It’s May 27, and the gardens are already in their summer lull. There isn’t much color except for the greens of the hostas, ferns, and shrubs, with a smattering of orange and fuchsia impatiens. The coral bells, belying their name, are dull green with only hints of burgundy. The flowers of the astilbes, so hotly pink just a few days ago, have dimmed. Even the Double Knockout rose is taking a breather.
The oakleaf and ‘Mini-Penny’ hydrangea in the lower 40 are covered with dozens of young blossoms, but they’ve turned their backs on me, preferring to face the morning sunlight they get from the neighbors’ side of the fence. Can’t say I blame them.
In the past 9 months, in anticipation of this dearth of summer color, I’ve planted 10 new hydrangeas – 2 Limelight, a Quick Fire, an Endless Summer, 3 Tardiva, a Cityline Rio, and a Little Honey and Pee Wee (both oakleaf). Although all the plants are thriving, only Endless Summer has a few young blooms. Is it too soon in the season for the others to show buds? Do they need more than a year to recover from the shock of transplanting? I don’t know. Thank goodness the old mopheads on the patio are loaded this year … I’m guessing it’s because I finally figured out that they shouldn’t be trimmed past early August.
Bianca had hundreds of hardy begonias in her gardens, and every one mysteriously disappeared over the years that we’ve lived here. I’m adding them back. In a month or two, their long-lasting, small (but showy) pink flowers will emerge. In the meantime, I can get a bit of a color fix if I stoop to look at the gorgeous underside of their foliage. If these plants are happy in their location – dappled shade is best, in my experience – they’ll re-seed abundantly.