Six on Saturday: Summer’s Unofficial Start


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It’s Memorial Day weekend here in the United States, the unofficial start of the summer season. In my climate zone, it’s also considered the “safe” date to start planting out annuals and other tender plants, as the likelihood of frost is now minimal. There were in fact frost warnings this week on Thursday night for areas near me; thankfully, I was not among those who were hit by it!

We’ve actually had very nice, albeit very dry, weather for the past three weeks! It’s been sunny and clear with comfortable temperatures. Without an extended period of heat and humidity, the spring flowers have had a good, long run this year! In fact, here it is, the end of May, and I still have daffodils!

I. There’s one little garden patch full of spring bulbs that still looks great. The Oriental Hyacinths and Tete-a-Tete Daffodils that bloomed here early in the season have now been overtaken by the late narcissi and allium. There are even still a few bright spots on the tops of the grape hyacinths that had their heyday earlier in the month.

A small bed full of narcissi and allium
Poeticus Narcissus ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ was the last of my daffodils to bloom this year, and it was worth the wait! ‘Pheasant’s Eye’ averages about 14 inches in height, and its flowers are on the small side, no more than 2.5 inches wide. Its white petals curve backwards, and its short cup features a distinct orange edge and green eye.
Jonquil Narcissus ‘Regeneration’ has been blooming for two full weeks now! Averaging 16 inches in height, it stands a bit above ‘Pheasant’s Eye’. Each stem carries two or three small flowers. Like many jonquils, ‘Regeneration’ smells fantastic!
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ began blooming just this week. It stands tall, between 18 and 30 inches, and its individual blossoms form balls that are four to five inches wide.
Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

II. I said goodbye to another spring bloomer this week, digging the tulips out of the vegetable garden so it can be prepared for, well, you know, vegetables! There were a few tulips that looked fresh, so I cut them and brought them in the house for a vase. I’m already poring over the on-line catalogs and planning next year’s tulip bed!

The last of this year’s tulips
These bulbs are already in the hands of my good friend and fellow blogger, Frank, at sorta like suburbia. A similar box will go to another friend next week.

III. Yet another late spring bulb has opened–the Spanish bluebells! These are in the front garden, near the porch steps. It’s their fifth or sixth year to bloom here.

Hyacinthoides hispanica ‘Excelsior
Three years ago, I noted that I should buy more of these Spanish Bluebells to plant in the lasagna bed. I need to write a more assertive note and actually do it this fall!

IV. The rhododendrons are the King of the Front Garden this week! Here when we bought this house, these giants are at least twenty-one years old. Their size is a source of some disagreement in the household–one party thinks they are too big and should be trimmed down considerably, while the other party loves their size and wouldn’t dream of downsizing them! The party of the second does agree that some trimming is necessary so the sidewalk remains passable, but does not allow it until the blooms have fallen!

There are just three rhododendrons in the Front Garden! (You can see the Spanish Bluebells on the lower right of the picture.)
Rhododendrons in the early morning sunlight
The rhododendron at north end of the rock garden, which sustained some deer damage over the winter, is also blooming. I LOVE the color of this one!
This rhododendron was also here when we moved in. There were two others, but they were in spots that got blasted with hot sun all day long and did not thrive, so we eventually dug them out.

V. Late spring is also the time for my clematis to start. ‘Nelly Moser’, growing on an old wooden trellis in the back corner of the vegetable garden, is always first.

I planted Clematis ‘Nelly Moser’ here fifteen years ago.
‘Nelly Moser’ opens in a rich, deep shade of fuchsia, which fades to almost lavender as it matures. Its stripes become more prominent as the days go by.
When I planted ‘Nelly’, I planted another clematis with her, the name of which I do. not. remember. It has not bloomed for at least two years now, and I really thought it was gone. What a happy surprise to see that it’s back! There’s just one flower so far; time will tell how strong of a comeback this vine has made.

VI. My covered side porch is a perfect staging area for all the flats of annuals I buy in preparation for summer planting. With the weather finally amenable for planting out, I’ve been up and down, on and off this porch multiple times over the past couple of days, much to the chagrin of certain feathered friend!

This hanging basket holds more than scaeveola!
Mama Robin flies out of her nest all in a flurry when I dare walk on the porch, and then she sits on the huge boulder at the end of the rock garden and chirps indignantly at me until I leave. The past couple of days have been rather stressful for her, I’m afraid. There was a nest in the basket that hung here last year too; I wonder if this is the same bird . . .

It’s the time of year now when the gardening to-do list is long and it seems like everything needs to be done all at once, so I thank you for taking some time out of your day to take a look at what’s happening in my garden! I look forward to some breaks in my own work this week to enjoy some of yours. As always, thank you to Jim at garden ruminations for organizing this weekly blog party!