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 1, 2009

An Embarassment of Riches

After several days of above average temperatures, things in the garden are coming into their own at a fast pace. Unfortunately, my daily norm is to leave in a morning rush trying to get someone to school and myself to work on time and to arrive home late in the evening with little time to enjoy the garden. Its a shame, because there is a lot to enjoy right now.

I thought I was through with Narcissus, but this one popped up after all the others had faded.
Some of the few plants left from a previous owner are Azaleas (Rhododendron x), and since these are my favorite trio of 'Mrs. G.G. Gerbing', 'George L. Taber' and 'Formosa' - they were kept. These are all Southern Indica hybrids and they tend to have huge blossoms that remind me of orchids. I remember how large these grew down in Charleston, often hiding old garden sheds and abandoned cars under their blooms. Unfortunately they do not get nearly so big here.

How about a parade of Iris?

An unknown Allium, also planted by a previous owner.
The few Roses I have are starting to bloom. I planted Zephirin Drouhin (Rosa x 'Zephirine Drouhin') because of its shade tolerance, but I have since come to dislike its color and its general lack of vigor, but it smells nice and my wife likes it, so it stays.
The bright orange-red blossoms are from the Caramba Rose (Rosa x 'Tanabamar').
This is a David Austin introduction, Pat Austin (Rosa x ' AUSmum'), which I like with the variegated Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia) foliage.
This Maynight Salvia (Salvia x 'Mainacht') was just put in this week and was a free sample from one of the companies I buy plants from. I like purple, especially when it is mixed with yellow or chartreuse foliage like the Sunrise Abelia (Abelia x 'Sunrise') behind the Salvia.
Here is another purple and chartreuse combo, Sweet Kate Spiderwort (Tradescantia x andersoniana 'Sweet Kate').
This path cuts through my side garden where many of my Hydrangeas are budding, and given this weather pattern we're in they could be blooming sooner than normal.
I hope some of this abundance will still be here for Bloom Day (and for when I have more time to enjoy it).


  1. Hi Les, your flowers are wonderful, I am so sorry you cannot enjoy them during the week. Maybe this weekend will give you some quality in the garden time. I love those indica azaleas too, far superior to the little bloom ones. We have Mrs. GG here, but I have grown the others elsewhere. We do share the love of the murky iris colors. But really I love them all. Pat Austin is a wonderful color too.

  2. Les, Warmer days seem to hurry the bloom here and then on its way! The azaleas are lovely...I like those big flowered white one...but the pink ones always catch my eye! I wish that they liked it here...They were the first 'shrubs' I planted when we bought our little tiny first house! Of course they died after one season.The nursery must keep you hopping...when will the next flush of bloom arrive in your garden?...maybe in time for Bloom Day! I do hope you get some time in your garden. gail

  3. I hope so too. Love all your irises!

  4. Hi Les, Love the color of the Formosa! I ham a dark pink/ magenta fan from way back. That one iris with the white center and edged in dark purple is really different..I LIKE IT!
    We had thought about putting a Zephirin Drouhin in the LG, because of the shade tolerance.
    Great aray of blooms! We just had a quick rain shower to wash off the pollen, hope we can enjoy the weekend.

  5. Wouldn't it be nice if we could just take this time of year off? The azaleas look great and so do the roses. 'Pat Austin' is one of my favorites and I love the combination you have.

  6. Hey Les,

    Great stuff! I really like the orange flowers of the 'Caramba Rose' & the 'Pat Austin'.

    It's probably a good idea to keep what the wife likes. My wife and I often have a difference of opinion on plants but if she really likes something I dare not touch it!

    I ended up purchasing the Chinese Abelia (Abelia chinensis) yesterday...what a great looking shrub (even without the blooms). Are they evergreen in this area?

  7. I'm becoming more and more fond of irises - yours look beautiful. I've brought some pieces of bearded irises from my mother's garden down to SC - and so far I've had a maroon one and a light yellow one (with some white) bloom. Perhaps it's their color(s) - so diverse and the contrast in their colors is often so interesting.

    Those azaleas - yep, they get huge down here.

  8. Your flowers look lovely, Les. I can still hardly believe many of the flowers have come and gone...spring goes by so quickly! All of yours look gorgeous. I'm sorry you don't get to enjoy your own garden enough! 'Life' kind of gets in the way, doesn't it!!

  9. Your garden is a bounty of blooms at the moment Les. Sorry that you don't get to spend as much time enjoying it as you would like. At least it stays lighter longer now in the evenings.

  10. I'm with you, Les. I'm seriously thinking of replacing a lot of my spring bloomers with things I can enjoy in the summer - crinums, cannas, etc. Too much happening here without me at this time of year! BTW - my GL Tabors and GG. Gerbings easily go to head height or better if I don't chop 'em back every 3rd year or so - the termite inspector complains about them every year, since they're lining the back of the house. Formosa's in a more exposed location with less water, so it's not as rampant.

  11. Frances,
    Unfortunately I have to work on the weekends during the spring, but I try to make the most of my one day off.

    I am not sure what I will have left when Bloom Day gets here. As we say in our family (syrupy voiced) "it will be as nice as it can be".

    Thanks for stopping by. Iris are one of my favorites.

    That purple and white iris was given to me almost 20 years ago by a good friend. I have no idea which one it is, but it has moved with us and I have shared it with lots of folks.

    I expect most of your roses are blooming now.

    Thanks for getting the Chinese Abelia from us. It is not evergreen here (I'm not sure it is evergreen anywhere). However, it is worth it because of its fragrance and the fact the butterflies love it.

    What great pass along plants iris are. Quite a few of mine have come from other people. I glad they make good memories for you.

    I guess that if "life" did not get in the way - it wouldn't be life. It is what it is. Thanks for visiting.

    Yes, I love this time of year and usually spend the evenings in the yard or on the porch.

    It is funny how many customers I help who won't buy something because it blooms when they are not going to be home. Mostly because they are going to be in Florida for the winter or at the beach for the summer. Should it be reassuring so many people still manage to hang on to second homes?


  12. Beautiful flowers, Les. Love how the white fence cuts through...

  13. You are still ahead of us timing wise but I think we are starting to catch up a little.

    Beautiful assortment and garden.

  14. Hi Les -- I think your blog is wonderful, and I have a question for you, but I don't want to ask it in this here public forum. I hate to do this in comments because it makes me feel like a stalker, but I can't figure out how to e-mail you. If you're willing and you have a moment, could you drop me an e-mail at I'd be grateful. Thanks so much --
    CE (tina)

  15. er, that would be best, tina

  16. Helen,
    The white fence was a deliberate design consideration. I knew that as an uncontrollable plant geek, I would have my small yard filled with a hodge podge of stuff in no time. So I decided to put the very linear fence in to tie the whole thing together.

    Everything is running together at this point. Spring, summer its becoming the same season. Fortunately we got good rains today.

    Thanks for the nice comments. I'll be in touch.


  17. Your place looks full of variety and charm. I like it all. I'm busy too and can't move this afternoon. Lots of bending and planting. I got a sunburn on my neck and it was halfway raining all day.

    The nursery I like to feature is doing a booming business. I hope you are too. Wish I was there cause I can flat sell the PWs for you. Do you have lots this time around? Did you ever get the Lo and Behold mini buddleia? That is one awesome little flowering shrub.

    My White Dome hydrangea is about to bloom--it was the one in the trash bin at another nursery. The customers wouldn't buy it cause it had no leaves in March--hahahaha.

    The Mimosa tree died and everyone will probably cheer. You take care and consume lots of good calories. Oh, thanks for identifying the wisteria. I appreciate that.

  18. Beautiful is difficult to stop long enough from all the things going on this time of year to enjoy the season.....looks like you certainly are trying!