Tuesday, February 28, 2017

New Plants For The Under Garden

Is it spring yet? Yes, it would seem so. The usual suspects are waking up at the appropriate time.

It is still pretty barren out there and the Lush has yet to stir. That is a good thing mind you. March 1st is not spring despite the temperatures that state otherwise. Winter is still possible.

At this point winter would be bad. Many of the daffodils are at their late March stature. At the same time, the earliest bloomers like anemones, crocus, creeping phlox and winter aconite are just waking up. The daffodils have leapt ahead of schedule in this warm. That is bad if winter shows up.

Crocus are good.

Witch Hazels are good.

Daffodils are good. They are just way too early. But what are you going to do?

So I figured if it was going to be spring, it was time to add the new contemplated plants to the low mounding tapestry of evergreen texture and color of winter interest to the Under Garden. Would my favorite nursery be open? Did they know it was spring?

Yes they did and I came home with what were listed as Bardon Cypress, a dwarf conical evergreen to five feet tall and two feet wide. I can't find this plant on the internet at all. My best guess is it is a cultivar of Cryptomeria japonica. The closest matching description I could find was 'Black Dragon'. Maybe that's what it is. Maybe it isn't. Maybe it is a Chamaecyparis sp. The needle like foliage says Cryptomeria to me.

Whatever they are I planted them. I just hope the listed size was close to accurate. If they grow as slow as the rest of the evergreens it may not matter. It looks good. It felt good. I was satisfied.

It began to rain right as I finished planting my new baby shrubberies. Thank you very much. I will get to enjoy them for a couple more months, growth rate of the Lush depending.

There is a slight chance of snow for tomorrow night. I am seeing a low in the twenties coming up. A cold blast is coming, but it isn't looking very winter like with highs in the fifties. These new cypress were held locally in a cold frame so they should be acclimated to what is. All will be well. One hopes I did not jump the starting date by too much for spring. I even have clients calling itching to plant.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

After Twenty One

It was five degrees lower than the suggested low when I got up. I slept in because I could. It may have been even lower before I got up.

It took a while to warm up. I waited. I took a box load of condiments over to the refrigerator next door while I waited. The house next door is clean, alive and running again. I gave myself a week head start before the arrival date in case there were any issues. Last year there was an issue. The hot water did not want to come back on. This year all went well.

Spring bulbs and the hellebores fall over like they are froze or wilted when it gets well below freezing. If their cold tolerance is not gone from too much warm or if the cold snap is not too severe, they will stand back up and bloom on.

It was about two in the afternoon before they were fully erect again. Add in snow to that kind of cold and the stems can snap. Then they can't stand back up. That sucks. This is going to be a very risky spring.

It took too long to get warm enough for the Winter Aconite to open. Another has come up in a different location which was nice to see. Hopefully there will be many more and the whole sack of bulbs planted last fall survived.

The Witch Hazels are a very cold hardy lot. Below freezing cold is no problem. The flower petals just curl up tight and wait it out.

I got moving around forty two degrees. Thankfully there was no wind. I had spotted a few more dead hemlocks in the forest below the drive and above the stream that could come down. It is truly amazing how many dead hemlocks there are in there. The sooner they hit the ground, the sooner they will rot.

This tidying of the forest is part of the garden expansion. The basic plan is path building, tidying and editing. This expansion will largely be nature's garden.

The doctor visit hints that I have ample time to get this done. My input however will speed the process along, particularly in dealing with the dead hemlocks. Their death and the dramatic change in sunlight set a major transformation of the forest in motion. My job will be to guide and assist this birth of a new forest.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Confusion Rises

It is not unheard of for a random daffodil to be in bloom at the end of February. It has happened before. Bulbarella's collection does include the earliest to the latest blooming daffodils.

It is unusual for many kind of daffodils to be in bloom the last week of February. The confusion has risen in elevation. It was inevitable after way too many days in the upper sixties, even breaking seventy a few times.

Large numbers of daffodils have risen much higher out of the ground than is normal for this time of year. Many have started to bloom. Meanwhile the crocus I would be expecting about now are still waking up.

The daffodils are pulling ahead of the crocus. This is wrong.

The Saucer Magnolia is swelling. It is generally a mid to late March kind of thing.

I woke up early this morning to mad flashes of lightning. That was followed by a torrential downpour the likes of which I have not heard in quite some time. It sounded like I was being buried in a tsunami. It was of short duration thank goodness.

The skies cleared. The sun came out. It was a cool fine day for a walk among daffodils. The wind began to pick up after my nap. Why must the cold always arrive like a runaway bus?

The suggested low in the morning is 26. That's not so bad because we will be heading right back to warm and the upper sixties. The confusion is not over. At this point anything like actual winter could be a very bad thing.

May confusion reign, preferably with highs around fifty five.

Friday, February 24, 2017

A Long Time Gardening

Left undisturbed over many years, crocus will multiply and set seed. They are not always left undisturbed though. Crocus are edible. Varmints will eat them. Maybe they are not a favorite or their small size is an advantage. In general they are mostly left alone.

This is my last personal garden and for the next thirty years or so I will be able to observe how well crocus manage to live long and prosper as long as they can avoid being eaten.

Yes it could be another thirty, maybe even forty years in this garden.

Because there was a more than decent chance I might not have health insurance next year and because I am of a certain age where things really should be poked and prodded, I finally went to see a doctor to find out if I would live long enough to get Medicare.

There was no reason for me to visit a doctor before. I was one of those healthy people in the socialist insurance pool helping pay for the sick. It just seemed prudent under current reality to make sure I wouldn't be sick anytime soon.

As I have long suspected, I lean towards Bulbarella's longevity biochemistry. I am quite healthy for a man of a certain age with no real problems. My blood pressure is a bit elevated, but not in the you need to take drugs range. It has been the same amount of elevated for a decade.

The prescription: take baby aspirin, vitamin C, reduce my sugar intake - Lord help me - and eat more fruits, vegetables and dairy. The blood pressure will be watched over time.

The second attempt at Winter Aconite has produced the first flowers. I hope more pop up. This is supposed to be a thuggish plant when happy. I sure hope so. It is planted in the Great Lawn with crocus and grape hyacinth.

Can you imagine my spring time lawn in twenty years!

Next I head to the dermatologist (Florida, Maui, blond, long time gardener) and my first ever colonoscopy is scheduled for next month. If all goes well there and I don't get hit by a log truck, my decrepitude could last for decades. Oh joy.

Still, it couldn't hurt to plant more spring bulbs in the Great Lawn and speed things up.

It's possible, but no guarantee, I could live long enough to see 'Arnold' reach fifteen feet. That would be something.

It's also possible I could live long enough to see the end of the world as we know it. Will I be fine? Plans are in the works to plant a number of perennial fruit crops and expand the vegetable production area. I bet I could find out how to make aspirin from willow bark. Dairy is close by.

Someone will have to play the part of the old man on the mountaintop that remembers the world the way it was before. I suppose I could do that for a while. The Roadside Possum Stand of Mountain Curios and Tonics will have a small front porch. A big bell will be used to ring for service and call the old farts out of the gardens. Customers can wait in nice rocking chairs.

We can sit a spell and talk story. I just have to watch out for log trucks.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Waking Up At The Inn

Spring is off to a random and haphazard start. There does not appear to be any rhyme or reason to what's up, what's not and what has decided to go ahead and bloom. The normal order of bloom has a kink in it.

It has a kink in the last week of February mind you. March and April are quite capable of doing winter. There is no indication at this point that they will do winter, but our average annual last frost date is a long, long way off.

The weird warm is on thing. There is nothing I can do.

The horrible plastic tent at The Inn is another thing entirely. It blocks the view and worse, it sits in and covers my garden beds. All last year I advocated for a built pavilion with a push button roof. I have a new less expensive suggestion to get it moved this year that just might work. Wish me luck.

I have been traumatized by a Hideous Plastic House in the past and was most alarmed when this one showed up at the Inn. I won't give up until it no longer lives in such a prime location.

High on the low spot we have been less affected by the warm and are on more of a normal schedule than down in the valley or at lower elevations. The appearance of spring really is random and haphazard elsewhere. Some daffodils are blooming before the anemones are awake. That is odd. Most of the herbaceous perennials are still asleep. That is good.

I am spreading a thin fresh layer of mulch while it is still easy before things really wake up. Some kind spring will be here soon at this rate. I will be ready.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Day With The Chainsaw

Can you tell the forest edge along the driveway and below the roadside vegetable garden is tidier? It is.

I managed to get the chainsaw running again. It is a bit temperamental, but it works. Four dead hemlocks were cut down along with a fair bit of randomness that was prep work for the utility company if they should ever come back and post-op work from the DOT's brutal chopping along the byway.

I have been cutting things into smaller neatly stackable pieces that are left to rot in place. It's not quite as quick and tidy as burning, but organization goes a long way in a messy forest.

The view down to my little brook is getting significantly more open. There were a lot of dead hemlocks down in there that have been coming down, many on their own. One true giant wrapped in a grape vine is still standing. Its lean is away from the house thank goodness.

I went in there and cut them all up into smaller pieces so they will rest on the ground, rot faster and not look quite so nasty.

Four hours was enough. Then it was time to rest, wander and contemplate my more tidy and more open forest edge. It will be nice not to have to look at so many dead hemlocks come summer.

It is taking a bit more time, but bit by bit I am expanding the management zone north and east and into the real forest. Tidy and pathways are the main goals. Anything else will be a bonus.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Minor Bulbs

It's not looking like winter will be arriving in February. I certainly hope it doesn't decides to come in March. The more warm we have the less cold can be properly applied.

The minor bulbs are picking up steam. The early crocus are in full bloom, though the ones at the top of my drive seem to be AWOL. The few I have seen up there look to have been relocated which is not a real good sign. If they turn out to be seedlings that would be a good sign.

The snowdrops are in full open mode looking to get pollinated. That will happen in this warm and once that is done, they will drop, heavy with growing seed.

Yellow crocus are up next in the later blooming group. The circle of crocus around the fire pit is coming up. I see foliage of the species tulips that were planted with them as well. These tulips did not bloom so well their second year. I am beginning to think the species tulips are no better at multiplying and reblooming than regular tulips. Crocus are much more reliable as long as the vermin don't find them.

'Arnold' is quite impressive this year with a very full bloom. I so look forward to the Witch Hazels being full sized shrubs. That is going to a be a sight to behold.

I have noticed the Witch Hazels seem to have alternating full and less full bloom years. That is not an uncommon feature of plants. It can't be a strictly environmental response. The 'Jelena' six feet away is having a less full year.

Tomorrow while I have the time, the warm and a chainsaw that is willing to start I plan to do some logging that has been on my list. I'm tired of looking at all the dead grey hemlocks during the time of vegetation's greenery. Some of the smaller ones I can handle are coming down.

This will open up the forest along my driveway, It is quite possible room for some new plantings might appear.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Yes We Have Snowdrops

Saturday, February 18, 2017

More Frills

Even without winter, spring starts slowly. Despite the number of unusually warm days there has been a cold blast every seven to ten days that has helped keep things from getting too far ahead of schedule. We are still on the early crocus. That is close enough to what it should be.

The snowdrops are here. That is as it should be. They will even attempt to bloom in January if the weather is right.

February has been normal for the Witch Hazels three years in a row, even in the Polar Vortex winter. So I will take this bloom schedule as normal and a much appreciated normal.

It has been warm enough for the beasts to rouse themselves and go outside a bit more often. I think their minimum operating temperature has been rising. It seems to be higher than mine and I have much less fur.

Until the herbaceous greenery begins to stir and I can start spring time editing, there isn't much to do expect wander about and look to see what is waking up.

I'm itching to plant my ideas from this winter's contemplation. I know I should wait. This warm and current light work load doesn't help. I may have to go visit the farm that goes with my favorite nursery.

I have a list of plants I need. I need more frills in the February garden. Why not I ask. I think the chimney needs some Witch Hazels. I thought that last year and nothing happened. This year I will make it so. I just added them to the list.

'Jelena' is about to say goodbye for this year. When it is time, the leaf buds are still tightly closed, leap up and grow.