Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day–April 2013

Spring has sprung in the Upstate! Although we had frost just two weeks ago, temperatures soared into the low 80’s three days last week before a Thursday night thunderstorm restored normal conditions. April averages include a high of 72 and low of 47 with 3.9 inches of rain. Today, April 15, is our average last frost date.

Spring’s riot can’t be captured in a few photos, but here’s a choice sample of blooms.

The view from my front window includes two spring favorites, Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and the dwarf bugleweed ‘Chocolate Chip’ (Ajuga x). This ajuga speads quickly but is not an invasive self-sower like many of it’s kin.

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and Ajuga 'Chocolate Chip' (Ajuga x)

Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica) and Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ (Ajuga x)

There are close to a dozen types of evergreen azaleas in this garden. All predate me and though some put on a pretty show for a couple weeks, I plan to rejuvenate or reclaim some beds. These Kurume azaleas, with their tiny leaves and twiggy structure, are likely to be replaced with newer cultivars or other woody ornamentals.

Kurume azaleas

Kurume azaleas

Lilac ‘Betsy Ross’ is more to my liking. ‘Betsy Ross’, from a breeding program at the US Arboretum, is one of the very best lilacs for the South. Blooms, which remind me of lace curtains fluttering in the breeze, offer the sweet fragrance that make lilacs one of the garden’s most memorable plants.

Lilac 'Betsy Ross'

Lilac ‘Betsy Ross’

The nine or so bloom spikes on Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’ are beginning to pop above the 30-inch tall foliage. When mature, they will stand six-feet tall and sport white flowers shaded by purple hoods.

Acanthus 'Summer Beauty'

Acanthus ‘Summer Beauty’

I hope you can provide a name for this iris, given to me by a friend last spring. I believe she called it “walking iris” but it’s not similar to anything on the internet with that common name. The lovely white crested iris (Iris cristata ‘Alba’) is also in bloom and the planting has doubled its size since last year. I adore white flowers in a shade garden, but they don’t always photograph well, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

Mystery you know its name?

Mystery iris…do you know its name?

Solomon’s Seal is a great favorite and I’ve planted all three species: the large Polygonatum odoratum (including ‘Variegatum’ and the more rare ‘Red Stem’), the much smaller dwarf P. humile, and the native P. biflorum.

Variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum')

Variegated Solomon’s Seal (Polygonatum odoratum ‘Variegatum’)

In the woodland garden, the Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina) is the current superstar. Blooms are much bigger than last year, perhaps because the invasive ivy has been removed. Sweet Betsy trilliums (T. cuneatum) are still in bloom and have been joined by Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) and Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus).

Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

Carolina Silverbell (Halesia carolina)

Sweet Betsy Trillium (T. cuneatum)

Sweet Betsy Trillium (T. cuneatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus)

Sweetshrub has a number of common names, including “bubbie bush.” If you think there’s a story there, you’re right. In days gone by Appalachian women often picked the fragrant flowers of the shrub and tucked them into their décolletage.

To see what’s blooming in the rest of the world visit the host of Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

36 thoughts on “Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day–April 2013

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Rick–the coloring is very similar but the iris in my garden is not a dwarf. The foliage is 12 to 24-inches long the scape, which stands above the foliage, has multiple flowers. Thanks for the suggestion!

  1. Debra Strange

    Love the photos, Marian, and your garden looks lovely. Could that iris be a JapaneseRoof Iris? If you love lilacs, I know you would like the one I have planted in my front garden. It’s called “Blue Skies”. It has the classic flower form with deep lavender blue buds, opening to a powdery lavender shade. It has a beautiful fragrance too.

    1. John Elsley

      The Iris is I.japonica. Extreamly invasive and can be somewhat shy in flowering. Several named forms exist of which a selection from Don Jacobs is a heavy reliable bloomer each year. I’ve plenty to spare if you ever need some!

      1. Marian St.Clair Post author

        John–yes! And as you noted, it’s spreading very quickly. I’m already having second thoughts, but it is a beautiful flower. The feather-like edging on the sepals/petals is exquisite!

      1. Debra Strange

        When I had the front garden remade, I ordered it through Monrovia nurseries. I don’t know if it’s a Monrovia exclusive. It has grown quickly in 3 years. Definitely doesn’t bloom well in partial shade.

  2. Lyn Richards

    It is not walking Iris unless you can see the actual rhiozomes (sp?) spreading along above ground. I have Iris Techtorum, and it is similar in height and multiple blooming, but mine are a darker color than yours, Marian. So I don’t know if that is the correct name or not! I think Iris Techtorum are also known as Rooftop Iris.
    I love your blog, and follow it every time you post. Your garden is lovely, of course! And I love hearing that Tim helps you. I have to fill out a requisition form for John to give me some help!

      1. Lyn

        I love Iris. I have at least five varieties. Their blooms are short lived but what a spectacular flower!

  3. Sandy Orr

    Ask John Elsley about your mystery blue iris, because he gave me two big patches of it last year and it’s blooming right now in my yard too. Love your blog- Sandy Orr, Pres., Greenwood Council of Garden Clubs

  4. Helen Johnstone

    Your garden is weeks ahead of mine, my solomons seal is only just pushing through the ground. I have ajuga which is spread slowly, I think it gives in quite quickly to other more pushy plants.
    I am jealous of all your blooms

    1. Marian St.Clair

      Helen–I do love the Solomon’s seal, it is such a graceful plant. I’m afraid our spring is going by too quickly. It warmed up all of a sudden and everything is blooming out at once. The serviceberry trees were only in bloom for 3 days. Hope you have a more leisurely season.

  5. Janet, The Queen of Seaford

    Boy, your spring really exploded didn’t it? Love the Hyacinthoides hispanica with the ajugas- a lovely sea of blue. I will have to google the lilac…I miss the fragrance of the old fashioned lilacs…fond childhood memories.

  6. Donna Hopkins

    Spring is really here! Just wondering if you have ever known the Spanish Bluebells blooming pink? I was given some this spring and they are blooming pink-the gifter told me her bloomed blue.

  7. Carolyn

    Your blooms are delightful. Our GBBD began with snow in our gardens. So cold, not much blooming… we need a little sunshine to get the buds to pop.

  8. Susan Temple

    My guess on the iris might be Iris japonica Eco Easter. It looks similar to mine that are that type. Grows in the shade, blooming now, spreads. It’s great for the area I planted it but it does spread quite a bit.

    >>> Hortitopia 4/15/2013 3:22 PM >>>
    Marian St.Clair posted: “Spring has sprung in the Upstate! Although we had frost just two weeks ago, temperatures soared into the low 80’s three days last week before a Thursday night thunderstorm restored normal conditions. April averages include a high of 72 and low of 47 wit”


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