With the nine-day forecast indicating temps in the 50’sF and rain off and on, yesterday was perfect for moving the first plants from the greenhouse to the benches outside to begin hardening. Unlike many folks who initially move plants outdoors on a sunny day to begin the hardening off process, I always choose a cloudy day. It’s enough for those sheltered plants to accustom themselves to breeze and “real” light without having to deal with bright sun rays as well. Twenty eight flats now fill the benches …896 plants. I chose the perennials and low plants (feverfew, violas, onions, dwarf snaps, gaillardia, rudbeckia, blue salvia, hollyhocks, etc.) so if the wind does pick up, they won’t be whipped around.
Happily, that created space in the greenhouse, so more plants were moved from the basement (marigolds, more onions, cippollini) to refill it and now there’s room in the basement for more transplanting and seeding flats, which will be done when the rain begins and I can no longer work outdoors. I’m too old to work in the rain anymore…
The Addition Garden has now been cleaned and tidied, as well as most of the Deck Garden. The most apparent find in the process is that none of the snapdragons, gaillardia, blue salvia, or verbena bonariensis are alive. I’ll have to dig out some saved verbena seed and get it going, and all those “extra” snapdragon and blue salvia seedlings that weren’t transplanted early on will now have to be potted. I’m just glad I have them “in the wings.” There are a few rudbeckia that survived, but not as many as I’d like, as not as many seedlings growing on to replace them, so I’m hoping some will have self-seeded. The low part of the Deck Garden is still too wet to get into, as is the Fairy Garden. So, I moved to the potager’s interior borders. This took longer than I expected because the timbers all along the entire south border had been pushed out. I really must do something about drainage, although I’m sure the freeze/thaw action also had something to do with it, especially since this side is the always the wettest. Removing the timbers, digging out the “excess” soil and moving it higher up in the border took over an hour, but it certainly was worth it to get a tidy line again. (Sorry about taking the photo from one end, and then the second photo from the other…makes it confusing, doesn’t it?) There were lots of dandelions to dig out. That is one of the problems with keeping the back lawn area around the potager “natural”. Weeks often pass when we cannot get a mower back there due to soggy soil in the low areas, and it always seems to be just when the dandelions are beginning to “puff.” I was surprised to see that many of them were already budded!
Sadly, the winter was extra hard, and no snapdragons, blue salvia, or feverfew have survived in the potager either. This is the first time since the potager was created that at least some of them have not returned. The borders certainly look empty, especially the south one, which only has a few daylilies, a small patch of lemon balm and chives so far. In the west interior border I’m still waiting to see if the rhubarb survived. The French tarragon definitely did not, nor any of the hollyhocks. However, there are lots of nigella seedlings (above) and the true hyssop, anise hyssop and “Golden Jubilee” anise hyssop all show new growth. I love the distinctive colors of gold and purple in the tiny leaves of “Golden Jubilee” anise hyssop as they emerge from the old plants. The daylilies throughout the potager’s borders seem okay but are only 1″ tall and none of the tulips planted there last fall have emerged in the south or west borders, however there are a few in the east border near the Lady Cottage, but that’s a tiny percentage of the number planted. There’s too much chamomile, which is a rampant self-seeder if not thoroughly harvested, so I’ll probably pot up some for the garden club plant sale. This is just one of many patches, including the weeds, sticks and leaves that were removed after the photograph was taken. Just wanted you to see how untidy it was!
It’s still early, and more things MIGHT pop up, and it’s probable that more self-seeded plants may appear, but I’ll think I’ll seed some extra calendula to help fill in the blank spaces…and extra vegetable plants can also be popped into the border if need be. All in all, it’s been a pleasant couple of days tidying, and I’m thrilled to have been able to move plants outdoors. Today it’s raining, so work in the Cutting and Fairy Gardens will be postponed. Back to transplanting and seeding, and I think my muscles will rejoice at that!