This Spring has been cooler than usual. I think we’re paying for our mild winter and before you know it, it will be hot and summery. As usual, I’m so busy designing and working in other people’s gardens that mine is full of weeds and the back driveway is full of plants that need to be planted. That’s why you haven’t heard from me in two weeks.

Saruma henryi

Saruma henryi

I did take a few minutes this afternoon to wander into the garden so that you could see what is in bloom. In the back, under old Magnolias (whose blossoms were destroyed by a frost), are two of my favorite shade perennials, Saruma henryi and Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’. I love the heart-shaped, slightly fuzzy foliage of the Saruma as well as the lemony flowers. Its big spurt of bloom is now but it will rebloom periodically throughout the summer.

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

Brunnera ‘Jack Frost’

Brunnera macrophylla 'King's Ransom'

Brunnera macrophylla ‘King’s Ransom’

The delicate blue flowers of the Brunnera only last a week or two but the silvery, variegated foliage lasts until frost and brightens any shady spot. Another cultivar, ‘King’s Ransom’ is also variegated but this one has cream instead of silver in the leaf.

Astilbe 'Amber Moon', Corydalis ochroleuca, Hakonechloa macra 'All Gold'

Astilbe ‘Amber Moon’, Corydalis ochroleuca, Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’

A vignette that I’ve created for morning sun, at the front edge of a bed, is Astilbe ‘Amber Moon’, Corydalis ochroleuca, and Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’. Some Galium odoratum (Sweet Woodruff) and a groundcover sedum have nicely insinuated themselves into the vignette. Both the Astilbe and Hakonechloa have bright chartreuse leaves. The astilbe will have pink spikes in June. The creamy white flowers of the Corydalis will continue to bloom until frost and will also self seed. It’s impossible to have too much of it.

New cones of Picea abies 'Acrocona'

New cones of Picea abies ‘Acrocona’

Picea abies 'Acrocona';

Picea abies ‘Acrocona’;

Although perennials are my first love, I like the structure and texture that conifers offer to the garden and landscape. One of my favorites is Picea abies ‘Acrocona’. Although it will ultimately grow 15’ high, it is a slow grower, thus perfect for my garden, but its special attributes are the color of its new cones – pink! – and its irregular, twitchy shape.

Paeonia tenuifolia

Paeonia tenuifolia

Peonies are spectacular when they are in bloom, alas for such a short period of time but that time is to be treasured. I’ve tried to grow some of the other species but the one that has captured my heart is Paeonia tenuifolia with its bright rose, single blooms and delicate, cut-leaf foliage that far outlasts the blooms. The foliage provides a wonderful contrast to the bold, silver cardoon foliage that is nearby.

Geranium maculatum 'Espresso'

Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’

No gardener ever pretends to know it all because there is no explanation for some things that occur in the garden. For instance, in 2013, I planted Geranium maculatum ‘Espresso’. In 2015, it never appeared. Much to my surprise, it has reappeared this spring. Guess it just decided to take a vacation. Who knows what will show up next?