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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!

16 Comments leave one →
  1. joyce m boos permalink
    June 4, 2021 5:31 pm

    Jean, it is coming along beautifuly. You’ve put in a lot of hard work.

    • June 5, 2021 5:51 pm

      Thanks, Joyce. The reward for all the hard work is being surrounded by so much beauty as the garden season unfolds.

  2. June 4, 2021 5:45 pm

    What are the white things in the photo with the blue chairs? This spring certainly is on fast forward. The insect pests seem to be on fast forward, too.

    • June 4, 2021 7:36 pm

      Harriet, The white things are plastic bags tied to the tops of garden stakes — they billow in the wind and spook the deer, discouraging them from browsing in the garden.

  3. Jane permalink
    June 4, 2021 6:53 pm

    Beautiful Jean! I am still in MD and enjoy seeing what’s blooming up there! Guess I may miss my Iris totally this year , but hoping the peonies will still be putting on their show! Thanks for sharing your pictures! Lovely!

    Sent from my iPad Jane


    • June 5, 2021 5:53 pm

      Jane, I hope you don’t miss your peonies. As Harriet noted in her comment, our garden season seems to be on fast forward, and with a heat wave coming this week, I fear the peonies are going to come and go in a flash.

  4. June 4, 2021 8:40 pm

    Your early summer garden is lovely, Jean. I miss Geranium ‘Biokovo’, which I used extensively as a groundcover in my former shady garden just 15 miles away but which simply refused to accept conditions in my current garden. I’ve never visited Maine but your description of your garden year had me thinking of my visit to Alaska years ago – those gardens were going gangbusters with blooms in many categories larger and more prolific than any I’d ever seen down SoCal way. We may have a long garden year here (although a lot of things go dormant in mid-summer) but we don’t get the same big-bang experience many gardeners in colder climates enjoy during the summer months.

    • June 9, 2021 7:57 pm

      Kris, ‘Biokovo’ is one of the most adaptable plants I’ve ever met, but it has its limits. I’ve found a couple of conditions here (deep shade and very sandy, nutrient-poor, acid soil) in which it didn’t survive. I think my garden season is probably slow and languorous by Alaskan standards. It’s all those hours of daylight up there in summer! We are at the 45th parallel, just halfway between the equator and the north pole.

  5. June 5, 2021 3:09 am

    Rhododendron catawbiense was a species that we grew only a few of. There was not much demand for it because not many of our clients were acquainted with it. ‘Album’ was quite rare. There were stock plants, but they were never used. There were only a few canned specimens, just in case a collector wanted one.

    • June 9, 2021 8:00 pm

      Tony, We have a much smaller selection of rhododendrons to choose from here, limited to those hardy enough to survive a Zone 4 winter. R. catawbiense is one of those. I bought mine from a small specialty nursery that sold only cold-hardy rhododendrons, mountain laurels and hydrangeas.

      • June 10, 2021 12:37 am

        ?! I would expect that more rhododendrons would be happy there, since they are not so happy with the chaparral climates of most of the region here. I had not considered that winter could get too cold for them.

  6. June 6, 2021 4:54 pm

    I yearn for alliums, those are a delight!

    • June 9, 2021 8:02 pm

      Diana, The alliums go by very quickly (especially in the unusual heat that we are having this June), but they are such a treat while they last. I was just giving directions to someone who is coming to my house tomorrow, and I ended with “Turn into the driveway at the giant balls of allium.”

  7. June 9, 2021 2:51 pm

    Hello Jean, I can’t remember if it was me that gave the comment of “gardening in the fast lane”, but that is definitely what I think of your compressed growing season. Due to the cold, wet start to our season this year, you might have overtaken us already as there’s no sign of flower on our geraniums but our Iris Sibirica are finishing up. I guess this is where we wave to each other, side-by-side, briefly before you zoom off into the distance!

    • June 9, 2021 8:04 pm

      Sunil, You were indeed the author of the “gardening in the fast lane” description. I haven’t quite caught up with you yet; my Siberian irises and peonies have just started blooming in the past week.

  8. July 1, 2021 7:41 am

    So much to enjoy vicariously in your Maine garden!

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