Tuesday, May 20, 2014


Perhaps I should call this post- Plants I love that won't grow for me- I have just gotten back from a week in Portland, Maine, and I'm always so interested in the gardens in other parts of the country, and how they differ from my own garden. I have been watching friends' photographs of forsythia, tulips, and daffodils popping up in New England- none of which bloom at the same time for me.  Forsythia begins in February in Memphis, then the daffs come (and usually go) in March, and the tulips shine in April.  Having all three at once, followed so quickly by the budding lilacs, boggles my mind! 

I have always loved the gorgeous cheerful blue forget me nots, but I've never gotten a good start on them.  There are more than 200 species in the genus myosotis, but none of them are particularly happy in the South.  I was just smitten by them.

Alchemilla has always been one of my favorite plants for the shade garden.  It grew well in Winston Salem (zone 7a), in the cottage kitchen and herb gardens of Old Salem, but I have personally killed six of these plants.  They wilt in our summer heat and humidity.  This little plant was up at Two Lights in Cape Elizabeth.  

As you know from my last post, I am crazy about roses. Mine usually begin showing new growth in late February or early March, depending on the severity of our winter.  This rugosa rose, which grows on the beaches, is just beginning to wake up.  There are some rugosa roses that will grow in the South, but I have only ever seen one cultivated, and that was not in Memphis.  I know they prefer really good drainage and sandy soil, which is not something we have here.

Bleeding Heart (dicentra spectabilis) is another plant that prefers cool temperatures and moisture that is not accompanied by scorching heat.  When my mother lived in a heavily forested area in the NC piedmont region (zone 7a) , she grew this, but it was short-lived.  It typically bloomed in early April for her.

All of my ferns are and have been fully leafed out since early April.  The fiddleheads were just popping up in Portland.  These particular fiddleheads were up at Morse Mountain.  I'm not sure what variety of fern this is, but I did indulge in a meal of fiddleheads (the immature ostrich fern) and saw many signs advertising them on the way up to Morse Mountain from Portland, and they were plentiful at both groceries and farmers markets.  I *almost* prefer looking at them to eating them- their flavor was similar to asparagus but had a hint of fish and nut, and I understand that there is a trick to cooking them. 

I so loved visiting Maine and exploring the gardens, forests, and beaches.    And I brought home one small bit of flora tucked in my bag to enjoy as I reacclimate to early summer in Memphis:


  1. Sometimes I forget that what grows here doesn't grow in other places (I'm not in Maine but I think our growing seasons are similar here in Ontario). Forget-me-nots grow like weeds here – I have to pick them out of the lawn! Lady's Mantle is one of my favourites – I just love how it catches the raindrops!

    1. one thing that was amazing to me was how compressed spring is. I saw Feb-April in a single week! Love the diversity of plant life and growing seasons!