An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

May 15, 2008

Bloom Day - May 2008

My "May Gap" is not as big as it normally is. We have been having regular rains and the temperatures have been moderate. It has caused plants to hold flowers longer and bolt or set seed later. However, I can do without the tornadoes. Please join the rest of the garden blogging community by sharing your garden. You can link your posts at May Dreams Gardens.

The first shot is my favorite onion, Allium christophii or Star of Persia.
This is Rosa 'Caramba' that the good people of The Ivy Farm (on Virginia's beautiful Eastern Shore) gave me to try. It is so beautiful that I think my felonious neighbor tried to take a branch on Tuesday night.
This is Strawberry Begonia (Saxifraga sarmentosa) dug up from work years ago as it was growing like a weed.
This unknown Sedum came from my Mom's garden with a warning to be careful where you put it.
Purple Smoke Baptisia (Baptisia indigofera 'Purple Smoke') is more shrub like in its size and does not fit in with my color palette for the front, but I like it enough to bend the rules.
I have tried several of the new Coneflower cultivars, but the only one that does well for me is the species Echinacea purpurea. It does so well that it seeds itself all around my garden.
I love when bulbs go half price in January. All I can tell you is that Iris is Dutch.
Confederate or Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is one of my favorite vines, and this one is a customer return given up as dead. The aroma reminds me of root beer, vanilla and Charleston.
Although it is not a flower and probably does not belong on Bloom Day, my Tetrapanex papyrifera (big leaf form) has surprised me with its vigor. I got this from Bill Pinkham last summer in the middle of the drought when it was no more than 4" tall. The round silver thing in the middle of the leaf is a quarter.


  1. Ok, yeah, why is it those other coneflowers cultivars stink so much? I'm like you--only one seems to really work, and spread nicely. I want to like the others, but....

  2. The story of your felonious neighbor is pretty freaky. I am sure it will be a tough nut to crack, finding a solution.

    I grew the Confederate Jasmine in Hawaii to remind me of Florida where I grew up, a great vine, just give it room! My new zone 5b is too cold for it now.

    Baptisias I should be able to grow. In time they will be added to the garden.

  3. That's a striking iris, whatever the variety. And I'm going to try some varieties of coneflower this summer. I don't think I want them to spread like regular coneflowers, just give me a nice bloom.

    Thanks for joining in for bloom day!

    Carol, May Dreams Gardens

  4. I love the color of that Baptisia. It is supposed to grow here, but I haven't had a lot of luck with it.

    My confederate jasmine completely covers a tall pine tree and has worked its way out along the phone lines. I love the scent, but hate the resinous sap it produces if you try to prune it.

  5. All your blooms are so lovely. It has been a cool spring and we had our heat on today. There is no telling what that means for the summer. My new grass is really doing well though. How is business? Most of friends here say it is slow at the private nurseries as people wait on the weather to warm up. Their flowers look great though unlike last year year when we were throwing water to them several times a day.

    The big box places are doing normal I guess--but they aren't getting a variety of stuff in--they are bombarded with azaleas they aren't selling. We are loaded down with Encores.

  6. I agree re. the coneflowers - maybe it's a Tidewater thing, since they seem to be more of a prairie/piedmont plant. I've never been crazy about them anyway, despite all the hype, but have always grown a couple of seedlings here or there. Baptisias are super "anchor plants" in my garden, right up there with peonies and crinums for providing three seasons of interest in the border, and 'Purple Smoke' is the best performer for me by far - outstanding.

  7. Ben,
    I am not going to waste my money on any of the cultivars, no matter how good they look in the catalogs.

    My "neighbor" was a hot topic on the community list-serve tonight. I am sure you can grow Baptisia, I think it may be native for you.

    Thanks again for hosting. How do you find time to respond?

    I put my Baptisia on a dry south facing slope (or what passes for a slope here in flatland). The soil should be poor and well-drained. It takes a couple of years to get going, but it behaves like a shrub once established.

    Thanks for the comments. Things are slower than we like at work, but they are not any worse than last year. The people who are coming in are spending the dollars, but the traffic is not heavy. We have had some beautiful weather here lately and we are getting ample rain, so I do not know what the issue is, could be bad mortgages, $4 gasoline or beach and fishing season will be early this year. Also, I think my infatuation with Encores is officially over.

    Have you tried growing any of the yellow Baptisias?

  8. Yes, that jasmine is all Charleston, isn't it? I think that confederate jasmine, wisteria and tea olive - and if you're lucky enough - all in the same stretch of garden or walkway - is a pretty amazing combination.

    Your 'purple smoke' is just beautiful - I just added a small one to my garden this spring, and yours gives me great hope! (I have a yellow one, don't remember the one though - it does pretty well).

    I'm also with you on the coneflowers. Those cultivars that get all of the attention aren't worth the time down here.

  9. I'm glad I discovered your blog as well and can't wait to explore what I've missed.