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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Garden Fairies Cancel Celebration of End of Winter

No one knew who put up the sign, but when the garden fairies woke up shivering, they saw it, set at an angle so the snow stuck to it.

Honoria Hellebore wiped the snow off and read it to everyone gathered around.

"The celebration of the end of winter has been cancelled due to snow."

When word of the cancellation reached Granny Gus McGarden out in the Vegetable Garden Cathedral, she nodded knowingly.

She had told the flower fairies to not get too excited by the warm weather. She knew. All the old garden fairies knew. They knew what happened after warm days in winter. Those early warm days were always followed by cold days and sometimes snow.

But not getting excited wasn't something the older garden fairies could easily teach the young ones for they shared in the excitement. That's why so many of the early spring flowers were already opened. Crocuses, snowdrops, irises, even some of the early daffodils.

Everyone, from the youngest garden fairy to the oldest garden fairy, got a little carried away by the warm weather. Before the snow and cold weather returned, there was even some discussion about opening up the forsythia blooms.

Granny Gus McGarden had seen this happen before.  She was just happy the gardener hadn't come out to the Vegetable Garden Cathedral and planted peas. Granny would not have liked that. She believed in following a proper schedule when it came to the vegetable garden and that meant the peas would be sown on March 17th, St. Patrick's Day.

Granny of course heard the rumors of the gardener planting a few pansies in containers in the front.  She understood why and  admitted that even she would be tempted to plant earlier in the vegetable garden this year, if the warmth returned.

In the meantime, she hoped the gardener would return to the vegetable garden soon. She saw her out there a few days ago, when it was warm, setting up a second compost bin next to the new one she set up last fall. Granny nearly swooned with excitement when she saw the gardener actually turn the compost from the first bin and pile it up in the second bin.

She couldn't remember when that had last happened, it had been so long ago.

Now she just hoped the gardener would come back and tear out the old compost bins. Granny had heard talk of that area being turned into a cut flower garden, an idea she approved of in its entirety. Those old bins were fine for their time but it was time to add some more room for flowers.

With the end of winter party cancelled, Granny returned to her usual spot in the vegetable garden to wait for the real spring. She knew it was just weeks away but tried her best to keep herself calm. She wanted to be well-rested and ready for the new flower borders and new compost bins.  But rest wouldn't come easily, as she hadn't been this excited about the prospects of the new growing season in quite some time.

To take her mind off the coming spring, she decided to write in her diary.

Friday, February 24, 2017

In the spring, I need to see every flower

In the earliest spring days, which is really the last winter days, I need to see every flower. Yes, I feel like every flower that blooms needs a personal visit from me.

I need to see them all. I cringe at the thought that one of the many flowers that lies dormant in a bulb in the ground for almost a year since it last appeared should not be properly greeted when it blooms.

I worry that if I don't make an effort to see them all—take pictures of them, admire them, flatter them, and in general make a bit of a fuss over them—they'll get their feelings hurt and never return.

Flowers have feelings?

Or should that be "flowers have feelings".

I suppose the feelings are actually mine. I'm thrilled to see all the blooms. I run around the garden looking for them, taking pictures of them, and hoping that when I see them they've just opened up. I'm disappointed in myself if I see a bloom for the first time and it is already fading.

This spring, late winter, I'm nearly out of breath trying to keep up with all the flowers. I think they are early though my garden journal tells me at least some of them have shown up this early before. There are dozens of snowdrops and crocuses and the little irises. I've come to expect them to bloom early and actually do start looking for them in early February.

Then come the daffodils in March.

Apparently, daffodils don't see calendars and check off the days until they should bloom. They just know it's warm after it was cold so it must be time for the show, even if it is February.

The first of the daffodils opened a few days ago.
These are tiny little daffs, no taller than six inches, if that tall.  I think they are always the first to open, but this year I think they are also early to open.

I know this daffodil is early.
It looks a bit scrawny, too, like it had to dress in a hurry when it felt how warm the days have been and realized the show has started.  With all the warm weather, poor dear must have thought she was late.

If only I could have told her before she bloomed that there's more cold weather coming and she may not like it. I'd also like to tell the swelling leaf buds on the trees to hold off and don't open just yet. Really, I'd like to tell all the other spring blooms to slow up a bit. It's not their time yet.

But I'm merely the one with the camera who is running from bloom to bloom as fast as she can hoping to see them before they fade and tell them each, individually, how pretty and special they are to me.

And they still do as they please, and so far, they please to bloom early.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Witchhazel for Wildflower Wednesday

Which witchhazel do you have?

Which hazel? Like the maid on the old television comedy Hazel?

No.

Witchhazel.

That's what I asked. Which hazel?

The spring one.

Oh, the spring one.  Does she focus on spring cleaning?

No, she's a plant.

Oh, so not that Hazel?

No, witchhazel.

That's what I asked. Which hazel?

The plant one? What's she called?

Which hazel?

Are we asking about Hazel again?

No, we are talking about witchhazel.

I don't know. Which hazel?

Hamamelis vernalis.

Why didn't you say so.

I did, I said witchhazel.

Don't get me started again.

But do go enjoy the other posts for Wildflower Wednesday, hosted by Gail at Clay and Limestone.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Crocuses and Snowdrops

I'm still on the look out for a good chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting, one that is good enough to spend the time, money, and calories on.

But alas, the garden calls with more warm days in February than I ever remember, and I am of the firm belief that one ought to answer any call from one's garden. Therefore, the idea of the cupcake is on hold for now.

My snowdrops are blooming. I finally have a little puddle of them to show, much nicer than having a single bloom here and there.  I know my little puddle of snowdrops is not much to see when compared with the masses of snowdrops blooming in gardens across the big pond, but it is all that I have.

Someone once told me snowdrops will multiply and spread out a bit if you move them around "in the green", presumably after the blooms have faded. I think I'll give it a try. I'll tag all of the various single snowdrops and little puddles of snowdrops here and there and dig them "in the green" and put them all together somewhere.  Maybe.

I'm going to leave all the crocuses alone. They are all over the place in the front borders and in the back lawn.
It would be nice if a garden called in late winter/early spring just to invite the gardener to stand around admiring all the crocuses. Ha!  My garden calls me to come out and cut back perennials and grasses and roses.

I cut back all the roses, mostly Knock-Out roses, to freshen them up a bit. And by cut back I mean I cut them back to about six inches. It's scary the first time you do that, but then when they grow back and are three feet tall again and look good again, you realize that it isn't scary at all. It's brave!

Be brave but wear thick gloves and long sleeves when you cut back roses. Otherwise, you will look like you got into a fight with the neighbor's cat who keeps coming around the bird feeders looking for a snack.

I didn't know cats liked bird seed.

I am kidding. I know cats don't like bird seed, they like birds. Luckily, as far as I can tell the neighbor's cat hasn't successfully nabbed a bird. She's just gotten in my way while I was trying to take pictures of bees on crocuses.

So friendly, she was. And soft. But I'm not tempted to get my own cat. Or my own dog. I took care of a dog for a few days a few weeks ago. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief because the dog survived, and so did I.  Though, I'm not sure what the garden fairies thought about the dog and the remnants of her business meetings held in the back yard. Of course, I cleaned it all up as quick as I could because I didn't want the garden fairies to get the idea that dog-doo was going to be the norm in the garden and flee because of it.

The entire week is going to be warmer than usual so I'll keep working on the perennial border clean up—a bit each day until it's done—and then on to weeding and mulching.  I'll also keep admiring the crocuses, some of which are already starting to fade and be a bit past their prime!

And when I'm not in my garden? I'll be working on getting the word out about my new book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life. It's not available for pre-order just yet, but we are getting close.

In the meantime, here's a sneak peek at a graphic from the book.
Snowdrops and birds, from a book I bought at a local used bookstore, The Garden's Story by George H. Ellwanger. (1889)