Spring 2019 Garden Update

Pretty dark pink columbine in bloom
My pretty dark pink and yellow flowered columbines come back year after year and bloom early

Spring 2019 Garden Update. Where to start? It’s been a strange Spring here in Virginia. We had a lot of precipitation, mostly rain, throughout 2018 and early 2019. I’d say we are running about 2 – 3 weeks later than Spring 2018 as far as garden emergence is concerned. As we are approaching Summer this month, I wanted to post some photos from my garden this Spring.

Azaleas, ferns, hostas by the ponds
Blooming Conversation Piece azaleas, wild ferns, and variegated hostas offer a fancy show next to the ponds

The first plants to bloom were my crocuses. I had only one crocus flower this year in the front yard clump and three flowers in the backyard clumps. Maybe the squirrels dug up the rest of the bulbs or they were damaged by too much rain.

My one crocus flower
Just one crocus flower in the front yard this Spring

On the flipside, the daffodils gave us a spectacular show. This year, I brought cut daffodils inside the house to enjoy in vases. The daffodils that used to reside at the front entrance to our property were subject to cutting by The Daffodil and Peony Thief. I dug and divided and moved them to other parts of my landscape within view. No daffodils went missing this year.

Daffodils in a vase
Daffodils from my garden

My double peach daffodils haven’t performed well over the past five years. I was so excited this year to see a few blooms.

Double peach daffodil
My favorite double peach daffodil which finally bloomed again this year

Here’s another daffodil that I just love. It’s yellow and white with a double flower. And it smells heavenly.

Double yellow and white daffodil flower
Double yellow and white daffodil flower smells very sweet

Pieris Japonica shrub is always early to bloom with its strong sweet pink bell-shaped blooms. The nandina bushes all had lots of red berries this Winter.

Pieris Japonica with its pink blooms
Pieris Japonica shrub blooms very early in Spring — one of the very first flowers for the year

My bleeding hearts jumped up almost overnight. They were full of blooms this year. Bleeding hearts always make me happy as I know that Spring has arrived.

Bleeding heart flowers in bloom
Always early to bloom are my bleeding hearts

My peonies had very few blooms this Spring. They’re usually super prolific. I had 3 white blooms and 3 pink blooms. Not sure if there was too much precipitation this year and that affected their flowering or maybe not enough sunshine. That subject is on my research list. The Peony Thief was unable to strike this year as I had moved the peony plants away from the main entrance. Yet the established peony plants that haven’t been moved for 15 years or more didn’t have flowers either.

White peonies in a vase
Three white peony blooms from my garden

Kerria Japonica which was given to me by a fellow gardener whose gorgeous garden I drove past on my commute to work and finally stopped to meet her one evening…bloomed in early April this year. Always a happy sunny yellow flower that announces Spring.

Kerria japonica with its lovely yellow blooms
Kerria Japonica is a lovely plant that blooms very early in Spring

Right along with the kerria, my columbines always bloom very early. They come back year after year and this set seems to love this pot.

Pretty dark pink columbine in bloom
My pretty dark pink and yellow flowered columbines come back year after year and bloom early

The frogs emerged early at the ponds. There was a huge bullfrog for about a month but I haven’t seen him/her for a while. We now have recently hatched tadpoles in the whiskey barrel pond and the front pond so I expect baby frogs to emerge within a month or so. There are no fish in those two ponds as I set them up to be frog/tadpole habitats.

First frog at the ponds
First frog at the ponds this Spring

Toads were everywhere during the first few warm evenings. My dog, Atticus, loves to chase toads. At least he is now old enough to realize that toads don’t taste very good.

A toad looks at a slug
A toad watches the movements of a slug as a potential snack

Slowly, everything else started to bloom. The wild dogwoods had tons of gorgeous white flowers this year. There was a sharp decline in wild dogwood trees over the past 10 years. Recently, three “baby” wild dogwoods have sprouted and two bloomed this year. My own Cherokee Brave pink dogwoods didn’t fare as nicely. Just few blooms on each of the two remaining trees (the third one didn’t make it due to deer browsing) and clearly I need to fertilize them next year.

White wild dogwood in full bloom
A white wild dogwood in full bloom
Cherokee Brave pink dogwood had few blooms
My Cherokee Brave pink dogwoods had few blooms this year

The first azaleas to bloom are usually the lavender deciduous azaleas. Since they lose their leaves over the winter, the fat lavender flower buds look interesting in the winter landscape.

Lavender azalea blooms
Lavender azalea is deciduous and one of the first to bloom in Spring

The next azaleas to bloom are the solid pink ones, then the white ones, then the red ones. The azaleas had such vivid color this year that they just popped in the landscape.

Front pink azaleas blooming
Pink azaleas in my front yard blooming happily next to the front pond
White and red azaleas bloom
My white and red azalea bushes blooming along the driveway and front walk
Hosta, white azalea, red azalea
The deer haven’t yet touched this hosta which is hiding below the white and red azalea blooms

Possibly the most spectacular of the azaleas is the orange Exbury azalea. Its huge bright orange flowers add a pop of color to an otherwise red/white/pink Spring landscape.

Gorgeous orange Exbury Azalea
Gorgeous orange Exbury Azalea with big fat flowers

My pink and white mottled Conversation Piece azaleas bloom along with the cinnabar azaleas and the reddish Autumn Princess azaleas.

Conversation Piece azalea in bloom
Pretty pink, white, and mottled flowers on a Conversation Piece azalea in full bloom
Cinnabar flower on azalea
The cinnabar-colored flowers take a backseat to this azalea’s foliage
Autumn Princess azalea blooms
The Autumn Princess azalea blooms three times per year usually in Spring, Summer, and Fall

The front climbing hydrangea is doing great with thick lush green foliage. It’s the first plant to signify the arrival of the Japanese beetles which should arrive in a few weeks. Sigh. The delicate white lace cap flowers provide interest in the garden.

Climbing hydrangea blooms next to a fountain
One of my climbing hydrangeas that always blooms nicely

My final azaleas to bloom are the Gumpo Pink azaleas. They’re really old, low-growing bushes and were planted when this house was built in the mid-1970s. The Gumpo Pinks are reliable, disease-resistant and have a very nice hot pink flower that makes me smile.

Gumpo pink azalea
My late-blooming Gumpo Pink azaleas are some of my favorites

The rhododendrons had a lot of flowers this year but they didn’t last very long due to two harsh rainstorms. This magenta rhododendron along my driveway entrance always gives a lovely show. The pink rhododendrons showed nicely until the rain came and pelted their flowers.

Magenta rhododendron in full bloom
A magenta rhododendron at the entrance to my property
Pink azaleas and rhododendron brighten my yard
Pink Azaleas and the Pink Rhododendron bloom in synch

My Kousa dogwood is overflowing with blooms this year to the point that it’s now in more of a “weeping” state than upright. The white blooms are gorgeous at night.

Kousa dogwood at night
Kousa dogwood’s white blooms are spectacular at night

One of my oldest roses, The Fairy, is also blooming right now so all the pinks make the garden happy. The flowers have a lovely fragrance with a slight spicy undertone.

The Fairy pink rose in full bloom
The Fairy is a very old pink multiflora rose variety

These lovely deep green hostas are beautiful, strong, and have withstood the Attack of the Voles. Two winters ago, voles ate the majority of my 100 hosta plants. I was able to salvage 10 plants in pots and another 5 or 6 survived in the ground. These three hostas have been super resilient and always come back bigger and bigger each year since they appeared 6 years ago. I have no idea where they came from and I didn’t plant them! Last Fall, I dug and divided a few of them and moved them to other parts of my garden.

Huge hosta
Huge hostas that appeared out of nowhere a few years ago

The patch of day lilies in the above and below photos have not bloomed more than two or three blooms — for years. I know they are not getting enough sunlight. I moved them from the front yard hoping I’d get more blooms in the fenced backyard. Hasn’t happened since the first year they were planted in the back. Also, around mid-June, they will lose their leaves to disease even if I use a fungicide. Strangely resilient, these day lilies are also spreading like wildfire. I don’t have the energy to dig them all up and move them to a sunny non-deer-foraging area. So, I will just enjoy their foliage while it lasts.

Lots of texture in my garden
Day lilies, hostas, and azaleas on the side slope in my backyard provide lots of interest

In the above photo, some of my salvaged hostas from the Attack of the Voles are growing nicely in pots. I’m not sure whether the voles prefer different hosta varieties to others.

The stately oakleaf hydrangeas will bloom until Fall when they will turn pink and then brown over the winter. Oakleaf hydrangeas provide a lot of winter interest in the garden with their interesting peeling bark. Like a number of hydrangeas, they produce offspring here and there.

Two oakleaf hydrangeas in bloom
Two different types of oakleaf hydrangeas in full bloom frame my garden shed
Oakleaf hydrangea flower
Oakleaf hydrangea flowers can grow to 24 inches long
Huge oakleaf hydrangea in full bloom
This huge oakleaf hydrangea in full bloom is an offspring of the one on the left of the garden shed

An oakleaf viburnum has interesting leaves and a very elegant lacey flower. The leaves are very colorful in the Fall.

Oakleaf viburnum flower
The oakleaf viburnum has an elegant lace cap flower

My spirea shrubs are just starting to bloom. This one has vivid chartreuse leaves in Spring which become a slightly darker green just before the magenta flowers bloom. The other spirea shrubs have white/pink/magenta flowers and have not started to bloom.

Magenta spirea in bloom
Spirea shrub with chartreuse leaves and magenta flowers

And my “Lady in Red” lace cap hydrangea is starting to bloom. She begins with blue flowers which will turn to a deep burgundy color by Fall. Lady in Red is also very prolific. I have pulled up 20 of her “babies” so far this Spring to be gifted to friends and neighbors.

Lady in Red hydrangea lace cap flower begins with a blue hue
My Lady in Red lace cap hydrangea begins with blue flowers which turn to a lovely burgundy in Fall

Some other critters have been seen recently in the landscape. I found an annual cicada that had just emerged and also found its shell. Also a woodland box turtle wandered around our front lawn looking for emerging cicadas. Our favorite black rat snake was peeking out from a boxwood bush and always welcome in my garden. And finally, a five-lined skink blinked at me and smiled while I took its photo.

The shed skin from an annual cicada nymph
The shed skin from an annual cicada nymph clings to a blade of grass
Woodland box turtle wanders through grass
A woodland box turtle wandered through the lawn looking for emerging cicadas
A black rat snake in a boxwood bush
Our resident black rat snake was peering at me from a boxwood shrub
A five lined skink
A five-lined skink smiles for the camera

Order an orange Exbury azalea for your garden from Amazon:

WHAT’S HAPPENING IN YOUR GARDEN? Were your plants early or late to bloom this year? Or were they on time for your area? Leave a comment and let us know!


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