The Arch City Gardener

Journeys In St. Louis Gardening and Beyond


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A Peony’s palette

For the first time since I planted them 3 years ago, the peonies are rich with buds. I planted Shirley Temple and Eden’s Perfume varieties.

The photo above of Shiley Temple was taken early in the week after a rain. By the end of the week she was in full bloom.

A close up shows just how lovely these blooms are. The plant tag describes this plant as highly fragrant but I would disagree. I don’t pick up much of a scent.

I’m keeping an eye on Eden’s Perfume, which is heavy with buds. It has never bloomed before. Fingers crossed that this is the year.

The blooms emerge a soft pink, evolve into a blush color and eventually turn white. Truly a plant worth watching.

Last night and today heavy rains rolled through bringing with them more than 2 inches of rain, and flattening dear Shirley. Not to worry though, as I have my first vase of flowers from the garden this season.


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A stunning day to garden

I love Saturdays, or even more to the point, I live for Saturdays. Especially early May Saturdays when the weather is pleasant, the nurseries are brimming with plants and I have all the time in the world to play in the garden.

Temperatures are on the cooler side for this time of year, and I noted it was a brisk 38 when I stepped barefoot onto the patio. Normally the low is around 52. I hauled several annuals into the garage last night including Kimberly fern, hibiscus and gerbera daisies because they forecast temperatures down to 34.

The azalea reacted predictably by shedding some of its lovely pink petals. But it is nearly done with its fashion show anyway.

So much is emerging right now. I do believe this is my favorite time to garden. The oak leaf hydrangea is beginning to bud. Within a month it will be an explosion of 12 inch blooms.

I checked on the budding white “Shirley Temple” peonies I planted in 2017. I’ve had my eye those and the “Eden’s Perfume” peonies I planted that year because they’ve not really bloomed well. This year there are buds on all of them. I’m feeling pretty optimistic.

My coffee inspection led me to the “May Night” salvia I moved to a raised bed last spring. No complaints here! It sits by betony, which I installed last year. I also moved some of of the salvia to a large bed at the edge of the patio and it too is doing nicely. The betony is bushy and looks vigorous but no blooms yet.

Also enjoying a moment is the variegated Solomon seal. A transplant from a friend’s garden a few years ago, I have divided it this season and shared with a neighbor. I love its string of pearl-like blooms. They are short lived.

The Japanese Forest Grass is emerging nicely. I was worried it looked a bit lackluster, but is seems to be rebounding for another year in the shade garden.

Hostas are another tried and true and rugged as can be plant frequently found in many area gardens, including mine. The morning stroll found them enjoying this spectacular morning as much as I did. I have several varieties but I do not know their names as I got them from garden club plant sales or as cuttings from friends.

I hope you’re enjoying your garden in your corner of the world.


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Time off for the garden

Friday turned out to be a perfect day to take off from the clattering at my keyboard and spend some time digging in the garden.

When I last wrote, we’d had some nice rain. That was followed by some heavy rain with about 2 inches over a couple of days. Which was followed by some dry, but cool, weather. Which brought us to Friday which was perfect for getting outside–sunny skies, temperatures in the 70s and the ground soft and easy to work.

As I began dividing the astilbe, I was thinking of how much I enjoy working in the garden and quickly amended that thought to playing in the garden. For there are days like last Friday that are so enjoyable they feel like play.

On a delightful day such as it was, even the weeding felt fine. I spent quite some time plucking violets from their unwelcome place amid the yarrow.

It was a day for spreading mulch. My mulch man places it throughout the beds and I spread it about. Tbis job takes a few days if I take my time with it.

And it was perfect for trimming the vines (Virginia creeper?) Climbing the fence and creating a wall of greenery.

It was a pleasant day for plucking up wayward black eyed Susan’s and dividing ostrich fern for friends and neighbors, trimming the Russian sage and watching with anticipation the beauty yet to bloom.

I savor days like these because I know that days like these are fleeting. As May advances toward Memorial Day it brings with it increasing heat and humidity. And that’s when play day chores like Friday’s begin to feel like work.


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Timely rain

Farmers often talk about getting a timely rain, that much needed moisture that comes at just the right time for their thirsty crops.

My little patch of ground has recently received some timely rain. The sweet woodruff ringing the catalpa tree in the front yard dries out pretty quickly. It’s clearly grateful.

With temperatures warming–but still quite variable–plants just come alive. The ostrich fern have grown 4 or 5 inches. So graceful and pretty. And the rain barrels are replenished and filled to the brim.

And the peonies are filled with buds. I can’t wait for them to bloom. This is the third year I’ve had them in the garden and they have never looked so good.

And the azaleas just burst forth in all their awesome fuchsia glory. Mother Nature is amazing at this time of year.


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The spring parade marches on

I don’t know about you, but this spring feels luxuriously long. Yes, it’s only April 20. And yes, we have just passed our estimated final frost date. But when every day feels like, well, yesterday, this lovely season feels like it has been around a while.

And to completely butcher a Martha Stewart phrase, that’s NOT a bad thing.

Cranesbill will bloom soon, right behind the azaleas.

That’s because I get to linger longer in the garden to watch the magic happen. I’m not running home for a quick bite at lunch while I enjoy my private oasis. I’m taking a conference call on the patio…all day! Who would have thought?

The ferns are one of my favorites to watch in spring…and I get to do this every day!

I get to see the secretive trillium tucked away in the deep shady recesses of my corner woodland bed before they disappear.

Of course, there is always the hazard of being distracted while on a call. Sometimes I find my thoughts wandering. For example, 2 of my leatherleaf viburnum struggled through a fungus of some sort last year. My Extension agent advised me to cut it back late this winter, which I did. But honesty, I worry about the poor things. They look pathetic! And I find myself staring at them during the endless line up of conference calls. Naturally I am distracted.

The hazards of working from home.

Healthy viburnum


There are signs of hope this viburnum will come back.

I had no intention of being all doom and gloom when I began this post, so I will end on a more upbeat note. The dogwoods are glorious in this corner of the world, and the azaleas are ecstatic as they burst into bloom.

The season may feel protracted but that’s just fine by me. How’s your corner of the earth?


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Bloom time in St. Louis

One benefit of the coronavirus is I am walking, walking, walking. I walk in my little neighborhood in the morning, sipping coffe, checking in with co-workers. I typically get a much longer walk in after work.

It’s on this jaunt that I take in the deep fragrance if Korean spice viburnum which are in bloom. Today, I came upon the heady, sweet scent of lilacs.

There is so much to enjoy this season. Temperatures aren’t too warm–if you dont count Wednesday when the temperature has hit 90–and the humidity is at bay. On a good day, I’m happy to open all the windows and let the fresh air flow through the house. The Chinese magnolia blooms are nearly gone as are the bright yellow forsythia, giving way to the colorful blooms of redbud, all types of viburnum, cherry, crab and dogwood trees. The colors are spectacular and my walks are getting longer!

A glorious exple of a redbud tree.

I am fortunate to live in an area with many historic homes with graceful landscapes.

I am not sure what this shrub is.

Do you have a favorite flowering spring tree or shrub?


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The unfurling, unfolding, uncurling of spring

This is my favorite time to marvel at the emerging plant growth in my gardens. The grass is greener, birds are nesting and all around nature is doing her thing.

Perhaps my favorite is the unfurling of ferns fronds. In a matter of days they go from brown stumps to tightly wound circles of green to soft graceful beauty.

The paperback maple has started its peeling of cinnamon bark. There are no leaves on its branches but I think that’s the point. The main attraction is its paper-thin bark curling away.

Also in a mere matter of days, the Japanese maple shed its leaves and its new leaves are unfolding. I’d been watching the tree for some time, wondering if there was something wrong with it. I didn’t recall it retaining its brown, shriveled leaves for so long.

A few leaves remain on the branches of the Japanese maple.

While I’m at it, here are a few more shots from the garden. I hope your garden treasures are as delightful to watch. Thanks for reading.