on the Atlantic and Gulf coastal plains and in the midwest, it grows in both wetland and non-wetland conditions.

      • May 22, 2019 4:02 pm

        So, it really gets around! I may think of it a riparian, again, because of different standards. Common conditions there look riparian by my standards. I am accustomed to gardening in chaparral climates. Everything in the East looks riparian to me.

        • May 22, 2019 4:59 pm

          Of course! Sometimes I forget (or at least take for granted) what a water-rich environment I live and garden in. When I worked in Pennsylvania, people there used to ask me if my house in Maine was “near the water.” I think what they meant by that was “near the coast.” But I always answered that everyone in Maine is near the water; it is a glacially carved topography full of rivers, lakes and ponds. My rural town has two rivers running through it and seven lakes and large ponds. So, although I don’t think of my property as riparian because it is about forty feet upland from the nearby river, I can see why you might consider everything here riparian.

        • May 22, 2019 9:17 pm

          Well, you likely get more than the twelve inches of average annual rainfall I got in my former neighborhood. Trona gets about four inches.

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