Wednesday, April 30, 2014

When the Best Laid Plans Don't Account for Snow Plows

It's the end of April, and the bulbs are in full bloom at last, woohoo!

Finally at the end of April my daffodils are in bloom
Even though it is still rather chilly outside, there are so many blooms out there in the garden that it warms this gardener's heart!  Honestly, though, I was really quite surprised to see so many different blooms at one time...

Tulip 'Flair' and Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation'
You see, last summer after I had moved and was between gardens, I did what any such gardener would do:  I meticulously planned what I was going to put in my new garden.  While waiting to close on our house, I poured over catalogues, made lists of what flowers would bloom when, and lived off the dream of a grand succession of blooms that would stretch throughout as much of the year as possible!

Grape Hyacinth labeled bloom time: Early/Mid Spring
For my fall bulb planting I ordered a variety of bulbs that had different bloom times, starting with the earliest possible blooming ones.  In North Carolina, I had had daffodils blooming in January, so surely, I thought, something would be blooming by March in Massachusetts, right?

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' labeled bloom time: Winter/Early Spring
Well, maybe they would have... 
except I didn't take into account was where all the snow gets put in the winter up here in the North.  Snow plows and the snowblower pile all the extra snow from the roads right next to the street and driveway, and guess where I planted all my early bulbs?

Narcissus 'Jetfire' labeled bloom time: Early/Mid Spring
Planted in the mailbox garden next to the road
Needless to say, in March, instead of beds full of early blooming daffodils, what I had were huge piles of snow left from all the snow plows.  And those huge piles of snow took a veeeerrrry loooonng time to melt!

Tulip 'Flare' labeled bloom time: Early/Mid Spring
But now finally in April the snow piles have all melted and my bulbs have come up.  I am so delighted to see all the flowers after the long winter -  however, I am rather surprised that, instead of the grand succession of different blooms that I planned...
my early bulbs and my later bulbs are up and blooming all at once!   

Narcissus 'Rijnveld's Early Sensation' labeled bloom time: Winter/Early Spring.
Narcissus 'Golden Echo' labeled bloom time: Mid Spring.
So much for the six different successive waves of blooms that I planned.  For once in my life I get uncharacteristically organized, make lists and plan things, but it's still blooming chaos in the garden anyway!

Narcissus 'Thalia' labeled bloom time: Mid/Late Spring
The piles of snow delayed the early bulbs so much that I now have bulbs that were supposed to start blooming in Winter flowering at the same time as bulbs labeled Mid to Late Spring.  Ah, the best laid plans!

Don't these plants know that they are supposed to bloom in an order?!
Well I have now learned my first lesson as a Northern gardener - note to self: consider snow management when planning the garden! 

Though I do think that gardens are always variable and full of surprises no matter how much planning we do.  We as gardeners just usually do our best to roll with the flow and manage the chaos - then we get to enjoy the beauty of our efforts, no matter what is blooming when!  

Hyacinth labeled bloom time: Early/Mid Spring
Aren't these beautiful? 
Next year, though, I think I shall plant some early bulbs a little further away from the road.

Happy Spring to all you gardeners out there!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bad Easter Bunny

Dear Easter Bunny,
Every year I have welcomed your presence despite the sugar comas and unnecessary calories you have added to our lives.  I usually even enjoy your coming, as my kids do love the fun and candy you bring.

But was this really necessary?

half-eaten tulip plants
You obviously decided to take a snack break right in my garden.  With my tulips.

Don't look so smug, rabbit.
I know you work hard on Easter and that my tulips probably looked like bunny candy to you, but really?  Isn't that against the holiday spirit or something?

I doubt these will bloom now..
Next year, dear Easter bunny, I think you owe me some flower bulbs for my Easter basket.  In fact, I think I would prefer that to candy anyway!  And in return, I have lots of nice, yummy weeds that you are more than welcome to nibble on along the way.  

Help yourself to all the dandelions and crabgrass you want - but stay away from my tulips!
p.s.  My kids probably still want candy.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I Didn't Want to Start Weeding Anyway

Well, it's finally arrived!  After much waiting, spring has finally decided to make an entrance here in Massachusetts - trees are budding, bulbs are emerging, and the first bloom has finally been spotted in my garden!

And what is the first flower to bloom at the Red House Garden? 
It is....
a weed!

Well, beggars sure can't be choosers after such a long winter.  I'll take anything.  
Even a weed.

Thankfully, however, not long after the Coltsfoot weed in my yard started blooming, I did get a few real garden blooms.  

The diminutive early Crocus 'Spring Beauty' has started blooming.  These tiny Crocuses are so pretty and a little more unusual looking due to the dark feathering on their outer petals.

My favorite flowers blooming in the garden right now, though, are not what most people think of as flowers.

The soft, fuzzy catkins of my Pussy Willows have emerged.  Catkins are actually thin, long clusters of flowers that have either no petals or very inconspicuous ones.  

a catkin on a Pussy Willow
I have loved Pussy Willows ever since I was a kid, and I was thrilled to find them growing wild in my yard.

And it looks like I am not the only one!

To find out what else is blooming in other people's gardens around the world, visit Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day over at May Dreams Gardens blog!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Calling All North American Gardeners - Help!

If you want to keep seeing this:

Monarch butterfly
you are going to need this:

Monarch laying eggs
Help our Monarchs make babies...

a baby Monarch
plant Milkweed!

one type of milkweed - Asclepias tuberosa
As the population of Monarchs dwindles severely, the great migration of the Monarchs is in serious danger of becoming extinct. 

area of land occupied by Monarchs at their overwintering sites in Mexico
source - Monarch Joint Venture 
The Monarchs have taken a battering on all sides.  Harsh weather and habitat loss have led to record low numbers of these beautiful butterflies in North America. 

While we have no control over the weather, we can plant Milkweed in order to help the monarchs as much as possible! 

Milkweed is especially critical in the Great Plains regions.  With the rise of corn prices (due in part to the government mandate of adding ethanol to gasoline), millions of acres of grasslands have now been converted to Corn and Soybean farms.  

Furthermore, these large farms are switching to the new varieties that are genetically engineered to tolerate herbicides (such as Roundup Ready Corn).  The spraying of herbicides has eliminated the milkweed that used to sprout up in and around the crops - and thus eliminated much of the breeding ground for Monarchs.

Monarch laying eggs on Milkweed
So calling all North American gardeners - especially you all in the Great Plains region!

Let's do what we can to save the migration...

and hopefully not witness the end of an era.

Milkweed comes in a variety of colors, and there are Milkweeds for just about every type of garden, from dry to swampy.
Here are just a few online sources for Milkweed seeds and plants:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

An Indian Garden

Well, here in my garden the snow has finally melted away and the sun has come out.  Even though we got a brief flurry yesterday, the overall temps are slowly rising, and the sight of bulb tips rising out of the ground is enough to give this winter-weary gardener a cause for celebration!

While I wait for temperatures to rise enough for gardening to begin in earnest, I thought I'd share pictures of a garden in southern India.  Last fall we visited Mr. Red House's grandparents in Bangalore, and his grandmother has a beautiful, lush garden filled with tropical plants.

There were many plants I couldn't identify, not being as familiar with tropical plants.  The impressive specimen that anchors the corner of the yard has now been identified as a Sago Palm (thanks to Linda from Southern Rural Route!)

an overhead view
The nearby flower stalks of Heleconia (thanks, Usha, for identifying these!) were very pretty and exotic.

In the shady front yard a vine with small white flowers climbs along the wall.  A bench under the mature tree in the corner is a nice place to sit and enjoy the cooler shade.  The focal point, though, is the striking decorative planter which holds a Holy Basil plant (thanks again, Usha, for correctly identifying that one!)

If you look closely, you can see patterns drawn in chalk on the cement around the planter, a practice common in India.

To the side of the house is a small courtyard is lined with crotons and flowering shrubs.

My favorite plant held sprays of small white, freckled flowers, that the butterflies enjoyed.

A larger shrub (possibly Ixora?) held bunches of interesting red and orange flowers.

They have several fruit trees, including a coconut palm tree.  On another occasion when we were in India, they had a guy climb it and throw down some coconuts for us to eat.  It was impressive to see the guy climb the tree - he climbed it so quickly and with no safety ropes of any kind!  The coconut milk and meat were delicious.

There were a variety of hibiscus shrubs in the garden.  (Those I recognized!)

My favorite was a graceful pale pink variety, whose flowers never open, but instead stay whirled around the center stalk.  (Thank you to Usha, who I should hire as my tropical plant expert, for identifying these as a Turk's cap variety!)

Mr. Red House's grandmother also had a similar one in red.

Right next to one of the doors grew a large Hibiscus mutabilis shrub, whose flowers only last for one day, but slowly change their color from white in the morning... dark pink by the afternoon.

Many of the flowers they would cut in the mornings to float in bowls of water or to place in their prayer room.  However, even if they cut all of the flowers, the garden would still never be without color with the profusion of colorful foliage in it.

colorful Croton leaves
It was so much fun to visit a garden with such different plants than mine.  Bangalore is known as the 'Garden City' of India.  Many of the streets are lined with flowering trees, and it is so lush and green there, that it is easy to see why!

auto rickshaw turning into the driveway
Happy spring gardening!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...