Sunday, May 20, 2018

Iris and the Spring Garden

Bicolor iris in colored pencil and watercolor, stage two.

How time flies when it's spring! My garden has grown so much since my last posting, that the particular bearded iris I was in the process of painting from photos came into bloom once again, and is now fading. And I'm only halfway into the painting... Here is a shot of it in my garden this year.

Bicolor iris in my garden

It's always great to be able to work from a live subject--you see so much more detail than in a photo, even a good one. The subtle changes in color of the falls and the striation near the beard, the veining... all so beautiful! Here's a recent progress shot of my painting.

Bicolor iris painting, stage three.

So much has already bloomed and leafed out, where to begin? Here are some photos of the seasonal progression, arranged more or less in sequence, to show how the plantings are developing.

Carolina Silverbell tree (Halesia caroliniana)

Close-up of the Silverbell flowers

It was exciting to see the small Carolina Silverbell (Halesia caroliniana) sapling I planted four years ago bloom for the first time in early May. Such a delightful sight--I hope to illustrate this beautiful native plant soon. It's only about four feet high right now, but should eventually reach 15 to 20 feet in height.

Front garden with iris and White Dogwood

With every passing year there is more in my garden to admire, it's hard to decide what to feature. What follows is just a sampling.

Pink Dogwood

West garden seen from the deck

The beds under and around the trees on west side of the garden continue to expand. Last fall I connected the small Witchazel and pink Dogwood trees to form a new triangular bed and have planted it with daylilies (just emerging). The Grape Hyacinths (Muscari) and the Spanish Hyacinths (Hyacinthoides) at the base of the Zelkova made a nice showing this year. You can see a few pink and white bells that I added the previous year, gaining ground.

Blue, pink and white Spanish Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)

Bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica)

Front bed by the garage

The creeping Phlox in the bed by the garage is spreading, and the purple heads of the Globemaster Alliums by the roses make for some nice color combinations. The 'Coral Charm' Peony produced more blooms this year than last, but as we got hit with a few 90-degree days, they were so short-lived, I hardly had a chance to photograph them.

'Coral Charm' Peony

During the past week the weather changed dramatically--very stormy, with close to six inches of rain--I've never seen my garden as soggy as this, the soil is positively boggy in places. Hopefully, the welcomed rains will bring on a great burst of bloom shortly. Here's what other parts of the garden look like at the moment.

Irises in the Little Indians bed.
Japanese maples in the east garden.
Coreopsis with Blue Salvia and Catmint on the west side.

The backyard island beds continue to expand. The addition of a birdbath motivated me to add some new perennials, and some annuals will be interspersed soon. The red Honeysuckle 'Major Wheeler' is climbing up the trellis and its blooms should attract some hummingbirds.

Backyard island bed.
Backyard from the deck.
Clematis and Sweet William in island bed.

The strange hangings on the Kousa Dogwood 'Rosy Teacups' beyond, are garden pots hung to weigh down its branches--a strange trick to re-shape the tree, I admit, but the branches need to be opened up for a better display. I'll end with this shot of the salad bowl growing on the deck.

Spring has Sprung

Bicolor Iris (work in progress).

I've been working on this painting of a lovely bicolor iris, from my garden photos taken last year. As you can see, I'm using colored pencils under the watercolor to outline some of the veins and delicate features on the falls and standards. But alas, it's hard to stay on task when the weather has finally taken a turn.

Last Friday the buds of my yellow magnolia were starting to open, just as overnight frost was imminent. The flowers, which I've yet to see fully opened and unmarred, were looking so good... I bought a special cloth that is supposed to protect them and draped the tree with it.

Yellow magnolia hybrid 'Butterflies'
Unfortunately, the temperature must have been quite extreme, and when I took off the cover a couple of days later, all the buds that were partly open were burned. Only a few buds that till had their outer covering survived, and are starting to unfold now. We then went from overnight frosts last weekend to eighty-degree weather in a matter of days!

King Alfred daffodils in the back yard

Thalia and Tazzeta narcisus in the front

Front yard by the walk.

 Other flowers are not as susceptible, thank heaven. My daffodils, both the yellow' King Alfred' and the white 'Mount Hood' are looking better each year, along with the perfumed Thalia narcissus. The grape hyacinths too are emerging. It's been very dry, less than an inch of rain in the past few weeks. Storms tonight are supposed to bring us one to two inches, and I really hope these will materialize.

Blue and white Grape Hyacinths.

The warm weather over the weekend was irresistible so I spent yesterday afternoon and part of today working on my garden--moved the Hydrangeas and a Holly-leaved Osmanthus that I'd planted too close to a holly out farther. It was hard digging up the well-established plants, and I had to cut a few large roots that went very deep, I hope the plants will survive.

Last weekend David helped me assemble my cedar-board raised bed, and I put in the liner and have it about 2/3 filled with good garden soil, almost ready to plant. This year I decided to try growing artichokes, so I started some from seed indoors, hoping for a decent crop. I'm also growing some basil and leaf lettuce from seed, and later on Sugar snap peas and perhaps Japanese eggplant will go in the raised bed.

The Kwanzan cherry in the front should be in full bloom by the middle of the coming week, and I can hardly wait to see all the other flowers that are hopefully on the way as a result of the previous years' labors.