There is a comfort in seeing plants bloom when you expect them to bloom. You sense the rhythm of the seasons that is one of the pleasures of gardening. But if the garden were totally predictable it would get a little boring. That’s why even though my garden is supposedly full, I continue to add new plants, even if it means taking out others. (If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know there are at least seven different ways to make room for new plants.) So here are some plants that are either new to me this year or just hitting their stride.Plant Delights Nursery claims “Arisaema consanguineum is without a doubt one of the easiest-to-grow and garden-worthy of the Jack-in-the-pulpits.” I agree it’s garden-worthy, but until this year I hadn’t had any success getting it through the winter. And since it didn’t even emerge until July 18th, I thought I had failed this year, too.
In my previous attempts I had started with a pretty small seedling from a garden club sale, but last year I abandoned my frugality and sprung for a larger plant. I’d like to think the fact that it was more mature did the trick, but we also had a pretty mild winter (see below). So hey, it’s not technically blooming, but it is alive–which I consider a major victory.Not all hydrangeas are created equal. (Here’s a good chart explaining the differences.) Big-leaf or mophead hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla) are not well-suited to our cold climate because they set their flower buds in fall and those buds get killed by our cold winters. Starting with ‘Endless Summer‘, breeders have been trying to come up with big-leaf hydrangeas that also set flower buds in the same year that they will bloom. I keep receiving sample hydrangeas claiming that this one really truly will give you lots of blooms–and I keep getting disappointed.
Let’s Dance® Diva! (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘SMHMLDD’) has so far put out seven flowers after having a year to get settled. I really love the large sterile florets and the two-tone flower clusters. In my acid soil they’re not quite blue. If you have alkaline soil this type of hydrangea will bloom pink. I am crossing my fingers that this mophead will be the one that fulfills the promise of loads of blooms–even for Zone 5 gardens–because it’s really pretty!I thought toad lilies were fall bloomers but ‘Gilt Edge’ started blooming in early August. In truth I got it for the foliage more than the flowers. At least, not that showy in the quantities my baby plant is putting out. The catalog copy said it would get five feet tall. But doing a little more research, I find that it has a reputation for being a slow grower, “requiring an additional two to three years to reach maturity.” And the five foot height is counting the flower stalks, which often don’t even show up in colder climates. So, I like it, but I may have to move it, since it’s not going to get as tall as I was planning on. It’s a color that works really well with lemon yellow and apricot. I got a piece from a friend last year, and I’ve already thought of more places where I want it in my garden. I love the contrast between the variegated foliage and the maroon flowers. I love that it’s getting bigger–maybe I’ll get brave and divide it next year. It’s hardy, it’s disease-resistant, it’s gorgeous, and it’s fragrant. Unfortunately, the deer love it, too, but they haven’t eaten all the flowers, and ‘At Last’ is on its second flush of bloom.
How I know it was a mild winterGladiolas aren’t considered hardy here. Every so often one will come back, but if we want to make sure they come back, we dig them and replant them, just like we do with dahlias and cannas. Last fall we left them in the ground (warehouse stores sell them pretty cheaply each spring) and every single one came back. So I look at the big-leaf hydrangeas with a critical eye. If they had a mild winter and still can’t manage to pump out the flowers, I need to find them a new (warmer) home.
Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens. Check it out at May Dreams Gardens.