By late May, the third phase of spring begins in Western North Carolina. The early blooms have passed: no more peonies, daffodils, or irises. Now the warmer days begin and the grass grows more slowly. The foliage of the daffodils turns yellow, and suddenly I notice the next flower to emerge: hydrangeas!
The macrophylla hydrangeas show off their buds first in their lush foliage. I have been seeing them for a few weeks. Now I am also seeing tiny panicle buds forming. These are the Limelight hydrangeas that can produce enormous blooms. When I look closely, I can see the buds in their foliage.
Also the tomato seedlings start to respond to the May heat and they seem to grow inches a day. Some have yellow flowers and some have produced small tomatoes. Both the tomato plants and the panicle hydrangeas thrive on heat and sun, so they are growing fast.
A few late blooming azaleas have opened up, which is nice, since the others have finished for the season. The mountain laurels are blooming in the shade. The rhododendrons have finished blooming. Bullfrogs are croaking loudly in ponds. Dragonflies are everywhere. At dusk, fireflies come out and blink throughout the yard. Now it is almost time for the summer solstice and a new season.