Even though we don’t actually have any roses, we do however, have plenty of other things to please and delight. Late Spring is such a fantastic time of year in the garden, it’s so full of vigour and renewed growth. The colours of a Spring garden seem so much brighter after the endless whiteness of the Winter snow, the grass is suddenly green again, the bulbs and perennials burst forth from the garden with dizzying speed. Last year I measured the growth of my peonies every day for a week. I was astounded to find they were pushing upwards at the rate of an inch a day, sometimes more; I swear you could stand there and watch them grow. I also love Spring for the light, it’s bright and vibrant but doesn’t wash colours out the way the harsh Summer sun does, the richness of it all is still there

These pictures were taken on Sunday morning in quite hard light and weather conditions. It was quite a breezy day, so to catch flowers and branches not nodding about was difficult. The clouds were also scurrying across the sky at quite a rapid rate of knots, changing the conditions from bright sunshine to darker and overcast in the blink of an eye. Very annoying when you’re just about to depress the shutter and the sun either comes roaring out or disappears altogether! There were also frequent, heavy and very sudden downpours of rain. The camera in these conditions has had a hard time with bright white or yellow blooms, so some of these pictures are not what they could be!

When we first moved in to this property, one of the first garden gifts we were given by a friend at work was a beautiful Ladies Slipper Orchid. Her and her husband owned a bit of land in Northern Michigan where they were planning to build a small house at some point and retire there. The land was mainly dappled woodland and every Spring the ground was covered in these very beautiful orchids. They knew the location where their house will eventually go, so every Spring they carefully dug up any orchids that might be in the way. They transplanted some around the property, brought some home, gave some to friends and neighbours, and when we moved in they gave us one as a gift. It’s flowered every year since we planted it back in 1999, first one flower, eventually two flowers and now this year, for the first time, there’s three flowers. The third flower can only just be spied, off to the left.

In the very front border we get a wonderful Spring display from a Weeping Cherry and a Magnolia Stellata, both of which have already flowered. Picking up the mantle now though are the azaleas, I managed to catch these two in all their glory.

Also in this border, one of my favourite bulbs are getting ready to put in an appearance. Alliums. Lots of nodding heads here, not a great shot, but in a couple of weeks these will become rather open, spidery domes as big as my hand, in a stunning shade of dark purple blue. You can see a couple in the shot above too. I have a lot more round the back too, different shapes and sizes, mainly in the pink/blue/purple colour range.

Some more of the cheery, ubiquitous Aquilegias have opened up, nothing new yet, but pretty none the less.

This one looking more like a Clematis flower than an Aquilegia..

And this one, such a pretty shade of lilac, I couldn’t resist showing you it…

Moving on to the long thin border that runs the length of our driveway we find this little vignette at the very top, closest to the house. Purple (and yellow) dwarf irises and spires of pink Verbascum grown from seed in the foreground, and what looks like a late flowering daffodil getting in on the act! The irises will also rebloom in the Fall.

Planted in this area too are a clump of my absolute, all time favourite, wouldn’t be without them no matter where I gardened flowers. Lillies. I have loads of them throughout the garden, most of which have clumped up nicely now, and I adore the foliage too, which is why I took this picture!

These are all planted around the base of a flowering Dogwood tree, a small garden tree with pretty pink, four petaled flowers in Spring. This one is a Cornus Florida. In Christian legend there is a very interesting tale relating to this tree that proclaims that the cross used to crucify Jesus was constructed of dogwood. As the story goes, during the time of Jesus, the dogwood was larger and stronger than it is today and was the largest tree in the area of Jerusalem. After his crucifixion, Jesus changed the plant to its current form: he shortened it and twisted its branches to assure an end to its use for the construction of crosses. He also transformed its inflorescence into a representation of the crucifixion itself, with the four white bracts cross-shaped, which represent the four corners of the cross, each bearing a rusty indentation as of a nail and the red stamens of the flower, represents Jesus’ crown of thorns, and the clustered red fruit represent his blood.

We have the pink flowered variety, not the white, but it’s easy to see why the tree could be thought of in this way…

At the base of this beautiful tree are two lovely Euphorbias. Yellow flowered with lime green bracts and darker green leaves. A word of warning to the uninitiated though, all Euphorbias leak a white sap when bruised or cut in some way, this sap is highly irritant to most people. It certainly won’t kill you but you’ll itch like mad if you get it on your skin!

Moving on to the top border there’s a stunning Bleeding Heart in flower right now. I’m sure this plant require no introductions so I’ll just post the picture.. the purple spikes in the background are Cammassia bulbs.

Towards the back of this border is a line of shelter trees, mostly uninspiring fast growing willows, but we managed to make room for a lovely tree, the Mountain Ash or Rowan tree. In Scotland in the Middle Ages, they used to plant a Rowan either side of the front door or a gate into the property as they were thought to ward off evil spirits and protect the occupants of the house. You still see a lot of them in Scotland. Ours has Orange berries in Fall and these lovely white flowers in Spring, and judging by the quantity of them this year we should get a good crop of berries later on. Rowan jelly anyone?

While we’re also towards the back of the house I’ll show you the masterpiece my husband designed and built entirely by himself in 2000. Our deck. This year it needed stripping and resealing, a task that takes three complete days to do properly, but the results are stunning. I’ll be looking forward to putting the flowering tubs and pots of annuals out, bringing our little fountain out of the basement and relaxing on the deck furniture in the coming days! Isn’t it beautiful?

And talking of the annuals, I’ve got two troughs like this planted up with a Dracena (spike), red coleus, green trailing plant (front left), trailing purple potato vine (front right) and a mix of purple verbena and petunia with red/orange and yellow marigolds for some pop. There’ll be one hanging from the deck rail at each end of the deck by the weekend…

And finally, more annuals by the front door. The half whiskey barrels were gifts from a good friend as a “thank you for having me” gift a few years back, they get treated every couple of years with the same oil used on the deck. There’s one of these either side of the steps leading up to the front door, they’ve only been planted for a week, but the petunias in the front are a trailing variety so they will grow down the front of the barrel.

Well, that’s it, a short tour of some of my garden. More to come I’m sure as the garden develops through the season. I hope you enjoyed it.

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