Springtime Fun

The weather is perfect, the pond leaks, the mulch is here, and Donna wants to rearrange the furniture. With all this going on, the only thing I want to do is wander the yard with coffee in hand.

But there’s a couple yards of natural mulch in the driveway and it can’t stay there.  It looks nice and dark right now, but will fade quickly unlike the dyed mulches.  I don’t mind.  I want to focus on the plants, cut down on weeding and save some watering.  Plus my garden can do without the dye and whatever else they put in.natural mulch

lily flowered tulipsI guess furniture moving is first on the list.  Then move the furniture again.  Then talk paint colors (furniture moving always leads to multiple projects).  Then try to make my escape.  The mulch beckons and it will take me forever since everything has already sprouted and needs to be mulched around.  Plus I stop all the time to admire stuff, and with tulips opening there’s lots of stuff to admire.

There are mixed lily flowered tulips, of which only the yellow/red seem to return reliably…. not the pink and white ones that I preferred.

apricot impression tulipsThese are “apricot impression” going on their third year.  I have luck with tulips here, probably since I don’t water in the summer and they like the drought.  Still, after three or four years division is a good idea.  I guess we’ll see in June if I remember or not.

 

 

 

 

Hyacinths have arrived

It’s not hard to find hyacinth bulbs in the fall. They’re one of the “big four” (a term I just made up) that describes them and the tulips, daffodils and crocus that show up every fall in garden centers around the country. They’re easy, fragrant, come back reliably and run the whole range of colors with the exception of green and true red. What’s not to like?  There must be something, because even though they’re good enough to buy forced to celebrate Easter and other springtime celebrations, they’re not always the first choice for planting.
I say go ahead and plant them this next fall.  I think you’ll like them.mixed hyacinths in the garden

pink dutch hyacinthA couple warm days have brought all the hyacinths into bloom.  They’re remarkably color coordinated considering I originally planted just $7 worth of no name clearance bulbs from SAMs club.  This would be year 5 for them and I think over that time they’ve actually gotten bigger each season, especially the pinks and whites.  Some push up two stalks of fat blooms, and if there’s one fault to these flowers this might be it.   Sometimes the blooms are so heavy they flop.

A newer “retro” hyacinth that avoids the flopping problems are the multiflowering types.  Each bulb can push up a less dense, often multiple, flower stalk.  I say they’re a retro version because people commonly compare them to the old roman hyacinths, which were an older (less hardy) version with a similar, wilder look.  I’ve got “Blue  Festival”, which doesn’t make much of an impression in the garden, but even so I’d like to add the pink and white versions too.  Close up the blue looks great.blue festival hyacinth I need to get mulch down around these bulbs.  Maybe it will be the weekend project, but with daffdil season starting any day now who knows?

Spring is Official

Two warm days and spring has exploded into full force.  The trees don’t have leaves yet but 70°F brings up all the bulbs, opens the hyacinths, and starts the daffodils.  It also brings out the neighbors.  I saw more people around the block yesterday than I had in all the last three months combined, and everyone was out raking, fertilizing, aerating, blowing….. all the good things that responsible subdivision inhabitants fill their sunny days with.  In the front bed we have our first dose of flower sunshine, good old “tete a tete” daffodil.  It’s the Stella D’Oro of daffodils and gives nice early color.tete a tete daffodil

I have to confess I broke the camera last weekend.  It’s a Nikon D3000 with a Nikkor 18-55mm 3.5-5.6GII lens……. I have no idea what any of that means but I’m sure it has something to do with expensive and something to do with even more expensive to fix.  The camera met the floor and the plastic tabs that hold the lens snapped off.  Apparently it’s a common break and after several hours of moping and cursing (silently of course, away from the kids) I went online and found the fix.  It was a generic lens bayonet piece which I ordered as well as the tiny screwdrivers needed to replace it.  Two days ago I replaced it and am now back in business.  There was one more final blip in the road, it was the crappy, non-functional, cheap (more cursing) screwdrivers.  I gave them to the boy, who has a talent for disposing of small tools, and then made a trip to Home Depot and got a Husky set (for less money btw).  The camera came back on line just in time.  Here’s a picture of the front border with blue scilla siberica and the reds of corydalis solida.  Corydalis might just be one of my new favorite spring bulbs.corydalis solida, scilla siberica, early spring bulbs

I’m not 100% sure if they really are true to their names, but I bought the darker red corydalis as “George Baker”  and the lighter, almost pink as “Beth Evans” (both from Brent and Becky’s Bulbs).  corydalis "George Baker" with chiondoxaMost of the time I can’t tell the difference between the two, but I don’t entirely care.  Both are nice and I need more.  There are whites, purples, pale pinks…… but they’re hard to find and not exactly cheap.  Maybe I’ll treat myself this fall to two or three affordable ones…..  I just won’t buy any more new work ties for a year or two.

 

corydalis "beth evans" with scilla siberica "Spring Beauty"Not blooming yet are some I bought as the generic corydalis solida, it’s a murky mauve color, shorter, wimpier looking, and I’m not crazy about it.  I’ll bore you with a picture of it when the blooms open.

The blue of the scilla siberica and the violet stars of the chiondoxa are nice enough too, but if you look closely you’ll see a bunch of seedlings coming up.  I’m not sure I want that many and wonder if they’re going to be a pest some day.  But on the other hand a weed with a bright blue or violet color might not be the worst problem to have, so for now they are welcome reseeders.

The hellebores have come up too,  these survived spending the winter buried in kids toys and trash and are now looking all dark and moody.sunshine strain hellebores

They look better in the picture than in the garden, the colors are too dark to show up well, but the dark one is cool.  Originally these were bought as “sunshine strain” from Barry Glick’s nursery maybe 5 years ago.  I expected a nicer range and bigger blooms but I guess you get what you get…. also the plants were kind of tiny when I got them…. I should probably stop there.

ashwood hellebore with corydalisHere’s a lighter one, an “Ashwood strain” from Santa Rosa Gardens.  I like it.

That’s enough for now.  Daffodils are coming up and I need to save my energy for that.

 

First day of spring?

The sun was out and temperatures crept up to the fifty plus range, so I did what every self respecting suburban boy does when the bad weather breaks. I washed the cars. Donna was pleased, clean cars and an industrious husband are far more respectable than a spouse who shuffles around the yard looking for crocus sprouts, but I couldn’t avoid poking around in the crusty flower beds. Here’s the one right next to the front walk.messy front bed

It was time for the trash and dead bananna plant carcass to dissapear so that there will be room for spring sprouts.  Sure it’s early, but I think everything there will be fine even with a couple more freezes.  I feel much better now.early spring front bedSorry, but I can’t help putting in one more winter aconite and snowdrop photo.  Sure it’s the same two inch plant from an earlier post, but in case you didn’t notice, the subtitle for this blog is “more than you ever wanted to know about my garden”, so to keep it honest I go for the overkill.snowdrops and eranthisA low of 20F is forecast for later in the week and winter hasn’t been completely crushed,  but I’m going to call this past weekend spring (even if it’s just really really early spring).

Next I should consider cleaning the hellebore bed, it could use some attention too.messy hellebore bedThe pussywillow at the end isn’t waiting so I better get on it, but at least for now the winter grime is off the cars and a couple plants have some breathing room.pussywillow