Spring At Last

Some Colors In The Garden

I see the spring light at the end of the tunnel, a little dim but still a cheerful light of hope.  Snow still covers the majority of the garden but in the bare specks there are colors.  Crocuses in the front yard bloomed nicely this year.  Last year they became deer food.  At least deer left the bulbs alone so they came up with a variety of colors.  We planted a lot of crocuses in the previous two autumns to provide early spring food for our honeybees.  Many of them became food for squirrels, chipmunks, deer and rabbits but the survivors continue to come up in spring before disappearing underground again.

This deep purple crocus was planted by a squirrel. It’s in the middle of the iris plot by the garage. I know I didn’t put it there.
Light purple crocus in the front yard
Pale yellow with beige coloration under the petals
Deep yellow with brown stripes under petals
White

Our back yard is still covered with snow but it’s melting fast with high daytime temperatures.  Some tulips and daffodils braved the cold pushing themselves up above it.

Daffodil pushing up through the snow
A clump of tulips I rescued years ago enjoying the cold spring

And, look at the busy girls.  Yes, we call them girls because the worker bees are all female and they’re like our children.  The weather is warm enough for them to go out foraging and most of them came back with baskets full of pollen.  They’ve also taken in water from the birdbaths.

The majority of honeybees that flew back in carried big loads of pollen. I’ll have to check on them this weekend to see if I have to give them more sugar or not. It’s still too cold to feed them syrup.

Spring is here after all.  Thank you Mother Nature for giving us a break from the Nor’easter in the last few weeks.

Spring

It’s ‘Officially’ Here

Today is ‘officially’ the first day of spring.  That’s what it says on the calendar but in reality our garden is still snowed in.  The temperature is hovering a little bit above 30°F and there will be more snow coming down tonight and continuing until Wednesday night. We expect a foot of wet snow accumulation added to what we already have on the ground.  That’s why I say ‘officially the first day of spring on the calendar‘ only.

Plants in the little plot right next to the house have started to come up.  Daffodils and irises the previous owner planted next to the garage are sprouting leaves.  The Siberian garlic are braving themselves in the cold next to melting snow and will be buried again tonight.  But they are Siberian, they should be fine.  Rocambole garlic that I’ve been growing for many years are still staying comfortable underground.

Daffodil & Iris
I’ve been trying to dig this clump of daffodil out from the corner many times but what’s left underground keeps coming up every spring.  It’s always the first to come up since it’s so close to the warm house.
Siberian garlic
Siberian garlic started up in late February but was covered with snow, now the snow has melted away and they still look healthy.

Inside the house is another story.  Amaryllis ‘Red Lion’ that one of my colleagues gave me many years ago welcomed spring with its bright red flowers.  Still one more set of flowers from this bulb is just about to bloom.  I moved them up from the basement as soon as the flower buds came up.

Amaryllis-Red Lion
Amaryllis ‘Red Lion’ bloom with deep velvet red, four huge flowers on one stem. One more stem coming up on the left.

Hibiscus ‘The Path’ also senses the warmth of spring and welcomes it with a bright yellow flower.  I found that the color is paler than when the plant is outside but it’s still beautiful and cheerful as all hibiscus are.  I left it in the basement though, since it’s too big to be in the bay window with the other plants.

Hibiscus-The Path
‘The Path’ hibiscus always blooms through summer, providing that it is well-fed. This one probably sensed the spring warmth and is itching to get outside so it flowered really early, probably as a hint.  The red color in the middle is much deeper when it is outside.

But, …darn, We’re still waiting for reality spring.

It’s Spring….sort of

With Snow On The Ground

We were so happy a couple of weeks ago when Spring officially arrived and the weather acted accordingly.  I even started tomato and chili pepper seedlings in the hope that we may have a longer growing season.  But we were fooled.

We woke up to three inches of snow on the ground this morning.  If it was just snow, it wouldn’t be that bad.  The strong wind, over 30 mph, makes it feel much colder.  Many young leaves got wind burn; the lucky one were buried under the snow.   My face felt numb after only a few minutes outside.  I managed to take some photos before my fingers started to ache and retreated back inside.

Some lucky Daffodils and Iris that are close to the house are still standing
Some lucky Daffodils and Iris that are close to the house are still standing
Half of the Bleeding heart was buried
Half of the Bleeding heart was buried
This Bleeding heart will freeze tonight when the temperature drops below the freezing point
This Bleeding heart will freeze tonight when the temperature drops below the freezing point
Hyacinth
Hyacinth
Frozen grapes, anyone?
Frozen grapes, anyone?
Or a cup of shaved ice? (Just add flavoring)
Or a cup of shaved ice? (Just add flavoring)

I didn’t have a chance to check in the cold frame.  Actually, I didn’t want to open it because the wind would make it much harder to close.  Snow also helps insulate it so opening it will not do the vegetables inside any good.  However the garlic is outside, half covered in snow.

Garlic half buried in snow, but they will survive.
Garlic half buried in snow, but they will survive.

I’ll bring this up later, but I did make a mad dash out to the bee hives to wrap the girls up in warmer covers.

Spring, Finally

A New Life Cycle Begins

After months of bone chilling cold and several feet of snow, Mother nature finally eased her grip.  The temperature has been increasing slowly and the spring rain has arrived. It’s been raining on and off since yesterday, with intermittent drizzle.  When it was just drizzling, I took the opportunity to walk around looking for both survivors and a new generation in the garden.  The deer and rabbits have done a lot of damage this winter.  I guess hunger made them try anything they can get their teeth on.  Yew hedge, rhododendron, iris, hydrangea, clematis, and tree peony bore the signs of being munched on.

There are also new flowering plants that have pushed themselves above ground.  Tulips, hyacinth and daffodils I rescued from the garbage bin have never failed to express their gratitude year after year.  Not many tulips left though. The chipmunks managed to dig a lot of them up last year even after they had started to flower.  Snowdrops have already bloomed.  Grape Hyacinth and Dwarf iris will follow close behind.

A new cycle begins again. I can hardly wait for a dry sunny day when I can begin pruning roses, feeding the plants, cleaning up the garden in general, and putting new seeds in the ground.

Alyssum 'Basket of Gold'
Alyssum ‘Basket of Gold’

The Alyssum ‘Basket of Gold’ (Aurinia saxatilis) is a perennial that produces bright yellow flowers.  Butterflies and bees love them.  This particular one was buried under a mound of snow this winter but it’s happy and perky again.

Daffodil, only a couple of inches above ground
Daffodil, only a couple of inches above ground
Dwarf iris 'Harmony'
Dwarf iris ‘Harmony’
Snowdrops enjoy spring rain
Snowdrops enjoy spring rain
Rescued tulips
Rescued tulips

I will have to cage these tulips before the chipmunks find them.  I have no idea what this one is but the pattern on the leaf is beautiful and the resulting flower will be so vibrant.

Spring

Spring Is Finally Here

Came back from vacation with hope to see some green and a little more warmth than when we left, but didn’t expect the temperature to be just like the tropics where we vacationed.   It has been in the 70s in the last couple of days and the plants love it.  There wasn’t much of anything above ground when we left, but now everything is sprouting up all over the garden.  Garlic I put in last October has come up pretty nicely.  Hellebores perk up in the morning only to wilt a little under the afternoon sun.  Daffodils, Dutch Iris, Hyacinth and Hellebores are either blooming or just about to unfurl their petals.

I spent hours on my day off pruning and training the roses and haven’t finished yet.  This is a time consuming task as well as a time constraint.  If I don’t do it now when the roses are just starting to push out their little buds, it will be a lot harder to do when they have leafed out fully.  Deer have done a lot of damage to the tips of plants that came up early, including Irises.  Who said deer wont eat Iris?  But the worst damage to our garden is caused by squirrels that dig up the tulips bulbs, eat them and leave us the leaves to rub into our wounds.

Aside from the annoying squirrel problems, I’m glad to see color in the garden and the aerial show from our avian friends again.

The first Daffodil that opened up
The first Daffodil that opened up
Hellebore in deep maroon
Hellebore in deep maroon
Freckled hellebore
Freckled hellebore
Scilla alba produces white flowers instead of blue
Scilla alba produces white flowers instead of blue
Scilla in blue and white
Scilla in blue and white
Columbine captures a dew drop in the morning
Columbine captures a dew drop in the morning

Happy to be Alive

Rescued bulbs

Every spring the gardener at my office will plant flower bulbs around the base of trees that line up in front of the office.  The bulbs vary from year to year, from tulips to daffodils to hyacinths.  They look lovely in those little patches on the sidewalk.  After a month passes, the flowers fade, the leaves start to turn yellow and the gardener removes them replacing them with something else.  I thought they would be stored or kept in containers for planting next spring.

Healthy, happy and fragrant

One day I saw him putting the bulbs in a garbage bag so I asked.  The answer; they would be dumped in the garbage.  That was sad to hear.  I see no point in not asking whether I can have them since they will become part of a landfill somewhere anyway, wasted for no good reason.  He was happy to give them to me, and from then on, he’s been holding them for me.  From one gardener (a pro) to another (an amateur). I shared them with my colleagues and neighbor.  My neighbor especially, just couldn’t wrap her head around the idea of wasting perfectly good bulbs.  Yes, we know they are commercially grown for garden design purposes to produce exceptionally large, colorful flowers.   Their life, however, is short at one spring season.  They end up as city garbage after they no longer produce pretty flowers.

This Daffodil blooms every year now.

I dragged bags of bulbs home for the last few years and planted, what’s left over after sharing, in our garden.  I found that planting them this way, flopping leaves and all, the squirrels won’t dig them up.  If I don’t have time, I let them dry out, cut the leaves off and store the bulbs for planting next spring.

I have free, healthy plants.  The bulbs appreciate being rescued from a city landfill and adopted into an organic garden.  They show their joy at being alive year after year, reproducing a new generation every spring for us to enjoy.  Their gratitude clearly expressed both in colors and fragrance.

This hyacinth was the lone survivor in this color.
Tulip after a rain shower
This Salmon colored hyacinth has spawned a lot of siblings.

Spring Weather, Finally

A Cold, Wet Day

It was normal spring weather today, rainy and chilly as spring should be.  After an unreasonably hot March,  we finally have spring-like weather back.  It’s been raining or drizzling on and off all day.  I decided to roll the row cover back over the vegetable seedlings, though I knew they’d be able to deal with 40 degree temperatures. Howevert the cold does slow their growth.  I want my salad sooner.

There was a brief period today when I could duck out with the camera without ruining it.  Something about the silvery, shimmering drops of water that hang on to leaves and flower petals that is very soothing, very meditating.  Nature stages them, I just took the photographs.

Beauty derived of a wet and cold spring day.

Pearl on a Peony
On a white Bleeding heart leaf
On Columbine leaves
On a Daffodil flower, just about to open
On Anemone
Clinging to a Bleeding heart leaf.
On Helleborus
Little pearls on Columbine leaves

Survived the Frost

Still Alive and Blooming

The temperature has been going up and down like a yo-yo.  We hit 70 degrees last week, then dropped down to 25 degrees this past Tuesday night, one night only!  I rushed home from work to cover the vegetable seedlings that had already sprouted.  They’re too tender to take the frost and accompanying high winds.  Between the low temperature and windchill at 16, I couldn’t feel my fingers after I had finished the chores.

Wednesday morning when I opened the two layers of industrial grade garbage bags (ran out of the row cover) I had used to cover some of the Snap peas, I found the pea seedlings were looking like they had been in a freezer.  However, a little sunning during the day and they got the color back in their cheeks.  To my surprise the Primrose (Primula) and the daffodils (left uncovered) appeared unperturbed by the frost.  Darwin would be proud.

Primrose-morning after frost.
Daffodil-not even a slight windburn on the petals.

Spring flowers

Dancing in the sun

It is spring, officially three days ago, but it feels like summer.  I don’t know what to do in the garden any more.  We had a snow storm in October that took down a few of our trees.  Then came a very mild winter, hardly any snow.  Now early spring, but temperatures have soared to 80 degrees.  It will go down to 50 degrees during the day and low 30’s at night in the next few days.  I have a suspicious feeling that there will be snow in April.

I was able to find time to do spring cleaning on weekends in previous years but I couldn’t keep up this year.  I decided to take  three days off from work to take care of the garden.  The roses need to be pruned and fed.  Perennials need to be trimmed before they grow too big.  Garden related tasks I used to take my sweet time to do have to be compressed to within a week or so.  Have you ever tried to prune and train rambling roses when they are in full leaf?  If you have the choice, don’t do it.

One good thing that comes out of a high-temperature spring is flowers blossoming all over the place.  Here is a trio dancing in the sun.

Anemone "Harmony Blue"
Anemone "Harmony Scarlet"
Daffodil

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