Cooling Off: a Look Back at Spring Purpleness

The overnight low was in the 70s, and it was over 80°F before 10 a.m. this morning. You would need a soup spoon to get through the ozone-fortified, humid atmosphere outside. What a great time to sit under a ceiling fan and revisit the cooler days of May—and purpleness—but non-iris purpleness. Continue reading “Cooling Off: a Look Back at Spring Purpleness”

Irises Are May Flowers, Mostly

I wrote about irises, native and not, in the summer of 2020, but this time I would like to look at their succession through the bloom period, which starts in May and usually goes into June.
The month of May starts with native blue-eyed grass and Iris cristata, a US native, but not quite to this area. The blue-eyed grass, which is a failure in this yard as a bedding plant, adds a nice sparkle where it alights for about a month before it unobtrusively fades into the background. It is also extremely easy to remove unwanted seedlings as the root system is small.

Blue-eyed grass popped up in the gap between the driveway and the curb. A shadow of a developing flower shows through the backlit flower bud in the upper left-hand corner. Photographed on May 8, 2024.

Continue reading “Irises Are May Flowers, Mostly”

A Fig’s Progress

The single most important and shocking thing about this Chicago Hardy fig tree is that it got through what passed for winter in this USDA zone 6a garden completely untrimmed and unprotected.

That’s not strictly true. It was unprotected, but it got trimmed by the resident rabbits. They left evidence.

The rabbits nibbled the stems and ate their terminal ends, and then left compostables that are known not to burn plants. Photographed on December 30, 2023.

Continue reading “A Fig’s Progress”

The Greening of Spring and Foreshadowing of Summer

April is the greening month. The earliest spring plants, which came up with not a trace of green, such as rue anemone and twinleaf, turn green. Other plants, such as crested iris and Pennsylvania sedge do most of their growing in these few weeks.

The ribbon-like Tulipa tarda leaves frame a very grassy Pennsylvania sedge with flower buds; it blooms in mid- to late April. Its flowers will not be not exciting, however. Photographed on April 4, 2024.

Continue reading “The Greening of Spring and Foreshadowing of Summer”

Irrepressible Growth and Persistence

“Irrepressible” certainly applies to rabbits—chipmunks too, come to think of it—but late April into May seems to belong to the rabbits. These two did not budge when I came out with safflower seeds for the finches. 

Two adult rabbits sit watchfully as I refill the bird feeder. These are eastern cottontails. Photographed on April 24, 2024.

More recently, I have seen a small bunny, offspring I am sure, darting between hostas. It would be lovely if these rabbits would develop a taste for lawns. The height they mow the blue fescue to would be OK with me.

Continue reading “Irrepressible Growth and Persistence”

The Eruption of the Ferns

We’ve mostly gotten enough rain for the ferns. There are two very different ferns in this yard: the lady fern is small and well behaved, while the ostrich fern is big and…enthusiastic.

Lady Fern

Last year’s leaves that are mulching the rain garden are a key to this fern’s size. Each of these small, erupting ferns could just about be covered by the oak leaf in the lower right-hand corner of the photograph below.

Lady fern coming up through overwintered leaves. The fiddleheads are tiny, but at least two are visible to the right of the unfurling pale green fronds. Photographed on April 19, 2024.

Continue reading “The Eruption of the Ferns”

April’s Bluebells

Looking at the bluebell photographs that I never got around to posting last year, two things stick out: this year’s bluebells came up over two weeks earlier than last year, and they did not get nibbled by ravenous rabbits. There are limits to what they will eat after all.

In 2023, the rabbits tried a few newly erupted bluebells, and decided there were other, tastier morsels growing in the yard. The two nibbled sprouts are circled. Photographed on March 26, 2023.

Continue reading “April’s Bluebells”

Two Easy Traditional Early Spring Bulbs and One to Avoid

By March, every creature, including us, is a bit fed up with winter. When my children were younger, I would send them to school with the reminder that the first one to spot a crocus on their walk would get chocolate, and then we could all celebrate the imminent arrival of spring. They learned to look and where to look, and they got chocolate. 

Cream crocuses enjoying the sun. Photographed on March 11, 2024.

Continue reading “Two Easy Traditional Early Spring Bulbs and One to Avoid”

A Drying Purple Period

I’m sure you’ve noticed that the weather has been peculiar this year. We went into winter in a drought, but picked up a lot of moisture by early spring. The drought ended. By the beginning of June, it was drying out again, which usually happens in late July or early August. Purple flowers made quite a splash this year, because they had a good start in the spring. Continue reading “A Drying Purple Period”