Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Recording The Weather

Frost warnings have been posted through the weekend. 
In these nights on either side of the full moon, there is a good chance for cold air to sweep down in the wee hours, leaving us with another round of damaged plants and blighted trees.
Since the killing frost of mid-April we've noticed some of the trees along the lane starting to show new leaf growth; not the usual bursting into leaf of a normal springtime, but a more hesitant and scanty second showing  of green.
Surely several additional rounds of freezing temperatures may be more than trees and plants can bear.

We have rounded up empty buckets, heavy bins, the largest of our plant pots, and upended them over the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers set into the ground last Sunday when afternoon temperatures reached 80 F.
Jim has swathed his strawberry beds in layers of old quilts and plastic tarps.

My peonies are in heavy bud.

I despaired of a way to shelter them, but Jim rigged a tarp which, barring wind, should keep out the frost.

Not trusting temperatures in the greenhouse overnight, I improvised coverings for the smaller tomato plants, shrouded the recovering pot of nasturtiums in a large plastic bag, laid various coverings over flats of tender signet marigolds and nigella. 

 One of the trees along the lane which has managed a second crop of tiny leaves.

Along the rustic fence, the lower buds of the foxglove are showing color.

Seedlings of Sutton's Apricot were most vigorous last spring and it appears that much of my planting will be 'apricot' in color.

 Pinks raised from seed were evergreen through the winter.

 Billows of wild cranesbill are flourishing this spring.

Clumps of spiderwort [tradescantia] have appeared where the western boundary of our property tips into the ravines.

Springtime is always a season of false starts, of balmy days when plants rush into new growth, putting forth buds that may well be blighted by a return of wintry blasts.
April predictably  finds me grumbling about this, hovering over my cherished perennials, poking my fingers into chilly soil, going out each morning to check for the progress or the regression of my gardens.

It was the habit of my Grampa Mac to record daily weather in his brief diary entries and to look back to see if the current season was on track with other years.
I've done this over the past few days, reading through some of my blog posts for April and early May in Kentucky.
While April has usually brought days of cold rain and cloudy skies, I've verified that this spring of 2020 has indeed  been a slow one.
In other years foxglove and peonies started to bloom before the first days of May; local strawberries were available by May 8th, rows of kale and Swiss chard were flourishing and green beans had sprouted. 
This year the second planting of beans seems to be going the way of the first--seeds rotting in cold wet earth.  The Swiss chard has emerged but is not exactly growing apace.
These next few nights will present challenges.
It isn't possible to cover the stands of foxglove or to wrap and protect the clematis vines.
The trees along the lane stand with their fragile leaves again vulnerable.

We've done what we can in the way of protection for our gardens, but the mighty caprices of weather leave us feeling daunted and diminished.
Gardeners need a goodly dose of optimism to deal with fickle weather and seasons.


  1. You have my sympathies. We have had wonderful spring weather - if you want to go to the beach (which of course due to Lockdown, we cannot!) But in the greenhouses it has been scorching in the day and very cold at night which is a tad confusing for seedlings. The beans couldn't cope at all and are now outside and growing away nicely. We too have a warning of possible frost this weekend - thank heavens I didn't plant them last week as planned as I can tuck them up indoors. Peas - well I will have to cover them with something and the two tubs of mangetout and French beans will need rugging up too. We will drape old blankets over the stuff in the greenhouses and hope for the best.

    Lots of stuff in full bloom here - the Aquilegia is tough and should manage. The joy of gardening!

    1. I"m not happy with what the frosts have done to my gardens, but of course, we have to tidy up and start over. Its what gardeners do! Chances are when this strange cold springtime is over we will pitch directly into the heat of summer.

  2. We too have had a frost but we are so far behind you that it caused no harm. However, we are due for some serious 'wetha' tomorrow and Saturday. Some predict snow accumulation and others mixed precipitation. Our Sargent Crab has just leafed out with blossoms to follow, the Japanese Quince is in full flower as is Jane Magnolia. The only other concern that I have is for my Wild Plum. It is now in full bloom and I really fear that the cold will spoil any chance of fruit. The wild critters around here are very partial to the plums.

    After I pegged out the wash this morning I checked out the Rhubarb patch....nearly ready for the first harvest.

    From your photos it appears that you have done all that is possible to protect your tender plants. Fingers crossed for you!! I have sown the digitalis seeds, my lips to God's ear, they will germinate and flourish.

    Garden on with abandon!

    1. Mundi: Friends and cousins in Vermont have showered Face Book today with photos of snow. By May, even in New England, one is so OVER snow! My Janes suffered damage to the leaves in the April frost--I've tried not to look at them too closely since the latest blast.
      I'm hoping the foxgloves which have germinated in the greenhouse are Spanish Peaks--either I forgot to label or the marker ink washed away.

  3. Good to hear from you and I pray you will have no real damages or losses. It is hot and humid down here in s.e. FL. Have had a few mornings in the 60's, and seeing the full moon this morning was awesome! Love, hugs and prayers for the both of you ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; We do have losses in the veg garden.
      The full moon was a beauty and the first time in several months that the evening was clear enough to enjoy the event.
      This is a troubling time--we can only hope and pray for health and endurance.

  4. We are also expecting frost here, but I'm hoping temps stay above the mark. It seems your temps are not that different than ours here! Phil

    1. Phil; Its ironic that our weather should be so similar to yours! This is definitely not the year to rejoice in a spring garden. Rather a dismal start to the growing season.

  5. I hope your expected bad weather won`t do damage to your young plants. We took a chance, planting out young bean plants that were romping away far too well in the greenhouse. Fingers crossed that this weekend`s weather won`t hurt too much, on both sides of the Atlantic!

    1. Ann; We have [unwisely] made two plantings of green beans, none of which have germinated. The only survivor of early sowing is a short row of Swiss chard--even the beet seed is sulking. Gardening takes fortitude!