With the warmer temperatures and steady sun we’ve had the past 10 days, blooms and plants are exploding. Several new blooms are showing up in my garden. One of my favorite shrubs, Goldmound spirea (Spiraea japonica ‘Goldmound’), has started to bloom. These are tough shrubs that you see all over the Midwest. The leaves start out reddish, then go yellow, then turn lime green. The pink flowers last for several weeks. A couple of times, I’ve trimmed them back after blooming and gotten a second round of flowers in the late summer/early fall. These can get rangy, but that’s easy to correct. Simply cut them back to 4 to 5 inches tall. It seems drastic, but think of it as tough love. A master gardener told me spring is the best time to cut them back, but I did it in the summer last year. While the shrubs looked pretty shocking for a few weeks, they recovered and look better than ever this year.
Also in bloom is a plant that was labeled a “local daisy” that I bought at the Northfield Garden Club plant sale in May. I put it in a bed to keep an eye on it this year, but will transplant it to the meadow behind our house later.
Finally, I’ve got two kinds of penstemon or beard tongue in bloom. In the back, the Husker Red (Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’) looks great with its delicate flowers and striking red/green foliage. (It’s the one on the left.) In the front, the Phoenix™ series penstemon is also in bloom. This is a showy annual that looks like a cross between a snapdragon and a foxglove. Penstemon is a huge genus of plants, which include many wildflowers. Recently, fellow Northfield blogger Rob Hardy of Rough Draft posted some photos of a field of wild penstemon in the Carleton College arboretum. Check it out.