The colors right now are yellows, creams and deep reddish purples. The most impressive showing right now are the redbuds AND the white dogwoods. The first to show up for the woods celebration were the redbuds. First a tease of pinkish purple all along the roadside and highways and filtering into the woods where the first tentative green was starting to show from the early leaves. Then two days of way too warm temperatures and the gates were flung open and every branch and stem and trunk was decked out in the tiny pea like blossoms on every tree in the whole area. The visuals as I drove to and from work was almost enough to cause me to crash into something as the huge swaths of color were smeared everywhere.
Redbuds aren't red. But they are a more pinkish purple that isn't unpleasant. I don't think we could actually stand it if they really WERE red! LOL Right after I noticed the huge displays of every redbud everywhere (and this includes seedling trees, so the display is staggering) I started to see the whitish green of the unfurling dogwood bracts. The woods and yards are filled with them.
Usually the redbuds are winding down when the dogwoods start making their appearances, but this year has been an unusual one. Both trees are blooming at the same time, with the redbuds just a couple of weeks ahead of the dogwoods.
Miz Mary's trees were hasty to make the first full bloom showing in competition with the ones below her in her cousin's front yard tucked in amongst the huge forsythia's. Their front line plantings are ancient forsythia's, a stray, young redbud that I have had to stop and take her picture was so incredible last week, dogwoods planted alternately.. At the base of their old mailbox, a struggling Chinese almond was blooming until the pounding rains and now are sad and forlorn twigs with wet and fading pink crape paper blossoms. But they have the first iris to bloom. Because it has a prime spot up front of everything at the very edge of their huge yard and fronting the dead end road, the heat encourages the rhizome to produce earlier than it normally would. The deep shocking royal purple and white falls were noticeable when I drove up the dead end road yesterday.
The only earlier iris was a stray planting of a bright blue Dutch iris that someone planted near a wall that faces a very sheltered western exposure across from the post office in town. I say sheltered because the post office is built on a rising hilltop with the access road cutting thru, and the house with the retaining wall around it is over 200 years old. Apparently someone had tucked in Dutch irises and one clump has managed to survive. I've noticed this grassy clump every year and it's never grown much bigger because the paved road literally runs inches next to it.
Everywhere the leaves are bulking out, and one day later, with soaking cold rains, the dogwoods everywhere are whitening up and dazzling. Woods literally light up with these trees, and this is the time I long to be back in Nashville where the oldest dogwood trees are not just white ones, but dark pink ones that are huge with hundred's of blossoms. The pink ones around Dandridge despite her being the second oldest town in Tennessee aren't nearly as old as the plantings in Nashville. But I welcome the sight of these pink varieties because most of the oldest and largest trees are the whites.
There is a mixed one in front of an old rock faced house as you leave town heading towards where I live that is obviously a cross between a white and a pink. The bracts are like someone washed them in with red laundry and they got a bleeding of color on their petals. They're not white, but slightly blush and very noticeable. The sight of all of them lifts my heart up more as I see yards and the woods bright with their snowy appearances.
My son never noticed that a house on 25-70 going towards the interstate ramp that we take to get him to work in East Knoxville was surrounded by white dogwoods until today as we passed by it once again. We do this all the time, but unless you're paying attention and know your trees, you'd just think the huge corner yard had trees surrounding the perimeters of it. You wouldn't know until spring or fall that every thick tree is an old dogwood. Most of these trees are at least a foot thick, some smaller and some a bit larger stretching to almost two foot in thickness.
I am always amazed by this display every spring from all the flowers. Today son even had the opportunity to see the woods behind this house were filled with dogwoods blooming and remarked that the people who had built the house must have cleared out trees in the center of the property and left as many as they could. (obvious to gardeners, not so much to those who don't have this passion). I can see my making him slow down and notice the things blooming around him is having a positive effect, and I'm pleased to see that he's starting to absorb some of this. This is in hopes one day when I am no longer here that he sees these things and remembers our conversations and has good memories from the shared moments.
Spring has turned into a spectacular celebration though, with colors and blooming everywhere. My money plants are blooming already, the dark red-purple flowers already swaying in the winds where they have sown themselves on my north slope and apparently this year in my front gardens. I left them when I discovered them. I'll regret this when they seed, but it's nice to see the spikes rising up in the green ocean that is my front beds. I also see that Dames Rockets have sown too many plants in all sorts of places, but these flowers will be welcome as well, and if I don't want them to throw their daughters somewhere else, I can just clip off the spent flowers before they make their seed pods that house thousands of fine seeds.
I went outside this morning to see what else had risen out of the cold soils and was either blooming or reappearing. White Cheerfulness narcissus, their deep luscious smelling flowers that are gathered up in tufts of cream with light orange at the base in teasing glimpses. A yellow, multi-stemmed daff that has deep yellow, tiny outer petals, and deeper orange-yellow short cups in threes and fours on one stem that are so fragrant, I plucked three of them that were lying with their faces against the cold soil in one bed from the pounding rains and weight of the drops on their petals. A peach cupped one was snapped as well since it had pushed it's blossom stem under a board I'd laid across the corner of the bed to sit and plant last fall and never removed it. The flower appeared rather unexpectedly today and I realized why and lifted the board and broke the flower off to take inside and enjoy up close.
Black tulips I spent extra for large bulbs weren't. They are clean yellow and huge. I am not thrilled, but they're so healthy and unexpected, I decided to enjoy them and will watch to see if they return as strongly next spring and if not, will lift them up and remove them. The white edged leaves and flower buds of the other ones, however that I thought would be green and white, aren't. They were a total shock too. One I really like. Once the buds appeared, they went from swirls of green and white outer markings, blushing up to a soft skin pink and green and when I looked again, they had plumped up, become true tulip blossoms and the petals are WHITE with brushings of flaming red! Wow!! I LOVE these. But will they return as strong next year? I will spread granular food around them once they shed their petals and I pinch off the seed to let the leaves feed the bulb in hopes they return just as hardy. I can't remember their names..................apparently this last fall's tulips were mislabeled.......sigh.........I love surprises, but at the cost of the larger bulbs, I wish they had been what I thought they were. (particularly the Nigra bulbs)
Then there are the odd ones that I know I never planted at all. Or at least the fairies erased the memory of planting them. A white one with purple edging and swirls of the same purple inside the cupped petals under the Vitex tree. Orange, lily petaled ones with three shades of orange and slight blushing of green inside. Red ones with two shades of red.
Then there are the definite spring sign. When they did this I have no idea, but my lilac is blooming.........and the smaller lilac of the three I had planted altogether in one tub and then tucked them all in one hole, I think it's Grant that is blooming.......but there it was today, one blossom on the top of a stem that is only four foot tall.
The older lilac isn't as impressive as it was and has shown me that it's intent on colonizing the raised bed it's planted next to. I have discovered three shoots up in the middle of the bed. I can't have that...........my pruners will do that in in no time.
Amsonia montanaii has blue-green shoots that look like fat asparagus shoving past the spent dry, tan stems of last years growth. Three places it's planted! Two of those places I'd just tucked them in and hoped they'd survived and they not only survived but like where I plugged them. Then there's the lilies that are shoving thru the already thickening foliage. Like rising paper trees, or silly party favors, I see lily sign.
And the daylilies.........when did they bulk up so much? One day they're just little shoots of green, and now they're clumps of leaves. And any day I expect to see shoots with buds of my old irises that have survived the winter.
The biggest surprise today was as I was dragging son down the slope to show him the candy striped tree peony blossom in the "tomato" flower bed, I saw the water move in the holding trough of the BBQ garden fountain, and it was a frog!!!! WOO HOO!!!!! Now I have to clean out the bottom quickly of the debris of the pawlonia tree's leaves from winter and flush the water once before they start making tadpoles.
There are more signs of return in the BBQ pit fountain garden, too. No sign of the awesome Iris bucharica, which I adored. I will order some from Dutch Gardens this fall for sure. Cynthiana tulips on slender stems of yellow and red wave at me in the quarter barrel beside the water pump spigot. Vinca is determined to break my heart. Every clump has no less that three blue eyed blossoms staring up at me, asking to love them. The ground is so rich from the mulch I laid in the paths that every plant is happy and already making MORE insidious strings to trip me up on.
Zebra grass, striped grass, Maiden grass, Heavy Metal, Ornamental oat grass and the Miscanthus are all greening under the haircut I gave them. I should have whacked the damaged ends of the crape myrtles before spring though, every stem the 17 year locust female sliced to pieces to lay her eggs are bending with the newer growth. High winds thin out the ends of the larger trees they did the same thing to and I find ends of the pin oaks with leaves intact everywhere. My Cornelian cherry is now totally leafed out but all the stems bend before the new growth shoots out six inches or more.
The Diane witch hazel refused to bloom, and is now making leaves...........sigh........but the Loripedilum out front is loaded with magenta strings, and I went to check out the other one, Pizzazz against the fence and it too had clusters of magenta red string like blossoms. More party favors. And the Diablo ninebark that Pam (gardengal) sent me two years ago is going just crazy.
Every Viburnum I planted last year has returned for me and I'm excited to see what kind of flowers they have to share with me. Autumn Jazz is making flower tops already, all the spirea are leafed out and suspiciously looking pregnant with flowers. And we have sign of fig leaf!!!!!! If I want to be able to reach the fruit this year, I will have to prune the branches back NOW.
The single Kerria japonica is budding, but it's double cousin, Flora Pleno has already started in other people's yards. I'm jealous, but my own remaining shoot of the double is slowly gaining strength and will bloom for me maybe next year.
Then there is the butchered trunk of the pink butterfly bush by the nook window. Today I discovered thick shoots rising up at the base of the trunk and I knew the bush and fairies had forgiven me for the butcher job. Fallopia shoots have gone from a faded blood reddish pink to creamy eerie looking spikes that are already over three foot tall. Under them, variegated Solomon seal is up and making little dangle flower buds. The black cherry tree is a flower garden with Grace Ward, tulips, Bev's tater's (woods hyacinths) hosta shoots up, toad lily shoots, perennial begonias breaking ground, allium shoots popping up now, astilbe ferns, Japanese painted ferns, the epimedium is loaded with yellow fairy flowers. The moss fern is back.................it's an eye full.
Everywhere I am blown away by the not only return of Spring but the literal celebration. The birds are loud and raucous. Songs full of lusty nights and eggs to be laid. Fledglings to raise. Wild turkeys block the driveway as arrogant hens stroll past the van as I try to go to work or take son and they're stuffing up on cracked corn that Miz Mary has spread out on every rock around her yard and driveway.
Her dogwoods make you weep with their beauty, and once again, her candy tuft and purple phlox is a glorious blanket around the base of the three dogwoods that are blooming, and tucked in the sea of white foam and purple haze are red tulips, purple tulips, orange tulips and at the base of every tree are two or three azaela's that are budding out and will be open by tomorrow.
I already have the Spice Viburnum spent on it's two flower clusters, but they make up for the quickness of their fragrant flowers that made me cry with the smell of them by making FOUR stems on the ends of each branch. The variegated hydrangea is sending out leaves, the other one has returned and is making a flower head already, and the Encore hydrangea is showing leaf sign.
The old fashioned bridal bouquet spirea is now making "bouquets" and will be blooming soon, but the button spirea is still flowering out front.
Heuchera's are now up and making new mottled leaves, and all those species tulips I tucked into the hens and chicks peace rock garden are not only up, but there are Tarda and red Princess species tulips tucked in tight with bursting at the seams semps. In textures that put a quilt to shame. Thank you Micki for the babies. I even see the green Orstachys are sending out threads with little babies on the ends.
So much...............Hellebore are done and are greening up and setting seeds. Sorbaria is ferning out and showing it's moving all over the NSSG area. The new Glory Bower that Miz Virginia's son didn't come and dig up that grew out of the middle of the St. John's Wort bush (Hypericon) is now thicker and healthier than it's mama up top of the little garden and soon I'll notice leaf sign. Oh well, now I have two of them............And leaves of the fall Japanese anemone are already up.
Everywhere I see where I'd forgotten the bleeding hearts. In the Vitex bed, under the grape vine with the returning Jackmanii clematis in two places, in the aisles of the black cherry garden.
Sedums in every pot are bulked up and bursting with life. Returning Commander Hayes, the death of an ice plant, not sure which one, the yellow or the pink, but the other one is back and happy to crank out teeny leaves along the stems of the old plant. Yarrow ferns which I suspect aren't the pastel but are the white.
Phlox shoots up and shoving at the daylilies. If I part the "hair" of the foliage out front, I might find the first shoots of Egnima salvia. I hope so. Star flowers popping up everywhere. White and perky. Tree peonies are bud tight, one appears to be a pink one! It didn't bother last year. Woods hyacinths everywhere. I had no idea. And wild onions. This will be the year to remove them. And the silly shoots of the allium bulgaricum shedding their skin to reveal the dangles of young flowers.
The return of the almost agave looking leaves of the Christophii allium. The blossom will be most impressive when it arrives. Soon there won't be any spaces I can see to tuck anything in and I still have a gaillardia to plant that I got last week. I never have them return for me.
Polluxx has become a junkie. He's discovered the bottomless galvanized tub full of returning catnip. And apparently it seeded in a lava planter. I caught him licking something with this stoned look about him and when I crushed the leaves inside the planter, it was catnip. And I have feverfew! I want every plant I see.
Before I quit my job, I want to return to the seed store in Knoxville and get another red salvia plant to grow, only this time I will feed it Ironite and it will quadruple it's size. And apparently Mary Emma forgot about buying 100 strawberry plants.........now where to put them...................................
that's it before everyone's eyes fall outa their heads from the words. Thanks for letting me start this ramble. There will be more up the road as things bloom and happen.
madgardener up on the ridge, back in Faerie Holler, overlooking English Mountain which is now greening up and you can SEE the white dogwoods everywhere, with Douglas Lake shining blue underneath, in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36
Then I walk down the sidewalk and glance over to the sea of rising silver and green variegated leaves of the yellow archangel lamium and see laughing yellow clams mouths. Everywhere. The blooms of the Lamium are hilarious!