April Bloom Day Lessons

April finds the Fairegarden at peak bloom. There is a lot going on, including bee activity.

The slope behind the main house has large concrete steps that we made to be able to climb more easily to the top of the hill when the renovation began in 2000. Creeping thymes were planted on the risers. Those plants have been overtaken by more aggressive ground covers, including but not limited to the Ajuga repens, now in bloom. The bees adore the little blue spires. Once upon a time, when scaling these steep steps while I was wearing a long flowing skirt on a nice April day, a bee became trapped in the fabric as we moved ever upward. Stinging ensued as the bumble had a panic attack. Unlike honeybees, the larger furry ones can sting over and over again. Need it be said, no more skirt wearing in this part of the garden at this time of year. Mistakes are lessons from which we learn.

Narcissus bulbocodium var. conspicuus ‘Golden Bells’ were moved to this sunny spot after it was read that they needed to bake in the sun during their dormant summer siesta. Somehow, they were originally thought to be woodland dwellers. There are several other bulbs that need to be moved out from under shrubbery to meet their flower producing needs. Lesson learned.

One of the most successful mail order plant experiences ever in the annals, and believe me when I tell you, there have been many many orders, is the Heuchera sanguinea ‘Sioux Falls’ from Annie’s Annuals.

I add plants to my wish list on their site, and they send an email when the plant becomes available. This particular Heuchera was wished for because of the bright red flowers. It was ordered January 21 and was held in the greenhouse with the other plants ordered, (we don’t want them to ship a half filled box now, do we?), when it arrived in full bloom. Planted into the hypertufa trough in late winter, it has been nonstop blooming, with no end in sight, plenty of buds visible. Is there a lesson here? We think so.

This is the bed referred to as the Angel Corner, home of a concrete statue that was brought from my grandmother’s garden in Oklahoma many years ago. The sun is the easy bake oven for this unshaded spot and the tiny species Tulipa ‘Little Princess’ (orange) and T. ‘Little Beauty’ (cherry red) have returned faithfully here. The other half of the same order was planted in an equally sunny spot by a copper bowl birdbath that must be constantly refilled during summer. Those littles have dwindled in number with the passage of time. Perhaps they should be dug and moved to the Angel Corner that receives no hand watering. Yes, that would be the smart move.

In the hand written journals is a note to self, Dear Self: Add more violas to the left slope. The orders were followed, with Viola ‘Penny Marlies’ spread amongst the tapestry plantings last fall.

But in the larger scheme of things, perhaps blue violas were not the best color choice, pretty as they are. The blue Phlox divaricata ‘Blue Moon’ and now spent masses of Musari have provided plenty of cool shades. White would have been a better addition. Note to self…

Up in the knot garden, the white Tulipa viridflora ‘Spring Green’ masses planted in the quadrants are having their best year ever. The pea gravel mulch added last year is much to their liking, deterring the digging of the devil squirrels.

The white tulips are difficult to shoot in a long shot. It is really much prettier than this photo shows.

Especially now that the woven reed fence covering was added. Talk about a slow learner, I have been struggling to cover the ugly chain link fence on the western upper part of the property since day one. It is my fence, I chose it in a fit of tightwaddedness when we first bought this house for the female offspring to live in while attending college here. The fence down by the house is wood, but up the hill and around the back was done in the cheaper chain link since it was all a wilderness of brambles, trees and weeds, where privacy was not an issue. No one could even get up there. Until we moved here ourselves and had it cleared. Plantings of evergreen trees and shrubs have languished in the shady poison of the walnut tree just on the other side of the fence. But it wasn’t until the next door neighbors began clearing their wall of wilderness that I was spurred to action for the sake of privacy. The reed was inexpensive, available at the big box, lightweight and easy to install with just a few strategic wires attaching it to the chain link. A little slow on the uptake, but this lesson has been learned.

We hope this peek of what is blooming on a southeast Tennessee hillside will be supplemented by the worldwide sharing of blooms that can be seen listed on Mister Linky at the foot of Maydreamer Carol’s blog. Happy learning!


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30 Responses to April Bloom Day Lessons

  1. Sue says:

    I cannot get over how SPECTACULAR your garden is. Wow. Really. WOW!
    And as much as I love spring bloomers, I have yet to plant a single one. Perhaps I need to make a note to myself…………

    Thanks Sue, for those very kind words, I do appreciate you. The garden loves April, although we have tried to make it pretty for the whole year. You need to plant some spring bloomers! πŸ™‚

  2. Marcia says:

    Lovely garden. So far ahead of where mine is on this bloom day in April. Glad to see the golden bells – I just placed an order for some of those and will have to rethink where I plant them when they come next fall if they need warm sun in the summer.

    Thanks Marcia. We are zone 7 in southest Tennessee, spring comes early for us, but winter can still sneak in there, too. It looks like the freezes are done however, good! Do plant the little daffs in baking sun so you don’t have to move them later. There are other species daffs that are not blooming here that might get moved today to the easy bake over! πŸ™‚

  3. Eileen says:

    Just beautiful Frances, especially those white tulips. The pea gravel sounds like a good idea for those pesky squirrels.


    Thanks Eileen. The pea gravel is just the ticket, for many reasons. I guess that could be another lesson learned, highly recommended! πŸ™‚

  4. Randy Emmitt says:


    I want some of those Golden Bells, every time I see them in catalogs they are sold out. The white tulips are wow in your garden.

    Thanks Randy. Order early to get the bulbs you want. I have already placed one bulb order. There will be more. The little hoopskirts are so sweet, be sure and put them in baking summer sun. πŸ™‚

  5. Layanee says:

    It is all glorious. I hope to some day sit with you on that bench in the knot garden and discuss love, life and plants, of course. The fence is perfect.

    Thanks Layanee. I hope you come sit on the bench with me, too. We will solve all of the world’s problems! πŸ™‚

  6. Your hillside is ablaze with color and bloom. So much to see and enjoy. Cute but painful bee story though. My favorite is the massing of white tulips in the knot garden. It looks like such a contemplative spot from that bench. Happy GBBD.

    Hi Donna, Thanks. The knot garden is the place to be when those tulips are at peak. It was a good year for them. Happy Bloom Day to you! πŸ™‚

  7. nellie says:

    So many blooms. I love that hillside.

    Thanks Nellie, I am glad you enjoyed it. πŸ™‚

  8. Beautiful bloom day, F. Happy GBBD. The reed fence cover looks good. Love those Tulips. I’ve made a note for my Tulip order this year, and, BTW, can’t imagine how much better the shot of the Tulips in the Knot Garden could be.

    Thanks Helen, I appreciate that coming from you! The Spring Greens might not be the showiest tulips, well they are certainly not that, but they are perfect for the hedge enclosed knot garden. Happy Bloom Day to you! πŸ™‚

  9. Nell Jean says:

    Note to self: Order lots of Maureen tulips and try once again to bring them to bloom in the hot and humid south despite voles and tulip fire. Lesson not yet learned.

    Thanks Nell Jean. Maureen is a lovely tulip, too. Good luck with them! πŸ™‚

  10. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    This lesson was packed full of gardening tidbits that was learned without a wince of pain. Love seeing your garden in full lush. That willow fencing is beautiful. I should have done that. I have a length of tightwaddedness going across the back of our garden. Happy GBBd.

    Thanks for being such a good student, Lisa! HA Full lush is such a wonderful term, isn’t it? Gotta love our Christopher! It’s not to late to cover the tightwad mistake. I cut everything off the fence before installing the reed. Happy Bloom Day to you! πŸ™‚

  11. Dave says:

    Beautiful! The knot garden looks great with all those tulips. I will take my lesson from you and never wear a skirt around ajuga when its blooming. πŸ˜‰

    Thanks Dave. I am glad to hear you have internalized the no skirt lesson! πŸ™‚

  12. Gail says:

    Dear Frances, Fairegarden is looking fantastic! Your garden inspires me again: I have added more species tulips to the list; bulbocodium is a must; and, thinking through my viola color scheme for what will be blooming in the Spring. Goodness, my mixed colors were lovely all winter, but, they clashed w/the Lady Jane tulips! The new reed fence is a great backdrop to the Knot Garden. I am sure sales of the fencing will increase after today. have a sweet weekend and happy GBBD. xxoogail PS Add to list~No swirling skirts near the bees.

    Thanks Gail, I am very happy to provide inspiration to anyone. That is the reason I began blogging, to share what I have learned. You too have a great weekend, and a happy anniversary! πŸ™‚

  13. Phillip says:

    Wow, your garden is blazing with color. I love the knot garden with the white tulips. So pretty!

    Thanks Phillip. April is a very good month here. πŸ™‚

  14. Rose says:

    All I can say is Wow! and more Wow! Simply stunning, Frances. I know you have put so much work into this garden, but I would be tempted to just sit and take it all in–wearing jeans, not a long skirt, of course:) The reed fence really sets off the knot garden–great idea!

    Thanks Rose, wow one more time! Sorry, couldn’t resist. HA My normal routine is to work in the garden in the cool of the morning, then sit in various spots the rest of the day and take it in. No long skirts. πŸ™‚

  15. That ajuga looks stunning, though the no skirts rule sounds very sensible. Love your Knot Garden, hadn’t seen it before.

    Thanks Janet. The knot garden gets shown when it is looking good. Tulip time and then the Chinese trumpet blooming mid summer are usually when it is featured. Oh and the Iris reticulata bloom, and the viola beauty pageant… πŸ™‚

  16. Those white tulips are a dream. Okay, lesson learned, no half-empty boxes. Thanks and Happy Bloom Day (chuckle).~~Dee

    Thanks Dee. I am glad there will be no half empty boxes coming your way! HA Happy Bloom Day to you! πŸ™‚

  17. Christine says:

    Absolutely beautiful! Love, love what you’ve done with the tulips.

    Thanks Christine. The tulips are having a good year, I am glad you like them. πŸ™‚

  18. Magnificent! I’d be willing to leave my garden in April to visit yours, and that’s saying a lot.

    Thanks MMD, come on down!!! πŸ™‚

  19. Greggo says:

    So how many gardeners do you employ? Your garden must me very rewarding to you. The white tulips are impressive.

    It is just me, Greggo, just me, the aging gardener. My husband carries bags of mulch and gravel for me, and digs the larger holes. I am glad you like the tulips, they are having a good year. Gardening is my obsession. πŸ™‚

  20. cheryl says:

    O Frances what wonderous colour. All that are blooming here are a few crocuses and scillia’s. Spring is slow arriving this year 😦 Dang. Mind you it has given me time to clean the beds, rake and prune so goblet half full πŸ™‚
    I love your idea for fixing the nasty neighbour view. I had the same problem. Chainlink fence at the back, then “they” moved in and ripped out a healthy cedar hedge in front of it. Long story short I bought lattice panels, stained them to match the main fence and wired to the chainlink, et voila! Once again I have privacy πŸ™‚
    Thank you for reminding me Spring will arrive, at her own pace.

    Thanks for visiting Cheryl. Your spring is coming, I promise! Way to fix your fence, the lattice sounds perfect. We can’t depend on the taste of neighbors to share our need for privacy, sad to say.

  21. The white tulips on the corners of the knot garden are simply stunning. What a great choice to select white!

    Thanks Sage Butterfly. But don’t give me too much design credit. I originally planted 100 each of pink and white viridflora tulips in the quads. Only the whites ever came up! It just goes to show that nature is the better designer. πŸ™‚

  22. Lola says:

    As usual your garden is magnificent. Those white tulips sure make the Knot Garden look so inviting. More so with the new fence that makes this area more private. It would be wonderful to sit & observe all the beauty around.
    The pollinators are essential but I don’t have many. My fairly new neighbor uses chemicals for his sodded yard of last yr. I don’t use any for fear of harming our little friends.

    Thanks Lola. That is too bad about your neighbor. I hope as you get to know them better, perhaps you can persuade them to stop with the chemicals. Make a plea for the butterflies, most people like butterflies. TV ads want to convince us to buy their products and spend a whole lot of money to do so, that we MUST use that stuff. We must fight back. All of us. Save the planet! πŸ™‚

  23. Town Mouse says:

    Oh, I’m so glad you had a good experience with Annie’s. Aren’t her plants totally worth it? And that Heuchera is such a vibrant color… As for the knot garden, I’m so impressed how that’s turning out. Happy bloom day!

    Thanks Town Mouse. I am a huge supporter of Annie’s, wish I could go there in person and not pay the shipping! The knot garden has really benefitted from the pea gravel mulch. Happy Bloom Day to you! πŸ™‚

  24. Les says:

    I always enjoy it when garden bloggers show their loyal fans the big picture, and we get to see the plants in context. It reminds me I need to do more of it myself. Happy GBBD!

    Thanks Les. Readers do enjoy seeing the whole garden, or as much of it as can be shown in one shot here. It is not as pretty as the close ups, but good to have it out there, for inspiration as well as to show the imperfections. Hapy Bloom Day to you! πŸ™‚

  25. Darla says:

    You see how things should have been done or how you want to change some things around, I see…..more beautiful views of your garden with every photo you uploaded! That last photo is magazine worthy.

    Thank you Darla, you are so right! My eye is searching for what improvements can be made, it is the way of the gardener towards their own space. I never look at other gardens that way. A real photographer could take a magazine worthy shot of the knot garden, it is looking good this year. πŸ™‚

  26. Carol says:

    Wonderful pictures of your garden in its high spring finery, Frances!

    Thanks Carol. Bloom Day is such a fabulous way for everyone to share their gardens, my hat is off to you for thinking of it! πŸ™‚

  27. Alistair says:

    Frances your garden hasn’t half come alive, I love it. I really like your picture of the bee on the Ajuga, I will be on the look out to replicate this one except I don’t have Ajuga though.I don’t know how often we have tried the Narcissus bulbocodium var in our woodland spot, thank you, now I have a good excuse for the failure.

    Thanks Alistair. There will be more to come as the garden unfolds, but spring is always a good show here. The little hoopskirts were such a disappointment, they are sooo much happier now in the sunny, dry spot. If you have the easy bake over area, do give them another go! πŸ™‚

  28. Kathy says:

    It’s beautiful, Frances. Gardening is all about learning from one’s mistakes; the journal is invaluable for this.

    Hi Kathy, thanks. The Journal helps with the journey. πŸ™‚

  29. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I’m sitting here sighing in delight. Oh, to visit Fairegarden in the spring! If I weren’t so tired from a busy day on my corner of Katy, I’d hop a plane right now!

    Thanks Cindy, come on up and visit, anytime! Spring is good here, but there is something to see in all the seasons. πŸ™‚

  30. lynnekovan says:

    What a lovely garden! You are so far ahead with everything! We have everything coming up now here in the UK. The only thing that isn’t out yet is me…..doing some weeding and tidying. Meanwhile the Forget-me-nots have taken over!! I need inspiration to get going and put on my green fingers!

    Hi Lynne, thanks and welcome. Spring has come somewhat early to us this year. We don’t know what that will mean for the rest of the season, but we better hang on to our hats! I love forget me nots, I would plant them around larger stuff that can grow up through them. Here, Astilbe fits that bill. As for being overwhelmed, make a list of what needs doing, then chose one thing and do it. Then check it off the list. This works for me. πŸ™‚

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