Garden Diary - April 2011

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Sunday, 10 April 2011
Garden Party at the Silbersteins

The invitation comes months in advance. The Silbersteins are going to host another Spring garden visit and potluck dinner. My calendar is duly marked. A reminder pops up in my e-mailbox. It's early this year, since Easter, Pesach, and Earth Day all swirl together the third week in April and the Silbersteins wanted to avoid any conflicts. Last year the timing wouldn't have been an issue. By April 6 the cherries and magnolias were in full bloom, even starting to drop their petals. This year? This year is cooler and wetter and plants are flowering in the slow lane. But I don't care. Any day spent in a garden is better than the best day of fishing (and the fishing season opened yesterday.)

I arrive midmorning, and I'm not the first. People who arrived earlier than did I are already out and about
in the garden. Neither am I the last to get here. Hand over my pot of lentil and chorizo sausage stew so
Melody can start it reheating and head out to join the happy group of garden gadabouts. What fun!

There's a wonderfully delicate weeping cherry cascading
over the little stream that bisects the property.

Steve has a serious case of zone denial. My brother regretted that he
could not grow lilacs when he lived in California. Too warm. Steve is
just the opposite. Don't tell him it's too cold to grow something where
he gardens in New Jersey. Camellias? Not a problem. Ditto
loropetalum, crinums, some palms, hardy banana, and a host of others.

At BelleWood Gardens my ferns are still tight little nubbins. Here, the fiddleheads are elongating.

I have the familiar running myrtle, Vinca minor. And yes, I have the variegated form too. Steve and Melody
on the other hand, have Vinca major 'Elegantissima', which is more often seen in summer as a bedding plant
happily sprawling out of hanging baskets and window boxes. Not here, where it's just another ground cover.

I'm charmed by the flowering bulbs at the end of the driveway, especially this hyacinth, 'Fondant'
also known as 'Pink Frosting'. Just as airy and sweet as a carnival cone of spun sugar cotton candy.

Lungwort, Pulmonaria, the meaning is the same. It was once thought that by the doctrine of signatures
the spotted leaves meant the plant was useful in the treatment of lung diseases. That lets this one,
Pulmonaria rubra 'David Ward' out of the pharmacopeia, since its apple green leaves are edged
with white, nary a spot to be seen. Nice rose pink flowers too. Good for the garden, if not a gargle.

Accompanied by lettuce-green leaves the dainty flowers of Primula vulgaris, emerge from leaf litter.

A vigorous clump of soft purple Lenten rose, Helleborus orientalis appear quite happy in these woods.

Hellebores are wonderful plants. They thrive in woodland, flower early in Spring, and are beautiful.
Beautiful? How about stunning! Just look at 'Silvermoon'. It is a complex three-way cross between
Helleborus niger and H. sternii, which itself is a cross of H. argutifolius & H. lividus, rejoicing
in the name . ericsmithii. There are several cultivars, of which 'Silvermoon' is one. The flowers
shape remind me of H. niger, the foliage, of H. sternii. It is the burgundy flushed stems and the
deep pink tepals that make all the ericsmithii so recognizable. And so coveted. I have 'Silvermoon',
just acquired 'Ivory Prince'. And have honest horticultural lust in my heart for any others I come across.

Reflections in a gazing globe.

Marvellous planting. A weather worn swan pot serenely floating on a pool of rich blue Scilla sibirica.

Having walked up an appetite people settle down to a bountiful potluck feast (and desserts too!)

And the tools of a gardener's trade, temporarily laid aside for the festivities, will soon be picked up.
Guests depart. And the endless round of caring for a garden will be resumed. Quietly, and in private.

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