The above Browallia will thrive exponentially(understatement ...) once the tree leaves have unfurled to provide the level of shade this plant craves.
Today is the 10th anniversary of our closing on this Place after nearly two years of searching for it. Afterwards J and I stopped back at the house we'd lived in for 14 years. We stayed just long enough to change our clothes into garden grubs and grab the gardening soil amendments I was confident I'd be able to distribute over the course of that first afternoon and early evening. Dream on! A decade in we periodically laugh about that as well as many other things we assumed and presumed as brand new stewards of the land as well as the house.
Earlier today we took a slow tour of the [other] side dooryard and field - partly in mutual congratulation of all the dreams and ideas we've manifested in that time and partly as a way of adding to our singular and mutual to-do lists. I took some pictures and then somewhat arbitrarily decided to feature images from yesterday. I took them during a solitary much cherished Mother's Day ritual of quietly & slowly examining the various plants that have come to me as gifts honoring that holiday. I'm choosing to share them because they relate to garden spaces I don't tend to share very often. The biggest reason for that relates to nesting birds and fledgling Safe Space I try to maintain until the later part of summer.
I call these the Side Pocket gardens because they ring a little side-shoot of our front lawn. Each tiny garden plot has been designed to hold space within a Bee Highway (ultimately leading to the field) for the hives across the road. The selected plants also service the fueling needs of wild honeybees, hummingbirds and a few species of bumbles.
Glad to see this foam flower has survived our strange green winter. She was one of two last year but it looks like the moles got the better of the second crown. Am thrilled with just the one, really, as this is a plant I loved only from pictures and rare woodland glimpses as a child. Had to move farther north to see it more frequently in the woods. And otherwise patiently wait-out a few decades before having a chance to grow it for myself as a cultivated garden plant.
Over the course of my gardening lifetime I've grown any number of Toad Lily varieties with the beautiful spotted leaf crown above being one of two favorites that are currently in residence. The flowers are a beautiful brownish yellow that look a lot like delicate candelabras once the buds have fattened on slender branching stalks.
(I will remove 50% of the straw mulch debris over the next week or so as time allows. Destination: the compost bin, where else. The other 50% plus last year's fallen leaves will remain to decompose in place.)
Was excited to discover the Black Cohosh has begun to form a colony. The flower stalks' scent wafts all over the yard once they've begun to bloom. Once the tree leaves unroll themselves over the next three weeks this plant will have plenty of shade. The leaves will turn dark purple in response.
(Most of the little seedlings poking through the leaves are Jewelweed. This plant is everywhere in the shady/moist pockets of the property. It's beloved to hummingbirds - and me - so I always leave plenty of it as a bank behind this particular bed. From there a weaving colony of individual plants will scramble down the gentle slope to the road.)
Here's one of two original Globe Thistles grown from seed under lights. That was seven years ago when the bed was brand new. Year before last both plants began to self-seed. Last September I cut a few seed heads to scatter at the back of the Evolving Sanctuary garden. This is a significant action on my part because it's one of my few plans that formed ahead of moving here that hasn't been either seriously altered or obliterated altogether by one kind of naturally occurring reality check or another.
I love the aging Hellebore coloration above because it's closest to the [wildly inaccurate] picture on the nursery plant ID label. It took three years for the plant to flower and then it showed a single raucous plum and lime green bloom that stymied me. I'd been looking forward to cream colored flowers with delicate raspberry edges. But the bees don't care about my inability to shift my expectations seamlessly. This plant - plus the surrounding ocean of pulmonaria - provides reliable nourishment at a time when options are somewhere between slim to non-existent.
This year the plant showed its appreciation of our clearing more space for it last fall. It's been dazzling me with three flower stalks - each loaded with blooms. The hot bright green interior isn't visible unless I make a point of looking for it - assuring the flowers I'm getting used to the different look from what I was expecting. At a less hands-on level the dark plum bells that are constantly visible fit in nicely with the general vibe of that tiny quiet-feeling corner.
The individual side pocket beds form spokes surrounding a grouping of trees, rocks and a naturally occurring elderberry bush. Hummingbirds, goldfinches and catbirds nest and raise their young among those trees. The catbirds in particular relish both the elderberries and a wealth of wild rosehips/blackberries. They're my favorite bird-resident here both personality and song-wise. Their yearly arrival is an important milestone for me. I greet them joyously within knowledge their ongoing elaborate songs and my eventual inclusion in the flying games of the offspring are about to provide emotional ballast on the joyous end of the spectrum. This year I cried a little at the amount of happiness the alpha male's initial Song of Greeting scattered throughout my emotional field.
Originally the bed above contained three bee and hummingbird friendly plants: the mountain mint which is seen above and, before that plant (labelled, amusingly enough, 'very modest spreader' but I'd grown it before and thus knew better) consumed all available space, two wild columbines and a low-growing NE native monarda species.
The latter jumped clear of the bed and is now covering a lot of ground that's accessible only to bees and birds. If I want to see it once it's flowering I have to walk down to the road and loop back around to stand on the street and peer through the zoom lens of my good camera. Have done this once so far and it was a scary proposition due to road traffic. This year who knows. It seems likely I'll be able to safely pick some lilacs that grow out there just shy of the road - plus maybe also see the monarda flowers depending on how sane or senseless this state decides to be moving forward.
I rescued the columbines but one expired due to Something Unknown which kept attacking it in its new location. The other has flourished - Two years ago producing a daughter who in turn has produced a daughter of her own. The tiny addition of a third generation was another thrilling discovery for me over the weekend!
For reasons I can't understand the above image has flipped itself and refuses to be re-oriented. It's bothersome to me but realistically it really only impacts the three people beyond myself and J who read here and also know the gardens as they are in real time. I planted the lilac and hydrangea 8 years ago. Behind them is a clump of white peonies that J goaded me into accepting at our town's May Day celebration 5 years ago. Beyond the peonies there's ladies mantle, lemon balm, and also Siberian Iris transplanted from the Evolving Sanctuary. In years past part of our Mother's Day nursery crawl has involved getting a few second year Korean Angelica plants to grow against the fence just behind the iris. Have not succeeded in growing any from seed nor have they elected to seed themselves.
Angelica archangelica was my Mother phase's plant ally just as Violet guided and nourished my Maiden phase. Mugwort arrived right along with menopause to announce herself as my Crone's guiding light. Part of making the transition seems to involve releasing attachment to 'having' Angelica of any kind as a stalwart presence in the outside world. I'm still a bit attached at a soul and internalized level although mentally I've made the jump in as total a way as I can manage without the rest of me being full on board yet. It's a process, isn't it? Letting nature have her Way with one's inner pictures of Self as well as whatever does or doesn't grow ...
a single A. archangelica flower head at the old place. one of hundreds upon hundreds over the time we lived there ...