Well it is Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day again and the general question is what’s blooming on our hillside. The answer is almost everything! We look around and see flowers everywhere. There are still straggling daffodils showing up, even virginia bluebells still remain in the woods, and the first bearded Iris and roses are to be found. But the focus in the yard right now is Peonies. A smattering of species types have shown up however the Tree Peonies are dominant right now. They are so gorgeous and artistic it takes the breath away.
The Itoh intersectional hybrid peonies are still a day or two from flowering but the first herbaceous is now in bloom.
Of course there are azaleas everywhere, but one would have to be half-blind not to notice the Exbury hybrid azaleas with their vivid colors.
A special favorite is always the Azalea visco sepala which has a powerful fragrance which covers a wide area.
One of the unexpected pleasures this May is a single Russell Hybrid Lupine that I planted last year. It didn’t flower last year and often doesn’t really succeed in our muggy summer, but this extended cool spring has been perfect for the Lupine.
Our Japanese roof Iris has put in an appearance.
and the Clematis at the front door is doing a good job in shielding the electricity meter.
At this point let me share some the more unusual flowers in our May garden.
This one came from Annies Annuals last January and it will not be hardy in our zone. But it should be worth carrying over in the greenhouse.
We first grew the Lamium orvala last year but it remains a very unusual plant with exotic flowers.
This Mexican Shell Flower was the surprise in the greenhouse today. I’ll have to move it outside tomorrow.
This one can be grown like gladiolus. The bulb should be dug at the end of the season.
On the other hand the following three exotics could winter over in our climate.
It’s getting late to be technically publishing on Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day so let me close with this lovely little rock jasmine which is flowering at the full right now.
When you are using your greenhouse to grow special plants like Lewisia tweedyi or Pleione formosana, or seedlings of an unusual western rock cress, you might be forgiven by reacting to the first sign of aphids with an immediate fog of insecticide. However, I decided last winter that I would try to make the greenhouse as much of a natural environment as I could. The windows open to the out of doors on warm days without screens so that insects are free to come and go. The greenhouse manufacturer said that people liked this idea for pollination but I was thinking more about insect control.
In early December when I first began operations I saw a few ladybugs taking refuge from the cold. I had hoped they might settle in, perhaps laying eggs. And last week I saw my first ladybug larva busily patrolling the leaves for aphids.
They are voracious eaters (think of teenagers eating between meals).
And yesterday I spied a praying mantis.
I had seen an egg case in the hillside garden and put it into the greenhouse in February. Though I never saw the hatching take place, they are apparently growing fast. Unfortunately a few minutes later I saw this one get trapped in a spider’s web. While both seemed to be about the same size, the spider definitely won the battle. But there should be many more praying mantis wandering around the greenhouse at this point.
While i was watching the praying mantis and spider struggle I looked up and saw the dominant actor in the food chain.
This guy was alert and ready for action. So while I do see aphids here and there, nature’s enforcer’s are busy keeping things within bounds.