Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Gardening, Ready Or Not

Several sunny and windy days have prompted me to continue weeding in the back garden. A project that will never be finished, one that intensifies the aches in my elderly bones, but although I continue to grumble, I continue to weed!
David Austin rose 'The Poet's Wife' [pictured above] is the least damaged by a week of frigid weather at the turn of the year. Another pruning is in order, but I am encouraged that the rose will respond well with fresh growth and blooms.

'Queen of Demark' is looking less thrifty with two long branches that need cutting back. Fresh growth at the base of the plant should thrive if we don't have another severe frost.

'Roald Dahl' appears finished--the trunk is cracked, a mere dry stump with only one partially green twig at the base. Uprooting the dead bush will be a chore. I suspect the two buddleias will also need uprooting. The smaller white one showed some life early on, but the tiny emerging leaves were thoroughly blighted by cold weather. No signs of life on the magenta buddleia which grew so vigorously for three seasons.

Lemon balm has spread outrageously, pushing out from these corners to pop up here and there amongst the stepping stones.

Monarda has colonized, some of it a dwarf form. The leaves are prone to mildew, but that doesn't seem to bother the butterflies who love the blossoms.

Since the week of freezing nights I have pulled browned blossoms from the hybrid magnolias each time I walked by. 'Jane' is pushing out fresh leaves and surprisingly a few blossoms.

The resilience of "Jane.' The magnolia a few yards up the slope [which I have decided is the hybrid 'Susan'] is more slowly reviving.

Lavender buds showing on one of the lilacs.

Peonies pushing through old leaves and dead grass in the rough strip by the driveway.

I have painstakingly pruned away the damage to clematis 'Candida' and tied in the vines; I also added fresh soil where some roots had become exposed at the base of the trellis. 'Duchess of Edinburgh' needed more severe pruning, but there is healthy new growth at the base of the plant. The shorter-growing varieties have all been encouraged toward the trellises and gently tied. 

I don't attempt to thin out clumps of poppies where they appear, as the roots are so fragile. 
Dozens of them have seeded through the monarda, around the sage bush, into the gravel walk and below the rim of the raised bed. They are left to get on as they please. 
Two years running I have sprinkled the gifted seed of a red poppy; none have germinated, so I expect to see only the usual 'Lauren's Grape' which has moved with me through several gardens--a lone survivor of all the different seeds collected and saved.

Matt and Gina came by on their way from the first Amish/Mennonite auction of the season.
Matt had a flat of handsome tomato plants in an unfamiliar variety, Red Deuce. It is listed as a '2nd early, determinate' plant. 
I've checked my weather notes for several seasons past and don't intend to risk tomato plants in the garden this early. 
I agreed to take six and immediately freed them from their tiny plastic 'cells' and gave them larger pots. By the time the weather has stabilized and the garden has been 'turned' again, the plants will have sturdy root systems.

Eight broccoli plants and four of emerald cauliflower. 
[Matt insisted!]
These have been settled into one of the black raised bins and barricaded from cats with an assortment of twiggy sticks.

I've sowed flats of thyme, Lady lavender, calendula, signet marigolds, two varieties of yellow coneflower [2 year old seed, so germination is if-y.] 

Rosemarys have been moved to the screened east porch, two rosemary cuttings potted.
I lost my two large rosemarys over the winter--the heavy pots were dragged into the lower living area and positioned by the floor to ceiling window. Although that is a south exposure the porch overhang blocks much of the light. Did I over-water? Under-water? 
Rosemary isn't winter hardy outdoors here and is problematic to grow well indoors. 

Mid-day temperature reached 80F with a restless hot wind. Laundered throws and pillow covers flapped dry on the lower porch lines. 
Evening has brought rain, already enough that working outside tomorrow won't be an option.
Tomorrow I will hang a hummingbird feeder under the eaves of the east porch. My first recorded sighting is April 13th--but if warmer weather has encouraged an earlier arrival I want to be sure the tiny birds find a welcoming meal.



  1. Winter was not kind to many of my old faithful garden plants. All of the butterfly bushes perished along with several sages, etc. Some shrubs are struggling to come back. Our ten day forecast isn't showing any freezing temperatures so I am beginning to replant some things. Fingers crossed as I dislike covering plants. I saw our first hummingbird on the first, so here we go again...

    1. Mary; I have butterfly bushes here usually for three or four years before a big freeze kills them. I expect I will replant at least one. My sages seem fine. I stopped planting the tri-color or purple sage as it seldom wintered. The newly pruned clematis are looking fine--but I doubt we've had our last frost of the spring.