Yesterday, I dug up the Dahlia 'Bishop of Llandaff' which we planted several years ago, because its location near the Acer davidii meant that it was now in too much shade. We don't usually bother digging up dahlias for the winter, finding that if they have good drainage they usually survive our winters in the ground just fine. However, as this particular dahlia has been declining somewhat, we decided to move it to somewhere it will get more sun. I was pleased to find that the single tuber we planted three years ago had grown into a round mass of fat tubers larger than my head. Yes, there were a few rotting ones in there too, so I carefully broke the mass apart and removed any bits that were turning to science-fiction movie style goo, ending up with seven healthy chunks, some with multiple tubers, which I then planted at the back edge of our sunniest border. We are looking forward to quite a show of this beautiful dahlia mid-summer.
In another section of the same sunny border, I planted 12 Lilium 'First Crown,' an Asiatic-oriental hybrid lily that we hope will harmonize well will the Lilium 'Red Hot' we have elsewhere in the garden. Although often warned that the deer will like our lilies even more than we do, we have not had a problem with them, and two neighbors have likewise been spared. You never know with deer, however, and what they turned their noses up at last year might tempt them this time around, so we have taken to spraying the emerging lilies with deer repellent, and continue to occasionally spray them until the buds open.
I also planted five Cardiocrinum cordata v. glehnii, whose newly emerging foliage is super-shiny green with red veins. A close relative of the more imposing Cardiocrinum giganteum (which we also grow), this lily family member from Japan forms a basal whorl of shiny leaves the first several years. When it has reached sufficient size to bloom, the entire whorl gets raised off the ground by a stout stem, and a flower spike appears, eventually bearing multiple long trumpets of creamy white infused with green. Like it's larger cousin, C. cordata has a wonderful scent. They prefer shade or part-shade conditions and somewhat acidic soils, so they should do well for us. C. giganteum dies after blooming (it can take up to 7 years from seed to bloom), but almost always leaves behind a handful of "pups," smaller bulbs that form around the main one, so once you get them established, you generally have them as long as you want them (and who wouldn't want these towering beauties?). Cardiocrinum cordata, on the other hand, take fewer years to reach bloom size, may survive blooming, and will still produce new bulbs. Yay!
While working in the garden, we also enjoyed the beautiful emerging foliage of Spirea japonica 'Magic Carpet." This is (for us) a relatively small spirea that is really at it's most lovely right now, when its leaves emerge in lovely bronzy, chartreuse, red, and pink tones. Later it will sport frothy pink blooms. After it blooms, we usually prune it lightly to control its size and shape, and check for any branches that have layered (rooted themselves where they touch the ground). It brings a lovely mass of rich color to the spring garden.
We have developed somewhat of a passion for trilliums, including T. grandiflora, (photo above) with its graceful habit and pure white flowers that last a very long time. These are slowly increasing over the years, and each new plant is greeted with exclamations of delight. There is no sign of the T. luteum yet this year, though, and that has us gnashing our teeth. They may still emerge, though. Elsewhere we have white- and red-flowered hybrids of T. sessilifololium, with their large, mottled leaves, that are increasing at a satisfying rate. One bonus of the red-flowered form is that some of their flowers (the paler ones, actually) smell like bubble-gum!