Time’s Up.

I’m always behind in the garden, and for as much as I think I’ve prepped and planned, there’s always someone throwing a monkey wrench into the machine.  Monday was what I hope will be the last frost…. it wasn’t really a damaging frost, just some ice on the car roof as I was leaving, but it reminded me that the early seedling for the vegetable garden are still sitting unplanted on the driveway slowly becoming stunted and rootbound.  I should almost forget about them and go straight to the tomatoes which are also rootbound, but still inside, but there’s always something.  While I labor away digging beds and spreading mulch and again mowing lawns the daffodils have passed and only the late tulips remain.  Here’s tulip “El Nino”, a big flower putting on a bright show!

tulip el nino

Tulip “El Nino”, a tall, late tulip with a huge flower and bright color.

A tulip star for this year was “Beauty of Spring” (an incredibly uninspired name for such a nice flower).  These were an impulse buy last fall, and at first I couldn’t figure out why I bought another yellow/orange tulip, but as the flowers opened and the mellow yellow and orange lasted and lasted I found this to be one of my favorites.

tulip "beauty of Spring"

“Beauty of Spring” tulip. A Darwin hybrid so I’m hoping to get a couple years of blooms out of this one before I have to dig up the bulbs and divide.

My tulip season was bittersweet this year.  Most came up all right, but many were damaged and stunted by a late arctic blast which dropped temperatures down to the low 20’s.  Also I found that I really missed the vegetable garden full of tulips that I had last spring.  Even the non gardener who I share the house with remarked on the lack of tulips this spring.  She asked if they were just late, I confessed to having killed them.  Apparently they really do need good air circulation while curing, or else the entire bin turns into a rancid heap of moldering decay.  Dumping hundreds of tulips on to the compost pile does not “build character”

tulips damaged by late freeze

I never thought cold could damage tulips but I have several batches like this. Stunted, floppy, and damaged blooms make for a much less cheery springtime sight.

But the season wasn’t a complete bust.  I had a few new ones to enjoy and there’s always something interesting to spice things up.  Here’s “Candy Apple Delight” (ugh!  who names these!?)  with a oddball broken colored bloom.

tulip "candy Apple Delight"

‘Broken’ color on a “Candy Apple Delight” tulip. I’ll have to wait and see if it comes up this way next year…. hopefully it’s not the result of a virus such as the tulip virus which caused so many mania inducing colors back in 17th century Holland.

Lately my photos have stunk, so there’s not much worth posting, but once I get past the hard labor of spring and into the enjoying flowers stage, I’ll again have the enthusiasm to bring the camera outdoors!  In the between time a few favorite shrubs are carrying the show while the tulips fade and the iris warm up.

fothergilla blooms

Frothy fothergilla blooms. The rabbits have been dining elsewhere and the fothergilla bush appreciates the break.

Here’s a closer shot of the brushhead blooms of the fothergilla.  It’s such a cool plant but a little hard to find a spot for since it looks best with a darker backdrop.

fothergilla flower

Although it doesn’t bloom for much longer than a week I think it’s still worth it to give a little space to this early bloomer.

The only other decent picture I got was of this old fashioned snowball bush (Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’) just starting to come into flower.  Far from fancy and new, this heirloom shrub has been around since the 16th century and has always been a favorite of mine.  My plants are cuttings grown off the bush at my parent’s house and I expect them to survive any abuse me, the weather, or the kids throw its way.  The blooms are a fresh lime green right now, but as they develop they’ll go pure white and I’ll have to hurry to get a picture before the  kids pluck them all for throwing 🙂

snowball bush green

Hope you’re enjoying your spring (or summer already for the warmer folk!).  I think the season is moving so fast it’s got me down, but I promise to be in a cheerier mood next time…. once a few weeds get pulled and a few summer plants and vegetables get planted!

19 comments on “Time’s Up.

  1. pbmgarden says:

    It is a bummer to still be dealing with frost. Your tulips look great. Beauty of Spring is accurately named. The viburnum is really gorgeous.

  2. Cathy says:

    You definitely need some time in the garden as therapy Frank. Hope you get a chance to get out there soon and the weather plays along. Love the viburnum, and those tulips are very pretty too.

    • bittster says:

      thanks Cathy. I spent some time out there yesterday and nearly all of today. With the iris blooming and a good rain just past, I think I’m through my funk!

  3. Chloris says:

    I love your Beauty of Spring tulip.
    That surely must be your last frost. What a challenging spring you have had. From now on it must get better and you will be able to enjoy your garden. As for catching up, well we never do catch up do we? I certainly don’ t, however hard I work.

    • bittster says:

      I think it is getting better. A good rain fell, temperatures are up, and I spent a good day in my own garden. The front yard should hold for a few weeks while the weeds grow in, tomorrow I hope to get at the back…. and maybe finally plant those vegetable seedlings!

  4. Pauline says:

    I’m frantically trying to catch up too, we must both take a break and just enjoy our gardens as this is the best time of year!. Love the tulip El Nino, such a super colour.

    • bittster says:

      I love the bright color of that tulip too, plus it’s tall and the flowers are big and bold. It’s not a plant for the pastel crowd 🙂
      I’m trying to make headway but I have to confess I’m one to take plenty of breaks from the labour. I can stand forever leaning against a shovel listening to the wind and the birds and the bees…. I should have considered a road and highway job, I think I would have fit in well!

  5. Christina says:

    Don’t be down; you sound like me in August! and this year I’ve promised myself not to be depressed beacause really I’m lucky my garden wasn’t under snow for 5 months like some other bloggers! your photos are great too, you’re being too hard on yourself. I love that tulip Beauty of Spring, I’ve already checked and my supplier doesn’t have it but it is one to look out for!

    • bittster says:

      Christina, I think I really was feeling like you in August! We had a dry spell, two or three warm days to wipe out the spring bulbs, and then guilt to deal with…. but now that it’s rained and the iris have started, I feel much better. Our winters might be bad, but when I lived in Texas and had to endure three months of relentless heat and drought it was no picnic either! We each have our long season… except no chance for olives here!
      I tried to get a picture of tulip “hocus pocus” for you, the blooms were absolutely huge, but my camera just wouldn’t cooperate 🙂

      • Christina says:

        Thanks for trying Frank, that’s really kind. Glad you’re feeling better now, it is amazing what a difference to our mood the aether makes! Christina

  6. Hang in there! Love your fothergilla photos especially.

    • bittster says:

      I think I made it through 😉 Fothergilla is a cool one, I just wished it bloomed a little longer…. but then maybe it wouldn’t be as special?

  7. I know the feeling… work ahead and hope I get it done. Your photos are fine Frank. Too hard on yourself. We were behind, now all is catching up, the Viburnum is just starting to bloom. I don’t know if we had frost while I was away, but I planted some annuals that made it through the hard rains. I hope you saw your last frost. You know on my drive to PA, your area still had trees only in bud. When I came back all was leafed out. A lot happened in a week. In the Philly area, all the spring blooming trees where pretty much done. I missed my favorite time in PA the Rhodies and Azalea.

    • bittster says:

      Things really did explode all of a sudden. I was just getting used to a long and relaxing bulb season and then boom, everything wilted and ended in a day or two. I think that’s why I was a little down, but now that other things are coming on I’ll be fine. I’m ready for summer now!
      Sorry you missed the azaleas and rhododendrons. Here in the Poconos they’re just at their peak, but Philly is one or two zones warmer and always quite a bit ahead. It’s interesting on a drive down to watch things moving along, just like when you go higher into the mountains here you lose another week or two just for a couple hundred feet!

  8. ‘El Nino’ and ‘Beauty of Spring’ are winners in my book. I might try them for next year. Only snobs look down on red and yellow (and orange) tuliips.

    • bittster says:

      I went through a stage when I thought I was too good for red and yellow. Glad to say I’m through that now!
      I do like a mix though, Actually my current favorite is red-yellow-hot pink and some orange. The more bright, the better 🙂

  9. Between the clay soil, the rodents, and the deer, I have a lot of trouble growing tulips. I just don’t buy them anymore, but if I get some forced in a container I’ll stick them in the ground, what the heck. I have a special hot, dry location for them and many have come back.

    • bittster says:

      A doe blundered into the yard Sunday morning and scared myself and the kids. I don’t look forward to the day they discover my plants….

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