May Day Flowers

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).


The first thing I noticed was that the entire front garden was dotted with the golden four-part flowers of Celandine Poppy (Stylophorum diphyllum). Actually, some of these blooms were showing where they had not been invited. I love this plant, but it does seed itself around an awful lot. I will have to dig some out before the seed heads appear.


I like to combine Celandine Poppy with False Forget-Me-Not (Brunnera macrophylla).


Or with Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica), another plant that inspires me to dance with happiness (or would, if I didn’t have bad knees).


You can never have enough of Virginia Bluebells, so it’s good that this plant also spreads by seed. Unlike Celandine Poppies, though, it is a spring ephemeral.


Here’s a nice big patch by the back porch. I know I showed pictures of Virginia Bluebells already this year, so I apologize if I’m being repetitive. Actually, the same is true of most of the flowers in this post. But now that they have come into their full glory, they deserve more attention, don’t you agree? Of course you do.


So very sweet. The flowers look a bit like they are wearing billowing blue skirts.


The Clove Currant (Ribes odoratum) is more floriferous this year than it has ever been. I was afraid the blooms might come and go while I was absent, but the cool weather has made for longer-lived flowers.


As the name suggests, Clove Currant has a spicy sweet fragrance. I placed this shrub by the sidewalk so that passersby could enjoy it. This weekend I was told by several dog walkers that they took great pleasure in the scent.


There are robust patches of Great Merrybells (Uvularia grandiflora) blooming on the side of the garage and in the back garden. This is a really underused plant. I love the dangling yellow flowers, and the foliage makes a really nice ground cover in moist shade.


Prairie Smoke (Geum triflorum) also makes a nice ground cover, but in sun. Very easy to grow, more people should try it. Wait until you see the seed heads.


Combines beautifully with Grape Hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum). Who knew?


There’s also a nice clump of Prairie Trillium (Trillium recurvatum) in the back garden. I’m always pleased when it makes its reappearance.


And I was delighted to see that the Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis) had emerged. I was afraid that I had killed them by mistake, especially when it seemed everyone else’s Bloodroot had already bloomed. The flowers are gleaming white, not bloody at all. You’ll see.

Well, that’s it for now. My only complaint is that last weekend the weather was mostly miserable. Monday morning was beautiful, but once again I had to leave for the week. By Friday, though, there should be another joyful reunion with the garden.


61 Comments on “May Day Flowers

  1. It’s nice of you to plant for the passers by. I walk often in our neighborhood and really appreciate all the scented plants that I encounter. Right now, we have lilacs and wisteria mostly, but daphnes, osmanthus, and others have their moments.

    • Lilac and Wisteria grow so big they are not easy to fit into a smaller garden, though I do have a Lilac on the east side of the house. When I decided to keep the front garden open to the street, it meant I was planting it as much for the neighbors as for myself.

  2. And thank goodness there are people on the planet inspired to dance for joy at the sight of Virginia bluebells! Your trillium and uvularia pictures had a similar effect on me…

    • I also have some Trillium grandiflorum, but I’m not sure if they will bloom this year. You are welcome to dance around the flowers in our garden any time.

  3. Maybe your blood remember where the from! I know they bloom based on temperature but maybe they emerge based on length of days?

    • Could be they still think they are in Wisconsin! All I know is that everyone’s bloodroot seems to have bloomed except mine. As of this weekend they still haven’t bloomed, but I’m confident the flowers are coming.

  4. I liked your comment about the garden seeming to be chlorophyll filled! that’s what I noticed most on my return from the UK after only four days absence. Love the Uvularia grandiflora, shame it needs damp shade, I’d add it without question if it was drought tolerant.

  5. What beauties. No wonder you were dancing. The prairie smoke is one of my favorites. I am hoping mine will make a little clump some year soon. Those poppies are sweet cheerful plants. The Virginia Bluebells make me dance. Oh for a big clump of those. Have a good week.

  6. A bounty of beauty, Jason. What a nice welcome back. I’ve never seen trillium with variegated leaves, nor the great merrybells. Both are lovely. And those yellow celandines!

    • Surprisingly, those mottled leaves are just how the normal species looks. The celandines are really shining this year.

  7. I’m very fond of geums but haven’t seen this one before. I’ll look out for it. Lovely description of your reunion with your garden.

  8. Lovely to come home and find so much abundance Jason, I have Ribes odoratum here and its not yet in flower, we must have had even cooler temperatures than you. Only yours looks absolutely magnificent and mine is much smaller, maybe it needs to be an older shrub to flower earlier.

  9. All those trilliums and Prairie Smoke geums! I’m just a tad bit envious, Jason–I’ve had trouble getting both of them established in my garden. What a wonderful greeting on your return!

    • Trilliums are tricky but that is not my experience with Prairie Smoke – I wonder why they were fussy with you.

  10. There can never be too much repetition of beautiful flowers! So post away. Jason, your gardens are delight, and I especially love how you planted clove current for passers-by. Very generous, and as far as I’m concerned, the world needs all the generosity it can get.

  11. Our spring gardens pretty much have the same plants–native plants, I must point out; but while I have 2 species of Ribes, you’ve convinced me to plant a Clove Current. Happy Spring.

  12. Every year I promise myself Trillium, and every year I get a little overwhelmed by the cost of them. It is wonderful to see your plants and get my Trillium ‘fix’. I love going away from my garden for a day or two, just for the joy of returning. Any longer and I start to see my to-do list burgeoning out of control. How lovely for you to return and see all this colour – especially the resurrected bloodroot.

    • Trillium are expensive, in part because they are very slow to mature. The Red Trillium in the photo were inherited from the last owner of our house. We also have some white Trillium grandiflorum that I bought on sale. Not sure if they will bloom this year, though.

  13. A gorgeous show of flowers and different plants, and how nice that you consider passersby and neighbours by putting scented flowers there for them to enjoy!
    Your Virginia Bluebells are by far the prettiest, to my eye.

  14. The Poppies, Forget-Me-Nots, and V. Bluebells compliment each other so well! And you have an impressive patch of T. sessile–wow! I never would have thought to use Prairie Smoke as a ground cover–great idea! I love the flowers and seedheads. Unfortunately, I don’t have much sun here, but in my next garden…

    • Is it T.sessile, not T. erectum? I find it hard to tell the red Trilliums apart. Is your garden too shady for the Prairie Smoke?

  15. Wow. Your clove currant looks awesome. I hope that’s what I have to look forward to in future years. (Both of mine are still only about 18 inches tall at the moment.)

    Is your clove currant in full sun?

    And is it a female shrub (i.e., do you get berries)?

    The prairie smoke looks really cool. Unfortunately, taking a look at its native range, it seems much more of a northern and western plant. I doubt it would be happy in the Southeast.

    • The Clove Currant is in full sun or pretty close. I didn’t know that it was dioecious – it’s had very few berries.

  16. You have a lot of interesting flowers that I’ve never even heard of 🙂 I want to plant prairie smoke –I tried it once from seed, but it was in a bad area. Would I spread seed in the fall?

    • Yep, plant them in the fall and that’s all you need to do. I can send you some seeds if you like. They are very tiny, though.

  17. Impressive variety of blooms. Celandine Poppy with False Forget-Me-Not make a great combination and I could look at those Va. bluebells all day.

  18. Sometimes I think a few days away is just what’s needed to fully appreciate the joys of homecoming. Patrolling every day, sometimes several times, checking every bud for signs of progress is, alas, more my style.

  19. I’ve never tried bluebells but I should because they’re a beautiful color. They look great paired with yellow.
    I’ve never heard of clove currant but it looks and sounds like a winner. I wonder if it’s a host for white pine blister rust though, like many other currants.

    • I don’t know about the white pine blister rust. I love to combine blue flowers with yellow, orange, and pink. The bluebells look great with old-fashioned bleeding heart.

  20. Love your flower combinations. I have one puny prairie smoke that I’m willing to send up a shoot. Do they self seed if mine ever gets that far?

  21. I am always grateful to people who plant fragrance producers for all to enjoy. You probably have neighbors who walk by your house just to enjoy the clove currant.

  22. The clove currant bush is really pretty. I have never seen one here, but I am sure it would do well here too. Lovely spring flowers Jason. Hope this weekend’s weather is better and you can get out and do some gardening!

    • This past weekend was pretty good – though Saturday was a bit cold and windy, still decent gardening weather.

  23. This time of year is wonderful to go and comeback with usually little worry about watering. I love the Virginia bluebells, Trillium and the poppies. Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing your garden’s spring progress

  24. We’ve had miserable weather here in Maryland; it has been raining non-stop for two weeks. Bleh. Our garden is growing by leaps and bounds, though.

    I love the combination of grape hyacinths and columbines! I planted purple columbine in a patch of grape hyacinths just to watch them blooming together. 🙂

  25. I love coming home from holiday and seeing what the garden has been up to while I’ve been away! Your garden combinations are all so pretty, no wonder they made you so happy!

  26. Hello Jason, you have a distinct blue and yellow theme in the garden in May. Your yellow poppy looks quite like our “Welsh Poppy”, I’ll have to look to see if the two are related.

  27. How lovely to come home to so many blooms, I just love the blue and yellow combo’s, gorgeous!xxx

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