There is magic in the garden this spring

Acer palmatum 'Shindeshojo' on the north side of my garage.

There is magic in the garden this spring, but there are no magic formulas to achieve such beauty. Gardening is hard work. Cutting back perennials, weeding, improving the soil and transplanting are all steps to achieving this alchemy. I planted six shrubs yesterday, two Hydrangea paniculata Quick Fire® and three H. paniculata Little Lime® among them. These were not to replace roses. When we rebuilt the deck this spring, it was a foot shorter so the garden border widened. Being on the East side of the house, I’m thrilled. I never have enough east-side room for all I want to plant in morning sun. In front of the hydrangeas, I moved three peonies that were too tight in another spot, and I’ll plant daylilies in between. I planted the front edge in Mexican feather grass–not invasive in Oklahoma.

New deck and expanded garden border. There is magic in the garden
New deck and expanded garden border.

The day before, I planted four more shrubs to replace roses. These aren’t small shrubs either because I’m trying to incorporate them into a mature garden. Since I’ve lost so many roses, I also have a unique opportunity to work on symmetry and structure which is a good thing. I planted Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’ in the spot where Rosa ‘About Face’ once grew. It will be a pretty addition.

Aronia melanocarpa 'Viking'
Aronia melanocarpa ‘Viking’ in front of ‘Ogon’ spirea, one of my favorite shrubs.

At the top of this post is Acer palmatum ‘Shindeshojo’ finally coming into its own after five years in my garden and considered one of the loveliest Japanese maples for early red color. I also think A. palmatum ‘Tamukeyama,’ which tolerates more sun, is wonderful too.

Tulipa 'Temple of Beauty' with 'Queen of Night'
Tulipa ‘Temple of Beauty’ with ‘Queen of Night’

The Scheepers tulip mix has been an Easter egg delight on the side of the garage. I think I’ll just plant tulip mixtures in the future because the bulbs are all the perfect height and color combinations. The purples and reds I mixed in the front beds look good too, but not as good as the garage border below. In front, I planted ‘Colour’ Cardinal,’ ‘National Velvet’, ‘Negrita,’ ‘Passionale,’ ‘Black Parrot’, ‘Rococo’ and ‘Kingsblood.’ Of these, I like the ‘Black Parrot, ‘Rococo’ and ‘Kingsblood’ best. I’m listing them here so that I’ll have record of the planting too. What is a blog if not a record of a garden?

'Kingsblood' and 'Black Parrot' tulips in the front border. --Red Dirt Ramblings
‘Kingsblood’ and ‘Black Parrot’ tulips in the front border.

‘Queen of Night’ is very sweet, but so short. Maybe I’ll try John Scheeper’s tall sherbet mix this fall in front and back. As much as I love dark tulips, they don’t show up as well in a dappled shade garden, and Oklahoma’s drying winds are too tough for most tulips out in full sun. Plus, by planting closer to the house, and interspersing tulips with daffodils, I discourage the moles and voles. I lost a bunch of tulips out by the street to these burrowing creeps.

The Scheepers hybrid tulip mix
The Scheepers hybrid tulip mix has performed beautifully next to the garage. It looks better than my hand-mixed version in front. I think I’ll just buy tulip mixtures in the future.

In the back garden, the view below was magical yesterday, but lacking on the left side. I transplanted several pieces of Kerria japonica, the single-flowered form, to the other side of the arbor behind Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle.’ In a few years, it will spread, and perhaps, if I’ve guessed correctly will balance the other side. I don’t know where you can buy the single form of K. japonica. My friend, Wanda Faller, gave me mine. I have the double form flowering in the front yard, but I like the single form best. Japanese kerria is one of those plants that will bloom in sun or shade. It does sucker so don’t put it where it will crowd something else too much.

See how the single Japanese kerria has flowed behind Hydrangea arborescens 'Annabelle' on the right hand side. I moved some of the Japanse kerria and Phlox divaricata to the other side to try and balance things in spring.  Garden magic
See how the single Japanese kerria has flowed behind Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ on the right hand side. I moved some of the Japanse kerria and Phlox divaricata to the other side to try to balance things in spring.

I also noticed in the photo of the garden from my last post taken last summer, that the lamb’s ears were only on one side of the pathway.

Blooms are fairly sparse in my fall garden.
The lower garden last fall in October.

I transplanted more of the large lamb’s ear to the other side yesterday. You need to spend some time looking at your garden so sit in a chair and gaze upon your creation. Don’t always have your head down weeding. Also, take lots of photos with a camera or your phone. Try to concentrate on what you like about the garden and replicate it elsewhere.

The back garden taken yesterday. See all the Phlox divaricata I've transplanted around. It makes for a lot of lovely blue and purple each spring.
The back garden taken yesterday. See all the Phlox divaricata I’ve transplanted around. It makes for a lot of lovely blue and purple each spring. A. palmatum ‘Tamukeyama’ is the red tree on the left. It grows here in mostly full sun.

A few years ago, I realized how much I love Phlox divaricata, woodland phlox, and I decided to try to spread it around. I have purple and blue. I love the blue best, but the purple spreads more easily. Here’s how I got it to spread this much in only a few years. I watch it while in bloom, and if it is somewhere I don’t like, I transplant it to another spot. It fusses a bit after transplanting, but with water, it will settle in. I also take the seeds and scatter them about like I’m Miss Rumphius or something. This native phlox grows best in the dappled shade of trees in Oklahoma although I sometimes see it in the sun here too. Woodland phlox is native to many states throughout the U.S. including Oklahoma. It likes well-drained soil with lots of compost or shredded leaves because it is a native forest perennial. You can buy it many places, but North Creek has two varieties: ‘Blue Moon’ and white ‘May Breeze.‘ Again, Wanda gave me my first starts of blue and purple. You can get phlox seeds from Prairie Moon Nursery.

Tomorrow, I’m off to California for the All-America Selections spring trials with some of my favorite women: Susan Tomlinson of The Bicycle Garden, Barbara Wise of Bwisegardening, Helen Battersby who blogs with her sister, Sarah, at Toronto Gardens, Nan Sterman of A Growing Passion and Diane Blazek, Executive Director at All-America Selections/National Garden Bureau. Our hashtag for this time of fun and frivolity is #NGBplantnerds. I’m sure we’ll all be sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

In accordance with FTC blogger guidelines, I am disclosing that I’m not being paid for this event, but as a blogger, I will be hosted at various stops along the way up the California coast. Just to be clear, I’ve paid for my own airfare to and from Oklahoma, but will receive compensation in the form of food and hotel rooms as we travel to various breeder locations. I’m looking at this as education on the wholesale side of the business.

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, March 2014

Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc'
Iris reticulata 'Harmony'--sometimes seeing a flower from above or below gives you a completely different perspective.
Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’–sometimes seeing a flower from above or below gives you a completely different perspective.

Welcome to Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, March 2014. From 2012, I can see we are behind schedule. I guess I didn’t write a post for March 2013. Is anyone surprised we’re moving in slow motion after the winter we had? Snow, snow and more snow. Our weather is only now cooperating, and we have a lot of spring to get through before we can declare ourselves frost/freeze free by April 20 or so. So, hang in there folks, enjoy each day as it comes and try not to worry about your peach crop and apple trees let alone the roses. Oh, about the roses, go ahead and prune and feed them. It’s time, a little past actually, but don’t feel bad . . . I’m right there with you.

Narcissus 'Tete-a-tete' with small violas I planted yesterday.
Narcissus ‘Tete-a-tete’ with small violas I planted yesterday.

Is a late spring all bad? No. If spring unfolds slowly over the prairie, we might have an apple and peach crop this year. We can hope anyway. My trees aren’t even showing signs of blooming yet. One sad thing about last winter is that violas and pansies didn’t fare very well. Most of mine died almost to the ground and look like hell. So, I went and bought four flats of violas and planted them yesterday. I hope to find a few more to fluff up the bulb parade.

Crocus vernus 'Jeanne d'Arc'
Crocus vernus ‘Jeanne d’Arc’

Crocus vernus ‘Jeanne d’Arc’ are a welcome sight in my small lawn out front. Normally, the fescue grass is green in March. This year, it needs a lot of tender loving care. I’ll be spreading compost and more grass seed next week to plump it up. Winter wasn’t kind to my small lawn either.

Here are the crocus in the yard with the green chairs.
Here are the crocus in the yard with the green chairs.

There wasn’t much to photograph, but I did my best. Without further ado, here are more stars of our bloom day show.

Iris reticulata 'Harmony'
Iris reticulata ‘Harmony’
Another narcissus. I don't know the name.
Another narcissus. I don’t know the name.

Thanks for visiting. If you’d like to see more Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts, head over to our lovely hostess’ blog, May Dreams Gardens. There’s a list of everyone participating there.