The spring flush is not quite here yet, but the garden is certainly getting ready. I find the anticipation very enjoyable, and a lot of my time is spent walking in the garden and watching plants getting ready to bloom.
Above is one of my three floribunda roses, Regensberg. The reason I like it is its clean foliage (and lots of it), very nice growth habit, short and very bushy, and lots of blooms. It is one of a series of "hand-painted" roses, which means that flecks and stripes appear on blooms in a random pattern.
My Lady Hillingdon is bravely trying to emerge through the spirea that has fallen all over it because of winds and a storm. I love seeing the first blooms appear at the end of deep plum colored stems. The flowers do not last long but I find the color very pleasing.
My beautiful noisette, Elie Beauvilain, is just opening its first blooms. Here it is snaking along a fence.
It has little rebloom, and no fragrance. It also suffers from some early-spring mildew. I don't like roses without fragrance (especially if they don't rebloom and are not healthy), but there is no accounting for love. I love it.
After three years of growing George Burns, I still can't decide if I like it or not. Its color clashes with everything in the garden and so I grow it in a pot by itself. It starts blooming early, probably because a potted plant's roots get warm faster. I think it will leave me soon for another home where it will be better loved:)
Some of my rose companions are beginning to bloom too. The one above is Byzantine Gladiolus. I grow it for its light weight elegance, its delicate flowers offering a nice spiky contrast to large and round roses. Its only drawback is a short bloom season of maybe a couple of weeks.
I like the look of bacopa, but have not had a lot of luck with it up to now. I think it appreciates afternoon shade, and this one plant that is situated like that has begun to spread and blooms for a long time. I love the light purple flowers with yellow throats.
Daisies always do well for me. They bloom for a long time, and I like the simple blooms.
I grow lots of geraniums and pelargoniums because they do so well here. If they go under roses I try to select those with smaller flowers, like the dwarf regal pelargonium above, so they won't clash with rose blooms.
Finally, an unwelcome visitor on a bloom of Gruss an Aachen. I haven't actually seen any snail damage to rose petals (yet, at any rate), so I think that snail was just sheltering on a low growing bloom. Still, maybe roses will now have to grow prickles on the blooms too:).