Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February Gardening

Fresh leaves on the nameless shrub rose. 

It rained last night [Tuesday] gently and intermittently, ushering in a pearly grey dawn, that gave way to a sunny morning.
The thermometer outside the kitchen window stood at 59 degrees F. at 6:30 a.m.--just as it had at 10:30 p.m. the night before.
We've had a run of warm days that prompt us to think in terms of an early spring.
Wild daffodils are in bloom, swaths of fresh yellow along ditches, billowing over meadow slopes and nodding at the edge of woodlands.
Folks in Kentucky refer to them as 'March Lilies'--an indicator of their accepted bloom time.

Perhaps optimistically, we decided to sow seeds of Swiss chard and beets yesterday.  I wanted to plant kale as well, as it is more cold hardy than Swiss chard; I was able to buy a packet of seed at the Beachy Amish produce farm last evening--too late and dark to plant and a tad too wet today to stomp about and compact the soil.
I worked outside yesterday for nearly four hours.
I wrenched away at the bleached stalks of weeds which enveloped the raised bed at the end of the workshop, clearing space around iris and the barely emerging pink tips of peonies.
Sadly, hundreds--make that thousands--of tiny weeds have already emerged. I troweled over much of the soil, but know that the battle is only begun.

Dandelions popping up.
I left the raised bed to scrabble along the edges of the perennial border. 
Many of the weeds that defied my layers of mulch are low-growing, mat-forming. Having lost a number of plants to the endless rain and heat of last summer, I wanted to check for survivors and ensure that they weren't swallowed up in weeds before having a chance at spring growth. 

Buds discovered on a clematis. 
I have been concerned for the well-being of my three clematis plants.
The stems seem incredibly slender and fragile.
I am heartened to see leaves unfolding.

New growth at the base of the clematis.  
This is 'Candida' the old variety growing at our first home in Kentucky.
I potted up a start before we left and it had a first season in new ground last year.
In scratching up weeds near the newest clematis, Duchess of Edinburgh, I unwittingly uprooted a stem sprawled under dry leaves.  I gently tucked it back into the soil, but it is damaged. I carefully lifted several other fragile stems and coaxed them against the trellis.

I was assisted/ kept company by Willis. 
He sometimes has to be urged out of the way--at which point he can become testy--but his loyalty is heartening. 

Willis eventually bedded himself down in dry leaves behind a barricade of thorny rugosa branches.
I had a pair of clippers as well as a slender trowel and a 'digger,' so the roses have had a
 preliminary pruning. 

The double orange day lilies near the side porch landing are flourishing.
A second clump of them was hastily interred by the pasture gate; I need to move them to a spot where they are better appreciated.

Daffodils are in bloom, tempting one to stop and admire at every bend on our winding back roads.
The urge to garden is stirring as it does each year at the first hint of spring.
I need to be realistic. 
[Four hours of crawling about on my knees does have consequences!]

We were interested to see that our Beachy Amish neighbors have started the seasonal work of their produce farm. Their front field which lies along the lane into their home and store has been newly turned. Neat rows of soil have been mounded up and are under lengths of black plastic--the plastic serves to warm the soil and to [hopefully] smother the first growth of weeds. 
I continue to long for a greenhouse--even a very tiny one.
Jim talks about it, but it remains too far down his 'list' to be a believable reality. 


  1. New shoots, spring flowers, all things to make us feel good, and of course the odd cat photo.

    1. A cat or two [or more] always seems to photo-bomb whatever I am doing!

  2. Spring is happening, Willis looks good, as does the apron. Is that a pair of pillow cases?

    Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; I removed the apron and pillowcases and decided not to include them in the gardening post--somehow they remained visible! I made them as gifts for a wedding shower.

  3. It looks like spring has arrived. "Hi Willis"

    1. Deb; I'm hoping this is not a 'false spring!'
      Willis is such a unique feline--did you notice how he blends into the landscape?

  4. I like your tabby cat, he blends in very well with the surroundings.

    1. Terra; Willis often startles me--he has a way of appearing and disappearing--like the Cheshire Cat!

  5. Such a pretty cat - and fabric - and apron! Signs of spring everywhere here in Virginia. Crocus and daffodils are blooming and the days are unseasonably warm. Enjoy all that you share of your cooking, crafts, pets, gardening, etc.

    1. Shirley; I think I shall have to add the apron back into the post after all, as a number of people have seen those photos. [How did that happen?]
      I hope that you will create a blog to share your own 'doings.'
      I should think spring in VA is more advanced than we are here in Kentucky.

  6. I enjoyed my virtual visit to your house. Next time I'll bring muffins. You make the tea.

    1. Barbee; I am a firm believer in muffins and tea--although today the treat is lemon bread--almost like a pound cake in texture.

  7. I loved reading about the stirrings of Spring in your neighborhood. In stark contrast, we here in southern Vermont are smack in the middle of Mud Season. The temps here over the last week or so have been in the 40's and 50's with rain predicted for the weekend. The family that taps the maples along our dirt road has been busy as the 'sap is running'. Fun to see the kiddos lugging the full sap buckets to the holding tank. The chickadees are singing their spring song and the Bluebirds are darting in and out of the next boxes. We'll have more snow of course but it won't last and it is after all 'poor man's fertilizer'.

    1. Mundi; We've been remembering and discussing 'sugaring' season in Vermont--as well considering that in Vermont the end of February and well into March can bring some of the heaviest--and wettest--snow of the year.
      Mud--oh yes--the mud!
      I'm so glad bluebirds are making a comeback. It was rare to see one at the time we left VT--in 1998.

  8. So nice to see the daffodils blooming in the pretty woodlands. Seeing those first signs of spring is so heartening. It's always so nice to get out for that first garden session and take stock in what has survived the winter. Love your little companion, too. We keep getting false starts with a warm day here and there, but the last couple of days have had spitting snow. I did get out for two good cleanup sessions, though. No daffy's blooming here yet, but they are coming up. Love following along to see your progress. xx Karen

    1. Karen; The daffs are still blooming, but our weather over the weekend took a plunge back to less spring-like temps!
      I'm glad I hadn't put away all the winter jackets.