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May 2005

I don't have to tell you that by the time May rolls around a great many plants have started to bloom or are budding up for a colour explosion later in the spring/summer.

Here it is our variegated Weigela in the front yard, on May 7th it started to show a fair number of blooms, but the full cascade of flowers is probably another week away.

Haven't the foggiest what the name of this rhodie is, but every year for the last 25 or so it has been a welcome and reliable performer with its annual cascade of blooms.

It is also the only one that has thrown seed that has germinated. The oldest of these seedlings is now 3 years and I would hope that next year we might see the first flower. It'll be very interesting to see what sort of colour open pollination has brought us. We know which plant is the pod parent, we might be able to figure out which is the pollen parent once it starts to flower, but I don't hold out much hope.

Early May is also when we can expect to see the first of the Columbines in bloom. We're starting to build up a nice assortment of colours and shapes, but they all seem to be far enough apart that they haven't given us any unexpected results from being open pollinated, unfortunately. This large white flower is on a clump that must easily be 20 years old and is within 2 feet of a root that has very similar flowers in shape, except they're a shade of mauve. Near as I can tell none of the many, many seedlings we get popping up between these two plants show any signs of having different varieties as pollen and pod parent.

May is the month when we see the first flowers on our honeysuckle.You may have to look at little close at this picture here to spot the first buds opening, but it's there, just slightly to the right off center. This was taken around 7PM, May 17th. There is just a mass -or is that just a mess- of buds and we can look forward to smelling that sweet honeysuckle scent in about 10 days or so I'd say.

Baskets, particularly hanging baskets, are an integral part of our summer garden. They're just nicely getting started here with these rich purple Petunias, can't wait until the Geraniums catch up to them to give complementary and contrasting colour and shape.

We have mentioned previously that we have plant sales throughout spring, usually starting mid April to coincide with the yard sale happening all around us in the cul-de-sac. From there we have played it by ear this year. We figured we'll have another one at least on the Victoria Day weekend, but if the weather's nice in between mid-April and the 4th weekend in May it really isn't much trouble to put up the saw horses, move the plants out and put up a dozen or so signs in the immediate area.

Here are our offerings for this year's Victoria Day weekend. We have the usual suspects: ferns, 4 different hostas, bearded Iris, herbs like thyme, 2 different kinds of mint, lemon balm, regular (greek) and cuban oregano, small shrubs like weigela (we have 2 different ones), assorted lilies, 2 bleeding heart varieties, variegated sedge, Echinecea, columbine 'Nora Barlow' -which was our plant of the day: 3 for $5- and more. We had sold out of honeysuckle already and could have used more Dicentra Spectabilis, but hey, it's hard to get a handle on what will sell. Last year we sold out of Lavender, didn't sell a one this year.

While hanging around that Saturday for the plant sale in our carport, Pieter noticed an unusual Robin on our neighbour's lawn. It and its mate were having a running argument with one of the resident crows. The crow was getting too close to their nest we suspect. In this shot you can see for yourself what caught Pieter's eye: it's a mutation. This bird is missing the dark back (the melanin) and is a cinnamon coloured one. Natural selection being what it is I doubt we'll see another generation, but you never know; the coming years will tell the story.

How can you tell the dogs don't have regular access to this part of the yard at the moment? The grass! It's green, not yellow. And there are pots on the ground everywhere, a good number are waiting to be picked up, but there's lots of starts for next year's sale already. This weekend we took cuttings from both forms of our spectabilis bleeding heart, the upright fuchsia shrub we have, we have lots of honeysuckles going, some clematis 'Jackmani', just a ton of 'Orange Beauty' lilies from last year's stem bulbils, the backyard really looks more like an impromptu nursery than backyard at the moment.

Peony 'Bowl of Beauty' One of the Peonies we have is a nice fragrant one called 'Bowl of Beauty', this one here. We said to ourselves earlier this spring, when these were first breaking ground, that we should think about dividing them. After seeing what they ask for a single root of them in a #1 pot at the local garden center you can bet we're going to divide them!

A little higher up on the page we mentioned the anticipated arrival of that sweet honeysuckle scent. Well, this past weekend was just great weather and we did spend some time, both during the day as well as in the evening, sitting on the patio underneath the honeysuckle vine. Add a glass of wine, dogs that need touching and petting, some music and you couldn't ask for a better time. On Saturday night we even had an unexpected visitor to the vine: a hummingbird. Hopefully it will come back, frequently, with some friends......

Lily 'Peach Pixie'I'm pleased to say (and show) that we DID get a lily bloom before the end of the month. Here, on the last day of May, is new lily for us: 'Peach Pixie'. It may be a pixie in stature of foliage and overall height, but the flowers are really quite sizeable when you compare them against the 'Orange Pixie' we have in the front yard.