The big rhododendron is in full bloom and the deciduous trees along the west fence have leafed out, mostly screening us from the neighbors. The garden feels like a little slice of the Blue Ridge Mountains hidden in the middle of Raleigh.
The Husker’s red beard tongue produces more and more flowers. It’s the obvious highlight of Sun Curve right now. But if you look closely at the i-beam planters, you’ll see the hens and chicks putting out new offsets, creating gorgeous fractal images. The planters started with over forty varieties. I didn’t keep track of which was which, but all the survivors of year one are splendid. A pleasant surprise elsewhere: one of the “annual” ice-blue salvias that I planted as a filler last year has come back. Its companion has put out a single leaf, but maybe it will come back too.
Other Front Yard
Two of the three types of native inkberries I had planted in January are blooming: four females and one tall male. The other lone female just has buds. I hope all the females get pollinated well enough to produce berries. Hot-Lips Salvia continues to bloom, as it will through to frost. This week, for the first time, I saw a hummingbird sipping from the flowers. An agave along the front walk has put up a spike of buds nearly as tall as I am. The black-eyed Susans in the blue pot near the walk have carried on blooming, despite persistent interest from rabbits.
So many birds visit the bird bath and water feature. This week, what must be the Bluebird of Anger glowered and splashed. Many butterflies are visiting too, but only this brown skipper held still long enough for a photo. A five-lined skink scooted from the patio to the wall of the bog garden. You can tell he or she is a juvenile because of the blue tail. And a tiny bee visited the downy woodmint, which is just beginning to bloom (look on the right edge of the top tier of flowers).
The downy woodmint (Blephilia ciliata) looks terrific with the blooming yellow sedum at its feet. The sedum is not native, but is holding the bank in place for now. It’s very happy there. I’ve already had to remove a few handfuls to give the mint a chance. Indian pink continues to bloom, with the blooms tilting to the side a bit instead of being straight upright.
Pond and Bog Garden
Wow o wow the bog garden! Inch for inch, this section of the garden gives me the most delight year round. This week, some pitcher plants are still blooming and many are sending up fresh pitcher leaves. The cranberry is blooming.
My favorite rain-garden plant this week is the cinnamon fern. The frond pattern and shadows echo that of the pine cone. The blue star (Amsonia) and blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) are showing their last flowers for spring. The spiderwort (Sisyrinchium angustifolium) continues to produce dozens of fresh flowers each day.
Hellebore Hill and Paw-Paw Patch
The stems of the blueberry bushes arch under the weight of pale berries. The berries will double in sized and turn dark blue over the next few weeks until the birds eat them. Sweet Betsy still has a few banana-scented flowers. The pink rhododendron is blooming from the ground up, reaching at least ten feet up. Each cluster of flowers is about ten inches across. I spent a blissful hour removing grapevines and honeysuckle from its branches, completely surrounded by pink flowers. Did I feel like I was in the Blue Ridge mountains or in Hawaii? No, I felt like I was lucky to be home. Unlike the non-native evergreen azaleas, our native rhododendron attracts bees.
Other Backyard Excitement
The green and gold blooms on and on, crowning the Fern Hill berm. What a native-plant powerhouse! I’m thrilled to see insect damage on the white-veined Dutchman’s pipe (Aristolochia fimbriata) for the first time. Maybe the pipevine swallowtail butterfly caterpillars are eating it as planned. On the Pond Slope, the perennial herbs from last year are stretching out. The leaves provide such contrast, like the large velvety sage leaves and tiny shiny oregano leaves shown below.
- Bryant and his brother-in-law power-washed the woodwork to prepare to seal it
- Colby consulted about the pond pump and filtering situation