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The flowers that bloom in the spring, Tra-la

Gilbert and Sullivan got it right when they wrote about spring flowers.

The flowers that bloom in the spring, Tra la,
Breathe promise of merry sunshine —
As we merrily dance and we sing, Tra la,
We welcome the hope that they bring, Tra la,
Of a summer of roses and wine.

Right now, I’m dancing and singing. Because everywhere at Glen Villa, spring flowers are blooming. Daffodils galore brighten the path to the China Terrace ….

 

We planted these daffodils about fifteen years ago. The clumps get bigger every year.
We planted these daffodils about fifteen years ago. The clumps get bigger every year.

 

hugging the base of birch trees.

 

I like to mix colours and varieties in some area and to plant varieties of a single colour in others.
I like to mix colours and varieties in some areas and to plant varieties of a single colour in others.

 

More daffodils sparkle on the berm by the Skating Pond ….

 

We planted 1000 bulbs a year on the berm for four or five years in a row. Deadheading takes time.
We planted 1000 bulbs a year on the berm for four or five years in a row. Deadheading them all takes time.

 

and spring up from the grassy hillside like dots of  butter and cream.

 

Mixing varieties extends the blooming season from mid-April to the end of May, and sometimes beyond.
Mixing varieties extends the blooming season from mid-April to the end of May, and sometimes beyond.

 

In the Lower Garden, magnolia blooms take pride of place. Now blooming are the star magnolias (Magnolia stellata ‘Susan.’) When they begin to fade, the darker-toned Magnolia ‘Leonard Messel’ appears, as welcome as any flower that blooms in the spring.

 

Magnolia stellata grows well in the Lower Garden where it is sheltered from the wind.
Magnolia stellata grows well in the Lower Garden where it is sheltered from the wind.

 

In my photos, the colour of the star magnolia blossoms seems almost unnaturally vivid against a lawn still greening up after winter.

 

The star magnolia blooms stand out against a grassy lawn.

 

In close-up, the pink is softer and gentler.

 

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Continuing the Gilbert and Sullivan theme, this is no caricature of a face.

 

Joining the magnolias and daffodils throughout the garden are ferns of all sorts. They rise up from the leaf mold like sleepy monks shedding their winter robes.

 

A huddle of hairy heads.
I don’t know why this huddle of hairy heads makes me think of monks, but it does.

 

Whatever the variety —  and growing wild in our woods there are many — the newly emerging ferns always make me smile. They seem like sociable creatures, happy to be part of a group ….

 

I haven't tried to identify the different types of ferns, only to enjoy them.
I haven’t tried to identify the different types of ferns, only to enjoy them.

 

or, like giddy maids at school, to be sharing secrets with special friends.

 

Whatever the topic, ferny heads always seem to nod in agreement.
Whatever the topic, ferny heads nod in agreement.

 

Normally my favourite spring flower, the one I watch and wait for, is the twinleaf (Jeffersonia diphylla) that grows by the kitchen door. I love watching the leaves and buds emerge, opening and shutting as the weather dictates.

 

Jeffersonia hold a special place in my heart. Named after Thomas Jefferson, they remind me of Virginia, where I grew up.
Jeffersonia hold a special place in my heart. Named after Thomas Jefferson, the flowers remind me of Virginia, where I grew up. For southerners, these flowers may be a commonplace. In my climate, they are a rarity.

 

But of all the flowers in bloom this year, the highlight for me are the daffodils that are whipping their way across the grass in the Dragon’s Tail.

 

The Dragon's Tail, 2017 model.
The Dragon’s Tail, 2017 version.

 

For the last fifteen years, the Dragon’s Tail has been blue in the spring when the grape hyacinths (Muscari armeniacum) bloomed and bright fuchsia in August with Astilbe ‘Veronica Klose.’ But lately the muscari hasn’t been doing well. Deer eat the foliage as it emerges, and this weakens the bulbs so gradually they’ve been fading away.  Last fall I dug them up, determined to try something new.

 

Seen from a different angle, the whip of the Dragon's Tail appears more gentle.
Seen from a different angle, the whip of the Dragon’s Tail appears more gentle.

 

A year or two from now I’ll be able to assess whether the change was an improvement. But for now, I’m loving it.


STAYED TUNED FOR AN IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!

I’ll be posting in a day or two with news about this year’s Open Garden Day. For now, mark it down on your calendar: Saturday, July 29, from 10-4.

Hope to see you on the 29th.

  • Nancy Marrelli

    I love those fuzzy ferns! And your comments reminded me of a wonderful visit to Monticello – what an amazing gardener Jefferson was! As an archivist I was fascinated that his garden journals were used to re-create the gardens – which are beautiful. Such a brilliant and ingenious man – flawed as he (like the rest of us) might have been!

    • siteandinsight

      Flawed he was, for sure. And quite extraordinary in many ways. I haven’t seen the gardens at Monticello since they were redone. Some day, I hope.

  • Great signs of spring there, beautiful! How’s the fishing; smelt running in the brook yet?

    • siteandinsight

      No smelt yet… it’s been cold for the last week. And with so much rain that even the smelt could get drowned.

  • Jason

    I’d say your dragon’s tail of daffodils is an outstanding success. Beautiful! And the deer won’t eat the leaves.

    • siteandinsight

      One big reason for choosing daffodils was that deer don’t like them. Hope to see you and Judy soon, Jason.

  • You do daffodils right. Go big or go home! But a thousand a year–mercy! Is your soil very rocky?

    • siteandinsight

      Soil on the berm isn’t rocky, in other places it is. Planting those 1000s was real work!