May Red

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There was a week at the beginning of May where the sun shone. I remember it, yes, a day so bright my eyes needed a shield.  Now it is rain, mist, and fog- on and on...for weeks. The little garden opposite the shop has been a cheery reminder that spring has actually come our way. We made it the red garden, to echo the shop. It did undergo extensive renovation, when we bumped the house out another ten feet and reduced the garden twenty feet. Out came the hepatacodium. And recently, in came Magnolia liliflora 'Nigra'. Red, yes! That's a color that beams.
Shop Garden
 Of course, you know there had to be exception to such a plan, an irresistible sale... on tree paeonies of non-red colors. But that bloom comes later. Now, for early May, my first paeony to bloom in the year, is hot red Paeonia mascula. It is seed grown, and a wild thing.
Paeonia mascula bloom
 Best of all this stunning little paeony seems to be very hardy for this hilltop in the Litchfield Hills. A native of southern Europe, it is said to be growing freely on shrubby slopes and dry meadows from France to Russia and south to Iran. In cultivation for over 500 years (per Halda), I wonder why it is not grown in more gardens. I noticed two little seedlings nearby!
Paeonia mascula

APS Conference Getaway

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May launched with a flurry of activity at the APS conference at Tower Hill in MA. Chris Chadwell was the highlighted speaker with a talk on Himalayan primroses, but there was much more. The weekend began with open gardens. The show was very heartening, the sales table enticing and the people knowledgeable and friendly. For me it opened a whole new boulevard on the path to understanding the nature of things. Life is never boring!
Chris Chadwell
Open gardens:
It was difficult to get away on a last glorious day in April to visit another garden, but I managed later in the day. First I reached Bruce's garden. We met originally at Wrightman's trough workshop a few years back. And he has come to some BNARGS meetings. The rock garden is coming along nicely. The crevice troughs are also holding up better than many I have seen. Other "vista" gardens are in planting phase. It is a large property with many avenues of interest.
Bruce's Rock (crevice) Garden

Trough1

Trough2

Bruce in front of the rock garden
Then it was onto Peter's. There is a fabulous collection of species paeonies, but none were in bloom yet. Buns are always a treat to see and there were many. He also had a nice collection of daphne, the best seemed to be the prostrate form of Barrie Porteous. Alas it was too late to make the last garden.
buns in Peter's garden

prostrate Daphne cneorum 'Porteous'

Adonis

Saxifraga in tufa
The evening kicked off with dinner at Matt and Joe's. What a treat! Delicious gourmet food with people who talk plants in a glorious setting. Whew!
entry to the feast
Matt & Joe's
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 The next morning the conference got down to business. Ahem...I mean in addition to the plant sale (which was irresistable). Judging commenced before all the entries arrived. So there were some very nice decorations outside the show.
Barnhaven hybrids grown from seed
The show had plenty to offer. Here are a few that caught my eye:
Primula auricula

Primula denticulata

Primula 'Paradise Yellow'
Auricula display bench
Seeing Tower Hill for the first time, or maybe just since the additions, was an eyeful. It is not often in these times to see elegant construction in botanical haunts.
new l'orangerie
Tower Hill fountain


Tower Hill naturalizing daffs
 It was a very satisfying weekend- old friendships revitalized, new ones made, plants for the garden, a cornucopia of ideas garnered from the talks. The first thing to do upon arrival home was to run around and look at the primula blooming in the garden. Yes, I do love them all. Of course, now initialed to the show bench, I will need to be more precise in my labeling. And it will be a good idea to check plants to see if the bloom matches the label.
foot of the Primula crevice garden
Primula allionii in the crevice bed
nearby trough of Primula

brown Primula auricula in curbing bed
another brown Primula auricula in trough
Primula allionii in wall
Primula auricula in a trough
Primula minima in crushed granite bed
NOT Primula auricula 'Alpine Show Crimson'