Butterflies are arriving

Now that we have so many flowers in bloom, the butterflies are back in force.  Nora captured some wonderful photos yesterday, including some of a very photogenic goldfinch.


Monarch butterfly on Sweet Rocket
Clouded Sulphur
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail


Love the dive



Late Spring


“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening” – Wendell Berry


“In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day.  No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.” – Aldo Leopold


May is the month of great anticipation, but the garden truly comes alive in June.  Everyday brings new blooms, a subtle change in the pervasive shades of green throughout the garden, and returning bird, bee and butterfly guests.


The energy is palpable as the garden prepares for its peak performance; everything sits vibrating with anticipation, on the cusp…



End of Month View – May

Well, I’m a couple of days late to the party but the photos were actually shot on May 29th and 30th, so close enough.

I’ve yet to weed and edge this border, but this is the Circle Garden with the peony/rose border on the top and right and the Spring Border in the top left, edging the duck area.  In another week or so, the Circle Garden will be in full bloom.



Bearded Iris ‘Autumn Circus’ with Allium ‘Purple Sensation’



Bearded Iris Germanica ‘Innocent Star’ – a new addition last year
Verbascum, allium and a lupine on the verge
Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ (Snowball Viburnum) and Hesperis matronalis (Sweet Rocket)
These are suppose to be red ‘Goliath’ poppies, but they are distinctly orange
A batch of Bearded Iris ‘Hemstitched’



The first bloom on the clematis ‘Miss Bateman’


Planting Weekend


Traditionally, the last week in May, culminating with the 3-day Memorial weekend, is my prime planting time.  I usually take the entire week off from work and there is a huge push to get all new perennials, seedlings sown indoors, dahlia tubers, and all directly seeded veggies and annuals, such as zinnia, nasturtiums, and cosmos in the ground, as well as all annuals into containers.  Until recently, our last frost date hovered between May 22-24, so the last week in May was generally safe (over the last couple of years, it’s been closer to May 17-18).

The edging, weeding, and mulching of the numerous flower beds waits until after the mass planting event.  It drives me batty to walk around and see weeds and grass poking up through all the perennials, but it can’t be helped.  With limited gardening time, triage is a necessity.

I couldn’t take the full week off this year due to our trip in April, but I had a rather successful planting weekend nonetheless (thank you Nora).  Thankfully the rain held off until today.

We managed to get the 80′ hot border edged, weeded, planted and mulched.  I planted 5 crates — yes, crates — of dahlia tubers (various red varieties) that had over-wintered in the basement, 7 ‘David Howard’ dahlias (last year’s tubers potted inside about 10 weeks ago), cut back the dead tulips, and planted a line of marigolds along the front edge.


The border put on quite a display last fall with all of the dahlias and rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.


To extend the blooming season, I’ve added some early to mid-summer bloomers last season, including Papaver ‘Goliath’, Baptisia ‘Solar Flare’, Bearded Iris ‘Raptor Red’, Hemerocallis ‘Ruby Spider’, several varieties of red and dazzling yellow lilies (that I have since forgotten the name of), and peony ‘Paul Wild’.

I also finished weeding and mulching the shade garden.  This border is tucked into the northeastern corner of the house and is planted largely with astilbe, columbine, ferns, and hosta.  I have some bearded iris and day lilies for splash of color tossed in as well.


Yesterday was spent in the vegetable garden.  The onions, shallots, beets, carrots, sweet peas, dill, borage, chamomile, cauliflower, tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, marigolds, scarlet runner beans, and snap peas were already in the ground.  Yesterday we cleaned out another 7 beds (each 3′ x 20′) and direct seeded sunflowers (‘American Giant’ and ‘Santa Fe’), cucumbers, zucchini, summer squash, edamame, green beans (bush variety), pole beans, zinnia, morning glories, swiss chard, kale, and two types of lettuce.  I still need to plant the acorn squash, and I want to get some bee balm, basil, and nasturtium seeds planted as well, but that will have to wait until next weekend.

I’ve decided (I think – I could change my mind by next weekend) to let the pumpkin patch rest this season and plant a green manure crop of field peas, oats and hairy vetch (an organic mix from Johnny’s Selected Seeds) in the patch to be tilled-in in late fall.  I still have 3 unplanted rows in the vegetable garden since I wasn’t in the mood to plant potatoes this year, and I may use a couple of those for a few pumpkins.  Much smaller scale than my roughly 30′ x 50′ pumpkin patch, but I was trying to “scale back” in the veg area this year to allow more time for the mixed borders.  As you can probably surmise from the list above, I wasn’t terribly successful.  I just can’t seem to help myself.

To wrap up yesterday, before I collapsed from exhaustion, I also replaced a dead lilac with a new one, planted two yucca grasses in the rock garden, and a 2nd Daphne near the gazebo.


Rock garden with a variety of dwarf evergreens, including Gold Thread Cypress, yucca, various other ornamental grasses (that are barely noticeable at this time of year), creeping phlox, and white potentilla.  This area was a mass of nettles and wild parsnip three years ago.  I buried it under a mass of landscape fabric, cardboard and mulch for a couple of seasons and really started planting last year.  More to do, but a vast improvement over what it looked like before!


As I was digging holes for the yuccas, our friend, Tim, arrived to hang the barn quilt — a wonderful Christmas gift from Lorna and Tim (designed and painted by Lorna, and constructed by Tim).  I had my brother build and hang a couple of window boxes a week ago to set off the quilt.  I think it looks fabulous!



More Flowers

The crescendo is beginning to build.  The peonies are loaded with buds, the camassia just started to unfurl yesterday, many of the clematis are already 3-4′ tall…in another couple of weeks, the June flowering will begin.  It’s my favorite time in the garden.


Lots of work to get done between now and then, if we can catch a break between rain showers.  I’ve done very little direct seeding in the vegetable garden and I’ve only managed to edge, weed and plant some seedlings into a couple of the borders with another 12+ borders remaining.  I still have salvia and dianthus seedlings, dahlia plants and 4 crates of dahlia tubers to get into the ground.


Crab apple blossoms


Memorial weekend is usually my first big gardening weekend, but as of now, we’re looking at a dry Saturday, but rain on Friday, Sunday and Monday.


But the rain has spurred quick growth in the garden.  Some photos of blooms above and below.


Ok, not a bloom, this is Oreo