May in the Garden

Flower-floozie season is upon Chickadee Gardens. So much is going on, it changes daily, and I must keep up! Buds are forming, flowers are popping, the insects are out and we have an abundance of birds in the gardens. The feel these days is one of more enclosure as the garden knits itself together and those valuable backdrop shrubs grow to nearly full-size. The veggie garden is also planted and will soon be coming up . . . but I'll save that for another day. Today, I give you early May in Chickadee Gardens.

 Last week we looked at two genera I have a lot of - Hebes and Ceanothus. It seems I have many Heuchera, too - commonly known as coral bells. I don't go in for the fancy colored leaved versions, even 'Marmalade' which I once loved, primarily because they are not happy in my garden. I brought 'Marmalade' with me from the old garden only to have it melt away. I bought replacements, they also melted. These native H. sanguinea strains do much better and all love full sun and handle drier-than-you-would-think soil. This one is Heuchera 'Firefly' although I've seen 'Firefly' listed as a darker pink, so it could be mixed up in the trade.

Heuchera 'Northern Fire'.

 H. 'Northern Fire' 

Heuchera 'Old La Rochette'. Although it can be difficult to find, it's worth the trouble. We sometimes have it available at the nursery but we sell out often. From the Joy Creek Nursery website:

 Heuchera 'Old La Rochette' was one of the plants selected from a breeding program done at Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden in Claremont, CA, in 1953. This is the largest of those selections which were made by crossing H. maxima with H. sanguinea.

'Old La Rochette' is my favorite, by far.

Heuchera micrantha, a PNW native.

Heuchera chlorantha, another NW native with hairy stems and green yellow flowers. This is also, like the others, evergreen and requires very little once established. 

If you are not thrilled by all the latest brightly colored foliage Heucheras that seem to be everywhere (and perform poorly, at least for me) I encourage you to try some of these beauties. They have all been long-lived for me and have little trouble in terms of pests or diseases. The last two pictured are more for shade gardens, the first few as I mentioned like some sun. 

OK, moving on to other plants, this post is not all about the Heucheras, although I do adore them. Here are several wider shots of the gardens where the knitting together impact mentioned earlier is evident. In this photo, Festuca 'Beyond Blue' is in the foreground, the pink in the background is Armeria m. 'Victor Reiter' and the purple is Phlox - I have lost the tag on this one. The Hebe is H. 'Karo Golden Esk'.

Another textured grouping including Callistemon pityoides 'Mt. Kosciuszko Form' on the left and Lavandua stoechas 'Van Gogh' in the center, Aquilegia vulgaris 'Black Barlow' foreground right. 

Our sculptures by Michihiro Kosuge surrounded by sedum and sweet woodruff. This image was taken sitting against the blue shed for a shady break.

Facilities Manager decided to sow some new grass in a bald spot that had at one time held a large pile of compost. We both then decided to leave it long, to mow around it so as to create a little wild area for birds to hide and insects, too. 

The edge of the labyrinth, looking south.

One of my projects for last fall and this spring is to edge the larger beds with the shovel. Nothing fancy and no materials required, but it does clean up the look and also help the "lawn" from spreading into the beds. 

The edge of the labyrinth garden looking north. You can see some of the heucheras in the center of the image. 

Another section of the labyrinth with Teucrium chamaedrys on the left interspersed with Eschscholzia californica 'Ivory Bells' or 'Alba' - I have forgotten which.

Thymus 'Pink Ripple' mounds in the background with Armeria 'Victor Reiter' blooming closer in. Festuca 'Beyond Blue' as well as many Erigeron 'Profusion' seedlings everywhere.

Carex comans 'Frosty Curls' seedlings are spreading, and I like it.

A sea of Carex comans in a big triangle and one Annie the kitty playing hide and seek. Miscanthus s. 'Cabaret' in the background.

From the other side of the carex triangle standing where the fire pit is, this view faces west.

This is the view from the edge of the orchard looking west towards the labyrinth garden.

This is a little to the right of the previous image. I had taken Annie on a walk with me.

Now on to a few interesting plants doing their thing. This is Berberis jamesiana gifted to me by Anna of Flutter and Hum.

Our native checker mallow Sidalcea campestris

 More Aquilegia 'Black Barlow' blooms which, by the way, are everywhere. 

As are the Papaver 'Lauren's Grape' seedlings. Oy. Acutally, I welcome these.

Lastly, a throw away from work a couple of years ago, Veronica petraea 'Madame Mericer'. She is so lovely and took two years to bloom, but that's likely because it was in rough shape and needed time to recover. The leaves have a bronze tinge to them, paired with the pale blue-violet flowers, it's a winner for me.

Whew! There are many more photos I wanted to add, but it could be overwhelming. In other words, the garden is in full swing. If you are a member of the Hardy Plant Society of Oregon, we are opening the garden soon - have a look in your brochure for the details. I have to go now and clean up the garden, we've got company coming!

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you all! Happy gardening!


  1. Spring is so exciting. I know your garden's going to wow your fellow HPSO members. I've had similar experience with the fancy Heucheras in my garden but I did add 'Marmalade' last year based on Annie's testimonial about its resilience in hot summer climates. Heuchera maxima also does fairly well here. I'll be on the look out for 'Old La Rochette'. Victor Reiter must have been a great plant breeder - I've got a pretty Cistus with his name attached. Have a great week, Tamara.

    P.S. My Callistemon viridflorus is producing lots of new leaves!

    1. Kris! I'm so excited your Callistemon is producing! That's great news.

      Heuchera maxima - I think I'll give it a try! Nice. Oh, yes - who was Victor Reiter, anyhow...anyone?

      Have a great week too, Kris - and thank you! :)

  2. Wow! your garden really is in full swing. It is truly lovely and looks more mature than it should at it's young age. So wish I lived closer so could get a tour. I love the gravel pathways in between all of your beds. Would love to duplicate but always end up with weeds and tree seedlings in them. My weeding motivation disappears once it gets hot.

    1. Aw, thank you so much for your kind words! If you are ever out this way be sure to send me a note, I'd be happy to show you around.

      When it gets hot my motivation is out the window, too. Blah. I'm with you.

  3. So much beauty oozing out of the soil.

    1. Ooozing...I love it! Thank you Lisa! :)

  4. It's almost shocking how fast the garden grows when the weather warms, isn't it? I love that you're keeping a portion of lawn to grow. You may find a bunny family also take up residence. ... The Heucheras! I hear you. I can't tell you how many have melted away in my garden. I still have 'Paris' which is a total blooming machine and dark-leaved 'Obsidian'. I agree that your Veronica rescue is a winner.

    1. It's stunning how quickly things catch up, isn't it?

      So...a bunny? Hmm...I hadn't thought of that. Well, if it happens it happens. I mean I love them, but we don't need bun bun damage. Have you ever had them?

      I will have to keep an eye out for 'Paris' - I am not familiar with that one. Thanks for the tip!

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  7. Anonymous2:56 PM PDT

    HPSO tourers are in for a rare treat...nothing like the real thing!

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