Sorta Spring

If you like a long drawn out spring, this one is for you.  So far this season I only complained once about weather that was too warm, and even that was only ‘outdoor gardening without breaking a sweat warm’, which is much cooler than ‘sitting on the porch doing nothing but sipping a cold drink’ warm.  There have been no windy blasts of 80-90F weather which wilt the daffodils in hours and skip the garden straight to summer… followed by a freeze which has the gardener throwing his hands in the air… and for that I’m grateful.  There was snow though.  I started edging and weeding the front border and had to cut it short because of all the snow showers.  Not so much for me or the plants, but the neighbors already talk, and as I went in to get a hat I thought I better just call it quits instead.

spring bulb garden

Making my way down the border.  No leaf mulch was drug out of the woods this spring, and holy crap are there a lot of seedlings coming up.  It might be easiest to just go with a fennel/verbena bonariensis theme this year. 

I didn’t really mind the precipitation, but working out there in the chilly wet and mud makes me think I might as well garden in the UK or Pacific Northwest, and that’s weather for plants and not what a gardener needs.  The upcoming forecast shows better weather on the way, so I’m sure the weeds can wait another day or two.

Here’s a question.  Dead or alive?  The pots for the front walk were dragged back into position and one still contains a bit of one of those trendy brown sedges from New Zealand.  ‘Red Rooster’ I think.  I didn’t think it would be hardy so assume it died over the winter, but maybe not?  It only looks marginally more dead than it did last year, so I’ve left it in place and added some of the extra tulips which I shouldn’t have bought last fall, said I wouldn’t buy, didn’t need, but got anyway.

tulips in planters

Dead sedge?  Who knows.  

After weeks at home, my daughter must be pretty bored since she offered to help with the planting.  I was glad for the company.  The tulips we planted were supposed to be gifts, but since travel to NY is off for the foreseeable future, these were planted, two were dropped off on local porches, and the rest were dug in by the driveway.  It will work out.

muscari seedlings

The most amazing grape hyacinths (muscari) I’ve ever grown.  They look just like any other dime a dozen muscari, but since they were grown from seed (intentionally), they’re super amazing.

For my daughter digging and planting were entertaining, but trying to explain why the seed grown muscari were so much better than the nearly identical muscari which I deadhead and weed out, was pushing the garden thing too far.  Even she must know that muscari are cheap and easy to buy and come in nicer forms than these, but c’mon!  How cool is it that one of them even has a little white top!?

muscari seedlings

Maybe I’ll divide out this clump, they seem to have a little more variety, and I’d like to see how the one with the white does on its own.  

Of course grape hyacinth from seed is easy, in fact many people complain they’re weedy, but as I go through the garden and divide and transplant I do find a few more special things.  My seedlings of the Asian spicebush (Lindera glauca v. salicifolia) are doing well.  I’d like to use them as a hedge, but need a few more, and in the meantime have potted these up while they wait for their planting site to happen.  They’re still holding onto the dried foliage from last year, a plant habit which I used to hate, but on this plant it just all seems more excellent.

lindera glauca salicifolia

Lindera glauca v. salicifolia seedlings potted up and hopefully ready to spend at least a year under my questionable care.

Transplanting has happened, pruning has happened, bed building has happened, but not much weeding yet.  Still in spite of the weedy mess, I just have to show some of my favorite spring iris foliage.

gerald darby iris

I’ve shown the purple spring foliage of iris x robusta ‘Gerald Darby’ before, but some of the pseudata iris can also put on a show, in this case a bright springtime yellow flush of new leaves.  I think the cool weather helps.   

I’ve moved on to weeding not because the potager is finished, but because my better half has banned me from running to the store to get the lumber I think I need to finish.  The first veggies can still be planted, but I’ll wait until it looks slightly better before sharing another photo.  In the meantime if you remember I mentioned one slightly warmer day.  That one day encouraged me to sit around in the shade, and while sitting around, the guilt of laziness encouraged me to weed and clean the little moss bed I’m trying to grow.  Yes it doesn’t look like much, in fact this is what other people end up when they do nothing, but I of course am pleased.

moss garden

A bit of moss in a shady corner.  Ruined terra cotta and a few tree trimmings to camouflage the drainpipe and I think it looks ok.  I wonder if tiny hepaticas could survive here.  hmmmmm. 

So that’s it from here.  I think the cloudy gloom will lift in another few hours and although it’s still a little wet to do anything serious, I’m sure I can find something interesting to “think about” outside.  I hope your spring is also going well.

26 comments on “Sorta Spring

  1. I totally understand the value of seed grown grape hyacinths, as I am inordinately proud of my seed-grown lilies. I collected seed from those lilies last fall, if you are interested in some seed.

    • bittster says:

      I’m tempted by the seed offer, but this spring I’m also noticing many of my lilies have multiplied. I’m worried that I might need to get rid of a few of those as well!

  2. Lisa Rest says:

    I am also itchy to start cleaning up the mess but as we had snow yesterday it’s apparently still too early. Your grape hyacinths are lovely. I’m less adamant about a couple invasives in my yard, at least they are providing some color. I think we all need spring even more this year.

    • bittster says:

      I hope your snow is now over. It’s only a week later but I feel like a month has passed and with it I hope the cold has given up.
      Yesterday was our first warm day. One warm day and I think it’s spring and I should be planting tomatoes. Jeesh, how quickly we forget.

  3. Deborah Banks says:

    Great post! We had 5 inches of snow greeting us this morning, so it’s safe to say we’re having a cool spring too. I hope it continues. I guess I was hasty in spreading my poppy seeds last week on the “last snow” of the spring. I still have a lot of bed cleanup to do, but while cooling my jets inside today, I’ve been reading Keith Wiley and now have a list of additional to-do’s as well as lots of additions to my plant wish list.

    • bittster says:

      Hi Deborah! Yes, this early and cool spring has been going on forever, and it’s been perfect for transplanting and digging and all the ‘break a sweat’ kind of jobs that aren’t nearly as much fun in June. Plus no watering since the stuff is dormant and there’s been enough rain… or snow…. I’m a little tired of the snow.
      I think for us at least the snow is over. The next ten days look warmer, and more and more stuff is starting to wake up. I just saw a few promising new leaves on the epimedium you gave me last spring… but then noticed the woodchuck has mown down all the older epimediums. Oh well. At least he didn’t make it to the vegetable garden and the new cabbage and celery seedlings!
      I’ve been really avoiding acting on a plant wish list. SO much temptation and so much extra time on the computer and with gardening books!

  4. I have been after the weeds too. They have liked this weather. We have had several freezing nights this past week with lots of frost. My poor hydrangea leaves and lots of others too are not happy. Turned to mush they did. This probably means I won’t have any blooms on some of them. Oh well, every year is different. This will be one to remember with 84F one day and the next 37F. Geez. What is a gardener to do? I will just sit back and read blogs. 🙂
    Making any plant by seed is a miracle to me. Well done with your muscari. A hedge of Lindera G sounds good. Get your Wife some veggies in the ground maybe she will be more amiable about your wood collection. 😉 Have a good week.

    • bittster says:

      I think the hydrangeas here are all goners for the year as well. Figures that would happen after one of the mildest winters I can remember. Also the wisteria is toast. I think that’s the third year in a row late frosts have been a problem. hmmmmmm….. if it didn’t have sentimental value I think it would be on the way out.
      I did plant a few veggies already, but they don’t look like much. She did comment that it will look much neater, so that’s hopeful!

  5. Cathy says:

    I am envious of your rain… looks like we are entering another drought year. And I have been planting, so will be watering for the rest of the year! LOL! I love your little mossy corner. What a nice idea. And that bright yellow-green iris foliage is wonderful. 😃

    • bittster says:

      I’m so sorry to hear you’re already thinking about a drought year. In my opinion a dry spring is one of the most frustrating things a gardener can deal with, even worse when there are a lot of new plantings! Hopefully there’s some rain coming your way.

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    If you kept your NZ sedge above 40 degrees, it should still be alive. I had one for a couple years until it got so big, I had to let it go. In hindsight, I wish I had taken a chunk out of it to save it. I haven’t seen them for sale since.
    Impressed with your Muscari seedlings, esp. the white top.
    Happy gardening week ahead!

    • bittster says:

      Weeeeeelllllll….. I did not keep the NZ sedge above 40 degrees. In fact it spent the whole winter outside with only the eaves of the house keeping the bulk of the snow off. I’m thinking it’s a goner, but I guess it will look good enough to back up the tulips for a few weeks. After that. 😦

  7. jane says:

    you may want to paint the drainpipe on the ground black -black disappears in the landscape, I did it to mine

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I will have to go ahead and do that, I bet between the branches (ie yard waste) and the dark color you won’t even notice it anymore. For about a day I was considering building a stone lined gutter… but then came to my senses after I realized I was out of stone and that would be way too much work for my taste.

  8. pbmgarden says:

    Never occurred to me to sow grape hyacinth seeds. I’m trying more seeds this year but so far underwhelming.

    • bittster says:

      Most people have enough sense to not other with grape hyacinth seed, since they spread so well on their own. The more interesting seedlings came from ‘Mt Hood’ which has a white top, the rest are fairly average.
      I only have luck with seed left outside. When I try and start anything indoors it’s a whole different mess of fungus and weird growth problems.

  9. Yes, my spring is going fairly well, other than the obvious. It’s difficult when one is banned from running to the hardware store, not to mention the garden center, to fill unanticipated needs. Very nice that your daughter joined you in the garden, that’s a very rare occasion with my kids.

    • bittster says:

      It’s been weird this spring. I think the kids are bored and even working in the yard (for a few minutes here and there) is better than more sitting around. I just wish they would believe me that
      mowing the lawn is fun too…

  10. PS, I’d bet that the sedge is alive.

  11. Lisa Lindquist says:

    Once again, I am in love with the light green/ yellow-ish iris! Those leaves are like a flashlight! I love a cool and somewhat rainy spring. Gives me more time to get my fall / spring cleanup done b4 the heatwave of summer slams into my garden. I’m almost there, working in sections. The weeds are un-freaking-believable though! The high spot- one Hellebore blooming that I don’t remember buying or planting! lol A lovely rusty maroon with hand-sized leaves. Still in bloom today. Each of my 13 clematis have new growth and are doing well, so I can breathe again! So far, so good. Also, been mulching here and there as I weed. I am reminded that 62 is not young after each garden session. lol

    • bittster says:

      A bit at a time. I’m much slower than I used to be as well, but the job gets done either way.
      I wish I were mulching as I go, but I convinced myself it would be better to wait until a few of the spring bulbs die down before I do that… but that of course means I’d have to fit in another round of weeding before the mulch goes down. That sounds like double work.
      Great on the clematis! Over a dozen sounds like you might have a little *problem* them 😉
      Oh and I’m itching to add another hellebore or two. I have some seedlings coming along, but picking a new one in bloom is instant gratification!

  12. Cathy says:

    Love your grape hyacinths! And I never dreamt of growing from seed! Sweet little mossy corner – another good plan. I daresay you’ll add to it in years to come? Is that glorious iris foliage Iris pseudacorus. We need some rain! It’s beautiful here, but so hot and dry, we are already watering everywhere. Heaven help us when summer comes.

    • bittster says:

      I hope the dry weather isn’t leading into another hot, dry summer like your last year. It does keep the weeds down, but the thought of lugging all that water around sounds like a nightmare.
      The iris is a pseudoacoris x ensata hybrid. They’re good around here because the straight yellow flag can be invasive, yet these hybrids with Japanese iris are often sterile or much less fertile at least.

      • Cathy says:

        I imagine that it will be another summer like last, although a bit scarey because it started in late March (June last year). Interesting about the iris – so much tol learn! And I might look out for that group (ensata is Japanese?).

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