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Early Flowers

Crocus Cyclamen coum Hellebore 'Merlin' Snowdrop Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day for May 2019

Happy Bloom Day for May 2019! It is truly a awesome time in the garden with new blooms popping up every day (or sometimes every minute, it seems). 

We have already had a heat wave which is unheard of here in May. It got up into the 80s for several days in a row but this week we are back to 60 degree temperatures, clouds and some rain today. The heat ruined some of the early blooming peonies. But others are  just beginning.

I am starting out with a delphinium. It is one of those plants that was hard, if not impossible, to grow in the South because they don't like the heat and humidity. I think they are just hard to grow period because I am having difficulties growing them here too. People tell me that they like tons of manure and lots of moisture. I don't think I baby them enough but I am trying to do better. I even have a little wire fence around this one because I suspected that something was eating them. I still am not certain but forge ahead. 

Gardener's Bloom Day is hosted by May Dreams Gardens. You can go there to see what is blooming in other gardens across the country. 

More blooms from my garden (and sorry this is a long one!) -

An Iris that was given to me by a fellow blogger. I don't know the name.

Another star plant for this region is the rhododendron. I have planted a few but did not get any good photos. 'Jean Marie de Montague' is a vibrant red but I find it impossible to capture the color on a digital camera. The above rhododendron came with the house. I have no idea which cultivar it is but it seems to be happy despite being planted on the western side of the house! Good irrigation to the key in situations like this.

Spanish Lavender, Barberry 'Orange Rocket' and Ceanothus 'Black Diamond'

And speaking of Ceanothus ("California Lilac"), here is a last look at 'Julia Phelps' which is just amazing. I noticed today that the color is beginning to wane, perhaps due to the inferno last week.

Ceanothus 'Black Diamond' is really nice this year and the blooms are outstanding. I have said in the past that the blooms take a back seat to the variegated foliage but this year proves me wrong. 

You can see how 'Julia' is encroaching on her neighbors. Poor Mugo Pine!

Dogwood (Cornus 'Celestial Shadow')

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Alliums are just starting to bloom

Kneeling down on the street to get a different view of Clematis montana 'Freda'. It has been pretty for weeks now.

A Cistus that I forget the name of

The runner-up prize for slowest growing plant goes to Enkianthus 'Showy Lantern' (the Embothrium (Chilean Flame Tree)  would be #1) but I forgive that for its subtle loveliness.

Geranium cantabrigense 'Jans'

A new lupine called "Redrum" that of course turns out to be deep pink. 

A Pacific Coast hybrid iris that we got at Adelman's has incredibly beautiful blooms but it is a very stingy bloomer. Only one bloom last year and so far, only one this year. 

Itoh peony 'Garden Treasure'

'Shima Nishiki' was the first peony to bloom and had over ten blooms in its first year. 

Saxifrage 'London Pride'

Sweet Woodruff

Lilac 'Sensation'

I leave you with an image of the monstrous photinias. There is a line of these that stretches all along our back fence. They give us privacy and some shade but they are also a pain in the neck. They have never been pruned properly so they have basically turned into trees. I am uncertain what to do about them. I would like to gradually replace them with more desirable evergreens but for now, we can't bear the thought of cutting them down and losing privacy and shade.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy


  1. Yes. Those are big Photinia! I have the same issue with English Laurel. Better to have an ugly plant than no plant at all. :) Your garden looks amazing. I also have that Enkianthus and it really is a slow-grower. I could practically smell the "grape soda" emanating from those lovely bearded iris. Don't you love this time of year?

  2. Oh my, your Ceanothus is just spectacular !

  3. Your garden is full of blooms/color right now. It is always a treat to see what is blooming. Happy GBBD.

  4. I adore delphiniums and it is time to plant more. The garden looks glorious. Happy Bloom Day!

  5. Wow! You give me hope that there will eventually be glory everywhere. I especially loved the photo of your entry. We are trying to make our entry better, and have just come up with some new ideas. Now I need paving stones!

  6. Beautiful blooms and yes some of them are new for me ...loved the Ceanothus splendid blooms marvellous shot of Lupine flower ...We are into Summers with plants withstanding scorching heat still giving out some blooms ,
    Have a great week ahead.

  7. I've always thought it'd be heaven to garden in the PNW and, seeing one after another of the plants I covet most (peonies, clematis and baptisia) your post had me sighing over one photo after another. It's strange to hear that your temperatures are running higher than mine, at least thus far. Don't give up on the Pacific Iris - they've taken a long time to get established in my coastal SoCal garden but this year they came through with honors, although they're already done blooming for the season here. I'd never even considered growing Delphiniums either but they surprised me by putting on an acceptable show in my cutting garden when I planted a few plugs last year. They do want lots of water, though.

  8. Wow those Ceanothus! And the Rhody and peonies.

    You can hard-prune Photinia, apparently. Search on "rehabilitation pruning photinia" or similar.

  9. Okay, now I need a Julia Phelps!
    This is the second photinia I've seen on blogs today. I wish I had a picture of it before I took it down. It really was a huge tree, one huge trunk. I hate them!
    That's such a pretty pink lupine.

  10. Your Cistus bloom is just delightful: it look so delicate, like crumpled paper, but in fact its pretty hardy shrub.
    The Geum, Lavender and Lupine make for a hot summery combo!

  11. Your flowers are all so pretty, but that 'Shima Nishiki' peony is gorgeous! I'm sure your Pacific Coast iris will eventually give you more flowers. I share your frustration over not being able to find a truly red Lupine.

  12. Your flowers look great! I completely missed GBBD this month. I swear May has flown by.

  13. The Ceanothus is AMAZING! The Photinias that I've seen in Nashville are just as big, though more shrub-like in appearance. I love everything in your garden!


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