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, 2009

Bloom Day - Before the Creek Rises

I actually got to see my garden in the daylight this week. I had a couple of unexpected days off due to a spring fever - literally. So far it does not appear to be the much hyped porcine influenza. Between time on the couch watching really bad daytime TV or in bed napping, I was able to get a few pictures, but no gardening took place. That's a shame, because the weather has been perfect with sufficient rains. I guess any weather is good compared to what I heard on NPR this morning. Apparently one of the ice sheets could be sloughing off of Antarctica in the near future, and according to the news piece, it could raise sea level up to 20' with most of the rise concentrated on the Atlantic and Pacific seaboards of North America. My garden is only about 10' above sea level. Maybe FEMA will build some raised beds for me? I'll have to worry about that some other day, let's see what is now blooming in the garden.

I am not going to repeat any of the Iris I posted earlier this month, but I do want to show the Iris x 'Impersonator' , which is special because it is a hybrid between Iris germanica and Iris ensata. When it opens it looks like a large purple Bearded Iris, but as it ages the petals fall flat like a Japanese Iris and the color softens.

Another shot of purple comes from Purple Smoke Baptisia (Baptisia x 'Purple Smoke'). Because I have such a small yard, I do not usually plant perennials with a short bloom period. However, this one looks like a blue green shrub when it finishes blooming and it is very tough.

The only Clematis I have ever successfully grown is one that came with our house, I think it is Clematis x jackmanii. I found out that it likes to be cut to the ground in late winter when I inadvertently cut it with my weed whacker trying to cut back the Liriope.
Can you tell I like purple? This Angelonia is an annual I planted last week and hopefully the Sun Coleus behind it will catch up with it soon- acid yellow and dark purple togther.
This is the very drought tolerant and long lived Jerusalem Sage (Phlomis fruticosa).
A few more of my roses have come into bloom. This is Betty Boop.
Hot Cocoa blooms in one of my other favorite colors, smoky orange, and I am pleased how well it looks next to a Rose Glow Barberry (Berberis thunbergii 'Rose Glow'). The pairing was unintentional.

After all that heat let's look at some whites. This is either Ligustrum japonicum or Ligustrum lucidum. It also came with the house, and I normally would not have planted it. However, it serves a good purpose in screening the back of the house from the street. I only wish that every single one of its seeds did not germinate.
Strawberry Geranium (Saxifraga stolonifera) fills shady nooks and crannies, and while it's blooming now, I grow it for the foliage.
The next few shots are of the intoxicating Confederate Jasemine, aka Star Jasemine (Trachelospermum jasminoides). I like this plant so much I have three of them. One is taking over the house, one is climbing an oak, while the other is trying to escape to the neighbor's yard. If you want to read more about it, Helen at Garden With Confidence has a recent post on the plant. If you enlarge the pictures you can see how the unopened buds look like fancy candelabra bulbs.

Technically the red seed of the Golden Full Moon Maple (Acer shirasawanum 'Aureum') was once a flower, so it can be shown for bloom day. I have had this for over 10 years and I don't think it has grown 2 inches, but I can't get enough of that foliage color in the shade. Now a preview of things to come. My Hydrangeas are just a few weeks away from blooming, not that I am trying to rush things.

Please join gardeners everywhere in celebrating Garden Bloggers Bloom Day hosted by Carol at May Dream Gardens. Afterall, it is May.


  1. Les, Love the long shots then how you moved in for a close up! I have a new Baptisia that you might like..Starlite Prairie, a sweet lilac and cream. The hallmark of our successful invasives...everyone of their seeds germinates! It pops up all over my yard/garden. But there is much to be said about a dense privacy hedge. Glad you had some sun time in your own garden...I can tell it is well tended by the head gardener! Have a good day!


  2. Beautiful Flowers! I too like purples. Happy GBBD!


  3. I am new to Va Bch and am enjoying getting to know all the knew plants thru your blog, especially after having lived in tropical Maui for the past fifteen years. I first found you with the snake post...we had no snakes in HI, nor ticks, so that is also new!
    Many thanks, Karen

  4. Great post! I have that full moon maple and am so glad you posted on yours. Mine is not growing either. Sigh. I really like the shade of your purple smoke. A great little shrub. That long shot of the rose and crytomeria? looks fabulous. I hope your garden is NEVER flooded. I don't think FEMA will build you raised beds:) You'll be busy digging prior to the floods reaching I think.

  5. I love the look of Baptisia after it's bloomed. Such a great shrub and those wonderful seedpods in the fall! The strawberry saxifrage leaf is lovely. I've only ever seen it in books!

  6. Lots to see in your garden. Thank you for an interesting presentation of Hot Cocoa.

  7. Beautiful views of your garden today Les. Purple is one of my favorite shades too. Purple Smoke looks like a wonderful perennial. Looks like my wish list will just keep growing. lol That Angelonia is my favorite annual right now. They did so well last year that I planted more this season. :) It's raining again...

  8. I love Angelonia. It is one of my favorite annuals.

  9. I love all the purple blooms especially.

  10. That Baptisia is wonderful. I can see why you make room for it. I have Jerusalem sage too, and the star jasmine, though mine is almost finished. I've admired the 'Hot Cocoa' on another blog, and now that I see it on yours, I remember what attracted me to it. Love that color!

  11. Hi Les, I do hope you are feeling better now. What a shame to miss lovely days at home without being able to work in the garden. It does look wonderful, love the mixed gene iris. That is too cool. My daughter Semi has Hot Cocoa, that color is just sublime!
    The jamine buds are fascinating too, almost better than the flowers. I often think that though, buds are so exciting and full of promise. The flowers mean it will be over all too soon. :-)

  12. Beautiful! The more I see all these pretty iris' the more I think I need to add some to my garden. I was given some last year by my sister but didn't realize how many pretty ones there were.

  13. Well I hope your garden doesn't go under! I planted the 'Purple Smoke' baptisia last fall and I'm looking forward to it. 'Hot Cocoa' rose is on my wish list. I have 'Betty Boop' but it doesn't get enough sun and has been going downhill for years. I should move it. It always gets blackspot though - does yours?

  14. Love the closeups, Les. I love any shade of blue and your purples got me excited! The blooms are exquisite!

  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  16. Good morning Les, you do like purple! I have coveted baptista for years...had some seeds and never got them into the ground. Oh well, one of these years. Bummer that you were sick (were not -are still sick, right?) The first Iris is a very interesting one- like how the color changes.
    FEMA helping do anything is a riot!! We got measured and assessed three times and then told 'Oh we can't help you, you have insurance'. Incredible waste of time times three!

  17. I love the Hydrangea shots with the dappled sunlight -- beautiful.

  18. My baptisia 'Twilight Prairie Blues" is going to bloom this year, after three, and I'm tickled purple. Your cultivar looks lovely. And I can't grow clematis. I give up. My wife can, but she isn't the gardener.

  19. My baptisia doesn't languish on the ground: It hangs in a tree and calls itself wisteria :-)
    (The girl who comments when she visits).

  20. Gail,
    Thanks for the tip about Starlite Prairie.

    Outside In,
    Thanks for stopping by, please return anytime.

    Welcome to the area. It is not a tropical island, though it may feel that way in July, but it can be very nice. Bloom where you find yourself planted!

    I am glad I am not alone with a slow Fullmoon maple.

    The Geranium can be seen popping up here and there, but is rarely weedy.

    I am glad you like the Hot Cocoa.

    I have noticed your purples. We got 2" of rain at work today, it was miserable.

    I do not know why more people don't plant it.

    Thanks for coming by. I hope all is well down east.

    The jasmine has peaked this weekend but should still continue for another couple of weeks.

    Thanks for the well wishes, and I am better. I never noticed buds so much until I was able to easily enlarge pictures on the computer, it has changed the way I look at things.

    I would not garden without them.

    I would move Betty and if she got spotty, I would compost her. There are better roses.

    Thanks for you kind comments.

    Sorry you wasted your time with FEMA. I hope at your next house it will never be an issue.

    Come back in a couple of weeks, if not before, there will be plenty of hydrangea shots.

    Ben V.,
    I saw your cultivar in a Wayside catalog today. I may have to find a home for it.

    I use to have a Baptisia called Wisteria, but it would not bloom so I made other plans for it. Now I enjoy Wisteria in other people's yards.


  21. Your garden seems to be doing just fine in your absence. It looks very naturalistic and I think your purple passion plays out beautifully. Happy blogging.

  22. Hi Les, I was just remembering Carol's request that we visit the bloom day posts of those near us on the list. I enjoyed your lovely blooms. I love that baptisia! Mine are a little darker colored, but I don't think they were blooming for bloom day.

    Happy gardening, and I hope you are fully recovered from what was ailing you.

  23. Angelonia...looks like another trip to the plant nursery! I love dappled shade--the Golden Full Moon Maple looks exquisite, as do your roses.
    Ligustrum? You're too kind. Privet! And yes, every seed...!

  24. Avis,
    Thanks for stopping by. The naturalistic look did not come naturally.

    Thanks for visiting your GBBD neighbor. I am fully recovered, no curly tail appeared, and I was able to spend my whole day off in the garden Friday.

    Angelonia is a fantastic summer annual, like snapdragons that can take the heat. We have Privet here too which is what we refer to when speaking of Ligustrum chinensis - the horrible invasive weed. We call the evergreen ones Wax Leaf Ligustrum, L. japonicum or L. lucidum - merely a bad weed.


  25. Hopefully by now you're over the pseudo-pigfluenza (my lab's current name for it) - it's definitely no fun being flu-ish when the weather is so nice out!

    I just put 'Purple Smoke' Baptisia in my own garden, but it doesn't seem to want to bloom this year (it's first season). Dang. Yours looks beautiful.

    How have I missed Jerusalem Sage?

    I too will be under water...but perhaps for a few fleeting years I'll be water front. I'm about 8' above sea level (give or take) - and about 1/4 mi from the coastal marsh. Yep, I'm a goner. I was under the impression that the northern coast of the US (Boston, NY, etc) might be more impacted...did they say that?

    I've got confederate jasmine blooming like crazy right now (and in slow decline).

    Enjoy your celebrity status...the videos were great!