Spring Flings

A great weekend of friends, family, fun, gardening and candy. Daffodils and muscari are thriving. The tulips are starting to bloom. Bleeding hearts are bleeding their little hearts out. The crows are molting.

The seedlings are doing well. All the tomatoes have been moved into 4" pots and I set out the broccoli this afternoon. To help keep the cutworms away, I read about this trick of cutting paper towel rolls into rings and putting them around the seedlings.

Behind the veggie garden was always this eyesore of weeds, rocks, burning bush seedlings and whatever cuttings and crap I would lob over the fence. I got sick of looking at it so last weekend I thought up, cut in, planted, mulched, and now it's one of my favorite places. It's also the home of Redman's little pine tree. His teacher owns a Christmas tree farm and she gave each kid in the class one to take home and plant. And name, if they so wished. Redman named his Gasol. As in Pau Gasol.

Over on the other side of the yard, Jeeps has started to move the stone wall to create the new triangle bed under the living room windows. I don't know what happened but my weeping cherry tree standard totally croaked over the winter, such a bummer (for me, that is; Jeeps always hated that thing). But the Andromeda looks terrific. I love Andromeda...when I was little I called it a "popcorn bush" and would strip off all the little white blossoms into a bowl to serve my stuffed animals.

Saturday was our annual Egg Hunt. Last year it poured rain but this year it was picture-perfect gorgeous. Jeeps broke out the bunny suit and cavorted with our neighbor Elizabeth, who not only owns a chicken suit, but dons it and crosses the road. I always wanted the kids to wear hats or butterfly wings, and I always put it on the invite, but it never happened. However, my friend Brandy stepped up and brought the baby in his bear suit, to which she stapled some long ears and added a pom-pom tail. Too bad he can't eat chocolate yet, I would've totally given him a Cadbury egg.

And then it was Easter Sunday. We got up and had candy for breakfast. I worked outside, the boys watched the Knick game. Panda was...somewhere, I don't know where she was but she came back for dinner which was roasted turkey breast with potatoes, carrots, red onions, brussels sprouts, and green beans. Followed by more candy.

Happy Easter and Passover to all.

Even MORE Plants That Look Good Together and Bloom at the Same Time!

After the whites, pinks and pastel purples of spring, the gardens are now hot with summer color, leading to bouquets such as this:

I've had a long love affair with Echinacea, and my new flower crush is definitely Hot Papaya, a double coneflower in the most unbelievably vibrant orange you've ever seen. These pictures don't do them a lick of justice. The flowers last a long time: these have been in the garden 2 weeks with the same blooms that came home from nursery. They are a fantastic player.

I have a stand of them right outside my dining room windows, next to a clump of not-yet-bloomed Black-Eyed Susans, and a mess of Drumstick alliums.  These alliums bloom much later in the season than their spring counterparts, in a vivid red-purple. 

At the base of the Echinacea is some Mirabilis, or Four O'Clocks (so called because the flowers don't open until mid-afternoon). This kind is called "Limelight"—it has chartreuse leaves and bright magenta flowers. I grew them from seed two years ago and they have re-populated themselves like crazy. Every year seedlings show up and I just move them wherever I want that hit of lime-green foliage.

Hot Papaya is dynamite with any purple spiky flower, like salvia or, pictured here, Veronica.

The orange pompoms are also fantastic with any silver-foliage plant. I'm a big fan of eryngium, or sea holly. I grow Eryngium Giganticum, "Miss Wilmott's Ghost," which is a true silver that looks superb next to any orange or yellow flower. It's a little hard to obtain and establish, but once you have it going, it will reseed every year.

This clump of coneflowers grows with Monarda "Raspberry Wine".

Below is Echinacea "Mango Meadowbrite" at the foreground, and "Big Sky Sundown" at the rear Clumps of Nepeta (catmint) grow at the base of them, but it's been sheared down recently. It's resting.