Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April Showers bring April Flowers...

Well, the winter blues should be just about behind us as spring has begun to set in. If my allergies could reach an agreement with all this pollen then maybe I could enjoy it a little more! I'm sure it will get better soon. The warmer temperatures and spring blooms seem to cure most of what ails us.

The recent cooler temps and wet spring we're having here in SE Virginia hasn't slowed the spring blooms from returning. All seems to be close to schedule and in full force. Here's my Bloom Day lineup for this month.

First, I'll start out with some old (but good) standby bloomers. We didn't plant pansies this spring but we've had some that's over wintered in pots. I haven't deadheaded these like I should but they don't seem to be bothered by it. They just keep right on doing what they do.IMG_3368

Another hardy standby is this narcissus (daffodil). I have a few of these in my front flowerbed that are still hanging on. IMG_3393

Now here's a plant that you wouldn't normally associate with the other bloomers. It's the holly. These shrubs, now in full bloom (if you look closely), are part of my front foundation bed. And believe it or not, the honey bees and other pollinators are all over them right now. As a bonus, they're very, very fragrant as well. It's nice to catch a whiff of them as I enter and exit the house. I'm not sure what variety of holly they are. They were planted before we moved in three years ago. If anyone can tell by these photos please let me know. IMG_3384

There's a honey bee below gathering pollen from one of the holly blooms.IMG_3372

Besides bees, hollies benefit other wildlife as well. Their dense evergreen foliage provide cover and protection, while their berries provide food.

Look what I found while photographing these holly shrubs. Look closely in the below photo and you can see a small birds nest with four little blue eggs in it. This is a the nest of a chipping sparrow. Chipping sparrows make their nest in dense shrubs, usually just a few feet from the ground. Very cool!IMG_3374

And speaking of pollinators, here's another native that the bees love this time of year. Its the gelsemium sempervirens, 'Carolina jasmine'. These vines have been in full bloom for a couple weeks now. They are heavy springtime bloomers and sometimes I'll get a few blooms from this in the fall. I like the fact that these are evergreen as well.IMG_3406

Very fast growing vine but very manageable.IMG_3409

Next is my kwanza cherry tree. This was a gift from my parents last spring. Lots of blooms beginning to open up. Its an early spring bloomer, but not quite as early as the flowering pear and other fruit trees. These are what I call the "second round" bloomers.IMG_3388

Very showy...IMG_3389

Now here's a new plant that I don't know that much about - 'Marsh Marigold'. What I do know is that they grow in a clump type fashion and will spread quickly if grown in the right conditions; which is moist, damp, partial sunny areas. They have attractive green foliage accompanied by little yellow blooms that pop-up throughout the foliage. I dug up several clumps from my parents place and planted them in the back corner of my property. It's the lowest area in my yard and the last place that would dry out. I'm not sure how they'll do but thought they would make a nice groundcover below the shrubs I have planted in that area. They keep their green color in the winter and begin blooming in our area in late winter.IMG_3400

Next is one of my favorites - Lonicera sempervirens, 'Alabama Crimson' honeysuckle. This is a wonderful vine for attracting hummingbirds. I've already seen ruby-throated hummingbirds sipping nectar from it this spring. If I'm not mistaking, it's a native honeysuckle vine. I have this second year vine climbing up my deck post.IMG_3412

These blooms begin forming in late winter and are now beginning to open.IMG_3417

Here's another native and another one of my favorites - amelanchier arborea, 'Serviceberry'. Serviceberry's can be grown as a small tree or large shrub. They have clusters of white flowers in the spring followed by berries that mature in summer. The berries are edible and I have heard that they are very good, if you can beat the birds to them. It's a great alternative to the ornamental flowering pear or crape myrtle tree. This particular one was planted last fall and I just recently purchased a second one (thanks Les!). ServiceBerry Blooms

Last but not least is my dwarf patio peach tree. Most of the blooms from this tree have faded but there were a few good ones still remaining. I have this planted on the corner of house by the deck. These are very small fruit trees and will grow well in containers.IMG_3418

Please go and check out May Dreams Garden to see what else is in bloom.

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Chandramouli S said...

It's double fun when your garden's visited by wildlife and when they make their abodes in it. What else could prove that you're a fine gardener? The rich wildlife is the certificate you hold! Love all the blooms and no doubt, your photos are exquisite as always. I love it when I see even a single bee hovering over my plants - only don't get many. Either they don't visit a lot or they visit in my absence - hope it's the latter. Awesome photos, again, Alan! [Thumbs UP]

Les said...

Thanks for the shout out. Looks like spring is in your yard. I took my GBBD pictures on Friday, my one day off. Good thing because the camera would have gotten wet if I had waited. I think your holly may be Needlepoint. Keep an eye on that Marsh Marigold, it is not the well behaved native that goes by the same name. I have the same one you do, but at this point I don't mind its vigor.

Unknown said...

Great show of blooms today. I need to get some pure white Daffs..

A Pinch of Cheer Handmade Accents said...

beautiful pics. thanks for sharing!
Being that you like gardening, you may like some of the floral watercolor paintings I did.

Catherine@AGardenerinProgress said...

You have a lot of nice blooms there! I love the kwanza cherry tree, they are really pretty.
How neat to find the nest, we've got several birds making nests in birdhouses now

Kelly said... the Chipping Sparrow nest and eggs. I hope they hatch out and fledge. Beautiful flowers.

Dawn Fine said...

Great garden..and how exciting to find that nest..
Hey..I like your new gadget on the bottom and I might check it out for myself.
very cool..

Town Mouse said...

So beautiful! I keep hoping for more birds, but it's not quite as easy in the suburbs. Are those baby birds in the nest on the right from this year? Lovely.

sweetbay said...

Lovely Bloom Day post. Love the shot of the Chipping Sparrow nest. We've got those elegant little guys everywhere around here. In our area their song sounds to me like a rattle. It's wonderful to see birds in the garden isn't it?