Peonies Blooming Now

Intersectional peony 'Yellow Doodle Dandy'
 It's going quickly. It always does, although I'd not have it any other way. If my peonies bloomed all summer, they'd eventually seem very commonplace.

Intersectional peony 'Al's Choice'
Peonies are romantic, magical, and vary year by year, sometimes day by day. 'Yellow Doodle Dandy' is a deeper yellow than 'Al's Choice'. Both intersectional peonies (cross between tree peonies and herbaceous peonies), they both stand out in a field crowded by varying shades of pink.
One variety I always look forward to is 'White Cap', a raspberry-colored flower with a nearly pure white tufted center. 'White Cap' is my most fragrant peony.

'Martha' has an unusual open-faced form that remind me of dancing pink donuts.

'Green Halo' is a green and white frilly peony with seemingly more nectar than usual, based on
its ant population. The third season in my garden, it's somewhat slow to establish.
I love 'Dayton' for its pinked petal edges that are slightly paler than the interior color. 

'Madame Ducel' never disappoints with its packed and curly petals in party dress pink.

'Philomele' is a very old variety with an occasional red streak in the middle of cream center petals.
This Japanese form peony also is fragrant.

'Tom Cat' is a cheeky variety with curly, swirly confetti petals of cream and neon pink.

Plant Variety Keeps Garden Interesting

It's hard to stay focused this time of year. Especially when there are tasks that you can't do yourself. But today, my minion-by-marriage dug up three good-sized shrubs so that I could plant two more shrubs in their place. Why did I want the three shrubs gone? In a word, "Meh." I'd grown tired of them.

I met a gardener who follows a self-written guideline: Plant For a Purpose. She gardens to feed pollinators and butterflies. If I had a guideline it would be Plant Variety. (I could say Plant Diversity, but I think the term is as overused as "sustainable.") I suppose you could say I have as much genetic variety as a United Nations luncheon.
Peonies from Asia and Europe contributed to
this hybrid, 'Coral Sunset'.

That variety surprised me the other day when a hummingbird stopped in for a nectar sweep over some tight peony buds. Who says the only flowers visited by hummingbirds are deep-throated bell-shaped affairs? With so many types of plants, there is something for every creature that happens by.

In addition to North America, I have Asia, Africa, Europe and Australia represented in bulbs, tubers, corms, tropicals, perennials, and woody plants packed cheek by jowl in my garden. I had to buy a few more big pots this year in order to fit the plants I've been accumulating in the past six months. I'd stored some of the pots in the mudroom between the house and the garage, where it was cool enough to send most of the bulbs into dormancy, including several Eucomis, or pineapple lilies.
Calibrachoa 'Tropical Sunrise' with
Eucomis 'Oakhurst'.

As for the cold winter ground, I apparently have a plant fairy trickster on the premises. I don't remember planting some of the bulbs that came up this spring. That includes an additional clutch of Ornithogalum nutans, or silver bells, which hail from Europe and Asia. I'd planted a few several years ago and they seemed to disappear a few at a time. A new spot was in order so I (or this fairy trickster) planted them in the raised bed near the sunroom windows.
Ornithogalum, Zephyrantes and Epimedium in a vase.

They look great in a vase, and made good companions for an exotic flower called Zephyranthes robusta also known as pink rain lily. This warm climate bulb is native to the southeastern U.S., Central and South America. A few bulbs of this little beauty came as a bonus with an order from Easy to Grow Bulbs. It's supposed to bloom in late summer, but got a little excited when I put it under lights in March.

Amaryllis 'Double King' Blooms Regally

If you're looking for an Amaryllis with serious repeat performance, Hippeastrum 'Double King' is your guy. I have never seen an amaryllis that re-blooms three times in three months! I was sent the bulb to try from Longfield Gardens, and right away I could see this was no ordinary bulb. It was humongous! I was impressed by its first flush of blooms, but now I'm smitten!

In March, it sent up two bloom stalks and provided some serious color for the whole month. Then, in late April, it started up again, this time with only one bloom stalk, but it got my attention, even when there is so much going on in the outdoor garden.
March 13th
Its first buds ready to open March 3rd.
April 26th, the third stem begins to bloom.
March 13th up close.
Today, May 14th.