Rain is again falling from the sky, so I have a rain-washed garden. My French door is open. Birds are singing, and my new windchime is gently swaying in the wind. It’s a nearly perfect spring day. In fact, when I was at my regular doctor’s appointment this morning, his nurse said she felt like we live in the Pacific Northwest. This might not be blog-worthy in your world, but a rain-washed garden is a blessing in mine. There is nothing better for the spring garden than rain.
Weird, but welcome weather
It is also 68°F on the last week of May which is weird, but welcome. Some years, winter slides into summer with barely a passing thought, but not this year. [Click on the photos in the galleries to make them larger.]
I’ve had years when no rain fell for months. Instead, the sun baked my garden soil into something resembling concrete. I’m speaking of you, summer 2011, when the weather surprised us with 60 straight days of over 100°F temperatures. Ultimately, there were 90 days over 100°F. Those were hard times under the Oklahoma sun. I didn’t know if the garden would survive, but it did.
The main pathway in the back garden. Although this path looks curved, it is a trick of the eye because of plants spilling out of the right bed. Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’ has loved the rain so much it is threatening all of the daylilies in this bed. Time to pull some of it out. The dark red tree in the background is ‘Tamukeyama.’ Two Spiraea x bumalda ‘Anthony Waterer’ shrubs were among the first plants I planted i the back garden 30 years ago. They are still growing strong, and they didn’t die all the way back to the snow line. ‘Wanda’ phlox looks like the star right now in the rainy tiered borders. ‘Fashionably Early Flamingo’ phlox is the lavender color in the upper tier.
Little changes make a big difference.
The garden always survives as long as the gardener doesn’t throw in her trowel or die. It’s the little changes the gardener makes each season that keep the garden going. I’ve made a lot of changes to my garden this year. I cut down all of my crapemyrtles which are now robustly sprouting from the ground. If you haven’t already cut out the dead wood, go ahead and do it. I imagine it’s a relief to the plant. I did the same thing with ‘Sunshine’ ligustrum, ‘Ogon’ spirea, and ‘Delta Blues’ vitex. However, the smokebushes like ‘Royal Velvet’ and ‘Grace’ came through the winter cold just fine. My ‘Peggy Martin’ rose died all the way to the ground which is why the obelisk in the photo below is empty. I did plant Conavallia gladiata, sword bean, that I found at Bustani Plant Farm on it. Sword bean will grow as a robust annual in my garden. I also moved some of the tiny ‘Peggy Martin sprouts over to the obelisk. It’s all about adjustments this year.
Still removing ‘Goldsturm’
I also removed a lot of my Rudbeckia fulgida sullivantii ‘Goldsturm.’ I’ve come to hate this plant because it not only spreads by underground stoloniferous stems but also via seed. It has tried to take over my 32-year-old garden, but I won’t let it. I still have more to remove, but in the areas where it is gone, I planted a lot of new plants including ‘Fashionably Early Flamingo’ phlox. This phlox is highly scented and is very pretty. It will grow a lot taller in future years. I found it in Tulsa. I also planted Rudbeckia hirta ‘Goldilocks’ and Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg.’
‘Fashionably Early Flamingo’ phlox will grow taller. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Goldilocks’ Another view of ‘Fashionably Early Flamingo’ phlox.
Cooler temperatures make gardening easier.
Because of the cooler temperatures, I’m having a lot of success with my larkspur and love-in-a-mist. Some years it is too hot and dry in my garden to get such lovely tall bloom spikes. I tossed out seed on the snow in December or February. I can’t remember which. I don’t keep as good notes as I should. To remember what’s here is part of the reason I write this blog.
QIS™ Dark Blue larkspur in the newest part of the garden. A closeup of the QIS™ Dark Blue larkspur. Nigella damascena, love-in-a-mist
Penstemons are spring garden stars.
In the lower garden, the stars of my rain-washed garden are the penstemons. Years ago, I planted P. ‘Dark Towers,’ and it has self-seeded throughout the beds. It’s easy to pull up in early spring where I don’t want it. In the tiered borders next to the deck, I grow P. ‘Midnight Masquerade’ a Proven Winners selection. It’s a great plant with brighter flowers than ‘Dark Towers.’ I like both of these selections better than ‘Husker Red.’
Penstemon ‘Midnight Masquerade’ from Proven Winners. Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ in the lower garden beds with Hibiscus ‘Moy Grande’ and ‘Orange Rocket’ barberry. Although this path looks curved, it is a trick of the eye because of plants spilling out of the right bed. Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’ has loved the rain so much it is threatening all of the daylilies in this bed. Time to pull some of it out. The dark red tree in the background is ‘Tamukeyama.’
This is only part of the perennial garden, and I’ve run out of space and time to show you more. I’ll write a post soon about the vegetable garden, cutting garden and more about the perennials, trees, and shrubs. I do want you to know that ‘Desdemona’ is one of the finest roses I’ve ever grown. If you have a spot, it’s a worthy plant.
Rosa ‘Desdemona’ looking beautiful as ever. Rosa ‘Desdemona’ is such a great rose. She is one of the few roses that didn’t die all the way down to six inches. I planted two more of those variety in the same border and removed ‘Thomas a Becket’ who died.
I can hear the rain on my roof, and my kitchen door is open to see the rain fall gently on my garden. I am so grateful.
I love rainy days. Don’t you?