What’s Up?

It’s an exciting time in the garden. April’s below-average temperatures may have given all of us cause for concern, but it’s caused surprisingly few ill effects in the beds and borders. Plants of all types are shaking off their winter dormancy. Bulbs are sending up colorful blooms, and perennials and shrubs are breaking into bud, their emerging foliage like green flags that herald the new season. Our early blooming Daffodils, including ‘Rijnveld’s Early Sensation,’ timed its arrival to avoid one of April’s worst cold swings, and these robust growers held their heads high as the mercury continued to swing a bit ruthlessly throughout the month. Later bloomers, including radiant Narcissus ‘Pride of Lions,’ are presently putting on a splendid, weeks-long show.

Elsewhere, the fruits of the plotting and planning done last fall by our head gardener, Cheryl Whalen, are everywhere to be seen. The display gardens are full of new bulbs, new bulb combinations, and new planting ideas. Reliable old friends including Hostas and Astilbes are waking up to a new season. The reddish stems of Peonies are providing a colorful, contrasting backdrop for bulb blossoms of all types, and feathery Astilbe foliage, also with reddish tones, is creating an interesting carpet under the colorful blooms of Chionodoxa and dwarf Daffodils.

Part of being a successful gardener is developing a sensitivity to color. Cheryl continually plays with shadings in her plantings. In the photo above, she created a pairing using a subtle cool blue tone as the thread. The pink-red blossoms of Tulip ‘Portland’ find an echo in the icy blue flower spikes of Muscari armeniacum ‘Valerie Finnis.’

Here are a few more images from the garden in late April:

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Narcissus ‘Pride of Lions’ is making us proud. The vivid yellow blossoms with orange cups rimmed in red held their heads up through spring’s tempests and temperature swings.

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This season we’re trialing Fritillaria imperialis ‘Beethoven,’ which blossomed promptly in late April,  its brick red flowers and distinctive form attracting all eyes.

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Another plant we’re trialing this season is Tulip ‘Ice Stick.’ What do you think?

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And another auditioning for our catalog is Tulip ‘Mary Ann.’ Cheryl planted it with Muscari armeniacum at its feet.

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In the raised beds where we often trial Tomato and other vegetable plants, Cheryl planted Tulip bulbs last fall to create spring cutting gardens. Each raised bed is designed to house a variety of Tulips that offer a succession of bloom. In each raised bed is at least one early bloomer, one mid-season selection, and one late bloomer. Here, a Parrot Tulip mixes with some Early Single and late Lily-flowering types. As each Tulip variety blossoms, there are flowers aplenty to fill vases. When blossom time passes, we’ll be doing what’s known as the Tulip-Tomato Tango. We’ll dig out the Tulip bulbs, compost them, and fill the empty raised beds with Tomato and vegetable plants. This time-honored “tango” is a terrific way to maximize use of garden space, and to get the best of what each growing season has to offer – beautiful cut flowers in spring, and tasty Tomatoes in summer and fall.