Spring is surging; time to evaluate the tulips

Front Garden tulips

Spring seems to be in a rush to get everything underway post haste! The early, mid and some of the late tulips are all blooming at once! Suddenly overnight earlier this week, the white lilac, the pear tree, the gooseberries, several primroses and black currants are all in flower. Before it’s over, I’m trying to take more time to actually enjoy and savor each flower and to do an evaluation of this year’s tulip plantings. Each year, the favorites are ordered (Foxy Foxtrot, Temple’s Favorite, Cretaceous, Dordogne) but usually a new variety catches the eye, or as in the case last fall, a favorite is not available so a replacement candidate must be found.

In looking at this year’s Front Garden tulips, I’m not as happy as in some years. Although shorter tulips, mid-sized tulips, and tall tulips were planted, they all seem to be the same height, although they should range from 12-30″. The photo above was taken this morning, just after the FROST melted. Yes, we had 29 degrees F this morn, which ought to slow things down a bit.

The same view a while later, after the flowers had opened a bit more.

This year I decided to plant in “ribbons” rather than clumps of varieties. I think I’m going back to clumps. A new variety this year is “Prince Armin,” the orange and yellow nicely cupped tulip rather in the center. I like it, and will probably order it again. The “Orange Marmalade” tulip was disappointing, as the colors faded quickly to almost beige. You can see them along the right edge near the hedge. The “Cretaceous” peony-flowered tulip seems to be more yellow and reds this year, rather than the abundant oranges last year. The only variety left to open is at the very back along the wall, the late and taller “Dordogne.” I feel I’m missing the darker orange of King’s Orange from last year, but it wasn’t available. And this stage needs something other than just tulips. There are a few dark blue muscari in the front, but it needs some height until the shrubs grow taller. Maybe some tall frittalaria next year?

Also, the bare soil showing bothers me. Normally, a tidy layer of mulch would already be down. But, “Lauren Grape” poppy seeds were sprinkled weeks ago, and have yet to germinate so I don’t want to put mulch down until they emerge. A little more rain and warmer temps might make that happen. Patience…

The Deck Garden early this morn.

I’m happier with the Deck Garden look, which is planted in clumps rather than ribbons. I planted 75 “Tang Dynasty” tulips in 2019, and really liked the mixture of white, bright yellow, and orange tulips but wanted more. So last October, 100 “Tang Dynasty” were planted again. Yesterday, I counted 168 “Tang Dynasty” which means that not only did the 100 newly planted bulbs bloom, but 68 returned from the year before! What a bonus! I generally don’t count on tulips returning well (except those two tulips in the very foreground near the birdbath, which were here when we moved in nearly 30 years ago!) I also like that there are still the “Geranium” narcissus clumps blooming. Between those and the hyacinths, the walk along the sidewalk is very fragrant. I think this planting combination will do again next year.

The Front Island this morning as the sun rises.

The Front Island has had continual bloom since early March, and overall it satisfies me. I don’t plant many tulips or crocus there, because the two black walnut trees are in constant use by squirrels. There are 15 varieties of daffodils, a forsythia, and violets in bloom right now. Here are two of my favorites:

Daffodil “Sailorman”
Daffodil “Blushing Lady”

However, there are some tulips there this year, a small clump of “Bright Gem” that should be opening soon that were planted and bloomed a year ago, and another mystery clump, likely moved from the Front Garden and replanted by the squirrels! We’ll just have to wait to see what they selected. I’m just surprised they didn’t just eat the bulbs! Tall white alliums were added here last fall to help cover the gap after the daffodils are finished, so I’m eager to see them bloom later on.

The potager’s exterior border (south half)

Lastly, the potager’s exterior border, which didn’t get as many tulips as in prior years, partly because I ran out of tulip bulbs, and partly because the irises are taking up more and more space. Tulips bloom a bit later here. The Front Garden and Deck Garden have the benefit of heat gathered from the brick house. The potager is out in the open and unsheltered, which also means it is visited more often by deer and rabbits. So far (knock wood) this year’s tulips have not been nibbled, but I won’t hold my breath. There were 13 deer in the back area a few days ago, until I ran out and clapped my hands to scare them away. Most of the tulips are the late “Dordogne” back along the fence, which haven’t opened yet. But, the border looks full and lush, so I probably won’t make any changes other than to divide some of the daffodils that bloomed earlier and are getting too thick, and maybe move some irises later on.

So, that’s the tulip evaluation for this year. I’ll be re-reading this before I place the bulb order in late summer, and giving it more thought as I look through the catalogs. Have you evaluated your bulbs yet? I encourage you to do so, if only to take a really close look at the beauty of these amazing spring flowers, and to marvel at the wonders of each intricate bloom! Happy Spring!

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Six on Saturday: April 10

The Deck Garden in early Spring.

Welcome to Six on Saturday, where gardeners from about the globe post six things that are happening in their gardens, or plants that make them happy, of just six topics of interest. This idea belongs to The Propagator, so visit his site for the complete offering of “SOS.” Here’s six things happening in my gardens in north central Indiana. 1) The tulips suddenly began to open in the Deck Garden this week, a bit earlier than usual. Photography still perplexes me in that what I see, and what the camera captures is often very different. Here, the hyacinths look absolutely pink, and were they so, they would never be found in MY gardens! They are actually “Gypsy Queen,” a lovely soft orange sherbet color that blend well with the brighter orange, yellow, and white tulips (Tang Dynasty from Colorblends.)

And this hellebore is more purple than it looks here!

2) I don’t have fancy hellebores (yet!) but I’ve very happy with these PURPLE hellebores than open up a couple of weeks later than the double white ones. The Purple ones are in deeper shade, which may account for the delay.

A tray full of surprises!

3) I was gifted a free packet of “Wildflower Mix” which stated it contains 27 different wildflowers. I don’t really have an area prepared for a wildflower bed, so while I was watching basketball in March, I roughly sorted the seeds and more recently seeded them in a flat. Hopefully, I will recognize many of them, and can decided where they might be happy. So far, I see Four O’Clocks, cornflowers, flax, poppies, cosmos, and calendula. The plan is to put most of them in pots until their bloom color is determined, and their identity. I have no interest in adding a lot of rampant self-seeders to some gardens, so many will be gifted to others or put in the garden club plant sale.

The first Primrose to bloom…by default.

4) Remember the much-anticipated first primrose bloom, that then was eaten by some critter before it opened? It is recovering, but will be lucky if it blooms this year. So, by default the primrose shown in the photo wins the prize for first bloom, opening just yesterday. I definitely need lots more primroses!

What a surprise!

5) Another suprise awaited in the potager, where I was stunned to see the first strawberry bloom of the season. It’s on a “Seascape” plant (an everbearing variety) and there are several more plants with buds about to open! The earliest I’ve had strawberry blooms before is April 24th, so I’ll be moving at least one of those berry boxes to that bed shortly. And finally,

I’ve shown these in past years, but they are so sweet they deserve another appearance.

6) The miniature true iris given to me by my friend Margaret years ago are spreading. These little darlings are only about 3″ tall with a 2″ tall brilliant purple true iris flower. I want to have enough to move some to the Fairy Slope, where I think they will also be happy.

The flowers are opening fast and furious now, as our above normal temperatures continue. We could certainly use a good rain, and a little less wind, but I won’t complain too loudly or Mother Nature might decide to send worse! It’s a lovely Spring here in Indiana, and the farmers are already planting. Feeling blessed! Hope all is well in whatever part of the world you garden.

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March: Monthly review

The official March 2021 photo of the potager.

It’s late reporting the monthly review for March 2021, but the weather has been so gorgeous that it seemed justifiable to actually GARDEN rather than write about it! Here in north central Indiana, March was warmer than normal, despite some nights in the teens, but more worrying one of the driest months of March on record in our area. I recall as a kid that March was kite flying weather, but one would need super-strong string to keep a kite in some of the winds we experienced this month. A lovely 22 days were sunny, two days with some very light drizzle, one day of actual rain but with more thunder than rainfall, one day of snow, and the rest were just cloudy. Actually, the cloudy days were welcome, allowing more time to seed, transplant, and tend the plant babies in the basement. And, extra basketball viewing…I’m a Hoosier after all and basketball is in our blood.

The March photo varies little from the February photo. The plastic-covered berry box that was over the leeks and carrots was moved so they wouldn’t get too hot. Sunny days, the boxes over the spinach, kale, and lettuces had to be opened as well. And, you can see (if your eyes are excellent) that the garlic has grown quite a bit and the bunching onions are ready to use. Happily, the snow peas emerged along their trellis although you can’t see them in the photo. By March 19th, the first daffodils opened, signaling time to plant the peas, shallots, onion sets, radishes, etc.

This year the black currants were caged to prevent deer pruning!

March is the month of crocuses and swelling buds. The lilacs and black currant buds were nearly to open, and the gooseberries are already leafing out. It’s a time for walking around the gardens to see what is emerging, the chives come early on, and rhubarb and most perennials. It’s the month that the first flats of baby plants are moved into the greenhouse. It’s a month for tidying and preparing the beds for planting. The dahlias that have been stored in a tub in the basement were potted, and the first batch of ranunculus bulbs were soaked and planted as well. A few more seeds were scattered, and the winter-sown jugs began showing green seedlings that grew quickly once they got started.

Mid-month the hellebores, more crocuses, the Dutch dwarf iris, aconites and tiny, tiny snowdrops joined the party. The hardiest of the plants in flats were moved to the benches outside the greenhouse to begin hardening off. By month’s end the big pots of tender plants were moved onto the patio during the day to begin adjusting to living outdoors again.

The Cutting Garden looks pretty bare in March…

By month’s end about half of the gardens had been cleaned and edged. The usual debate began on whether to get mulch, but since none of the poppy seeds that were sprinkled in the Addition or Deck Garden have sprouted (probably due to lack of rain) and few of the larkspur or other self-seeding annuals have emerged, it was deemed wise to wait. Last year’s mulch looks fairly well, except in the potager’s paths, so there’s no real rush.

In March, 70 additional varieties were seeded in the basement, bringing the total to 118. One thousand, two hundred and eighteen seedlings were transplanted into pots. In addition, the first 95 plants were potted up for our local garden club’s plant sale in late May.

Carrots, carrots, carrots!

Harvest wise, the numbers are small because we are really trying to use up “older” food in the freezer and from the pantry shelves. There were still turnips, winter squash, pumpkins, onions, garlic, shallots, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage and leeks in the cool garage that needed to be used as well before the garage was no longer cool. One row of carrots were dug, yielding 6.75 lbs. There were already carrots in the refrigerator, carrots in the garage, and some carrots given away, but as the carrots suddenly put on a lot of new beautiful green growth, I worried that the quality of the carrots themselves would deteriorate as the plants began planning to produce a bloom stalk, so one row was dug. Two more to go, no doubt in early April. In addition, the first dandelions, that abundant “freebie” crop that is gathered as beds are weeded, made their way into the kitchen as salad or as the old European dish combining wilted dandelion greens, boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and bacon with a bit of cider vinegar and pepper. Plus, trying to use the cabbage in a variety of slaws made the need for salad ingredients from the potager redundant. Therefore, the only thing harvested in March was spinach, parsley, lettuce, chives, bunching onions, and a bit of kale totaling 2 lbs. Total March harvest: 8.75 lbs. No preserving was done.

A family favorite meal using dandelions!

There were two bouquets of daffodils given to “needy” folks in March, so the goal of spreading cheer and beauty is underway.

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April Fools’ Surprise

Happy April Fools!

We knew it was going to be cold, well below freezing. All the pundits agreed, so I pulled the plastic-covered berry boxes back over the rows of spinach, kale, lettuce, carrots and leeks that we’ve been harvesting over the winter. The weather had been so mild and sunny that I’d taken the boxes off so the crops wouldn’t bolt, but now a layer of fleece was put over the just emerging snow peas, and the heater was turned on in the closed-up greenhouse. I considered picking all the daffodils, but since the low predicted was only 28 degrees F, I decided to do it tomorrow, before the temperature fell even lower, a predicted 21 for Indy, which means probably upper teens for us.

I shouldn’t have been surprised to see a light covering of snow on everything when I awoke, but I was. I hadn’t heard any mention of snow, and even my usually reliably phone Weather App hadn’t indicated a flake. But, flakes are falling even as the sun struggles to peek between the clouds. Today’s high of 37 (so they say) will probably melt the light snow away. Too bad, even a thin sheet makes a difference when temps fall into the teens. A blanket of snow would be better, but there’s no complaining about the weather. It just doesn’t do a bit of good to grumble. Welcome to April!

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Six on Saturday: March 27

The Front Door Pot

Greetings on this sunny Saturday, amazingly, the final Saturday of this rapid month! For our SOS, let’s take a little walking tour this morning, beginning out the front door, where the traditional (1) Front Door Pot finally has a new look. A necessary trip to town gave the opportunity to purchase the first plants of the season, just as they were coming off a truck at my favorite local plant place. Fortunately, they included some of my favorite plants: 3 orange pansies and 3 different primulas. These selections work well in a pot that only gets sun in the very early morning hours and shade the remainder of the day. In the center is the “Autumn Bride” coral bell that has graced this pot for the past six years or more. It will fill up the center with tidy foliage that looks great all summer into autumn, when it sends up spires of dainty white flowers. Next stop, (2) the Front Garden.

My how it has changed this week!

We had a bit of rain (a LOT of thunder, but just a bit of rain!) mid-week, and suddenly the tulip leaves are emerging in abundance, covering lots of formerly empty mulch spots. The big patches of purple crocus and dwarf blue iris are gone, but the daffodils are just emerging. The golden shrubs are brightening in color to repeat the colors of the 8 varieties of daffodils in this garden. A few of the “Vernal Jewels” crocus are opening. For some reason with a name like “Vernal” I assumed they would be very early, but happily they are late and extend the crocus season a bit. Looking at this garden, I’ve decided it needs a patch of the golden “Angelina” sedum on the bottom right corner, where the bed meets the sidewalk. It will love that dry, hot spot and repeat the golden color again. Around the house to the (3) Deck Garden.

There was already half that much water in the birdbath before the rain!

Here you can see(bottom to top) the repeating gold of tiny Tete e Tete daffodils, the “Gold Moss” feverfew, more daffys, and the “Angelina” sedum. All the crocus, snowdrops and dwarf iris are gone, but over a hundred tulips are emerging. Around the gazebo, we’ll pop into the basement to see what’s just sprouted.

The recently potted dahlia tubers are beginning to sprout!

Still waiting on the arrival of new dahlia tubers, but the ones dug and saved from prior years were potted and are beginning to show life. This is always a relief! (4) These are “Sylvia”, which is currently my favorite dahlia, a lovely soft orange in a size that’s good for bouquets. Last year I was a little late getting them started because the weather just didn’t cooperate. Thankfully, this year is different/better. There was room to pot these because the (5) big move began this week.

The first flats of 2021 have “moved on up!”

Five hundred eighty plants are now residing in the greenhouse. That’s not as many as usual for the first round, but remember I decided not to grow 500 violas and pansies this year. I have to admit the workload has been more comfortable. And finally, (6) my plan to grow and cut more flowers to give away has begun, modestly with just one bouquet to a friend who has no daffodils.

The first give-away bouquet of 2021!

All of these 20 daffodils (there are 8 varieties) were cut from the Front Garden before the (2) photo was taken. You didn’t even realize they were missing, did you? That’s one of the lovely things about daffodils, they are so prolific and so showy several flowers can be cut from a clump and it still looks cheery! And they show up from a distance, but up close one can see the intricacies that make each variety so different. Hopefully, this is the first of many, many give-away bouquets to come.

So that’s my Six. To see what other gardeners are doing this Saturday visit The Propagator, who hosts this meme.

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Sow rewarding!

Finally, daffodils!

The BIG DAY finally arrived! That day which I’ve anticipated all winter long, planned for, wished for, and nervously waited for finally came. There were daffodils blooming in the Front Garden this morning, as I and my tea cup took our morning walkabout! I shouted with joy, spilling my tea in the process as I stooped to view their cheery flowers more closely. What a lovely, lovely sight. And what a beautiful day it was! Temperatures were in the upper 60’s all day, with lovely sunshine and barely a breeze. The soil was perfect for planting, so I hurried to the potager, “Direct Seeding” box in hand, along with the notebook containing the planting maps that have been drawn and redrawn over the winter.

Doesn’t look impressive, but just you wait!

First up were the shallots. There were enough good ones left to plant 9 rows, so that’s 54 linear feet of deliciousness. I’ve learned that planting the single bulbs, even if they are small generally results in more and larger shallots than planting the doubles and triples. So in they went, with only a couple dozen doubles and triples remaining to use in the kitchen. Hopefully this year’s crop will be better than last year’s, some of which rotted in the excessive rains. Then it was on to the peas. Out came the pea fencing from the Lady Cottage.

Only two fences to start…

“Green Arrow” peas are my absolute favorite for productivity and flavor. The succession planting plan for peas also includes “Penelope” and “Spring”, both new ones to the potager and to me, but they will go in later. Last year’s late freeze has made me a bit more cautious. I don’t want these turning to mush. Also planted were 3 rows of yellow onion sets. Normally I prefer to grow onions from seed, but the first seeding in the basement was pitiful. My fault as I used some old seed. There are other onion seeds coming on later for storage purposes, but this year it’s sets that will provide some early onions for the table. Radishes, pak choi and “China King” Chinese cabbage seeds were also sown. And that was it for the potager’s first crops, but it sure felt good to get them in the ground.

An experiment in progress…

I’ve mentioned before that the Cutting Garden is going to get lots more attention this year, and to that end I’ve planted a little experiment. New to me is “Blue Thimble” flower. The packet says to sprinkled it on prepared soil and rake them in just as early as the ground can be worked. Not knowing what the seedlings will look like, and wanting to hurry them along, I decided to seed small circles, and then cover them with milk jugs that have had their bottoms removed. It’s a little variation on the traditional “winter seeding” technique that I’m using for several perennials. If nothing else, at least I will know where they are, and they won’t wash downhill if it rains. While I was in the Cutting Garden, I was delighted to see emerging larkspur babies.

Baby larkspurs

I’ve grown larkspur for decades, so I recognize these seedlings easily. Back in the 70’s they were a staple for our wreath-making business since they dry so well. I sprinkled these seeds on the snow back in late February and now here they are! So exciting.

I did a little clean-up in the Deck Garden, moved more plants to the greenhouse, and transplanted 288 seedlings into 4-packs. It was the best day I’ve had in months, and hopefully just the very beginning of a splendid growing season! The fun has just begun!

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Looking for gold

Golden feverfew…one of my favorites!

It’s St. Patrick’s Day and the leprechauns are out and about leading the foolish away from their gold. After the freezing rain and snow on Sunday and the fog yesterday I’m hoping for a decent day today for a walkabout. I’ll be searching for gold, although none that belongs to the leprechauns, and looking for spots to add some more! I LOVE the way gold foliage brightens up dark areas and provides a bit of contrast in the borders, even when there are no flowers. I have to admit that wasn’t always the case, as early on in my gardening experience I refused to have yellow leaves because to me it signaled a sick plant! Happily, my view has matured.

One of my very, very favorite perennial golds is shown above. “Gold Moss” feverfew is a low-growing (6″ or so) fine-leaved plant that maintains its golden foliage year-round, even here in Zone 4b/5a where temps can fall to minus 25 degrees. This year, it got very little snow cover for protection, but as you can see, it’s still looking great. It’s happy in full sun or partial shade. Too much shade and it is more chartreuse than gold, and if your summers are scorchers, there may be a bit of tip browning. One can’t ask for a tidier, undemanding plant. In late summer, it has tiny cream-colored flowers, and will do a bit of self-seeding if allowed, although that doesn’t happen often in my mulched beds.

Sedum “Angelina”

Another hardy, hardy perennial (as long as it has good drainage) is Sedum “Angelina.” A low-growing creeper, this sedum is a favorite in containers, where it can trail down elegantly from edges. In cooler temperatures, the gold needle-shaped leaves often get a coppery-cast which is lovely in autumn. In warmer temperatures the leaves are gold to chartreuse. Happily, a piece that breaks off will root easily, and clumps of “Angelina” can be dug and moved at any time of the year. I’ve grown it for years, and wouldn’t be without it, especially in dry window boxes or along hot sidewalks.

Coleus “Wizard Gold”

Last year I grew Coleus “Wizard Gold” from seed, and I’m growing it again this year. Coleus is very slow from seed (not as bad as lisianthus though!) so I seed it in early January and start it on heat mats. It’s a tropical plant, grown as an annual here in Indiana and elsewhere that winter occurs. It performed extremely well in both full sun and partial shade and provided a much-needed bright spot under my black walnut trees and under the elder. I also used it in containers and along the Deck sidewalk. This year, I’m adding some to the potager’s exterior border. It’s definitely a keeper.

Two golden shrubs in the Front Garden.

Two years ago, I added two golden evergreens to the Front Garden. Sadly, they don’t look any larger today than when they were planted! I’ll have to do some research to see what I can do to help, but I love the contrast with the purple crocus.

Golden oregano…a reliable creeper.

To brighten up the potager’s interior border, there’s golden oregano shown above with some “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce on the right, and some white blossoming cilantro volunteers popping here and there. Golden oregano keeps its bright color all summer and fall. In the winter and early spring, it’s a bit more green than gold but still a light color. It is a spreader, forming a matted groundcover, which can be a good thing in the right place. It’s also good in containers, and has a good flavor.

There are also a few golden foliaged hostas in the shadier gardens, but I’m searching for more gold leaves, preferably plants without pink or red flowers if they do flower. What are your favorites? I need some suggestions.

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Biding my time…

How dry my Deck Garden is!

In my last post, “Resisting the Urge,” my growing impatience to get growing emerged. There were “Oregon Giant” snow peas planted on one of the potager’s trellises, but then planting was halted. The ground is so very dry, and the forecast had changed overnight calling for colder temperatures and winds. My common sense prevailed. The rest will wait until the first daffodil opens.

North half of potager’s East Interior Border, before tidying.

Instead of planting, I decided to clean the potager’s interior border, beginning with the north half of the East Interior Border. This is the section I walk past nearly every day, going from the potager’s front gate to the Lady Cottage door. It is also the section that has spring bulbs planted, as well as a selection of edible flowers and herbs. It was looking pretty ugly with tall dead stalks of anise hyssop and blue sage that really don’t show much in the photo, but a few minutes’ work and it was much improved. I was happy to see some baby cilantro seedling popping up, but still no sign of the lettuce seed that was sprinkled back in February. Maybe they will pop if we get some rain….

And now one can see the flowers!

All the dead foliage and old stems are out, and the herbs in the triangular beds at far left have been cut back. Once I get some potting soil, several of those excess volunteer feverfew plants will be potted up for our garden club’s plant sale. Yes, we had our first meeting in over a year last week, and voted to have our “annual” sale. It was wonderful to see everyone again, even with masks and social distancing (even though we’re all fully vaccinated!)

The Front Garden’s first flowers are readily visible now.

While I was feeling so ambitious The Front Garden got a tidy. Our mail lady had walked by it that morning to bring a birthday package for D, and after she left I realized how messy the garden looked. So, all the dead mum stalks, the dried daylily foliage, the brown rudbeckia stems and blown-in corn stalks were removed, making the crocus and dwarf iris visible. There are hardly any tulip leaves poking through, which makes me wonder, but maybe a little rain will bring them soon. Next was the small area under the elder, where the winter aconites are now popping through.

Notice the small clumps of Iris reticulata…which much have been planted by the squirrels because I didn’t!

I’m thrilled to know that planting the water-loving coleus over the aconite bulbs during the summer apparently didn’t harm them at all, because there are more plants than I planted bulbs already, with more popping through the ground. I hope they fill in that entire area. This area is a bit more moist, because the driveway water runs off and down the slope, which is why the elder is so happy there. Every garden needs a good edging and a layer of mulch, but my winter-softened body had met its limit. Back indoors with a cup of tea, I stopped to admire the first “Terra Cotta Star” amaryllis.

Four big blooms, and another bulb stalk just now appearing!

I love the compact stem on this bulb. Maybe it’s because it was planted much later than the earlier ones, and there was more sunshine and day-length so the stem didn’t stretch. I do like the color and bloom size immensely. And now, accompanied by the tapping of ice pellets on the windows mixed with snowflakes, I’m rewarding myself with a new book, which I’ve nearly finished and have thoroughly enjoyed. I rather hate to reach the end…..

What a fun, fun, but emotional book…happy ending is worth every tear!

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Resisting the urge.

The crocus are popping up all over!

We are having a stretch of amazing weather. It’s been warm, actually very warm (yesterday it reached 64 degrees F!) and it’s been sunny for over a week. The raised beds are dry enough to work in, which isn’t surprising since we have had the driest March in 150 years of record-keeping! The crocuses are popping up in groups now.

The “Vernal Jewels” crocus is various shades of purple, lavender, bright yellow and white are joining the “Cream Beauty.”

The various crocus have been joined by the dwarf iris reticulata in the Blue Garden

Finally, some color in the Blue Garden.

The winter aconites under the elder are beginning to appear. There are birds singing and the grass is growing. The urge to get planting is strong. Very strong.

Winter aconite

Last year’s garden journal reports that on March 9th peas, lettuce, radish, potatoes, kohlrabi and pak choi were all planted in the potager. It was exciting and visions of early harvests danced in my head! I wrote of global warming, and that planting earlier than “normal” seemed justified in those “not normal Covid times.” Even though I knew those first crops traditionally went into the ground with the first DAFFODIL, not the first crocus, I succumbed to the siren of early spring planting.

You may recall how that turned out. The weather turned. We had our usual cold, wet April and unusual freezes in mid-May. The pea vines all turned to mush and had to be clipped off. The lettuces froze and withered. The potatoes turned black and took ages to recover. The kohlrabi and pak choi were so stressed that later plantings of both were actually harvested first. The radishes just refused to appear at all in such inhospitable conditions.

So, all day I resisted that urge to plant. I’m an experienced gardener. I know that patience is the key to success. I re-organized the “Direct Seeding” box, drooling over all the luscious lettuce varieties, picturing the “Green Arrow” peas climbing the pea fences, admiring the scarlet skins of radishes shown on packet fronts. “There are lots of seeds left from last year that could be put in the ground as a test,” my mind offered. I put the seed box down and made a cup of tea. “The berry box over the carrots and leeks is available, if the weather should turn,” it argued. I went through the pretty seed packets again. “What’s life without a little risk?” it whispered, as I wandered up and down the potager’s rows of empty beds this morning. “Just one box. Just one. Please?” the mind begged, the fingers itching.

It seems my mind has made up its mind. I’m planting!

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Is this normal?

Long awaited, but disappointing!

As regular readers know, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the arrival of the first snowdrop bloom. Not just the first snowdrop of this season, but MY first snowdrop ever! In fact, I don’t recall ever actually seeing a snowdrop in person, so this was going to be quite the occasion!

Yesterday, my daily inspection did in fact reveal THE FIRST SNOWDROP. I almost missed it, since I wasn’t carrying binoculars… Descriptive words? “Microscopic” “Disappointing” maybe “Dainty” is the most positive word that came to mind. Planted last autumn, in good soil, with bone meal and a bit of fertilizer, I was expecting more!

So, my questions are these: Are snowdrops like some other plants, and purchasing a larger bulb matters? (Mine came from High Country Gardens) Will it yet grow in stature as the flower opens? Will it possibly be larger next year? Are there great variations in size depending on variety or species? Or, is this normal?!?!?

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