Wednesday, March 31, 2010


There is an excellent view of the mountain where clients #3 through #5 live (center left, half way up) from Client #2's where I was pruning roses today. It took me ten hours to prune 52 or so roses. That works out to five roses an hour. Not too shabby for such detailed work.

There was still plenty of daylight left when I got back at four and I headed out to the ridge top garden to finish off the last of the stick removal. Mostly this was cutting down the remaining dried stalks of the perennial wild flowers.

A new daffodil opened today, 'Rip Van Winkle'.

And there were new patches of crocus in their prime. When you look there is always more. This is one of the new patches that was planted last fall. I think Bulbarella forgot to put daffodils in some of her new plantings.

All this cleaning is making the very tiny minor bulbs like Chionodoxa forbesii much more visible.

If I do say so myself this is the cleanest the ridge top garden has been since I arrived. It only took me three years to gain the upper hand. This round of tidiness should last until about mid-June when the explosive growth really kicks in.

I just need to do a light raking of all the paths and everything will be ready for the Bulbapaloozathon, at least up here. Next I must attend to the sunny utility meadow. There are far fewer branches from the trees in there and it is mostly the dried sticks of last year's perennials. A quick zip through with the hedge clippers and all will be well. As well as the level of tidiness that is going to happen in the wild cultivated gardens.

The big pink Puschkinia scilliodes is back and happy. I do believe there are more of them this year.

The Iris reticulata 'Harmony' blooms have been lasting for a good long time. The warm days ahead may finish them off.

The old fire pit was planted last fall with tulips, crocus, snowdrops and something else seems to be coming up in there, but I do not know what yet.

Just think if you buy, divide, seed and plant several hundred bulbs every fall for 20 years, picking up and flattening all the dead brown sticks could be an important part of a proper display in the spring.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Other Bulbs

Down at Client #1's today the Hyacinth are blooming. They have a good number of them. There is only one I think here on the mountain. I don't know why that is. Over the three springs I have been watching, the Hyacinth seem to return rather well. These I did plant last fall. Others I know I did not plant.

I did not plant these Chionodoxa forbesii 'Blue Giant' either. I really have no way of knowing if other bulbs are being slipped into the ground behind my back. I can usually tell when someone else has been working in the garden and Client #1 is know to do that, time permitting.

Over a decade's time countless bulbs have been slipped into the ground. They don't always fare well and there is a fair percentage of mortality. I have a very bad feeling about this year's tulips. I could swear one bed of tulips was up and looking good before I went to Maui. Today it was sparse, near empty. Some of the existing foliage was looking discolored and I gave them the gentlest of tugs. The still curled tiny leaves were not attached to a bulb and pulled right out of the ground. I did that several times. It looked like something had chewed through it. I have a very bad feeling about this year's tulips.

Thank goodness I planted a sack of daffodils in that bed last fall.

Back up on the mountain the minor bulbs are beginning to show. The big patch of Puschkinia libanotica is making headway against the leaf litter.

The crocus are coming to a close. The petals have lost their perfection and are beginning to crumple and wither.

They are a good warm up act and getting better every year,

Now the show really begins. The first daffodil has opened on March 30th, 21 days, three weeks later than the first daffodil of 2009. Obviously spring is running a little behind. Now is one supposed to hope it tries to catch up or continues in an even steady cool progression. I vote for a cool steady progression. We had a heavy snow the second week of April last year that flattened the Bulbapaloozathon as it was peaking.

I just know it is bound to snow again and would hate for everything to bolt into bloom now.

Spring is here. May it drag on as long as the winter did.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Not Yet

It was a cold and rainy day. The daffodils are biding their time, refusing to open until the chances are higher that a pollinator is about.

I shopped for ceramic tile. I hate shopping. It makes one think there could be some advantages to the barren shelves of a communist economy. It is choice overload and I have another tile store to check out on Friday. I also slipped into two nearby nurseries to see how their preparations for the spring planting frenzy were coming along. Their shelves were too bare. I need more choices in the plant nursery.

The ridge top garden is getting tidier with each passing sweep to check on the progress of the bulbs. I may be able to move on to the sunny utility meadow soon to begin the stickage removal there.

This will never be that kind of manicured garden though.

In its bones and in its heart it will always be the wild cultivated garden. The best I can do is makes sure its charms are well displayed. Even now the first flowering wildling, Phacelia purshii is carpeting the ridge top garden. In May it will be a shimmering mat of light sky blue weaving its way through the cultivated.

Helleborus are now joining the other perennials in the ridge top garden. I am not sure why they did not capture the resident gardeners favor sooner. It is an excellent plant for the shade garden with dramatic and durable leathery foliage. It may have been their thought to be late winter time bloom and no one would be here to see them. Their numbers have already begun increasing with the help of generous friends.

The diagnosis is calling for several days of sun this week. It is bound to stir the daffodils to action.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Maybe Tomorrow

You can forget that even in low light, rainy conditions, daffodil yellow is blinding to the camera. Just maybe if the sun comes out tomorrow, the first daffodil of 2010 will officially be open, nearly three weeks later than the spring of 2009. I blame it on the snow pack.

The wood features of the cozy cabin are near ready for staining. The question will be light or darker. I need to chose the tile for the floor and should probably pull out one of the kitchen cabinet doors to help decide. Should the ceilings be lighter than the large rafters or all the wood stained the same?

I have vacuumed twice and wet mopped by hand twice and the loft floor still has a white film left from the drywall texture residue. It may need to be scrub mopped again before I bleach it to remove some mildew stains and scuff marks. Where is a fairy godmother when you need one?

It is all light and white inside right now. That will change dramatically with a golden clay colored tile floor (to match my dirt) and walls painted in some yellow/orange/red unknown blend color that will of course, flow. Flow is important.

The meadow style garden will one day flow through the sunny utility valley. This space even makes sense for one of those designs that mimics a river with mass plantings. The hardest part would be the slow process of acquiring the needed mass and my genetic predisposition to "Oh that's pretty. I want one of those."

See. The Chionodoxa are coming up. Another patch of them was in the area rototilled by the skunk in the dead of winter. I should rake that out soon.

Tomorrow I will go look for tile after submitting my application for a passport card. There is a short cut between Flint, Michigan and Buffalo, New York through Canada. I hear it is a nice drive. It should be spring there by July.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


A day of rain, a night of fog was followed by a thick layer of frost this morning. The sun was out and it warmed to a presentable temperature during the day, at least where I was, doing money paying kind work.

I am sure it was just as lovely up here today. The daffodils are making progress, growing taller with each sunny day of warmth. Still no open flowers though. I did see blooming daffodils down in the valley. It can't be long now for the bloom to reach higher up.

Crocus bloom with their daffodil guardians, the new varmint deterring method. I think all the bulbs from one sack in a bulb order get plopped into one hole for maximum effect. That makes sense in this huge space. The daffodil guardians are extras that come from the annual dig and dispersal fest in the fall.

Headway is being made in the elimination of all the stickage. Most of the tree branches and limbs have been picked up. Now I can concentrate on all the dried stalks from last years perennial flowers. Newly emerging bulbs are always found while removing sticks.

Tonight the wind is blowing good in front of the next weathers. It should just be rain. Wind makes tree sticks though. They never seem to tire of raining sticks down on the forest floor.

Rain is used for working on the cozy cabin. All the wood of the tongue and groove ceiling, the main rafters and beams and the bottoms of the loft floors have been bleached clean and sanded where needed. In tomorrow's rain I will mop the loft floor to remove the white film left from the texturing of the drywall. Then it will be time to choose the actual tile for the floors. This choice will determine how the wood is stained.

There should be more of this Iris reticulta I think. I'll have to mention that come bulb ordering season.

The world's ugliest daffodil, the WUD, is looking very happy and robust this year. Just maybe it could be moved over the fence and back into the garden. Something this hideous needs a very special place though. I wouldn't want it to scare the other daffodils.

There seems to be a trend of more sunny days in between weathers. That is a good thing.

Enough already with the monsoon and the Siberian winter. It is time for sunshine and average rainfall.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Getting Closer

I have been trying to spend a bit of time every day on Bulbhilla picking up sticks, big sticks, little sticks, straight sticks, bent sticks and thick layers of sticks, to get ready for the upcoming show. The forest is messy. The maintenance gardener in me must tidy it up.

In my circular rounds, the new clumps of daffodils I find poking up through the litter get a light cleaning to help free them from their burden so they may concentrate on other matters. The Hyacinthoides hispanica are on their own. There are just too many of them and the entire ridge top garden would have to be raked to free them all. I am not that tidy.

It can't be long now until the first daffodil blooms. The buds are swelling on what is likely to be 'Jetfire', one of the early blooming varieties. Still we are way behind schedule. According to the blog the first daffodils of 2009 were on March 9th. Thank goodness for the blog. My memory says it was in mid-February. So very wrong. The delay is not as long as I thought, but it is at 17 days and counting.

Spending a little time cleaning each day does have its advantages. I won't miss anything. Let's just say Bulbarella can plant things and forget where she put them. An extra pair of eyes has found things long forgotten. An extra pair of hands has unburied things hidden in the sticks.

Iris reticulata 'Harmony' was rediscovered last year and has returned for another season.

When I first arrived I was lead to believe there were not very many crocus here. I was told the varmints ate them, so Bulbarella stopped buying and planting them. Sort of. The crocus are like the tulips she doesn't buy, but some how show up in the garden. I think they were just never here to see them bloom and did not realize how many there were. An extra hand of tidiness helps expose them all to view. The odd locations of many make me think they have been self seeding to some extent as well.

Planting in cages was tried. One cage is doing fine. Another is empty and there was discouragement again.

Then a new method of planting the crocus right next to the poisonous daffodils was discovered and crocus buying has resumed.

How could there not be a daffodil reasonably near by any where on this hill? The whole thing is chock full of poisonous bulbs. Any sensible varmint would give up after a while of burrowing through the ground around here. Maybe one day there will be as many crocus as there are daffodils. It may be a goal worth pursuing.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Other Life

Spring is indeed in the air. The clients are calling and my days are being filled with other spring garden chores. This mountain is not the only place where buckets and barrels of sticks need picking up. This is a very good thing.

One can't help but dream though of the life of permanent semi-retirement that would allow uninterrupted puttering chores and cabin building here on the mountain.

A quick late evening stroll to check on the bulbs gets a shot of the crocus. They are blooming. You get crocus for now.

Other life is stirring though. The Hyacinthoides hispanica, Spanish Bluebells are working their way through the stick covered leaf litter.

The Frittilaria verticillata is getting more robust with each passing season.

A few of the varmint food tulips always manage to sneak their way into the bulb show. Those pictures in the catalogs can be hard to resist.

Drifts of bearded iris sprout tiny fans promising a late spring show after the bulbs begin to fade.

Springs pulls me down from the mountain to the valleys below. That is a good thing.

And the new time shifted long days mean a late evening stoll is still possible when I get home.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Proper Behaviour

In just one day the snow is all gone. I like it like that.

One roadside vegetable garden gets back to the business of warming the soil. It is hard to believe after a winter long snow pack that 3 inches of snow just vanished.

The new strawberries got a nice deep drink from the rain and the snow.

The look just fine. Between the layer of snow and a warm ground they are not likely to have felt the low around 25 that occurred in the night.

The crocus opened just a bit in the late afternoon sun once all the snow was gone.

The countdown to the Bulbapaloozathon resumes.

Of course there will be more snow. It is a given, but the tide has turned.

Color other than grey, brown and white has returned to the mountain.