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Sunday, February 22, 2015

I am the conflicted gardener

Just a picture of a wooded garden scene
I am the conflicted gardener.

On the one hand, I feel as though I should be buying plants for my garden that will reduce the amount of time, effort, and strength needed to maintain it.

To that end, I ordered two pawpaw trees to plant  where the big viburnums grew until two weeks ago when I had a crew cut them out.

The pawpaw tree is a native tree for me, and once established, it should give me years of enjoyment without too much care. Plus. if I'm lucky, I'll get some pawpaws to eat in early fall. The pawpaw trees will be like sentries on two corners of the vegetable garden and add to the other edible fruits - apples, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, honeyberries, grapes, and strawberries - I've already planted.

On the other hand, I feel as though there are some plants I still want to try to grow, even if they need a bit of extra attention, knowing that even if I give them that extra attention and we have a particularly cold winter, they could up and die on me anyway.

To that end,  I just ordered three cold hardy camellias, the hardiest I could find.  I will plant them this spring, baby them through the summer and fall and hope they survive the winter and give me a few blooms next spring.  They will anchor my Garden of Southern Follies and Delights and add to the crepe myrtle I planted last fall.

Two ends of the gardening spectrum.  Easy care to molly-coddling care. It's a conflict within me. Which should I choose?

When we encounter conflict, I think our natural tendency is to try to resolve the conflict quickly so we can live in peace once again.  Either do that, or retreat away from the conflict.  Me? I think I'll keep this conflict in my garden going for awhile.  After all,  if I stay somewhere in the middle, I'm sure to save some time in some areas of the garden and therefore have some time to spend on some interesting plants for other areas.

With that, I think I've resolved my conflict.  Or have I just reached a nice compromise?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In one month...

In one month, give or take a day or two, I'll be out in the garden planting peas.

I know it doesn't seem possible that it will be warm enough to sow peas in a month, given today's high temp of around 7F and the snow that blankets the ground right now.

But it is always this way.

No one will believe me when I tell them in mid February I'll be out planting pea seeds in a month, right on St. Patrick's Day.

I believe me, of course, because I grew up with a father who gardened, who knew when to sow peas.

And so I know when to sow peas.

The secret is that the air temperature doesn't have to be all that warm.  It's all about the soil.

We just need the soil temperature to be above 40F.  And trust me, it will be above 40F in a month.

Another garden season is just over the horizon, just beyond this next cold front or maybe a couple more cold fronts. It's coming. I can feel it in my gardening soul.

In one month...

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - February 2015

Welcome to Garden Bloggers's Bloom Day for February 2015.

If you have been posting faithfully for bloom day since the beginning, you are now starting your ninth year of bloom day posts.

Yes, that's right. If you've been playing along since the first post back in February 2007, you really do now have eight years of an online journal of blooms in your garden.  And you probably claimed you could never keep up a garden journal, didn't you?  Ha, you were wrong!

I tip my trowel to the many who have been so faithful and I welcome all those who have joined along the way.  Thank you for being a part of bloom day.

Here in my own USDA Hardiness Zone 6b garden, we had a brief warm up last weekend, but this weekend the cold has returned and  the wind is blowing. It seems almost foolish to be out in the garden looking for blooms.

I went outside anyway because sometimes it's nice to appear a little foolish.  For my efforts I was rewarded with just a tiny glimpse of the soon to open blooms of the witch hazel, Hamamelis vernalis.

They are almost ready to bloom but may take their time in all this cold.

When the witch hazel finally does bloom, it won't be the first bloom of the year in my garden.

I spotted the first snowdrop, Galantus sp., blooming way back on January 24th.

There are two other snowdrops now blooming to join that first bloom.

I feel a bit foolish showing just one snowdrop bloom, after looking at pictures of the swaths of snowdrops blooming in British gardens.  I am making a note now to order more snowdrops this spring for fall delivery, before the bulb companies are all sold out. I want my own mini swath of snowdrops.

Elsewhere in the garden, skeletons and shadows of last year's blooms are all around in disarray. I hope the next nice day is one when I'll have the time to cut them back.

Inside, the begonia I purchased last fall is blooming.

The begonia blooms are pretty but don't have the scent of the hyacinths and lily of the valley which I forced into bloom earlier this winter. I'm not including them in this bloom day post because they are past their prime and not picture worthy right now.

Perhaps in a few weeks I'll have some crocuses blooming indoors?
These little crocus sprouts are part of a grand experiment I started a few weeks ago.  I had some crocus corms chilling in the refrigerator and I was too lazy to pot them up properly, so I planted them around the bases of some of the amaryllis bulbs.  They've all sprouted, but will they bloom?

Only time will tell.

And that's what mid February is like here at May Dreams Gardens. How are your gardens doing in February? Join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and tell us all about your blooms or attempts to have some flowers in the middle of winter.

It's easy to participate.  Post on your blog about your blooms on the 15th of every month, then come back here and leave a comment to tell us what you've got blooming and put a link on the Mr. Linky widget so we can find you.

In the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, "We can have flowers nearly every month of the year".

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Requiem for Two Viburnums

Let us pause to remember the snowball bush, Viburnum opulus ‘Sterile’, for its years of service in my garden.

It provided shelter for birds and blooms for me.  It anchored one corner of the vegetable garden, blocking the view of the compost piles.

It hid more than one weed under its branches, and no doubt a fair number of rabbits sought refuge under its wide boughs.

It taught me to love large shrubs and reminded me always of my grandmothers, who had big snowball bushes in their gardens.

It just grew and flowered and sat in the corner mind its own business.

Then last summer it caught fire blight from two nearby dwarf apple trees. I was shocked. I didn't know Viburnums were susceptible to fire blight. But they are, and there seemed to be quite a few branches infected on the snowball bush.

Today, a tree removal crew came and removed the snowball bush and another viburnum, the way faring viburnum, Viburnum lantana, which anchored the other corner of the vegetable garden.  It, too, was large and past its prime.

The drought two summers ago was not kind to it, and many of its branches had died back.

I will miss them both.

But I won't let the openings they created go unplanted.

I have plans...