We missed most of the snow, but in general it was cool here last week.  In a fit of mid-March optimism I drug a few of the hardiest things out of the garage and onto the driveway for a little sun and fresh air and then forgot about them for a few days.  Things got cooler over the weekend with a Friday night low around 25F (-4C) and I had my concerns for the rosemary, Fatsia, and potted Dracaena, but in the light of the next morning they didn’t look too bad.  Of course I left them out for the next night as well, with similar temperatures, because like a small child I’ll try and get away with it for as often as I can until things backfire.  Some people only learn things the hard way.

pickwick crocus

A spring shower and March sunshine have brought on the big dutch crocus (Crocus vernum ‘Pickwick’).  The rabbits only nibbled a few of the blooms, but they’ll be back soon enough to finish them off. 

In spite of two cold nights, the calendar and stars both say today is the first day of spring, and I’m happy the heavens have finally caught up to where I’ve already been for quite a few weeks.  It’s exciting to know that spring has been given its official recognition for the new year but also sad to think that some of the most exciting highlights of the year have already passed.  Next week promises warmer weather and with it the peak of the snowdrop season and then the fading away while other things step up for their moment.  Already the witch hazel are dropping their petals and the winter aconite are on their way to setting seed and I’m almost missing those chilly afternoons shuffling around the garden looking for the first sprouts.

winter aconite

In a nook shaded by the fence, the last of the winter aconite is holding on to bloom.  Seed pods will come next, ripe seed thereafter, and soon I’ll be scattering a new crop of flowers into the next patch of garden.  

I think this gardener is feeling a bit of a crash following the abundance of snowdrops this spring.  They’re still amazing and a few late ones are just starting and trust me I spend more time than I should soaking them in, but maybe I’ll need some help coming off the high this year.

galanthus melanie broughton

‘Melanie Broughton’ is just one of the many late forms which supply perfect flowers once the earlier sorts begin to look tired.  Maybe I need a late bed strictly devoted to these kinds so they’re all perfectly perfect together.  Surely the garden can handle one more snowdrop bed? 

Maybe daffodils can be my methadone.  In spite of this weekend’s turn to cold the first daffodils are just a few degrees of sunshine short of opening, and you can trust I have my eye on them.

frozen waterlily

New waterlily shoots frozen into the night’s ice.  I’m continuously amazed that soft things like fresh lilypads and tiny things like fresh duckweed can survive a solid freeze.

Oops.  One thing which I didn’t have my eyes on were the four pots of daylily seedlings which were put out into the coldframe last week.  Daylilies are hardy enough plants, but for seedlings to come out from a cozy winter under the growlights and face a freezing cold night (or two since what’s done is done), might have been more than they should have to handle.

frozen daylilies

Kinda mushy and wilted, the frozen daylily seedlings will hopefully survive to enjoy spring.  Hopefully.

Generally if things freeze off I’m quite quick to write them off and move on, since there’s never a shortage of new seedlings and divisions and gifts and purchases waiting to find a home, but the frozen daylily seedlings could really be a setback to the future of the farm.  I was counting on these to provide the 2025 introductions which would be unveiled when I put out my first daylily catalogue.  Golly.  This really does throw a wrench into things.

garden topsoil

You can’t look at snowdrops all day, so Saturday I decided to regrade the entire construction area.  The wife kindly pointed out that working on closets would be a better use of my time, considering a machine could do this in a day, but God forbid I have to join a gym to work off my winter fat.  

So moving a couple tons of rocky fill did help ease the stress of the ups and downs which come with building a world quality daylily farm, but the even better part to all the hard labour was filling in a few more square feet of the low spot which haunts me in the back of the yard.  I feel like the Dutch must have felt when they reclaimed their land from the sea.  Every square foot of flat ground holds the potential of a new planting area, and perhaps in their honor I should plant it all to tulips one year, just in case the daylily farm doesn’t keep me busy enough.

garden topsoil

The lowest areas back here were perhaps three feet below where I’d like them to be, so into the dip went all kinds of stone and mortar debris, now to be topped off with a foot or so of rocky dirt/fill.  

I’m estimating this job should be finished up somewhere around late 2027, assuming I don’t end up in the hospital first.  Hmmm.  Actually I’m surprised that didn’t come up in addition to the talk of closets, and honestly don’t know if I should be flattered or insulted by that.  In another year I’ll be closer to 60 than 50 so…

winter garden

In the last few days tulips have started to sprout in the potager beds.  There will be no room for cabbages, but three or four heads of cabbage didn’t stand a chance against armloads of tulips. 

Well that’s not the direction I had planned for this post.  It’s the first day of official spring and as always I’ll be gardening as if I’ll live to be 120.  In my opinion it’s the only option since imagine planning for a bucket-kicking at 90 and then sticking around for another 30!  That’s a long time to regret the unplanted acorn.

7 comments on “Cooler

  1. Eliza Waters says:

    Wild horses couldn’t pull you away from this garden, Frank. Happy Spring!

  2. “The first day of spring is one thing, and the first spring day is another. The difference between them is sometimes as great as a month.”–Henry Van Dyke. Well, the first day of spring has come and gone, but I’m still waiting for our first spring day. Our 1325 ft elevation means we got a substantial amount of snow on Tuesday, and we mostly still have snow cover. The snowdrops are doing their darndest to poke through, but I’m still jealous of all the soggy lawn everyone else has.

  3. Paddy Tobin says:

    I’m with you on moving soil by hand rather than bringing in machinery. The thoughts of a machine in my garden would bother me and, to be perfectly honest, I really enjoy digging and moving earth about. Most importantly, it will be done as you would like it to be done. Snowdrops are still in flower here – a good clump of ‘Uncle Dick’ for example – but my mind has moved on to daffodils and trilliums, erythroniums, magnolias and other things, too much competition for the snowdrops.

  4. Cathy says:

    So true! If I live to 90 I will be sure to plant an acorn or two. 😉 It is definitely a spring day here today, but the forecast says it is not sticking around so I am making the most of it this afternoon. Happy Spring Frank!

  5. I’m with Kathy on the spring/spring reality. We are having a week of weather hitting in the 40°s. Hopefully my snow will be gone by Saturday and there will be snowdrops. Still too early to actually do much more than pick up sticks. It’s rare that the gardener is happy with the result of big machinery. Much better to get what you want by doing it yourself. Plus you don’t want any more compaction than you’re already dealing with. In 2021 my husband (who was 74) filled in our 7,000 gallon pond with only one helper and wheelbarrows. A long slow process but it turned out just as he pictured it. All the landscape companies thought he was crazy. Plus they were going to charge 10x what it actually cost. This way you save money you can use on plants and you are in great shape when it’s time to plant into this newly designed area. Can’t wait to see the results.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Nothing like a good spring soil shuffle. You will feel so good when you get that chore accomplished.
    Your poor little seedlings. I bet they will recover. A good long warm spell will rejuvenate them.
    A daylily farm?? I must have missed something. It will be interesting to see your offerings.
    There does seem to be a lull in the coming of spring. We had spring-like weather for a week or so, enough to coax the buds on the trees and shrubs. The Magnolia had more blooms going than I have seen in years. Then reality struck. We went back into the deep freeze. The Magnolia is a big brown blob from the freeze and the snowdrops here were burned out from the previous heat. Even the tulips and narcissus are confused. The poor tulips were encased in snow and then frost tried to move in. I am hopeful that things will even out eventually, if everything won’t blow away.
    I still like the idea of spring. Bring it on.

  7. Oh, I love them! How nice! Maybe that’s the last time I’ll say that this season, about the snowdrops, anyway? I suspect your little day lily seedlings will bounce back. If anyone can make it happen, it’s you! Daffodils as methadone is a great concept. Then tulips can be your methadone for the daffs. It could go on and on . . .

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