Friday, May 15, 2009

Seeing Color in the Rock Garden

The humble sloped rock garden (for lack of any better term) is finally seeing some color. Hopefully this distracts from the grey chunks of clothes-drier lint that are actually bits of last year's lambs ears. I like the interest and texture of those grey fuzzy-leafed plants (Stachys byzantina), but they just look so UGLY in spring. I have cut most of the old growth back with a hand-tool already. If I had more energy though, I might have ripped them out altogether. I did have thoughts about using a weed wacker to beat them back to the ground, but in the end I just am just putting up with the drier-lint phase.

The reticulated iris "Harmony" always looks great in spring. It is a tiny plant though, with flowers standing less than 6 inches tall. Their companion crocuses have finished their season now, having poorly weathered a few snowfalls in the past few weeks.

The pale blue Glory of the Snow, or Chionodoxa is blooming now in the sunny areas. The little pink Tulipa humilis hasn't opened its blooms all day. I think I heard it muttering about our late cool spring.

This stunning red-pink Pulsatilla vulgaris has also been refusing to look me in the eye. Pulsatilla are really shy about cloudy days and rain. I collected seeds from this plant last year and got a few offspring growing this spring. Considering that I have 3 or 4 other colors of Pulsatilla in my garden, the seedlings may be some interesting mixture rather than a copy of the parent plant.

The shady area under the ash tree has three Primula denticulata (drumstick primulas) showing signs of impending bloom. I started these primulas from seed over a year ago and clearly they made it through the winter.

I also planted the basement-grown violets and Primula acaulis in the shady patch, to accompany the Primula auriculas that are already established there. Primula auricula is a tremendously hardy primula, and is also more resistant to drier conditions, having thick waxy leaves. I had a hard time keeping the P. denticulata from wilting last summer, as they really need moist soil. I started the P. acaulis from seed this spring and I am interested to see how it does.
The alpine garden, started in 2008:

The big garden task of the day was planting the remainder of the alpine plants into the alpine garden. I grew some of these from seed, with the rest purchased from Wrightman Alpines and garden centers. At least these plants won't be bothered by the current forecasts of snow for next Wednesday.
A Sedum and a two Lewisia cotyledon in the alpine garden:

Dwarf balsam fir in the alpine garden:

Otherwise, the two large perennial raised beds have been cleaned up for spring and I can see the new growth of tulips, alliums, and daffodils.

Center raised bed:


Chookie said...

I had to enlarge the first pic to find out what you meant. I've never seen frost-damaged Stachys before!

The bed looks very wide, but all the plants look tiny, unless your Bergenias grow a lot bigger than they do here. How does it work in terms of scale?

Gardenista said...

Most of the plants appear to be small to nonexistent at this time of year, since everything dies back to the roots here. Every spring I kick myself for not labelling everything, since I can't remember where all the perennials are!

Muddy Boot Dreams said...

What a lovely layout of gardens you have designed. The nice thing about us gardeners is we can "see" the finished garden in our minds. These will be absolutely lovely when they grow in.

Do you take in your Lewisia over the winter?


Gardenista said...

Muddy - The Lewisias always make it through the winter and even seem to even be evergreen. The leaves just seem to turn bronzy-red over the winter and then keep going for the summer.