Now, gratuitous flower photos...
Double Red KO Rose:
Double Pink KO Rose:
'Sunny' KO Rose:
The bat-faced cuphea has started blooming. If you look closely, you'll see where it gets its name. This isn't the best photo for demonstration purposes, but imagine that the red petals are the bat's ears and purple is its face. In this particular picture, the two bigger, purple-tinged leaves could almost be his wings! (g)
I haven't noticed any self-seeding from the 'Blue Bedder' sage (which I grew from seed last year), but at least the plants I started last spring have hung around for another year. I've read that they're usually short-lived perennials, so this is especially gratifying. Maybe the seeds are worth the effort, if the plants will live for at least a couple of years... (Of course, the mild winter might have helped. If we had colder weather, maybe they wouldn't have returned so readily.)
'Blue Bedder' sage and blanket flower in front of red double KO rose:
Blanket flower (gaillardia, a.k.a. Indian blanket) continues to please.
After I finally cut them back, one (or two?) of the original plants (grown from seed last year) died, but most of them hung around and are already bouncing back and blooming. The seeds I scattered over the open ground (or let the plants drop) have produced some seedlings, too. Unfortunately, some of those were casualties of aggressive weeding, but at least a handful remain-- and then there are all the seeds I started in pots. I need to get those seedlings hardened off so I can plant them in the garden, soon.
These plants are just wonderful. I can't recommend them highly enough. They thrive in hot sun and even poor soil. They're also known for being drought-tolerant (once established), which is excellent news for those of us with dry, sandy soil (like our septic pad). I keep reading that butterflies love them, but what I really noticed, last year, was how much the bumblebees enjoyed them. Toward the end of the season, we'd find bees nestled down to sleep on the flowers, toward sundown. That's about as adorable as a bee gets. ;o)
'Georgia Peach' Heuchera (a.k.a. coral bells):
'Carnival Plum Crazy' Heuchera:
I was surprised to find flower buds on the Chinese foxglove. Buds seem to materialize overnight, this time of year! I can't wait to see these in bloom. The flower stalk is shorter than I would've expected, but it is the first time it's bloomed for us, so it's still getting settled in. (Also, it might possibly need more sun... I'll keep an eye on it, this summer.)
The strawberry begonia has been blooming for a while, now. I managed to get the leaves in the photo, too, this time. I hope I can get this plant thoroughly established, because the foliage is so attractive. I think it would be beautiful in a large swath under the large loropetalum...
Here's something I haven't mentioned before. I planted lemon balm in the garden, within the past several days. I've read conflicting reports on lemon balm (Melissa officinalis). Some have trouble even getting it to survive, while others curse it as an invasive bully that eats gardens whole. Needless to say, I'll be keeping tabs on this one.
I was attracted to it mainly for the sake of its lemon-scented leaves, but the texture and bright green of the foliage is appealing, too. From what I read, it needs regular pruning to keep it from looking weedy. At least pruning it should be a pleasant experience, with the lemony aroma.
I've been pleased and surprised by the amount of coreopsis I've seen leafing out, this spring. Of course, I'm not sure which kind some of it is-- annual coreopsis or one of the two thread-leaf perennial varieties I tried to divide in the autumn. (Those varieties are 'Mercury Rising' and 'Golden Sphere', a.k.a. 'Golden Ball'.) I'll know as soon as it blooms.
Easier to identify is the mouse-ear coreopsis ('Nana'), because of its unmistakably different form. It's a short (very short, at the moment) mounding plant with relatively broad, rounded leaves. 'Nana' seems to be earlier-blooming than any of the others, too:
English dogwood has begun to flower, too. This particular type (a passalong from Mom) is either unscented or so lightly scented that I'm unable to detect it. Some philadelphus/mock orange is apparently very sweetly scented. (I'm not sure what orange blossoms smell like, but the common name "mock orange" is in reference to the fact that it smells like orange blossom, which is a traditional favorite for bridal bouquets.) It would be interesting to try a scented type, someday-- but while this one may be lacking in perfume, it's still very pretty when it's in full bloom.
Remember that the mountain laurel was about to bloom? Some of the buds have opened. I snapped several photos, but I probably ought to try again, when more of the flowers are open. (And when there's brighter light...)
Still, these get the point across, I think:
The flowers are smaller than I would've visualized (before I saw the buds), but maybe that only contributes to their delicate beauty. I think the buds are just as pretty as the opened flowers, in their own way. They remind me of carefully piped frosting on a cake. (g)
And finally, here's the photo I mentioned at the beginning of the blog post-- the beginnings of a new flower bed in the front yard:
The small tree (or large shrub, depending on your point-of-view) to the left is a Japanese magnolia that has been there for a few years (or so). It's the one that has the darker wine-purple blooms, for those playing along at home. ;o)
All the way to the right, you'll see a purple-leaved shrub. That's a loropetalum that we bought on clearance, last year. The pot was marked 'Ruby', which is supposed to be a dwarf loropetalum-- but we all know that sometimes the big-box stores have mislabeled plants, so I'm not setting too much store by that identification. I've tried to give it enough room, no matter which variety it might be.
You can't really see it very well in this photo, but somewhere between the two shrubs is a skimpy-looking rose of Sharon. It was a volunteer from one growing elsewhere in the yard. The flowers will probably be that same mauve-purple with a red eye.
The other, shorter plants are as follows:
I'm trying to move all the yarrow from where I originally planted it. The new locations are places where (I hope) it can grow as quickly and rampantly as it likes without interfering with other, milder-mannered plants. Some of this yarrow is the all-white form. Others are from clumps I grew from seed, so they may still be pastel pink.
This one has a few common names, including dog daisy and ox-eye daisy. I think my favorite is "moon daisy". If I remember correctly, this is the 'May Queen' variety. It has "a reputation", so I decided to be cautious and move it from the main flower beds. Here in the front, it's surrounded by a regularly-mown lawn. What's the worst that could happen? ;o) I divided a nice-sized clump in two before re-planting, to help nudge it along in its fledgling attempt at total
Mexican purple sage. This one is hard to find online, because of a totally different plant that is apparently also commonly called by the same name. Mexican purple sage is the one that grows tall if you let it, flowers late in the season (with vibrant violet-red blooms), and is not very cold-hardy. (I'll address this in a future post, because I think I was overly optimistic about the results of the first over-wintering...) I put a few cuttings in the middle of this new bed and will hope for the best. If it doesn't "take", I might put a yellow KnockOut rose there, instead. Thanks to Mom, I have several small starts of that, and I think it might do very well in this location.
And that's the bed, as it stands. I need to do more mulching, and eventually I'd like to edge it with monkey grass, but that's a long way out-- and I might expand this bed somewhat, by that time. I think it's already an improvement, though. The single Japanese magnolia looked strange and out of place, standing there all by itself. With some companion plants, it feels more at home.