Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Nosing towards April

This almost last day of March is wonderfully mild after a few very cold, snowy days. The snowdrops are looking a lot happier than they were a few days ago!
Most of the recent new snow has disappeared and hopefully the forthcoming rain will be warm enough to remove the remaining patches.
The edges of several beds in the back garden are still snowy.
Navigation down those hilly areas is still a bit tricky.
It would seem to be a rather "nosey" type of day.
I was surprised to see the Crown Imperial Fritillaria poking through. Also a few Allium....they seem to pop up everywhere!
The rhubarb always looks ready to proceed.
There are quite a few patches of crocus brightening up the day, with many more still in the "nosey" stage.
The winter appears to have been quite kind to all of the rhododendrons and other evergreen plants.
These little plants in the Oak bed have come through unscathed, as have the Janet Blair/ pachysanthum plants in the Holland bed. Some of them often get some winter burn.
The first of this season's seeds got planted yesterday. We will have to get back in the "checking under the lights" mode.
It has been a bit of a toss-up whether Bill would rack off blueberry wine or go out to do a bit of raking.
The trees have deposited vast quantities of debris in various parts of the yard.

Friday, March 19, 2010

First Foray into the Garden this Almost Spring Day

Two or more weeks of functional spring-like weather has meant the emergence of a few of our harbingers of spring.

Even though the untrodden path of snow presents itself....Dog, cat and I took a little stroll.

The brightest of the bright as far as crocuses are concerned are these C. ancyrensis. They literally scream sunshine! It is always interesting to see the foliage and blooms literally emerging from the snow. As soon as snow leaves, shoots and blooms take its place. In spite of the progress, this part of the veggie garden looks pretty far behind. No garlic shoots to admire just yet. Voodie has found a lovely spot under a patch of rhodies.
The furry buds of the Magnolias are waiting for warmer weather before shrugging off their furry coats...a good plan, no doubt.
Looking back upon the now "trodden" path.
The little patch near the house has the earliest warm up of anywhere, so it is common to se these little violet crocus popping up as soon as the snow leaves. The cats enjoy lolling in the remnants of the Catmint after a long winter.
This seems to be an early start for this patch of purple Hellebore in the front garden. Even the foliage is in quite good shape. Some springs it will be black.
Colour showing on the buds will likely not progress too much for awhile.
Just lifting ones head from these buds and looking across the rest of the front garden shows why those Hellebores on the other side won't soon be putting in an appearance!
Tomorrow is the first day of official spring....looks like we are ready!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Fun with Rhododendrons

This winter we have accessed a site from The Netherlands called hirsutum.info which has been providing a gradual compilation of information on a very large number of rhododendron hybrids, species, azalea and other "rhodie cousins".
Anyone can access the basic information.  There is an option to sign in to create an account where you can compile a "My Garden" area. Here you may choose from the database the variety you choose and add your own info wrt acquisition, sources, number of plants, where it grows and so on. 
Each entry will then be accessible and editable. There are images for many varieties included in the database.
One can easily submit information if a variety we own is not in the database.
Images are also accepted . One can choose to have a "personal" image attached to your entry or one that existed already.
A recent addition to the info was the inclusion of bloom period. Grabbing the inclusive dates of bloom from 2009 proved to need quite a bit of approximation.
I rely upon pictures of plants to show the bloom period. An image taken at the colourful bud stage gives quite a good indication of the start time. This image of the buds of 'Red River'  looked like this June19th....a fairly good "beginning".
Finding another that is near the end hasn't always been so easy. This pic was taken at the "full bloom" stage on July7th. Adding a few days to that date is, I hope, a fair approximation.
Currently there is a space to add bloom time for the upcoming 2010 bloom season.
Perhaps this will be an incentive to actually keep better records....either image wise or as an entry in a computer file. 
I do expect I am not the only one who doesn't juduciously record the precise start and end date for their rhododendrons and azaleas!
Currently there are a number of "My Garden" contributions from both North America and Europe. Some have quite a lot of additions, some very few.
It has been very easy to transfer the basic info  for each plant submitted to an excel file which can easily be added to. I look forward to a comparison of the back to back years.
On the hirsutum site, any entry where someone has entered bloom dates shows the average number of days and how many contributions led to that number.
Since these bits of data come from growers all over the world, one would expect quite a range.
There are many websites with a lot of of information about rhododendrons and azaleas. This one seems appealing because it is somewhat interactive.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Marching towards Spring

This is the first beautiful sunny day we have had in awhile. It seems possible spring might not be too far off. With temperatures just above freezing, the sap should be flowing today. The fine folks at Sugar Moon Farm in Earltown are likely "in business".
All in all this winter has not been too onerous.
February really went by without huge wintry incidents and temperatures were quite mild.
Seed orders have been sent off and actually received in some instances. This winter we have not had any seedlings on the go, so a spring start will have to do.
We have been quite busy getting the first round of seed orders for The Atlantic Rhododendron & Horticultural Soc. packaged up. and mailed out. The 2010 Seed Exchange is now open to the public, and will be until ~April30, 2010.
The list has been updated to show any items that are sold out.
Magnolias have been very popular this year.
We still have not been able to get Highspeed internet service, so have been going along at our usual snail's pace. Being in a "signal hole" is not a nice thing.
We had quite long periods when the heavy snow and ice crept off the roof in an approximation of an avalanche. 
Every once in awhile there would be a roar as large pieces fell. The chickadees were always in an ice shadow. 
The remnants have been melting a bit day by day. Quite big icicles are there now. There hasn't been a day warm enough for the whole bulk to fall.