Friday, May 18, 2018

The Garden in May

Marguerite Daisy "Summit Dark Pink"

May is a beautiful month in the garden. After rather shy early spring months the days are finally warming up and the garden is exploding with color. The soil is not yet dried out as it will be very soon and pretty cool nights keep some of the moisture. Just like every spring I had to pull out some plants that didn't make it through our mild winter, and that means there are spots in the garden that need to be filled. Several trips to my favorite nursery were in order. Ah, a gardener always finds space in the garden for new plants...

The California poppies - our state flower - always draw the attention. They are such happy flowers. Who can resist this good-mood color?

 Eschscholzia californica

They turn up everywhere - they are annuals but very busy (and successful) re-seeders. They come in different shades of oranges and there are even pale yellow ones that look rather delicate (they are not!). When they appear next to other plants they can create stunning color combinations - like with these gaillardias (blanket flower):

Gaillardia "Burgundy"

The Spanish Lavender is always the first of the lavenders to bloom, either in pink or in purple. The pink one even blooms in winter, it never seems to stop. Unfortunately I have lost the tag to it and can't tell you which one it is.

Spanish Lavender "Otto Quast"

A neighbor once gave me some seeds of the lovely Nigella damascena, also known as Love-in-a-Mist, after I had told her how much I like them in her garden. I sowed them and then forgot about them. They turned up in the spring of last year, re-seeded, and now I have so many more. They are simply lovely.


Since this is a low-water, drought-tolerant, deer resistant (for the most part), mainly native plants garden the Matilija Poppies are a must. It is easy to plant them, but not that easy to grow them. Some gardeners actually plant three of them so that they will end up with one surviving because so many of them just die. I had tried to grow them in the Brookdale house where they always died. I gave them one last chance here, planted only one (always the optimist) and got lucky. The thing is - once you get to the point that they're established they grow and grow and grow.... and turn up in other parts of the garden since they spread by rhizomes. A plant only for the big garden and a complete stunner.

Matilija Poppy with Verbascum "Southern Charm"

Talking about poppies, let's not forget the "real" poppy, the Papaver. Up to last year I had so many of them that I was afraid they would take over completely, so I ripped most of them out before they went to seed. This spring I have far less that I will let go to seed again. They are way to beautiful to get rid of them completely. Some of the people who regularly walk by my garden (and always stop to chat when I'm out there) actually told me that they miss my poppy garden...

This is a favorite spot in a shadier part of the garden (thanks to a huge Blue Elderberry):

The Chinese Foxglove in the back have multiplied, the flowering currant has become quite big, the hollyhocks are doing okay after I sprayed them with "Liquid Fence" to discourage the roaming deer to have them for dinner all the time, the smoke bush finally grows in (it experienced the same fate as the hollyhocks) and everywhere - and I mean everywhere - there are wild Forget-Me-Nots. Just recently I moved the birdbath - two bigger terracotta pots put on top of each other upside down and a terracotta saucer on top - into this space and the birds seem to like it in this spot much more than in the old one. It's more protected I guess.

Rehmannia Chinese Foxglove 


One last plant - this one I discovered two years ago and planted it out of curiosity. It has become a true showstopper. It is growing like mad right now and the flowers are starting to perk up. This is Salvia sclarea "Piemont". It pretty much thrives on neglect, and if I'm not mistaken I see little ones popping out of the soil - they readily re-seed. The erect flower spikes, once they're open, are two shades of lavender and white. Stunning.

With the exception of the very first photo all these images are from my huge front garden. The backyard is still a work in progress. Maybe - I still have to think about that - I'll show some pictures from there as well. It has a blanket of weeds (aka "lawn") that I'm slowly sheet mulching into something more beautiful.

Some flowers in the front try to escape through the redwood fence that the Geek and I built five years ago.

Nepeta, Catmint

Can you imagine that it all started out with this almost six years ago (after the sheet mulching was complete)? From this...

... to this:

 If you want to know how I did the sheet mulching you can read about it here.


Elephant's Child said...

Loving your vibrant display. Spring is SUCH an exciting time in the garden isn't it?
Over here I am weeding, mulching, and planting spring bulbs. And dreaming. Rather a lot of dreaming.

Michelle said...

Your flowers are amazing and I love the colors. Just beautiful! You certainly have a green thumb!

My name is Erika. said...

The flowers look beautiful. We are way behind you here in New Hampshire. But I enjoyed all your beautiful blooms. Hugs-Erika

La Vie Quotidienne said...

Absolutely beautiful! I am so glad that you showed a before picture it is hard to believe what a difference you have made and what a spectacular garden you have created. Really, really pretty. I grow some of the same flowers and you have reminded me of some I have forgotten about and should try again next year such as the Rehmannia and Love-in-a-mist. This is a real inspiration. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Oh my goodness - you have a beautiful garden. I am amazed at how much you have done in six years - simply lovely! You have completely transformed your corner, and I love the photo that shows all the colors and textures of flowers together, just before the "before" photo.

Sue (this n that) said...

You've a stunning garden Carola!

Michelle B said...

Your flowers are gorgeous! I can't believe how you transformed your yard. Amazing! One of my favorite flowers is the poppy, so pretty. Enjoy your beautiful and colorful garden!

Jeanie said...

That is totally fabulous, Carola. And a WHOLE lot of work. I bow down to you! Really gorgeous. And the photos of the flowers just take my breath away. Marvelous photography. You're way ahead of us so it's like sneak previews only better because NOTHING I would EVER do could possibly look a tenth as gorgeous.

Magic Love Crow said...

Thank you so much for telling us about sheet mulching! I have an area I want to do that in our backyard! I can't believe the change! WOW!!! Truly amazing!! All the flowers are glorious! Good for you doing this!! So much work, but so good for our earth! You have inspired me!! Big Hugs!

Sarah Huizenga said...

Poppies are probably my favorite flowers, even though my success with them is limited. My favorite is finding wild ones, we aren't California, it is a treat to stumble upon them.

Tammie Lee said...

Oh my, such a beautiful garden and photographs. Happiness!

Red Rose Alley said...

Your garden is coming along nicely, Carola. We had the Spanish Lavender in front of our old housing development, it's soooo pretty. That's a stunning picture of the Poppy. You can see all the lovely detail. It's nice that you are starting to learn all the names of the flowers. I'm only familiar with a few. It's raining here today, which is good for all the blooms. And summer is on its way; I can feel it coming.


Magdalena said...

Liebe Carola, das sind herrliche Bilder. Ich liebe den Klatschmohn auch besonders. Jetzt bin ich wieder zuhause und genieße den Garten. Das macht zwar viel Arbeit, aber es tut auch gut.