This past winter was difficult for me. The cold seeped deeper this year. Or perhaps it just seemed that way because I had to go out into it more often. I adopted a second Standard Poodle that I wasn’t prepared for. She needed a place to live and I needed to give that to her. But, my yard wasn’t fenced in so I couldn’t just send the dogs out the door and stay in my warm house. I had to go out into the cold, too. The fence still isn’t finished because not enough materials were ordered. I’m dealing with some stylish panels of decorative aluminum fencing and less stylish propped-up chain link. At least the dogs can run through the garden and not the neighborhood.
As always, a thank you to May Dreams Gardens for celebrating a monthly accounting of what is blooming in gardens all over the world.
It’s April 15 and Michigan played a trick on us. The skies are oxygen blue and cloudless, but the garden is covered in four to six inches of heavy wet snow. It’s ok. Really. There isn’t much blooming yet, a few daffodils and a cute little weed that became my first garden activity of the year. That is, I started pulling it up.
The hellebores are eager to open. And they are welcome to do so any time they want. Often called Lenten Roses, this year my hellebores will be blooming during this last week of Lent. What I like about them, aside from their lovely flowers and evergreen foliage is that the flowers hang around for a long time. Their color fades over the season into something that looks a bit like a sculptor wrought them from thin sheets of balsa wood. Perhaps I’ll try drying them in the pages of a book. I gathered oodles of leaves last fall and planted them between the pages of favorite books. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but it was comforting over the winter to look at the dried leaves whose colors had deepened and remember that sister leaves would shake free from our bitterly cold winter and start their warming dance again.
In January I adopted another standard poodle, Lucy. I hadn’t intended to double my allotment of poodles, but Lucy needed rescuing. I am sitting in my favorite chair as I write this and on the floor around me I see a teddy bear that has lost his eyes, a chew toy that has pockets for peanut butter and biscuits, a beef bone, a kong that just an hour ago was stuffed with kibble and peanut butter, a winter glove, and a paper towel tube. Bridget doesn’t really require toys. She has a favorite bear and a stuffed hedge hog, but she doesn’t chew them.
Lucy likes to chew. And chew. I’ve lost two Mac power cords, a whole bunch of pencils and pens, and the buttons off a favorite pair of leather gloves. Bridget is a mellow old girl. Lucy? Not so mellow. She loves to run and jump and because I don’t have a fenced in yard, she runs a jumps through the neighborhood. That will change, I hope, this week when a decorative aluminum fence will go in. But the real issue won’t be one of containment. It will be one of waste disposal. How will the promise of dog feces affect my gardens? I don’t know, but I will find out this week, I hope. And, I will be very glad when Lucy is safely behind a fence and away from the neighbors and a busy street.
In the meantime, the garden naps under a coverlet of rapidly melting snow. Soon it will wake up, stretch, and touch warmer days.
I didn’t think we were quite ready to see snow flakes, but as I was sipping coffee and reading the NY Times on-line, fluffy white flakes floated past my window. I still have roses blooming! I’ve known roses to bloom until Christmas if the weather has been mild. But it is early November and while many trees still have some leaves precariously clinging to winter-sleepy branches, the leaves won’t last much longer.
My bald cyprus is about to drop its coppery needles.
But the big news is that the hurricane force winds we experienced last week blew over the two aluminum arches that form the entrance to the Secret Garden. The winds snapped one of the “legs” of the first arch, though, it was bent and weak already. The two different kinds of clematis that arches supported are fine. But, the weight of the clematis makes the arches too heavy for my to set upright. I’ve asked a friend to help me, but I don’t know when he will have time. And, it’s COLD.
Our high winds lasted two days, actually. They were preceded by unusually high temperatures for this time of year. That almost always signals that storms will pass through. And they did. In fact, I was doing an advising session with a grad student on the top floor of my building when the tornado sirens went off. We had to go down to the first floor and wind our way into the interior hallways of the public televisions station that shares my building. The hallway began to fill with faculty and students who were taking classes, and ultimately a few of us ended up in the green room. That wasn’t bad at all. There was cushy leather furniture and a large flat screen television that allowed us to keep up to date on the storm. We finally got the all clear. But 15 minutes later the sirens went off again. So, we trundled off to the first floor again. I was finally able to finish the advising appointment and go home. Different winds blew in the following day. Thunder storm winds come in bursts. But the second day, even though the skies were clear, the winds blew so strongly and constantly that they almost knocked me over when I stopped to put gas in the car. That was the day that the arches blew over.
But after that, I knew it was time to take the tricycle rack off the car. My tricycling was finished for the season. And today’s snow flurries added the final end mark to that reality. I tried to ride a stationary bike at the gym earlier this week. It’s just not the same. I had hoped to ride for an hour, something that is so easy to do on a recumbent tricycle that goes somewhere. And even though I was plugged into my IPod and listening to an audio book, I could only last a half hour.
Winter is coming. Perhaps it’s time to bake bread.
Temps have come down a bit–into the mid-80’s. And the humidity is better. I had a little get-together for neighbors Friday night and it was so pleasant in the garden. So, good company and companions make for a lovely evening.
The day lilies are in their glory. But I’m discovering that my record keeping last summer is slightly flawed. Which clump of lilies is Druid’s Chant? And why doesn’t Lavender Stardust look like the pictures on the internet? I suppose in the end it doesn’t matter. They are just as lovely.
I found this dragonfly resting on a lily frond.
He/she was very patient as I took a picture.
I’m still struggling with the “False Garden.” I bought the wrought iron bench a couple years ago at the Garfield Park Art Show. It has sat in a number of different places, none of which has been quite right. It’s now in the False Garden, and I’m not sure this is the right home for it either. Perhaps I need to take out the False Lupine and the False Sunflower, move the bench closer to the arborvitaes, and put the lupine and sunflower someplace else. For the time being, some house plants have taken up residence on the bench. I moved them out there when I had my concert because they were taking up too much space in the sun room. I needed seating space. As it turned out, I needed standing room, too. Almost 50 people attended. That’s a lot of audience for my house.
Below are a couple of shots of the Secret Garden this afternoon. I love the textures. The white liatris in the west side of the garden is starting to bloom, but the clump on the east near the garage isn’t quite there yet.
Below these Secret Garden images are a couple of before and after shots of the False Garden. “After” isn’t quite accurate, though. I have a lot more to do in this garden.
I am, by the way, officially out of those flat limestone rocks that I found in the secret garden that first summer I lived here. They have served me very well. This picture reminds me that I have to paint that cross piece on the garden gate.
Yesterday was mulch day and the garden looks wonderful with its fresh new covering. And, four more arborvitae went in yesterday, too, with a little help from the guys who brought the mulch. They also moved the broken fountain into the secret garden. A friend tonight suggested I try aquarium glue on it. It won’t be able to function as a fountain anymore, but the glue might make it water tight enough to serve as a bird bath. It looks nice in its new location.
The nikko blue hydrangeas in front of it may overwhelm it in a couple of years, but I’ll deal with that when the time comes. Those are various heucheras in the foreground, with hostas, of course. The orange leafed heurchera in the bottom left is Southern Comfort. That is a Great Expectation hosta in the upper right. There are actually three of those plus some others. But the Great Expectations are looking particularly good this spring. That’s the dreaded Virginia Creeper behind the fountain. It makes a nice green wall. The trick, of course, is to help it mind its manners. It does like to sneak up on things.
I bought a Rhapsody in Blue floribunda rose at a family owned garden center a couple days ago and I am loving it’s beautiful plum blooms and its sweet fragrance. It has lovely white veins at the heart of the blossom.
I am struggling, though, with the side garden, the “false” garden. I don’t like the way I have used the remaining flag stone. It’s hard to walk on and just looks messy. I need to rethink. I also haven’t figured out the lines of the garden yet. But the new arborvitae look good.
I thought I would include a picture here of the back of the garden lady sculpture. I love the braid.
That is a tardiva hydrangea in the center.
I’m looking forward to seeing all the day lilies in bloom in July.
I took this photo from the balcony this morning. It indicates that I forgot to put the perennial spade in the garage last night, and I left a container out, too. Sigh. But it also shows the lines of the lower garden and the Secret Garden. I can barely see the new rose I bought Saturday–a floribunda named Rhapsody in Blue. I transplanted two of the carpet roses to the border across the way and put Rhapsody in where they were.
I also dug up the pygmy barberries for perhaps the fourth time. They were in the “false garden.” But I stumbled on lamiastrum galeobdolon (false lamium, Herman’s Pride) at a garden center on Saturday. So I took the barberry out and will put the lamiastrum there. I’m really struggling with the false garden. I don’t know whether I need to abandon the idea or tough it out. The false indigo isn’t as big as I thought I would be. And I can’t tell whether the false lupine survived. I think it didn’t, but there is one plant I can’t identify. I’m hoping I wrote it down in the garden book, but…
I also bought two peonies and put those in last night. One is white. The other is red. The white one went over near the Rose of Sharon. The red one went near the entrance to the Secret Garden. There was a space there that needed filling. I also planted a Striptease hosta that for some reason never got planted last fall. It survived in its pot all winter, so I gave it a better home in the Secret Garden with some other hostas.
I dug the holes for the next four arborvitae last night. I wonder if I can wrestle them into place by myself. A friend helped with the first four. Stay tuned. We’ll have to see what I get accomplished today. I’m going to get some red petunias for the front yard and perhaps some other annuals to put in containers.
Three or four years ago I planted two bleeding hearts in a little corner. Behind it is an old rambler rose that a neighbor gave me the first summer I moved in. It is doing well, but the bleeding heart is thriving. I planted another one behind the garage in a little corner, but it doesn’t get warm sun early in the day, and it doesn’t have sun warmed bricks to urge it on.
I realized last summer that my little Olympus camera, though a little work horse, could not take the kinds of pictures that I wanted to take. So, gulp, yesterday, in anticipation of my tax refund, I bought a Nikon D3000. This may be too much of a work horse, but it was on clearance and I needed to strike when that sale price was hot. By the time the battery was charged, it was dark, so the first pictures I took were of the cat. This morning, though, I took shots of the bleeding heart. I’m off to get more fertilizer, and may take more pictures when I get back.
My glorious magnolia is in full bloom, two weeks ahead of schedule. I’ve been worried that it would get nipped by frosty nights, but so far, it has stayed clothed in fragrant pink blossoms. The old girl can still put on a show.
And so can the old cherry tree in the backyard. In fact, a number of things are blooming, including the bleeding heart.
All winter I dreamed about the garden. I settled in at my little desk in the kitchen and watched the snow drift past the fountain. I dutifully spread cracked corn for the birds and rabbits. And took stale bread out for the squirrels. But two weeks ago, I became a gardener again. I dug up three caryopteris bushes and moved them farther back. I cleared away the dead peony foliage and placed the wire cages over the the red/green spears of new growth.
And over the weekend I started gathering up the rocks that I had placed like necklaces in the secret garden. I wanted to get them out of the way so that this year’s layer of shredded bark could go down. I started placing them along the brick edges of the crushed limestone paths, and realized that I liked the look. So, I placed them all there. I think I like this look a lot, and now I can go on rock quests. I’ve become the neighborhood rock pilferer. I discovered a bunch of them almost hidden by brush at a school a few blocks away. Surely no one will notice if I rescue them from obscurity. But I will need more than the dozen I get there.