It only takes one to bring up the rear in a parade. The parade may have gone by for yesterday’s Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, but my garden is not out of step this lovely month of May. It is displaying the benefits of the perfect spring weather we are having in St. Louis.
It has rained buckets in St. Louis. The photos from my last few posts were taken during the brief reprieves Mother Nature provided. I’m sure even She gets tired of pouring rain. I know my sump pump is working over time, and a distinct “squish” can be heard and felt underfoot during my now twice daily yard and garden inspections. Just three days ago some parts of the St. Louis region received more than 3 inches of rain. And I believe we got a repeat performance early yesterday morning and throughout the day.
Standing water is common after heavy rains in the low lying area of the yard. This is one of the problem areas of the yard. And I am attempting to address it with plants that like standing water.
Needless to say, my first plant purchases for the season remain unplanted. Accompanying the rain are very warm temperatures. Today we were near the mid-80s F. This puts us more than 20 degrees above normal. While I expect we will cool off, I am not too worried about a major freeze, as our average last frost date is April 12, just days away.
Lest I begin to sound like a complainer, let me cast some sunshine on this predicament. The lawn, trees, shrubs and perennials are emerging quicky. The tonic of moisture and warm temperatures are just what they need. Here’s a closer look at their progress.
I’ve written much about the bed that faces east and south beneath the den windows and the large bed that lies opposite it and runs the length of the patio. But my “vision” is to wrap gardens around the back of the house; to update the old railroad-tie, raised bed; and to build a bed along the south fence. Ambitious, I know. Rome was not built in a day and neither is this garden.
I imagine all gardeners are familiar with the three year adage: “First year sleeping, second year creeping, third year leaping.” 2014 was year three and I am pleased with much of the leaping that occurred. Take a look.
On the north side of the den, I planted a lovely oakleaf hydrangea (“Alice”), one Knockout rose bush and perennials in 2012. My thought was that the oakleaf would be a screen and behind it would be my potting shelves and storage for the trash cans. Because I am the youngest of two sisters who have great sensibilities, I listened when they observed that seeing the trash cans first thing upon entering the gate gives a less than stellar first impression of the garden.
So two seasons later, I heeded their advice and extended the bed and moved the trash cans and shelves. My gardening style tends to be experimental in that I will place several specimens in a bed to see how they behave. The back end of the bed is shaded. In fact, the oakleaf pretty well grabs the last of the sun as the bed turns north facing. I expect to move many of these shade lovers to a new bed I am building on the south side of the yard (more on that in another post). In fact, I am contemplating removing the smaller-sized plants and moving an azalea in here. I think the balance will be better.
I look forward to sharing with you my plans for some new garden spaces in 2015 and hearing your comments. Thanks for reading.
At the end of April, I posted photos showing how much progress had been made from the start of the month to the beginning of May. Of course, Mother Nature was just getting tuned up. To lean on the old, tired adage “April Showers Bring May Flowers,” I know why Mother’s day, weddings and graduations fill the weekends of May–because it’s so doggone beautiful.
I have not yet mulched. Shame on me but my gutter man has not shown up! And while I know the mulch will make the beds look that much better and be beneficial to the beds, all the rain and nice spring temperatures have really brought on the blooms. The only bed that really looks shabby is along the fence line where the Cannas are starting to emerge. It could use some mulch. And the bed in the corner of the backyard looks terrible, but more about that deliberately neglected space later.
This post isn’t to dive into the rough spots of the yard, but to celebrate how lovely May is.
Let’s take a look at how things are coming along, shall we?
Not shy on ambition, I envisioned a plant-packed bed, spilling forth with flowers throughout spring, summer and fall when I started this project three years ago. And it is taking a lot longer than I thought. I am trying to be patient and let the shrubs fill in, the Japanese maple put some height on and the dwarf Colorado blue spruce fill out, but I am like a kid–I want it now. May was spent dividing hosta, coreopsis, shasta daisy, black eye Susan and other perennials in the beds. They payback is that I save money on plants and have some much-needed repetition, which provides some continuity to this project.
The “May Night” salvia are attracting lots of bees as are the cranesbill. I really like this combination. This must be the perfect spot for the cranesbill because it was the first thing I planted in my new garden in the summer of 2011. The salvia tends to get a bit leggy and last year–its first summer–I cut it back quite a bit. Clearly that didn’t both it!
Pink and purple plants took center stage in early May but now the yellows are starting to show. The coreopsis are balancing atop their delicate stems, and the stella de oro are blooming. Later this summer, the black eye Susans will be out in force.
I have been looking forward to watching gayfeather (liatris spicata) come through this year. I planted three of them last year. One did not make it but these two look terrific. It looks like they will bloom soon.
True to their promise, the Knockout roses are providing a profusion of blooms. I am really enjoying this pink shrub. It was mislabeled as a deep pink but it turns out it was a happy accident. It’s also encouraging to see how quickly these guys grow.
Nothing seems to have grown as quickly as the Oakleaf hydrangea! This bad boy either a) loves this spot on the north side of the house; b) is a vigorous grower; or c) all of the above. I think the answer is c) all of the above. This specimen is actually in the middle of this particular bed. When sitting on the patio, it towers above the rose. Behind it, where there is more shade from the eaves of the roofline, I have put in shade lovers such as coral bells, astilbe, hosta and fern. Originally, I had intended the oakleaf to screen the trash cans. This year I decided to move them to the other side of the house and expand this bed. That’s the gardening way, right?
Until May, I had not given much thought on which month I really enjoy in the yard. While early spring provides much-needed anticipation and relief from being inside all winter, the temperatures this May have been good (not too hot or humid). The humidity and temps are starting to climb but it has been a great month to enjoy the yard.
Having something blooming each month throughout the summer is one of the key benefits to gardening. You can bring the outdoors inside with vases of cut flowers, a joyful reminder of the garderner’s hard work paying off.
I like to I look forward to providing an end-of-June report and watching what’s growing in your yard, fellow bloggers.
Thanks for reading.
It seems like forever but it won’t take long now until we’re in full fledged Spring in St. Louis. Forsythia, Bradford pear, pink magnolia and star magnolia are in bloom. After reading the Steve Bender’s, aka the Grumpy Gardener, opinion of Bradford pear trees, I can no longer drive past one without laughing. According to Grumpy, having one in the front yard is akin bragging that you have a toilet in the house. So funny! He also says its spring flowers smell like fish. I wondered what that awful smell was! Of course, they line the streets and boulevards of St. Louis and are popular in neighboring front yards. And they look great.
Tonight’s backyard tour highlight are the blooms on my PJM rhododendron. This is one of three rhodos growing in the yard and the one that was protected most from our severe winter. Oddly, though, it always blooms ahead of the other two. Go figure. Coming along nicely is the Oakleaf hydrangea I planted three years ago. This plant loves the spot it is in (north side of house and protected in winter) and was laden with blooms last year.
What’s blooming in your neck of the woods?