Tuesday, May 19, 2020

From Frost to Flowers

May 6th--and the peony bushes sheltered under the improvised tent Jim made, hoping that 3 nights of frost wouldn't ruin the spring crop of blooms.
When I cautiously removed the tarp on the 4th morning, many of the stems were bent and the buds looked a bit dry.

As the weather began to warm up, I noted that ants--seemingly necessary to stimulate the blooming process--were at work.

You can see the effect of the cold on the outermost petals.

This was the first peony to bloom. The edges of the petals were dry and bleached looking.

This simple white bloom is my favorite of my peonies.

We were at Lowes several years ago [while doing renovations on our Amish farmhouse] and of course I wandered away from the aisles of plumbing and wiring items and out to the garden center.
In the very middle of a display of red and pink potted peonies was this one and only.
I gently moved others out of the way until I could reach and claim it.

The pink peony--probably the vintage variety Sarah Bernhardt--is a division moved from our first Kentucky property. 

It was autumn when we sold the Amish farm and moved up the ridge to build our present house. 
I had peony roots sitting in nursery pots to make the move with us.  By the time Jim could 'turn' a strip of ground near the house site, it was mid October.  The peonies were crowded into the chilly soil, no idea of color placement.  I think this fall would be a good time to give them more 'elbow room.'

Yesterday [Monday] the afternoon dissolved into fitful showers.
I stood at the kitchen window mournfully watching as the peonies bent beneath the pummeling rain.
During a lull I ran out and gathered a few blooms, heavy with cold moisture. 
Robert-the-Cat helped to arrange them and wished to be part of the photo op.

I put in a few iris this spring--transplants from Gina's garden and a root or two that I discovered at the site of the former [burned] house at the lower edge of the property.
I didn't expect blossoms this season, but there were a few buds, mostly seared by the frost.
It was a pleasant surprise to find this smoky purple bloom.

Frost damaged in tight bud, but still inspiring.
Sutton's Apricot foxglove, raised from seed last year.

Foxgloves are biennials--blooming in their second year.  Foxgloves self-sow and keep new plants coming on. This is an offspring from the Camelot mixture started at the farm in 2018. 

I'm hoping this is digitalis mertensis, a perennial foxglove. Only a few of last years seedlings survived to be planted out. The dappling on the outside of the petals is frost damage. The 'spots' on the inside are meant to be.

This is a 'baby' of the Camelot lavender--lifted from the garden in February and potted on.
I have a raft of smaller 'babies' in the greenhouse; no idea where I'll find room for them, but how could I ignore a plant brave enough to pop up in mid winter?

Pale coneflower--a prairie native raised from seed last year.  I'm impatient to see this in full bloom--less robust in appearance than the usual coneflowers, it will have pale pink drooping petals.

Note the smaller nasturtium plants; These were coming on beautifully in the green house.  I covered the pot for the freezing nights, but the seedlings on the side nearest the wall looked like wilted lettuce when I removed the wraps. I was about to uproot them in despair, but decided to trim off the frosted leaves, a good decision. Nasturtiums become straggly in August, but if I allow seed heads to mature and drop into the soil, a new crop will grow and flower until October.

I am delighted with these seed grown 'pinks' which remained green through the winter and have already become thriving clumps.

Willis and I continue the 'discussion' about ownership of the new herb garden by the front walk.
Willis has flattened two small plants of feverfew and made a cat-shaped depression beside the thyme seedlings.
I have prodded him out, scolded him.  I shouted at him and stormed out the door when I saw him sprawled again on top of the thyme.  
I suspect he knows he is infringing on forbidden territory, as he glared, put back his ears, and made himself invisible [he hopes] between the self-sown poppy and the big pots.


 I have poked more pieces of discarded cutlery around  my fragile seedlings. 

The sun appeared mid-afternoon, leaving us with a clean-washed palette of puffy white clouds on blue, a green meadow beyond the wet gardens.
Perhaps tomorrow I can continue my digging project near the west retaining wall.


  1. Maybe Willis enjoys the fragrance of fresh herbs all around and under him. I like the way he has disguised himself on the landscaping timber, but still among the herbs. The plastic cutlery may keep him from squashing the seedlings, but maybe not. The kitty we had for 17 years was the most stubborn pet we ever had. He would have went ahead and laid in the plastic cutlery garden just to be a stinker.

    1. Susie; Willis has always companioned me in my gardening efforts--very often getting in the way. I suspect he knows he is aggravating.

  2. Oh what glorious flowers you have growing there. I look forward to seeing more as the season progresses for you. I LOVE Willis! Love and hugs to you and yours ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; We do love Willis--which is a good thing, as he has been a cat for alarming escapades.
      Flowers are so worth the hard labor of growing and tending!

  3. I'm thinking maybe Willis has earned a cozy place in the herbs. That Robert is one cool cat! Phil/MN

    1. Phil; Ten years of 'supervising' have earned Willis some perks. Once the small seedlings have established I won't mind if he naps in the herb garden.
      Robert is an exasperating but most endearing cat. We seem to attract rather unique felines.

  4. I am waiting patiently for my single white peony to blossom, - it is my favourite.....

    1. Hildred; The centers of the single peonies are so beautiful. The palest tints of color--softest green, a blush of pink--in white flowers are fascinating.

  5. Oh, those foxgloves! I have a half dozen but only beginning to bloom. I will be watchful for seedlings.