Garden Photo of the Day

Wendy’s garden in Virginia, Day 1

A small dogwood flowers at the end of the path. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

Today’s photos (and Monday’s) are from Wendy Kremer. She says, “I garden in Northern Virginia on a mostly sunny, quarter-acre suburban lot with rocky clay soil. This is my first home and my first garden, but we’ve been here for almost 15 years now.

This photo is from last year, when the loropetalum peaked at the same time as the bulbs. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

“Even as a child I wanted my own flower garden, and as a teenager I fell in love with English style cottage gardens and perennial borders. I began to assemble a folder of inspiring pictures from magazines and garden catalogs and I learned as much as I could about the plants that captivated me. I didn’t get my own garden until I was 31, but by that time I had about as much gardening knowledge as you can acquire without actually having planted a single perennial, and I was able to avoid some common rookie mistakes.

Bulbs in bloom at the spring peak are Narcissus ‘Thalia’, Narcissus ‘Hawera’, Muscari armeniacum, little ‘Lady Jane’ tulips, ‘Pink Impression’ tulips and Ipheion uniflorum ‘Wisley Blue.’ Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

“It still took me some time to accept that my climate and soil were not ideal for delphiniums and a few other English cottage garden staples. I planted almost everything you see in these pictures (inside the fence, anyway) myself, with the exception of three existing shrubs and two large conifers planted by the previous owners.

I started out with a package of 25 Muscari armeniacum bulbs – now I have thousands. They obviously don’t mind heavy clay soil. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

“We built the gravel path in Fall 2011. I have added new beds and expanded existing ones over the years, removing countless rocks and making homes for plant divisions, seedlings, and new acquisitions.”

Loropetalum ‘Zhou Zhou Fuschia’ in full bloom. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

Wow, Wendy. It’s the epitome of spring! **On Monday we’ll see a few wider views of Wendy’s garden and find out what happens in her beds in May. A Friday cliffhanger! Aren’t I evil?! Stay tuned! In the meantime you’ll find much more info in the captions.**

Variegated red twig dogwood against the loropetalum – camassia and double white narcissus at lower left in the background. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

***I’m getting so many great submissions, but I can always use more! Dig out your cameras, take a big long walk around your garden, and SEND ME PHOTOS! I love having more than I could possibly process to choose from. Thanks!!***

***One more thing…..have you always wondered what your fellow GPODers are like in person? Never thought you’d get a chance to meet them? Check this out…. While the GPOD isn’t officially a taunton forum, it’s close enough, and I wanted to extend the invite. Anybody at all interested? I’d be willing to search for some gardens to tour…

Camassia leichtlinii caerulea in full bloom with golden spirea ‘Ogon’ as a backdrop. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer
Ipheion uniflorum ‘Wisley Blue’ glows in the early evening light. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer
Tiny Narcissus ‘Hawera’ with two types of muscari. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer
Fritillaria meleagris. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Wendy Kremer

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  1. wGardens 05/31/2013

    Wow! What a lovely greeting with these photos this morning! Wonderful splash of springtime color- great harmony in your selections. Would love to see more photos from later in the season, also!

  2. user-1020932 05/31/2013

    great early spring garden! now with days nearing 90 these photos gave me a mental cool down before heading out. great job and you are fully realizing your garden dreams. i can see LOTS of work having been done there and gravel pathways are never an easy task but worth the effort after the job is done. took me a few years to accept that delphiniums were not gonna work here too! i have to kill something a few times before i surrender to not having the correct zone or growing conditions

  3. jwiegmull 05/31/2013

    What a wonderful spring garden! I, too, love blue in the garden and really enjoyed all of the blue muscari in yours.

  4. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/31/2013

    Hi, Wendy, after reading your story and viewing your delightful pictures, the opening line of Disney song came to mind, "A dream is a wish your heart makes". So, your garden filled with so many beautiful flowers is a dream come true and the little girl in you ( and the now grown-up Wendy who has done all the work) must rejoice!
    What is the lively pink bush that is such an attention getter?

  5. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    Thanks for the nice comments, everyone!

    meander1, the pink bush is loropetalum 'Zhou Zhou Fuschia' - we're at the northern end of the hardiness zone for loropetalum, but I took a chance on it and with recent warm winters the gamble has paid off. They are becoming much more common here in the mid-Atlantic since we haven't seen sub-zero temperatures in many years.

    There will be a lot more pictures on Monday showing how the perennials fill in around the bulbs.

    tntreeman, it's good to know I'm not the only one who persisted in trying delphiniums :).

  6. soilsister8 05/31/2013

    Wonderful garden! I like how you've given details with each photo. re: Camassia leichtlinii caerulea It was good to see this bulb in a garden setting rather than a catalog.

  7. User avater
    meander_michaele 05/31/2013

    Wendy, thank you for quick response to my question but you must be shaking your head at me for my inattention to your thorough plant info under your pictures. Big clueless "Duh" on my part but I'm sure you understand the tendency to just soak in the images and hungrily move on to the next one. I'm now relooking and reading as I go through them again. I have a threesome of loropetalums that I planted on the outskirts of a bed and decided to let them do their thing after a few years of pruning them down...they are now about 10 ft tall. I wasn't sure how they would do for me hardiness wise but I guess I have my answer!

  8. tractor1 05/31/2013

    Wow... Fritillaria meleagris twice in one week, a new plant for me... I already ordered a hundred as a test, deer are not supposed to nosh them:

    A slew of interesting plants at that web site, gonna splurge on some of their attractive melons too.

    I like that dogwood, and I hope to see those other trees next... what's that plant with blurred orange foliage in the foreground? Naturally I can't see that gravel! LOL

  9. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    tractor1, if you're talking about the dogwood picture, the orangish foliage in the lower left is the new growth on a young crape myrtle. Brent and Becky's is a great source for bulbs. I hope you enjoy your new purchases.

  10. tractor1 05/31/2013

    Hmm, had me fooled by that fancy schmancy monica (Muscari armeniacum), here us commoners are not so hoity toity, we call it Grape Hyacinth. :-) A very nice garden with a wonderful assortment of color. Thank you, Wendy.

  11. cwheat000 05/31/2013

    It shows that you learned a lot about gardening before you dove into your first project. Your results are divine. You grow some of my favorite varieties of narcissus. Your use of the smaller bulbs is marvelous. That sitting spot looks like a wonderful place to enjoy your successes. What is the multi-stemmed small tree to the back left of the table and chairs?

  12. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    cwheat000 that multi-stemmed shrub behind the seating area is a purple Rose of Sharon. I have very mixed feelings about it. It's one of the plants the previous owners planted approximately 25 years ago. It has a long bloom time, and pollinators love it, but it reseeds itself widely and I'm always pulling up seedlings. It is so well established that I'd probably need a bulldozer to remove it.

  13. dizzykayak 05/31/2013

    I am not ready to give up on Delphiniums yet. I have switched to the New Zealand hybrids by Dowdeswell's. Some came back and put on spectacular growth, some were eaten alive by I am assuming slugs, and some didn't return. So I planted more.

    Your garden looks lovely, and 31 is not too late to start gardening obviously. That is young to be a gardener in my experience. I am 46 (probably the same as you) and I am still the youngest gardener around that I know, and have been for 26 years now.

  14. cwheat000 05/31/2013

    After reading the comments, I want to join the lovefest for Brent and Becky's bulbs. I have a little box that just arrived yesterday from them. I got some Acanthus spinosis, some Banana Cream daisies, and some Alstromeria 'Tangerine Tango'.

  15. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    dizzykayak I may have to look into those NZ hybrids...where are you located? Some years I plant annual larkspur from seed as a substitute. I need to do that again.

    And yes, I'm in my mid-40s and it does seem that most serious gardeners tend tend to be over 50. I recently joined a new local garden club, though, and I would guess that most of our members are in the 35-50 age range. It has been fun!

  16. dizzykayak 05/31/2013

    I'm in southern Ontario. I have ordered seed directly from Dowdeswell's before, but now I can usually find a few great independent garden stores that will have a few plants for sale.

    I'm envious of your younger garden club. I love my blue haired ladies and men, but occasionally it would be nice to have gardening friends that are closer to my own age. I pushed my neighbour around Canada Blooms in her wheelchair, and I tried to fill my van with more garden lovers but none of them were well enough to go.

  17. GrannyMay 05/31/2013

    Absolutely beautiful! Muscari and narcissus always spell spring to me. Congratulations on using them so effectively.
    The rabbits/deer nibble down my muscari leaves, then come back to feast on the blossoms. This year, in desperation, I applied a liberal dose of PlantSkyyd, and was finally able to enjoy the flowers. It does work, but smells like a dead animal and looks like blood from a sacrifice to the garden gods. (Thanks tntreeman, I did know about it) Dogs love the smell and I think I saw more buzzards than usual wheeling around overhead!

  18. Canthelpmyself 05/31/2013

    Monica? Do you mean moniker?

    These are beautiful pictures. I am so jealous -- and your first garden? Very impressive. VERY!

  19. schatzi 05/31/2013

    Wow! Gorgeous! And that loropetalum!! I want one! I wonder if it would live in zone 8? I also love the small bulbs and any and all daffodils. I can grow delphiniums here - if I keep them in pots on the deck, away from the slugs. Tulips are another plant that will have to stay on the deck from now on. I have lived here with deer for 35 years and this is the first year they have eaten the tulips...and hardy geraniums...and a few other things. So far they haven't found the peas in the raised bed, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Everyone who sends in pictures has such gorgeous gardens. I enjoy them all. I think mine are pretty, but they are not so neat and well tended.

  20. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    dizzykayak Our garden club was started by a local garden blogger (after reading her very funny initial post about it ( I decided this was a group I wanted to be part of! You might try to find garden bloggers in your area. Bloggers and their local followers might be a little younger than your blue haired friends.

    Schatzi - not sure where you are in Zone 8, but loropetalums are very common on the east coast in Zone 8 (my parents live in NC and I see them all over) and generally keep their leaves year round in that zone. Here in Zone 7 the leaves look a little bedraggled by the end of the winter but they recover quickly.

    GrannyMay, the fence protects me from deer but not from rabbits. I get some nibbles on my muscari foliage in late winter but it rarely affects the blooms. Perhaps because I have so many I don't even notice. LOL at your PlantSkyyd experiment! I do have to put wire cages around my emerging lily shoots if I want blooms. I use one of the stinky sprays on the frequently nibbled stuff like campanulas and dianthus with mixed results.

  21. Wife_Mother_Gardener 05/31/2013

    Wendy, so very beautiful! Many of my favorite plants together... many that I also have. But Loropetalum is new to me. I am in zone 5. Do you think a large planter of it might work? So pretty!! Thanks for sharing!

  22. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    Wife_Mother_Gardener I think most varieties of loropetalum are generally labeled as cold hardy to zone 7 or even 7b (I'm 7a). Unless you have a way to protect a container over the winter it is unlikely to survive in zone 5 in an average year, unfortunately.

  23. VAgrandma 05/31/2013

    I'm envious of the loropetalum. My daughter has them in her NC garden, but I haven't had the nerve to try one in NoVa. We are in Warrenton, so maybe a bit closer to the mountains and cooler than you are? Think I will try one in a protected spot.

  24. WendyK_NoVA 05/31/2013

    VAgrandma I'm near the Fairfax/Loudon border so yeah, a little warmer than you, but if you have a protected spot, give it a try! There are a lot of different varieties and hardiness varies, so you might want to research a bit. My 'Zhou Zhou Fuschia' is reportedly among the hardier varieties, but new varieties are coming out all the time and some may be hardier than others.

  25. user-1020932 05/31/2013

    i'm in zone 6b (so they say) and Loropetalum are everywhere here i haven't seen any more than 6 ft and they do defoliate some winters but come back fast in spring. very few grow the white one and i kinda like it

  26. tarsier 05/31/2013

    What a beautiful garden! I especially love the ipheon and the camassia, which are bomb-proof in my garden.

    We can't grow delphiniums here in North Carolina, either. But its cousin larkspur grows very well, if you start it in pots in January, of if you spread the seed outdoors in the fall and let it fend for itself all winter. You get the same gorgeous blue-purple colors.

  27. janeeliz 05/31/2013

    Such an inviting spring garden! That Loropetalum is new to me-absolutely gorgeous; looks great with all your lovely bulbs. I, too, have mostly clay soil, and have no luck with delphiniums, either. I grow monkshood a variety of blue shades including a bi-color -also ivory, yellow, and even pink . The bloom season is long with all the varieties . Monkshood is a easier plant to grow -loves clay soil and pt. shade/shade.Its handsome leaves turn stunning gold in fall.

  28. WendyK_NoVA 06/01/2013

    tarsier - I have grown larkspur in the past (there are a few self sown larkspur just about to bloom, in fact) but I definitely should buy another packet of seeds this fall. It's almost always the pale colored larkspur that reseed in my garden, and they are pretty but I do love those deep blues and purples. Thanks for the reminder!

    JaneEliz - Monkshood is so pretty, but I don't think it would handle the DC area's hot, humid summers very well. I don't have much shade, and what I do have is very dry shade.

    tntreeman I need to Google white loropetalum. It sounds very pretty.

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