Climate Confusion

It is mid-February, and we have experienced temperature swings from the high 20s F to the low 70s F in less than two weeks! We’ve also had a LOT of rain. My garden is so confused, as are all the gardens in my neighborhood. Winter blossoms are still flowering (hellebores, mahonias, winter annuals like violas, pansies, dianthus, sweet alyssum), spring bulbs are opening (hello, daffodils!), and confused vines, shrubs, and trees that normally flower in March have decided to start blossoming early (Coral Bells azaleas, Clematis armandii, and Magnolia soulangeana).

Clematis armandii in bloom, March 2019
Clematis armandii, mid-March 2019.

 

Of them all, the only ones that I fear will suffer from the upcoming frost are the saucer magnolias, whose fragrant pink flowers will likely turn brown and drop. So sad, as they are one of my favorite trees and they scent the air with an incomparable fragrance! I hope some of the magnolias in my neighborhood will hold off long enough to provide abundant blossoms after next weekend, when we expect another frost. I don’t (yet) have a saucer magnolia in my own garden, but if/when I plant one, I will try to choose a later-blooming variety as well as a more compact one. Any suggestions?

Blossoming pink saucer magnolia
Magnolia soulangeana; mid-March 2019.

Daffodils, overnight!

Cicely Mary Barker, The Daffodil Fairy, www.flowerfairies.com

We had a very warm couple of days but then the weather turned gray, gloomy and cold again, with only a sprinkle of snowdrops and one lone narcissus up to prove that I had in fact labored long and hard to plant dozens of new bulbs for this spring. Imagine my delight, then, when I got up this morning to find three whole patches of early daffodils in bloom!

I love daffodils — they may be my favorite flower, inching ahead of hyacinths, roses, and even lilies of the valley. I’m always so happy to see their brightness against what still looks like a wintry, though snow-free, landscape. Do you have bulbs coming up yet? What are your favorites?

Featured image: The Daffodil Fairy, by Cicely Mary Barker.

More Signs of Spring

Blooms of lily of the valley or muguet

The first lily of the valley blooms have emerged in my garden, in the last days of March. I love lilies of the valley but they can be hard to grow here in Zone 7, so I’m delighted that these have decided to return. They emit one of my favorite fragrances, the inimitable “muguet“.  Do you grow lilies of the valley? When do they emerge in your garden?

Saturday Snippet: “Transplanting”

Assortment of dry flower bulbs.

I don’t post nearly as many Saturday Snippets as I used to; that was something I started when I was housebound, healing from a broken shoulder and unable to garden. But I have just discovered a poem, “Transplanting”, by Lee Ann Roripaugh, and it took my breath away, especially the fourth section:

4. Dalmatian
There is an art to this. To shish
kebab the varnished pit of avocado
on three toothpicks above a pickle jar
of cool water, tease down the pale
thirsty hairs of root until one sinewy
arm punches up and unclenches its green
fisted hand, palm open, to the sun.
To discern the oniony star-struck
subterfuge of bulbs, their perverse
desires, death-like sleeps, and conspire
behind the scenes to embroider
the Elizabethan ruffles and festoons
of their flamboyant resurrections.
To trick the tomatoes into letting down
their swelling, tumescent orbs
in the cottony baked heat of the attic
until their sunburnt faces glow
like round orange lanterns under
the crepuscular twilight of the eaves.
Unwrapping the cuttings of succulents
from their moist, paper-towel bandages,
and snugging them down into firm
dimples of dirt and peat, coaxing up
the apple-green serpentine coils of sweet
pea with a snake charmer’s song to wind
around the trellis and flicker their quick
pink-petaled tongues. The tender slips
of mint, sueded upturned bells of petunia,
and slim fingers of pine that pluck
the metal window screen like a tin harp
by the breakfast nook where my father
stirs his morning coffee and waits
for the neighbors’ Dalmatian to hurl
itself over the back fence and hang,
limply twisting and gasping on the end
of its chain and collar like a polka-dotted
petticoat, until my father goes outside
and takes its baleful kicking weight
in his arms and gently tosses it back
over the fence into the neighbors’ yard.
Year after year, the dandelions
and clover are weeded out, summers
come and go, and roots stubbornly inch
down around the foundation of the house—
labyrinthine, powerful and deep.
Wow. If I could write one line like this:

“To discern the oniony star-struck
subterfuge of bulbs, their perverse
desires, death-like sleeps, and conspire
behind the scenes to embroider
the Elizabethan ruffles and festoons
of their flamboyant resurrections,”
I would consider retiring my pen, content that I had done my best.
Assortment of different Dutch flower bulbs
Dutch flower bulbs
Featured image from http://www.dutchgrown.com.

Lily of the Valley Potpourri

White lilies of the valley against blue background

I love this post from Bois de Jasmin about making potpourri and scenting closets and drawers with lily of the valley! Sadly, I cannot grow it in such abundance here that I can try this out. But my sister who lives in New England has a huge patch of lilies of the valley outside her house where they grow like weeds, so maybe I can get some from her next time I am there in May.

Source: Lily of the Valley Potpourri

Saturday Snippet: No Time to Read!

Blue Marlins by Dale Chihuly; glassworks exhibition at the Atlanta Botanical Garden

I haven’t posted Saturday Snippets in a while because of the onslaught of spring gardening “opportunities”! Here’s a short, partial rundown: dozens of Ajuga “Chocolate Chip” planted as groundcovers on a new berm alongside the patio/drainage area we had built last fall, with stones interplanted with Ajuga Metallica Crispa. At least fifteen heucherellas planted under the young Japanese maples we planted last fall in a new “grove” to replace the messy undergrowth in a small sideyard under a huge old water oak. New statue and birdbath also in place. Major pruning back of magnolia hedge in back garden, to edge of mixed shrub and perennial border. New deciduous azalea “Fragrant Star” planted and protected from curious, digging dog. Experimental planting of anemone sylvestris under old azaleas; also protected from curious, digging dog. New heucheras still in process of being planted, including two lovely Heuchera “Purple Mountain Majesty”. To be planted: “Berry Supreme” and “Frosted Violet.”

Today’s chores, in addition to the usual weeding, spraying, watering: plant in containers two new Itoh peonies, bought for half-price from local nursery: “Takara” and “Julia Rose.” Plant nine new Hosta “Blue Mouse Ears” and Japanese painted ferns (they are gorgeous together — try it!). Plant nine new Phlox “David” in sunny border. Plant second “Black Diamond” crape myrtle into pot that matches the first one’s new home. Deadhead David Austin rose “Teasing Georgia”. Spread organic tree fertilizer under recently pruned oak tree. Plant more ceratostigma plumbaginoides under established Japanese maple “Filigree”, the idea being that the leadwort’s red autumn leaves and blue flowers will complement the fall colors of the maple. Finish replanting doorstep containers with summer plants.

However, if I really get a lot done, I will likely treat myself to a field trip to see the new Chihuly exhibit at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, and that will be worth all the effort!

Blue glass Chihuly fountain at Atlanta Botanical Garden
Chihuly fountain at Atlanta Botanical Garden; photo from http://www.panoramio.com

2016 Mouse Ears Hosta Update

Oh my — I did not know that there were more “mouse ears” hostas, in addition to my beloved “Blue Mouse Ears”! I sense a hosta buying binge coming on …

CAROLYN'S SHADE GARDENS

Hosta 'Blue Mouse Ears' 6-21-2015 1-44-28 PM

‘Blue Mouse Ears’, the 2008 Hosta of the Year, is the mouse ears hosta that started it all, shown here with its adorable, well-proportioned flowers.

It is mini hosta time at Carolyn’s Shade Garden where mouse ears hostas are definitely the customer favorite.  What’s not to love?  Whether you go for the clever mouse-themed names, the round and rubbery, slug resistant leaves, the useful mini to small size, the perfectly symmetrical, elegant habit, the large variety of beautiful leaf colors, the pixie-like, proportionate flowers, or their general gardenworthiness, you can’t go wrong with mouse ears.

Nursery News:  You are welcome to shop at the nursery any time by appointment.  The 2016 Mini Hosta Catalogue is now on line here, and we are taking orders.  Our third open house sale, featuring hostas, miniature hostas, ferns, epimediums, and hardy geraniums, will be held on Saturday, May 7, from 10 am to…

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