Thursday, April 29, 2010

I have never had so many good ideas day after day as when I work in the garden.
~John Erskine

At 6:30 Wednesday morning I picked an armful of lilacs to bring to work. My fingers were stinging from the frosty air as I cut the woody stems and stuffed them into a pail of water. It was a beautiful morning and even though a fine film of frost lay over everything, the clear sunshine and vivid colors couldn’t help but lift the spirits.

Something that always strikes me on cold mornings when the temperature is below freezing is that even lilacs have no fragrance. An hour after being placed in the warm offices the lilac scent is heavy throughout the building. For me, the fragrance is the best thing about lilacs. They are lovely to look at but noting compares to walking into the garden on a spring afternoon and smelling that teasing scent on every stray breeze.

Perhaps one of the most appealing things about gardening is that simple chores free the gardener's conscious to float out over a strange array of subjects. Outside in the fresh air, the mind is swept clean and tends to wander down seldom used thought paths.

I have some happy news. My father finally came home from the therapy center Tuesday. I can’t tell you how much the family worried about this event. We weren’t sure he was up to living without skilled help and supervision. At Cor Mariae, Dad seemed so helpless and frail, but home on his own turf, he has made a miraculous change. He was in and out his back door a dozen times just sitting in the sunshine and walking slowly along the edge of his woodland garden while one of us told him what was blooming and tried to make word pictures he could ‘see’ in his mind.

Thank you everyone for your good wishes and kind comments about Dad while he was so sick.

Monday, April 26, 2010

I will be resuming twice weekly publishing starting today. I will try to maintain a Monday and Thursday schedule of posts.

I want to thank everyone who stops by even when plants in the garden are scarce. I can't tell you how much your comments and advice are enjoyed and appreciated. You have become very good friends over the seasons and I treasurer the time we spend sharing stories and photos.

Really looking forward to this season in the garden. Hoping for good weather and plenty of rain.


Tulip season is winding down. First the little species tulips bloomed with the daffodils. Next came the parrots and now the late doubles.

Late doubles are first.

Allegretto is a fire storm of color. This is one of those 55 mph tulips, as Brent and Becky's call them, a real standout. It was the last tulip to bloom so it may have a week or more before it's finished.

Toning down a few shades is Foxtrot a multi hued pink double.

And last, everyone's favorite late blooming double, the lovely Angelique. Angelique has been extremely long lived here. Every year I breath a sigh of relief when I see her foliage emerge and know she has come back once again.

Now the flamboyant parrot tulips. Below is Libretto, very similar to Madonna (Madonna can be seen on my header and in the previous post) but with a much less dramatic green flame. Libertto blooms about two weeks later than Madonna in my garden.

Opening wide during the day to allow the pollinators access and closing back in the evening.

This is Carmine, outrageously beautiful.

Now for a few blooms from the shade and woodland gardens.

I'm smitten with lamium Pink Pearl. The pearly silver and green leaves almost glow in a shady spot. It's a quick spreader so I'll be dividing and moving this clump around very soon.

These are Virginia blue bells and I can see a couple leaves of garlic mustard among them. How embarrassing, we all have weeds but we don't usually show them off! Garlic mustard is the bane of my existence. Hope you never get this evil weed in or around your property.

Saving the best for last. Isn't this just the loveliest and most romantic of plants. My father has two varieties, one like this and a more or less ever blooming cultivar. The ever bloomer does not have quite the perfectly defined heart shape and the color is pale but the foliage is ferny and very attractive.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The trouble with weather forecasting is that it's right too often for us to ignore it and wrong too often for us to rely on it. ~Patrick Young

Last weekend's sun rises behind promising clouds but the promise never materializes. The clouds burn off later in the day and we still have no rain. The ground is very dry and the wind is constant. My woodland garden is quietly suffering.

Still hopeful that some rain my drift our way by week's end.

Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain.
~Author Unknown

The celandine poppies are beginning to bloom. To think, once not long ago, I did not like these plants.

Confederate violets are more persistent than the common lawn violets. To have one today is to have several hundred in a few years.

Couldn't resist these fringe tulips when I stopped at Didier's. Don't look too closely or the fringe begins to look like sharp white teeth.

Virginia blue bells blooming in a little pool of anemone.

Anemone is another plant I never cared much for until recently. It seemed so bland. Now I can't grow enough of it. My ideas about flowers and gardens have changed drastically over the years.

A large spot of whimsy I pass on the way to visit my father at the therapy center. This 15-foot tall tree has been completely uprooted and 'planted' upside down with the roots making a large nest at the top. It is decorated with bright spring colors.

The Resident Rodent Remover is on the job. Wearing his fearsome expression, doesn't he remind you of Clint Eastwood? No need to worry about moles, voles or gophers in his gardens.

An interesting bit of trivia. Last month was the warmest March in history, globally.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Spring bulb photos

Our temperatures are still way above average. Eighties today and tomorrow before a cold front comes through and brings rain and cooler weather.

I took photos of my spring bulbs last night. These eighty degree days may spell an end to the bulb season. Fingers crossed that the cooler weather on Friday will rescue some of them.

My favorite Parrot Tulip came back--second year in a row. The color combination is fantastic.

These very short yellow and red tulips are Kaufmanniana Guiseppe Verdi. Very short with some red striping in the foliage.

Another very short tulip is Greigii Orange Toronto only about 10 inches tall with very nice red striped foliage.

Unknown daffodil, little faces turned toward the sun. Love the bright colors.

This daffodil reminds me of eggs, the center looks like yellow yolks;) Very small blooms but ruffled and pretty.

Another of my Parrot Tulips.

Do any of you dig your tulip bulbs after the foliage dies back? I've heard some people have success doing this to keep the bulbs going from year to year. A little extra trouble, but I would do it for favorite varieties.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Though a country be sundered, hills and rivers endure;
And spring comes green again to trees and grasses
Where petals have been shed like tears
And lonely birds have sung their grief.

A lovely week past with temperatures ranging from the 70's to a record breaking 80+. Overnight the bulbs shot up inches and these daffodils burst into bloom. Signs of spring are everywhere. The grass is greening and will need a first mowing soon (my least favorite summer chore.) The first toad of the season hopped across my path late Monday evening and was almost stepped on, accidentally of course. They seem to like to hang out in front of the garage so if I manage to miss them with the car wheels, I may stumble over one in the dark. At night I hear the lovely music of the frogs and during the day the birds are full of spring songs .

This year plants are about two weeks ahead of the season. I checked the posts from 2009 and the little group of daffodils pictured here bloomed April 20th.

Last weekend brought gentle rains and now midweek, we are having thunderstorms. Thunderstorms are another sure sign of spring but, an interesting note, we had thundersnow a couple times over the winter. Temperatures are expected to plunge, today's highs will be in the 40's with a possibility of a little snow tonight. As much as I enjoyed the warmer temperatures, my flowers will actually last much longer if the weather is cool. Tulips especially seem to blow in a day or two of 70 degree heat.

This forsythia is not mine but I wish it were, it certainly is lovely.

The geese are seeking solitude to nest and raise their young. I knew that geese mated for life but did not know that they stay in family groups (even in a large migratory flock family members will remain close to each other). If a goose gets injured and cannot keep up with the migratory flock, it will land, often with family members. These geese will stick with the injured one until it gets better or dies, and then join a new flock.

Turkeys on the other hand are polygamists and seduce as many ladies as they can.

Turkeys and geese nest on the ground and require abut 6 weeks to lay and hatch their eggs. During this time they are very vulnerable to predation. It's estimated that less than half of nestings result in live chicks. After that the mortality rate increases and only 20 or 30 percent of the chicks reach an age when they can fly.

These photos don't show the lovely iridescent colors of their feathers. Groups of wild turkeys are becoming quite common in this area. Hopefully some chicks will soon appear following close behind their mamas.

Now that the winter’s gone, the earth hath lost
Her snow-white robes; and now no more the frost
Candies the grass, or casts an icy cream
Upon the silver lake or crystal stream:
But the warm sun thaws the benumbed earth,
And makes it tender; gives a sacred birth


Some of you may have seen this going around in emails. I got such a kick out of it I wanted to post it for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

How much does a house weigh?

How much weight can a two lane rural bridge hold?

Is this covered by my homeowners or vehicle insurance?