The Demonstration Gardens at Simpson Park

By Master Gardener Christa Watters for the Simpson Crew

Purple allium

Purple allium comes back from bulbs every year in several parts of the gardens. Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

May at Simpson is usually one of the most beautiful, flower-rich months, but with all the rain, things have been a bit spotty this year. Plants are blooming, but not in that all-at-once explosion that took my breath away the first time I visited Simpson years ago. Most plants are drinking up the rain and growing lush and leafy, and the tufa and gravel in the rockier spaces are helping prevent root rot for those plants that don’t love moisture so much. A few days of warm sunshine will surely drive a burst of buds into bloom.

Meanwhile, our crew has been busy keeping up with weeds and growth fed by the rains. We missed a couple of Tuesday work days when it was too wet, but made them up on other days, thinning, potting up for the plant sale, weeding, mulching paths with pine straw, and generally tidying up. We sent some 200 or so plants, labeled and in washed pots, to the Green Springs Plant Sale in Denise Dieter’s truck and a car trunk or two.

We welcome more workers any Tuesday from 10 to 12. Once a month we do a walk around the garden for any members of the public (or Master Gardeners or interns) who respond to the Publicity Committee’s posters and other publicity.

Here are a few photos of what bloomed despite the rain. We’re pretty sure that by mid-summer we will be glad that Mother Nature caught up with herself this month. The many days of “measurable precipitation,” as the weather people call it, have brought us up to about normal rainfall for the year so far, a good thing on the whole.

Deep purple version of Iris

Deep purple version of Iris sp., possibly a variety of Iris virginica, Virginia iris. This clump grows in the big raised bed in the middle of the garden, framed by white-blooming Penstemon with deep maroon leaves – a lovely contrast. Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

Scented yellow daylily

Scented yellow daylily – Hemerocallis sp. – a fragrant variety blooming in the Simpson Scented Garden.
Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

Hemerocallis

Hemerocallis in a wider view in the scented garden at Simpson, with roses and bearded iris among other plants. Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

Red Salvia henryi

Red Salvia henryi, native of Texas, grows in the large tufa bed, where it thrives in the dryness of the rock spaces above the wetter ground. Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

Buddleia alternifolia

Buddleia alternifolia (alternate-leaved Butterfly bush) in the butterfly garden. A large and spectacular (especially when in bloom) shrub, this species, though native to China, attracts many pollinators. Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

Blue Penstemon hirsutus,

Blue Penstemon hirsutus, “hairy beardtongue,” is particularly healthy-looking this year.
Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

Tradescantia (Spiderwort

Light purple and white varieties of Tradescantia (Spiderwort) interbreed freely in the beds at Simpson Gardens. These are in the Princess Diana bed toward the north end of the gardens. Photo © 2016 by Christa Watters

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