Monday, April 20, 2015

Tulips and Other Spring Delights

I planted these Darwin Hybrid tulips in Fall 2013, and they still bloom well in this sunny, south-sloping bed.

Spring is progressing nicely here in Iowa, and we've had some warm days in the 80s already. Today was cooler as will be the next few days, although we're not supposed to drop below freezing before it warms up again later in the week.

I was incredibly busy in the gardens over the weekend, planting numerous perennials, transplanting things that need to be moved, cutting back last year's foliage and digging out weeds that have managed to gain a foothold already. This made me pretty exhausted and sore, as it does every spring after a lazy winter inside, so today's windy, chilly weather was a welcome opportunity to rest up.

But I made sure to spend some time enjoying the lovely sunshine and also managed to snap a few photos of what's in bloom around the gardens during this "tulippy" time of year.

The Front Border, with Basket-of-Gold (Aurinia saxatilis), tulips and grape hyacinths.

More of the Front Border. The more times I see the Basket-of-Gold blooming in the spring to cheer up cloudy days, the more I grow to admire and like it. The big clump next to the sidewalk is probably ready to divide, and I know some places that could use some of this good cheer....

Red tulips and purple creeping phlox in front of my porch.

The pear tree next to my Garden Shed, in bloom and underplanted with tulips. I think I'll plant some bluebells under this tree as soon as I run across some. I've never had any in my gardens, and I think this is an oversight on my part.

Tulips and hyacinths just coming out in the White Garden.

Tulips and violets near my front steps. The little violets have such cheerful little faces!

The North Border in Year 3. It definitely has more growing in it this spring than last spring -- my post last month about this border shows how terribly sparse it was last year. (And only some of the growth is weeds, especially right on the edges; I have asked my husband to spray the edges before I mulch them....)

Another view of the North Border, from my kitchen sink window. I just transplanted the boxwood shrubs from another location in my gardens to form an "X" among the daylilies planted in this bed (the stick is to mark the middle point). This will give something more to look at during winter, I hope. I may also add some annuals, bulbs or something else in this bed that is on the north side of my house; I haven't quite decided yet. There is an old stone cellar below, and there is not more than 18" of soil depth here, so I have to stick with shallow-rooted, partial shade plants, and I might have to water supplementally during periods of drought. (It's kind of a tricky area, but I was tired of mowing it -- usually scalping it because of the uneven terrain -- when it was covered with grass, so I made a bed in this raised area. Some more thought is needed... suggestions?

The Yellow Garden, in Year 2, is starting to "yellow up" quite nicely, with tulips, daffodils and hyacinths, as well as golden foliage plants. Crocus, winter aconite and rock garden iris have already finished blooming here too.

Another view of the Yellow Garden. I'm pretty sure that the butterfly bush (the big skeleton at left) is dead, as I have never been able to overwinter them here, but I'll wait a bit more before hoicking it out -- however, its replacement is already waiting in a pot by the side of my house....

The good news is that nearly all the shrubs and trees that I planted last year have made it through the winter, with only a few exceptions. The magnolias and other flowering trees planted in my new island beds are starting to bloom, and I hope I'll be able to include a few pictures in my next post.

Hope you're not working too hard in your own gardens -- this can be a busy time of year. Thanks for reading! -Beth

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Garden Visit: Bulb-tacular MOBOT

The Climatron, the MOBOT's futuristic geodesic dome greenhouse constructed in 1959, seen through the Rock Garden's display of rocky and alkaline plants.

My husband and I spent the weekend in St. Louis, about a four-hour drive south of here, visiting our good friends and meeting their new baby, and one of the most enjoyable parts of our visit was our trip to see the spring blooms at the Missouri Botanical Gardens (the MOBOT).

Even though we visit the gardens every spring, we never know exactly what will be flowering there during our visit, because there is so much planted in so many different areas of the 79-acre garden, and the variability of the weather and seasons mean that if one visited on the same date (say April 15th, which is around the time we usually go), the gardens would look completely different depending on how early the spring is in a given year, the temperatures, the amount of rain received year-to-date, etc.

So we never tire of seeing the MOBOT in spring. I took many photos during this visit, and even though we didn't visit all the areas this time, the ones we saw were magnificent. In particular, the Japanese Gardens were breathtakingly beautiful (as usual), and we also got to enjoy the Bulb Gardens at their peak, which was absolutely spectacular.

Here are just a few of the best moments we enjoyed:

The Japanese garden, with cherry trees in bloom.

The bridge over the pond in the Japanese Gardens.

It took our breath away....

Haunting, almost sinister.

The extensive displays at the Bulb Gardens.

When I saw this, I could feel my bank account draining precipitously from fall bulb orders....

Beautiful with Bluebells.

It seemed like everything was in flower.

Words fail....

A closeup of some of the tulips and hyacinths. The fragrance was entrancing.

A few Rembrandt Tulips in the Home Demonstration Gardens.

A neon display of tulips, narcissus and crown imperial Fritillaria. I really like the eye-wateringly bright colors!

More crown imperial Fritillaria and narcissus in the Ottoman Garden.

A lovely spring day. :-)

I can hardly communicate how wonderful the gardens were this weekend; these photos give a pale indication of the beauty and masterful planting that the MOBOT displays. If you live in the Midwest, I can't recommend highly enough a visit in the spring to experience the glories for yourself.

And the lesson that I take away from my visit (as I have done every spring): that a gardener cannot possibly plant too many spring-flowering bulbs. Most good things are best in moderation, but bulbs are not among them. Flowering trees are also lovely and desirable, but it's bulb plantings that are limited solely by the other thing that one really cannot have too much of: money (especially if one is a gardener!).

Thanks for reading! -Beth

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Few Spring Flowers

We're enjoying the lovely first month of spring here in Iowa; the weather has been a combination of warm sunny days (yesterday was nearly 80 degrees) and cooler windy days in the 50s and 60s, and flowers are popping out here and there.

A few tulips are starting to bloom, along with the daffodils and other early bulbs I showed in my last post, and the crocus and winter aconite are starting to fade out now. Here are a few other flowers that are blooming in my gardens now:

The first of the Darwin Hybrid Tulip in my Mint Circle bed.

A low-growing species tulip (perhaps 'Lilac Wonder'?)

Pushkinia libanotica (striped squill), scilla siberica, (wood squill) and hyacinths 'Blue Jacket' (and watch out for the fierce hunter approaching!).

Muscari botryoides album.

More Muscari with purple hyacinths in the background, in the North Border.

Violas planted with tulips about to bloom. I love their cheerful little faces!

More violas and daffodils. These bulbs among the violas are ones I tried to pull out after last spring, but I evidently didn't get them all because quite a few are coming back. Now I'm glad that I was so ineffective in removing them!

Some Fritillaria I planted a few years ago. I'm not sure, but they might be Fritillaria Michailovskyi.

The same tulips as in the first photo, but that one was taken yesterday and this one today. Right after first posting this post, I saw that the purple tulips have opened and had to post the new photo -- what a difference 24 hours makes!

I'm so happy that spring is here after the cold, gray winter. Our grass is finally green again and our skies are much more blue. After being deprived of color for four months, I'm enjoying every moment of spring's bright, happy hues.

And my husband and I are heading down to St. Louis (where spring is several weeks ahead of here) to visit our good friends and meet their little baby for the first time. I hope a visit to the Missouri Botanical Garden (the MOBOT) will be included in our weekend, and with any luck I'll have many photos of the magnificent spring flower displays there to share in my next post.

I hope that you too are enjoying the flowers that are beginning to bloom in your own gardens, now that warmer days are arriving. Thanks for reading! -Beth