Monday, April 16, 2012

Early Bloomers' Garden Party

My favorite Pink Dogwood in my yard.
Last week, at the monthly meeting of my garden club, the Night Bloomers,we discussed just how unusual the weather had been lately and everyone could name at least a few early bloomers--plants and trees, that is--that were gaily blooming along in their gardens and yards well...early!  Now, into April, with hardly a week before the start of Historic Garden Week here in Virginia, this month's cold and then hot temperatures continue to coax along the earlier than usual springtime picture show at every bend in the road.  I'm wondering, just how much longer can these beautiful blossoms stick around with no rain, or at least very little in sight, and can they hold out just to keep the party going through Garden Week?

Kwanza Cherry Tree

Yoshino Cherry Trees
Redbuds and dogwoods in the woods.
While other parts of the country are getting doused with precipitation, and not all of it the good, soft and gentle kind that gardeners throughout the world dream of on a daily basis, here in Northern Virginia, the dry season seems to have come early. So far this month, no April showers! Yet, early bloomers abound making this spring, to me, one of the most spectacular in my memory with everything from cherry blossoms to iris's stepping out of their winter coats, virtually all at the same time, to be a part of the party before the party even begins. The redbuds were probably the prettiest they have ever been and, every year, they are pretty anyway!

Lilac flowers in my yard.

Azaleas far afield.

Euphorbia in my yard
It seems as though flowers and blossoms can't wait for Virginia Garden Week (April 22-April28) to bloom itself!  Well, if we're lucky, peonies will be dressed in their best for that week instead of during their usual May schedule. But, what will become of May with early bloomers and little rainfall? Perhaps it's a good thing that the lavender, at least here at Blooming Hill,  is stubbornly keeping to it's schedule since lilacs, euphorbias, wisterias, viburnums and laurels are all blooming along with azaleas. Today, I even saw Bridal Wreath Spirea in full bloom cascading over a fence while driving down the road...a sure sign of the Apocalypse! The lavender is taking it's time in greening up while the rose bushes, although leafed out, are following suit and showing no signs of being in a hurry to bloom. To me, that's a good thing.

Noxious weeds not in my yard, thank heaven!

Roadside wild mustard
Just the other day, I overheard two women talking in a garden nursery, bemoaning that it's just too late to plant lettuces and spinach while another was asking a clerk where she might find the tomato plants...are they kidding? It's only April!  And, yes...I know tomato plants are already in every garden center across America.  However, the weather is either replaying March at its usual cold temperatures of any other year or channeling July at its usual hot temps and lack of rainfall. Let's not even think about what seems to be the nuclear capability of weeds as they seem to thrive in this unpredictable year, so far.

Fothergilla at the end of my driveway.

Viburnum in my yard.

Roadside wisteria
Being a gardener, at least here in Northern Virginia this spring, where it seems as though Mother Nature is playing her own version of the Hunger Games by sending plump and colorful blossoms out into the world to fend for themselves in a game of survival of the fittest, is challenging to say the least. Sadly, I watched my neighbors labor all weekend, taking down once grand and stately Elm Trees that could no longer fend off the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease. Still, let's all cross our fingers and say a little prayer for rain and not that I'm longing for any more frosts but, perhaps one or two more might keep the mosquitoes and stink bugs at bay a little longer as we move through this beautiful spring, in spite of it all. And, just a little rain, soon, will help the current emerald greens in the trees all the way down to the grass not take on the hunter green hues of high summer, just yet.

Tulips still happily blooming.

Azalea at the dining room window.

Corn Flower blossom in a border near the herb garden.
In any case, we will prevail and Historic Virginia Garden Week will go on as usual with elegant homes and perfectly quaffed garden beds that will show off an array of flowers, vegetables, meticulously clipped hedges and  pruned trees, to be sure!  And, when rain finally does come to Northern Virginia, perhaps we won't fret as much over the weather.  Then again, fretting less over one's garden, even with early bloomers to boast about or not, is probably a pipe dream so let's enjoy this springtime picture show as much as we can whenever we can.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

In The Pink

Dahlias for gratitude, dignity and pomp.
Snap Dragons symbolize dazzling but dangerous!
And how are you doing this fine spring day, my dears? Me?...I'm just fine, in the pink, you might say. In fact, I feel ensconced in pink--completely and utterly wrapped up in pink--here at Blooming Hill with all of the velvety, frilly and feminine shades from the first blush of an opening blossom to the dramatic mauve of an almost spent flower. It's a bucolic life here in plain view of the beautiful Blue Ridge and the varying shades of blissful pink flowers are adding a certain  "joi de vivre"  that is rather infectious and I am most certainly, as they say, "in the pink."

Pink Dogwood flowers for faithfulness.
Yoshino Cherry Tree
The pink dogwood tree, eager to join the pink party, awoke earlier than usual this year just in time to bid adieu to the cherry blossoms floating in the breeze like brooding butterflies making room for newborn green leaves. There is a lot of meaning tied up in these two tree beauties. The dogwood, although not mentioned in the Bible, is tied to Easter through legend and myth as a symbol of the death and suffering of Christ. The dogwood's blossom resemble a cross and the flower center's clustered fruit represents Christ's crown of thorns. The flowers' delicate, pink to reddish shade also reflects the remains of rust from the nails and blood mixed together on the hands of Jesus. On a different note, the cherry blossoms represent, especially in Japanese culture, the transience of life as to many people, cherry trees at their peak, resemble puffy clouds moving across the sky.   In the language of flowers from the Victorian Age cherry blossoms symbolize the power behind the feminine side of life through etiquette and delicacy.  They represent good fortune, love and happiness--definitely feminine qualities, don't you think?

Azalea blossoms convey romance.
Redbud flowers can be used as a mild astringent.
Clustered buds on the Korean Spice Bush symbolize new beginnings!
Peony Stems are even pretty in pink.

Saucer Magnolia blossoms mean sweet, perseverance.
Pot geranium, "White Nicole" blushes pink.
Ranunculus convey that someone is dazzled by your charms.
And then there are all of the pinks painted on petals and swirling through plants as if fairies landed on them briefly and then dashed away in fear of being seen too long in one place. All of these pinks, whether standing sweetly alone, clustered, bunched or bouquet-ed together, are enjoying their moment in the sun and on center stage before the royal blues, princely purples, magnificent reds and opulent oranges begin to horn their way into the changing landscape of the gardens and overshadow pink's purity.

Tulips and Cherubs.  Varigated colors stand for pretty eyes.

Literally swathed in pink, springtime flowers happily share their place in the gardens even though they are a bit delicate in the fluctuating temperatures yet, they give off a healthy glow of cheerful joy, gaily calling other flowers and plants out of their long winter's sleep--or in the case of this year, maybe a light snooze that was just to good to awake from until now.   To make them even more compelling, these shades of pink are frolicing along with angels dancing in and out of the gardens who brush up against the flowers, releasing their soft, sweet scents.

Tuscan Apple Tree blossoms conjour up tempting thoughts.
Kwanza Cherry Blossoms
Azalea Bloosoms about to open.
Million Bells (Calibrachoa) love their cousin, the petunia.
Lemon Scented Geranium, the first to bloom in the green house stand for something unexpected --a surprise!

Pink is on parade and perfectly placed all over the place!  Even P. Lorenz's spring wreaths are popping puffs of pink and blush that highlight his signature eucalyptus creations.  I love pink!  It's such a happy color to welcome spring into the neighborhood and to let everyone know that all is just dandy on this fine spring day.