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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Dear Friend and Gardener: Snow in Spring

Snow on the garden on April 15th
Dear Dee and Mary Ann,

It's been a few weeks since my last update for Dear Friend and Gardener, but in those few weeks there wasn't much to report.

However, the occasion of snow on April 15th seems like a reason to write and provide an update on my veg garden and share a few pictures. 

Whenever it snows when it shouldn't snow, I'm reminded of the passage from To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee:

"Mr Avery said it was written on the Rosetta Stone that when children disobeyed their parents, smoked cigarettes and made war on each other, the seasons would change; Jem and I were burdened with the guilt of contributing to the aberrations of nature, thereby causing unhappiness to our neighbors and discomfort to ourselves."

If Mr. Avery was right about misbehaving children causing aberrations of nature then some kids have been very bad, given our colder than normal, snowier than normal, winter followed by snow and cold on April 15th.

But honestly, I feel lucky when I walk around my garden. I don't think I've lost too many plants to the harsh winter and yesterday's snow doesn't seem to have affected the daffodils and other spring blooms.
I took this picture this evening.  I do like these particular daffodils. I hope they'll stay blooming for a few more days until Easter.

Out in the veg garden, the peas are up and growing.
I should really start covering these with white cloth before the rabbits discover them and munch down the entire row. While I'm doing that I might as well cover the next bed over because the lettuce, radish, spinach, and Swiss chard have all germinated and are also a favorite food of the rabbits.

I really wish the rabbits would eat thistle plants. I had a lot of thistle weeds last year and this spring they are popping up all over the place.  Thistle is one plant I wish the winter cold had killed off, but no such luck. I see weeding in my future. Lots of weeding.

While I'm on the downer subject of weeds, I might as well tell you the other bad news.  I think all my tomato and pepper seedlings are kaput. I'm not sure if it was the soil I used, but the seedlings just never looked right when they started to grow their first sets of true leaves, which are smaller than usual. Fertilizing them didn't seem to help at all. I may have given them an overdose.  Poor little seedlings.  I'm giving them another week and if they don't come out of it, they'll start new lives as compost and I'll just buy my pepper and tomato plants.

I have a few other updates to share,  about ducks and potatoes and blueberries, but I'll save those for another letter another time.

I look forward to hearing about your gardens now.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - April 2014

Violets grown from seed, blooming on the 13th
Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for April 2014.  Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana, I think spring is running just a little bit behind previous years.

Not only is spring running a bit behind, but she's putting on a pretty good impression of winter this week.

Yes, indeed. After providing us with a few days in the upper 70's, causing all of us gardeners to go rushing outside to mulch and prune and survey the damage the horrible winter wrought upon our gardens, spring has decided to impersonate winter for a few fun filled days.

I see from Twitter and Facebook that gardeners across the US are gearing up for this cold. Some are covering plants and blooms. Others, like me, are leaving the garden to its own devices to figure out how to survive freezing temperatures.

After all, many of the spring blooms, like those on this hellebore, are used to surviving a chill or two.
And if the blooms aren't tough enough to survive the cold, well, there are far too many to attempt to cover them up for a night or two.  Plus, my garden and I survived the awfulest (is that a word?) April ever back in 2007 (Aught Seven!). This little cold spell ain't nothing compared to that!

Anyway, before I gave the garden a pat and a kiss and wished it good luck, I ran out for a few minutes, braving a heavy mist and temps in the lower 40's (Fahrenheit),  to check out some of the blooms.

Out in front, the windflowers, an Anemone of some kind, were closing up their blooms to protect them from the cold.
They were prettier yesterday when they were fully open.

Some grape hyacinths were blooming, too.
Though, it's hard to tell if Muscari blooms are open or closed.

The same is true of their pink counterparts in the back garden.
These pink Muscari are blooming in the same garden border as my 'Chestnut Flower' hyacinths which are so pretty I gave them their own post on Sunday.  You didn't see that post? Go check it out. I promise you, you will not be disappointed.

On Sunday, before the weather turned, I picked a big bouquet of daffodils to enjoy indoors. I left these stoplight yellow ones outside.
I'll admit these are not my favorite daffodils. I probably got them in a big bag of mixed daffodils back when quantity was more important to me than quality.

In my later, more discriminating plant buying days, I acquired this little Narcissus.
It has a name, but I'm not quite remembering it at the moment.

I also have some passalong plants blooming in the garden, which deserve special mention.

Leslie of Growing a Garden in Davis gave me some bulbs for Spring Snowflakes, Leucojum. I don't know when they bloom in her California garden, but here they bloom in April.

Jo Ellen, the Hoosier Gardener, gave me some starts of  Virginia bluebells, Mertensis virginica, a few  years ago.
They aren't quite blooming, but there is enough color there for me to include them as blooms on this bloom day.

What else is blooming? Thanks for asking.  Forsythia, the Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata), Spring Starflowers (Ipheion uniflorum) and some little violets, pictured above, that I grew from seed a few years back.

What isn't blooming that was blooming at this mid point of April in past years? Thanks for asking.  The common lilacs, my crabapple tree, and  flowering pear trees in the neighbors' yards plus some tulips come to mind as blooming by now in past years.  We are behind!

Anyway, the next 24 - 48 hours will tell a tale about this spring. If we can get through this last bit of cold, I think we'll be in good shape.

How is spring treating your garden? Are your blooms early, late or right on time? Are you in the midst of a cold spell? Tell us!

It’s easy to join in for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Just post on your own blog about what's blooming in your garden right now, outdoors or indoors. You can include pictures, lists, common names, botanical names, whatever you’d like to do to showcase your blooms.

Then leave a comment and put your name and a link back to your bloom day post in the Mr. Linky widget below, so we know where to find your blog and can visit you virtually and read about your bloom day blooms.

We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Pretty Hyacinths, and not all in a row.

I think hyacinths are a bit difficult to place in the spring garden.  Their upright racemes just beg you me to plant them like little soldiers all in a row. 

Indeed, I do have a row of hyacinths in the garden, along the edge of the border on the side of the house.

Don't mock the row. Those hyacinths have returned reliably for probably ten years, if not longer.

Many tulips don't come back after the first year, row or no row.

After ten years, I was bored by the row of hyacinths, mostly taking it for granted.  I had also more or less decided I would only grow hyacinths indoors, forcing them into early bloom using hyacinths vases, or even planting them in a container.  Once their blooms were spent, I'd toss them onto the compost pile.  I would only by cheap big box hyacinths for this.

My resolve weakened one day late last fall when I saw an end of the year bulb sale on the Old House Gardens website.  I broke down and purchased three bulbs of 'Chestnut Flower', a pink double-flowering hyacinth dating back to 1880.

Once I got them, I decided I would plant them in the garden instead of forcing them to bloom indoors in the winter and then tossing them on the compost pile.

I planted them in the garden border around the honeylocust tree, a border I call Birds' Blanket because the bird feeders are on the edge of this border.  I chose this spot merely because they are pink and I only want pink and white flowers in that area in the spring.

I also managed to plant these three bulbs in a triangle configuration, not a straight row.  I'm pretty proud of that. Don't mock!

Then I promptly forgot about them until this spring when they came up in the center of the border.

They are the prettiest hyacinth I've ever seen.
Hyacinth 'Chestnut Flower'
I took a few pictures of them yeterday. Would you like to see all the pictures I took?

I will admit it looks a little odd to see these three hyacinths in the center of a larger border of flowers, most of which are just barely coming up.  I think I'll mark where all the other flowers are, because many will bloom and die back. then this fall I'll buy some more hyacinth bulbs, all pink, to plant in this border.

Yes, that's what I'm going to do.  How could I not?

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

You can't stop me!

Magnolia stellata
It occurred to me this week.  When the star magnolia (Magnolia stellata) blooms, it is generally time to mow the lawn.

Now that I know this, I won't have to actually look at the lawn to decide when I should mow it for the first time. I'll just mow whenever the magnolia blooms.

I'm kidding.

I will look at the lawn to decide if it is ready for the first mowing.  But I won't look until the magnolia is blooming.

You can't stop me.

In other news, I'm posting another garden fairy selfie.

You can't stop me!
Garden fairy group selfie with crocus and iris
Oh, look, a little garden sprite photo bombed it.

I don't write much about garden sprites.  I really don't know much about them.  They are a bit shy and tend not to be out when people are out, but I suppose this photo op was just too tempting. 

You can't stop a garden sprite if they decide to jump into a garden fairy selfie.

You just can't.