Tuesday, May 5, 2015

The Flower Garden in April

As I mentioned a few posts ago, April is crazy-time. It is always a mad dash to get both the kitchen garden and flower gardens prepped for the season. I am so behind this year, but now that I finished my web design certificate and no longer have night classes and homework, I am frantically trying to get caught up.

One of the first signs of spring around our house is when Molly decides she wants to stay out on the back porch with Izzy. Izzy doesn’t mind hanging out even in the winter sometimes (look, Izzy’s checking you out), but Molly is like me and prefers the warm sunshine.

Things start out pretty drab in early April.

But then, after a big yawn, the garden plants stretch out their green branches to the sun, and slowly wake up. Or not so slowly it seems when you are behind with your garden chores.

The lush green color of spring starts to take over, including the lawn.

The birds are about looking for food...and mates.

I sometimes joke that my garden is x-rated in April because there is a lot of bird sex going on, as well as nest-building. You know there will be baby birds soon. (We have our first batch of spring chicks in one of the birdhouses now. The first of what I am sure will be many.)

This is the first year I put out a finch sock in the spring. Boy, was it a hit with the goldfinches. I figured they must be hungry when their fav, the Purple Coneflowers, aren’t in bloom yet. I love watching them from the screened-in back porch.

One of the earliest spring bloomers is the Helloborus ‘Bridal Queen’ in what I refer to as the Secret Garden.

This Hellebore has done so well every since I first planted it several years ago. The leaves stay green throughout the season, even after the blooms have faded.

‘Bridal Queen’ is a double variety of Hellebore. I absolutely adore the white ruffled leaves with pink freckles.

I have another Hellebore now called ‘Onyx Odyssey.’ One I had planted last year and the other I just planted this spring. The deep purple, almost black, flowers are really alluring.

The Crocus bloomed about the same time. This is the only patch of Crocuses I seem to have left that bloom. I think the squirrels must have gotten the rest.

And of course there were daffodils.

And more daffodils...

They are such happy-go-lucky flowers.

An old-fashioned favorite this time of year is the Dicentra spectabilis (bleeding heart). Those interesting flowers never get boring. They make me think of a girl with funny pink hair.

I planted Chionodoxa forbesii a couple of years ago to remind me of a hidden abandoned garden I remember as a child. They sport that pretty blue that I love oh-so-much.

These are planted near my old cat, Montague’s, little burial stone. A flower with a special memory for a special place.

I have come to the conclusion that one of my favorite shrubs is this Spirea that is about 2-3 feet big that is near the back porch. I think it is ‘Magic Carpet.’ This thing changes like magic throughout the season. In the spring it has these bright pinkish red buds. Later it gets bright, lime green leaves, then pink flowers, then turns tinges of red as the weather gets cooler. It is a shrub for all seasons.

Speaking of red...or maybe it is more orange-ish...the Tulip Ad Rem flowers were really lovely this year. They start out orange and then turn more red. They also get this yellow trim on the petals sometimes.

Normally they only have one flower per plant, but this one had a whopping four.

The Ad Rem are planted near some white Iberis (candytuft), which seems to make the red color stand out even more.

The Iberis were full of white flowers and still are. I have one that is in a more shady spot and that doesn’t do as well as the two that are more in the sun.

The Fritillaria meleagris (checkered lily) really fascinates me with its almost geometric-like pattern on its petals. Why did it take me so long to plant these and why don’t I have lots more????

Another plant that has fascinating flowers is this Epimedium x rubrum (red barrenwort). I have to get down on my hands and knees to really appreciate the tiny, fairy-like, nodding flowers and they make me smile every time. There is something almost clown-like about this variety. The rubrum is in the Secret Garden.

I have another variety of Epimedium called ‘Rose Queen.’ The flowers are a little more spider-like and form in clusters. I have three of these in the shady area under the tree on the left side of the back yard (my newest flower bed that I cleared out a couple of years ago).

There is something really fulfilling watching the garden come back to life each spring. I feel like Dr. Frankenstein – it’s alive, it’s alive!!!! But in a different, less scary way. Something that I have nurtured and loved for the past, gosh, how many years now, almost ten, keeps coming back to see me and makes my heart smile every time. Oh what joy there is in the garden in spring!