May In The Garden… It ain’t so bad.

All month I have felt disappointed in my garden. I didn’t think it had many flowers in May. But looking at all these photos I now realize how wrong I was… May was full of blooms and some cool new plants!

‘Globemaster’ Alliums look like they came out of a Dr. Suess book. And Sheldon looks so handsome, as always.

In the beginning of May my Clematis burst into bloom almost overnight!

‘Fireworks’ Clematis is so pretty!

Native Columbine blooms didn’t last long, but I think I saw a hummingbird visiting them. They’re adorable!

This Spiderwort plant was a gift from Gail, from her sister’s (Linda’s) garden. It has tripled in size in a month! Each morning it is covered in purple-blue flowers that seem to glow. But they are gone by evening… Only to be replaced the next morning by more blooms. The bumblebees like it too.

My native Spicebush bloomed in May. They are supposed to smell spicy but mine didn’t have much scent… I am hoping to attract Spicebush Swallowtail Butterflies who use it as their host plant.

Stella D’oro Daylilies just started blooming. It is becoming surrounded by native Scarlett Bee Balm. This week I planted ‘Phenomenal’ Lavender behind the Daylilies (it replaced the English Lavender that bit the dust after the miserably cold winter).

Last week my daughter and I were excited to find this huge Luna Moth hugging my Day Lily. We found a couple last year too. Their host plant is the Sweetgum Tree, which we have in our yard.

Little Virginia Sweetspire is an adorable native plant!

‘Jet Stream’ Oakleaf Hydrangea is starting to bloom. They start off white and gradually fade to pink then brown, staying on the plant all summer and into fall.

I transplanted this native Maidenhair Fern from my backyard into my shade garden. It is super happy here. It took the place of one of my Japanese Painted Ferns that died last summer. Toads like Maidenhair Ferns because they grow low to the ground, providing cover and protection. I LOVE my little toads! So I hope they like it!

I added Forget Me Nots again this year. Hopefully the dogs won’t kill it this year by peeing on it again. Haha!

Japanese Spikenard obviously is not native to Virginia. But it glows, lighting up my shade garden beautifully. I have a native Spikenard in another part of my garden, for good measure.

I love the bunny that Jill gave me as a birthday gift! He is so cute in front of the native Yarrow. He is waiting for the ‘Banana Cream’ Daisy to bloom.

I absolutely love the violet colors of African Blue Basil and native Hairy Beardtongue next to each other. I didn’t even plan it that way. The bees love this basil so I added it again for them.

‘Arizona Sun’ Blanket Flower is so pretty and I hear butterflies love it. So of course I had to buy it!

I bought a drill with my birthday Lowe’s cards and drilled holes into the old wheelbarrow.

I filled my wheelbarrow planter with Snapdragons, Spearmint, Chocolate Mint, Morning Glories and Petunias. It’s really cute!

My new flamingo likes the Butterfly Weed. He is watching to see if butterflies will lay eggs on it.

My daughter is now really into succulents after seeing the ones Gail bought for me. So she bought a Panda Plant (on the left) online for herself and named him “Leopold”!

I am hoping these Cosmos, Bachelor Buttons, Poppies and Dill seedlings will eventually reseed themselves next year.

I planted seeds for this Scarlet Runner Bean at the same time as the little seedlings above. When I heard how much hummingbirds love the flowers I had to try growing it. This thing is a monster! It is growing like crazy. I found an old tomato cage for it to climb. It’s already up to the top!

Native Lanceleaf Coreopsis is so much prettier in real life than in photos. The blooms are big! They glow like little suns. I planted native Common Milkweed and native Joe Pye Weed behind it.

‘Bordeaux’ Petunia is gorgeous.

How cool is this ‘Night Sky’ Petunia?

Last year I swore no more petunias. But I couldn’t resist these fairly new varieties.

Sweet Alyssum is great for attracting beneficial insects.

‘Maters in buckets! Virginia Sweets, Sungold, Brandywine and Cherokee Purple! I can’t wait to taste all of these heirlooms. I hope I can keep the squirrels and deer away… I am buying animal repellent spray next week. Wish me luck!

I filled my herb planter with Rosemary, Chives, Oregano, Parsley, Sage, Creeping Thyme, Sweet Basil and Purple Basil. Some of these are perennials so hopefully I won’t have to buy them again.

A beautiful red hanging basket filled with Geranium and Salvia outside my daughter’s window (can you guess her favorite color)? I saw a hummingbird sipping from them yesterday.

These gorgeous Gerbera Daisies that I bought at Wegmans came with a sachet filled with beneficial insects. How cool is that!? If you see plants with these sachets, please buy them, and thank the store for selling them. They are a wonderful way to prevent the bad bugs. Unfortunately a lot of stores refuse to sell plants with these sachets, because they think that we dumb consumers won’t want to buy plants with bugs in them. Hello Big Box Stores! We aren’t as dumb as you think we are…

Life Began In a Garden… Very True. I love this stepping stone that my beautiful sister gave me!

On to June…

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April Flowers

After a very long, cold, gray winter, spring finally arrived in April. My garden was filled with beautiful flowers. It started with the amazing fragrance of Hyacinths (Delft Blue and Fondant) that I could smell all over the front yard… and sweet little Daffodils.

Hyacinths are native in the Middle East, near the Mediterranean. They were introduced to Western Europe in the 1500’s, and they have been sold commercially ever since.

The Virginia Bluebells bloomed soon after. They were my favorite! More beautiful than I had hoped they would be… I planted them last fall.
Virginia bluebells (Mertensia virginica) are native spring ephemerals in Virginia. They are related to Forget-me-not and Comfrey. They spread to form a large colony. The beautiful pink blooms gradually change to blue. Native female Bumblebees, butterflies and moths seek out their pollen in early spring.

Spring ephemerals are perennial wildflowers, typically found in woodland areas. After blooming, they produce seed, then they die back to the ground in summer until the next spring.

Bleeding Heart, another spring ephemeral wildflower in Virginia, is also one of my favorites. These sweet flowers are adorable! And they attract hummingbirds.

The first plants I bought this year were two of these Labrador Violets (also called American Dog Violets).

Violets are host plants for Fritillary Butterflies. Cardinals and other song birds eat the seeds. The tiny flowers of Violet’s and violas are edible too. So I had to add them to my shade garden as a beautiful ground cover…

Then a couple of weeks later I looked down and realized that my entire yard is already filled with native violets! Haha! Oh well.

Last fall I planted my first daffodils. I have four different varieties: Lemon Sailboat, Falconet, Sweet Love and Avalanche. It was fun watching each variety bloom in succession. I’ve always loved daffodils. I first remember seeing them in my grandmother’s garden.

Daffodils are native in the Western Mediterranean region. The most popular flowering bulb in the world, they are long-lived, and rarely eaten by squirrels, unlike tulips and other spring bulbs. They have been cultivated since early human history. The earliest known reference to Daffodils can be found in writings of Mohammed in the 6th century. They became especially popular in the 1500’s.

Creeping phlox is a beautiful ground cover that is native in eastern U.S. woodlands. Like all phlox, it attracts butterflies, hummingbirds and moths (including the hawk or hummingbird moth). It spreads by runners and is loaded with blooms in spring. After it finishes blooming the leaves stay attractive all summer.

I had to buy these adorable ‘Penny Lane’ Violas because I am a huge Beatles fan. They make me smile! The flowers are edible and a good source of vitamins A and C. They are cold hardy and heat tolerant. I’m hoping they will continue blooming all summer in this shady spot.

I had so many flowers in April that I was able to cut many of them to enjoy indoors too.

The Birds! (not scary… I promise)

Here are some photos of birds that have been visiting my feeders in the past few weeks…

My daughter, Elizabeth, took this excellent photo of a Song Sparrow.

A pair of Song Sparrows

“Like many other songbirds, the male Song Sparrow uses its song to attract mates as well as defend its territory. Laboratory studies have shown that the female Song Sparrow is attracted not just to the song itself, but to how well it reflects the ability of the male to learn. Males that used more learned components in their songs and that better matched their song tutors (the adult bird they learned their songs from) were preferred.”

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/song_sparrow

I wondered why he is called the Red BELLIED Woodpecker…

“A Red-bellied Woodpecker can stick out its tongue nearly 2 inches past the end of its beak. The tip is barbed and the bird’s spit is sticky, making it easier to snatch prey from deep crevices.”

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Red-bellied_Woodpecker/

 

… and here’s why!

The American Tree Sparrow doesn’t live in trees…

“Misleadingly named by European settlers reminded of Eurasian Tree Sparrows back home, American Tree Sparrows are ground birds. They forage on the ground, nest on the ground, and breed primarily in scrubby areas at or above the treeline.”

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Tree_Sparrow/overview

 

The Mourning Doves sometimes make it up to the feeder, but they aren’t graceful getting up there. They usually pick up seeds that other birds drop on the ground. We’ve always had them in our yard.

“Their soft, drawn-out calls sound like laments. When taking off, their wings make a sharp whistling or whinnying. Mourning Doves are the most frequently hunted species in North America.”

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/mourning_dove

 

“The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. In 1940 a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds (“Hollywood finches”). They quickly started breeding and spread across almost all of the eastern United States and southern Canada within the next 50 years.”

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/house_finch

Brown-Headed Cowbirds are interesting. I first noticed them last spring.

“Even though Brown-headed Cowbirds are native to North America, many people consider them a nuisance bird, since they destroy the eggs and young of smaller songbirds and have been implicated in the decline of several endangered species.”

They also lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and let the other birds raise their young. That isn’t very nice!

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Brown-headed_Cowbird/overview

This cowbird keeps getting angry at his own reflection in the window.

It’s funny to watch him!

“Only a few female North American songbirds sing, but the female Northern Cardinal does, and often while sitting on the nest. This may give the male information about when to bring food to the nest. A mated pair shares song phrases, but the female may sing a longer and slightly more complex song than the male.”

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Northern_Cardinal/

 

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“American Goldfinches are the only finch that molts its body feathers twice a year, once in late winter and again in late summer. The brightening yellow of male goldfinches each spring is one welcome mark of approaching warm months.”

Looks like these haven’t molted yet.

You can learn more about them here:

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/American_Goldfinch

How cute is this? Birdie footprints and doggy footprints together in the snow on the porch.

Why do birds seem hungrier when it snows?

Bluebells and Bluebirds?

Well, not sure about the bluebirds… yet… But I am very excited to see the Virginia Bluebells I planted in the fall coming up!

I put up an Audobon cedar bluebird house last weekend. I am watching it closely to see if it gets inhabited.

I also put out some nesting materials for the birds.

I cleaned LOTS of leaves out of the garden. That was a lot more work than I expected, but it looks nice!

I drastically chopped down the butterfly bush because last year it was as big as a tree and the whole area got way too much shade. I’ve researched it, and supposedly you can pretty much chop these things down to the ground and they still grow back. We shall see…

My Garden Is Waking Up

Buh Bye Winter! Hasta la Vista, Baby!

I started cleaning the leaves out of my garden today and was so excited to find new growth everywhere!

I was amazed to see these adorable Autumn Joy Sedum babies hidden below a layer of leaves!

The irises I bought from a lady on Craigslist last fall are coming up nicely! I can’t wait to see what colors the blooms are!

Orange Daylilies I also bought from Craigslist in the fall.

The garlic chives are wide awake!

I was worried whether any of my plants would survive the extremely cold winter. I was especially worried about this one. But Endless Summer Hydrangea is coming back to life too!

The Elderberry shrub I planted in the Fall has some new baby leaves growing on it!

I moved these two Bleeding Hearts to a new location in the Fall. I am so excited to see that they survived the move… And the butter cold winter!

The first snow on my garden

Saturday, December 9, we got about 1-2 inches of snow. It was beautiful and didn’t stick to the roads. So the BEST kind of snow!

I took these photos Sunday morning.

Maiden Grass

Butterfly Bush

(Left to Right) Butterfly Weed, Elderberry shrub and Beautyberry shrub

The bird bath looks like a big margarita!

Agastache and Calico Aster

Nope… not sitting down today!

Sweet Shrub behind the lantern

Clematis

Hopefully we won’t get any blizzards this year. But I love snow storms like this!