It's All About the Fleurs

We are not all work and no play around here. We tip-toe through the tulips, mark my words. Even as a self-described foliage gardener, I do appreciate the beauty of flowers and absolutely welcome them. Since it has been so (suddenly) hot here the past couple of weeks, everything is coming on fast and furious. Time to document what's blooming now. Here is a look at some flower highlights at Chickadee Gardens in mid-May in intentionally random order to mix it up and have a little fun. Enjoy!

This was given to me by my friend and former boss Maurice of Joy Creek Nursery. He told me it is Paeonia ruprechtiana from the Miller Botanical Garden. Its first flower deserves the opening spot in this post.

Pulsatilla vulgaris, now with (finally) some sun after a few dead hebes were removed, is happy.

A sweet iris given to me by a customer at Joy Creek several years ago.

Veronica armena has feathery, needle-like foliage and small blue flowers. It is low-growing and evergreen, an ideal rock garden plant.

Oh my gosh, after several attempts at growing Amelanchier alnifolia, Pacific serviceberry, one finally took and look . . . my first bloom. This native deciduous shrub is fantastic for wildlife with delicious berries (apparently makes amazing jam), grows quite large when mature and has good autumn color before its leaves drop. I am thrilled to finally say it's established and happy.

Another native shrub, this one evergreen Ceanothus cuneatus 'Blue Sierra' hails from the Willamette Valley. It has taken some time to reach a somewhat mature size of 6' or so in height and width. Its sweet blue flowers have been well-visited by pollinators and it has weathered much bad weather with no ill effects unlike some other ceanothus I grow.

We're on a native plant roll here. Ribes sanguineum 'White Icicle' kept its flowers for weeks while its counterpart, the straight species' flowers faded long ago.

A second Ceanothus cuneatus, this is 'Adair Village,' which also hails from the Willamette Valley. By contrast it is much bushier and faster growing (in my garden) and has white flowers. The birds love hanging out in it for cover, by the way.

Fruit trees count for flowers, especially as last year they were all knocked off in full bloom when we had a freak April snowstorm.

Ok, not flowers, I'm sneaking in a foliage shot that I quite like.

Flowers of our columnar apple tree are about as pretty as you can get.

Fothergilla 'Mount Airy' in a dappled shade wooded area is happy this spring.

Ranunculus gramineus I had tried growing in apparently too much shade. Here it is exposed after the removal of a dead Ceanothus 'Italian Skies' and is quite happy about it. Lesson learned.

Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem' in a sunny gravelly site. They love these conditions.

Heuchera americana 'Red Leaf Form' 

Anemone nemorosa spreading in the woodland garden.

Daphne 'Eternal Fragrance'

Unknown tulip given to me by my former boss that is surprisingly heat tolerant and a great cut flower. A bouquet of these came into the house for our Mother's Day celebration.

A favorite as many of you know is Limnanthes douglasii, Douglas' meadow foam or poached egg plant. A native annual, it has generously spread its goodness all over my garden and that's a good thing.

This is a Pacific Coast Iris given to me at a blogger's plant swap, I think it's been identified as Iris x pacifica 'Broadleigh Rose', if that is incorrect feel free to chime in.

One of our native penstemons, this is Penstemon davidsonii, a low evergreen mat of teeny foliage topped by disproportionately huge purple flowers. This mat gets larger every year and is undaunted by weather challenges. It is in excellent drainage and full sun with a bit of high overhead shade in the afternoon.

Berberis jamesiana just gets better every year. Now that we removed lawn next to it, FM won't be lacerated by its rather huge spines every time he comes near with the mower.

Erica arborea 'Golden Joy' is a joy. Check out the profusion of flowers! Small but mighty and when they turn buff colored later in the season it is quite handsome.

Native checker mallow, Sidalcea campestris in the evening light. It is actually pale pink but it fades as it ages and the sun coming through gives a white luminescense. 

Calycanthus raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine' is beginning to bloom and as it's about 5 years old now is of a decent size so I can see it rise above surrounding foliage in a woodland garden. This will go on blooming sporadically for months.

Asphodelus albus in bloom. We saw the tiwsty blueish foliage of this earlier this spring, now in full bloom it adds a bit of height to this border.

Geum rivale has odd but cute little flowers. This species spreads much more than cultivars and has less showy flowers. The bumble bees visit it often so I don't mind its spread.

Heuchera sanguinea - either 'Firefly' or 'Northern Fire', (I think it's the latter) they are intertwined in this area and I am not certain who is who any longer. These are in a full sun position, being sanguinea types so can handle it with no trouble.

Another heuchera, this is H. 'Chiqui' (H. cylindrica x H. sanguinea).

A rather handsome clump of self-sown native Iris tenax. As the garden matures and soil sits undisturbed for years I find more and more of these seedlings popping up all over. That makes me happy.

Tellima grandiflora, a commonly found native perennial throughout our region is at home in shade in the understory of wooded areas. It seeds about happily and although its flowers aren't showy per se, they are abundant and impressive en masse and the pollinators love them. The basal foliage is pretty much evergreen so there's an added element of interest. I let these go wherever they wish.

Drama shot of Geranium macrorrhizum in the evening sun.

Seedling from Lupinus (russel hybrids) 'My Castle'

Dianthus hispanicus has the best fragrance, especially on warm evenings. Its evergreen foliage is a bonus and is perfect for the front of a border with some sun.

And . . .we're having a plant sale! A group of us is meeting in North Portland to set up shop this Saturday. Come by and say howdy if you can, there will be 7 or 8 of us with a huge variety available.

There you have it, a sampling of what is blooming mid-May at Chickadee Gardens. As it's suddenly summer it seems they will be more ephemeral than usual, so I'm happy I took the time to look at them properly. What's blooming in your garden?

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


  1. Anonymous2:43 PM PDT

    It was just a matter of time and patience till we get to see happy spring photos and hear an upbeat gardener.
    I really like Veronica armena. It seemed new to me so I quickly scrolled through your "ground covers for sun" post but didn't see it. I added it to a long-and-getting-longer wish list.
    Can't go wrong with sneaking in the foliage shot... I'm partial to the groovy leafs of the stinky hellebore.
    Tulipa batalinii 'Bright Gem' has the most exquisite shade of yellow... with a hint of peach? Love that one.
    Good luck with the plant sale. Wish I lived closer.

    1. Ah, yes, I'm in much better spirits due to a warmer spring. Veronica armena is a great plant, a very small scale groundcover - it doesn't grow quickly in my garden. It's lovely, though.

      Foliage - I couldn't help it ;)

      Tulipa batallinii is so pretty, and small - so tucks into sunny spots well. Cheers, thanks, Chavli!

  2. Anonymous6:22 PM PDT

    Everything is happening so fast this spring! YOUR GARDEN IS BEAUTIFUL!

  3. What a difference a little warmth (or well, heat) makes! I don't think I have any of the flowers you featured in this post in my garden but such is the difference between our climates. Best wishes for a great day at the plant sale!

    1. Yes, we went from 48 and rainy to 92 and sunny just like that. Now we're (gratefully) back to more "normal" spring temps, 70's, 80's, a little overcast. But the warmth did push plants to do a major catch up on the very tardy arrival of spring. Plant sale was great, thanks for mentioning it! :)

  4. Gorgeous shots. The garden really has leaped into life. The Amelanchier is native here. We call them Saskatoon berries. They are actually quite amenable shrubs growing along streambanks but even on dry rocky hillsides in full sun to partial shade. We have them growing all over our property where they don't receive any moisture outside of what Nature provides. They don't like saturated soil which might be your issue during the wetter months. Hope it prospers for you.

    1. Thank you Elaine! The garden has leaped into life in a matter of a couple of weeks. Thank you for the info on the Amelanchier, it's quite helpful. It could have been my issue, saturated soil. I'm happy it's thriving right now - keep your fingers crossed for me. Cheers!

  5. Wow, how beautiful everything is. The tulips still woven together before opening are beautiful. The berberis blooms are so pretty. Lovely!

    1. Thank you so much, tz garden. I love tulips at that stage, too.

  6. It may sound weird, but little Geum rivale is my hands-down favorite Geum. It grows wild in northern Sweden where I spent my childhood summers. I'd skip around the fields barefoot in near perpetual daylight, free of any care in the world and pick flowers. Those were always part of the bouquet.
    Glad you cleared some space around the Barberry so FM won't get hurt. Such a stunner - so glad I can enjoy it vicariously through you.

    1. It doesn't sound weird at all, Anna! I love that little geum. It's probably my favorite too. I can picture you barefoot in a field as a child. How wonderful.

      Come visit your Berberis any time, Miz Anna Bean! xo

  7. You might need something to protect the serviceberry fruits! They disappear almost as soon as they become ripe in our yard because of all the birds. Our Ranunculus gramineus loves gravel + sun (hint, hint). It has gently seeded around and I save the seeds so I can start new plants each year.

    1. Oh really? That's ok, the birds can have the berries....I'll share!

      Thanks for the confirmation about the ranunculus - good to know! We had it in the shade section at Joy Creek - obviously not ideal.


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