Saturday, April 24, 2010

Too Early for Iris!

Iris bloom in May and June. Any gardener can tell you that. Apparently someone forgot to tell the iris that this year. This beauty opened this morning - at least two weeks early.

Mother gave me this one for Christmas about three years ago and I neglected to save its tag, so haven't a clue what it is... except huge. It's about eight inches "tall" and about four inches "across" the main part of the flower and a delicious pink. Fortunately, it is also pretty happy with its conditions. There were originally two rhizones, and now I have at least four fairly large clumps - enough that I gave some away last year.

At one time I had some plants that were descended from my grandmother's favorite iris. They were a small yellow flower that succumbed to an overly wet winter several years ago. While this one can't replace that family heirloom, it certainly has made a place for itself - both in my garden and in my heart.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Longfellows in the Garden

Our local botanical garden - Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden - is a whole mile away - close enough to walk on a pretty spring day. I love to drop in frequently to see what's looking good in their plantings and to consider things to add to mine. Someday soon I will take you there to see some of the pretty things they have and to tell you about it. But not today. Instead we have a special event.

Currently they have a fun exhibit of glass sculptures by Hans Godo Frabel. The pieces are placed throughout the property and among the plants all over the garden. Last weekend we saw about half the exhibit, which was either geometric glass sculpture like this fountain or his more whimsical "longfellows" and clowns.

These are longfellows. As you can see, they are like stick figures in glass, but have elongated legs and arms. Their heads are tiny, but yet they have faces. This is my favorite group. They are settled in among the Japanese maples and junipers in the Asian Garden. There is a stream that flows from the Tea House above, down the hill and then behind this group. The columns are glass and reflect the water, the sky and the plants all around the figures. The sun was bouncing off the figures and sparkling so that they seemed to be moving.

Another fun group is a dozen clowns who are balanced on floating glass balls in the lily pond that surrounds the children's garden. There are about a dozen of them on brightly colored balls.

This group of the longfellows was riding a turn of the century bicycle. At one time this property was the location of a bicycling club and they would have ridden high wheelers like this.

We hope to go back this weekend to see the rest of the glass exhibit ... and to see what's bloomed this week!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


One of the most compelling stories of the last week is the thousands of travelers who are stranded in either Europe - trying to get to the States - or in the States - trying to get to Europe. I hope that if I were caught in that situation, I would have enough money somewhere to spend a couple more days exploring and partying, but sadly not everyone was that lucky this time.

A chance remark on NPR caught my attention tho. The reporter mentioned in passing that altho the airline companies were having problems getting the right sized planes to the right airports on both sides of the pond, they had plenty "parked in the Mohave". "What?" says I.

It turns out that there is indeed an airplane graveyard in the Mohave Desert where airline companies send planes that they no longer use - both those that are ready to be cannibalized for parts and those that they just aren't currently using. Hard for us mere mortals to imagine that it is cheaper to just park a plane than to operate it. Guess the economics of flight really are different.

New Blooms

It's a lovely evening in the garden. We had a full day of beneficial rain. As difficult as it is to believe we are in a rain deficit right now. After the wettest winter in memory, we have had nothing during April and yesterday were an inch behind. I would guess we got about 1/3 inch today, so everything is perking up and saying, "thank you!" this evening. So much is blooming now.

Always my favorite, the clematis are starting to climb everywhere. The first two to bloom, tho, are 'Marie Louise Jensen' and 'H.F. Young'. This is Marie.

"She" is part of the renovation I did last year to the front corner near the porch. You can see that she has already reached the top of her trellis and will soon be making her way up the porch railing. My hope is that she will grow across the top of the railing and on up the corner post before the end of the summer. (We had hoped to get the railing painted this spring, but are running behind. We may delay until fall to let Marie have her way with it! Do you like that excuse?)

'H.F. Young' is growing up the mailbox post:

Unfortunately, in the photos they look similar in color - but they are not. You can see tht H.F. is a much lighter, but it is also a much more pink shade than Marie. See the flower on the lower left, that is not quite open yet? That's more the true color. I have taken a bunch of photos, but they all come out more blue-purple than life. Weird.

A lovely surprise today is this tiarella - 'Sugar and Spice'. I planted it years ago - maybe five - and it has struggled and struggled, but never bloomed. And all of a sudden here it is.

I think it was all the winter rain, but don't really know. This is a part of the garden that needs more water, but I have not found a way to really provide it on a consistent basis. If we ever put in the irrigation system, this spot is number one on my list of places that need help. It's a tiny plant, but with a lovely cluster of pink petals at the tip of each bloom cluster.

The most exciting thing I found tonight is a mistake. About five years ago we visited Longwood Gardens and Brandywine Museum (of the Wyeth family painters). There was a perennial sale at Brandywine and on pure impulse I bought three trilliums - heritage unknown. For the most part, that was the last I saw of them. A couple of springs I have gotten a couple of leaves, but never any sort of bloom. But suddenly I have this:

I think you will agree with me that this is not a trillium, but a Jack in the Pulpit. Either way, I love it and am thrilled that it decided to bloom. I'm guessing it's the wet winter again.

And finally, varigated Solomon's Seal. I really love this plant. We brought a potful from the "old" house (and from my mother-in-law's garden). It has filled in a huge area of [too] dry shade, and provides a lovely pop of light under our elm tree. It is truly one of my favorite plants.

There are plenty of things ready to pop open, so there should be lots more to show you by the weekend.