A Down Day

I don’t know how non-gardeners do it.  Today was a sloppy, sleety, chilly day and after just a few hours of being cooped indoors I’m almost ready to try doing the taxes on my own.  We are hunkering down for our second week at home and although the yard doesn’t look much better for it, at least the open air and sunshine was a nice distraction.  One day inside and I can’t imagine what the rest of our neighbors do to fill the time.  I wonder if they even know the birds are singing and the buds are bursting in spite of the messy weather.

pussy willow

Pussy willow just starting

Things weren’t perfect before, but it was good enough with a coat on and decent mudding shoes, and considering it was still mid March I consider that to be excellent.  The sunshine and warmth ended the snowdrops but there’s always more on the way.

'Tête à Tête' daffodil

The first daffodils are coloring the front beds a springtime gold.  ‘Tête à Tête’ in front, ‘Tweety Bird’ towards the street. 

Corydalis solida and the first daffodils are leading the next flush, and in spite of the snow they’re a sign of real spring.

Tweety bird daffodil

‘Tweety Bird’ is my favorite early daffodil.  It handles the weather well and I love the form.

Maybe a down day is a good thing.  I’ve been pruning, trimming, transplanting, and fixing and after being inside for winter and work, I’m a little short of the normal gardening endurance levels.  Nothing a little a dose of Tylenol can’t fix 😉

corydalis purple bird

Corydalis solida ‘Purple Bird’.  Many of the named corydalis just abruptly disappear in this garden, but their many seedlings are often just as good (or dare I say better?)

I won’t bore you with the less than impressive transplants and prunings.  Most are just balls of mud in new positions which only I will notice, but one thing which may be noticeable is that plans are afoot.


The work never strays far from a convenient rest spot.  It’s always good to reflect on any progress.

The plans are the byproduct of too much sitting around and thinking, and when it gets bad the gardener decides change for change’s sake might sound like progress, so giddy up!

So wood has been ordered for the construction of raised beds.  Someone here thinks the vegetable component of the potager will be much more productive if the beds are raised… I think planting fewer flowers might help… we will see.  In any case I’m sure it will turn into much more work than it should be, and take far longer.  That makes sense since it’s already cost more than we’ll ever make back in fresh produce.  In any case, have a productive and healthy week!

19 comments on “A Down Day

  1. I supposedly have Purple Bird. The tag got relocated and I’ve never been sure exactly which clump the tag belonged to. Your photo should help.

    • bittster says:

      ‘Purple Bird’ was disappointing the first couple years, but now that it’s settled in I like it! There are seedlings coming up in the backyard which look just like it, but for now I’ll just say this is the true form… until I also lose the label as well 😉

  2. March Picker says:

    Frank, I’m with you on not understanding how folks who don’t garden can mentally manage right now. I greatly appreciate a place to work outdoors, making progress with this and that. Keep these updates coming! And that corydalis is a beauty.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, and it was a relief getting out again today, even if it was on the muddy side!
      btw, if you happen to have a link to an overview picture of your vegetable beds would you mind sharing it with me? I seem to remember you had some nice raised beds, but when I looked on your blog I couldn’t seem to find a photo…

  3. Pauline says:

    Thanks for your lovely positive post. I too am on my second week of self isolation and my garden is my salvation, like you , I don’t know how people will cope without a garden to work in and enjoy. We are having a lovely spell of warmer sunny weather at the moment, thank goodness all our rain has stopped for a while, so am able to get out and enjoy myslf weeding and tidying with all the birdsong and bees for company. Corydalis solida is a good plant here too with lots of lovely seedlings to enjoy.

    • bittster says:

      I’m glad you’re getting a chance to dry out. I think I much prefer cold yet sunny to mild yet gloomy, so even just a few dark days get me crabby. The pruning jobs should finish up tomorrow and the transplanting will continue for a few more days. Keeping busy in the fresh air is an excellent thing.

  4. Cathy says:

    You are right – having a garden and new plans is perhaps the best way to stay sane! Look forward to seeing your raised beds… we have thought about making some too once our vegetable garden plans get going. (Maybe next year!?) Hope it warms up a bit for you soon too Frank. 😃

    • bittster says:

      I’m also looking forward to seeing the beds finished. There’s going to be so much dirt moving and plant re-homing that the actual building of the beds is the easy part. I think I’ll have some time though.
      Enjoy your spring! It will be fun seeing how much everything grows this season 🙂

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    This is a good time for jumping ahead with new plans and veggie gardens are on the rise (pandemics tend to bring out the Victory gardener in many of us 😉 ). I hear that many seed companies are selling out already.
    I used to have a huge veg garden, but once the CSA opened in our town, it became FAR easier to let them grow my veggies and they do a much better job of it. Flowers work well for me, and I’m happy with a few herbs tucked in here and there.
    We got 7″ with this last storm, so gardening is put on hold until it all melts. One never knows what March will bring to New England! Did you get just rain?

    • bittster says:

      Blech! 7 inches!! That would not do much for my mood, you would hear quite a few complaints here about how much nicer it would have been to get that snow during ski season!
      I also used to have a bigger vegetable garden, but just like you I realized it was so much easier (and cheaper!) to stop in at the farm market. We will do the easy stuff like zucchini, tomatoes, and lettuce and should have more than we need. Corn was requested, but after fretting all season over a few plants and then comparing the harvest to what $2.50 gets at the farmstand… no thanks!
      I still had plenty of seed, so didn’t order anything new, but I heard the seed sellers have been busy!

  6. paridevita says:

    You’re ahead of us. (Well, who isn’t?) Many named corydalis here, mostly obtained from their original source in Latvia or Lithuania, before everyone decided to stop shipping here.
    However, when a Certain Party was very little, he made up a game which consisted of grabbing all the plastic labels and running around the garden with them.
    So now all the corydalis are essentially unnamed….

    • bittster says:

      Even with labels intact the named Latvian corydalis here are giving up. I still have maybe a third left but sadly have lost everything which has any type of bicolor to it. Of course I’ll still buy any one that is described as new and amazing, but deep down inside I know the seedlings are just as nice.
      As they die it’s worse having a label there to remind you.

  7. johnvic8 says:

    Good luck on your raised bed project. I’m trying really hard not to be jealous. You have a garden. We’re getting the cabin fever heeby-jeebies trying to be good citizens and stay disconnected from the rest of the world.. Alas, all I have is a few pots on my porch…but it will be fun…someday…to put some flowers in them.

    • bittster says:

      Borrowed gardens can often be just as nice as your own, and I remember quite a few springs without a garden, where I would either drive or walk the neighborhoods checking out what was in bloom and getting my fix that way.
      Eventually you get an itch to try the plants on your own though, and thats when those pots will come in to play! In the meantime stay safe and in good health.

  8. Spent a couple of hours three days in the last week working in the garden. Mostly cutting back and picking up honeylocust pods. City just shut down the yard debris sites, so I may make a wall out of filled up green contractor bags. I think your project will be much more attractive!

    • bittster says:

      Building walls is very ‘in’ right now.
      I think you’re looking at your locust pods in the wrong way. I found this online 😉
      “trees start dropping their pods in late summer and early autumn. At that stage, you can simply gnaw on the pods for a delightfully sweet trail snack. But try yanking brown-but-not-ripe-enough-to-fall pods off the trees and your face will pucker up in disgust at the metallic, astringent taste. Patience pays off with these wild foods.
      You (and probably most of the world) may be missing out on an abundant treat. I’m thinking roadside farmstand this autumn?

  9. “… when it gets bad the gardener thinks that change for change’s sake might sound like progress.” Yes, that is a very familiar syndrome in our house – but not a bad way to distract from a global pandemic and a stalled spring. I like your purple Corydallis. We are still waiting for the Daffodils to start blooming around here.

    • bittster says:

      We’re taking a turn towards cooler weather, and daffodil season might grind to a halt with just these few real early ones, but I think we can handle it. Spring goes so fast it’s nice to get a breather every now and then.
      Change for change’s sake sounds like a reason to replace a viburnum lol

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