It’s the first week of June. It got warm early, early, early this year. Our last frost was just barely 32°–and it took place nearly a week sooner than usual on the 16th of May and not the 22nd. The annual flowering plants in the borders of my homeacres got a great start and showed to advantage right through the first half of May.
But it’s been dry for the past week and a half. We had a great soaking rain at the beginning of the last week of May, and that was the last we saw fall from the sky. We’ve been putting hundreds and hundreds of gallons of water onto the vegetable garden to get those plants wet enough that they can flower and fruit or extend their root system or burgeon with leaves–or whatever it is that we hope for from the specific cultivar. Not so for the blooms in the borders.
Trica Skidmore, who worked these borders for more than a quarter century, put in reliable annuals. She put in plants that wouldn’t flower too early and get blasted by frost. She put in plants that weren’t sensitive to the windy conditions we sometimes have up here on the rolling plains between mountain ridges. And all these plants seem to be managing just fine without water at the moment.
I grant you, these are mature, established borders whose feet are self-shaded and whose resistance to pests is proven. But they’re doing very well indeed irrespective. I’ve got peonies with shaggy heads of white or pink and dazzling perfumes. I’ve got roses, delicate and spiny, in an array of colors and bloom sizes. I’ve got foxgloves and coral bells out front in the shade bed where the chickens have taken to frolicking.
Phlox mound brightly along the fence-line toward the barn. The geraniums and irises are pretty much over now, but the monkshood has a longer flowering period and is still at it. So are the nepeta, but they’re coming to the end of their run. The mock orange sheds petals with every dancing breeze along the west side of the front porch. Daylilies are beginning to make their show. So far I’ve seen gold, yellow and deep orange. I’m sure there are more on the way.
The columbines are finishing gradually, since they like partial shade and aren’t getting cooked off by the bout of strong sun we’ve had recently. Behind them are coming the plants I know as Arkansas sundrops–though I’ve heard them called other things. Their cheerful yellow flowers and glossy dark green leaves are making a show along the whole south side border, from under the great room windows right around to the back porch.
Though not blooms, I have to make mention of the shade bed by the side door. Phil Rhodes and Jessie Newburn collected ferns from our woods and set them in the bed there during the first Volunteer Work Party. The sweet woodruff was sent from Jessie’s mom’s garden to enrich mine. Both the ferns and the woodruff have taken to their new location and are doing splendidly.