27 May 2008

The Garden Symphony: Prelude and sonata

First of all, I hope all my American friends had a wonderful, long, relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Hopefully the weather cooperated for you as nicely as it did here, although I had a bad few minutes watching a live video feed of a tornado on Saturday. Good grief. My hat is off to everyone who lives in Tornado Alley, because that is the stuff of nightmares!

I was thinking this morning, as I strolled around the yard and listened to the music of the wind and birds and frogs and bees under the sheltering sky and its warm smiling sun, that our garden is like a symphony performance. When not listening to really loud rock or pop music, I'm a bit of a classical music nerd (goes along well with being a Word Nerd, hah!), with Bach, Mozart and Chopin being my favourite composers, depending on moods. While I don't profess to be a music expert, this time of spring seems like the opening and building of energy in a long musical performance.

Despite my preoccupation with other things over the past several weeks, even when unable to do anything in the garden, I've been watching it carefully as it goes about its natural unfolding of life. The amelanchier that has already bloomed and gone in most of the rest of the province (at least the mainland) is just opening in our garden and in the wild places around our garden. This is one of my favourite of native plants, and one I highly recommend to everyone with a garden and a little space.

The lily-flowered tulips I planted in my former mother in law's memory garden are doing very well, I must say. From being quiet green buds just a few days ago, they've erupted into this gracefully flowing display of floral fireworks. Must plant more next year!

One of the most curious plants in my garden is Darmera, which sends up stalks with pretty pink and white flowers on it, THEN puts up its leaves--its ginormous, umbrella shaped, handsome leaves--from an equally ginormous and enthusiastic rhizome. You need a LOT of room for this plant, not because it runs but because its leaves do cover a lot of territory. And you need a pickaxe and saw when it's time to divide it.

The Chocolate garden is a good demonstration of how things are doing. The Stellata magnolia is in bloom, as are more tulips and the daffs are winding down; the ornamental rhubarb is getting ready to flower, (unperturbed after I rudely moved it several weeks ago) and the cranesbills and monarda are doing very, very very well; while the copper beech has yet to unfurl its leaves. I'm glad that everything doesn't happen at once here, or I'd be more overwhelmed than usual.

These primulas tickled me tremendously when I planted them and they're doing terrifically this year. I need. More. Primulas. It could be a spring obsession, but watching a big happy bumblebee burrow into a primula flower this morning, I just found my love for these happy plants growing all the more.

These graceful windflowers will form nice clumps in time, IF I stop inadvertently digging them up; they're slow to emerge here, and I (ahem) forgot where they were!

The hummingbirds arrived just over a week ago now- first the males, who came looking in our windows as if to say, "Well! Get those feeders out here!" I've been filling the feeders daily--sometimes twice--and though I had the wrong lens on this morning for catching them, it was fun to watch them divebomb me and each other.

Most of the annuals in our garden are planted in containers and with hummingbirds and other pollinators in mind. I've mentioned before that I don't care for petunias at all--in MY garden--but I love love love Callibrachoas. This is the lovely and well named 'Rose Star', a favourite from last year and already wowing the hummers.

The containers I have done so far this year tend to be in colours that attract hummers and other pollinators; lots of reds, roses, orange and purples, with nemesia, callibrachoa, verbena and lantana as some of the top choices so far. I have to go get more annuals for a talk I'm giving this weekend, so I'll be picking up some of my favourites, including Venidio, Anagallis and Agastache, of course!

We're not sure just HOW many hummingbirds we have, because they're really, REALLY active and voracious right now, but this one paused long enough for me to get her photo briefly. After my work is done, I'm going back outside with the long lens, to hide in the holly and see what they're up to.

Isn't spring wonderful!?


  1. I am so jealous of your hummingbirds. I haven't seen one yet; I do hope they didn't fly over the Midwest straight to you! Actually, I think we have a different species that likes to summer here, and it's been so cool and rainy lately that they are probably waiting for warmer weather.

  2. I actually had a hummingbird investigate the geraniums on the balcony, but s/he wasn't interested and left as quickly as s/he came. My Mom and Dad have been feeding them for a week or so, also. Everything looks beautiful on Sunflower Hill, Jodi. :)

  3. Spring is the best! While I don't usually like pink & yellow together, they look great in that Primula bloom. How fun it must be to sit at your window & watch all those Hummers. I'd be happy to see 1. I planted super-bright magenta Callibrachoas in a container in hopes of attracting any passing Hummers. No takers yet. It's part of a Day-glo themed planting.

  4. Probably I wouldn't get anything done at all if we had any hummingbirds here -- it must be so much fun watching them.
    As a matter of fact, I've learned something new: I didn't know before that you call these small anemones windflowers, too (Buschwindröschen in German). They have a hard time in my garden, too. ;)

  5. Love the hummingbirds! I have the same thoughts on containers with the colors that the hummingbirds like! I am not so good at keeping those cleaned and filled so I favor those plants that hummingbirds love! Just picked up a few more salvias for the garden in front of the window!

  6. Your spring garden is lovely. It is so nice to be able to see spring flowers longer through the blogging world. I love the Damera and am going to try to find at least one for next year. The hummers are great fun and watching can be addictive can't it? Enjoy your spring.

  7. Spring is indeed wonderful Jodi. Thank you for the well wishes, we had a great weekend here weather-wise.

    That Darmera sounds like a great plant. A conversation piece for sure. I wonder if they would grow here?? I will have to look it up. The ornamental rhubarb is pretty too. I like large leafed plants but I don't have any. I tried Bear Paws, gosh I can't remember its botanic name, but it didn't thrive here. It might have been the drought that discouraged it, or I should say killed it.

    Enjoy your beautiful garden...I sure am through your pictures.

  8. Yes, spring is wonderful and I'm glad I'm getting a second helping on your blog because here we are slowly moving into summer. Wish we had hummingbirds too they sound like a lot of fun.

    It's nice to see your garden so colourful Jodi, what a difference with only a short while ago.

  9. Love your tulips and that fab primula, Jodi! It's hummingbird time down here, too--I just posted "Get a Hummer" on Poor Richard's Almanac yesterday in their honor. And ah, yes, Bach and Mozart!!! (And Vivaldi and Telemann and Scarlatti and Monteverdi and...) Like you, I love my rock and reggae (and Celtic and etc.etc.), but for sending the soul soaring, or just serenely gliding overhead, there's nothing like (ahem, *some*) Classical...

  10. Hi Jodi, what a magical sight, the two hummingbirds in stop motion at the feeder! I have become obsessed with the primulas also, more, more more. And the calibrachoas are so colorful and floriferous, the perfect container plant. Your spring brings many happy thoughts, keep 'em coming!

  11. The pink and yellow primula is beautiful! Also, I love your hummingbird feeder. Would it be rude of me to ask whether you bought that in Nova Scotia?

    Cheers, Kate

  12. I have the same lily-flowered tulip as you do, or something very close to it anyway.

    Now I know where all the hummingbirds have gone. I recently read a post on a bird mailing list that the hummingbirds we see in the spring here are mostly migrants (headed north to eat at Jodi's?).

  13. Jodi,
    Spring is indeed wonderful and so is your garden. It's so full of pretty colors. I'm glad you are taking time to enjoy it all.

  14. Lovely hummingbirds and blooms..
    Great photos..

  15. Heavenly photos! I'm stuck in my recliner with a badly injured knee, so it's wonderful to be able to enjoy other people's gardens when I can't enjoy my own. Your chocolate garden sounds wonderful. Just the name "chocolate garden" sounds so delicious!

  16. This is great to have second spring while getting to your blog :) hummingbirds are great - I wish we could have them. I only have heard last year for the first time that we have in Poland a moth that is sometimes mistaken with hummingbird. It is Macroglossum stellatarum and picture you can see here :)


  17. That was tons of fun to walk through your garden. It really lifted my spirits. You have the most honest sounding voice. All your words ring true and clear.

    I thought about you when they announced the winner of AI. I thought--OH my Word!! I bet she fainted. Congrats.

    I can see by your garden that your cool weather bodes well for your flowers. Mine are drinking water like no tomorrow. And those tornadoes came so close to us that we could hear the debris hitting our house. I'm buying a plant tomorrow for a family that lost everything in their yard. It's bazaar really. They lost all their trees but it hardly damaged their house while the house next to them was completely demolished. Anyway--they now have a sun garden when they did have a shade garden.

    So thankyou for the kind thoughts our way as to the tornadoes. I was in our storm shelter counting down the minutes.

    I'm working on my blog and hoping to be back up soon.

  18. Dear Jodi,
    what a paradise! I love hummingbirds so much but we don' t have them in Germany. I had Darmera in my old garden a lovely flower but very often I had no blooms because the Spring is often to cold. The time of the Tulips is ending now - in your garden also?
    Have a great time

  19. Trying to catch up with my nice commenters, which has been a challenge with my Internets being so badly behaved...

    Rose, I know that for half the continent, the ruby-throated is the only hummingbird we see--maybe t's just been too cool yet for yours to arrive.

    Nancy, try some tubular flowers that the hummers can get their beaks into--they work better than geraniums.

    MMD, I love the idea of your dayglo planting...works for me!

    Corinne, yes it IS a blast watching them--and they come to my office window when their feeders need filling. Like now!

    Beckie, hummingbirds are a great 'medicine for melancholy', as RAy Bradbury put it. It was fun seeing 'early' spring blooms too, right when I needed them most--when others were having them in Feb/March, also known as FARCH!

    Lisa, glad you had a great weekend...I think Darmera would grow just fine for you. It's never given me any grief at all.

    Yolanda, I wish you had hummingbirds, wouldn't the Bliss Team enjoy watching them! Mungus makes speeches at them....

    OUrfriendben, glad you're getting hummers...if my Net speed stays up, tonight is going to be 'visit everyone I haven't had much chance to visit' evening in the blogosphere, so I'll have to come see you. Today's musical selections are varying between Chopin (when I'm working) and David Cook (when I'm taking a break and answering emails/comments, etc. Big surprise there. :-)

    Frances, we can sure all use happy thoughts, and for me the garden is mostly a big happy thought. Even the dandelions.

    Kate, I did get my hummingbird feeder here in NS, a couple of years ago. It's been a very durable one, but I have several blown-glass ones which they also really like.

    Entangled, I'm surprised about the hummingbirds. We do certainly get a lot of them, the past several years, but I've really planned/planted for them, and they've been breeding like crazy. Same with the swallows. It's been a happy thing.

    Randy and Jamie, some times we gotta MAKE time, don't we?

    Surya, glad you enjoyed!

    Amy, I'm sorry about the knee...advil and ice. My knee is *finally* much better than it has been in months, but I think it's the yoga.

    Ewa, the hummingbird moth is really cool--we see them occasionally here, but I like my hummingbirds even more. :-)

    Anna--where the HECK are you? I don't have your email, and your blog is missing in action, and no one seems to know why...Your comment tells me you're okay, but I still worry...being a worrywort and all. Please email me so we can catch up.
    And Yah...I was damn tickled about the AI win for DC. Still am. Guy's got a voice that can call the birds right outa the skies. Nice to see a nice guy finish first--plus I LOVE the obvious friendship between DC and DA. Everyone wins!

    Wurzerl, I'm really intrigued that there are no hummingbirds in Europe. Our tulips are about midway--the cool temperatures here mean that they tend to last longer, although I must say they're all coming on quite well now. NOrmally I have tulips into mid-June, so we'll see what happens this year.

  20. Love your catchildren photos. My husband and I have 2 kitty cats and they are such great companions in our garden and home.

  21. Lovely flowers, must be that salt air. Looks like hummer heaven.

  22. I agree with you on the Callibrachoas, I bought my first plant this winter and it continues to have flowers today. It will definite be part of my garden next winter.

  23. Jodi, I had just read a post from a friend in Hazel Green Alabama who told me that they had less hummers than ever. I'm going to write him and tell him that's because all the hummers are in Nova Scotia.

    Lovely photos, now I want to get some more annuals.

  24. love all that color in your early garden!

  25. Your garden is looking wonderful! I've seen the hummers zoom past but they don't stay around. They must all be headed up your way.

  26. Ooooh, Jodi, what IS that primula??? That's the prettiest one I've ever seen.

    And guess what I saw today when I looked up after hearing that familiar low whirring? A RUBY-THROATED hummingbird! It was staring right at me, about three feet away. The most gorgeous thing I've ever seen. It's the first time I've ever seen a ruby-throated one in real life. Mostly it's just the green ones and they've been very abundant already this year.

    Gorgeous photos, as usual!

  27. Well worth the long wait, Jodi. Your garden is lovely.

  28. I'm sorry--I didn't see this till now----I can tell by the comment on my post that you're all caught up on what's happened. I did leave updates at blotanical but it all happened so fast. We've got$4,000 in damages to our new doors. But I'm Ok except that starting my new blog has left me with multiple problems getting my post to show on blotanical. But thanks so much for the caring words and response on my post to me. I think the world of you and love your blog.


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