April Blooms & End-of-Month View

My, oh my, time has gotten away from me again. Although this post is a few days late, I hope you will enjoy the April blooms (10 again, yippee!) and the surprise end-of-month view! Read on…


Iris tectorum (Japanese roof iris)

Sadly, iris flowers don’t last long, even in a cool spring such as this one. This photograph was actually taken a few weeks ago, but I had to include Iris tectorum because it’s such a charmer. The flowers are always so fresh and pretty and the foliage looks good throughout the growing season.


Rhododendron canescens ‘Clyo Red’ (Piedmont Azalea) with Hyacinthoides hispanica (Spanish bluebells)

Here is Rhododendron canescens ‘Clyo Red’, the most red of our natives, which looks especially lovely against the periwinkle of Hyacinthoides hispanica in the front garden, mid April.


Polygonatum biflorum (Solomon’s Seal)

At the end of the month, April was just as exciting in the woodland garden. The Polygonatum is nearly 4-feet tall and the bumblebees are getting their fill. See that pollen pocket on its hind leg?


Asimina triloba (Paw paw)

I hope some pollinators will visit the nearby Asimina trilobla too. I planted two trees in 2012 and a third one a year later. I saw the first blooms last spring, but no fruit developed. Fingers crossed for round two!


Disporopsis pernyi (Evergreen Solomon’s Seal)

Back in the ornamental garden near the house, there’s a relatively new introduction from China, Disporopsis pernyi. The foliage is evergreen, as the common name suggests, but it looks terrible by the end of winter and thankfully it falls away as the new foliage begins to grow.


Speirantha convallarioides (False Lily-of-the-Valley)

This Speirantha convallarioides should be called “sputnik,” don’t you think? Also from China, it’s glossy foliage grows less than a foot tall, but who cares about leaves when you have flowers like this?



I wish I remembered the name of this dark-leaf Heuchera because the flowers are so pretty. Maybe you know it?


Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’

This rose was given to me by a friend when my mother passed away. Introduced by David Austin in 1985, the full, old-fashioned flowers of ‘Abraham Darby’ have a fruity fragrance and the perfect color mix of apricot swirled with yellow.


Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

And hello gorgeous! If you haven’t heard, ‘Festiva Maxima’ is the very best peony for southern gardens and its perfume is simply heavenly.

Even I’m shocked at how pretty the garden is just now. Luckily, we’ve had a cool spring (the camellias are still blooming, for goodness sakes!) with nights dipping into the 40s or 50s, plus a fair amount of rain. And while this garden is still essentially shady, I’m getting better at finding the sun spots. Plus, there was that infamous hurricane–big, bad Irma–that paid us a September visit, so there are more sun spots than ever.

That’s not the big news, however. Take a look at these “before” and “after” photos of the back garden…pretty much a wasteland since the sun porch was completed in 2016.

House 1




This amazing transformation happened within a few weeks! In fact, Joe Zawistowski of Greenhill Landscaping and his crew worked for only three days to set the rocks and build the waterfall. Most of the planting will be undertaken in fall, but even with only a few plants in place, I love it.

I’ll give you a full tour soon, but I want to drop three more quick footnotes here before I need to finish packing my suitcase for an early morning flight to Vermont for a GFWC state convention.

First, there has been a unexpected cancellation on my upcoming tour, “Gardens of East Anglia,” scheduled from May 29 to June 8, so there is space for one person. The tour includes the Beth Chatto Gardens, the RHS Chatsworth Flower Show, the private (and plant-filled) garden of one of my very favorite garden bloggers, and so much more. If you want to review the itinerary, email me at marian.stclair@gmail.com. It’s such a fabulous trip, I don’t want to leave any stone unturned.

Second, I will be answering gardening questions and providing two programs, “Arranging Cut Flowers” and “The Secrets of Container Gardening,” at an event in Columbia on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 12 noon. I will also be selling a large selection of gardening books from my personal collection.

The occasion will include brunch-like refreshments and beverages and a silent auction of gift totes filled with the most tempting items, plus the sale of strawberries, fruit baskets, cut flowers, hanging baskets, and other garden plants. Tickets, which are $10, can be purchased at the door at 1511 Laurel Street, the headquarters of GFWC South Carolina.

It promises to be a really fun morning! If you live in the Midlands area, come laugh with me and learn something new about gardening!

Finally, did you notice I have a new haircut? I call it the “summer chop.” When a friend saw it for the first time, she said it takes y…e…a…r…s off my age. If I’d only known, I would have chopped sooner.


17 thoughts on “April Blooms & End-of-Month View

  1. Ellen wall

    Everything looks great including your new haircut. You’ll love how it travels too. Third road trip with Don this weekend. So far so good. Hoping to be ready to fly next year. I will ask you again when we get back how to support your stay in my hometown. Don’t have time right now. Doesn’t that sound great? Ellen

    Sent from my iPad


  2. Eliza Waters

    I did notice your new gravatar right away. Looks great!
    As does your new back space. A water feature is something I always feel I must have in my garden (a small fountain out front and a natural waterfall out back – so lucky on that one). Have fun in your travels!

  3. sweetgumandpines

    That’s a really striking cultivar of R. canescens—much more colorful than the wild plants I see around here.

    I’m also hoping for pawpaws. For the last couple of years, I have finally had two different trees blooming at the same time, but no fruit yet.

  4. An Eye For Detail

    Yes, the new hair cut is wonderful! You look really great, Marian. I too love those small Iris tectorum: I have the white and the lovely blue/purple. I just wish they lasted longer. And yes, my Peony Festiva Maxima produced the first beautiful flowers yesterday. The entire plant just gets better and better each year!
    A waterfall! How absolutely splendid. And those huge stone steps are truly wonderful. Someday….I will have to come visit.
    I am, just a bit, tempted by that one spot left on your tour. We leave here on June 11 for London and then Isle of Wight, so it would (almost) fit perfectly. But no, cannot do this year. Daughter will be in London for an entire year of graduate work so I will be over there a lot more!!!!

  5. Jan Bowman

    Great pictures Marian! Most of my regular north side perennial plants have been blooming this last few weeks. My south and west beds are not budding, except for the lilies. My worry is my nineteen crape myrtles, none the same have really been beat up by the frosts. The leaf buds were just appearing. Most all appear to have dead branches, some have the trunks affected. This week fifty percent are getting new growth at their bases. The remainder are late at waking up and late bloomers. I hope I haven’t lost nine years of growth from pencil size growth when planted.

    I love your summer cut, very professional!

    It’s a good day to have a good day! Jan Bowman, GGMG 864-236-7323


  6. Carolyn Jones

    Love the haircut!!!!! I am going to show it toMartha! She needs a new do Safe travels! We have a graduation (Elliott) on the twelfth or I would come to your festivities! Hope we can get together soon! Carolyn

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. Graddick

    The new back garden is incredible. May give myself a private tour while you are gone. Who is that young chick in the photograph?

  8. rusty duck

    Definitely years younger! Summer is the perfect time for a chop.
    The porch garden looks fabulous. The Asimina is gorgeous too, even without the fruits. Chocolate coloured blooms always look good enough to eat. Have a good trip back to Blighty.

  9. pbmgarden

    Great haircut Marian. Great garden blooms. The form and color of Rosa ‘Abraham Darby’ are spectacular. Wow. And your sunporch landscaping fabulous. ‘Festiva Maxima’ just opened in my garden this morning.

  10. susurrus

    I noticed it straight away and love it. Those rocks look amazing although I can only imagine the challenge of moving them into place.


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