Late May-What Looks Good Now

Don’t you sometimes just want to kick back and eat junk food? No thinking, no calorie counting, no carb counting, no fiber counting, just tasty, pop into your mouth stuff. No guilt. That is what these *What looks good now* postings are to me. Take the prettiest photos of the moment, not from the archives but current, and load them onto the WordPress format. No clever repartee to tie them together, no how to, just flowers and/or foliage that is pleasing. To me. I am in love with the flowering phase of the Cilantro. It looks good and makes a green and white frilly cafe curtain for what is planted in front of it in the large raised planter box. This photo shows one of three Borage, Borago officinalis plants, looking cool as a cucumber with those sky blue blooms against the puffy white clouds of Cilantro. The bonus will be scads of Cilantro seedlings that will winter over nicely here, giving fresh herbs for ethnic dishes.

In this shot, I love how the Louisiana Iris ‘Black Gamecock’ is nonchalantly leaning against the half buried rock that came from the North Carolina mountain just Outside Clyde. It looks to me like a punk leaning against the lightpost on the street corner at night, wearing a black leather jacket, hair greased up into a spiffy pompadour do, tight blue jeans, white t-shirt with a pack of unfiltered cigs rolled into the sleeve and a lit one hanging languidly from his lower lip. I guess this flower reminds me of James Dean! Surrounded by Japanese blood grass, that is. Maybe there was a rumble?

Skipping lightly up to the rock edge of the yellow/white bed, one cannot help but be attracted to this blue and yellow combo. Catnip ‘Walker’s Low’, Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walkers Low’ makes a frothy filler for the brilliant yellow of evening primrose, Oenothera villosa? that is also nicknamed Sundrops, since it will bloom in the daytime. The primrose is a spreader, and a welcome one. It is not so tall as to smother most of this bed’s plantings, so is allowed to weave and fill in wherever it pleases.

Let us go have a look at a couple of the containers, some of which are newly planted with summer annuals. This is a time of transition. The Antique Shades Violas that were planted last fall are allowed to remain as long as they continue to bloom and look nice. The summer stuff is added alongside the Violas, squeezing the rootballs to slip into the tiny spaces between plants. The pink daisy is new to me, Argyranthmum ‘Madiera, deep pink improved’. The tag said it would bloom spring to frost. I am counting on that, but am dubious. It is pretty right now, however. In the background is NOT the gravel garden, it is the pathway behind the main house that is being colonized by Violets, Perilla and Persicaria, among others. It is on the to do list, the weeding of the gravel paths around here. But I would rather do so many other things than weed. It will finally get so bad that the job will be tackled, but we can still walk through for now, so there is still time for dawdling.

In the next blue glazed container is the just planted new Heuchera ‘Frosted Violet’. I couldn’t resist the color, but know that these dark leaves disappear in the long view of the now shady slope. There is a plan for the left slope to be covered with a patchwork of Heucheras under the trees, shrubs and taller perennials there. The lighter hues like Citronelle and Tiramisu show up great, and the darker Brownie shines pink when the leaves are backlit. Like I mentioned, this was an impulse buy, so got stuck into a pot. The pot was already filled with the same Antique Shades Violas, so those were moved to the outer perimeter and the Heuch jammed in. I love the flower amongst the dark fuzzy stems, looking perky with the color echo.

Some spots in the Fairegarden are impossible to capture in pixels, to the growing ever more picky photographer. This little patch where five paths meet is such a one. Too sunny, too shady, yucky background on three sides, trying to get a shot of Allium christophii for a post about Alliums later before these flowers are completely gone, this is the best that can be managed. Except for the spiky cane, the pretty dark red rose cannot be seen without showing way more of the appalling chain link fence than is desirable. The old metal wheelbarrow planter does help draw the eye from the silver metal though, and the purple smoke leaves of the coppiced tree give some substance to the very sunny shed bed beyond.

One survivor from a packet of seeds sown two years ago is now blooming, sort of. Echinacea paradoxa, the paradox being that it is a yellow flowered purple coneflower, has already won my heart. Several seedlings made it out of the greenhouse and into the ground last year, but only this one made it through the winter. Perhaps seeds can be saved from this bloom and sown in situ, the best way to have the greatest success with seeds here. It is assumed that these petals are going to elongate, widen and fall downward, if pictures on google are to be believed.

Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Dooley’ is loaded with budded stems. It has grown to five feet tall and wide and looks better than ever before with the cool and rainy spring after a cold and snowy winter. A specimen of H. ‘Nikko Blue’ was noticed to be blooming in the Athens, Georgia garden of then football coach of UGA, Vince Dooley by Professor Michael Dirr. There had been a killing freeze that had zapped the buds on all other Hydrangeas of this type so cuttings were taken and the clones named for the coach. It was purchased as a Martha Stewart offering for KMart the year we moved to this house in 2000. It cost a little more than also offered Nikko Blue, but the idea of always having blooms overcame tightwadedness, so we bought one of each of those. It has been our experience that both varieties have bloomed every year, late frost or not.

A handful of seeds leftover from last year’s sugar snap peas were planted just at the right time, for a change this year. It seems to be either feast or famine with these early producing edible pod wonders. The first year after the veggie bed was built, one packet of seeds was planted to grow on the plastic rabbit fencing. The plants grew to be much taller than we had anticipated, falling over themselves and turning into a tangled mess, difficult to pick the peas so many were wasted. The sugar snaps of the next two years were just sad, the weather gods were not smiling and the crops were failures when it turned hot and dry too soon. 2011 greets about ten plants, bearing nicely in cool, moist conditions. That should be the perfect amount, few enough so that each pod is treasured. Excuse me, there seems to be a siren song calling for someone to come pick the bounty for a tasty appetizer for tonight’s dinner.


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14 Responses to Late May-What Looks Good Now

  1. Randy Emmitt says:


    The James Dean stuff shows you have a vivid imagination for sure. We have been eating peas for weeks, just another few days and all will be gone 😦

    Hi Randy, thanks. No one has ever accused me of having a lack of imagination, usually it is the other way around. Sorry about your peas. They don’t last long here either.

  2. Patsi says:

    The Walkers lows get tall and wide so I’m thinking about cutting them back Mine which are in front of a new Holly shrub that I feel needs more sun. Maybe moving the catmint would be best.Or a smaller version.
    The container planters look surreal maybe something you may see on a card.

    Hi Patsi, thanks. I will be cutting the catnip back when the blooming is done, for a hopefully rebloom Mine is okay where it is, among other taller things. You might be better off moving yours if it is too tall there.

  3. Hi Frances,

    That Echinacea is really something special. I also like that Hydrangea, have not seen this one. It may not be hardy in my area.


    Thanks Eileen. The oak leafs are hardy zones 5-9.

  4. Liz says:


    Wonderful photos, this time of year is always so amazing as the gardens change within a couple of days that you just have to spend as much time in them as possible!

    Thanks Liz. The garden is moving fast, that is for sure! New things open every day, I don’t want to miss a thing.

  5. Layanee says:

    Eye candy at its best. You are right about wanting only the thoughtless satisfaction of a binge and the best thing about flower binges is that they are harmless to the waistline while enriching the spirit.

    Thanks Layanee. Blooming binges of purty pic-tures, the very best kind!

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    A friend of mine gave me some of that Walkers Low for my garden this spring. I think it will settle in ok. I can’t wait to see the bees buzzing on it. I love to stroll through your garden any time to see what is blooming. No have tos to share is just fine with me. Your garden is a treat to see.
    P.S. The rock from Outside Clyde is a wonderful specimen.

    Thanks Lisa. What a sweet friend! The Walker’s Low is a fantastic plant. I have the species of it also, not nearly as floriferous, or tall. Sometimes we all just need to veg out.

  7. gail says:

    Frances, What a pretty sight that borage backed with cilantro is on a gray and rainy day. Love the Louisiana iris. I let the vender talk me out of getting it~He said I needed a bog! HA! Fairegarden magic defies the bloom tag guidelines! Love it!~ I grew Sugar Snaps last year and loved munching on them~They are deliciously refreshing snacks after working up that good garden tired. xxoo gail ps I find myself wanting to just be in the garden~not photographing or writing about it these days…

    Hi Gail, thanks. I am glad to not have believed the literature about the iris. I wonder about those fabulous Japanese ones, maybe they would grow here? We never know until we try! I know how you feel about just wanting to let the garden work its magic on us…

  8. Leslie says:

    My cilantro is also going to seed…I hope I get some volunteers too! Your photo of the borage and cilantro is wonderful…what a great combination.

    Thanks Leslie. I finally have gotten the cilantro to self sow, but just leaving it completely alone and letting it become a tangled mess. After it is all brown and dried up, I will pull it and crush the foliage and seedheads over the area, then cover with chickenwire to keep the diggers out of it. Here it will germinate in late summer then winter over for harvesting. Maybe I can get that borage to join in? So far, I have to purchase plants of it even though it is said to be easy to grow from seed.

  9. ricki says:

    That “cool as a cucumber” borage loses all of its cool when it comes to reproducing…but it does have a nice cucumber-y taste and smell. I have a love/hate relationship with it.

    Hi Ricki, thanks for stopping by. Funny, the borage barely makes it here, and will die off soon after flowering, producing no viable seeds. We are thinking it might do better in this very dry raised box with the loose soil. I would like to have more of them. Lots more would be fine. I have sown purchased seed several times. We may be too wet, too cold, too hot, too dry, too something it does not like.

  10. joey says:

    Very lovely, Frances. I love/need borage!

    Hi Joey, thanks.

  11. Oh don’t let our bees see this! Between your borage and the catmint, they’d never come home 😉 I wish borage didn’t spread so much, but I suppose that’s part of why the bees like it. I do like their edible blue blossoms for jazzing up a salad or plate of goat cheese though!

    Hi CV, thanks for stopping by. We have not had the experience of being overrun with borage here, quite the opposite. I hope to just have any seedlings result at all!

  12. Marguerite says:

    I love your photo of cilantro and borage. I just planted borage for the first time today! Looking forward to the pretty blue blooms. last year I let my cilantro bloom and the pollinators loved it, as did I. So very pretty.

    Hi Marguerite, thanks. The cilantro is so pretty, what a versitile plant it is. Good luck with your borage!

  13. Lola says:

    Cilantro & borage go together like ham & eggs. Love that Echinacea paradoxa. Containers are a go around here. Yours are so pretty.
    I plan to plant some Herbs Thurs. Hopefully they will make it. I want to add to what I already have.

    Hi Lola, thanks. I hope your herbs do very well.

  14. Rose says:

    Even in a meandering view of your garden, I know you’ll have some clever narrative, Frances. Only you would think of comparing your iris to James Dean:) But now that you’ve pointed it out, I do see the resemblance. The cilantro blooms make a lovely backdrop; I had no idea it would bloom like this, but then I’ve only grown a small little plant one time. Love the Sundrops–I passed some up at a gardener’s plant sale last weekend; now I’m regretting that.

    Thanks dear Rose, you are too too sweet. And too funny! Some of us can remember guys looking like the James Dean description, even. Go back and get those Sundrops!

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