Saturday, March 24, 2012

Back to Reality

We really did enjoy those few days with temperatures in the mid-twenties, but now we are back to the real spring. Well below freezing last night and a cold wind blowing today. The sun seems like a moot point.
We did a few outdoor things in the last few days.
Bill started his annual rake up the sticks campaign. It is truly amazing how many branches from birch trees can be deposited here and there.
I did the usual massacre of the grape vines....such a waste of time, since they really don't do much anyway. One PeeGee hydrangea got pruned. These pruning jobs seem like a safe way to get at some outdoor jobs.
Bill has eyed some black knot in the plum trees , so that will need attention very soon.
The spring blooming Heaths are blooming. We have very few. One quite large patch of pink and a little bit of a white one. If they had ID's , they are long gone.

It was cool enough yesterday that the crocus had gone back to sleep.
The snowdrops don't seem to mind the vagaries of these spring days, They continue to pop up everywhere.
Since it is forecast to remain quite cold for the next week or so, I expect it is time to get some seeds started under lights. This is usually the week I start peppers, parsley, basil and celeriac.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Spring 2012, DAY2

We are enjoying these few days of beautiful warm weather, even though the long range forecast is for below average temperatures for most of the next two weeks.
The first crocus made their appearance today. They are a little group of C. tricolor that are in the bed just beside the house.

This group of snowdrops have popped up in the middle of the lawn.

All this warmth stimulated me to do a bit of reorganizing and cleaning up of the rather messy sun porch. Our overwintered plants really think spring has come with new growth and swelling buds the norm.
I did quite a serious cutback of some Buddleia that spent the winter inside. Perhaps Bill will persuade some of the cuttings to grow. There is a branch from a lanky young Bay Tree , as well. They can join those that are downstairs under lights.

I seem to have one large Rosemary plant that has survived for several years. Getting newer plants to survive being brought indoors to the sun porch has been an exercise in futility.
This is one of our "cloned" Blue Heaven rhodies, which did not get planted in the garden last season. Guess a bit of repotting and a later planting is in order. The new growth will emerge long before it is safe to put this outside. No telling if we can persuade two bursts of growth.

We also have several tissue culture plants that have been with us for a couple of years. There are two lovely little Pieris compacta, which will inevitably put forth their new growth while still indoors.

There are several pots of seedling Hellebores which we need to transplant. These have been having an identity crisis, since they look very different from most hellebores. They were from the ARHS Seed Exchange last year #089 H. argutifolius We have also determined they may not be the hardiest of the genus either.
There are a couple of other pots that have some sprouts from another seed lot ARHS2011#90 H. foetidus ex 'Wester Flisk' , which have been pretty slow to germinate. 
We received a package from Lindenberg Seeds today with a bag of three nice Begonia tubers.(Double Pink). We have other things on order which will be along in due course. 

The seeds arrived several weeks ago. I expect it is just about time to get some of those started, as well.
The cats have been enjoying the sunshine and are getting into their in & out routine.
This is Ringo relaxing.
All in all, a pleasant day with not much snow in sight!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring 2012, day one.

Spring is here with a vengence, the temperatures are in the high teens and snow is retreating about as fast as it could. 

The fresh snowfall we had last Thursday is nicely disappearing.
Going for a walk all the way to the back garden still requires a bit of caution.
I took the less steep route, not really wanting to slither downhill in an undignified fashion. 

The little Witch Hazel bushes are in bloom. They are seedlings of H. mollis, and while not overly flambuoyant are pleasantly fragrant.

 Snowdrops are in bloom, but no crocus color just yet. It is always interesting to see just how quickly they pop up after the snow retreats.

Our purple Hellebores will be quite awhile and the other groups are still snowy. 

The pond is usually full at this time of year, still lots of ice.

The sun was bright and the rhododendron leaves were very shiny. It doesn't appear there was any amount of winter damage, although I spotted some leaf tip burn on a new plant near the pine trees. 
The "Bear Cubs" are looking quite happy in spite of their snowy surroundings.

This is a small R. dauricum seedling which will among the first to bloom. They will gradually lose their dark purply winter color.