And the rain, rain, rain; came down, down, down … seems I recall that line from a classic Winnie the Pooh episode. Precipitation fell 22 days in May for a total of 8.5 inches of rain at Powell Gardens weather station and we know we were on the low-end of rainfall amounts in the region. Day five of June and we already have 2.7 inches of rainfall for the month.
Karen Case took this shot from the Heartland Harvest Garden’s silo looking down on the Villandry Quilt Garden on one of our lovely rainy days. Consider bringing an umbrella and walking the gardens in the rain! It’s a memorable experience.
The high amounts of moisture have impacted many of the fruiting plants in the Heartland Harvest Garden. Sweet and pie cherries have mostly spoiled but the Nanking Bush Cherries (Prunus tomentosa — seen above) have shrugged off this moisture and are quite tart and delicious. Look for these in the tutti-fruity maze of Fun Foods Farm. (photo by Karen Case)
Red Currants (Ribes hybrid ‘Red Lake’) are also producing beautiful pendant clusters of delicious fruit right now as well. Currants are not widely grown in our region but we have found several varieties do very well here and the fruits are perfect for preserves. (photo by Karen Case)
The potatoes look absolutely beautiful despite all the rain, our well prepared beds with extra drainage have kept them happy. The flowers and foliage on them is simply as beautiful as any ornamental plant.
Potato flowers are either white, pink, or blue depending on the variety of potato. These bluish flowers are from the ‘All Blue’ potato in the Menu Garden.
The Asian Kousa Dogwoods (Cornus kousa) have been really lovely and prefer this heavier rainfall — though they set their flower buds last season. We had normal rainfall in 2014 which helped them have a better season. Recent droughts have made them sporadic bloomers — this tree is by the Rock & Waterfall Trolley Stop.
This is our Variegated Kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa ‘Variegata’) with extra lovely foliage this year because of the rainy conditions. Look for it and most of our Kousa Dogwoods along the lower part of the Dogwood Walk between the Visitor Center and the Island Garden.
Our showiest Kousa Dogwood with the largest blooms is the cultivar ‘Moonbeam’ which was selected by the late great plantswoman Polly Hill. Look for this tree also along the lower Dogwood Walk.
On the native plants front, our native remnant prairies up along the Byron Shutz Nature Trail have never looked better as well. Here’s one of our two species of native delphiniums on the site: Carolina Delphinium (Delphinium carolinianum). Our carolina delphiniums are a blend of colors from white to light blue as we are right at the transition zone between the eastern variety (variety carolinianum) with mainly blue flowers and the western variety “Prairie Larkspur” (var. virescens) which has white flowers.
These are the gorgeous indigo flowers of Wild Alfalfa (Psoralea argophylla) also found only on our native prairie remnants. It’s a beautiful companion to pale purple coneflowers and butterfly milkweed and is also a legume enriching the prairie soils with nitrogen.
This is the flower of a rather uncommon shrub called Redroot (Ceanothus herbaceus). It also grows on our native prairie remnants and is a pollinator magnet. You can see it is already producing reddish fruits that ripen black by midsummer. This is a relative of the more well-known New Jersey Tea that blooms in mid-summer and the western California-lilacs which may have blue flowers. Redroot has been hybridized with California-lilacs to create some neat pink and blue-flowering garden hybrids that also attract many pollinators.
*Please note that the nature trail is open but the grass is long and the conditions marshy at best — we can’t mow it because we would create big ruts. If you hike the trail, be sure and wear boots and tick protection.
The Nature Connects Lego(R) sculptures are weathering the rain well, and though we have had too much, us gardeners still prefer it to a drought. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade: get out and enjoy the many bounties of this rainy season — actually quite a blessing after all the dry years we have endured lately.