Monday, April 18, 2011

52 Weeks in the Garden - Week 15 - Undoubtedly Spring

The story of the garden continues to unfold here at Cherry Creek, with each day revealing another new bloom or leaf. Daffodils and tulips dance in the ever-present breeze, and the garden has received several deep refreshing rains of late.

Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)
The redbud in the northwestern border -- one of the main characters in this year's garden story -- is nearly in full bloom. Rosy-pink tubular flowers line its branches, thickly near the top of the tree, more sporadically on the lower limbs.

Virburnum trilobum 'Bailey's Compact' (Cranberrybush Virbunum)

The redbud isn't the only actor on stage in the border. Two nearby Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum 'Bailey's Compact', planted last fall, have shot forth new bright green foliage from yellow stems. The very tips of the leaves are tinged in burgundy. One of the three species of Viburnum that are new to my garden, I'm looking forward to their presence in a border that has been predominantly low-growing plants beneath the redbud.

Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)
One of the unique features of redbuds is the way their flowers grow directly on the branch or trunk of the tree. The fuschia tips of the flower buds stand out in such sharp contrast to the brown and grey tones of the bark.

Narcissus 'Barrett Browning'
Several varieties of Narcissus grow at the feet of the redbud, including 'Barrett Browning' (pictured above) and 'Martinette', two of my favorite cultivars. This spring has been particularly good for daffodils. The earliest of the more than 15 varieties began bloom on April 3 and have just begun to fade two weeks later.

Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' at base of Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)
Just as the daffodils make their exit, the blue flowers of Geranium 'Johnson's Blue' will begin to decorate the garden below the redbud. This week, 'Johnson's Blue' forms a gorgeous mound of deep green foliage. When we first moved to Cherry Creek in 2000, this was a single plant about 2 feet in diameter. It has now grown to cover at least 20 sq. ft. of the garden and has been transplanted to other shady spots in our landscape.

Hydrangea macrophylla 'Blushing Bride'
While the redbud is earning its keep during its bloom, the same cannot be said for either of the 'Blushing Bride' hydrangeas in the garden. I'd read several warnings about H. macrophylla types being marginally hardy in Zone 5, and it looks like that is true of 'Blushing Bride'. When I showed the dieback to a gardening friend, she commented, "Nobody says it, but H. macrophylla are perennials here, not shrubs."

While I was out pruning the dead stems back to the ground, our new neighbor inquired, "Is that little shrub going to make it?" I assured her that it would grow back from the base and that 'Blushing Bride' would bloom on new wood, so yes I was hopeful that it would survive.

Tulips under Crabappe (Malus sp.)
I'm not surprised our neighbor inquired about the health of the 'Blushing Bride' in the driveway border, as its brown, dead stems were a sad sight next to the tulips ('Claudia', 'Purissima' and 'Oxford') blooming under the crabapple nearby. I'm hopeful that the tulips will last until the crabapple blooms, creating a scene to distract visitors from the struggling hydrangea a few feet away.

Syringa vulgaris (Common Lilac)
The 'Blushing Bride' in the back garage border is in similar straights, but its neighboring lilacs (Syringa vulgaris) will soon be in full flower to give the hydrangea time to recover. There is one purple and one white lilac, both with bloom profusely on 6-7 foot shrubs. The white has started to open this week, while the purple isn't too far behind.

Hylotelephium 'Matrona'
In our front and bedroom borders, the clumps of Hylotelephium 'Matrona' seem to grow significantly every day. It's grey-green foliage is a nice complement to the Colorado Spruce (Picea pungens 'Fat Albert'), that is now home to a new family of sparrows. Whenever I walk near the spruce, the chatter of baby birds becomes a chorus as the parents attempt to decoy us from the nest. While birds in the past have built their nests on lower levels, this year's sparrows have a penthouse suite, out of the way of peering eyes and cameras.

While I can't see the newborn sparrows, every time I hear their chirping I can't help but smile because that means it is undoubtedly spring at Cherry Creek.

3 comments:

  1. Lovely share of your garden Springing back to life Thank you Annie

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  2. I'm up in zone 4, and I have an Endless Summer hydrangea that does the same thing --it will forever be a very tiny shrub because it dies all the way back each winter. Still, it has pretty flowers :-)

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  3. Enjoyed this post immensely, Christopher.
    Your garden is a wonderful metaphor of life...full of beauty and the not so pretty, as well as hope and constant struggle. Thank you for sharing your haven so vividly, and letting us see the imperfections as well as the perfect. :)

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