|Late Spring in the Rose Garden: Daffodils, Spurge, and new leaves|
This is early May in the Rose Garden. The roses have tiny new leaves, and daffodil blooms are scattered about (this is yellow 'King Alfred', white and orange 'Sound', and white and yellow 'Ice Follies' across the sidewalk). My fernleaf peony hybrid 'Little Red Gem' is an attractive mound of cutleaf foliage - it will bloom soon. The cushion spurge (Euphorbia polychroma) is just beginning its display of flashy yellow bracts. The early crocus have now faded, but blue Scilla blooms on in the background.
|Mid-May: 'Princess Irene' Tulips, Heuchera, Daffodils, and Spruce|
A week later and early tulip 'Princess Irene' has begun to bloom. This is one of my favorite tulips - the orange color is intensely bright, without being blinding or irritating (unlike some oranges). The slight purple tint on the outer petals deepens and softens the color. I think it echoes the color of Heuchera 'Pinot Gris' wonderfully. The dwarf spruce (Picea abies 'Little Gem') is also looking colorful at this time of year, with its bright yellow new growth.
|'Princess Irene' Tulips, Hyacinths, Lamium, and Barberry|
Another patch of 'Princess Irene' at the back corner of the Rose Garden. Here it contrasts sharply with the dark new leaves of Barberry 'Crimson Pygmy'. As you can see the White hyacinths are still going strong, and Lamium 'Orchid Frost' has begun to bloom at the foot of my young quince tree. It creeps and expands fairly rapidly, but is not hard to pull out.
|Mid May: 'Princess Irene' Tulips, Lamium 'Orchid Frost'|
Here is the same area from a different angle, a few days later. Lamium is now in full bloom, the barberry begins to glow, and the quince has fuzzy gray new leaves. Clematis vines start their ascent of the trellis (which needs to be painted!) in the background. The small yew (which needs a trim!) also puts on a new flush of growth.
|Mid May: Tulipa humilis and Spurge|
Meanwhile, in another corner, another early tulip has begun to bloom. This is the tiny species tulip 'Little Beauty' (Tulipa humilis). Unlike standard tulips, this type has unobtrusive, grass-like foliage that dies away almost imperceptibly when its time has come. The blooms are little but very cute. They are bright enough to stand up to the intensity of the Euphorbia in full glory. They also look good near my purple smoke bush (Cotinus coggygria 'Velvet Cloak'), which begins to leaf out now. The jewel-toned leaves of this shrub look fabulous from spring to fall. I cut it back to the ground every year to keep it small - otherwise it grows into a rather large tree. The dwarf conifer here is a fir - Abies balsamea 'Piccolo'. I will probably have to move this soon as it is too close to the Cotinus - hopefully I will manage to do this without killing it in the process!
|Late May: Spurge and 'Little Red Gem' Peony|
Finally, at the end of May my 'Little Red Gem' peony blooms. This is a so-called "Rock Garden" peony, which is a hybrid of several small European species peonies. It is much smaller than the Chinese Paeonia lactiflora types, and appears to have some fernleaf in its blood, judging by the fine foliage. It is my earliest herbaceous peony to bloom.
|Late May in the Rose Garden: Peony 'Little Red Gem' and 'Princess Irene' Tulips|
'Little Red Gem' is not really red - more of a deep pink. A lovely color that stands up well to the bright tulips and spurge which bloom with it. The rose behind it is a large, exuberant Rosa alba. It is very hardy and one of my earliest roses to leaf out in spring. At its feet, some dwarf Catmint (Nepeta 'Little Trudy') are just beginning to show color along the edge of the border.
Next up: June, and some actual roses!