Monday, May 7, 2012

May Flowers

April showers bring May flowers. We all know that.  But my question is, what do May showers bring?

This blog post! (Because I don't often work outside in the rain)

That beautiful tree with the red leaves is a copper beech.  It is planted on the outskirts of the Barn Ruins, just below the estate house west lawn.  Sadly, this beautiful leaf color will fade in the summer heat.

Many of the azaleas have passed their prime, but there are a good number still putting on a great show.  I'm optimistic they will hold out for Mother's Day Tea this Sunday.  The petals are still beautiful, whether on the plant or the ground.

This particular azalea, 'My Mary', has a delicious fragrance. The red buds open to an orange-yellow flower, creating a two-tone effect.  Hyacinthoides hispanica, also know as wood hyacinth or Spanish bluebells, adds a nice complimentary blue.  Both of these plants are somewhat deer resistant. The azalea is deciduous so there is no enticing green for Bambi to munch on winter, and the bluebells are apparently poisonous so may not be an appealing flavor to a deer.

If anyone in the Pacific Northwest happens to be reading this blog, it may be wise to avoid planting wood hyacinth in your yard, no matter how pretty.  I hear rumors that it is quite invasive in your part of the world.

This great groundcover Neillia sinensis, Chinese neillia is planted near 'My Mary'. 

Another great azalea, R. periclymenoides, Pinxterbloom azalea, is planted between the Pinetum and the Early Spring Walk. This is a native azalea found in the lower Appalachian Mountains. 

Magnolia sieboldii is loaded with white flowers along the Pinetum steps.

Magnolia acuminata, also known as the cucumber tree, is in bloom.  The flowers blend in with the foliage quite well.  However, this is the tree that was crossed with other magnolias to produce the very unusual yellow-flowered magnolias we have in the Pinetum.  Look a few blog posts back if you missed them.

Many of the rhododendrons have started to bloom also.  This unknown yellow hybrid is my favorite.

This unknown hybrid is also one of my favorites.

Can you count the number of flowers on the rhododendron in this photo? I know I can't.  This is what I would call "loaded".

Crataegus viridis 'Winter King' is covered with white flowers.  It is planted in our visitor parking area along with many other plant species that provide seasonal interest as well as food for wildlife. The robins love the hawthorn berries in the fall.

Amsonia tabernaemontana, also known as bluestar, blooms near the education building and along Azalea Lane. This plant also has great fall color, and is a native perennial wildflower.  It blends nicely with the purple iris nearby.

There are more great irises planted in the Shrunken Garden of the Pinetum.

'Hartlage Wine' sweetshrub.  This is a cross between Chinese sweetshrub and native Carolina allspice.  It has the hardiness of Carolina allspice and the large blooms of the Chinese sweetshrub.  It is in my top 5 for shrubs.  Maybe because I'm partial to maroon.

Aesculus x carnea 'Fort McNair'

Centaurea montana, perennial cornflower
Ornithogalum umbellatum, Star-of-Bethlehem. The 'June' hosta in the background gives this photo a watercolor-like appearance.

I'll end this blog post on a small note. Namely, Kenilworth ivy, and forget-me-not.  The small flowers are worth looking at up close. Kenilworth ivy adds character to the stone walls, even if it is technically a weed.  Don't tell my boss I photograph weeds.  I just learned a fun fact about Kenilworth Ivy.  The flower will grow toward light (positively phototropic) until it is fertilized.  At that point it then grows away from light (negatively phototropic).  This way, the seed will be dispersed into the dark crevices of the wall and germinate precisely where this plant loves to grow.

Speaking of forgetting, don't forget to register for Mother's Day Tea or the free photo walk the Saturday prior!

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