Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Rescued Hyacinth

Last April, I rescued a number of hyacinth bulbs from the parking lot of Friendship Park. They had finished blooming and been yanked to make way for the annuals display. With the "okay" from the park staff, I carried off as many as my buddy and I could handle and planted them that very night. My readers wondered…"Will they grow?"

I’m happy to announce that not only did they grow, they are blooming.

While the flower spikes aren’t as dense as they were the first year (freshly plumped up from the fields of Holland or someplace), I think they’ve done very well for bulbs yanked from their loamy homes, fried on a parking lot, and then planted in cruddy clay. The tulips haven’t done as well. I’ve spotted only a single sickly leaf poking up from the location in which I planted 20 or so recovered bulbs.

I didn’t notice a big hyacinth display at the park this year, but I’m going to take a second look because I love "free!"

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Monday, March 26, 2007

180 Crocus

Fall of 2005, I planted 100 crocus along the front walk, thinking that I’d have a veritable flower carpet in the spring. Spring 2006 arrived, and I was underwhelmed, so I planned to plant more crocus along the walk in the fall. Fall of 2006, I added 80 more bulbs. (Amazingly, I didn’t run into a single one of the first 100 while digging the next 80 holes.) Spring has come again and I still don’t think I have enough crocus for my desired effect!

I think I am still unhappy with the number of blooms for two reasons:
1. The crocus haven’t had time to naturalize into nice clumps.
2. We mowed too early last year and some of the Fall 2005 planted bulbs weren’t able to store enough energy for a good show this year.

This season, I’ll be sure to keep Mike and the lawn mower away from the front path until at least the first of May. And, I think I’ll add 200 more bulbs to the walk this Fall. Maybe I’ll have my flower carpet by Spring 2008?

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Little Iris, Big Joy

Last spring, I was amazed to discover that certain iris bloom in early spring. I spotted a few of these beauties in Friendship Park and even more in Tim’s paradise. I placed my first bulb order of the (2006) season in June (I know - sick!) and included forty-eight Iris reticulata. They were planted along the street-side entrance to the front path last fall. This week they began blooming. I’m in love.

Not only do I love the petite flowers, the timing of the blooms could not be more perfect. They opened after the crocus, but before the daffodils. (At least, before the daffodils in MY yard. The daffodils at Friendship Park are going nuts.) With these early bloomers, Dutch iris, regular iris, and repeat-blooming iris, I suppose I could have iris in bloom all season!

I’m interested to see how the foliage die-down is. I doubt it will be ugly enough to keep me from ordering at least forty-eight more.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

See For Myself

One of my character flaws is that I have a hard time taking advice. I feel compelled to try my way and fail before I’ll admit something shouldn’t or couldn’t be done. I suppose that explains why I am growing both trumpet vine and chameleon weed. I’m stubborn too, so although I recognize my flaw, I’m not going to change.

Hopefully, you are not like me (i.e. you are smarter!) and will find value in a few lessons I learned this winter (the hard way).

Don’t leave ceramics outside over the winter. I’ve heard this before. The freeze and thaw process will crack both glazed and unglazed pottery, blah, blah, blah-blah, blah. Still, I don’t live in Alaska, so I thought I could get away with it…and don’t ceramics stretch just a little? No. Everything left outside has shattered or at least chipped. My ghetto bird bath is toast. My pretty green square pot has broken in half. The top rim of another pottery piece cracked right off. Next winter, I need to bring them all in. At least I wasn’t stupid enough to leave my $100 ceramic birdbath outside. It spent its second winter in the garage.

Don’t let leaves sit in your pond all winter. I figured I could get away with this because my guppies were already doomed by the cold and I have no other fish in the pond. What I didn’t figure on is the lovely crop of anaerobic bacteria I’d be cultivating in the leafy soup. As I bailed out the pond this weekend, I got to enjoy its sulfuric aroma and relish the texture of slimy leaves between my fingers. It was like going to a spa in hell. Next winter, I’ll (1) clean out any debris in the fall and (2) cover the pond with a net.

Don’t leave the lids on your winter sowing containers (milk jugs and soda bottles). I left the lids on to keep the plants nice and toasty. Unfortunately, they were a little TOO toasty; I had germination in January and the seedlings died the next time the temperature took a dip. The containers should not make little greenhouses, as I had supposed. (Actually, this tip is from LAST winter, but I thought I should round out this post with an even three tips.)

Moral of the story: Don’t be a Kasmira! But then again, who would take advice from someone they were trying not to be like? I know I wouldn’t. I’d just try it my own way.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

TB Failure

I’m afraid I’ve failed to follow through with my weekend plans. Terese Bugnet still sits in her stairway obstructing position. I was stymied by frozen earth. I managed to remove some of the rose’s suckers (and potted them up as insurance), but the closer I got to the deck, the more like Ben and Jerry’s fresh from the freezer the dirt became.

So, I took a break, hoping the earth would thaw, and did a number of other garden tasks. I finished pruning the roses. I removed all of the babies from the potager (leaving behind neat, eggcrate-like holes in the earth) and worked in 100 lbs of compost and manure. I direct sowed cleome, sweet alyssum, and foxglove. I bailed out the leaf-choked pond and filled it with fresh water. I filled the hanging baskets with Johnny jump-ups. After a few hours of garden house-keeping, I returned to Terese, but my shovel was still only as effective as a plastic spoon.

So, I took a tour of the yard, looking for emerging plants. I found that the tulips are indeed emerging (including the beautifully spotted foliage of this tulip). I photographed the breathtakingly lovely dodecatheon rosettes (pictured right) pushing through the leaf litter in the shade bed. I discovered that a few of the crocus along the front walk have begun to bloom. (Has anyone else noticed that the yellow crocus bloom first?)

I returned to the rose. I chipped away at the softening dirt, but, encountering more permafrost, I finally gave up. I always feel bad about leaving a project half finished. It weighs on my mind, and, this early in the season, my neighbors also have to endure the view of work in progress. However, I still accomplished a great deal for a Sunday, and returned inside with an overpowering urge for ice cream.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Early March Bulb Update

My first flowers of 2007 have appeared: snowdrops and witch hazel.

The snowdrops in my yard always seem to be a bit later than others in Zone 6. It could be because I disturb the bulbs every year. I really need to stop digging in the corner bed. I enjoy snowdrops and I’d like to remember to buy a whole boat load for the North Corner next fall. Tim has promised me some of his, but so far it’s only talk.

I bought the witch hazel (Arnold’s Promise) for its reputed scent. Admittedly, half the shrub has died, but even when I bury my nose in the flowers on the other half, I don’t smell a thing. I’m starting to think my sniffer isn’t as sophisticated as I once supposed. Migonette smells like old Mexican food and my witch hazel is scentless. Huh.

While not yet in flower, I see foliage from these bulbs or bulb-like plants:

  • English Bluebells
  • Hyacinths
  • Daffodils
  • Crocus
  • Iris reticulata
  • Allium (but they sprouted in the fall!)
  • Grape hyacinth (another fall sprouter)

No sign of life from the tulips or miniature daffodils yet. This is the first time I’ve grown species tulips or miniature daffodils, so I don’t know if I should be expecting leaves yet. Last year, the hybridized tulips (Darwin-ish type), began blooming in mid-April. I guess I’ll have to wait another month to see if the squirrels ate them.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Spring Season Switcheroo

As I mentioned in November, I’ve spent the winter acting my butt off. I’m currently in rehearsals for my last show of the season (Vanities with Wyoming Players) and itching to GET DIRTY! I think that will happen this weekend. I plan on starting off the gardening season with the Herculean task of moving a very large and well-established rosebush.

I’ve raved about my Terese Bugnet’s vigor and scent, but I have become terminally annoyed with the annual intrusion of prickly canes into the stairs leading from the deck to the yard. I’ve tried pruning, cautiously the first year and recklessly the second, but I cannot escape the fact that the rose is simply planted too close to the deck and stairs. Luckily a prime space has opened up just a few feet away…

The deck was built in an odd shape to accommodate a red maple (visible in the left side of this photo). The tree must have been much loved by a prior homeowner. Sadly it succumbed to cicadas and Tim chopped it down for me last Fall (2005). I stuck a potted saucer magnolia in the dirt for the winter, but plan on permanently moving the rose here. The magnolia will be planted where the rose presently is. (Switcheroo!)

1. The rose will get more room, sunlight, and air movement.
2. The stairs will be passable during the summer!
3. The roses will scent the dining area. (We put our little outdoor table in the cut-off corner of the deck.)
4. The magnolia, once it grows up, will shade the deck. Right now, after the sun clears the house, the deck is blasted with light and heat from late morning to early afternoon.

1. I’ll be moving a very large and prickly bush.
2. The rose may die.
3. I will get very muddy.

I really don’t mind getting dirty and the rose is not rare (i.e. it’s replaceable), so I’m going to give it a go this weekend. Despite the certainty that I will be cursing and bleeding, I’m looking forward to it!

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