Thursday, April 15, 2010

April Blooms

Bloom Day! The early spring bulbs are done, but lots more flowers have taken their place.

In the front, the Pasque Flower is nearly done

But it is making beautiful feathery seed pods:

Spanish Bluebells are opening up all over the yard. These up against the house are the farthest along:

My first iris of the season opened on Monday. A dwarf bearded iris I received in trade last year, I've lost the name:

Candytuft (Iberis) in the old rose bed:

Native columbine (Aquilegia canadensis) are in full bloom. But the colors seem more washed out than I remember from last year:

The double purple columbine are farther behind. I gave away so many of these last year, I think I only have a dozen or so left. But they'll make more. Here's the only one that's open now:

Centaurea montana has a few blooms:

My Weigela was being obstinate and didn't bloom in time. I'm including it anyway, because it is so close:

And the plant providing the most color to my garden isn't even blooming quite yet. But the chartreuse new leaves on my honeylocust trees really light up the side garden:

Thanks for checking out my mid-April blooms. And thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting another great GBBD!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Leaf Mulch

My leaf mulch has arrived! Free from the city. I used to go to the facility and bag it myself. A tedious, back-breaking, time-consuming process, that left mulch all over the inside of my car. And I never had enough. This year I paid the city to deliver to my house. Delivery is the same price for a full-, half-, or quarter-truckload. I went with the half load. It arrived while I was at work today. I think it will be enough to keep me busy for a while.

I estimate it to be about 3 yards. I can move about 4 cu. ft. at a time in my garden cart. I started spreading it this evening, 3 cart loads of the stuff. At that rate it should take me just over a week until I can access my garage again. Until then I'll have to park on the street.

One Crazy Tulip

I only have a few tulips this year. Most of my old tulips put up foliage that was rather deformed looking, but no flowers. I did get two red/white tulips of the 6 I used to have.

Last fall I planted three new tulip bulbs, in the patio terrace. They are beautiful, especially with the moss phlox in full bloom. The solid one got lopped off by a critter before I got a good photo, but it put up a baby, too.

But what I want to show you is the foliage of one of those striped tulips. Here's the flower:

Notice the leaf? Here's a closeup:

It looks like it got confused about whether it was supposed to be a leaf or a flower. The purple part even has the texture of a flower, not of a leaf.

I think it's pretty. More tulips should consider adding decoration to the leaves - then maybe I wouldn't mind letting the foliage hang around after the flowers are done.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

A New Garden Bed...Again

The foundation bed on the right side of my house has long been neglected. I've spent so much time in the back and side gardens, and I've never really known what to do with foundation plantings. The left bed has lots of shrubs, so it pretty much takes care of itself (it needs work, of course, but isn't as desperate as the right bed).

There used to be Aruncus and Astilbe here, but they didn't do well with the southeast exposure, so I gifted them to Mom. They like summers in Massachusetts much better than the Virginia version.

There are two little boxwood that came from my grandfather's yard. Many decades ago he took cuttings from boxwood on the Lawn at the University of Virginia. From those cuttings he created a mini box farm at his house. As the shrubs matured, he created shrub-lined walkways though the backyard. He kept up the box-farm, to have shrubs to fill any holes if some planted-out ones didn't make it. Before his house was sold, I rescued these two from that area and put them in my front bed. They've done pretty well there, despite the mistakes I've made. The one on the right I planted directly under the drip line, so if you looked at it from above you'd see a gap right there. The one on the left has done pretty well - not grown as big, but always looks healthier. Until the great snowy winter we just had. Not only did it have many feet of snow crushing it, but also all the snow from the front porch that I dumped right on it. (In my weak defense, it was already buried in snow, so I forgot it was there.) I hope it recovers.

In early spring there are crocus here. More crocus in the grass than in the bed, but that's not the fault of the crocus. Because I've neglected this bed, the grass has encroached. The crocus area used to all be garden bed. In the back are some giant alliums that I got in a trade last year. I've never had Allium before ,but they are looking healthy and just starting to send up flower stalks.

This year I acquired lots of seeds for wintersowing, both perennials and annuals. Some will help fill in this area. So today I decided to dig it out. The original bed was outlined in white brick set flush with the ground, so all I had to do was dig down to find it, then pull out all the grass between it and the house.

But I didn't like the squareness of that line with the retaining wall for the front walk. So I dug out a little more to make a transitional curve.

Now I just need plants to put here. I'd been thinking four o-clocks and cosmos, but I haven't gotten around to wintersowing those yet. I'll need some more shrubs for structure (I expect those box will be dwarfed by the flowers), but haven't decided what to put there yet. I think it will have to be structure-less for another year.

The Great Daffodil Count

My paternal grandmother had daffodils. Lots of them. In her last year she had 880 in her yard. How do I know? She counted every one. Now, in Grandma's honor, I do the same every year. I've never planted them - there were a lot in my yard already. I have had to re-plant some as they seem to work their way to the surface during the summer. It is fun to see them increase in number each year.

This year, I'm not sure they increased. The flowering in the side garden has looked a bit sparse. Perhaps I need to divide them? I don't really know.

Here is Grandma's simple rule for counting dafodils: count as you cut. That way you don't double-count, and you don't miss any. In March, before I had any daff blooms, I visited my sister and soon-to-be brother-in-law in Portland. BIL was showing off the yard at their new house, including the blooming daffodils. "There are 35," he said. "I counted them because your sister told me about your grandmother and said they had to be counted."

"So you've already cut 35 daffodils?" I asked. "I only saw a few in the vase in the kitchen."

"No," he replied. "I counted the ones in the yard. The ones in the vase came from a neighbor." So I had to explain Grandma's rule: no counting until you cut them. "So right now I have zero daffodils?" he asked, while pointedly looking at all the daffodils blooming in the yard. Yep - zero daffodils. Until you cut them.

I cut my first daffodils today. 87. I'll update here with the count as I cut the rest this spring, so I have them all in one place.

Friday, 4/9/10: The excessively hot weather over the last week did a number on the daffs. They're done. Cut most of them today - running total is 270, though I think there are only about a dozen remaining.

Last year I finished cutting April 25th, with a final count of 347. Why so few blooms this year?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Wildflower Wanderings

After my sister's wedding last weekend, I took a few days to wander the Ozarks in southwest Missouri. Still very early spring there (there was snow just a week earlier). I saw some wildflowers I didn't recognize.

Along the side of the road:

In a dirt/gravel parking area:

More of the same in the parking area:

Along a walking path:

If I figure out what these are I'll come back and add labels.