Monday, March 31, 2014

Rising From The Leaf Litter

The great awakening has begun. One warm day was enough for many things to break through the leaf litter after waiting patiently just below the surface for the right conditions.

This scary looking thing is an ornamental rhubarb.

I'm finding a lot more of the strange bulbs. I must have been handed a big sack full.

Lupinus perennis that I grew from seed and planted out last fall made it through the winter. I'm looking forward to these lupine and hope they like it here enough to turn wild.

The Goat's Beard, Aruncus dioicus, that I bought is back. I do remember where I plant most things. I just have trouble with the bulbs.

The store bought cultivars tend to be smaller than the wild varieties that grow up here. I'm fine with that. I also keep meaning to go dig me some of the wild ones to plant in the garden.

Bleeding Heart, Dicentra (Lamprocapnos?) spectabilis, is one of the earliest spring bloomers. The plant is growing fine. It just needs to bloom better than it did last year.

The baby Oconee Bell, Shortia galacifolia, is going to bloom its first spring in the garden.

The wild Anemone acutiloba down in the forest have started to bloom.

While the horticultural Anemone blanda, Grecian Windflower, bloom in the sunny utility meadow.

We still wait for the Bulbapaloozathon to get going in earnest. All this snow and cold has slowed things down. A week of spring like weather will get things blooming and nudge so much more that still lies below the leaf litter to rise up to life.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The First Sowing Is Snowed Out

Winter is not ready to give up. Another three inches of wet snow fell in the night. It's pretty enough.

It must have been heavy wet snow. The rolling snowballs the snow plow makes sure made a dent.

Black snowballs? Or was I missed by another meteorite?

No it's just the scenic byway rolling down hill. The byway has buckled and sagged, risen and been rifted with cracks. The plow is now chucking pieces of the highway down into the garden becoming. I'm going to have to pick up all that asphalt. It will annoy me for one thing. I certainly don't want the mowers that pass by in the summer flinging it further than a snow plow can.

It's winter once again and with a wicked wind chill. It's pretty enough.

But I had plans for today.

Unfortunately the roadside vegetable garden is in no condition for the the first sowing of the potatoes, peas and greens.

Despite the sunshine and the rapid commence of the melt, there will be no first sowing today.

The tomatoes are still six weeks away. The cages are ready. That is assuming winter finally gives in, gives up and goes away.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Freeze Dried Bamboo

The low light of a wet dreary day really makes the amber brown of the freeze dried bamboo stand out nicely. If that was how it was supposed to look it would be beautiful. It is supposed to be an evergreen and every winter until this one it has remained green. That is not green.

I did some reading on the interwebs about winter burn on bamboo. Only spring will tell how severe the damage is. It could just be leaf burn and they will leaf back out. There could be minor to significant damage of the culms. They may need cleaning of the dead culms or at worst cut to the ground and started over.

I'm hoping they leaf back out.

All the cold hardy camellias are in a similar state of sad looking brown. All I can do is wait and see if they are just leaf burned, slightly damaged or dead. Death will signal the end of the cold hardy camellia experiment.

I want my evergreens to be reliably evergreen or ever variegated as the case may be when we have an actual zone 6 winter for which I am listed and is prone to happen now and again. Winter burn like this is a special set of conditions and even reliably hardy plants can suffer damage though. I've seen lots of cooked cherry laurels and singed hollies in my travels this year.

It was that -8 episode that did the damage. Extreme low temperatures with frozen ground, strong winds and no snow cover leads to a lack of water uptake and dessication. It's not pretty.

This wet dreary day is about to be followed by another one to three inches of snow. My plan was to do the first sowing of the roadside vegetable garden on a sunny 55 degree day tomorrow. That may have to wait until the afternoon, if all the snow melts by then, or later in the week altogether.

More snow, then a week of spring. Then no doubt more snow at some point before it's all over. There is progress. I noticed the Hepatica, Anemone acutiloba has started to bloom down in the forest. April is usually when the forest floor comes to life and blooms in profusion.

But first we will have more snow and it has already started.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Strange Bulbs

There are strange bulbs coming up in places I have no recollection of planting them. I'm not even sure what they are. The bulbs I remember planting and where I planted them, Winter Aconite, I have seen no sign of. They were supposed to bloom with or before the crocus.

I have found these new strange bulbs in two or three places. One place was the cat's favorite facilities. What are those? Well they are about to get dug up so I raked the area smooth and covered them back up. I'm not sure if they are the same as the other strange bulbs.

My best guess is they are alliums from Bulbarella's over flow. I do remember planting a whole lot of liatris corms in this same area and in the cat latrine. These strange bulbs aren't liatris.

Forgetting where I plant things can be a problem at this time of year when things are barely awake and something like a new pink mum with a white center falls out of the ground and follows me home. Divisions like this need to be planted right away. I have to be careful and hope I don't plant the new thing on top of an already planted thing.

My garden's character is sealed. A jumbled floral meadowy abundance is unstoppable. In less than three years of active no budget planting, space is already becoming limited. Soon it will be time to expand.

The native Celandine Poppies that followed me home on Monday joined the one or more I planted last year.

I don't remember how many I planted last time or where. So far I have found one from the last batch. Not that it matters. Once they start blooming they will start self sowing. At a some point they may become a weed.

I do know I planted more than a dozen trilliums in the general vicinity of where the poppies went. Did I plant a poppy on top of a trillium? Will it matter when the idea is a naturalized forest understory? I need more Bloodroot in there.

How does a garden this big get filled up so fast? I know I have a sickness, but it is half nature's doing. I wandered into the Lush and started planting and editing. There was never a blank slate. I've had to elbow my way in.

I need more astilbe and Goat's Beard. I can find room on the west side. The trilliums need to multiply. Maybe I'll dig some more. I need to remember to inoculate the garden with the phacelia this year.

Organized? Civilized? I best give up such notions. The barren time of winter after the chop and drop, when the bare bones are fully exposed for all to see is the only civilized time this garden will ever have.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

It's Almost Spring Again

Tuesday's snow is almost melted.

The minor bulbs are back to blooming.

The thousands and thousands of daffodils are coming along.

The daffodils are running a bit late this year. A few have begun to bloom.

The crocus are pretty much over. The last snow did them in. They were finished.

Now it's back to the slow advance of spring.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time To Plant The Roadside Vegetable Garden

As soon as the snow melts.

I'm planning for Sunday. All it needs is a little tidying up and it will be ready for the first sowing of the peas and greens.

The rows were all heavily dunged late last fall. I wanted to add a fresh layer of wood chips, but my tree trimmer's wood chip dumping site has been cordoned off. I'm so bummed. I think I can make it through one more season with the layer of mulch I have. It just looks so nice with a fresh layer.

A true harbinger of spring, the Ramps, Allium triccocum, have appeared. It's a sign that it is time to plant the vegetable garden's first crops. These native wild onions are the traditional first greens of the season. We can eat us a mess of ramps while we wait for the roadside vegetable garden to get going.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Stormy Winter Day

I woke to three inches of snow on the ground with passing clouds and snow showers sprinkled with bits of sun. I figured it was already close to finished.

Not. By two o'clock the sky turned dark and the snow returned in quantity backed by blizzard force winds.

Nap weather. Another two to three inches was added to the pile. It was a stormy winter day.

Spring will return by Thursday, but I doubt this is last we will see of winter.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Down Where The Daffodils Bloom

Spring comes a bit earlier down there in the valleys. They may not even get much snow when it gets us tomorrow. Yes, winter is coming back for another visit. The suggested high is 38 and the suggested snowfall is one to three inches.

Down there in the valleys where the daffodils are blooming it could just be a cold misty rain with the notion of snow as a side dish. We shall see. Whatever happens I will be safe at home. Nothing in the diagnosis suggests it will be above my minimum operating temperature of 40 degrees.

I saw daffodils and I came home with a sack of Celandine Poppies, Stylophorum diphyllum.  I transplanted fifteen baby hellebores and a bunch of the poppies at the Posh Estate to a new area. There were more than enough poppies to bring some home. They are generous self sowers.

I introduced this native woodland wild flower to the ridge top garden two years ago. There is a healthy reproducing colony in that garden now. Only one or two made it into the garden becoming. I corrected that problem today.

Spring is still a bit hit or miss at the moment, but that has not stopped me from gardening. If the ground ain't froze I can dig a hole and plant things and in the last few weeks I have planted, divided and transplanted a whole list of things. This is actually a pretty good time for such garden chores.

I wonder what I might find at the next nursery, er garden, I go to. I know a mum that has my name on it on Friday.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Shattered Dish

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Swimming With The Big Fish

I saw some blooming chionodoxa in my travels today.

My purpose was to check on the koi pond and the babbling brook at the Posh Estate. The water is warming and the algae is starting to grow. The filters need regular checking to keep the water flowing at full volume.

The care of the much larger koi pond and falls was passed over to me last year. My job was to make the either pea soup green or grey murky water clean. It was an ongoing problem that never seemed to get solved. That was accomplished by cleaning the entire thing, there was several years of muck in the bottom, and adding an out of pond bio/uv/mechanical filter to the return water line. Problem solved.

It was built as a waterfall and pond only and was never intended to have fish. Fish poop. Leaves and debris constantly fall into the pond. The water has to have a filtration system if you want it to be clear.

Pond plants were also added. They help greatly by absorbing excess nutrients in the water that lead to algae growth. I'm already seeing fresh growth on some of them that are root hardy. The more tropical ones got stored in the green house.

The koi in this pond are the size of small cats. Really big fish. Gold fish. Black fish. Silver fish. Blond fish. Despite their murky water they bred and last year during the cleaning, close to two dozen babies were sent to new ponds.

It's a long fall from top to bottom.

And at the top is another small pond. Last friday I added twenty small (39 cent) feeder goldfish to the upper pond. Those gold flecks in the center of the pond are the new baby fish.

In one year they will grow to be big feeder gold fish like the ones in the babbling brook's pond. I read they can get up to four pounds.

The seventeen that are left from the initial two dozen added are doing fine. Two out of three koi that came from the koi pond are also doing fine and getting bigger.

I added six more baby gold fish to the babbling brook to make up for the ones the blue heron ate. The koi will have to make more babies to replace the koi the heron ate. That missing koi was already a big fish.

It was nice to see the babies have come out of hiding after a week in their new home. They don't seem quite ready to swim with the big fish yet.

The babbling brook and its inhabitants have made it through another winter. It will be nice to watch the rocky shores green up faster and be more lush as the plants continue to fill in. When the danger of frost has passed the tropical plants will be put back in the stream and pond.

All is well in the fishes world.

And I noticed one of the few hellebores there was in full bloom. That is a nice deep red flower and they seem to be a tad more sideways to upright facing than all the ones I have.

I got a closer look. Then when I bumped it with the camera several of the small seedling plants fell out of the ground and landed in my truck. Oh well I better take them home.