1 My farm as the end of April draws near
2 It was such a fine morning and I wanted to tour the farm on horseback. Here I am on one of the mounting blocks as Betsy holds Rinze steady.
3 All set to go! Betsy is Riding Ramon and is wearing a cleer new sun-brim that fits right over her riding helmet. I told her to get me one in khaki, if possible - Anything to protect delicate facial skin from the sun's harmful rays.
4 This is one of several species of Epimedium that I have growing in my shade gardens.
5 Another variety of Epimedium with purple flowers - These Epimediums emerge in early spring with their foliage nicely mottled or outlined in red, like this one.
6 Epimedium is also called Horny Goat Weed and is used medicinally as an aphrodisiac.
7 It's said that, years ago, a Chinese goat herder noticed that his herd of goats became more active with their mating behavior after grazing on Epimedium.
8 As you can see, the plant makes an excellent ground cover and spreads year after year.
9 An Epimedium with spider-like flowers
10 And another with dainty white and yellow blooms
11 An Epimedium with deep purple flowers and purple tinged leaves
12 Pink flowers and bronze foliage
13 Long green leaves
14 And an Epimedium with very showy dark pink and white blooms
15 Anemonella thalictroides 'Cameo' - Full double, light pink flowers that slowly fade to white, lasting from April to June
16 Variegated Sedge Grass - Sedge is an ornamental grass that makes an excellent ground cover in shady areas. These plants also do well in swampy, poorly drained areas.
17 Yellow trillium (Trillium luteum) about to bloom - Trillium plants produce no true leaves or stems above ground. Althought they are often called leaves, the leaf-like structures are actually bracts, which support the flower.
18 Ostrich ferns have taken over the far end of the shade garden, near the entrance to my gym building. The little structure you see is the housing for a time-lapse camera, which is capturing the amazing unfurling of these ferns.
19 Fritillaria meleagris, a member of the lily family, is commonly called Snake's Head Fritillary and Guinea-hen Flower. It has a unique chequered pattern in shades of purple.
20 These alien-looking plants are newly emerging Solomon's Seal, or Polygonatum.
21 Although a bit odd-looking now, these Solomon's Seal will eventually become long and slender arching stems with alternating lance-shaped leaves, with tubular flowers dangling beneath.
22 Still blooming are Erythronium ‘Pagoda’, a cultivar of the North American Trout Lily, a lovely, vigorous woodland plant.
23 It's always so exciting to watch the hosta poke through the ground and unfurl their leaves. These are spreading beautifully.
24 These very dramatic large leaves belong to ornamental rhubarb. Unlike edible rhubarb, this ornamental variety is a shade lover and will wilt in the sun.
25 A lovely Camperdown weeping elm
26 A closeup of its blossoms
27 A wonderful contrast of green Epimedium and bronze heuchera
28 The gardens flanking the long curved pergola are looking very neat and trim.
29 The standard wisteria on the ends are forming their fragrant clusters of blooms.
30 The beds have been edged so nicely.
31 Wilmer has done a great job here.
32 Honeybees are drawn to the muscari blooming in the pergola beds.
33 An emerging lily
34 The strawberry plants outside the greenhouse have been pollinated and are beginning to form fruit.
35 The pin-shaped needles of the bald cypress
36 I love the ribbon-like bark of the bald cypress.
37 The wild violets are quite thick in the grass this year next to the little pond.
38 Deep in the woods in the garden outside the little woodland shed are delicate white fritillaria.
39 Also emerging in the same garden are fuzzy cinnamon ferns.
40 The fronds of these ferns can grow to 5-feet long!
41 The moss growing on this rock along the carriage trail deep in the woods, is so non-verdant because of lack of rain.
42 The herbaceous peony garden is growing very quickly and is a good 3 weeks ahead of schedule. The aluminum stakes will be tied with string to help support the heavy flower heads.
43 The lilac grove is beginning bloom with its lovely fragrant flowers.
44 In preparation for an upcoming photo shoot, Ryan pruned out all the dead wood from the lilac grove.
45 Chhewang used a taut string as a guide for edging.
46 He then fired up the edger to cut through the thick sod along the length of string.
47 If you want straight lines, it's always a good idea to use string as a guide.
48 After cutting through the sod, Ghurme loosened and discarded the unwanted grass, which will find its way to the compost pile.
49 Meanwhile, the screens have been placed on the house windows and Empress Tang has found a new resting place.