Wednesday, April 28, 2010

All Grown Up! The Air of Spring, More Flowers and Insects

They grow up so fast! We waited so long, and finally there they were, turning up their cute little faces, so delicate and tiny and full of hope. We were so eager to see them grow, to become everything that they could be. Seems like only yesterday that they were beginning to blossom into their full potential (wait, it was just yesterday!) A little rain and a few hours of sunshine and all those baby plants have shot up to six times their cuteness, had sex, procreated and are now literally tossing their progeny to the winds. And just look at them! Violets a foot tall or more, crested with crowns of seed pods, daffodils two feet tall (or they would be if they hadn't gotten lazy and laid down all over their neighbors)

This was a problem last year, as some clumps have a hundred or more bulbs and cover quite an area with ripening leaves, so I experimented this spring to see if I could control this daffodil habit of sprawling and smothering everything else in the vicinity. I made cages for some of the clumps as they were coming up, using whatever I had on hand:  tomato cages cut in half and upended over emerging shoots, pieces of left-over fencing and 2x4 wire, made into circles and poked into the ground. This method helped a lot with the daffodils that were thus contained. They have mostly stayed upright and in check. As the wire I used was somewhat rusty, it is almost invisible under the foliage. Next year I am going to try to cage all the clumps that share beds with other plants!

If you look carefully at the lower part of this clump you can just see the wire tomato cage.

Lunaria is three feet tall, blooming wantonly all over the place, shoving its bed mates over without a thought. I nearly got bumped in the nose by a hesperis shooting up its buds while I was weeding near it. (OK, so I might have made that up.)

And those weeds! Where did those two foot tall wild lettuces come from all of a sudden, and isn't that poke over there in the middle of the hostas? And I do believe all that group of echinaceas are not really all echinaceas! What IS that big thing over there in the herb garden? It wasn't there yesterday. It might not even have been there this morning! I don't dare stand still too close to the honeysuckle, I think it might be aiming to wind me up in its waving tentacles. Tendrils. Whatever. My compost pile is so full, stuff is falling off and I have resorted to tossing clippings and weeds on top of the brush pile, and over the fence Out Beyond.

The garden is lush and beautiful, in spite of the weeds. This is an azalea, one of half a dozen that I got at $2 each from Lowe's early this spring. It is an unnamed variety, but gorgeous! I also have other varieties in white, peach, lavender and red.

False solomon's seal is finally blooming.

Just taking a breath outdoors is wonderful right now. The lilies of the valley are wafting perfume for yards around, a ferny euphorbia is honey-scented as I work near it, and there are still lilacs.. Out in the woods, deciduous holly is has a sweet, musky odor, woodland phlox is heavenly, and I just noticed today that honesty (lunaria) has a delicate aroma that you have to have your nose right into (but look out for bumble bees!) or you'll miss it. Black locust (robinia pseudoacacia)  dangles its white clusters over our heads with a tantalizing scent. The pale blue antique irises are beginning to open along the walk to the mailbox and are filling the air with the smell of Grape Nehi soda that takes me back to hot summer days and country stores of my childhood.

Grape Nehi iris.

Honey-scented euphorbia. No wonder the bees love this!

A patch of this wild camassia  found growing Out Beyond last year has more than doubled its size this spring. I've successfully transplanted a few of them into the woods and a colony of seedlings has started there.

Japanese roof iris (iris tectorum) is a beautiful spectacle in whites and blues.

Hardy orchid (bletilla) is beautiful! I see this one has been slightly chewed on a couple of petals by something, but who really expects perfection in a garden anyway!

Lamiastrum "Herman's Pride" is a glory in the spring garden, and well-behaved in clump form, unlike its similar but invasive cousin, "Yellow Archangel". Pretty with hostas, ferns and bleeding hearts in the shade garden.

The last daffodils of spring, a delicate white multiflora.

Here's a seedy fellow. On a rainy "bad hair day" a dandelion puff sports a spikey "do".

Looking equally as stylish is a pasque flower (anemone pulsatilla) seed head.

Another spikey fellow, this leopard moth caterpillar was hiding under a rotten log. It curled up into a stuborn ball and wouldn't look at me! It is a good 4 inches long and fat as my thumb. These caterpillars overwinter in rotten logs and under leaf litter and feed in the spring on cherry, dandelion, violets, oak, and plantains, among others. There should be plenty for it to eat around here!

And the last picture of the day, a pretty skipper visits Star of Bethlehem (ornithogalum).

"I was rich in flowers and trees,
Hummingbirds and honeybees."


  1. Great pics and post. Our Lilies of the Valley havn't even unfurled yet. Your lamiastrum is flowerin. Ours still have buds. You have extended my flowering season with your pics. jim

  2. I enjoyed your garden photos immensely! And laughed at your description of weeds. Mine are siblings of yours, spread this far already I'm sure. The leopard moth caterpillar is delightful, hough I'm sure he was upset at you for disturbing his nap!

  3. Hi Isadora,

    What a wonderful post. I envy your wild Camassia!
    Thanks for adding Bay Area Tendrils to your blogroll.
    I invite you to drop by my new site, and do hope you'll enjoy it.

  4. Hi Isadora,
    Do you also go by Sandy? I've enjoyed all your iris photos. That's a cute caterpillar. I am looking forward to seeing some butterflies and caterpillars this summer.