Thursday, April 24, 2014

Dismembering Dorothy and Other Pursuits

Lest anyone think our title a bit macabre, we are referring to the radical pruning of our rambler rose 'Dorothy Perkins', She is a very vigorous rose which blooms profusely towards the end of July.

Some years there will be substantial winter damage resulting in the need for severe cutback. This task is not the most inspiring of garden jobs, but gets done with quite a lot of prickles and muttering as to "WHY" we grow roses!
Dorothy grows on both our front and back arbors. The back arbor was tackled April 23rd. Looking down to the arbor, she is(was) on the left side.

There is another vigorous rambler on the right side, which has also been a bit out of control the last year or two. I removed some portions of this rose , but fear I have not gained control....yet.
Gardening on a ladder is not something I commonly need to do, but do expect I will need to use that approach another day.

This whole procedure was further complicated by the fact that there are several clematis sharing the arbor space on the lower side. Once the rose canes were removed, we're left with a bit of a tangle of clematis stems. I think there will be an unceremonious haircut go on here. Perhaps not the recommended approach to spring clematis care. I guess they will bounce back. Their usual blooming time may be delayed.
Both the roses and the clematis had overwhelmed a pink azalea growing in that bed. It hasn't died, except for one side. I cut off the dead parts, so hopefully it might replace a bit this growing season once it sees the light of day. It is not our best azalea, but is usually quite pretty.

The last several days have been reasonably good ones for garden work.
Each spring we have the inevitable clean up of fallen sticks and branches, plus some amount of debris that wasn't cleared in the fall. Bill has made valiant efforts in the clean up; with many wagon loads of debris getting carried away.
I have made a start on the spring pruning. Some of the shrub roses in the front have had a cut back. Some of the hydrangeas are done, but there are more to do.
This spring has shown more signs of vole/mouse/mole activity than we have seen in many years. There has been excavation going on around many plants in many parts of the garden. It isn't apparent whether any amount of damage has occurred, but it might not be for lack of trying.
We are hoping the creatures found sufficient bulbs to munch on and didn't eat the roots of anything useful.
After a less than inspiring task, a walk about to appreciate the many little spring bulbs seemed in order.
The Glory of the Snow have just started, but the crocus and snowdrops have been with us since the snow left.

The crocus seem to be providing pollen for the honey bees. I am glad we have lots so they can get their spring underway. It is heartening to see them out and about.

I took a little video of some bees in action.
We are having a cold, wet day so gardening efforts will have to resume tomorrow or the next day.
We have decided to participate in the ARHS member-to- member sale in Halifax, May 6th, so we have made a suggested list of plants available to members. We have received quite a few requests, so tomorrow we will have to check that the suggested numbers are available. Time to dig out labels and hope they are still legible. It is a good time to rewrite some as well. The limitation of fitting plants in our car to make the Halifax trip necessitates the pre-ordering.
Digging out overwintered plants from the ditch and an area near the manure pile is a job that needs to be done in the next few days.
We never run out of things to do, sometimes just the energy.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Spring seems to be here

Spring was very tardy this year. Ignoring the calendar seemed the best approach. This last week we were blessed with a Nova Scotia version of a Chinook. Three days of strong, warm, southerly winds coupled with some rain succeeded in removing most of our miserable remnants of snow. Both daytime and nighttime temperatures were well above the norm.
As in usual springs, the minute the snow recedes there are flowers waiting to bloom. Snowdrops and crocus were ready. We saw honey bees from next door which bodes well.

The annual walk to the far back garden didn't happen until April 14th. Our Witch Hazel may have been blooming for some time, but we didn't get to see and smell  it until that day. It would be a lot smarter to have that plant closer to the house!
Enjoy the discovery

There is still quite a lot of ice on the pond plus cool temperature means we haven't heard any Spring Peppers yet.
The spring seedlings are pretty well doing their normal thing. Peppers, petunias, parsley, basil, salvia and a few others have sprouted  and been transplanted. Tomatoes and Impatiens are just coming up. The Begonia grandis and regular tuberous Begonias are planted . We ordered  a few new Begonias this year. Some of the old ones seem very poor. It doesn't take long to fill up the three shelves of my planting cabinet. The overflow will migrate to Bill's units, since he doesn't have as many plants as some years.
The sun porch off the kitchen actually got a bit of a clean up one day, as well. The overwintering plants there will hopefully be able to go outside quite soon.
Bill got the tractor going on Saturday, so he will be anxious to have some warmish days to do outdoor work. The annual "pick -up-sticks" is looming.

We have decided not to have our Spring Plant Sale this year; or at least not the regular public version.
We do hope to do a bit of a survey to find out what plants we would really like to find homes for and invite gardeners in our "domain" to order some. It will be quite a truncation of our usual plant list. Perhaps our energy and priority shift will benefit the garden. There are always many tasks that seem to get postponed.