Garden news: Friday, May 31

Okay I’m late with this week’s garden news. On actually-Friday I was sitting at the computer feverishly finishing up a different series of articles for this blog so I could send them to beta readers. When I finished, I rightly thought that I’d put in my computer-work time for the day and went outside. To the garden.


The last week of May hit the garden like a bomb. All the bearded iris that budded this year are in bloom. All the Siberian iris are in bloom. The foxglove is sailing. The columbines and hardy geraniums are petering out. The rose bush I planted a year ago, a David Austin rose called Olivia Rose Austen, is in bloom (yay!) The Spotty Dotty’s flowers are fully unfurled (and “unfurled” is the right word, because they hang long and straight like crimson banners in a medieval hall).


The sweet peas…suffered depradations by my daughter, who was told she could pick as many as she wanted, and proceeded, over the course of two days and six bouquets, to literally pick every single one that was in bloom. That’s all right; they’re for cutting and she did me a favor by preventing any from going to seed. But I have convinced her to leave them alone for a week so they can re-bloom for her grandparents, who are coming to visit.


There has been laundry-related anxiety in this household, which I alleviated with two plant orders. From Schreiner’s I ordered irises Batik, Crimson Snow, Attitude, and Gnu’s Flash, and am having an Always and Forever thrust upon me as a reward. Where I will put all these irises is a problem, as I have a relative shortage of hot, sunny sites, but it has all come together in a flash of inspiration. I will move the front row of hellebores out of the corner driveway garden and into the shade garden, where they should get on fine, and put any homeless iris into that spot. It gets the closest thing to full sun I can provide.


Then, from Bluestone Perennials’ annual clearance sale, I bought variegated Solomon’s Seal, brunnera Alexander’s Great (a giant cultivar, apparently), three hydrangea Pillow Talk to line the back of the terrace garden and maybe hold back the damn hypericum, a tricyrtis Empress to add to my collection (which are happily growing in their new shade garden spots), three penstemon Mystica because OMG have you seen this plant???, a heuchera Marvelous Marble out of curiosity, and…holy cats.. a pink schizophragma, Rose Sensation.


I’ve had a white schizophragma for a couple of years now. I planted it in the crap part of the shade garden before I understood what I was doing, and last fall when I replanted everything I actually dug it up and left its root ball sitting out all winter and I’ll be damned if the thing didn’t leaf out anyway. So I have re-planted it and I wish it well.


But now I’m getting a pink one, which requires thinking about. Where do I put it? These are flowering vines with huge potential. They climb. I’d put it over the legacy arbor, but it wants shade. So maybe I’ll try to scramble it up our brick chimney. The chimney is made of an ugly shade of gold brick. It would be nice to cover it.

I also purchased, at Wally World, a shrub rose Icecap which had been grown in a dodgy bark chip media (like something you’d grown an orchid in) and needed deadheading and looked generally so forlorn that they’d reduced the price from $25 to $7.98. I put it in the ground and will treat it right, and I think it will pull through and be enchanting next year.


So that’s the flowers. The veg garden is making progress. I executed the rhubarb plant that always insists on bolting, and made a crumble out of it. I also picked a mess of chard, several messes of lettuce, and all the radishes, which developed poorly this year. Tiny tomatoes and artichokes are growing. One out of five kale plants is getting eaten by bugs. Pumpkin seedlings are up, and huge, and terrifying. Bean seeds didn’t come up, so I’ll start seeds in trays for planting out ASAP.

And that’s the week in the garden, folks.

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