September Was Wet

Hurricane Florence and several other rain storms drenched my garden in September. So far 2018 is the second wettest year on record! But my garden is doing well despite the deluge.

The blooms on my Oak Leaf Hydrangea have faded to a beautiful golden brown.

A few blooms left on Scarlet Bee Balm.

I just noticed this white Impatien which came from a hanging pot that self seeded from last year. I hope it will self seed again for next year. The bright white blooms really brighten up the shade garden.

I love the seed heads on Bottlebrush Grass in the shade garden.

New England Asters

Calico Aster

Autumn Joy Sedum

I had thought this was Woodland Sunflower. But I recently found out it’s actually Tickseed Sunflower, a native that is an annual. To me they will always be called Elizabeth’s Flowers because they bloom along the roadways on her birthday. I hope it will self seed.

The zinnias that self seeded from last year are still going strong. The red ones are like jewels.

Lantana is still blooming.

I love this ‘Fireworks’ Goldenrod!

Roman sitting behind the arbor that is now covered in Coral Honeysuckle. I planted it a year ago. It didn’t bloom this year, so I’m hopeful that it will be covered in flowers next year.

The daffodils are a bit too anxious to bloom again. Go back to sleep babies… not time to wake up yet.

Clematis seed heads are so cool!

I am leaving the Coneflower seed heads up because I’ve read that Goldfinches love to eat the seeds.

I love these orange Cosmos.

Agastache is a work horse. Still going strong!

Last month a caterpillar ate all the leaves on my Coralberry but it’s already leafing out again, recovering nicely.

After I planted this Mountain Mint it seemed to die off, but now there is lots of new growth. I’ve read that this is a pollinator magnet.

Cardinal Flower seedheads

I dug up a couple of these Maidenhair ferns that have been growing naturally in the backyard…

…and I transplanted them around the frog pond. They should provide nice cover for my froggies.

The 5-gallon bucket garden is finally producing a bit…

Virgina Sweets tomato ripening

Brandywine tomatoes

Sungold cherry tomatoes

Silly froggy, that fountain is not a lily pad.

I used some rocks to lift up the garden fencing, to make a froggy door, so they can hop from the pond into the garden and eat up all the bad buggies.

I stacked up some stones to mark the grave of the first froggy to move into my frog pond. I found his body in my garden. Such a sad day for me…

I think this fire ant is pretty cute, as long as he doesn’t sting me.

I caught this spider spinning up her next meal with silk. Spiders are great helpers in the garden!

This Red Spotted Admiral Butterfly visited my garden one day. Beautiful blue!

A Tachinid Fly on Joe Pye Weed – they are excellent pollinators!

Sungold cherry tomatoes

Silly froggy, that fountain is not a lily pad.

I used some rocks to lift up the garden fencing, to make a froggy door, so they can hop from the pond into the garden and eat up all the bad buggies.

I stacked up some stones to mark the grave of the first froggy to move into my frog pond. I found his body in my garden. Such a sad day for me…

I think this fire ant is pretty cute, as long as he doesn’t sting me.

I caught this spider spinning up her next meal with silk. Spiders are great helpers in the garden!

This Red Spotted Admiral Butterfly visited my garden one day. Beautiful blue!

A Tachinid Fly on Joe Pye Weed – they are excellent pollinators!

O sweet September rain!
I hear it fall upon the garden beds,
Freshening the blossoms which begin to wane.

–Mortimer Collins (1827–76)

O sweet September rain!
I hear it fall upon the garden beds,
Freshening the blossoms which begin to wane.

–Mortimer Collins (1827–76)


Abundance In August

Female Ruby Throated Hummingbird below my arbor that’s covered with native Coral Honeysuckle.

I bought a mirrorless camera which will allow me to take much better photos from now on. I love it! This photo shows what it can do.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on native Boneset

The frog pond has been a huge success! It started with one frog, then two, then dozens of tadpoles, and now I have at least four or five adult frogs who stay in the pond all the time! I love my froggies!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on native Black Eyed Susans

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail enjoying native Cup Plant while Sheldon looks out for squirrels

Bird Food!! Aka: Fall webworms that will become moths, if they survive.

Native Joe Pye Weed

Native Great Blue Lobelia

Purple Verbena self seeded last summer and returned this year

Native New York Ironweed towers above the other plants at about 8 feet tall

I call these Elizabeth’s Flowers because they bloom right around my daughter’s birthday every year on our street. They’re actually native Woodland Sunflowers. Last fall I collected seeds and scattered them in my garden. Now I have a plant in my garden!

Snapdragons and Marigolds

The Cosmos is still blooming well. I am going to let them go to seed. Hopefully I’ll have them again next year.

The native Pickerel Weed in my frog pond is blooming now!

Native Autumn Joy Sedum is getting ready to bloom

Queen Red Lime Zinnia

White Zinnia

I have a lot of Zinnias in my garden that must have self seeded from last year because I only planted seeds in pots this spring.

Some plants are slowing down. I plan to let most of them go to seed, like these native Purple Coneflowers. I hear goldfinches love the seeds.

This sunflower was planted by the birds. So I am leaving the seeds for them to eat again. Maybe they will plant more sunflowers for me next year too.

Another native Sunflower that’s going to seed soon.

If you look closely you’ll see the first tiny berries on my native Beautyberry shrub. Eventually these berries will change to a beautiful purple color and will feed the birds.

My native Spikenard also has little berries for the birds.

My 5-gallon bucket veggie garden was a bust. They get about 7 hours of sun, but it just isn’t enough. So far I’ve gotten two Cherokee Purple tomatoes (one from each plant), a few Brandywine tomatoes (from two plants), and one Virginia Sweets tomato (from one plant). None of the large tomatoes are ripe yet.

But my Sungold cherry tomatoes have been much more productive! I may plant a few of these again next year. So far I’ve gotten enough for two salads…

The Sungolds are amazingly DELICIOUS! I’ve never tasted a cherry tomato that I actually liked, until now.

This cucumber plant that self seeded from some of my compost has only produced these big flowers. No fruit yet…

My garden got so overgrown this month that I had to clean it out significantly last week. Which feels like a huge success because I remember how anxious I was in the spring to see everything grow up and fill in. Now I cannot even walk through the pollinator garden!

I am always shocked by the humidity in August. It makes it hard to breathe sometimes with asthma. And I sweat profusely after just a few minutes outside, even in the early morning. I do not know how people work outside in it all day. Yuck. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m ready for September and Fall!

July was beautiful and busy in my garden!

July is my favorite month in my garden because my full-sun pollinator garden is filled with flowers and butterflies!

I started gardening after learning about the huge decrease in Monarch butterflies. So I created a Monarch Waystation by adding lots of nectar plants, caterpillar host plants and water puddling stations. I had one Monarch visit last week. Isn’t she beautiful? I have been checking my Common Milkweed, Rose Milkweed and Butterfly Weed for eggs, but none yet. Hopefully in the future I can help raise Monarchs!

My pollinator garden has plants that attract and feed butterflies, moths, native bees, beneficial insects, and hummingbirds. I have a large variety of plants that have different-colored and different-sized flowers that bloom all season, from April through October. I also have many types of caterpillar host plants, so the butterflies will lay eggs here.

An Eastern Tiger Swallowtail on a Black Eyed Susan.

A Black Swallowtail on the Butterfly Bush.

It isn’t a native plant, but it is by far the most popular plant with all of the butterflies. These plants are very invasive. Luckily mine is a sterile variety so it won’t spread. In March I cut it all the way down to 2′ tall and it grew like crazy. It is now at least 8′ tall.

This is an aerial view of my full sun pollinator garden, including: Common Milkweed, Joe Pye Weed, ‘Phenomenal’ Lavender, Butterfly Bush, Yarrow, Creeping Thyme, New York Ironweed, Garden Phlox, Rose Milkweed, Monarda/Bee Balm, Calico Aster, Sunflowers, Prairie Blazing Star, Black Eyed Susans, ‘Autumn Joy’ Sedum, Lanceleaf Coreopsis, Agastache, Purple Coneflowers, Turks Cap Lillies, Cosmos, Dill, Chives, Banana Cream Daisies, Butterfly Verbena, Sweet Alyssum, African Blue Basil, Blanket Flowers, New England Asters, New York Asters, and Hairy Beardtongue.

I have many pollinator plants in other areas of my garden as well: Coral Honeysuckle, Cup Plant, Blunt Mountain Mint, Snapdragons, Zinnias, Marigolds, Lantana, Scarlet Bee Balm, Butterfly Weed, Threadleaf Coreopsis, Bluestar, Monkey Flower, Cardinal Flower, Great Blue Lobelia, Wild Geranium, Stiff Goldenrod ‘Fireworks’, Spiderwort, Fuschias, ‘Labrador’ Violets, Golden Ragwort, Virginia Bluebells, and Bleeding Heart.

I am hoping these beautiful Cosmos will reseed and come back every year since they are annuals.

This sunflower was planted by the birds!

I planted this little sunflower.

The tall Cup Plant with its yellow flowers is attracting bees and butterflies.

The garden phlox is so pretty!

The hummingbirds have enjoyed the nectar from the Scarlet Bee Balm.

These Casa Blanca Lillies smell heavenly!

The bright red Cardinal Flower is a real stunner! The hummingbirds love it! I may plant a few more next year.

The ‘Jet Stream’ Oakleaf Hydrangea blooms are fading from creamy white to pale green and pink now.

The Beautyberry shrub has lots of tiny purple blooms. I’m hoping they will become tiny purple berries in the fall, for the birds.

We had a beautiful doe visit our backyard last week. She was chowing down on grass and weeds. She is welcome here… as long as she only chomps on grass and weeds. Our dogs keep deer out of the yard most of the time.

My little 5 gallon bucket vegetable garden is coming along. I only get about six hours of sun back here in the woods. So they don’t look that great. I’d love to grow veggies in the sunny field out front, but there is no water source nearby, and the deer would have free reign… so I would also need a deer fence…

My first Cherokee Purple tomato. Hopefully not the only one. Ha!

The Sungold Cherry Tomatoes are doing well.

I found this volunteer cucumber growing in my shade garden. Weird! I guess it sprouted from seeds in my compost. I transplanted it into a pot and it’s growing! It has several flowers now.

One morning I found this beautiful spider web on the tomatoes. Spiders are great because they kill lots of bad insects.

Here is an aerial view of my little frog pond. It has been a huge success…

The Hardy White Lily blooms are so pretty! They open in the morning and close again in the evening.

My pond has a resident pair of Blue Dasher Dragonflies. The male has a bright blue body and green eyes. He likes to perch on my wheelbarrow planter and fly over the pond to eat tiny insects attracted to the water. He also chases off another male Blue Dasher who tries to hone in on his territory all the time. The female is larger with a brown body. She also eats insects around the pond. I’m hoping she will lay eggs around my pond plants. Dragonflies are great beneficial insects to have in the garden!

Speaking of beneficials… here’s my little buddy, the Southern Leopard Frog. We still need to name him.

He loves to hide under this wrinkle in the pond liner during the hot part of the day when the sun is on the pond. Peek-a-boo! I see you!

Most nights we hear him calling his girlfriends out to his frog pond party!

And… we now have lots of frog eggs in the pond! They have been gettin busy out there!

And… now we have babies! So many tadpoles (aka pollywogs)! I am so very excited!! I love to sit in the garden by the pond and watch all the tadpoles and other aquatic insects swimming around!

My new frog pond is a success!

They said, “if you build it, they will come”…

YEP! Just two weeks later… and I already have a frog!

Why did I want to build a frog pond?

This video will explain better than I can:

First I removed the grass and weeds. Then I dug out the deepest section in the center.

The next section is a bit higher, and I continued going around the pond so that the ledges gradually became more and more shallow as I got to the top edges, which are only a few inches deep. Frogs and toads need different levels so they can easily climb up and out of the pond. But they also need a deep section where they can hibernate.

The final size of the pond is 7′ x 7.5′.

The deepest section was about two feet deep.

Here’s the completed pond after I finished excavation. Then I placed a board across the top and made sure it was level all the way around so water wouldn’t leak out.

I took my shoes off and climbed in to spread out the underlay, which will protect the pond liner from tree roots and rocks.

This is the pond underlay I that I bought:

Then I put the liner in and started filling it with water.

This is the liner I bought:

It has a textured surface to help promote the growth of healthy bacteria.

I tossed small pebbles into the pond, which help promote more bacterial growth, give frogs and birds traction and make it look more natural. After turning the edges of the liner under, I spread more pebbles and the large rocks and tree roots around the outside edge, that I had removed during excavation. I made a pile of sticks and logs at the edge to provide shelter. Then I put my solar powered fountain in the water.

The pond gets about four hours of sun a day, which is perfect… enough to promote algea and bacterial growth but not too much, so they don’t overgrow. The fountain only runs when sun hits it directly, so that should help oxegenate the water, so it won’t become stagnant and stinky.

I dropped in a couple BTI mosquito dunks to kill all mosquito larvae; I just need to replace them once a month. They are completely natural and organic. They are safe for all birds and animals. They only kill mosquito and fly larvae.

Two weeks later my daughter found our first frog! Isn’t he cute! I was so excited to see this photo she took! I believe this is a Southern Leopard Frog.

Here you can see the frog sitting to the left of my fishing froggy statue.

Last night I heard him singing quite loudly. I think he was calling out, looking for a girlfriend. After several minutes I noticed another frog with a slightly different song had joined him in the pond. Such a beautiful love song!

I ordered these native aquatic plants from They are beautiful!

The White Hardy Lily (Odorata) already had a couple of flower buds almost ready to bloom and the plant was huge! Lilypads are important for ponds because they shade the surface to keep algae growth under control. Frogs and other aquatic organisms use them for protective cover. The creamy white flowers are fragrant and attract bees and birds. The Le and flowers float on top of the water. It usually only flowers from early morning until noon.

I bought three bog plants whose roots are below water, helping to clean and filter the water. They are planted in pots filled with clay soil mixed with water to form a thick mud. The crowns of the plants need to be above the mud so that only the roots are buried.

Horsetail Rush (Equisetum hyemale) has evegreen segmented reeds that look similar to a horse’s tail.

Pickerel Rush (Pontederia cordata) has arrowhead-shaped leaves and tiny blue flowers summer through fall. Dragonflies and damselflies lay eggs on the stems near the water surface. Fish (not only pickerel) seek shelter in them, hence the name of Pickerel Rush.

Bog Bean’s (Menyanthes trifoliata) olive-green leaflets grow up and out of the water up to 6″ tall. In June and July they will bloom with spikes of pink and white flowers with fringed petals. It is a favorite of frogs because they hold onto it to hide from predators.

I placed five Hornwort/Coon’s Tail plants (Ceratophyllum demersum) in as well, anchoring them down with small pebbles. These stay completely submerged, helping to clean and oxygenate the water. They provide excellent cover for aquatic organisms; and food for fish, snails, turtles and waterfowl. Organizations add them to polluted waterways because they absorb arsenic, lead and other chemicals.

I bought a solar powered spotlight that lights up the pond at night. It shows people where it is so they won’t fall into it, and it attracts insects, which attract frogs and toads, which help me by eating tons of bad bugs in my garden. This is the light I bought:

I just went outside this morning and was super excited to see that one of the Water Lily blooms opened! It is so beautiful!

June In My Garden

I planted my first Purple Coneflowers last Fall, so I was very excited when they started blooming this month, as were lots of native bees! One lesson I learned is not to smell them. When my nose bumped into that cone it surprised me how hard the cone was.

The Orange Matrix Asiatic Lillies were gorgeous!

The Stella D’Oro Daylillies bloomed non-stop for a few weeks.

The Scarlet Runner Beans started blooming.

I planted tubers for this pretty pink astilbe over a year ago and it finally bloomed.

My ‘Jet Stream’ Oak Leaf Hydrangea has such pretty white blooms right now.

I have baby Sungold Cherry Tomatoes growing! No fruits on my other five tomato plants yet though. Tomato plants smell like summer!

Lantana is so pretty with ‘Goldilocks’ Creeping Jenny.

I was very happy when the Common Milkweed bloomed. So Pretty! Hopefully some Monarch Butterflies will find it and lay eggs on it. They only lay eggs on milkweed. It’s very important to plant it because Monarch numbers are decreasing dramatically due to herbicides and development, which have destroyed so much milkweed all over North America.

I added some more native plants to my garden this month. This is Cup Plant. The leaves form little cups where they join the stem. These little cups hold water for insects and birds to drink. Later in the summer it will have very tall yellow flowers as well.

On the left is Hardy Geranium, a great native ground cover with purple blooms that is great for butterflies and pollinators. On the right is a short native grass, Little Bluestem. Small birds love the seeds it produces in winter.

Another native, Panicgrass, is a tough prairie plant that provides food and cover for wildlife.

Seversl pollinator plants in pots in front of natives: Chokecherry, Cup Plant, and Coral Honeysuckle climbing my arbor.

My pollinator/butterfly garden has perennials in the ground and annuals in pots.

The part-sun garden includes lots of native shrubs, perennials and groundcovers.

Banana Cream Daisies have yellow double-petals when they first open, then they fade to white.

Butterfly Weed is another type of Milkweed for Monarchs. I love the little orange flowers!

My Globemaster Alliums are still standing proud even though the blooms have dried. They are so cool!

After the Purple Coneflowers bloomed the Agastache soon bloomed as well. I bought the Agastache last summer at a garden center because it was covered in bees! 🐝 A great plant for pollinators. Today I watched a bumble bee stick her whole head into each little purple flower.

I love the Purple Coneflowers and Agastache blooms next to each other!

Here’s a tiny orange bee collecting pollen and nectar from the Agastache.

I bought a few of these French Marigolds from the clearance rack at Lowe’s for a buck each. I guess they were marked down because they hadn’t bloomed yet. Their loss is my gain! This little bee agrees with me that thes blooms were worth the wait.

I love Marigolds because they remind me of my grandmother, who helped us plant marigolds from seed in our backyard when I was a little girl. Their scent always makes me smile.

These pink Snapdragons are so pretty!

This week my native Garden Phlox started blooming.

This is a shade pot I put together with Caladium and a few different types of Coleus.

This week my Monkey Flower started blooming. It’s taller than I expected and the flowers are very cute. They are supposed to look like little monkey faces. 🐒 I’m not sure about that…

I was very excited to see a hummingbird drinking nectar from the flowers a couple days ago. I didn’t know they were good for hummingbirds.

My little ‘Sunsation’ Sunflower has been blooming all month and it looks cute next to the yellow French Marigolds.

This is the sad news about June… Way too much rain. My garden looked like this several times this month. We got more than twice the average amount of rainfall this month.

I had to buy some organic copper fungicide spray to use on several plants that have shown signs of rust and other fungal diseases. But I’m doing all I can to keep them healthy and save them.

I had to replant more Scarlet Runner Bean seeds because the whole plant started dying almost overnight from fungus. The new plants are up now and they look very healthy.

So hopefully the excess rain will hold off for a while…

I am excited to see my garden in July!

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…

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.