Blue Flowers of Spring

Photo of Virginia Bluebells
Photo of Veronica blooms
Photo of Pulmonaria blooms

Above: First photo, Virginia Bluebell. These are native to North America, and as you can see, have a unique character, in the shape and thickness of the leaves, and the color combinations of purple, magenta, and sky blue. If you order a few rhizomes to plant in fall, they’ll spread. Second photo, Veronica, a short creeping variety, but I don’t know the name. It did okay before I added a stepping stone next to it, and now it’s delighted. That’s often the case, when you have a perennial that needs a boost. Try adding a stone, so the roots are kept moist and sheltered. Third photo is Pulmonaria, variety Trevi Fountain, I think. The flowers are actually cobalt blue, but the camera flash drained them out.

Photo of Red Poppy Anemone blooms

Red Poppy Anemones are a great accent in early spring, a hue you normally get only in tulips, but blooming low and up-facing like wildflowers. Sellers class them with bulbs, and they can be ordered to plant in fall. I’ve seen them rated for zone 7, but on mine the leaves came up during winter, they survived the bomb cyclone in December, and overall have been very hardy (in 6b).

Photo of Silver Sage seedling

One of my plans this year is to grow lots of silver-leaved plants. I started seed for Wooly Lamb’s Ears, Artemisia, Dusty Miller, Dichondra, and Silver Sage, above. As you can see, Silver Sage is a more fantastic plant than I’d expected. What a hairdo! 

Photo of Creeping Thyme seedling

Another plan I have is to make my front yard into a bee lawn. It typically has a lot of muddy bare spots, so I’m putting in Creeping Thyme. Look lower left, and you’ll see how the thyme seedling is growing a root at the node nearest the pot (which contains Wooly Lamb’s Ear). I’ll be able to divide each plant into several more and get them placed abundantly.

Photo of lichen on Sweetgum log

Finally, a sweetgum log I’m using as the understructure of a pathway sprouted this garden made up of lichens. The reason they’re so dimensional is, I believe, that the sweetgum was fresh cut last year, and has a lot of sugary sap still embedded in its fibers. 

More Container Ideas

Photo of summer flowers in pots


The patio planter on the right was eaten twice by deer, but it’s back to beauty again. It has curcuma coming up as well (the strap-leaved plant at the center). I’ve never tried curcuma before, so I thought mine were duds, but it turns out they’re just late starters.

The deer seem to have learned the trick that after heavy rains, plants that tasted bad are good again. If the storms time themselves so that I can’t spray repellent, arriving nighttimes instead of days, I find a lot of browsing among my vulnerable things. The gladiolus flowers were almost all eaten, and deer seem eager to consume Autumn Joy sedum to the ground, despite both being named in catalogues as deer resistant.

Still, I’ve expanded the garden, so I don’t have a good measure of whether the deer are worse, since I have dozens of new things for them to eat. But also, it was a hard year for wildlife, with the oaks not producing acorns, and the maple trees losing their flowers to the late freeze. I was pleased, not to have to dig 10,000 sprouting maples from my flower beds, but it was a loss to the squirrels and deer. (Thanks to birds of prey, I don’t have much trouble with rabbits or groundhogs.)



Photo of carex in hanging baskets


Hanging baskets probably will need refreshing in midsummer. These two I have marking the opening of a path, had a good run with verbena, but the verbena was looking crispy… When I tipped it out, the roots were completely dry, regular waterings hadn’t been enough. I replanted the verbena along the path in semi-shade, and they’re reviving nicely. I found these carex, decided to try them as hanging basket plants, and the effect is good, with the thin, floaty leaves.




Here’s another case where a single plant in a container can be all that’s needed. These are late blooming alliums (flanking a black-eyed susan and some white pentas). And the deer will truly leave onion-family plants alone.




Putting a combo of plants with red/purple leaves in a pot makes another nice effect. Above are tradescantia, sweet potato vine, and purple velvet vine.



Last for this week, one of my backyard beds, with black-eyed susan and coneflower, always great together and loved by pollinators, some white agastache, easy to get from seeds, some crimson dahlias, and bright red-orange marigolds. The marigolds, and tithonia that haven’t started blooming yet, but are mixed in here, were direct-sown from seeds collected last year. One of the irises, that I said last week I was going to move, is visible at the left corner. This intensely sunny spot should make them happiest.