Despite the Sybil-like weather lately (or perhaps because of it) there’s been a flurry of floral activity in the Temporary Garden. Of course there is the seemingly-obligatory double flowering cherry whose show only stayed in town for a week.

ubiquitous double flowering cherry


On the other hand, Phlox stolonifera has blanketed several areas:
phlox bed A phlox bed Bphlox bed Cphlox in raised bedsIronically, I’ve never had success with this plant in “my” gardens but that may be because the soil in all of them was more alkaline than hereabouts. The geology and topography of our roughly 25 mile x 80 mile region is bisected lengthwise by a glacial moraine. North of this central ‘ridge’ the topography is somewhat hilly and the soil is richer, more acid, and contains more clay. The land south of the ridge was formed by the ‘washout’ over centuries from the moraine and thus is flat, and has less-acidic and sandier soil. The further south one goes (toward the bay and ocean) the sandier the soil becomes until it is literally all sand at the beaches. This is the first time I’ve lived in what locals call the “north shore” – meaning north of the moraine – and perhaps the creeping phlox prefers these conditions. (The tall phlox always did well for me though.) The whole north/south thing also explains why I never knew until now that I’m allergic to oak pollen: They aren’t common on the “south shore”, but this northern area is choked with them. 😦 (and unfortunately, so am I)


ajuga and creeping phloxA small area of ajuga and pink phlox have nestled up together — probably in mortal fear of the surrounding weeds — for a nice color combination.


first dogwood flowersThere are two Cornus kousa on the property: One at the house end of the driveway and the other in the back yard. Both are the same size and were probably planted at the same time, and both get the same full-sun-all-day conditions, yet the driveway dogwood is a good two weeks ahead of the other in terms of leafing out, budding out, and flowering. The only real difference I can figure out is that the driveway one is less than two feet from the cement driveway while the backyard one has nothing heat-retaining or sun-reflective even remotely close to it. These are a few of the first flowers on the driveway dogwood.


neighbors dogwood The next-door neighbor’s dogwood, on the other hand, has reached about 20 ft tall. Nice view as long as you can mentally remove the utility line running from street pole to house, which honestly I never noticed until I began to take this photo.


neighbors spiraea

The same neighbor has a spiraea, which a friend of mine used to call a “cottontail bush” because she thought the flower clusters resembled the cottontail rabbit’s rear appendage. I’m not fond of spiraea because in my experience it seeds itself everywhere, but haven’t noticed any seedlings even though this one is right next to our shared property line/chainlink fence.


pieris japonica

Here’s a pieris in a side corner which I keep forgetting to weed; the neighbor’s spiraea is doing a “Hi, mom!” act on the other side of the fence. (Disclaimer: like everything else in the Temporary Garden/Money Pit, I am not responsible for the white vinylrama fencing. Miserable stuff, and I am constantly having to readjust the blankety-blank gates so that they will latch properly.)


Viburnumviburnum detail

Speaking of clusters of white flowers, this anonymous viburnum is also at the driveway/house juncture. It was ridiculously overgrown and I ruthlessly hacked it back about a month ago because I got sick of looking at the depressing collection of leaves that it had hung onto over the winter (I am so not a fan of semi-evergreen shrubs). Still a fair number of flowerheads though, and until I photographed them I never really appreciated their close-up interest.


Lamium galeobdolonOne of several invasive perennials installed by the former owners is Lamium galeobdolon (I knew it was a lamium but didn’t know which one until I saw the yellow flowers). In this case I don’t mind, because at least it smothers weeds which is something I can’t say about another invasive groundcover that they planted here…

And speaking of weeds, I hereby declare that the Temporary Garden easily qualifies for the subtitle of Weeds’R’Us (for readers in the UK, this is a play on the name of a store chain here called Toys’R’Us which is composed of aisle upon aisle of same. A grammatical nightmare, I know.) Between my notes from last autumn and what I’m seeing here now, plus due consultation with my handy copy of Weeds of the Northeast, the following weeds have been allowed to run rampant in the borders, beds, and lawn areas:

Annual bluegrass, carpetweed, chickweed, creeping spurge, dallis grass, dandelion, dock, foxtail, galinsoa, goosegrass, ground ivy, henbit, knotweed, lambsquarters, nutsedge, pineapple weed (Matricaria), plantain, purslane, quackgrass, ragweed, solanum, smartweed, speedwell, wild garlic (my nemesis in every garden), wild mustard, yellow wood sorrel… and there will, of course, be crabgrass later! (and I’m sure I missed a few weeds which haven’t reared their heads as yet)

Add to these the infestation of lawn grass that seeded itself not only in the ground-level beds but the raised beds as well (which is quite some trick, unless the prior owners decided to mow only every 2-3 weeks during those four months between signing of contract and handing over the key… which I suspect is exactly what happened). Believe me when I say that you have not known utter frustration until you have gazed upon a bed of creeping sedum punctuated with lawn grass over a good 50% of its area. The CIA should take note of this; forget waterboarding, just create an acre of that combination and tell political prisoners that they’ll have to remove all the grass while leaving the sedum undamaged. Trust me… after about ten minutes doing that, they’ll talk!