out with the tulips, in with the spirea

Last week seemed to be the last gasp for local tulips and the honeysuckle blossoms. As the temperatures got warmer, these blooms appeared to be signaling, See ya next year and peace out. But taking their place are these bridal veil spirea (spiraea prunifolia) flowers.

Oak Park Illinois Gardening Horseradish Armoracia Rusticana Flowers

The late afternoon sun caught these flowers just so. Late spring is here, and it is magic.

happy bees, happy life

Local bees are taking full advantage of spring flowers in Oak Park, and who could blame them? These nearby cherry blossoms are potent draws for bumblebees.

Oak Park Illinois Cherry blossom

These flowering honeysuckle shrubs also attract bees and cast the best smell. The air is perfumed with their scent. Dreamy.

Oak Park Illinois Honeysuckle

You might be wondering, what makes bees happy? An article by Melissa Caughey offers insight on what makes bees cranky. We can infer the following on what contributes to bee happiness:

  • Good weather
  • Abundant food sources
  • Freedom from predators
  • A nice queen

To read up on bee behavior, click here.

tender

The adjective tender has a couple meanings. My favorite is probably this:

Showing gentleness and concern or sympathy

Is there anything more tender than pink hydrangeas? I think not.

Chicago Illinois Garfield Park Conservatory Hydrangeas

I visited the Garfield Park Conservatory this afternoon to get my flower fix, and fix fixed. These tiny buds and petals are magic. Feathery soft and the perfect shade of pink. How tender.

gardening hits and misses

If you live in central #Mississippi and are thinking of working on or creating a garden, I say go for it. The soil here seems conducive for all kinds of plants and flowers. Here are my hits and misses.

The winners:

  • In the fall and winter, pansies and violas. I planted some last October that are still buzzing along.
  • In any season, liriope/lily turf/monkey grass. This might be my favorite clumping grass. When the plant matures, you can divide it and rehome the divided section just about anywhere. It’s like a BOGO plant. Buy one now, get one (free) later. Also, these grasses require little to no maintenance. It’s the plant gift that keeps on giving.

  • In the summer, impatiens, colocasia (Elephant Ears), and Boston ferns for shady areas.

  • In sunnier areas, impatiens, begonias, coleus, and crotons. Also Kimberly Queen ferns and knockout roses.

The misses:

  • Mums. Really love how full and bushy these flowers look, but they conked out pretty quickly. I ended replacing them with pansies and violas.
  • Hydrangeas. Terribly smitten with the pink color that hydrangeas can impart with the correct acidity levels, but these annuals did not thrive in my backyard. (Perhaps because the backyard was just too shady.)

bloom on, azaleas

March 2019 marks the end of my third winter in central Mississippi, and I’m embarrassed to admit this is the first time I’ve noticed all the beautiful azaleas.

This shrub produces some fantastic flowers in the most saturated colors. A bright pink, as observed on Quinn Street in #Belhaven:

And vibrant red on Whitworth Street:

And even fuchsia at the Mississippi State Capitol in downtown Jackson:

How magnificent.

the gestalt gardener

I’m a sucker for great public radio programming, and Mississippi Public Broadcasting does not disappoint. My favorite show, if I had to pick one, is The Gestalt Gardener–a 60-minute call-in show about plants, flowers, trees, landscaping, you name it–with Felder Rushing.

Each week, Felder fields questions from all over the state, with a few inquiries from neighboring states mixed in for good measure. And he always offers incisive, thoughtful feedback. I’ve learned oodles as a listener and newbie gardener. To listen to archives of this show, hop on over here. You and your garden can thank me later.

mums the word

One thing I’ve learned as a Jackson-Mississippi-by-way-of-Chicago transplant: Gardening is a wonderful pursuit if it suits your interests. It sure does mine. I’ve enjoyed gardening in the Deep South as much as I have enjoyed bicycling in Chicago, which is a great deal. Planting flowers is not just helpful for your property’s curb appeal and enjoyment, it’s also a great strategy for reducing stress. A week or so after ankle surgery, I used a couple sunny afternoons to plant these mums and pansies.┬áNavigating the front yard flower bed on crutches wasn’t all that easy and pretty slow going, but I like the process of digging and the outcome. The mums and pansies are so cheery. And low maintenance if that’s your thing.

Mums Jackson Mississippi Garden Flowers

Keeping up the lawn (freeing it of dead leaves and twigs) has been a lot more tedious than I remember from last autumn. This year I must have raked 13 oversize bags full of dead leaves, twigs, and fallen pine needles. Based on the amount of leaves still on the trees in my front and back yards, I probably have another 13 or so bags to go.