Thursday, March 1, 2018

Daffodil Weather

Face Book presented me this morning with a 'memory'--a link to a blog post of March 1st, 2017. 
Scrolling idly through, I noted that my description of late February weather could be copied to today's post, a relevant record of the 2018 season as the calendar page is turned to March. 
The same alternating pattern of chilly rain, warmer days, daffodils in bloom, has prevailed.

Daffodils are not always in bloom here at the end of February. A mild winter often witnessed the ones planted near our first Kentucky house with fat buds straining open in late January, inevitably to be blighted by subsequent frost. 

Each springtime I wonder at the profusion of daffs naturalized in roadside clumps and sweeping swaths along the verge of meadow or woodland.  A few escapees from a garden here and there gone wild would be understandable, but the origin of thousands of blooms statewide boggles the mind.

Local folks refer to the flowers as 'March lilies'--a term I stubbornly refuse to adopt.
We moved from Wyoming to Kentucky in mid-March, 2010, a lumbering convoy of three heavy vehicles hauling our worldly goods, eight cats and an elderly horse.

The sky was grey and an icy wind from the mountains was already blowing down  the first stinging flakes of snow as we rolled onto the highway.
By the time we stopped for that first night in Nebraska an early spring blizzard had caught us up, a storm that slowed our three day journey over highways coated in varying layers of snow, sleet and ice. 
On Sunday, trundling through the corner of Indiana, the persistent snow tapered to a fine mizzle of rain. Winter-browned fields were taking on an encouraging hint of green.  Crossing into Kentucky in early afternoon, now only hours from our new home, I noticed here and there the clumps of yellow trumpet flowers scattered along the roadside. "Those look like daffodils, " I remarked, rubbing at the side window of the motor home for a better view. 

Incredibly, this marks the 4th springtime that I have watched for the emergence of daffodils at the foot of our lane.  The blooming of these  sunny wildlings signals the awakening of gardens, concurrent with the cronking calls of the sandhill cranes in laboring flight overhead and the mating song of the cardinal from the stunted dogwoods on the steep slope above the retaining wall. 

The Double Red Knock-Out rose has a flush of new leaves, slightly ahead of Hawkeye Belle and the nameless shrub rose at the bottom of the garden.

Clematis Candida is alive and well. 

A few papery leaves and remnants of seed heads cling to the vine. 
Today I planted some of the saved seeds in a container of soil--an experiment.

It has been too wet to set foot in the garden, but on two cloudy and windy afternoons I trimmed dead stalks from perennials, troweled up weeds, leaning across the retaining timber from the dryer ground below.  I had help.

At any time of year I can go into the garden, not a cat in sight, and within moments feline companions arrive. 

I don't know the name of the weed which is once again over-taking the iris in the raised bed.  It is not one that I have encountered anywhere but in this garden. The former owner had soil trucked to this spot several months before we acquired the property and I suspect this invasive foreigner came with it.  The plant quickly develops a woody stem and seems to spread by a system of  tough 
underground runners. 

Grubbing, weeding, mulching, over three summers seems to have encouraged the weed, here threatening to overtake an emerging phlox.
I am close to admitting defeat with this planting area--my knees are not equal to hours of close encounters with tangled roots and the smothering growth of this nameless pest.

On a more cheerful note, all three of the potted miniature roses are showing new growth. 
The roses arrived as a birthday gift last March from my son and his dear wife.  They appeared as one plant, cunningly tucked into a small pot, the buds showing a mere hint of dark red.

When I decided to repot I discovered the bounty of three plants. Once the weather had warmed I moved them into large pots on the cement walk that rims the front porch.
I was concerned for winter hardiness, but trimmed the plants back and bedded them under a layer of leaves. The pots spent the winter lined against the porch wall that adjoins the garage ell.

Sunless days with pewter skies, pounding rain at night.

Days with the needle climbing to high 70's F on the thermometer outside the kitchen window.

Days of wind, sending clouds forming, breaking, re-forming across blue skies.

Today, spatters of rain and gusty wind as we arrived home from errands.
Drizzle that segued into a downpour, sheets of silver blown against the windows.

An hour later, the rain moved on.

This first day of March has been both lion and lamb, ending with sunshine on greening pastures,  and the rain fed brook in spate as it follows the lane to the road.


  1. Nice post. From what you have described it seems your climate must be about 6 weeks ahead of ours, generally speaking. I'm looking forward to the daffodils I planted late last fall. Hope they survive. Phil

    1. Phil; After years in our native New England and then 12 years in Wyoming, winters here in south-central Kentucky seem mild.
      Having just looked at the weather report for the next 48 hours I see we may have frosty nights--I hope the trees and shrubs in the area which have already blossomed won't be blighted.
      I hope you will be rewarded with daffodils!

  2. Daffodils are our first flower too, not counting the Camelias that bloom in winter. We've been quite warm, but are now heading towards more seasonal weather.
    Our Wisteria is blooming and smells so sweet.
    Your move was about like ours, from California to Georgia, we hired a friend to drive our truck, pull our car and 2 cats.

    1. Janet; I"m not sure if camelias are winter hardy in KY--we're considered zone 6 in south central. I've noticed that early spring gardens here have many varieties of flowering trees and shrubs. Once the hot and humid weather arrives there is a slump--mostly day lilies, and then in the early fall there is another flush of bloom .
      Moving is one of those adventures that is best viewed long after we have recovered from the event!

  3. Daffodils (aka jonquils around here) just seem, each year, to keep creeping farther and farther into the fields and meadows. I once read that they can multiply by seeding, which I didn't know. When we were kids, the thick heavy clumps were favorite hiding places for Easter eggs left behind by the Easter bunny. We called them "Easter flowers."

    Several years ago, when we moved to this place, I left behind the iris beds. I haven't missed them!

    1. Chip; My son [in TN] has been telling me that daffodils are popping up there as well. My astonishment continues that there are so many 'naturalized' and creating ever larger 'colonies.'
      Colloquial terms are interesting--I like Easter flowers a bit better than March lilies!

  4. I enlarged the photo of your invasive weed and I ‘think’ that it is Bishop’s weed, Goutweed and also Jack beside the Hedge. It is a scourge! If it really is that plant I strongly caution you not to move anything in that garden to another spot because no amount of washing the roots, etc. will assure that it is eradicated. The only suggestion I can offer is covering the area with black plastic for a season and even that is no guarantee.
    On a lighter note, six inches of snow fell here yesterday. The end result being Mud Season covered with snow. It won’t last long and as Poor Man’s fertilizer, it is welcome. There are buds swelling on my Hellebore in the woodland garden.

  5. Mundi; I don't think the 'scourge' of my garden is Bishop's Weed--I googled numerous photos which don't quite match--although I realize I have encountered Bishop's weed in several other places. The closest i can come to a description is that the stems and leaves resemble those of a chrysanthemum plant. I think I'll take a sample into the extension office which is on my route into town.
    Mud Season a la snow--that conjures some memories! Vermonters used to bring out planks to create temporary walks to the house during mud season--I daresay that's still a necessary practice.

    1. Oh yes, plank walkways are still very much in use on the ‘real’ farmsteads. The Road Closed and Mud Season signs are very much in evidence in our rural communities. When you mentioned chrysanthemum I immediately thought of Mugwort. Another invasive for sure but with many redeeming qualities. The Extension Service is a terrific idea. Do let us know what they conclude.

    2. Mundi; I think you may have nailed my weed as 'mugwort'--I've googled it, compared photos and descriptions. I see that one of the common names is 'chrysanthemum weed'--very apt. I pulled several of the young plants and carried them down the lane intending to ask my neighbors/renters if they could offer a tentative ID--being gardeners and long time KY residents. On the way down I kept sniffing the fresh leaves--the distinctive scent was niggling at me. While talking with my neighbor [she knew of fellow goat keepers who have raised 'wormwood' as a vermifuge] the connection came to me. The scent is very similar to 'Southernwood' which I raised some years ago as a decorative shrub--also the artemesia family. Being informed as to what I'm dealing with doesn't make me very encouraged as to erradication--one of the googled entries affirmed that at least 20 new 'stems' can arise from one root--but at least I can curse the invader by name! Thank you for your feed-back!