A pretty cold May bloom day

Lacy blooms and foliage on Sambucus Black Lace™ (elderberry)

Our morning temps have not been the norm in Oklahoma recently. At 45F for the last couple of weeks, it’s been chilly, but still a good time to transplant shrubs, perennials and most annuals.

Still, the variegated tapioca I placed in a container and another in the ground are very unhappy campers.

Very cold tapioca. We had seasonable weather right after planting so maybe it will survive. I hope so. It's an expensive indulgence.

They may not survive. The lesson in this? Wait to put some tender tropical offerings in the ground until mid-May at least. You never know what Oklahoma weather has in store for us.

Snowpeas trellised on dead crapemyrtle branches. Reuse, recycle.

As for the vegetable garden, everything is performing well. The cabbages are heading up. I’ve sat on the edge of the beds and eaten lettuces with no accompaniment except sunshine. Spinach planted in the fall overwintered, and I harvested it early spring before it bolted. Never making it to the kitchen, strawberries taste like nectar. Plus, I’ve eaten snowpeas and sweet podded peas straight off the vine. I need to plant beans, but I keep waiting until those morning temps are at least 50F.

Rehmannia angulata (Chinese foxglove). This plant is only eighteen inches high.

In honor of Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day hosted by Carol of May Dreams Gardens on the 15th day of every month, here are some of my favorite flowers thus far. Rehmannia angulata grows in well-drained soil in partial shade in my garden. In cooler parts of the country, it can be grown in sun and seems to grow in a straighter and more stiff fashion (probably from the sunlight.) My initial plant was passed on to me by my dear friend, Wanda F. She now grows it in Anacortes, WA. I’ve never had luck passing it on because I guess it is easily killed.

One purple columbine still blooming the shady part of the garden.

This purple columbine was blooming last month too.

The always other worldly euphorbias. These are ‘Ascot Rainbow,’ and if you look closely, one has a bloom structure which is trying to revert to the original non-variegated plant. This often happens on variegated plants, and I will be cutting that bloom off, but I wanted you to see it.

'Ascot Rainbow' euphorbia. See the darker green bloom structure. It needs to be removed.

Real beauty can be created with the most common of plants. Here, common yarrow and ‘Husker Red’ penstemon combine to make a beautiful statement. They are both easy to find, and once they finish blooming, they have wonderful foliage, with the yarrow’s blue, and the penstemon’s in red fading to green. Another great penstemon is ‘Dark Towers.’ It is similar to ‘Husker Red,’ but has darker purple foliage and pinkish purple flowers.

Penstemon 'Dark Towers,' one of my favorites.

I would say the roses are not having their best year. They’ve completed one bloom cycle and are in the middle of another due to the early heat we had for a couple of weeks. Now, it’s chilly, and they have thrips. I will not spray for thrips so I’ll sacrifice this second cool weather bloom. Once the weather warms, thrips seem to move on to cooler pastures. One exception is ‘Graham Thomas’ who is having a great spring. He always does. Then, he pretty much rests until fall. The Knockouts are blooming, and so far, I’ve seen no evidence of the horrible rose rosette. Thank God. The roses are just short because of extreme winter die back.

'Graham Thomas' rose, a David Austin

Other than having to weather a sweater while doing garden chores, everything is fine in Oklahoma. That could soon change. Thunderstorms are predicted for Wednesday so get planting if you haven’t done so already.


  1. Nadia says:

    Yeah only 9 C at my place… But sunny, and hope it will get warm soon.

  2. It’s been so hard to predict the spring weather lately. I’m always expecting the worst (i.e. heat and drought) and yet getting surprised. Right now I’m just hoping for rain. I love the look of that Chinese foxglove.

  3. Spring? What’s that? We have moved from winter straight into summer and it has affected the garden in many ways, some of them wonderful, others not so much.

    Let’s hope that soon we will all return to our normal programme weatherwise coz I could do with a break. Been schlepping wateringcans around the potager for months now.

    Enjoy your weekend,

    Yolanda XXX

  4. Cyndy says:

    Hi Dee – ice cold tapioca sounds yummy, but I guess not if you’re a plant – we just purchased some of that Dark Towers for a Habitat for Humanity planting, glad to know you like it, so hopefully it will perform for our homeowners. Love your Graham Thomas photo.

  5. Hi honey,

    Just trying to steal a few minutes to catch up with you.

    Gotta say, I’ve never met a Penstemon I don’t love.

    Sending a hug your way,


  6. Donna says:

    cold and wet here but beginning to warm..hope it stays that way…lovely blooms

  7. Pam/Digging says:

    We’ve had remarkable cool days with low humidity for the past couple of days too. I am Eating It Up. Hot hot summer will be here soon, won’t it? Your garden is looking lovely, despite your difficult winter and cool spring.

  8. Robin Ripley says:

    Ah, fresh garden salad! Who minds a little bit of grit? I’m currently feasting on fresh strawberries–before the rolly pollies get them.

  9. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This has been a crazy spring weather-wise Dee. My garden is doing strange things too. When you talk about your veggie garden I get excited thinking I wouldlike one. I doubt that will ever come to be though. Those dark columbine are pretty. I have white and the wild one. They continue to bloom too. Happy GBBD.

  10. Frances says:

    Lovely, Dee. I understand about the cold, it is over us in Tennessee right now. Most of the plants are enjoying the cooler temps, with flowers lasting longer, but the lilies refuse to open any more until it warms up. The bean seeds are waiting on the counter. I love your reused staking for the peas!

  11. gail says:

    Hello Dee, Strange weather we’ve been having in the central South! It’s kept some plants blooming for much longer then usual. Dark Towers is a stellar penstemon~I like everything about it. The Chinese Foxglove is lovely~Hmm…wonder if it would like c&l! So sorry to hear about the roses~ xogail

  12. I would love to sit with you in your garden and eat peas straight off the plants. It sounds sublime. ‘Graham Thomas’ is too pretty to be such a trooper. I’m so glad to hear that you haven’t seen any evidence of rose rosette this year. Last year’s purge may have done the trick. I grow both Penstemon ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Dark Towers’, and I think ‘Dark Towers’ is a far superior cultivar.

  13. Melanie says:

    We have had some crazy chilly weather too!! Even the days have been in the low 60’s. .and with the wind. .seemingly colder than that!! Sounds like your veggies are productive so far. .there isn’t a better feeling than taking a small seed and making food out of it!! I got some penstemon in a garden from High Country Gardens. .this is the first season they have bloomed. .beautiful!! I got a picture of the purple one this morning to post in a day or two!! I think I will have to try a few more. .especially since they are xeric. .a desireable plant trait around my parts!

  14. It is too chilly for this time in May. We even had light frost Monday morning. Don’t want to wish for the heat too soon though.

  15. Beautiful, Dee. I’ve had my eye on ‘Dark Towers’ for a while. It seems a nicer blend of foliage and flower than the standard red penstemon. Happy blooms day!

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