Hardly know where to begin. . .

There's so much in bloom now, I can't decide what to show you first! The speedwell (our variety: Veronica Waterperry Blue) is doing beautifully...blue flowers on purplish-green leaves, and it spreads like mad, keeps the weeds at bay, and looks gorgeous three seasons of the year. (See the hen and chicks peeking out between the rocks?)
One of our favorite shrubs is Dappled Willow. We pruned it almost to the ground this spring and it's rewarding us with its pretty "dappled" pink- and white-tipped leaves. The plant doesn't actually bloom, but the new growth sure looks like flowers.
And then there's the columbine. We have a luscious shade of salmon and also deep purple. This is the third year for the columbine. (That's yarrow coming up behind the sandstone rocks. It will have pretty white flowers later this spring.)

The great coleus caper

We're being budget conscious this year, so decided to plant coleus in nearly all our flower pots. Coleus has been one of our favorite plants each year, regardless of price. A planting like this:
turns into pots like this in a matter of weeks.
Coleus are extremely easy care (just pinch back every couple of weeks and they stay thick and full) and they seem to thrive in sun or shade. There are dozens of varieties in a rainbow of gorgeous colors, and once they are established, cuttings can be rooted and planted in new pots. Coleus don't have as long an outdoor life in Kansas since they do not tolerate the cold at all, but they can be brought inside to brighten up the house for most of the winter. I had a few pots that made it through the winter inside without getting too leggy or pale. Here are some more of our coleus plantings this year (and again, these pots will be thick and full in a few weeks.)

This is more like it!

April 21: Green grass, sprouting plants, pots filled and on the deck, the outdoor carpets and umbrella in place, and 80-degree temps in the forecast. It's been a long time since we had such a late spring, but finally, finally we're enjoying the outdoors again, and it's glorious! We cut back the red twig dogwood and the dappled willows hard this year. I think we'll miss the lush foliage they provided last year, but they were taking over this little plot and really needed to be controlled. Already they're making their way back. It will be interesting to see how big they get after such a drastic pruning.

Enjoying spring. . . finally!

It's been a long time coming, and interrupted with snow. But finally mid-April 2009, the grass is green, the leaves are unfurling, tulips are blooming and we can believe that winter is truly over. All the ornamental grasses have been cut down and they're already starting to come back. Next week we'll fill our flower pots, plant a few wildflowers along the fence, hose down the deck and get the outdoor rugs and umbrella out. Can't wait!