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Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Do Pinkish-Purple and Orange Match?

Crabapple getting ready to bloom...My neighbor mowed his grass every day from last Wednesday through Sunday… five days in a row. I think that each time he mowed, he lowered the setting on his lawn mower so that he is now mowing at nearly the lowest setting you can mow at and not be scraping dirt. Why else would he mow every day like that?

Contrast that with my mowing technique. I mowed at the highest setting on Friday, then on Monday I mowed again at the next to the highest setting and that’s the setting I’ll mow at for the rest of the season, until the very end in November. Then if I have another episode like this spring when the grass grows faster than I can get out to mow it, I’ll always have the highest setting to use to get caught up. It's the emergency setting! But that rarely happens because I am one of those gardeners who likes to mow the lawn.

But lawns are hardly the gardening topic on everyone’s minds today. What’s on our minds is “we’ve lost of our Spring!” Has anyone seen it? It was here Monday, 74 degrees, sunny, just about as perfect a day as you could ask for. Sometime yesterday afternoon it disappeared. Now we are facing record low temperatures, freezing temperatures in the low 20's and high teens.

As a precursor to losing Spring, I lost my sunglasses temporarily on Monday. These aren’t just any sunglasses, these are the prescription sunglasses I got specifically for gardening. They are all plastic frames, without those plastic nose pieces that get all gunky and dirty with sweat. (Hmmm… perhaps buying gardening sunglasses is one sign of being a gardening addict? I need to post about that.) I wore the sunglasses when I was mowing the front yard. Then I took a break and when I went back out to mow the back yard, I couldn’t find my sunglasses. I retraced my steps to see where I left them, but I couldn’t find them. Then when I started to mow without them, I found them.

They were on top of my head.

I wish it could be that easy to find our Spring again. All day at work people asked me what they should do about the coming freeze tonight, tomorrow night, the next night... at least four days of it. My answer? There really isn’t anything you can do. You can’t cover all the trees and shrubs that are blooming or have leafed out. Besides, covering plants really only helps if there is going to be a frost, a light frost. It isn't going to help with a freeze.

You can cut tulips and daffodils and other flowers and bring them inside to enjoy.

And you can be thankful you don’t own an orchard around here, with apples trees getting ready to bloom and don’t complain if locally grown fruit is more expensive this fall. The top picture is of my crabapple tree this evening, getting ready to bloom, and look at those pretty, green leaves. After a few nights of freezing temperatures, I’m not expecting much bloom. I’ll just have to find a picture from last year and reminisce about how pretty it was and how it will be “next year”. Apple growers won't have that option to wait until next year.

But if you live around here or anywhere in the Midwest and you “fell for” the early warm Spring and planted something like tomatoes outside, you probably don’t really understand gardening. I don’t mean to be harsh, but really, the first thing you should know about gardening around here before you buy a tomato plant is that the frost free date is generally around MAY 10TH, maybe later, even if the temperatures are in the 70's in late March.

Really, I saw some tomato plants for sale at the local Meijer this past weekend, along with pepper plants. Not sure if they had annual flowers. Is that dishonest to sell those around here so early? Would they take them back if they froze? Back in college, I was told that growers of bedding plants actually counted on early shoppers having to re-buy their annuals after the annuals were killed by frost in late April. They called the early crop the "fools' crop". (If you are in the bedding plant business today and take offense at that statement, I'm just telling you what I was told 25 years ago. Feel free to comment and correct, nicely.)

And to conclude, these are some of my tulips. I am deciding if I should cut a few and bring them inside. As you can see tulips of another color are starting to bloom.


It is fairly obvious in this picture that this second group of tulips clashes with the first tulips blooming. It is more obvious in person. These were ALL supposed to be pastels. This second one is orange, which I don’t consider to be a pastel. Now I have hot pinkish-purple tulips and orangey tulips in the same flower bed. I would like all my tulips to bloom, but if the freezing temperature prevents this color mis-match from being real obvious, that might be a good thing. Anyway, remind me to stop buying cheap bags of tulip bulbs labeled "pastels" and order some good bulbs from a “real bulb company”!

Oh, and I've just decided I'm not cutting these tulips to bring them inside because they have very short stems and I don't think they'd look much better in a vase, though I could separate the colors into different rooms that way.

That's all I got for today. Thanks for all your kind thoughts and commiserations as we revisit winter. We whine and worry, but we know it is temporary and most of the plants will recover in time.

Now I think I need to go get a warm blanket to cover me, the gardener. It's cold out there!


16 comments:

QT said...

I covered one rose bush that already had buds and mounded soil & mulch over my peonies and that is it. I am curious to see what happens with my tulips - I had no blooms yet, just greenery.

I agree with you on the early tomato planters - you need to educate yourself a LITTLE bit on your zone!

chigiy said...

The good news is you found your lawn mower. The bad news is you lost your spring.

I will keep my fingers crossed for your plants.

Blackswamp_Girl said...

I have a new spring color theory: In spring, all colors are welcome, and there is no such thing as "clashing" flowers. :)

Annie in Austin said...

The advice here is to set the blades high to shade out weeds and conserve soil moisture, but many people in my neighborhood would rather scalp the lawn and run the sprinklers. Not me.

Carol, do you have a needlepin flower arranging frog? One of those weighty metal bases made of stainless steel with points for holding the stems? I like them in low bowls for holding a few bits and pieces. I'd have that orange tulip in bowl and on the kitchen table if it were mine!

Annie at the Transplantable Rose

Alyssa said...

Hi Carol, Actually, the tulip combination looks very nice. I don't know if it's the photo, but it is pretty. And oh yes, here in Wisconsin it's terribly cold and windy now. The daffodils, which were just coming into their own, are all flopped to the ground. And I noticed some of the perennials have already been hit. I'm very curious what 3 or 4 more days of this will do to the spring gardens. I put in hundreds of tulips last Fall and I was so looking forward to seeing them. Maybe I'll get lucky and it won't be too bad. Being a gardener is never boring! Good luck, too. Alyssa P.S. Thanks for visiting my blog - come again.

Colleen said...

I have daffodils, tulips, and hyacinths all budding right now. I have the feeling I'm not going to see the hyacinths or tulips this year. The daffodils are usually pretty tough, and they're close to the house, so they get a little protection.

I can't even imagine buying a tomato plant in March. Although, I know what makes people, even those who ordinarily would know better, do it. It's so tempting to think that it's tomato-planting time---the weather's warm, it's been a long winter, etc. I just think it's terrible that retailers take advantage of that weakness/desperation :-)

Kathy said...

Remember in those mild January days, some people said, "We're gonna pay for this!" Well, now we're paying.

Monday and Tuesday were the only days for us over 60F and now snow is in every day's forecast until next Wednesday. The only bright spot is that nothing was as far along as where you are. Just snowdrops and crocuses out.

Pam/Digging said...

Carol, I'm sorry to hear that your region has misplaced spring. It sounds like old man Winter has one last visit to make. Good luck with the budding trees. I hope they pull through without a total loss.

Kate said...

The crabapple blooms are beautiful ... I hope they don't suffer because of the cold.

I have learned here that it is really chancy to plant annuals before the long weekend in May ( even then, we've had late frosts )

At the moment, our ground is frozen and, as I read your post, I thought this might not be a bad thing - i.e. better to stay cold and then warm for good!

Thankfully your lawn is mowed!

Natalia said...

I got sucked in by a by a beautiful hanging basket full of cascading petunias last weekend. Now I'm doing that ridiculous thing where the basket comes in at night and back out every morning.

Yolanda Elizabet said...

Dear Carol, you haven't lost spring but merely misplaced it. ;-)

Glad you found your sunglasses again because you need them just to look at your tulips. This is not turning out as you expected, is it? Pity they sold you the wrong tulips I'm sure you had a very tasteful colour combination in mind. Oh well, you can try again for next year. That is always the good thing about gardening, isn't it?

eleanor said...

If Mother Nature puts two colors together, then it's OK with me. So I wouldn't fret over it

El said...

Ah, Carol, I think those tulips are beautiful. It's only you who had different expectations. And that's the big secret about most gardens!

I'm sad it's so cold, but I certainly would be sadder if this happened in two weeks from now or three, as the fruit trees (and grape vines) would have been fully flowered and it'd be a big mess. As it is, all I lose are my bulbs. (My HUNDREDS of bulbs.) No biggie. Really.

Naturegirl said...

Yesterday my lawn was covered with bunnys eating my new spring growth and today my lawn is covered in a blanket of {{{SNOW}}} come quick!
Happy Easter hugs NG

Carol said...

QT... Hmmmm, I hadn't thought of mounding up some soil or mulch around the peonies, that was probably a smart thing to do.
Chigiy... Thanks for the crossed fingers.
Blackswamp Girl... I like your color theory!
Annie... I sure do have some flower arranging frogs. I should have thought of that!
Alyssa... I agree, gardening is never boring, but I don't know what 3 or 4 days of this will do.
Colleen... I hope your tulips and hyacinth pull through!
Kathy... You are right, we are paying now, and you are probably better off since you only had snowdrops and crocuses blooming.
Pam/digging...We'll lose a few blooms, especially on trees, but they will live for another spring.
Kate... Yes, I think it is better to still be cold and then warm up than go back and forth like this!
Natalia...I don't think we could even leave a petunia basket out in the daytime right now, as cold as it is!
Yolanda Elizabet... Definitely not the colors I had planned but I'm going to enjoy them anyway!
Eleanor (Mom)... Actually, I unwittingly put these particular colors together. Wait until you see them in person!
El...I sure hope you don't lose all your bulbs!!!
NatureGirl... at least the snow provides some insulation! Happy Easter to you, too.

Thanks all for the comments and kind thoughts!

Salix Tree said...

Purple, orange and green.. the secondary colors on the color wheel. They should look quite lovely together. I think they do, they look a bit exotic, color-wise.
And I too like my grass a bit longish, it looks a little on the wild side that way, and I love wildness.