I have always been a morning person. My parents tell a story from my childhood of the two of them being woken up not so bright, yet very early to the sounds of me on my rocking horse (one of those with the loud creaky metal springs). Even now I usually stir before first light, but I like getting up to have the house to myself, enjoy a cup of coffee or take the dogs for a walk. During the spring, these early hours are often the only time I can get in my own garden before heading off to help others with theirs. Earlier this week the skies were clear, and as the sun rose out of the nearby Atlantic it created some amazing backlight, turning petal and leaf into pieces of glass.
Shortly after moving into our house, I removed the majority of what was previously planted. One area that has remained relatively untouched was a bank of Azaleas that includes one of my favorites, George Tabor (Rhododendron x 'George Tabor').
Another morning stunner is my $5 Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). I once worked for a competitor of Lowes and Home Depot that did not survive a three-way battle for the home improvement market. The people I worked for were complete idiots when it came to knowing how to care for and sell plants. My boss at the time told be to put all the Japanese Maples in the dumpster since they were losing their leaves and we needed room for Christmas trees. I asked if I could have a few before I dumped them, but he could not give them to me outright, so I bought 3 for $5.
My first rose of the season (not counting the Lady Banks) opened this week. This is the shrub rose Caramba.
Perhaps the showiest flowers in my garden, are the Bearded Iris, and they began opening this week as well. The first one pictured was a pass-along plant given to me by a good friend, and it has travelled with us from a previous home, and I have also passed it along to other friends. I do not know the name, but it is very tall, vigorous and has a nice fragrance.
This little dwarf's colors always remind me of breakfast.
This dark purple Iris is a re-bloomer, and like most re-bloomers, I have found that they set their own schedules.
I'd like to tell fellow gardeners that the combination below was a deliberate attempt to apply Pamela Harper's practice of creating color echoes, but in reality it is a more like a happy accident between Iris and Royal Purple Smoketree (Continus coggygria 'Royal Purple'), but I've done nothing to discourage their relationship.
This is the same Iris in close-up so you can see the sun lighting it like a church window on Sunday morning. The Greek goddess Iris is most often associated with rainbows in mythology, but she also delivered messages between the gods and from the gods to us mortals, and right now I am all ears.
The picture above is my entry in Gardening Gone Wild's, Picture This Contest for April 2011. I was once told not to shoot in the direction of the sun, but I like what can happen when you do. Sometimes you get great backlighting, sometimes you get unusual color flares, and as in this case you get rays from above, maybe all the way from Mount Olympus.