Thursday, May 15, 2014

What's Blooming? May 15, 2014

Things are changing fast around here in the garden, so it's time for another installment of "What's Blooming" here at the Harris home.   Won't you come along as we walk around the yard, taking stock of what's blooming today?

We'll start in the back yard.  This was a big expanse of mulch just about a month ago (the weeping cherry and the big Loropetalum shrubs were here, but nothing else).  I've been adding perennials and a couple of annuals, along with a shrub or a few.  I suppose it looks better than it used to.  But it still looks pretty much like a big expanse of mulch.   Hopefully as time goes on, things will be filled in a bit more and it won't feel so darned barren.

The happiest thing going on here is the "Minnie Pearl" phlox.  They're not very tall, but oh my gosh they are putting on a show.  They are very delicately fragranced, and you only really notice it when the sun is really hot and the breeze is very gentle.

Right next to the "Minnie Pearl" phlox there are seven little tiny plants of "Blue Queen" salvia.  They came in 4" pots, and though they're small, they're all blooming valiantly.

Also in this bed there are some purple Penstemon blooming.  I planted them to attract hummingbirds, but so far I've not seen any hummers floating around.  One lone bird was here a few weeks ago, but hasn't been seen since then... either brooding or perhaps he's moved on to the north.  So I guess the Penstemon will bloom just for our enjoyment, not the hummingbirds.

The only other plant blooming in the Great Mulch Plains is this 'Miss Lingard' phlox.  This little missy is not nearly as showy as Minnie Pearl across the way... but she's just getting started, so we'll give her a little more time, maybe she's just shy.

Moving across the patio, we have a little birdbath flower bed with a couple of Hostas that we inherited when we moved here, and some penstemon and annual verbena that we added.   This penstemon was red, and is now finished blooming.  (It was blooming in early May when I gave a Tour of Our Back Yard.)  But the verbena is just getting into its stride.

This pretty pink and white annual verbena is called 'Lanai Twister Pink'.  I'm going to leave it here over the fall and winter, and see if I can coax it into returning next year. It can't hurt to try, right?

On the patio table, I've got a big hanging basket pot of strawberry plants that I picked up on a whim at Lowe's a couple weeks ago.  It has runners sprouting off of every which way, and I've buried all the tips of the runners in a flat of soil, and am going to have little strawberry baby plants at the end of the season. I'll overwinter them in a nursery bed somewhere out back, and with any luck, we'll have our own little strawberry patch next year!   Maybe I won't have to go down the road to pick fresh berries.  Right now I'm happy to see that a lot of the blooms have turned into tiny little white berries.  What a fun project to have, for absolutely no effort!

Speaking of edibles (were we?), I have one tomato plant that  has put out a couple of blossoms.  Very excited to grow some tomatoes for the first time in a couple of years.

Ok, so now we'll move over to the foundation bed that is up against the house.  First off, I'm LOVING these chinese astilbe.  They're a pretty mix of pinkish purplish color, and are really looking healthy and strong.  These are Astilbe Chinensis 'Visions'.  I'm so happy with them, and am looking forward to seeing them spread in this spot in years to come.

And now it's time to own up to the fact that I've been collecting plants, but not necessarily planting them.  There's a whole section of the yard that I've affectionately dubbed "Procrastination Station", where I put my newly procured lovelies, and there they sit for days (weeks?) as I figure out where I'm going to plant them.   Please tell me you do this too.

This flat of annual vinca has been here the longest... I think we're going on 14 days with no plan in sight for where they're going to end up. (Well, I had a plan, but then I found something better, and then I changed my mind, and ... well, you know.)

These annual vincas are spreaders, and they just came home yesterday.  in fact, after I took this picture, I actually did plant these out in the front yard by the front steps.  So, that's something.

These are a pretty new plant that just jumped in my car while I was at the NC State Farmer's Market yesterday.  I don't know how it happened, but there they were.    These are 'Texas Apple Blossom' perennial verbena.  They are supposed to spread just as nicely as the purple 'Homestead' verbena which I love...

...and which also came home with me yesterday.    I picked up eight of these pretties.   I had them in Maryland in my front yard on a hot, dry hill, and they were spectacular.  So I'm putting these on a hot dry hill-type spot here, and am hoping for a similar spectacle here in Raleigh.   And I got these planted today too, after this photo was taken.  

In this same foundation bed, I have several impatiens. I'm very impatiently waiting for them to grow larger and do their big-mass-of-color thing.   So far, they're just little babies.  I guess they were even littler babies when I planted them almost a month ago.  But gosh, they're taking their sweet time in growing!

See what I mean?  Blink and you miss them.  

Finishing off the back yard bloomers, there are some cute little annual cosmos growing under the new birdhouse.   I'm really enjoying these cuties.

So moving to the driveway bed, we've got a huge Gaillarda plant (I know them as Blanket Flowers, or Indian Blankets) that the previous owners had.   Orange and red are colors that are conspicuously absent from my garden palette.   But I'm not about to toss out anything that's growing and blooming in the yard, since there is so much empty space just waiting to be filled with plants.  I'll take any I can get!

Keeping the Gaillarda company, I added a cute pink and yellow Lantana to the driveway bed.   It's still little, but should grow to be about 2' tall and wide.  Lantanas are usually hardy here in Raleigh - most winters, they can survive and will return next year bigger and stronger.  But this past winter was so tough, almost everyone lost their Lantanas and have to start anew.   I'm in love with this particular color combo, and am looking for a couple more just like it.  Most Lantanas I find have a little orange in them, and that's not what I'm looking for.

Moving out front, we still have some pinks blooming (there are actually three clumps of this going strong for the fourth week in a row).

The Double Pink Knock Out Roses are waning.  They've had a great first flush of blooms for a good two weeks.  But the three little new plants that I put in last month are just babies, and so they're getting tired out even though their relatives in our neighbors'  yards are still going strong.  I've deadheaded them since this photo was taken, and am hoping for a second flush of blooms.

After a spectacular month-long Iris season, we're just about to wrap it up.  But the purple clumps are still looking good, and probably will give us another four or five days of blooms.

This is the last hurrah for the yellow beauties.  I wish I knew the variety names on the irises, but unfortunately, the previous owners didn't leave us that kind of information.

I picked up two hanging baskets of petunias and just plopped them down in the urns on the front porch.  Success!   (ok, maybe I should take off the wire hangers.)

As of this morning, there were still four or five clumps of last winter's pansies struggling along in the heat.  But this afternoon, I took them out and sent them to the great compost pile in the sky.    Sorry little buddies.

And finally, I would be remiss if I didn't show you the impressive field of dandelions and other blooming weeds that we have in the empty lot next door.  These dandelions are like none I've ever seen... the flower stalks are fully 24" tall!  Holy moly, batman!   Do you know what the purple vine weed is?  It's kind of pretty in this 'wild' setting here in empty lot suburbia, but not so pretty when it's climbing all up in the boxwoods and junipers.  

And that, my friends, is a very thorough review of what's blooming here at the Harris home on May 15, 2014.  Thanks so much for joining me, I hope you'll come again, and I hope you'll leave a comment to show me the way to YOUR garden!

Want to see more of our yard?  Check out these posts:


Linking to:


  1. So pretty, Jenny! You and I have some of the same plants. I planted John Fanick Phlox this year because it's supposed to do really well here in our Texas heat. It blooms later in the summer and I can't wait! I already planted a flat of vincas and they croaked. We had some cool nights and that did them in or possibly it was the blight they get sometimes. Oh well, gives me an excuse to go back to the nursery. :)

    1. Hi Stacey, I imagine your Texas garden and my Raleigh garden could share a lot of plants in common! I love Phlox, and in my Maryland garden the deer ate every single phlox plant I ever put out. So I'm excited to have it here. Fingers crossed on the vinca!

  2. You have so much blooming in your garden and you are way ahead of us here on Long Island. Your Astilbe 'Visions' are wonderful. They are a great plant and now I can't wait until mine start blooming in June! Your Gaillarda and Iris are also looking wonderful. I enjoyed the visit!

    1. Hi Lee, thanks for stopping by. I can't quite get over how early the Raleigh spring and summer is, compared to what I'm used to in the Baltimore area. And up on Long Island I imagine things are even a little further behind. (Heaven help those who live up in Maine or beyond!) I'm happy that you stopped in, and hope you'll come back as the season progresses.

  3. Hi Jenny,
    Great tour! I'm probably a month behind you as far as blooms go. I'm jealous that you've gotten lantana to come back. We're too far north for that, I'm afraid. Also, I had to laugh at your "Procrastination Station." I do that all the time. My husband has been known to say (as I bring more stuff home from the nursery) "Are these actually going to get planted, or are they going to die on the porch?" Yeah.
    Those are some impressive dandelions! Your purple weed is vetch. Ugly name for a pretty weed. We get that here a lot, too. I'm constantly pulling it out of my front flowerbeds, it seems.
    Happy Bloom Day!

    1. Thanks Linnae! It's funny - now I think I couldn't stand to wait another month for the garden to wake up, but really, this is the first and only year I've had it this early, so there you go! I didn't show the annuals I have on the screened porch, waiting to be planted. Afraid to say some of them have dried up - oops! But, on the good news front, I got almost everything else planted today. Those vinca are still waiting....

      Thanks for the identification of the vetch. Yes, it is pretty, but I wish it would be pretty in places where it's not choking out other things!

      Thanks for visiting, hope you'll be back!

  4. Gorgeous! I love the lantana, it doesn't come back here in Seattle ~ so I buy it annually beause the butterflies and hummingbirds enjoy it so much too. appreciate you sharing over here at Fishtail Cottage's Garden party this week! xoox, tracie

    1. Yes, Lantana is one of my faves - especially if I can find them with no orange or red in them -- my least favorite colors in the garden. ;-) Will see if this one will survive the winter. I hope so!

  5. Wow, everything looks wonderful!! Love all your selections!! Thanks for joining Home Sweet Garden!!

    1. Thank you Brooke! Appreciate your kind comments. Have a great day!

  6. LOTS of beautiful, gorgeous blooms! I appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,