Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Glorious Blooms of May

I've been so furiously busy at work and in the garden these past couple of weeks that I haven't had much time to blog, which is a shame since so much is happening all around us.  In New England, May is arguably the most dynamic month from a seasonal perspective.  One minute, the world looks dank and dreary, and the next, the sun is bursting and everything is exploding into color.   The vegetation all around town is changing so rapidly at the moment that I almost neglected to capture some of it on film.  I love this time of year when the neighborhood trees and shrubs are in full bloom and what green foliage there is looks fresh and new.  Being that this is our first spring here at the farmhouse, we're seeing our old peach tree covered with hundreds of delicate pink flowers for the first time.  I have to say that I am really struck by how lovely it looks.  It's been around for a long as some of our neighbors can remember and I hope that it will continue to grace our front lawn long after we are gone. 

 For a mightier punch of color, I turn to our flowering quince, which sits in front of our kitchen window.  When we moved here last august, the shrub measured a good 10 feet tall with the top half flopping over to one side.  I pruned it by half and removed a lot of the older canes in order to reign it in.  I'm glad that despite my heavy pruning, it has flowered beautifully this year.   Hopefully, it will grow into a more shapely looking specimen in the years to come.

 I'm currently marveling at my currant bushes, which I'd started from small cuttings two years ago.  Last year, I removed all of the flowers to allow the plant to devote all of it's energy into growing.  This seems to have paid off as the plant is growing vigorously now and it looks like we'll be getting a decent crop this year.  This is a red currant variety ('Red Lake').

 I love how the tiny almost pentagonal-shaped white flowers form along these thin long tendrils.

 My black currant bushes are growing even more vigorously.  Black currants are not as popular as red ones in this country but I personally love them and think they are every bit as good.  They have a musky almost spicy flavor and make incredible jams and sweet syrups (which we use to flavor homemade sodas and cocktails).   I also have a few bottles of homemade currant wine that should be ready to taste test now. 

Black currants develop in clusters that are looser than those of white and red currants. The leaves on black currant bushes also have a pungent currant aroma when bruised.  I will have to make sure that I water these bushes well until the fruit ripens as the they tend to drop prematurely under drought conditions. 

 This is my potted beach plum, which I'd purchased from a local nursery last fall during their year end sale.  These shrubs can be found growing wild all along the coast here in Massachusetts and other parts of New England.  Being that we are so close to the beach, it seemed only appropriate to be growing this fruit.  Beach plums are traditionally used to make jams and jellies.  Unfortunately, the plant requires cross-pollination to set fruit properly so I won't be getting any this year.  Hopefully, I'll be able find another one to grow beside this one. 

 Beach plums can bloom quite profusely and is worth growing as an ornamental plant alone.  They also tend to be biennial bearing so the fruit harvest can be either feast or famine.

Finally, I bought some tulip bulbs from Home Depot late last fall at a discount.  When I got home and opened the bag, I thought that I'd made a terrible mistake as most of the bulbs were dried up with hard outer shells and were all around ratty looking.  I didn't have much hope that they were still viable but planted them in front of our house anyway.  Low and behold, they've flowered beautifully.  It's just another reminder of how surprising plants can be if given a chance. 


  1. I love all the trees in bloom this time of the year too. Yesterday I was talking my walk and the crab apple trees were losing their blossoms and falling all around me. They totally covered the sidewalk. It was very pretty.

  2. I just love this time of year too - when everything is waking up, fresh & beautiful. I find that I am especially appreciating it this year after the extra long/cold winter we had. I hear you about being busy - for every one thing I knock off my list, I end up adding 2 or 3 more.

  3. I'm growing red lake currants as well, as part of a mixed hedge row with gooseberries. I didn't really think about removing all the flowers this year, but I guess I should. I'm trying to grow a hedge instead of a fence (since fences aren't allowed by our HOA).

    But right now, they just look like little sticks with tiny leaves :)

    1. A berry hedge would look wonderful! They grow very fast so in no time, you will have an tall living fence.