The garden in early summer.

Earlier I showed you my crocuses and daffodils, but they are long done. Now that the trees have fully leafed out, the flowerbed outside our front door is largely a shade garden.


Stella d’Oro daylilies in a shaft of sunlight.


From the front: another Stella d’Oro, an unnamed lily, the previous Stella, another lily that will bloom soon (it doesn’t get as much sun), and a pink astilbe. There is a hosta blooming back there, too, but it doesn’t count.

There are two or three other daylilies and another astilbe to the right of the photos that haven’t bloomed yet. All the plants are now big enough that I can stand back and see what needs to be moved and where I have holes waiting to be filled. Last year I acquired a baker’s dozen good-sized hosta that I planted along the back edge of the garden to demarcate the line where the garden ends and the woods begin. Sadly, some of them are being surrounded by weeds — time to get busy back there.

On the farm where I lived until I was ten my parents had a wildflower garden in part of the back yard; really, they had fenced the yard in such a way as to include part of the woodland (this was in southern MN in the corn belt, so there was limited woodland), then transplanted wildflowers from outside the fence into that area. I remember jack-in-the-pulpits and columbines and woodland phlox; the latter, which we called Sweet William, has a such lovely fragrance. In a little shade bed I had here before we remodeled and added on to the house, I planted some of that phlox; the scent in the spring took me right back to childhood. (I wish Google provided a smell search in addition to words and images so I could share the fragrance with you.) I want to plant some Virginia bluebells and woodland phlox in my flowerbed to add blues and lavenders to the yellows of the late daffodils.

Jack-in-the-pulpit may be questionable here; I have never seen it growing wild, but the internet tells me it is native to all of the 48 lower states. However, the internet also tells me it likes rich, dampish soil, and my garden is lean soil and dryish, so J-i-t-p may be problematic. Columbines do grow wild in this area, though, so they should thrive when I add them (someday). The local ones are the downward-facing reddish ones, but I had a blue Colorado columbine that seemed to do well in the aforementioned shade bed. How about red, white, and blue columbines that bloom shortly before the Fourth of July? Yeah, I crack myself up.

[digression] When I googled the native red columbines, I discovered that columbines are closely related to baneberries and wolfsbane/monkshood, all of which are toxic. Huh. When I was a child, my mom showed me how to bite off the tiny pips at the ends of the flower spurs to get the sweet nectar inside. From Wikipedia: “Canada columbine contains a cyanogenic glycoside, which releases poisonous hydrogen cyanide when the plant is damaged.” Yikes. Another thing I did in my youth that was perhaps not so wise. [/digression]

Speaking of baneberries, they grow wild here, too. white baneberr.jpgElder Son had been roaming in the woods once when he was about ten and came to tell me that he had discovered a plant that looked like a cross between a plant and something from Jim Hensen’s workshop. You can see how strange they are in the photo at left.

There are several elderberry bushes along our property line. For years I have wanted to make syrup from the berries, but the birds and bears always beat me to them. Actually, I am not positive if they are common elderberry or red-berried elder.  I need to do a bit of research and investigation before I make anything from them, since the latter is said to be toxic.

There used to be a good-sized bed of wintergreen in the woods between our house and the neighbor’s. He is not friendly, though, so I haven’t visited it since he moved in. Hope it is still there.


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6 Responses to The garden in early summer.

  1. Kat says:

    Beautiful! I love all the shade! I don’t have much shade at all in my yard, but I really love the shade loving plants!

  2. Kym says:

    Your garden is looking wonderful, Kathy! I love shade gardens! And those baneberries . . . they are so interesting-looking — in every stage of growth, really. I have tons of them in my garden, unfortunately. I let a couple of them grow one year (because the berries are so cool) — and now they are rampant. (I dig them up as soon as I see them these days.) My favorite things about columbines . . . is that they seed themselves everywhere once they get a foothold. XO

  3. Your lilies are just spectacular

  4. gayle says:

    I used to make elderberry syrup – it was a terrific cough syrup and also tasted great poured over ice cream! Elderberry wine is also a wonderful wonderful thing. 8)
    Love all your shady plants!

  5. Baneberries are so beautiful! I love when all the bloggy pals share their flowers! It is OUR Time to shine. Spring!

  6. Nicole says:

    So pretty! I miss being able to help my dad care for his roses. (I live too far away for gardening trips now.) And you learn something new every day… I didn’t realize that columbines were toxic!

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