and the race is on

It seems that plants in the north country get a late start and then make up for lost time. Leaves on the trees are out, apple trees are blooming, and garden plants are growing like crazy. Here is the shade garden under the east-facing apple tree:

May 23

We have a new garden feature: a birdbath in the meditation garden!

the birds have not discovered it yet, however.

We bought two pretty bluebird houses and put them up on the telephone pole in the back yard. Not sure about the location: they are supposed to prefer open fields. We’ll see what happens. There is a tiny, bold, loud house wren that rules the back yard. Hopefully it will tolerate some other birds. 

The front yard is green and leafy, getting more shrubby, which is what we want. I’m going to yank out the euonymus and a weigela shrub and the white spirea, and plant instead natives like dogwoods and viburnum.

the front yard from the top

and from the bottom

I have been putting wood chips on the paths, using the very convenient pile provided for free to the community by the town.

wood chip paths last a long time and look nice. this is the white garden.

I had David take a picture of me this morning at this daily activity:

shoveling wood chips

Peonies are budded and want to be staked. The lilacs are dominating the flower show right now, along with tulips. Here is the tulip bed:

I ordered several hundred tulips last fall from Color Blends, mostly the double variety. I really like them, especially the pink ones called Aveyron.

Aveyron tulips. The color is just gorgeous, and both the pants and the flowers are sturdy, holding up to wind and rain. The flowers last a long time in a vase, too.

lavender double tulips, heavy with yesterday’s rain

double tulip with raindrops

These tulips are showstoppers, but other flowers are blooming: bleeding heart, woodland anemone, woodland phlox, violets, wild ginger, lily-of-the-valley, johnny-jump-ups, solomon’s seal, and probably more that I’m forgetting right now!

anemone, henbit, unfurling hosta, and johnny-jump-up







Ta da! The daffodils make a big entrance

Two warm days and the daffodils exploded around the garden.

southside path row of daffodils

another row, this one in the square garden on the north side of the yard

various daffodils in a clump

dramatic orange-centered ones

This morning as I sat on the sofa with the all-important first coffee of the day, I heard an absolute riot of birdsong, and I could see out the window, which gives a view of the swamp across the street, lots of bird activity. I heard the double-phrase song of the brown thrasher, Canada geese honking as if trying to drown out everything else, chickadees, and blue jays and most of all the noisy red-winged blackbirds. As soon as I am awake and the coffee cup is empty, I put on garden boots, went to fill up the bird feeders and feed the horses, then went around the yard with a camera to take pictures. I did not plan to linger–black flies are out. I already have a nice collection of bites. Yesterday I planted a new daylily “primal scream” , like I need any more daylilies, why doesn’t someone stop me?? And I planted a snowberry (symphoricarpos) in the white garden:

snowberry welcome to the garden!

It looks small now but it should reach 3 to 4 feet wide and tall. It’s a native with good nectar for pollinators and high-quality berries for birds in the fall and winter.

Here are some views of the half-raked garden:

back yard

front yard


northside pine tree bed

square garden

white garden–with a few errant yellow daffodils

Well, I’m not being too much of a purist when it comes to the white garden. It is blanketed with henbit, which is purple. Now that I’ve decided it’s not a weed I am enjoying this vigorous little creeper. Here are some shots I took of it this morning.

very hardy and early to wake henbit. I have not tried cooking and eating it yet.

henbit in the back yard with flower stalks

Over the years I’ve bought several collections of daffodils (narcissus if you want to be fancy) such as the White Flower Farm “golden legacy” collection, and more recently a collection from Colorblends. These are samplings of the thousands of varieties of narcissus that have been developed. I love seeing the different sizes, shapes and colors of these flowers. Here are a few of them that have come up so far:

I love this one! a double, I don’t know the name

another double, one of the most fragrant

small delicate pale yellow

these have very large trumpets that change from salmon to peach to pink and stay blooming for a very long time.

I left for work early and just as I got into the car a rainstorm started. The sky was threatening and dramatic all morning. Photos don’t really show the feeling of a coming rain–the smell, an uneasy wind, the day getting darker. It was exciting!

dark clouds

In other garden news many plants are popping up as fast as they can, making up for lost time from the cold April. Peonies are reaching out of the ground with their red stalks that look like hands. Bleeding hearts are up, poppies, and others.

bleeding heart sprouts

oriental poppy, surrounded by the ubiquitous tall phlox. If I didn’t stop them the entire garden would be nothing but phlox. 

another very successful self-seeder: catmint. This one seeded itself in a concrete block.

front yard with leeks and wild ginger, bleeding heart and cimicifuga

We are excited that several patches of wild leeks have come up again from where we transplanted some from our woods. We want them to spread so we’re not harvesting any yet. But they tell us when it’s time to go foraging in the woods. We also transplanted some wild ginger and it’s harder to see in this picture but there’s a spreading patch here as well. There’s also a white bleeding heart and a large cimicifuga plant here.

Last but not least, the tulips I planted last fall are up and budded. I only plant these in the “square” garden, which used to be a gravel driveway, because the voles and other critters can’t seem to get through the gravel there to eat the tulip bulbs, at least not so far. Anywhere else I plant they are doomed. I buy and plant a few hundred in this garden every year, and they make a beautiful display. I have to buy the shorter varieties because of the wind.

tulips up and budded

This week we are supposed to have more rain, and warm temperatures, which is perfect for the garden. Well, good for weeds, too, but oh, well. Time to weed later. I’ve started making trips to the town highway department where they pile wood chips, compost, and used shavings from the stables. I go for the wood chips since my own horses supply me with compost. I’ll use them to refresh the paths through the garden. Now, back to work, I’ll post again when the tulips bloom!