The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

The most amazing thing has happened in my little office nook this week, not once, but twice! Hearing a loud buzzing noise, I turned to the open window to see a humming bird flitting from corner to corner before taking off for parts unknown. I was so startled, it took me a moment to realize the tiny bird was collecting spider webs for nest building!

My work space...and window on the world.

My work space…and window on the world.

A couple weeks ago, I treated myself to a humming bird feeder because I was hoping to entice one of its visitors to build a nest in the garden. Now, if I can only discover its home, I’ll be able to watch the humming bird care for its young…at a distance, of course.

On the other end of the happiness scale, I’ve been exasperated to find that a recently purchased peony was not what I expected.

Despite its tag, this Paeonia is NOT 'Festiva Maxima'

Despite its tag, this Paeonia is NOT ‘Festiva Maxima’

Though I really don’t have enough sun, I can’t give up the idea of having a peony without a try. So last week, I was careful to select a ‘Festiva Maxima’ because it’s the best performer in our region. When I found the peony in bloom on Monday morning, however, the plant did not have the heavenly fragrant, double white blooms with crimson flecks which I was expecting. As Charlie Brown would say, “AAUGH!”

Thankfully, there are a few wonderful things happening in the garden now too. The shade-tolerant Applejack rose is blooming on the new trellis, perfuming the front garden with the scent of fruit and cloves.

Shade-tolerant, disease-resistant, hardy, and fragrant...its no wonder this short climber is one of Dr. Buck's most popular roses.

Shade-tolerant, disease-resistant, hardy, and fragrant…its no wonder this short climber is one of Dr. Buck’s most popular roses.

The white Japanese roof iris is lending elegance to the back garden.

Japanese roof iris (I. tectorum)

Japanese roof iris (I. tectorum)

And the mayapple, a favorite native plant, is in bloom in the woodland.

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum)

The fruit produced by the flower is eaten by the eastern box turtle and a number of small mammals, but all other parts of the plant are poisonous. In fact, chemicals derived from mayapple are currently used to treat some types of cancer.

The amazing mayapple (Podaphyllum peltatum)

The amazing mayapple (Podaphyllum peltatum)

20 thoughts on “The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful

  1. thesalemgarden

    I don’t grow peonies, although I always intend to. Did it come ready to bloom like that? I thought you had to plant them and then wait several years for a bloom? I’m sorry it’s not the one you wanted, but it is a really pretty flower! Everything else looks wonderful!

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Michele–the peony (3 gal. size) had two large buds when I purchased it last week. Luckily, I wasn’t able to get it planted because I had to make a quick trip to Iowa over the weekend. So, it goes back today for an exchange.

  2. Pauline

    How wonderful to see a hummingbird collecting cobwebs! Such a shame about your peony, yours looks like Top Brass, which I have, does yours have any perfume? Maybe you will grow to love it or will you return it?

  3. Marian St.Clair Post author

    Pauline–I believe you are right! And it has a strong floral perfume. Very nice plant, in fact. Internet resources says it will perform in part shade. Oh, now I don’t know what to do!

  4. rusty duck

    The same thing happened to me last year. I bought a bearded iris in tight bud, allegedly red. It came out blue! I decided to keep it but the garden decided otherwise. Now deceased.
    I so envy you your hummingbirds!

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Jessica–May the blue iris RIP. I returned the peony yesterday and found there was only one other that had not yet been sold. It, too, was Top Brass rather than Festiva Maxima. Oh, well. Might have to order from the internet.

  5. Cathy

    How lovely to see a hummingbird so close! The may apple is beautiful, and the peony too – even if it isn’t the one you wanted! The same happened to me last year – but it is still quite a pretty floweri even if it doesn’t smell of much.

  6. Chloris

    How wonderful to have humming birds nesting near your house. Your peony may not be the one you ordered but it looks lovely to me. It looks like Laura Dessert.
    I love the Mayapples. What delicate flowers. And the Iris and the rose; all gorgeous.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Chloris–I’m very much enjoying the rose, such a wonderful perfume. Fingers crossed that it continues to thrive. Seems to be just the right size for a small trellis.

      1. pbmgarden

        Today I saw a white roof iris while previewing the Biese Garden where I’ll be a garden guide during the CH Spring Garden Tour. It’s lovely in person too. My purple ones spread “easily” but they’re easy to pull up too.

  7. Sharon Lanier

    How neat to learn that hummingbirds collect spider webs for their nests!! I saw my first hummingbird of the year on Sunday here in Belmont. I no longer put out the feeders for them as my garden keeps getting more & more sunny with the loss of trees & the addition of more sun perennials. My peonies only do well in full sun locations. Several will be open by the weekend. Loved what you have shared!!

  8. gardeninacity

    Someone was just telling me the hummingbirds are newly arrived here as well. None of my perennials that they like are blooming yet. I’m thinking of going out and buying a pot of fuschias to attract them.


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