spring has sprung

Like just about everywhere else, spring has come very early to this neck of the woods. Our winter was extremely mild and most of March we’ve had temperatures in the 70s and 80s. It’s ridiculous! Kind of nice, but I miss the transitional weather. I’m a fan of temps in the mid-50s to mid-60s and while we had quite a few days in that range during the so-called winter, I hope next year we have a more traditional spring season.

The first week of March, all my Crocus came up and most of them bloomed almost immediately.

crocus in the front garden

Eventually I would like this entire front border of the garden/yard to be filled with early bloomers. It’s still a little sparse, but they do multiply every year, so I’ll get there eventually.

crocus in the front garden

There was an ant crawling around inside this bloom:

crocus in the front garden

Early onset BUGS is definitely a side effect of this weird-ass weather. There were HUGE swarms of gnats out the other night as I was taking photographs. They were everywhere! Ewwwwww.

By the second week of March, all the Crocus were up and blooming:

early blooms in the front garden

as were other early bloomers like Reticulated Iris:

early blooms in the front garden

and Siberian Squill (which wasn’t quite blooming yet as of this photo):

early blooms in the front garden

Even though the winter was mild, it was wintery enough to destroy the mini gargoyles I accidentally left out.

what remains of the gargoyle I left out all winter

OOPS. I have a little bit of clean-up left to get all the tiny pieces picked up. That’s what I get from leaving a dollar store item out in the elements, I suppose! As an aside, the chopstick I accidentally left out (used for helping Blythe stand up) was completely unblemished.

The second week of March I started picking up leaf mulch from the garden. It’s really early to do this, but I couldn’t help but want to be out in the garden, and I thought it seemed worth risking. Some of the early bloomers were having trouble poking through all the leaves (I put them on a little too heavy in some spots) and I wanted to free them.

There were also a number of plants starting to sprout under the leaves and it was so neat to see them all green (or in some cases all white due to lack of exposure to the sun – even neater! I love science.) when I unburied them.

Here are some Lamb’s Ears ‘Helene Von Stein’ in the process of being uncovered:

front garden second week of March

and a week or so later:

front garden

By this, the third week of March, the Purple Wintercreeper is going crazy-go-nuts! It budded out earlier in the month and now it’s been growing super fast. It’s really filling in under the red maple tree this year:

under the red maple

The Poppy Anemones are starting to almost bloom now, too.

poppy anemone

The Sedum is sprouting, too. I just adore the way this stuff looks at all stages.

Stonecrop 'Munstead Red'

Even with last year’s now-not-so-gorgeous growth sticking out, I still like it.

Stonecrop 'Munstead Red'

The Artemisia is coming back, too:

Artemisia 'Powis Castle'

I have a few different varieties in the front garden. That one is ‘Powis Castle’ and it’s one of my favorite plants. The ‘Silver Mound’ is also coming up all over (I have it throughout the front garden):

front garden

(That Lavender needs a haircut!)

The Vinca is blooming, too:

Periwinkle Vinca

The blossoms on this plant may be tiny, but they are stunning! I feel like these photos look ‘shopped for color enhancement, but they aren’t. The flower color is just that intense!

Periwinkle Vinca

The Russian Sage is also sprouting teeny tiny leaves!

Russian Sage 'Filigran'

Are those not adorable?

It doesn’t look like a whole lot at this stage, but the garden is really coming along.

front garden

I think that this year I will have more fully or near-fully developed plants than babies, for the first time. I’m really excited to see how it progresses through the next few months!

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cambra!

So I invested in a new camera recently: a DSLR! It’s a Canon EOS Digital Rebel XS, and it was featured on Woot! so I was able to get quite a good deal. Hooray!

I’m still learning how to use it – just beginning to learn how, really. We’ve had such a warm winter thus far, I was able to take some photos out in the garden without even getting cold.

back garden

I clearly didn’t ever finish cleaning up in the gardens this fall – there are still weeds out there, but at least some of them are interesting to look at.

back garden

It’s been ridiculous how little snow we’ve had, and how many warm days. The grass, crabby and uneven as it is, would usually be protected somewhat in winter. Instead, we are constantly tracking in pieces of dead grass and there are lots of little muddy spots throughout the back yard. I haven’t decided yet what action we’ll take in the spring. We’ve contemplated having it re-sodded, but I am so loathe to spend such a lot of money on something as lame as grass.

back garden

The Coreopsis looks pretty even when it’s dead!

back garden

The purple wintercreeper is really looking nice on the ugly back fence. Hopefully by next year it’ll be all filled in, but at least what’s there is purple and lovely.

back garden

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germination propagation reutilization

So, I started a buttload of seeds last winter, and a number of them failed to germinate. I think that I need to add a heat mat to my setup and that I’ll have better luck next year.

It took me awhile to remember to bring the non-germinated seed pots upstairs, and when I did I set them on the patio coffee table, meaning to take them to the compost pile eventually.

Then I was out with Coraline a few days later and realized that the Purple Wintercreeper was getting wild again and thought – hey! I can use these pots to propagate some cuttings. That stuff takes super easily – I’ve often just put cuttings right into the ground with good results.

Then while I was putting the cuttings in, I noticed that some of the pots actually have seedlings starting to grow! The rain and heat they’ve been exposed to outside was enough to start them growing, I guess. I’ll take it!

seed-starting

seed-starting

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Gardening Step by Step

Gardening Step by StepOne of the areas in which I would like to develop my gardening knowledge is pruning. I have pruned some things, like Purple Wintercreeper, which are seemingly unkillable and are pretty much fine with being pruned in whatever way I choose. This book has a lot of instruction for pruning, though, as well as the reasons behind the choices one should be making while pruning. I especially need to follow the photo guide to pruning lavender. Check out my post at CPL for more about this book.

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first clean-up of spring

Last week we had some of the first warm days of the season and I couldn’t resist getting out to clean up some of the leaf mulch on the perennial gardens.

There were a number of tulips sprouting through leaves in the Red Maple Garden. I also chopped off the stupid unkillable yucca and noticed that the cuttings of Purple Wintercreeper I put in here the year before last are finally getting nicely established. This garden is a haven for weeds, so I’d really like the wintercreeper to take over and fill in so that the weeds can’t get enough sun to survive.

red maple garden

I also cleared out leaves from the Driveway-Side Garden. There was SO MUCH leaf mulch here! I think the wind must have helped more leaves to stick in this area because the mulch was far thicker than I would have thought. I think next year I am going to invest in a pressure washer.

driveway side garden

I moved a buttload of stuff into the really skinny part of this (the part at the bottom of the photo above) last year, but most of it was random bulbs that I couldn’t exactly identify, so I’m not sure what-all is in here now. I’m guessing grape hyacinth and that sort of thing.

Further up toward the garage, there’s lots of good stuff getting ready to grow. Sedum of some kind, for one:

sedum sprouting

I’m not sure if this is the Munstead Red that I got on clearance at Lowe’s a few years ago, or some unidentified sedum that a freecycler gave me. One of my goals for this year is to make better notes about what’s growing where so I can better identify things.

I didn’t snap a larger picture view of the Tiny Driveway Fence Garden, but something is coming up in it! This is a seriously tiny space – hardly large enough to count as a garden, but it’s dirt! So I’m claiming it. Weeds want to grow there, so therefore I can take it over and make something pretty grow there instead. There is fence on either side of the gate to the backyard, and I’ve planted random things here to see what succeeds. It gets an odd amount of sun (and not even from one end of the fence to the other) so it’s kind of a crapshoot. Whatever this is coming up, it’s pretty-looking so far.

sprouting

I think that these are the daffodils (‘Quail’) that I planted last year – I haven’t grown daffodils myself before, but my mom used to have them, and I think these look daffodil-ish. ?

sprouting

As you can see in that photo, I didn’t clean up ALL the leaves, just most of them. I’ve also started to make a real effort to pick out all the stupid tiny pebbles from the Driveway-Side Garden. At some point someone must have had it filled in with river rock and then did an exceedingly poor job of removing it. They keep emerging from the soil (which is actually fairly decent, pebbles aside)! For now I’m gathering them in old plant containers and maybe will find a use for them, or a new home, at least.

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all things seem possible in May

It has been another gorgeous weekend and I spent as much time as possible out in the yard. The tulips are blooming out front.

tulips

black tulips

tulips

There are more tulips than last year, so they’re spreading a little, but I would love for them to multiply even faster. I may end up investing in more bulbs in the fall – we’ll see.

I also spent a little time removing the handful of dandelions that had sprouted in the front mulch (former front lawn). I’ve pretty much decided that there’s no need to till the front and that it’ll be easier to keep weeds out if I just dig holes for the perennials I’ll be planting. It will avoid disturbing any latent weed seeds, at least. I did pick out a number of maple seedlings that had fallen from the red and silver maple trees out front. That’s a battle that won’t be ending anytime soon.

red maple and silver maple

In the primary veg bed, I was doing some weeding and discovered that there are a bunch of what I believe are tomato seedlings sprouting up from where I let a couple of errant tomatoes lie over the winter.

could these be tomato seedlings?

There are several of these little clumps. I had no idea the seeds would even have the possibility of germinating, especially after the semi-harsh winter we had. This will change the layout of the garden slightly, but I’m going with it!

Lastly, I noticed two awesome things: (1) the blueberry bush I planted last year is sprouting!

last year's blueberry bush, sprouting

It never really thrived last year, and the birds ate most of the few berries it produced before I could get to them. I thought it was a goner and didn’t expect it to come back. I saw these leaves budding out and could almost hear it pleading, “I’m not dead yet!

And (2): the purple wintercreeper on the back fence is taking!

purple wintercreeper

I put in a ton of cuttings last year and had pretty much given up hope of any of them actually growing, but several of the ones I put in the back corner have a bunch of new growth. Woot! I haven’t picked out the rest of the cuttings from last fall, just in case they end up growing, and today I trimmed some of the uber-exuberant growth on the main planting bed of wintercreeper and put some more cuttings by the back fence. I will not give up on covering up the ugly fence with something!

More photos at Flickr, of course.

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sunny Monday

It was another gorgeous day today, by all indications of the tons of things that are growing and blooming around the house (I have to trust these signs because I was in the office all day and didn’t see it for myself).

This fritillaria popped up out of nowhere today! I mean, I know it was there, but it showed no signs of being anywhere near ready to bloom yesterday.

fritillaria

Remember the purple wintercreeper that was budding out the other day?

purple wintercreeper

Well, it’s gone N.V.T.S. nuts!

purple wintercreeper

There are also tulips galore in the front flower bed.

tulips

tulips

tulip

tulip

Yay, spring!

More photos on Flickr.

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fresh air

It was supposed to rain all day today but it’s been gorgeous out – the sun is shining and it’s in the mid-60s. Figures, since I’m sick and not feeling up to doing much more than sitting around. I decided to make a short trip out to breathe some fresh air and take some photos of things that are growing.

The purple wintercreeper is budding (and turning green, as it should).

purple wintercreeper budding

I don’t know what this is. It sprouted in the big veg garden, which would lead me to believe that it’s a weed, but it doesn’t look like any of the weeds I’m familiar with.

mystery thing in the veg garden

I’m not sure what this is, either. It’s coming up in the flower bed next to the driveway, where I planted a whole crapload of random stuff last year. I’m sure it’s one of those things but I can’t identify it yet.

something coming up in the drive-side bed

These are coming up in the veg bed next to the fence in the back yard. I think they’re lilies, so I am not sure why they’re in the veg bed, but I can always move them later. If anyone can identify them, I’ll appreciate it.

are these lilies?

And for today’s awww moment, here’s a tulip sprouting.

tulip heart

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