The garden is mostly quiet shades of green these days. There are some blooms, which tend to be white or blue. Here’s a selection, though I’m holding a few things back for future posts.

So when we put in the new driveway it was widened a bit, which made the narrow strip of lawn between the driveway and the Crabapple Bed even narrower and more pointless-looking. So last year I said to myself, why not take up that last bit of lawn and plant bulbs? Alliums, specifically, which were much on my mind at the time. So I did.

Allium caesium, below, and A. christophii above.

Last fall I added another three Bowman’s Root (Porteranthus trifoliatus) to the raised bed in the shady Back Garden and I really like how they are filling in and flowering more profusely.

Bowman’s Root

I realize that I recently wrote about our Peony ‘Snow Swan’, but now that it is coming into full bloom I felt compelled to do a little brag post with more pictures. Also I have a few more bits of information to share about this Peony cultivar.

Peony ‘Snow Swan’

Maybe you’re tired of me talking about my Alliums every spring and summer. But I have something new to say about ‘Purple Sensation’ that you can’t say about every Allium.

Back Garden Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

I’ve been undergoing chemotherapy of some kind since August of last year, shortly after I was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. During that same period I’ve continued to be an avid, some would say fanatic, gardener, as I have been for about the last five decades of my life. The two things are linked in my mind. Chemotherapy keeps me alive, albeit with side effects. Gardening enriches my experience of life, an enrichment I require now more than ever.

Peony ‘Abalone Pearl’

Golden Alexander (Zizia aurea) is a plant that provides cheerful color during that quieter period in the garden in late spring, It is perhaps not one of the spectacular garden plants, but it can make a fine addition to more informal beds and borders. It is native to a wide swath of eastern and central North America, from Quebec across the Middle West and as far as Texas.

Golden Alexander in the Left Bank Bed

A couple years ago I did something a little careless in the garden. My intent was to move a couple of plants from the Crabapple Bed to the Parkway Bed. However, I failed to carefully examine the shovel full of roots that I carried from bed to bed. If I had, I might have noticed some bits of Starry Solomon’s Plume (Maianthemum stellatum) rhizome (an underground horizontal stem used by some plants to attempt world domination).

Starry Solomon’s Plume

Drought On My Mind

Lately I’ve been preoccupied much with the prospect of drought. So far, this is the second driest May on record. April was also very dry. Normally, this is a region of fairly generous rainfall, but we haven’t had a good rain in months. Precipitation for this year so far is less than half what we usually get: 5.5″ versus an average of 12″.

Allium leaves turning brown

Turns out that Long-Beaked Sedge (Carex sprengelii) has all the qualities I am looking for in a grass-like plant for the shade garden.

Long-Beaked Sedge

Some may ask, how is a sedge different from a grass? The short answer is that sedges are like grasses, but different. A longer answer is that Sedges belong to a different family of plants, the Cyperaceae, as opposed to the grasses who belong to the Graminaceae. Grasses have round, hollow stems (except for the nodes), while Sedges have triangular, solid stems. The thing to remember is that many Sedges can play the role of short or medium-sized grasses in the garden.

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