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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Witchhazel for Wildflower Wednesday

Which witchhazel do you have?

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



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)

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Pansies in February

I wanted a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting. Or perhaps sea salt caramel frosting.

I'd been wanting one for days, thinking about it off and on whenever I either drove by a cupcake shop or was breathing.  Just one cupcake. It would be a treat. One.

Then I saw on Facebook that a local garden center had pansies for sale. On February 17th. This is unusual enough for our gardening zone that I took notice.

After all, if there are pansies available, I must have them.  But never before have I looked for them before March. In March, I used to cruise by garden centers looking for signs of life, for a few pansies out front. I wanted to always be the first gardener to have a container or two of them planted up in the spring.  I still do.

I'm "wired" to get the pansies in March, not February. But I can be re-wired. I can adapt.

When I saw that the local garden center had pansies, I contacted the local greenhouse where I usually buy all my annuals to find out how their pansies and violas were coming along.  "They look great. We just sold 10 flats to a local garden center."

The plot thickens. The garden center had them because the local greenhouse had some.

Well, after some back and forth online chatting with the greenhouse owner and a quick check of the long-range weather forecast to be sure we weren't being totally fooled by Mother Nature's gift of warmer-than-usual temps in February, I hopped in my SUV and went to the greenhouse.

When I pulled up, they were sitting out front on a break. Laughing. Enjoying the sunshine. Waiting for me to pull up.

After all, traditions. As much as it is my tradition to be the first one to plant pansies in the spring, I think it is their tradition to have me be the first customer to buy pansies in the spring.

We went back and checked out the pansies and violas.  Of course, the garden center people bought the flats with most of the flowers, but I had my pick of all the rest.  I picked 'Candy Mix' and bought two flats of them to take home. Two flats is what I call "a good start".

I've already planted them up. Two long boxes on the porch, one window box under the front window, one big container by the lamp post and one smaller container that probably should be moved because it is in a shady spot by the front door.

In another week or so, I'll go back and get some violas to put with them.

In the meantime, I can think again about getting that chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting, or perhaps sea salt caramel frosting,  at least until the violas are ready to plant.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - February 2017

Welcome to Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day for February 2017.

Here in my USDA Hardiness Zone 6a garden in central Indiana the mild winter continues. We speak of it in hushed tones–the warmer temperatures, the lack of snow, the sunshine–as though saying anything about it out loud will cause the snow, ice, and sub freezing temperatures to return abrubtly.

So, let me whisper to you about the blooms in my garden today.

The garden was bathed in full sun when I walked about and took pictures of the blooms. I wore a winter coat but I would have been comfortable in a heavy sweater.

There are crocuses in bloom, of course. I've planted so many over the years. Some disappear, some return.

There are still a few gold crocuses nestled in a bed of sedum under a tree in front.  I generally don't plant gold crocuses in the lawn, lest someone mistake them from afar for dandelions.

Instead, I fill the lawn with white, purple, and lilac colored crocuses.
They are up all over the place. I walk from one group to the next admiring them, remembering them, and marveling at their resilience in the face of winter weather.

The first to come up are those that tend toward the blue side of the purple spectrum, along with the occasional white crocus.

A few days later, these crocuses which tend more toward the pink side of the purple spectrum pop up.

I plan to plant more crocuses, specifically C. tommasinianus, in the lawn  in the fall, to increase the amount in bloom and stay ahead of the squirrels who like to dig them up.

These crocuses are not alone in the garden.

The witchhazel, Hamamelis vernalis, is in full bloom as well.
It has a lovely scent but you have to get right up to the blooms to smell it.

Nearby, the Christmas Rose, Helleborus niger, is also blooming.
It's like a bit of Christmas decoration that I never got around to putting away last month.

What else is blooming?

The snowdrops, of course.
I do like them but they are tiny and I don't have enough of them. They come up in singles and doubles here and there but would be much nicer in drifts, don't you think? I'll add a few dozen to my next bulb order which I'll place as soon as the bulb vendors start taking them.

I may also add another favorite to my order, Iris reticulata.

Yes, the first Iris, Iris reticulata, just opened up in time for me to share it on bloom day.
I'm hoping soon it will be joined by the hundreds of other reticulated irises I've planted over the years, mostly in the front garden.

What's blooming in your garden on this lovely February day? Please join us for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and show us.

It is easy to participate and all are welcome. Just post on your blog around the 15th of the month about the blooms in your garden, then leave a link in the Mr. Linky widget below and add a comment to tell us what you've got to show us. As your hostess, I intend to visit each and every one of your gardens, via your blog posts, in the next few days.

And remember always and every year since the first post in February 2007, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year.” ~ Elizabeth Lawrence