A look back at last May

Sunday, I wrote an article for Oklahoma Living magazine, which meant going through photographs. It was 22°F outside, and we had a bit more snow. Not the hyped snowmageddon predicted by the weather people, but still cold and windy for what seemed like the millionth day.

For some reason–harrumph February–the cold weather and gray skies were getting to me so I decided we should take a look back at last May. Let’s see what worked and what didn’t at Little Cedar Garden, shall we?

Click on the photos in any of the galleries, below, to enlarge the photos for your viewing pleasure.

If you enjoy this exercise, I might look back at other months. Maybe it will get us through late winter while we wait for spring.

I traveled the first week of May to Austin, Texas for the 10th Anniversary of the Garden Bloggers’ Fling where we visited Lucinda Hutson’s garden and the Lady Bird Johson Wildflower Center along with a lot of other wonderful places. This summer, in June, garden bloggers will travel to Denver, Colorado. Any garden bloggers who want to come are welcome to join us. I think a few spots are still open.

The Garden Bloggers’ Fling is in Denver in June.

The next photos I have of the garden are on May 20, and these feature roses. Apparently, from my photos, 2018 was a good rose spring. I planted several new roses, including ‘Imogen,’ ‘The Generous Gardener,’ ‘Harlow Carr,’ ‘Thomas à Becket,’ ‘Windermere,’ ‘Desdemona, and ‘The Mayflower.’ It will be two to three years before they show much in the way of performance and disease resistance, but I have high hopes for all of them.

In Little Cedar Garden, May is always about the roses, but don’t tell them. It will go to their heads.

While I wait for newer roses to flower, others remain favorites. ‘South Africa,’ a grandiflora, is a wonderful, disease-resistant rose with golden yellow flowers. It does suffer from cane dieback. I have no explanation for this, but roses often defy explanation. I just remove the bad canes and move on. ‘South Africa’ does too. Note: I planted ‘South Africa’ on the east side of the house at the front of a bed with sandy soil. It gets wind protection from the garage and morning sun.

Sultry Sangria™ Floribunda rose is one tough plant that grows on its own roots. I have two shrubs I planted with a Hybrid Tea, ‘St. Patrick.’ I thought purple and green would look great together, but ‘St. Patrick’ didn’t last even one season so I planted several other plants around the roses, and everyone seems happy. My only complaint about this rose is that it produces these beautiful flushes but isn’t at all self cleaning. It is a pain to deadhead around the other beautiful flowers. Other than that, it is wonderful.

Rosa The Lady Gardener has a complicated petal structure. She is also very disease resistant in my garden.
Rosa ‘The Lady Gardener’ has a complicated petal structure. She is also very disease resistant in my garden.

The Lady Gardener‘ debuted in 2015. She was one of the first apricot roses in the English Old Rose group produced by David Austin roses. After I lost so many roses to Rose Rosette Virus, I changed my focus from growing really hardy roses on their own roots to more English roses than ever. I decided if I was going to have roses ever again, they would be the fanciest ones I could find–real showstoppers!

I grow all of these newer roses on the east side of the house except a couple of really hardy ones like ‘The Alnwick Rose,’ which is in the bed facing the street. Still, I try to protect them from the cold as much as possible by planting windbreaks nearby like ornamental grasses and evergreen trees. I think that helps.

If you aren’t ready to try roses again, I hear ya. Rose rosette killed 80 or so of my roses, but after three years being virus free in my garden, I’m willing to give roses another try in different locations. Never plant a rose in exactly the same spot because they just don’t thrive.

If you’re not ready, try these native shrubs to replace roses or plant something else in these garden holes of opportunity. Perhaps, these ten plants to replace climbing roses will fit the bill, but I’m planting roses again. Yes, I am.

‘Peggy Martin’ and ‘Carefree Beauty’ both performed well last year. ‘Carefree Beauty,’ a solid Dr. Griffith Buck rose, has been through all of the Rose Rosette, and showed no symptoms. I also rooted another bush from cuttings on the other side of the lower, back garden. ‘Peggy Martin’ only blooms once a year here, but during that time period, she is unstoppable. Peggy is a tough rose having survived a hurricane.

Although the roses think May is all about them, there are other plants that flower during this fairest of months.

We can’t let May go by without mentioning ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea and ‘Minnie Pearl’ phlox. From the Mt. Cuba Center website, a botanical garden in Delaware, “Phlox ‘Minnie Pearl’ was discovered along a roadside in Mississippi by Karen Partlow and was originally thought to be a hybrid between Phlox maculata and Phlox glaberrima. However, more recent research suggests it is a selection of P. carolina ssp. carolina. This cultivar was introduced by Plant Delights Nursery who named it after famed country comedienne, Minnie Pearl. “

As for ‘Annabelle’ hydrangea, I’ve written about her a lot over the years because she is one of my favorite plants for dappled shade. She does need quite of a bit of water. Her name, after all, has hydro in it, but if you use drip irrigation or soaker hoses, she’ll do just fine. Both ‘Annabelle’ and ‘Minnie Pearl’ attract pollinators.

I think Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ is one of the best of the beardtongues. It performs much better and has taller bloom spikes than ‘Husker Red.’ The flowers are also a subtle pink. It and ‘Violet Dusk’ are the two penstemons that are most successful in my garden. Both do reseed, but not in a wild and abandoned fashion. If you can only find ‘Husker Red,’ then plant it, but if you can find either ‘Dark Towers’ or ‘Violet Dusk’ plant them instead.

Another great plant in the garden in May is Bignonia capreolata, crossvine ‘Tangerine Beauty.’ Its performance is very dependent on our Oklahoma winter. If we have a harsh winter, I get fewer flowers, but if the winter is mild, it is abundant. Last year’s bloom was less than in 2017, but the hummingbirds still loved it.

Bignonia capreolata Crossvine
Bignonia capreolata Crossvine

While I’m sure there were many more plants shining in the May garden, these are the ones that come to mind. What worked in your May garden last year? I’d love to hear.

Also, before I forget, Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens and I have a new garden podcast up each week on The Gardenangelists. You can access it from Buzzsprout, itunes, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. This week–listen up!–we’re doing a giveaway of Carol’s new book and one of Tovah Martin’s. To win a copy of Carol’s plus a copy of The New Terrarium go to our Facebook page and leave a comment on one of our posts about this podcast episode.  (U.S. Residents only, must be over 18. Enter by midnight EDT on Monday, March 11, 2019. The drawing will be held on Tuesday, March 12, 2019, and the winner notified shortly thereafter.)  

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Well that was definitely a pleasant change from the endless winter. I think I’ve told you before that I’ve had a few issues with RRD. I only have about 12 roses, no sign of it lately, but my roses don’t really thrive. My theory is that our Ohio winters are extra cold, but with light snow cover, so that the roots aren’t protected from the cold. I keep threatening to replace them, but it’s an expensive proposition.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Robin, if you told me I forgot. I think you’re on point about your winters. They are probably extremely hard on your roses. We sometimes even have this problem here because many years we don’t get much snow.

  2. I love apricot roses but if you have dieback with them, they might just up and die on me! Unless you think the dieback is from something other than the cold?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Kathy, I don’t think the dieback is from cold. It usually happens in early to mid-spring. I just prune it off and keep going. South Africa isn’t really an apricot though. It’s a golden yellow. Bright, golden yellow.I don’t know how cold tolerant it is.

  3. What a beautiful boost your images are to us Upper Midwesterners whose gardens are still buried under a lot of snow.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Linda, that makes me so happy. I need to post a current update of the garden this week. I’ll see if I get there. 🙂 I must say this is the longest winter ever.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I always enjoy seeing your roses. I agree with you about Dark Towers Penstemon. I have tried other varieties and none other than the native penstemon thrives here. Just seeing these flowers makes me yearn greater for spring. It won’t be long now.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Lisa, it’s nice to have roses again. I like the ‘Dark Towers’ penstemon the best. Nice that it does well for you too.

  5. Now I have to get a Rosa ‘South Africa’! Thanks for introducing me to that beauty.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hillary, I hope you like it!

  6. Sonia says:

    Your rose collection is to die for! The colors are gorgeous. I can’t wait for Spring to arrive..but I must say my little greenhouse has really helped me get through this winter. My geraniums took amazing. Last year my pollinator garden was my star. We had so many butterflies, bees and dragonflies. I so enjoyed your photos in Austin. My hubbie and I met and got married there when I was at UT. Austin has really grown and we love to visit there!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Sonia, how nice that you two were married in Austin. I love Austin! I could almost live there. Almost. Oklahoma is hot enough. Ha! I think greenhouses are a wonderful way to make it through winter.

I love your comments. Thanks for letting me know what you think.