Category Archives: Spring flowers

Fall Gardening: It’s all about that base, er… those bulbs!

One of the more fetching things (or shall I say people) I learned of during the garden show season last March, was a Dutch woman who has mastered a fresh approach to planting bulbs in the garden.  Jacqueline van der Kloet doesn’t do the standard daffodil/tulip thing – which is to plant  intense, monochromatic clumps of a single cultivar to provide a “spot of color,” that is gone in a few weeks with lots of boring foliage left behind. Instead, she frees up bulbs, unleashes them from the cluster and integrates them in a more naturalistic manner that can truly showcase their collective beauty.

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Photo courtesy of BBC

Now who out of us gardeners, doesn’t want a spring wonderland brimming with naturalistic rhythm and enchantment?  When the temps begin to climb out of the freezing zone and a bit of rain falls, we crave the signs of new life and our desire for naturalistic gardens is at its highest.  The “proof” of this craving is the multitude of blog posts, instagram photos and tweets sharing the “glory” of the first Snowdrop! (Galanthus nivalis)

Although Ms. van der Kloet is a world-class garden designer, working on projects for the New York Botanical Garden, Chicago’s Millennium Park and famous gardens in Europe, her designs are not just for public spaces where plant material is changed every few months.

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Seasonal Walk at NYBG; Photo Courtesy of Jardins Sans Secret

Her design style embodies longevity.  Van der Kloet takes into consideration many types of flowering bulbs as well as perennial kin and her method can be carried out in a big or small space, making them oh so suitable for us home gardeners!

But here’s the thing…to implement some of Ms. van der Kloet’s signature style, we must think beyond tulips and daffodils.  One of van der Kloet’s convictions is that there are many under-used bulbs that can be combined with favorites for a more lengthy, multi-dimensional spring-flowering show. For example, small flowering bulbs such as Chionodoxa and anemone bland can provide a layered effect when blooming with tulips, hyacinths and mid-season daffodils.  They create an interesting understory for the well-known “stars.”

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Fritillaria meleagris; Photo courtesy of wikipedia

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Erythronium; Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fritillaria and Erythronium or trout lilies are most likely on her short list of under-used specimens.  Species tulips too.

The main idea is to think about how spring bulbs can be used together to create an interesting tapestry of flowers and textures.  For a small space, it is recommended to use around three varieties in a spring bulb palette and in larger spaces up to seven varieties.  Color, height, bloom time and length, as well as sun exposure should be considered when making selections.

Spring blooming perennials are part of a van der Kloet-inspired design and plants like aubretia, creeping phlox, cerastium, hardy geraniums, euphorbia, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, etc… add more color and texture to the wonderland.

The really fun part of her design method comes when it’s time to plant.  (Even kids will enjoy this activity.)  The bulb selections are all mixed together and then tossed by handfuls in the space where they are to be planted. The bulbs are planted at the appropriate depth based on the growing requirements but this style of “sprinkling” proves to yield a natural, appealing result.

bulbsSo last week, before the snow fell and I mean right before it fell, (a couple of hours between my freezing hands and the first snowflake!) I mixed together the bulbs of my Dutch inspired design.  I then tossed them in my front bed and started planting.  Here are my selections:

Clockwise starting from bottom left; Tulip humbles 'Magenta Queen', Crocus 'Ard Shenk', Narcissus 'Tete A Tete', Tulip 'Purple Prince', Fritillaria persica

Clockwise starting from bottom left; Tulip humilis ‘Magenta Queen’, Crocus ‘Ard Schenk’, Narcissus ‘Tete A Tete’, Tulip ‘Purple Prince’, Fritillaria persica

As you can see, I didn’t give up hybrid tulips.  (I could never do that!) But, I did incorporate a species tulip.  Some of these lesser known tulips such as kaufmanniana, greigii or humilis bloom quite early and offer pretty, mottled foliage.

I’m hoping to achieve a layering of color and interest that starts in March and holds interest until the large perennials (iris and large hardy geraniums) begin to bloom in mid-May.  It’s an experiment that going to be fun to see especially since my craving for springtime wonder will be at its highest!

But for now, everything is tucked away under a thick blanket of snow.

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How about you?  Do you plant spring-flowering bulbs in your garden?  If so, what is your method?  Have you heard of Ms. van der Kloet and her designs before?

 

 

 

 

 

‘Bowl of Beauty’ (Peony) In The Garden

Peonies are a favorite plant for me. I’ve even dreamed of owning a Peony farm before… and I’m not alone as I see many garden bloggers with peony-centric posts this time of year!

What’s not to love when considering rich color, luscious blooms and easy care? Yes, the glorious blooms are short-lived (maybe sort of like favorite days or favorite life moments) but the plant has a long lifespan and a reputation of health (what we all aspire to, yes?).

Peony ‘Bowl of Beauty’ is my only single-flowered variety and is the last to bloom in my garden. The creamy tones of yellow and pink that come together make it not only an eye-catcher but also unique.

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So unique I haven’t found the perfect companion just yet…

I  have located it near my bowl fountain which adds a pop of turquoise and a contrasting shape but I’m thinking about adding a Siberian Iris close by for another contrasting shape. Any suggestions of varieties that may go well?

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That brings me to garden design…I have a longstanding love/hate relationship with it.  Sometimes I am so pleased, and feel I am really figuring out how to design with plant life. Other times, I am sorely disappointed and ponder all season about how I am going to fix or change the design. I like to peruse magazines, Pinterest and other garden blogs for inspiration but a great way to get ideas for garden design is visiting other gardens, especially in the local area.  

The Boise Garden Tour is coming up this June 22 and there will be several gardens I can visit for inspiration. (Yay!) For local readers, the Boise Garden Tour is in its 28th year and always offers a great selection of private gardens that can only be toured on this one special day.  It is very enjoyable and the garden keepers are always present so you can visit with them and learn about their experience growing/gardening in the Boise valley.  For more info go to: http://idahobotanicalgarden.org/events/private-garden-tours-2014/

The May Garden Means Bodacious Blooms, Tasty Greens And So Much More…

I really can’t figure out which is my favorite month of the garden.   I Iove April because of all the wonderful plant awakenings (beautiful foliage everywhere) and the TULIPS! But now that it is May, I love the BIG blooms of peonies and irises, the constant supply of greens and the happy promises of so much more to come…

I have a few Peonies (Paeonia) in my garden.  The two that bloom first are coral-colored.   I think the name of this one is ‘Coral Charm’ but the tag was not completely readable when I purchased it, so it is a bit of a guess. (Pretty sure I am right though.)

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The big blooms are gorgeous although a bit fleeting.  However, this year it has produced well over 25 blooms and it was just planted four years ago!  A few of these are being cut to enjoy in the house, most definitely!

Here is a shot of the other coral peony.  It is called ‘Coral Sunset’ and is getting ready to bloom.  There are just two blooms, but it was only planted last fall, so pretty good…

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Another boozy bloom that I enjoy in May is the bearded iris (I. germanica).  This deep purple iris occupies a few spots in my main perennial border. Unfortunately, I don’t know it’s name either.  It was a start from my Mom’s garden, but I love the deep, rich, purpley/blue color so that is enough for me. :)

May37 Last year I planted Salvia ‘Madeline’ behind the purple iris to  see what the effect would be.  I like it!

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A full-sun shot of the main perennial border…darn that light is bright!

The greens have been fabulous this year as we have had a truly “moderate” Spring in our area.    Spring is a bit of a wild ride here in the Intermountain West  with temps all over the place, lots of wind and many years very little moisture.  Fortunately, all of those things have been downplayed this year and we’ve enjoyed rains and many days in the 60’s.

The greens have responded and there have been many leafy dinners over the last few weeks!  Here’s a few shots of what I’ve been growing and my family has been eating.

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Flashy trout back lettuce – purchased as a small plant start and planted in early April.

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‘Paris Island’ lettuce – purchased as a small plant start.

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Rows of Hudson Valley Seed Library’s ‘Ultimate Salad Bowl’ – planted as seed in early April.

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SeedBallz Lettuce (Red & Green) – planted in late March

I went a little crazy with greens this Spring since we are on our 6th night of ‘salad night’ at our house.  ‘Salad night’ means our main course is some type of salad that is considered a full meal – taco salad, caesar salad, chicken mediterranean salad, etc..  My family is a little over the fresh greens thing, so tonight we will just have a small side salad with a completely different entrée.  I don’t want to completely burn them out!

Here’s a few more fun shots of what is happening in the May garden and the promise of more nutritious food to come…

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Deliciously fresh and fragrant self-seeded cilantro!

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Apple trees look like they will be offering up a tasty crop!

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Pretty Verbascum that does so well in the Boise Valley…

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Many, many blooms on the Boysenberry!  Yum!

How about you?  What big blooms do you enjoy in May and are you stuffing home-grown greens in your body every day?  What sorts of promises is the garden making to you in May? :)

 

 

 

 

Above Average Spring Brings Beautiful Blooms to Boise

Oh my, Spring is here in the Intermountain West! The lovely – and more than typical rain in March has lead to some lovely April blooms.  The absence of heavy frosts and daily wind has been heavenly!  In fact, I’ll venture to say it has been an above average Spring for gardeners!

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It is easy to tell that tulips are one of my favorite spring flowers.  I have a couple of different types and several varieties around my garden.  I like to combine tulips with interesting plant textures.  The idea being the “texture” plant will still be around after the tulip is gone and in some cases will help hide the dying tulip foliage.

Here is a shot of mixed purples in a front garden.  Darwin hybrid tulip ‘Purple Prince’ is combined with aubretia and moss phlox (phlox subulata) along with the foliage of hardy geranium maculatum ‘Espresso.’

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Pulsatilla patens (above) is another “purple” residing nearby,

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Aubretia is a great low-growing spring bloomer that does very well in our local (Boise valley) area.  It is not picky about the pH of the soil it grows in and can take a low moisture environment.  It accommodates full sun or part sun, but the best thing is the gorgeous color that lasts 3-5 weeks in the spring.  Look at it up close and personal… now how can you resist this plant?

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Another combination is Tulip ‘Hakuun’ with Calamagrostis x acutiflora  ‘Overdam.’  This grass starts with variegated foliage in the spring when it begins to grow.  I like the white tulip with the variegated foliage.

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My favorite tulips are these that I picked up on a whim at a Target when I first started this garden.Pt3

They are bigger and better every year.  Odd for hybrid tulips, eh?  My theory is they must love this spot where the soil is mounded 2-3 feet above street level. I have combined them with a dwarf globe blue spruce (Picea pungent ‘Globosa’) 

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A different angle with a gold-leafed barberry behind them.

SB07Moving to the back garden, I have tulip ‘Orange Queen’ in bloom with cushion spurge (euphorbia polychroma) and creeping veronica speedwell ‘Georgia Blue’  (veronica penduncularis and Calamagrostis x acutiflora  ‘Overdam’ nearby.

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I have repeated this vignette throughout my main perennial border as I love the bright colors.  Living under a big, bright sky, you must have bold colors!

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Here is a shot of a tangerine Geum (Avens) blooming near the ‘Orange Queen.’

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I also like the ‘Orange Queens’ beside the Himalayan birch (betula utilis ‘Jacquemontii’) with the golden foliage of an unknown Aquilegia.

SB13Now for a different type of tulip, this is tulip greigii ‘Fur Elise.’  It blooms quite early and I love the soft colors and also that it naturalizes providing more blooms as years go by.  I have this combined with Thuja occidentalis ‘Rheingold’ for a sort-of soft earth-tone combination.

fl1 SB14My last combination is another Darwin hybrid tulip that I do not know the name of due to bad record keeping…  The gray/green foliage of cerastium tomentosum (Snow-in-summer) is directly behind the tulips.

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And just for fun, a couple of other pretty bloomers  – hellebore ‘Blue Lady’ and Euphorbia polychroma ‘Bonfire.’

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How about you? Have the Spring growing conditions been above average, average or below average?  If you grow tulips, how do you use them in the garden?

Free Contentment Offered at Public Gardens Today

Go on, cancel your morning….bag your lunch meeting….or change your afternoon plans and get to a public garden. Today is the one day this year you can stroll amongst a treasured public garden of your liking for FREE! Today is National Public Gardens day!

A beautiful Spring day is made into a GREAT Spring day when you grab a friend, lover or family mate and spend a short while in your community’s garden. Or, if traveling, a different community’s garden.

Fresh shades of green every which way, the smell of worked earth and spring blooms and the grandeur of mature plants and trees that have been around much longer than yourself are

ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh… RELAXING. Peaceful too.

And it feels good to find some contentment on a beautiful Spring day. To just be in a spot that somehow makes one feel grounded and optimistic about the world, when so many things can make us feel overwhelmed, dull and discouraged about the world.

So today, go find yourself a little slice of contentment with a visit to a favorite public garden.

For local readers, here are some Spring photos of the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise that is celebrating National Public Gardens day.

You could be sitting here...

You could be sitting here…

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…and gazing at this…

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…or this…

...or go for a stroll on a lovely path

…or go for a stroll on a lovely path

...and have this centaurea catch your eye

…and have this centaurea catch your eye

...next thing you know your at the fabulous new (installed this week) entrance to the Children's garden...

…next thing you know you’re at the fabulous new (installed this week) entrance to the Children’s garden…

A Difficult Start, But Plants & Gardeners Don’t Give in Easily

April has come and gone and this means we are at mid-Spring. For a quick recap of early Spring I’ll write one word – ‘difficult‘. Difficult for gardeners anyway, (farmers too I’m betting) and who’s been waiting longer or more anxiously for its arrival!

The primary problem with this early Spring (around Boise, ID ) has been the wind, the drought and the freezing. Oh, I said problem?  I meant problems – in plural form!

Well sure, it’s not unusual to have some wind and intermittent freezing during early spring but combining these challengers with almost no moisture takes a toll on a garden and of course the garden keeper.

In this part of the Intermountain West we only get an average of 11.5-12 inches of rain per year. So when a month skips its normal rainfall, we notice! That month was March and we missed about an inch of precipitation leaving us with very dry conditions. Statistically, we are 1.66 inches below normal precipitation since the beginning of 2013. It might not sound like a lot, but remember we are talking about a maximum of 12 inches per year. Nothing like the 36 inches of rain our neighbors in the Pacific Northwest experience.

Enough of the stats, just think about this…if you were outside trying to grow beautiful it would be difficult with wind blowing you in every direction every other day. Then the night cold arrives and it is so deep that you are left with no resort but to bow down and try to make it thru till morning. And remember there’s no water as a refresher – just more wind.

Now, that is what it’s been like for all the plants in my garden. Difficult.

Thinking about it from another perspective, it is amazing how many plants don’t give in and survive the challenges day after day. (The same can be said for the motivation of die-hard gardeners I suppose.)  So even though the garden has gone through most unfavorable conditions this Spring I have a few highlights to share.

First, korean spice viburnum. A little shrub that I keep in a pot went from this to this in just a couple of days sharing its wonderful fragrance whenever I would pass by.

ES01ES02The one and only ‘Forest Pansy’ redbud (cercis canadensis) tree that survived the winter is surviving spring with its beautiful tiny blooms going from this to this.

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ES1The one shower we received in April did make for some very happy tulips! My bright ‘Orange Queens’ really loved the rain and seemed so happy that day!

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I was also impressed with tulip ‘Hakuun’, planted in February in a pot and the raised beds. ‘Hakuun’ turned out to be quite a sturdy performer even in difficult conditions. I cut some from the raised bed to enjoy them inside as well.

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Tulip ‘Purple Prince’ was happier under the crabapple tree rather than in pots. Here is a shot of its fleeting appearance.

A little wind burn around the edges but still pretty.

New lily flowering tulips ‘Purple Dream’ in the garden.  Too cold for them to fully open but I love their elegant shape.

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And for my final highlight – glorious greens! Every die-hard gardener knows a few tricks to deal with unfavorable elements and I was able to overcome my challengers and grow a gorgeous bin of greens.

ES14 ES13Arrugula and brocolli rabe went crazy in my steel planter while being protected by floating row cover. Mark one up for the gardenkeeper for not giving in to the difficult early Spring!

How about you? How has your Spring started? A favorable start with many highlights or some difficulties?

To see other gardens and what happened in April join Helen at The Patient Gardener’s Weblog

May Blooms Boom!

Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day to Everyone!

Thanks for stopping by and special thanks to Carol at May Dreams for hosting this garden meme where gardeners from around the world post what is blooming in their garden on the 15th of each month.  Thanks Carol!

The bigger blooms in my garden are just starting to boom!  Irises and peonies are beginning to open.

Also, some newer plants, Verbascum ‘Southern Charm’, Lysimachia atropurpurea ‘Burgandy Loosestrife’, and Geranium pyrenaicum ‘Bill Wallis’ are in bloom.  All of these came from Annie’s Annuals in case you’re interested.  Another quick note, this lysimachia is not an invasive type.

Now after showing all those ‘cool’ tone flowers I must give some time to the hot colors in my garden.  Here is a Geum from mom (so I don’t know the variety) , Ursinia anthemoides ‘Solar Fire’ and Genista lydia, ‘Bangle.’

This garden under my ornamental plum tree has gone from this to this in the last few weeks.  I  think it is interesting to see how gardens change so dramatically in a short time.  I think many times us gardeners don’t fully notice the amount of diversity and change in our outdoor areas because we are always looking at and working in them.  I thought these two photos fun to share and they illustrate how gardens change so quickly.
A gardener can’t show all her “pretties” all at one time though so I’ll close my May GBBD post with one last shot of some simple, sweet strawberries blossoms.  So fresh and eager to be a part of the May blossom boom!
Do you notice the rapid change and evolution of your garden within a single season?  Do you take photos of specific areas and compare them season to season or month to month?  What is your favorite season in the garden from the photos you’ve taken?