Garden progress- Early summer flower identification

  Hey fellow beginning gardeners!  Summer is here and so are a whole bunch of new flowers.  If you’re like me and have a house whose previous owners (at one point or another) were gardeners, you probably have at least a few things that have come up that you love, but can’t identify.
  It can be really frustrating, because if you can’t identify a flower, you can’t plant more of it, or make sure you’re taking care of it properly.  I thought a few pictures of some of the more popular flowers in my yard, both in bud and bloom, might help!
  The bud above is a peony.  Take note of the ant on it, because it’s important.  Peonies need ants.  The buds have some kind of sap on them that the ants eat away.  Without ants, the blooms don’t happen.
  Speaking of blooms, there are a few kinds.  The two below are a single (right) and a double (left) peony.
  Peonies are a little diva-ish in that without some support, the flowers tend to be too heavy for the stems to support.  An easy fix is to place a tomato cage around the plant in the spring and train it to grow up through it.  The leaves typically camouflage most of the cage and it keeps the flowers upright.
  The bud (left) and bloom (right) below are iris.  There are a ton of different types and sizes of iris, but the most common is the bearded iris.
  The bush below is a rhododendron.  The picture on the left actually shows a few stages of the bud as it opens.  The bud furthest to the right is the one closest to what they look like when closed…a little like teardrop shaped pine cones.  Mine is fairly new, so it’s still kind of shrimpy, but I’m hoping that it likes where it is well enough to get big.  We saw quite a few of them when we visited Pittsburgh that were a story and a half tall and as long as a car.  They like acidic soil, so I may just have to suspend my usual attitude of “tough it out or die” to get this one to grow.
  Finally, these are my climbing roses.  As you can see, I have a bit of an aphid problem.  Or maybe a Japanese beetle problem.  We kind of have a lot of bugs.  These have a typical “rosebud”, but bloom a lot earlier than normal roses (which bloom later in summer).  I really need to build a trellis to support them, so they don’t go entirely crazy and tangle up in themselves, but that hasn’t made its way to the top of my to-do list yet.
  Do you have any plants coming up in your yard that you wish you could identify?  Swing by the Facebook page and show me a picture.  I might know what it is!  And if not, I’ll at least commiserate with you about being new to this whole “gardening” thing.

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