Spring came late this year. Winter was consistently cold, and while it warmed up briefly at the beginning of the year, we did have snow early in March-- uncommon for this region. My flowering quince usually blooms by January, but it was almost February before it had lots of buds opening.
I bought a pearl-bush a couple years ago and it's finally large enough to bloom. The plant gets its common name from the flower buds, which swell in perfect little spheres along the stem. The flowers themselves are large and pure white, with a crepe-y texture that glistens in the light. This bush has a sprawling, informal growth habit and looks good naturalized or as a softening touch within a border.
|Exochorda 'Snow Day Blizzard'|
My sweet-betsy bloomed late this year, too. It can go from bare twigs one week to little buds the next. It has a "severe" form, upright, in winter, but the leaves soften it. The flowers smell like strawberry yogurt and are a lovely shade of burgundy-brown, uncommon in spring. I had to photograph it on a cloudy day because of the glare-- the new leaves emerge shiny, and the leathery flowers have hairs that catch the light as well.
|Calycanthus floridus 'Michael Lindsey'|
I bought this rosebush on clearance a few years ago-- it's the 'Peach Drift' groundcover rose. I'm not sure what to think of it, to this day. It is a hardy bush and blooms reliably, but this one seems to be diseased. Initially, the flowers look lovely, but after a few days dark pink speckles appear. It reminds me of botrytis blight, but there's never any moldy appearance to the foliage and the flowers themselves don't look "blighted"-- just speckled.
My irises bloomed for Easter this year. They are my favorite flower in the garden and for the brief two weeks that they are in bloom I am constantly going out to enjoy them. They have done fairly well in their part-shade space but they might need some sort of fertilizer because only a few of them flowered this year.
They each have a slightly different fragrance. These brownish-burgundy ones smell like root beer and the white ones are strong and lemony. Bearded irises are my favorite kind because of the fragrance; other varieties of irises don't have the same appeal. There are so many strongly-scented flowers that actually smell terrible to me-- hyacinths, wisterias, and lilacs, to name a few.
Did you know that there are names for the parts of an iris? The upright petals are standards and the lower are falls. The bristles, of course, are the beards. They almost sound like heraldic terms. Which reminds me that at some point I need to do a lengthy post about flower symbolism in medieval art, focusing on irises in particular. These white ones are my favorite. Even though I sometimes get distracted by fancier cultivars and color combinations, I always return to these. I don't know of any other flower which is so entirely, spotlessly pure. The towering whiteness reminds me of thunderheads in the summertime.
My garden is full of birds, too. Every year, grackles nest in the top of the loblolly pine tree at the end of the driveway. They are noisy birds with an abrupt, irritating call like a squeaky hinge. They nest in colonies but I can't see up through the branches to count how many are there; I am guessing at least five pairs. This ugly little fledgling was sitting in a willow oak shrieking to be fed. Its plumage will come in iridescent black and its eyes will turn bright yellow when it is mature.
|This picture is so placid and calming for some reason that I keep coming back to it.|