The landscaper who did our yard, a very knowledgeable person when it comes to big trees is in awe at my knowledge when it comes to perennials, annuals or bulbs. He once introduced me to somebody saying
“This is Gayatri. She has 4000 plants in her garden”.
I am an avid gardener. I seem to have collected some information over a period of time( a tad more than a not so avid gardener) on the perennials and bulbs and annuals that I find around, and if I don’t find it, then I get the information from the internet. This idiosyncrasy of mine is quite interesting to the people I know. My children always try to point to any bush or tree asking me what it is, more with the purpose of quizzing me, than to get information on what plant it is. Its very exciting for them to see the answers flow by, like a mathematician is able to play with numbers and is able to spit out answers for problems like the fifth power of 12975 without consulting a calculator.
I owe this green thumb to my father who was an avid tropical climate gardener himself. The purpose was different then. He only planted fruits and vegetables. Most weekends, we had to march to the yard so, we could dig, weed, sow or water. In India, from where I come, we don’t experience the four seasons like I do here in the US. Living in the north east all my married life, with its extreme weather patterns, I’m have had the fortune of experiencing the four seasons in its full splendor.
Here I present the changes in landscape in out yard…from spring to fall and then, winter.
The spring usually starts with the crocus in our yard, showing itself followed by the Scilla and Chinodoxia.
Followed by the Narcissi blooming from April through May. Daffodils are my safe bet spring bloomers. The deer avoid them and they naturalize so well if left untouched. Last year, just the week of April got so hot and almost burnt the daffodil bloom. There are so many types of daffodils. Of them, I love the pink daffodils. The cup changes color through the week from pink to orange but, needs to be planted in a not so hot spot. We also get sun proof varieties in Daffodils. “Ceylon” is one that I have seen to withstand hot days so well. Then, we also have the double daffodils. They look so majestic and big. I’ve had the opportunity of owning a couple of those cultivars.
I particularly got the late blooming single tulips. They survive the deer better. When the deer attack the yards in early spring, these tulips have just started to pop out of the ground then, just a tiny bit, but the flower is still underground. so, even if the deer bites the leaves (In spite of the repellents, or it was unable to pull the bulb from the ground), the flower is still underground. I’ve found the late blooming tulips to still flower in May, by which time the deer stops visiting the yards. Although the tulips are not perennial, the late blooming or the Darwin tulips show this behavior. They manage to show up at least for 3 –4 years, by when, I have had new bulbs grow up to give flowers.
A tidbit about Tulips: Although they look so pretty, the deer love to feast on them. They will even dig the ground to get to the bulbs. On the other hand, they will not touch a daffodil bulb. Another bulb they cannot stand is Fritillaries'. Its a beautiful umbrella flower, very majestic and sends out a kind of scent that I in particular don’t find it disgusting, but to the deer, it is so. This bulb is expensive and is supposed to naturalize well but, that didn’t happen in my yard.
Next comes the Late Spring - Early Summer ones, the Alliums, Muscari, Irises (Siberian, Bearded, Japanese) and the Asiatic Lilies.
Over the years I’d collected quite a few Irises. They had naturalized quite well. Thanks to my landscaper who had overturned my yard last year to create a landscape that would include evergreens and trees too, I lost quite a few bulbs in this process. Before he could touch my yard last year, I had spent 2-3 weeks digging out most of the Iris and had washed the bulbs and had waited for him to finish the landscape so I could plant the bulbs. The guy didn’t complete, I had to leave them above ground and planted them in Spring. Last spring the Iris display wasn’t anything like I had had in the previous years.
There was also this year when the viola’s had made my home theirs and had provided us with colorful splashes here and there. They reseed so easily and spread. I didn’t mind this considering the colorful displays I got.
Then summer is almost here and the Echinacea, Rudbecka (black eyed susan), Shasta’s , Croscosmia’s, False Sunflower, Lavender, and many other summer blooming plants start to bloom. Most of them are Perennials now. The zone where I live is 6b, not feasible for the Gladiolus to survive outside, still for the last 2-3 years these bulbs have been flowering.
Summer is also the time for Oriental Lilies to bloom. As Evening descents, their scent is so heavenly. It can be felt at long distances too. I’ve had neighbors tell me they take a walk along our road to feel the scent. When I had planted them..I didn’t realize their scent and hadn’t taken care to plant them close to windows. So, this fall, I will be replanting them, so they are located at spots close to windows. Pictured below is a double lily called Elodie.
Ah! Shasta Diasies. The summer grace. Looks so beautiful, those tall stalks of bloom standing so high up. Such well formed flowers. The only down side to all this bloom is the messy look when the blooms are spent. The clean up is a big work.
I had gotten a tiny root of this False Sunflower from Walmart about 3-4 years ago. The plant appeared the next year. Every year, the bush was bigger. The flowers are so long lived. Almost 2 months of clean blooms. The yellow is visible from a long distance. Again, requires lot of clean up. Although perennials provide so much bloom, they look like a mess once the flowers are spent. Clean up is no easy task.
Another of my favorite is Lavender. There are so many cultivars of Lavender. Every year, the local farm has a different cultivar for sale.