We're had so much rain this spring - gentle, consistent rain over two or three days at a time - that I'm thinking this must be what an English spring is like. The perennials are larger than usual for this time of year. My garden - a wet prairie - develops slowly, starting as almost a blank slate, progressing through a green rubble phase, then gradually developing distinguishable shapes and colors as the large perennials add height. All the rain has accelerated this process. I'm hoping there won't be a down side to this: floppy plants that will get too tall too fast, then fall over. I don't like staking.
The quality of light that comes with this weather is just about perfect for garden viewing. On these cloudy days, some plants literally glow against the dark background of the woods. Filipendula rubra 'Venusta' is especially beautiful with its jagged leaves like shards of bright green that catch what little light there is, working some internal refractory magic, and transmitting it to the eye as a strange chartreuse ... almost radioactive, with the glow of Vaseline glass, given an unearthly radiance by addition of uranium oxide. You can see the Filipendula above and below with Iris versicolor.
The garden's a study in green possibilities this year. Here the big floppy glaucous leaves of Rudbeckia maxima in the foreground contrast (clash?) with the Filipendula. In a few years, the row of Thuya occidentalis behind will make a dark screen to hold the exuberance of the garden planting.
Iris pseudacoris and Lysimachia ciliata 'Firecracker' below... This image was taken in light rain; note the blue reflecting off the upper surfaces of the Lysimachia foliage. Nestled beside it is a Sanguisorba canadensis, which will take over in late summer when the Lysimachia tends to collapse.
Last year a few Coreopsis grandiflora appeared on a small elevated area the original owners used as a vegetable garden. I leave this uncut to develop as a meadow, cutting it only after the wildflowers have gone to seed. It's working; there are many more Coreopsis this year, and probably other self-seeded rovers to come.
In these two views across from the back of the wet prairie you can just make out the Coreopsis in the far left corner. The large tussock-shaped grasses - mostly Miscanthus - are beginning to add more visual interest and color to the scene. The verticals of Silphium terebinthinaceum and Inula racemosa 'Sonnerspeer' will be visible over the next two months, as will tall Panicum 'Cloud Nine' and 'Dallas Blues'.
Stepping a little further back, a planting of Miscanthus 'Silberfeder', a hybrid Petasites, and Pycnantemum muticum (not yet visible) comes into view. I 'stole' this combination from a photo of an Oehme and Van Sweden design I saw in a book, and I'm very pleased with it so I give them credit. Here, again in the Petasites, is that screaming green of the Filipendula.
Moving around to the opposite end of the garden, the Thuya hedge to be, like the stroke of a pen, contains the wildness. The center area is filled with Filipendula, though the resolution of the photo doesn't clearly show that. Click on the photo to enlarge and you can see it.
In the next view, you can just make out a circle of six red logs (from a fallen walnut tree). This is intended to be a reference, a memorial if you will, in memory of the Lenni Lenape, the native Americans who inhabited this area over the past several thousand years. You can see it better if you enlarge the photo. I wanted this feature to be subtle enough to fade into the background, but I also want it to be visible enough to lead a visitor to ask, "What is this." I have some anecdotal evidence most visitors get the point. The red color also makes a practical focal point.
Next a photo of Angelica archangelica (bought as Angelica gigas; beware labels), which I hope will seed and make a colony. You can also make it out in the photo above.
One final note ... I took these photos in the rain yesterday. Today it's still cloudy but the rain has stopped, and the colors are not nearly as brilliant as yesterday. I've always known gardens look good in the rain. What I didn't realize is that the rain actually changes the quality of light and color