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It's May, so why isn't it spring in Iowa?

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Courtesy of Craig Summers Black

(Read caption) Wiserias don't much like Iowa. But – after 15 years – this one changed its mind. It's been one of the joys of the May garden, after plenty of challenges.

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This is whiplash weather in Iowa. The temperature soars. Then – wham! – it plunges radically. The garden and I are really getting jerked around. And Mother Nature’s plan? Rinse and repeat.

Yo-yo weather is hard to contend with

After a short period of ab-fab balmy days, some of the veggies and tropicals went toes-up when it got down way below freezing.

Then the weather turns around and soars to a record high – 97! – with a never-ending wind so fearsome it's sapping the flowering bulbs and shredding the magnolias.

Then a week of more wind and rain, rain, rain. Last night: In the 30s again.

I know: Complain, complain, complain. Sorry.

The good things in the garden

So let me count my blessings:

• The Elizabeth magnolia that I planted last year to replace the Butterflies lost in a late hard freeze, sailed through the winter and promptly bloomed. The flowers were a deeper hue than I was expecting, and I am glad of it. Also: I hate to wait 10 years for Butterflies’ first blossoms, so this first-year flowering is quite the bonus.

• The wisteria [see photo above] – also in the horseshoe driveway – that I have been training as a standard finally bloomed, no mean trick hereabouts, but it has been a 15-year wait. And I am not a patient guy. However: Oh, happy day!

• Likewise, the five-leaf chocolate vine (Akebia quinata), now blooming quite spectacularly in a purple-leaf maple tree. I always liked how the vine’s green foliage snaked brightly up through the dark maple leaves, but now– after, what, 10 years? – the bazillion quarter-sized flowers echo the maple leaf color. And right outside the front door. [See second photo at top; click on arrow at right base of first photo.]

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