Savoring the Sunshine

In these days of unease, a bit of sunshine makes an enormous difference. Just being able to wander about outdoors feels like a special privilege, especially as the spring flowers emerge. After listening to the gloomy farming weather forecast (a repeat of last year’s challenging colder and wetter than normal May that delayed plantings) each day of sunshine seems a special treasure that we should appreciate this April.


We had a heavy frost again last night, so I’m indoors until it warms up a bit. It was the same the past couple of days, but I’ve been able to enjoy outdoor work beginning mid-morning until evening. First on the agenda Saturday was planting the shallots. You may recall that because of last year’s terribly wet weather, many of my shallots rotted well before being ready to harvest, so the crop was small. I’ve been stingy with my use of them all winter, hoping to have enough to plant this spring. Not all of the ones I stored remained solid, but there were enough to plant 9 six-foot rows, about half what I normally grow. Single bulbs are the preferred, best yielding ones but in this case I planted anything that wasn’t showing any softness. A few double or triples were divided just to finish up the final row. I’m not sure that will work. Fingers crossed. Everything that can be planted this early is now in the ground, all the weeds have been removed, soil leveled, perennial crops fed and some tidying done, so now all that remains in the potager is tending the greenhouse seedlings, hardening them off on days when it’s advisable and watching things grow.

“Cassata”

“Cassata” is the first of the new daffodils planted last fall. I think it is my new favorite, at least for this week! However, I find that daffodils are like my children, there is really no favorite. Every one is so terribly special and fascinating! The daffodils are coming on fast and furious now and I do need to mark some clumps that need dividing when they are done blooming. I always think I will do it in autumn, but somehow it never gets done. As I see my humble plantings of spring bulbs this year, I can’t’ help but think of all the farmers and growers who may be put out of business in the Netherlands because the Keukenhoff is closed. Such a fabulous, beautiful event and no one gets to see it in person. And all the local businesses that count on those few weeks of tourism to carry them through the rest of the year, all the flower bulb companies who’ve spent hundred of euros and hours of labor, all the small family-run flower farms who count on the bundles of cut tulip, plant and bulb sales from the road-side stands have NO customers. I just can’t fathom the loss. And then multiply that by thousands of other things. No charity garden open days. No visitors at National Trust Gardens, no million-dollar checks to children’s hospitals from weekly PGA tour events. The list is endless. I could get extremely depressed…but thankfully there are flowers here to view.

These little (about 5″ tall) white scilla are doing a good job of spreading. I doubt I’ll even think that there are too many as they do marvelously as edge of the gardens brighteners in the Front Island. A few have appeared in the Front Garden as well, probably replanted by the squirrels who move the crocus as well.

These dainty puschkinia, or striped squill are also welcome to spread, if they will. I think I need some on the Fairy Slope but these are in the potager’s exterior border. Speaking of the potager’s exterior border, I’ve been carefully spraying the tulips on the north end (closest to the woods and therefore usually the first eaten) with Plantskydd deer repellent. Their buds were fully loaded and nearly ready to open when this happened!

Don’t blame the deer! Blame the dear!

The non-gardener decided it was time to mow the lawn. Bless him! He’s the social one of the family and this isolation is much harder for him than for me (the hermit.) It’s been a challenge to keep him home and safe, so I felt letting him spend some time outdoors on the lawn mower was much better than having him off property. I guess a clump of tulips is a small price to pay…maybe….

Not where they were planted, but I think I’ll keep them!

Remember weeks ago when I sprinkled “Black Seeded Simpson” lettuce seeds on the last (well, we certainly hope it was the last, but this is Indiana!) snow? They were sprinkled in the potager’s interior borders, as always to hide the tulip foliage as it turns ugly. Our 4″ deluge last week apparently did more than sweep away swaths of mulch in the paths, because these lettuce seedlings are now near the bottom edge of the potager’s EXTERIOR border! I’ve decided to let some of them stay, but I’ll carefully lift and thin so they aren’t crowded, and move the extras back into the interior border later this afternoon, ahead of this evening’s rain.

Well, it’s now warmed up to 48 degrees F. The sun is shining and I think the Deck Garden may be dry enough to finally get a good cleaning. I’m hoping to discover that some of the mums planted last autumn are returning for an encore. When that is done, if the muscles aren’t complaining too badly the Fairy Slope is next on the list. These are the days when I wish I were young and pliant again!

Be safe everyone. Stay home, and cherish each day and one another.

About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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3 Responses to Savoring the Sunshine

  1. Warm for a couple more days and then highs back in the 40s. Sigh. I guess there is a reason why they say we shouldn’t plant any less than hardy flowers or veggies until Mother’s Day. My daffodils are cheering me up, though. I’m finding plenty to do with the isolation but my husband is ready for this to be over like yesterday.

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  2. Jo Shafer says:

    The striped Squill ( puschkinia, ) is new to me. Interesting little plant. Here in Washington state, winter returned last week with harsh winds and overcast skies. Now that April is here to stay, the sun comes out by mid-morning and temps rise to nearly 70. Should be a lovely Easter, I think. Shall we don our Easter bonnets for “church at home” via online streaming?

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    • carolee says:

      I just keep imagining the mountain of big Easter hams that won’t be needed for big family gatherings, probably still in cold warehouses somewhere. And no Easter egg hunts for kids, although with the shortage of eggs that would be difficult to do. I was thinking today as I edged half the cutting garden, about Easter Sundays when I was a little girl. Definitely had a new dress, an Easter bonnet, and tiny gloves for church. And now people go to church in blue jeans or shorts and tank tops! So, this Easter, people will “attend” services in pj’s…..

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