Let’s face it, flowers are superior to foliage. This is especially true in May, when some gardeners (I’m not naming names) can be driven into ecstasies by masses of colorful tulips and other spring flowers. However, this does not mean that foliage should be ignored at this or any time of year.
A great deal can happen in the garden between the first of May and the middle of the month. Much depends on the vagaries of the weather, and we’ve had a surplus of vagaries this year. In this two week time span, some flowers fade and others emerge.
Every inspection of the garden at this time of year inspires excitement and discovery. Let’s review a few of the flowers that are making me particularly happy in mid-May.
Garlic Mustard (Alliaria petiolata), Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), and Japanese Honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica). If plants could ride horses, these would be the three horsemen of the Invasive Plant Apocalypse – at least for shady areas in the Midwest. However, a recent post in The Native Plant Herald (the blog of Prairie Nursery in Wisconsin) tells us how native woodland groundcovers can be used to keep these botanical barbarians from running amok. To read the post, click here.
Book Review: The Perennial Matchmaker, by Nancy J. Ondra
Gardening is about bringing plants together into satisfying partnerships. If you were to peek into the mind of the typical gardener, as he or she stares off into the middle distance, you would most likely find thinking something like: “What on earth can I put in front of that Penstemon digitalis?”
The Perennial Matchmaker is written to answer just such questions. The bulk of the book consists of plant combination ideas for over 80 genera of perennials. While it’s a book that can be read from beginning to end, I suspect that for most gardeners The Perennial Matchmaker will be most useful as a reference to be used during those moments when we are trying to come up with plant combination ideas.
This is a fun as well as a useful book. For example, many of the photographs are drawn from garden blogs you may be familiar with – including this one (cough – page 28 – cough).
The Baltimore Orioles were supposed to arrive early this year (according to people who know their birds), but came late instead. Normally they arrive right around May 1, but this year Judy saw our first Oriole on Thursday, May 5. Perhaps our topsy turvy spring weather first hastened and then delayed their arrival.
In a recent post I shared my mixed feelings about leaving home for a short vacation at a time when so much is happening so fast in the garden. Upon my return, would I feel that I had missed out on some crucial moments?
Rather than being tinged with regret, my return to the garden felt like a joyful reunion. Buds were bursting, color was popping, the air seemed thick with chlorophyll. Let me show you a few of the plants that filled my heart with the greatest gladness (with the exception of the tulips; the next post will be devoted to them alone).