A cool Mother’s Day and ended a week of warm days that have coaxed many plants into bloom. There have been some new flowering trees and perennials joining the scene but some of the plants that started a week or two ago have put out a bigger show so that their beds are full of color.  No rain but some is expected this next week.The most fragrant area in the garden right now is in the front of the house. The group of Japanese Snowbell trees (Styrax japonica) have sprung into flower and filled the air with their perfume. What a great greeting for visitors.

Our trees are small and have only been in place for 3 years but they have a nice shape and are covered with flowers. Eventually they will grow 20-30’ tall.

The white flowers have yellow stamens and hang down below the foliage in clusters.

The flowers of the common dogwoods are completely gone but the Kousa dogwoods beginning.

The flowers look similar to those of the common dogwood but are borne upright on the branches giving quite a different look to the tree.

The Sweet Bay magnolia (Magnolia virginiana) has a beautiful flower on a small tree that is very gangly when young. I really do like the flowers but the plant itself leaves something to be desired.

The azaleas are finished but the rhododendrons are making their show to replace them in the shadey areas.

The hardy banana is a favorite plant of the head gardener and I gave it a place in the formal garden where it dominates one corner. Ornamental fennel grows just in front of it provided a sharp contrast in texture while pink Jupiter’s beard/Red Valerian adds color.

The Jupiter’s beard (Centranthus rubra) is an easy to grow perennial from the Mediterranean that thrives in dry heat but sulks during the hot humid days of summer in North Carolina.

The rose garden is finally beginning to look good. Rose plants can be pretty homely especially after they have been pruned and cut back so seeing nice foliage and flowers is a welcome sight. Here, the climber, ‘Autumn Sunset’, provides the entrance to the rose garden from the back lawn.

The hybrid teas are planted in 4 parterres with the miniatures in the middle of the garden with shrub and old garden roses in a circle around them. The parterres are organized by color; the yellow parterre can be seen in the picture, but red, pink, and white ones are also in bloom.

On the wall of the house the yellow climber ‘Casino’ provides a backdrop.

The polyanth ‘Marjorie Fair’ climbs on the wall of the secret garden.

Its wine red flowers are striking with their white eyes.

The older group of peonies is putting on a show to join the new ones, ‘Do Tell’ that started last week. This is their third year in the garden and they are forming nice clumps. This red one, ‘Felix Crousse’, is very floppy this year and begs to be staked. I guess I will have to do something for it next year.

The white flowers of ‘Festiva maxima’ usually have a touch of red and are good peonies for the South.

‘Sword Dance’ is one of the Japanese kind that have 5 or more petals around a mass of stamens that do not bear pollen (stamenoides).

The iris garden in front of the peonies is very full of flowers as more and more come into bloom. This is the first year that they have been in this garden together and the colors are not all sorted out correctly.

The pool in the center has its first water lily bloom

This striking lavender-pink iris was purchased at the local Farmers’ market in Greensboro. Quite a gem, I think. I bought just a single corm two years ago and this is the first time it has bloomed. I am hoping now that it is in a good spot it will multiply.

I bought this orangey-pink one with its bright orange beard many years ago and brought it from my Maryland garden. I think it is ‘Beverly Sills’, an old favorite.

The purple-blue Siberian iris have joined the white Siberian iris that began last week. They have formed large statuesque clumps.

The flowers have a white markings on the throats.

The rue is blooming next to the old iris I brought from my childhood home. I have no idea what iris it is but it is very vigorous and spreads like crazy.

The onion, Allium christophii, has begun to open. The large cluster of flowers may be 10” across and are borne on 3’ high stems from a tuft of blue green strap shaped leaves. The flower heads will produce seeds and dry well for fabulous fall and winter arrangements.

The pink flowers of the columbine ‘Winky Red and White’ are set off by the purple leaves of heuchera ‘Amethyst Myst’.

The foliage of the columbine is riddled by leaf miners but the plant doesn’t seem to be restrained and after it finishes blooming I will cut it back to the ground.  It will produce a lovely mound of leaves with no more leaf miners this season.

Most of the flowers of the foxglove, ‘Foxy’, are pink but one spike peach and several white ones have emerged.  The white ones lack the spots that are so charming on the pink ones.

The cranesbill, Geranium ‘Johnson Blue’, with one bloom last week, is not covered with bright colored flowers.

These flowers will last for a few weeks, I will cut the plants back to the ground, and they will quickly form tufts of attractive foliage for the remainder of the year.

The mouse ear coreopsis, Coreopsis auriculata ‘Zamphir’, blooms early but for only a few weeks.

The flowers with their tubular trumpet shaped petals are so exquisite that I don’t begrudge them their short bloom time.

The American wisteria becomes more laden with flowers every week but stillno flowers on its Asiatic cousin.

The vegetable garden is starting up with the onion sets looking vigorous.

We have radishes, beets, and musclun planted mulched with grass clippings. Notice the stakes at the end of each row.

We made these stakes from the rods used to reinforce concrete. The head gardener cut the rods into 3’ lengths and attached a ball on the end of each so I wouldn’t impale myself if I fell on one. We use these stakes all season long; now for marking rows but later for holding up floppy plants as they bloom and before we cut them back. They are one of the most useful garden tool we have…and cheap too.

I am looking forward to fresh radishes and lettuce soon!

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By Karen